November 2009 Archives

Monday, November 30, 2009

Today is the last day for the 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course. Order yours before midnight, eastern time!


Today is also the last day of the 25% off sale on canned Mountain House foods at Ready Made Resources. They are offering free shipping on full ("unbroken") cases lots. But because of the higher handling costs, if you "mix and match" cans within cases, shipping will be charged.

James Wesley,
I am not much into sewing but I know ladies who are. For them I have modified some newer sewing machines from electric motor to the foot powered treadle sewing machines. Some of these ladies are off grid and one just likes the fine control the treadle gives her.

Bases can be found in many antique stores. These bases are often missing the machine itself and have been made into tables. Look for one with the treadle and crank assembly still in place. Removing the electric motor from the sewing machine and replacing it with a pulley for a belt is not to hard for an experienced tinkerer. This lets the ladies do some of the fancy stitches that the original machines could not do. But, this will not work on the real new electronic machines. You have to be using a machine old enough to still use the mechanical cams for the various stitches.

Regards, - Keith S.

Captain Rawles:
While in the US Navy as a diver, Temporary Attached Duty (TAD), to a British Mine sweeper for a couple weeks, I was amused to find their toilet paper to have the consistency of wax paper. And on each square was printed, "Property of the British Government". Needless to say, I still have half a roll of it around here somewhere. I felt compelled to show it to our sailors for a chuckle. - Chester

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! My prayers are with your family this year especially.

I came in late on the whole toilet paper discussion, but this is actually something I was dealing with myself. I have stored quite a bit of TP, and even a few of those old phone books, but our large family goes through a lot and even my stores won't last long. Because you are kind enough to post all the discussion I thought of something that should work for prepper nearly anywhere!

Any woman who has had a baby comes home with small squirt bottles from the hospital to use to clean herself when using the bathroom. These small squirt bottles can be found in any travel section or dollar store and hold several ounces of water. I think my bottle holds about ten ounces and I would get one that large so you can get some power behind the spray. Cleaning the front area is easy enough. However, you can also easily clean your rear end without touching it. And the filthy water will fall safely into whatever hole or potty you are using. It is in a sense a portable Bidet and will be invaluable in poor sanitary conditions and especially for those with children.

I hope this helps, you helped me and now I am going to stock up on these. Call me paranoid, I never like using public restroom TP myself. I just don't trust what someone could have done to it before I got there. Anyhoo, Many Blessings - Ace

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I will try to keep this short. Hopefully my question might come in handy for a number of your readers. First, thank you for your site and your publications. I am almost finished with "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and am about 50 pages into your "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course. So far I am loving them both. I am reading quickly through them first and next my wife and I will study them thoroughly together, adapting the information and creating our "list of lists."

Now, I have a question for you or perhaps your readers. I live in a suburb of Denver, though a fairly distant one. Our town is wonderful, and are area is very safe, relatively speaking. We own our home outright, and we are very blessed. That said, due to a handful of reasons, relocation is not an option for us. Therefore, my goal has been to not only stock up, but to fortify my home against those who may not be prepared WTSHTF. Your resources are getting me through most of my preparations, but my question has to do with fortification and the securing of some of my home.

Specifically, the design of our house is such that the master bedroom and my girls' room would be very defensible and secure if only I could install the most secure doors possible. It may seem like overkill, but the peace of mind I would have by doing this would do wonders for my sleeping when things go bump in the night or worse. The rooms are connected via the closets and soon I will be putting in a doorway between the two. The bedroom doors themselves have no exposed wall on either side, but instead fit perfectly into entry hallways, for lack of a better way of describing them. The girls' room is a single wide, "normal" door. Unfortunately, the master is a double wide typical door. The latter will prove more difficult to secure, which is another reason why I want a professional to help me.

While I am trying to learn more and more about these kinds of things, I would like to have secure doors installed ahead of my learning curve, and so I am looking for some advice.

Basically, I am hesitant to simply start calling around for contractors and asking them if they can do the job because, especially in this economic climate, I can imagine most of them claiming they can do anything. Money is a big issue and I don't have much of it, so I need to make sure it is done correctly the first time. So, does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations for me? I will need to have someone do it for me as I don't have the tools or know-how. I need it to be done right the first time. I am concerned about asking just any contractor to do the job, and I am not sure what I would ask for exactly either, in order to avoid mistakes and confusion. On the other hand, I would imagine that the job would be too small for companies that specialize in secure building.

So there you have it. I think there are probably a lot of people like me who are not able to relocate or establish a more secure retreat, and who will have to make the best of what they have and where they are. Securing one's home is something most of us will have to address sooner or later, and the sooner the better. Furthermore, money will often mean that building a Safe Room from scratch is out of the question and smaller measures like securing doors, walls, etc. may be all one can do. We are the people who are wanting more than the average person but are not able to take advantage of what places like Safecastle and Hardened Structures have to offer. And some are even more like me in that they are really out of their element when it comes to this stuff.

In addition to being a wise investment for TEOTWAWKI, it is also a very responsible and reassuring measure to take in case of home invasion or break-ins. If I can only get my doors established, I will have very little fear if I hear someone break in in the night. Instead, I will have time to reinforce my doors, check my outside video cameras from my bedroom, know that my girls are safe and with me, and contact help via my multiple communication options in my room. And of course, I will be able to establish a position with my firearms if for some ridiculous reason the intruder is determined to get to me. I don't believe it is overkill, but being a responsible father.

Thank you for your time. God bless you and your work. - Dan M.

JWR Replies: Typical American home construction since the 1940s has used sheetrock (aka gypsum board) for interior partition walls. So if you beef up any interior doors (typically by replacing them with solid core doors, adding longer hinge screws, deadbolt locks, and/or door bars), then keep in mind that the adjoining walls will then become the most likely point of entry. These walls can be kicked through, in very little time. Once breached, since typical stud spacing is 16 or even as much as 24 inches apart (in non-code regions), home invaders can then just walk in to the adjoining room. Therefore, short of beefing up the walls themselves, by beefing up your bedroom doors, all you've done is bought yourself a bit of extra time. Keep a cell phone handy by your bedside, since hard wire phone lines can be cut. Every teenage and adult member of the family should also be thoroughly trained with firearms, and keep both a gun and a powerful flashlight (such as a SureFire) by their bedside at all times. Your beefed up doors will hopefully provide enough of a delay so that you'll have 911 in one hand, and 1911 in the other by the time that the bad guys breach your bedroom door or partition wall.

On a related note, for new construction, and remodels, I've recommended that my consulting clients use 3/4 inch plywood or OSB for one side of their bedroom walls. When this sheeting is attached with drywall screws, los malo hombres will exhaust themselves by the time they ever get through a wall that is thus reinforced.

Here is a "barter material" idea your many readers may find of interest. I am located in Kansas City and, after telling friends who are also into "survival" my idea it caught on such that one liquor store here is suddenly the largest reseller of this liquor in North America.

I have friends who, for their store of barter items, have stockpiled extra food, ammunition, guns and other items people would want in a breakdown of society. But they are all items that may only have a storage life of a few years, takes up a lot of room or are items you can't have enough of (i.e. food).

After writing down all of the "musts" the answer suddenly came to me - liquor. The "musts" are (1) a shelf life of 10+ years, (2) relatively compact, (3) easily broken down into individual items that would not be expensive and, as a plus, it would probably go up in value. And, most important, something that you would not need to survive: Liquor. My cousin owns a liquor store and he suggested Luksusowa Polish vodka. [Wódka Luksusowa. or "Luxury Vodka".] Airline size bottles come 120 to a case. Liquor might even go up more in value than gold in a TEOTWAWKI situation. A cloth bag of 50, or
so, of these bottles can easy be carried around. Try to get change using a one ounce gold coin after buying bread and milk from the back of a truck! Good luck! And worry about others seeing you have one gold coin so you must have more at home. You put yourself at great danger.

Why Luksusowa vodka? It's half the price of any other vodka and tastes just as good (I'm told). They are selling cheap in the United States trying to use price to build a market. They are a small company so they don't have the money for advertising. Liquor stores may carry as much as a case but any liquor store in a major city can order as much as you want having it for you within 48 hours. I bought 50 mil airline size bottles for 90 cents each. The bottles are thick glass that could probably be dropped on anything short of concrete and not break. And well sealed so shelf life is probably at least 20 years.

I'm guessing people will not care what brand of vodka you have to barter. They also come in two larger sizes. My cousin gave me a special price but buy enough cases and you can probably get it for close to 90 cents a bottle. So instead of a room filled with canned goods having to rotate them to beat the average one or two year date code on each can or trade away items they
really need as much as possible of (like food and ammunition). So I have a floor space in my basement of about a yard square of cases piled to the ceiling that is all the barter material I should ever need. Not a room full of much more fragile items with shorter shelf live and might not go up in value. Personally, I can't think of anyone that will be in demand in such situations other than ammunition and food. One caveat - anyone who has anyone in their group who has ever had a problem with liquor consumption should not do that. Personally, I don't drink due to an illness (Lyme disease) that makes liquor taste like acid to me. I never drank much before contracting Lyme disease.

I hope this idea is of interest to your many readers. I know every person I've mentioned this idea to has quickly loaded up on ten to a hundred cases of Luksusowa small airline size bottles. Best Regards, - Gary Y.

JWR Replies: I'm not much a drinker--I'm a "one beer a year" type--so I don't feel qualified to comment on storing particular types of sipping barterable. Also, after seeing alcoholism ruin so many lives, and wrecking so many families, I have chosen not to store anything more than a few bottles of Everclear. And I consider that supply multi-purpose: for medicinal/sterilizing use, for making tinctures, and for emergency fuel. It is too strong for sipping, but I suppose that it could be used very heavily diluted in mixed drinks. As I mention in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, there are two varieties of Everclear sold: 151 Proof and 190 Proof. The latter (which is 95% alcohol), is the most versatile for preparedness. Everclear is not legal in all states, with the most common restrictions on the 190 Proof variety.

"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear." - Edmund Burke

Sunday, November 29, 2009

There is just one day left in the 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, Don't miss out on this sale!


Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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 can’t help but notice there being a correlation between preparedness and Christianity. Most people I know who are getting involved, and most of the stuff I read on line is written by Christians. The one thing I haven’t read too much about though is what it will look like to share our faith after a collapse. In the grand scheme of eternity being able to grow in your relationship with Jesus and help others do the same is the most important part of being prepared. 

A friend of mine used to own and operate a Christian bookstore. His family bought it in the summer of 2001 and did okay. They were able to make ends meet and they were satisfied knowing they were helping people get closer to God. For the rest of that year following the 9/11 attacks my friend said he was pulling in nearly $10,000 a day. That was more than they made a month during that summer. He told me that people think more about God when tragedy strikes and we are reminded why we need Him. 

Everything goes in cycles. If and when the next Crash/Collapse/Outbreak happens it will not be anything that the historical timeline hasn’t seen before. Honestly I’d say we’re overdue. One thing that you will find that comes along with almost every huge upheaval is a revival of the things of God. When the world goes to chaos people want to talk about God. They might start by railing against Him, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.
            When reading your Bible I challenge you to find a passage that even alludes to the idea that when all Hell breaks loose we are to hide and let the damned be damned and the saved be saved. Read through the prophets (especially Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Habakkuk) and you will see what God’s chosen are called to do when the SHTF. Just because things get really bad doesn’t mean God is giving up on us. Don’t start thinking that He has unless he tells you to build an ark and two of every kind of animal show up at your retreat.
            When the SHTF we who are Christians we are called to be ever more vigilant. Paul charges Timothy to: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). I firmly believe this charge is to all of us who call ourselves believers. We are not exempt from sharing out faith just because things get really difficult.
            You are right to assume that I have never shared my faith after a serious collapse. I have been blessed to live in America and do my ministering here. The closest thing I have is ministering after 9/11. What I have more of is experience in sharing my faith with the desolate, homeless, and forgotten and when the SHTF those people will be the majority.
            From that experience I offer these points on Sharing your Faith after TEOTWAWKI:

  1. Take Care of Your Family- I promised my God, family, and self that I would not sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry. In 1 Timothy 3:4+5 Paul says of leaders in the church: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?).” It will be very difficult after TEOTWAWKI to minister to others if your life (spiritually and physically) is not in order. Our first line of ministry is to our families. We must make sure that in the days after a crash that our family is well fed, healthy, and spiritually sound. While working with teens, most coming from broken homes, I have found one of the most Christian things I can say is, “No, I can’t go hang out with you I have to spend time with my family.” This shows them a better way. Imagine how much we can show by our strong family unit after TEOTWAWKI!
  1. Take Care of Physical Needs of Others- Jesus gave us many beautiful examples of how to minister to both body and spirit. Jesus healed many physically; He fed multitudes, and even made money appear in the mouth of a fish. Jesus never ignored the physical needs of those He was talking to and He never passed up an opportunity to share His faith afterwards. As we prepare, if possible, store up enough provisions for at least another person. Have more than enough ammo, food, junk silver, and supplies to give out freely. This may not be possible right away but as you grow your own food and store it make sure a reasonable portion goes into your “Charity Stash.” This will give you ample opportunity to show others what Christ has done in your life. It is very hard to for a hungry person to hear the Gospel over the sound of their own stomach growling.
  1. Take Care of Spiritual Needs of Others- In the aftermath of a serious crash people will be extremely desperate and searching for answers. In times of trouble people start to turn back to God. There are examples of it in the Bible and through out history. People will be in a very open state when they are destitute. In the package you give the people who come to your door be sure to include a copy of the New Testament. A complete version of the Bible would be best, but New Testaments are considerably cheaper and easier to store and hand out. You can pick up Bibles cheaply off Amazon, or and library book sales. They may not have a lot of the study guides and fancy stuff but it has the Word. This doesn’t mean that everybody you help will fall to their knees and accept Christ on the spot but remember we are called to proclaim the Lord not convert people. Even if somebody leaves your retreat with a bag of rice, some ammo, and a Bible and they don’t seem to care you can’t know what God has in store for them.
  1. Be part of Community- One of the first things God told Adam in the Garden was: It is not good for man to be alone.  (Genesis 2:18). God knows we grow in community. After things start to settle down after the crash it would be good to be part of a community of people both Christians and Non-Christians. Hopefully at your retreat you will be surrounded by people of similar faith and will be able to have daily Bible studies and worship sessions, but after things settle it would be good to meet with others outside the retreat. This may include people from another retreat or refugees squatting in vacant houses and buildings. Starting a church wouldn’t be very hard at all and any one with a love for Jesus and good Bible knowledge could take over as head pastor.

In reading the Bible it is impossible to deny that God will at times crash our world in order to get our attention. Habakkuk prayed for God to bring the Israelites back to Himself and God’s answer was enemy invasion and seventy years of captivity.  It is our duty out of God’s love to be prepared to bring others to Christ as long as we draw breath.

Mr. Rawles,
First, let me extend my heartfelt sympathy to you and your family on the passing of your wife. As a Christian, I am confident she is in a good place and free of her suffering, though sorely missed by the rest of us.

I have been a heating/ air-conditioning / refrigeration technician for the last 30 years. I own and use combustion analyzers to maximize performance of my customer’s appliances and both minimize the carbon monoxide (CO) they produce but also take a snap-shot of the ambient CO level in the building. I feel it is important to point out that while CO detectors are worthwhile (or at least a little better than nothing), they are not infallible! Far too many of them are improperly installed near kitchens, water heaters, furnaces and other combustion appliances! Nearly ALL fuel burning appliances produce CO at some point of their operating cycle. If a good, sensitive detector is placed too close to that appliance, it will “FALSE” on that short period emission of CO. False alarms desensitize the residents to the alarm, a very bad thing indeed. The solution to this problem by the Underwriter’s Laboratories (at fire department requests) has been to create a testing standard that is targeted to preventing FALSE alarms rather than insisting the device alarm when needed. I have seen this demonstrated, repeatedly, by placing a detector in a zip lock bag then filling the bag with 100 PPM CO calibrating gas. After an hour, none of the UL approved detectors did anything!! Scary, to say the least. IMHO they are unreliable as a result.

An AC powered detector will not work during power interruptions – a time when alternate, untested heat sources are likely to be in use! A battery powered device should always be present if any alternate heat sources not using utility power are used.

CO detectors have a finite life span, on the shelf or installed in the home. They can be “poisoned” by exposure to certain chemical fumes or very high levels of CO. Once poisoned, they will never respond to CO – at any level. My suggestion is to properly install a CO detector near all sleeping areas as high on the wall as possible. However, in addition to installing a detector, do not depend on it as they are, IMHO, unreliable. Far too many times I have measured high levels of CO in homes so equipped where no alarm ever sounded. In others, I have repaired serious heating plant problems where the alarm had sounded but the fire department condemned the detector rather than finding the problem !

Like most risks, proper understanding of the problem can be most helpful. In the case of CO, at least some things to consider are;

1. All un-vented heaters are extremely high risk. Oxygen depletion sensors do not address the problem AT ALL.

2. Cook stoves, particularly ovens, put out large amounts of CO and the standards consider it acceptable! Heed the warnings NOT to use them for space heating!

3. Space heating appliances that burn gas, oil, coal or wood can, and often do, produce high, unacceptable levels of CO in the flue gas. This can ONLY be measured and corrected by a properly trained professional – spend the money to protect yourself by hiring a well qualified technician to service your appliance(s). If he does not have a modern combustion analyzer, FIRE HIM !! Either get a printout of the readings or try to observe them on his instrument.

Note that LP gas is the most common fuel used (but certainly not the only fuel) where people are overcome by CO due to several factors including the higher carbon content of the fuel and it’s tendency to be difficult to burn cleanly. Gas can truly produce odorless CO! The most common warning I have seen is high indoor humidity. Fuel oil and solid fuels are, IMHO, the least likely to cause problems as a blocked flue or defective appliance will produce enough smoke and odor to warn of CO risk. In many cases, soot on the walls is a pointer to serious problems.

A lot of detective work can be required to find / correct CO problems. Sick appliance(s), exhaust fans, clothes dryers, inadequate combustion air, defective chimneys, improper installation, missing blower doors are just a few of the possible issues. With all due respect to firefighters, a CO problem often is not something that can be found during a short visit !! It requires a thorough knowledge of the systems involved and, quite often, a lot of time. It has been my experience that, in my area, the vast majority of systems are improperly installed or maintained.

Here is a link that echoes much of what I have written.

My combustion analyzers are less expensive than his (all four of them) but my results remain consistent and also prove the finite life span of the expensive detectors I use. Mine are sensitive enough to often tell if there is an active tobacco smoker in the house!!

Please use my comments in any way you feel will benefit your most useful blog!

Sincerely, - Mike G

Hello Jim,
It's been a long time since we've corresponded, and I'm glad to see you're still around and active. I was also saddened at the loss of your wife, and hope you and your family are otherwise healthy and prosperous.

I wanted to give folks a second option on intermixing their common combustion heating systems (e.g., Propane, Natural Gas, Fuel Oil), with the less common one (e.g., Wood, Pellets, Corn, etc). In order to do this, one must first understand how a conventional furnace functions. It is actually two independent systems, with an emergency interlock. The first system simply ignites a burner when the thermostat requests heat. That generally involves a series of steps, such as forced draft fans, pilot lights, electric spark, etc.; but the primary function is to safely light the main burner. Once the main burner is burring, the heat being produced heats up the air in the furnace plenum. The plenum is the large metal box to which all of the ductwork attaches. The plenum has three temperature sensors (usually simply b-metal switches) which operate as follows: The High On switch turns on the furnace blower when the temperature reaches some value (usually about 120 degrees F), the second low off switch turns it off when it reaches some other value (typically 80-90 degrees F), and the third sensor (typically 180-250 degrees F) is the high limit protection switch which directly turns off the main gas or oil valve to shut down the burner. This final switch should generally never be tripped. Finally, when the thermostat no longer requires heat, it drops its heat request, shutting down the burner. Since the plenum still contains latent heat from the burner, it will continue to run the fan until the low limit sensor turns the fan off.

With this simple explanation, we can see that the plenum system doesn't actually know or care (yes I'm anthropomorphizing here) where the heat comes from; so, if you connect the forced air out of the wood/corn/straw burning device, into the furnace plenum, the plenum will automatically turn on and off in response to the heating of the air, regardless of where the hot air originated. You may have to place a gravity damper, or and electric damper connected to the alternative heat blower motor control to act as a check valve and ensure that heat doesn't flow backwards through the secondary heat plenum when it's not running. When no alternative heat is being produced, the conventional furnace operates normally.

I've installed this system in homes of several friends over the years, and it works quite well. - LVZ in Ohio

Damon sent this: U.S. dollar collapse could devastate economy: book

Chad S. spotted an article about indigent families now having to bury dead family members themselves.

C.K. in Texas mentioned that there was a PBS mini-series this past summer (available online) about how money gained its importance over time. It was called The Ascent of Money and the fourth episode would be of interest to many SurvivalBlog readers. C.K.'s description: "It talks about the hyperinflation that occurred in Argentina years ago (so bad that ranchers wouldn't bring their cattle to market) and also about the fragile economics of Chinese and US trade."

Items from The Economatrix:

Black Friday Store Spending Edges Up; Online Sales Soar

Black Friday Shopping Spree Doesn't Disappoint

Hotel Owners, Like Home Owners, Are Behind

Bernanke: Don't Tamper with the Fed

British Banks Quizzed By Regulators on Exposure to Dubai Crisis

Fears of "Second Recession" as Dubai Crashes

If Countries Like Dubai Begin to Fail, Who Will Save Them?

Commentary from Mike Panzner: Time To Stick The Knife In

Recession is Over, Welcome Back to the Depression

Jack H. mentioned a good article in The City Journal: The Cyber-Threat Grows

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson said he thought that this book looked interesting: Confessions of an Igloo Dweller: Memories of the Old Arctic

   o o o

A reminder that the special two-week 25% off sale on canned Mountain House foods at Ready Made Resources ends on Monday. They are offering free shipping on full ("unbroken") cases lots. But because of the higher handling costs, if you "mix and match" cans within cases, shipping will be charged.

   o o o

HPD pointed us to a piece in The Telegraph by Gerald Warner: Climategate e-mails sweep America, may scuttle Barack Obama’s Cap and Trade laws.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls down and has no one to help him up!" - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Saturday, November 28, 2009

There are just two days left in the 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course. Order your course binder and audio CD soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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.

This is for the Ladies: take the lead on frugality to finance your family preparedness! Below are things I do and have done, some for years, some for only a few months. You’d be amazed at how much starts accumulating in your checking account when you do these things. I have paid off credit cares and bought a rifle with scope, some junk silver, 1,000 rounds of ammo and a more than three month food supply since I started being more serious about these things.

My husband and I are professionals making good salaries – at least for now. We are fortunate to be able to live in a small town in a relatively low-cost area. This allows us to avoid some of the gratuitous spending pitfalls in larger urban areas, such as parking fees and bridge tolls. We have 10 mile commutes. We are able to live fairly simply. We still seem normal in the workplace, but there are some tricks for this that I will share. Why? Because if you are just waking up to the need to start your preparedness and are not already frugal, these are some good ways to free up disposable income without suddenly showing up at work looking really different and starting the curiosity mill....

First is transportation. For your ‘normal’ part of life, remember that the vast majority of automobiles are not investments, they are financial liabilities that depreciate every moment. My husband and I have different work hours at widely-spread places, so we commute separately in old Hondas. His is a 1991, mine is a 2000. We inherited both from my parents, so no high payments for fancy cars. We keep up the routine maintenance but not at the dealer, though we have a trusted mechanic for the tricky stuff. With rare exception, they get clean in the rain (we have no road salt issues here). I haven’t had to make a car payment since 1992, and I bought that car with cash. Our G.O.O.D. vehicle is a truck and we paid cash. Occasionally someone will make a crack about my car – essentially that at my salary I should be able to afford a nice car. I just smile and make some benign remark as I think about all that I save on transportation and how that money is helping me be more prepared.

Next, if you work and must keep looking ‘normal’ here are some tips on The Office Look if you haven’t been able to take the leap to work out of your retreat.
For Basic skin care: Frugality doesn’t mean you stop looking normal at the office. It is a subtle change in how you get to that look. Stop buying anything from cosmetic counters in department stores. Buy no Lancome or Estee Lauder. You don’t need the 4-step (that means four expensive products) skin cleaning system. It is a trick. Where ever you enter in the 4-product cycle, the product creates a skin problem that the next one fixes. The cleanser leaves your skin oily so you need the ‘toner’. The toner dries you so you need the ‘moisturizer’. See where this goes? Take care of your skin simply. If you really need a ‘toner’ here’s a secret: it is mostly witch hazel and colorant. Buy the witch hazel from K-Mart or another discount chain – twice as much for 10% of the price.

Bar soap is probably too harsh for most of us. Get some Neutrogena facial wash (unscented) and a stack of cheap washcloths – the kind that come in 12 packs and have really short loops in the terry. Dilute the Neutrogena by half with warm water so it mixes well. Use one or two pumps on a wet washcloth in the shower – work it into the cloth well before you start and use it all over, from the top down. Remember that both sides of the cloth are soapy! Fanny is next to last, feet are last. ( Use a clean cloth each day or rinse well and let dry in the sun so you don’t end up with a fungus from your feet). You have just been cleaned and exfoliated. If you don’t like this brand, use a mild shower gel but dilute it by at least half. Shower gel is commercially engineered for you to use much more than you need so you will buy more and sooner. By diluting, you get better foaming and waste less – either pump or sprinkle on the cloth.

Now, use a little Aveeno daily moisture lotion on your face and your parts that get dry. It will not make your skin oily or plug your pores. Buy the stuff in the big bottle for $8, not in the expensive little bottles. If you need a sunscreen, then get the Aveeno in the big bottle with SPF 15. You have just replaced at least 5 products at $20 or more each with 3 (4 if you include the bundle of washcloths) for a total of less than $20. That gives you $80 to buy ammo or junk silver this month. See where this is going?

For your work cosmetics: do your research. Many of the K-Mart brands are the expensive department store brands without the pushy sales people. Learn a basic routine that puts on eye makeup first, then the rest. Otherwise you use more product fixing the mistakes. Most of us can get by with very little makeup, and we look better for it. If you really like a specific brand, you can probably find it for about half price on eBay. Most of the sellers are basically honest– just check their feedback. This change can free up $100 a year or more, depending on your habit.

For your things that grow: Stop getting nail jobs. Long cutesy nails make you look less professional and cost a bundle. Trim and file your own. Keep them short and clean. There’s $30 a month, more if you stop pedicures, laser hair removal, tans, etc.. I still get a haircut, with no color or perm, about every 8 weeks from a one-woman salon in another small town. She charges $15 a cut. Even with a tip, I enjoy a ‘private consultation’ for a quarter of the price I was paying with my perm-and-cut style at a conventional salon. So, there’s another $25 to $50 a month by being you!

For your wardrobe: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. Choose two color palettes of relatively timeless pieces. Mine are in black and navy blue. I have several black skirts, pants and jackets in black, less in Navy. Black works well because you don’t have the same ‘shades’ problem as you get with navy. Black is black. I have some different shirts and an odd skirt or pair of pants (gray, wedgewood blue) just to keep it from looking too uniform-ish. The jackets are in the washable Traveler styles from on-line cataloguers, hence no dry cleaning. I wash on gentle and hang to dry. I have two sets of navy and black shoes – same shoes in both colors. I wear black or navy hose. Everything mixes and matches easily. I have a couple of nice pairs of pearl earrings and make my own pearl necklaces by stringing the sale pearls from Fire Mountain Gems. There’s my professional working woman wardrobe. I plan to retire in a year, so I will buy even fewer items before I retire. Do this and your ‘wardrobe spending’ goes way down. I went from 80% dry cleaning to about 10% dry cleaning using this basic scheme, so have saved money there as well. Stockings, one or two tops and a couple of pairs of shoes a year are your shopping list once you have the basics -- possible replace a piece or two if too well worn. Just the dry cleaning part of this saves about $50 a month.

Personal habits:
If you still smoke, then stop. You can buy your year’s prudent reserve of food by quitting smoking alone. If your household consumes more than 1 bottle of wine a week, cut back. If you eat out, including lunch at work, more than once a week, cut back. Stop buying prepared packaged food. Spend some time cooking over the weekend and freeze it for your lunches. Stop buying lottery tickets. These are the easiest dollars to keep and will add up. You will probably feel more like firing your weapon on weekends when you eat less junk.

Around The House:

In the kitchen:
Best investment I’ve made in a while was a really nice bread machine. I bought a Japanese one that makes a normal-looking loaf. It paid for itself really fast when good bread was pushing $4.50 a loaf. My husband was taking a bakery-bought bagel to work every day for breakfast as well. We were spending $10 to $12 a week for bread products. Making our own for about $3 a loaf is a deal. Our ‘bread bill’ was cut in half and paid for the machine in 7 months. We go full tilt on nutrition as well. No sugar or corn syrup, and plenty of dry milk, whole wheat, nuts and dried fruit so a slice of bread is more than half the meal. This also helps me in rotating our supplies because we eat what we store.

Your water:
If you have hard water, try to learn to live with it without a water softener. If you feel you must have one, then locate it in a place where only the hot water coming into the house goes through the softener. Most cold water applications do not need softened water. You want your shampoo to suds up, so just do the hot for your warm shower. Bar soap does not work well in hard water, so another reason to go with the diluted shower gel and a washcloth. There’s the price of a big bag of salt or more each month for your prep supplies.

Not all detergents are created equal. We have very hard water and have learned to adjust to it rather than use a water softener. I tried all sorts of combinations trying to reduce the residue, which is mainly the solids from the detergent. I find that All free and clear cleans as well or better than the rest and leaves little residue. I use cold water and about half the amount of detergent they recommend. Powdered detergent in a hard water area will ruin your clothes or require more additives, so a low-solids liquid like All Free and Clear fits the bill. I learned this from my County Agent – he had a list of detergents and how much powdered residue they bring to your wash load. I buy the largest container when it is on sale. I use it to refill the small container that I keep in the laundry room. A dab full strength on greasy spots, otherwise everything goes in, no pre-soak, spray, etc.. If something is really smelly, I add a splash of Pinesol to the mix. When I retire next year, I anticipate having time to line dry a lot of items. Right now, it is only my work tops and jackets (traveler fabric dries fast). What I have found is that it is the drying that wears clothes out. Set you drier on a low to medium heat for the minimum time needed. Our old dryer does have a moisture sensor. I set it on the moist side of medium. No need for softeners if you don’t have fabrics full of solids from your detergent and are not toasting them in the dryer. Your clothes will now last longer and you will save on lots of product that you no longer need. I spend less than a dime per load of wash on laundry product and my clothes are soft and long-lasting. Over time, this can save you a few hundred dollars in a year.

If you are on the grid like we are, power is a big expense. First thing to invest in is a programmable thermometer. Program the temp to be seasonally 10 degrees higher or lower when you know you will not be in the house. Ours changes the temp for the time we prepare for work and then when we get home. Nights are set colder in the winter. That, along with turning off lights that we aren’t using and minimizing use of appliances makes a difference. Also, if you have natural gas or propane available, migrate appliances to gas as you replace them over time. We also make use of our lovely desert natural light when we can. From the complaints I hear, we spend about half of what our neighbors are spending on power.

Little things add up, so pay attention. We both have allergies and a lot of runny or stuffy nose problems. For tissues, I buy one fancy boutique-shaped tissue box per dispenser. When it is empty, I cut the top so I can refill it from the big, less expensive boxes. I can refill 3 vanity boxes with 1 large box of tissue. There’s another $5 a month.

Hand soap
We don’t use much bar soap here in the desert, it dries you out to much. I get the foam soap dispensers with a screw top, usually from Bath and Body works during their big sales. These have several advantages. Most are refillable. You can refill with a couple of tablespoons of the diluted shower soap and more water and have a fresh supply. In addition to saving product, these foamers save water as well, because you are not running water to get the blob of thick soap off your hands. Hand-washing is a good habit to maintain with the pandemic du jour potential over the next few years.

I have probably exceeded my word limit so will stop for now. The above tips can go a long way to building a larder, so we ladies shouldn’t leave all that to our primary breadwinners. Lets do our part – oh, and don’t forget to work hard on your marksmanship. I recently beat my husband on the pistol range. - Desert Dawn

The letter about Generators today inspired me to write this email. I have owned generators for around 20 years for emergency backup and portable power uses. I use my generator primarily for powering sound equipment in the field. As a result I looked for a quiet generator. The very quiet generators all run at 1,800 RPM, but it is expensive to make a generator that runs slow and quiet, and the affordable portable generators all seem to run at 3,600 RPM.

When I purchased my current generator 10 years ago, Coleman had just started using the Briggs and Stratton "Vanguard" OHV engines in their generators. These I found to be significantly quieter than the
typical generator engine, though not as quiet as a 1,800 RPM engine.

With regards draining the fuel, I have found the key is shutting off the valve in the fuel line under the tank and letting the engine run until it starves for lack of fuel. It is not necessary to drain the
fuel tank or take other steps in my experience as long as the valve is closed and the engine run dry of fuel. My current generator has had fuel in the tank for its entire ten year life and starts on the first
pull every time. Of course Sta-Bil. or Amsoil's gas stabilizer is always added to the fuel.

The most important issue for long generator life is clean oil. Oil gets dirty from dirt in the air. The engine on my generator has a dual air filter with both a pleated paper filter and an oil soaked foam filter. The combination seems to do a good job in keeping the engine oil clean.

It is also important to use an oil that does not break down under use, and that keep water in suspension so it does not rust engine parts. I use Amsoil's Synthetic Marine Oil in my generator, but when my current stock of oil is used up I will probably switch to the new Amsoil Synthetic Small Engine Oil. (I recommend Amsoil Synthetic Oils for all your cars as well.)

I have a plastic storage bin that holds spare air filters, spare spark plugs, and oil for my generator along with the needed spark plug wrench and a fuel siphon. I keep one or two 6 gallon gas cans out in
my shed (not in our garage or house for safety). Since all our vehicles have full tanks of fuel, I can always use the siphon to refill the gas cans.

Running the generator under load every few months is an excellent idea. Always start and stop a generator with no load connected. If your loads are connected during start up in particular the voltage
surges as the generator engine gets up to speed and settles to a constant running speed can destroy electronic equipment, and is not good for any equipment. Get the generator running at a steady speed,
and then plug in your power cords. Likewise disconnect the power cords before stopping the generator

Blessings on you and your family! - RAR


Mr. Rawles,
I live in Florida and have had quite a few encounters with week long power outages due to hurricanes. Four years ago I converted my portable generator to run on natural gas for only a little more than $200.00. I don't have to worry about ethanol contamination in the carburetor anymore. The conversion is also able to run on propane, or back to gasoline with only the re-gapping of the spark plug. It has a pull start and only takes one or two pulls to start after sitting in storage for months. Here is the web site where I ordered the kit. - Jim H

I have found that Dairygold dairy (and probably also other) dairies in Boise, Idaho will sell once used HDPE #2 Food Grade buckets with lids inexpensively. (These were $2 or $3 the last time I bought a bunch of them.)

These were used for bringing into the dairy the flavorings for ice cream, so you might have to wash out the strawberry syrup or whatever. These are HDPE #2 and Food Grade marked.

They also have some food grade 55 gallon drums, metal and plastic that they will also sell. The same should be true of other large dairies all over the US and Canada that produce ice cream. - Terry in Idaho

JWR Replies: As I mention in the the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, there are innumerable sources for food grade HDPE buckets. The phone is your friend. Keep calling until find someone that has a big pile of them, available free, or nearly free. Also, be sure to watch Craigslist, like a hawk.

"It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country ... in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives -- the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for their country, for us. All we can do is remember." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Friday, November 27, 2009

Notes from JWR:

There are just three days left in the 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, Order yours soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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.

This article explains one way that you can configure a hybrid heating system for your house in a Schumeresque environment, but it is also potentially a way to cut your heating bills before TSHTF, depending on the prices of various heating fuels in your area.

We live in North Idaho, in a house that would be better suited in Hawaii.  It’s watertight but mostly a heat sieve.  Each of the last few years as the propane prices jumped each winter, we ended up getting hit with astronomical bills to keep the inside of our rather large home livable in outdoor temps that, for months, hovered between 20 °F and –10 °F.  We use the wood stove that was already upstairs when we bought the place, and we have added some house insulation, installed double pane windows, and done all the usual maneuvers to limit heat loss, but the basic structure of most of the house is still about R-3 and right now we don’t have the money needed to get it all up to snuff.  We have a forced air propane-fired furnace, but in our region wood pellets are much cheaper than propane and that was the basic reason that I started thinking about how to take advantage of that fact.

I came up with an interesting approach to marry the existing propane furnace system to a recently purchased, used pellet stove.  Normally, pellet stoves provide lots of heat in a limited area, at a relatively low cost per BTU.  Their drawback is that, typically, you can’t get that cheap heat spread all over the house so you end up with one nice warm region, and many cooler regions in other rooms or on other floors.  Turning on the furnace blower can help to move the warm air around somewhat, but airflow patterns and the tendency for heat to rise often thwart this approach significantly.  Then there is the fact that the two systems don’t “talk” to each other so you could end up with the furnace blower running when the pellet stove is cold, or it’s off when the stove is cranking out the heat, and manual synchronization requires constant attention.

I put the pellet stove in the same room that has the furnace closet and cold air intake (aka the cold air return).  I placed it on an outside wall of the house and plumbed the flue through an existing small window, re-framing half the glass and using a wall thimble to separate the hot pipe from anything remotely combustible.  I would have just gone through the wall but in our walkout basement it is cinder blocks filled with puffed mica and I did not want the mess, or the reduction in structural integrity.  The stove’s hot air outlet in front is aimed, more or less, at the cold air intake of the furnace.  Make sure that you install both a smoke detector (if you don’t already have one near the furnace) and a carbon monoxide detector in the room.  Consider having the stove flue professionally installed if you aren’t certain that you can do it in a way that gives you a safe and decent looking result.

Instead of putting a thermostat on the pellet stove, I installed a 7-day multi-cycle programmable timer that provides thermostat-like contact closure at the times I programmed.  This does two things.  It helps to avoid too much repeated use of the self-igniting feature of the stove – often the first part to go bad and a costly part at that.  Secondly, it assures that in the winter, the heat comes on long before we are awake so the house is fully warmed when my wife gets up.  This part is very important because If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy (IMAHANH).   James, you might want to add that to your glossary. [JWR Adds: Done!]

The timer starts the pellet stove and heats that room quickly.  In a normal system this would soon tell the furnace thermostat that the house is warm enough and no action is required, but I want the blower to operate to spread the heat using the existing ducts throughout the house.  So I installed a second mercury-switch type thermostat and placed it so that it could “feel” both the heat in the room from the pellet stove and the cooler air returning from the balance of the house when the furnace blower is on.  Here’s the part that seems backwards – but it works perfectly.  I used the “air conditioning” side of the thermostat and tied the switch in parallel to the furnace blower’s manual fan terminals.  These are the wires that go closed circuit when you flick the house thermostat’s blower switch from “auto” to “manual.”  Now I have two devices that can turn on the furnace blower and they operate independently without interference.  I leave the house thermostat’s blower switch on “auto” so that it works with the furnace in those rare times that heat is required but my pellet stove is not on.  But when my pellet stove heats the room, the new thermostat thinks that the room is too hot (above ~76F in my case) and it “turns on the air conditioning” which is actually my furnace blower.  Voila !  My house furnace is spreading the heat from my pellet stove.  When the timer tells the pellet stove to shut down – like as bedtime approaches – the utility room starts to cool down, aided by the cooler air returning from the rest of the house.  When the room gets below the “air conditioning” setting the thermostat shuts off the furnace blower.   If, during the night the house goes below the temperature I have set for the original furnace, it can come on and do its thing as before, but I set that nighttime temp quite low since we are sleeping in warm beds anyway.

Using this scheme, my propane bills have already dropped to around 25% of what they were and even with the cost of the pellets, my total heating costs are way down!

Yes, you need electricity to run the pellet stove timer, the pellet stove and house furnace blower, but in a TEOTWAWKI scenario I’ll be using my diesel generator to keep the food freezers and critical accessories “refreshed” anyway.  The thrifty aspect is that the pellet stove’s timer has an internal rechargeable battery backup that it uses when turned off, so none of the parts of my new system produces “phantom loads” on my electrical network.  I intentionally used a [traditional bi-metal style] mercury switch thermostat ($2 used, from Habitat for Humanity) because it has better hysteresis characteristics than newer solid state battery operated thermostats. A thermostat that controls a furnace is either off or on, with nothing in between. The thermostat is a system; the input is the temperature, and the output is the furnace state. If one wishes to maintain a temperature of 71 °F, a solid state thermostat will try to stay as close to that temperature as possible, often cycling the furnace and blower on and off many times per hour.  This is both inefficient and hard on the furnace parts.  Some mercury-switch units allow you to set the “width” of the hysteresis.  So you could, for instance have the furnace go on when the temperature drops below 68 °F, and turn it off when the temperature exceeds 74 °F. This thermostat exhibits hysteresis.  It keeps the added thermostat from cycling a lot after the pellet stove is off but the room is still warm enough that stopping the blower (and the flow of cooler air into the room) would result in the thermostat thinking it needs to” turn on the air conditioning” again and again.
All my best to you, James, and your family in this difficult time.  Keep your powder dry and your Bible open  - Ted

Mr. Rawles,
I took a textiles class while in college. This is a subject I recommend to anyone, as it is very interesting, and more useful than you would think (our textbook was Textiles by Sara J. Kadolph if anyone is interested). One of the things I learned is that fabric should not be stored in plastic or next to cardboard or wood. The chemicals or natural acids will be absorbed by the fabric and deteriorate it. The best way to store fabric is to wrap it in cotton (I use an old pillowcase), and of course keep it in dry place. You might want to consider this when storing extra clothes as well.
Best Wishes and Happy Holidays. - Sarah M.

Greetings JR-
Regarding the discussion on the mother lode of seed buckets: Be aware that seeds meant to be placed in the ground are almost always treated by industrial seed firms with a pesticide that is designed to protect the seed and give it a greater chance of making it out of the ground from such enemies as rodents, weeds and fungus' etc. For the same reason you don't want to eat seed grains if they are treated as seed materials, you might want to make sure that you are able to adequately wash or remove the pesticides that might still remain in the buckets. Oftentimes the seed treatment will be [with a dye that is] a bright neon colored orange or reddish color. If possible contact the seed company on the bucket label and find out what the pesticide is...If possible -educate yourself by reading the warning label and you might have second thoughts -but that decision is yours to make. Your local county extension agent can also be a great help if you have questions.

FYI, our area of Idaho/Oregon is one the seed growing capitals of the world and several international seed firms are located just a few miles from here. Sadly, most, if not all are hybrids products. - RBS

Dear JWR:
I don't know if you respond to such e-mails, but if so, I would like to know if a bucket stamped HDPE#2 is certain to be a food grade bucket. I have seen buckets stamped as such at stores like Lowe's, but I was not sure if their being stamped HDPE#2 was in itself a guarantee. If you can answer this, I thank you. Thank you. - Daniel Miller

JWR Replies: I appreciate RBS reminding our readers of that hazard. (It has been mentioned a couple of times in the blog.) As I explain in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, contamination of food grade buckets is one issue, but an equally-important issue is the suitability of buckets themselves, as they come new from the factory. Determining whether or not a particular used bucket is truly food grade can sometimes be a challenge. I've had several readers and consulting clients who have mistakenly been told that the the number 2 (with the number 2 inside the "chasing arrows" recycling symbol) refers to Food Grade HDPE, but that is not true. Not all "2" marked plastics are food grade! Let me explain: The "food grade" designation is determined by plastic purity by and what mold release compound is used in the injection molding process--not by the plastic itself, since all virgin HDPE material is safe for food. For paint and other utility buckets, manufacturers sometimes use a less expensive (and toxic) mold release compound. For food grade they must use a more expensive formulation that is non-toxic. Unless the buckets that you bought are are actually marked "food grade", (or, marked NSF, FDA, or USDA approved), then you will have to check with the manufacturer's web site to see if they make all food grade buckets. For more details, see the information at this barbecue and brining web site. If in doubt, then mark the suspect buckets to strictly non-food item storage, such as for storing cleaning supplies or ammunition

Bobbi-Sue mentioned an extensive Niall Ferguson interview. Bobbi-Sue's comment: "Ferguson is still bearish based on historical norms and a few of his other popular ideas such as the China/America dance."

From Damon S.: Dubai Debt Woes Turn Ugly After It Seeks Standstill Deal

Items from The Economatrix:

FDIC Rescue Fund Slides into the Red

Washington Post Closing All US Bureaus Outside of DC

Britain Has Run Out of Money

Cold Turkey Thanksgiving 2009

The Day The Dollar Died (Part 4--Arrogance of the Gods)

M.K. sent a link to a piece on potassium iodide (KI) that ran on NPR. By the way, KI and KI03 are sold by several SurvivalBlog advertisers.

   o o o

Joe Ordinary sent a link to footage of a large meteor that went over South Africa late Saturday evening. Listening to eyewitness accounts it was seen from as far away as Maputo (in Mozambique) Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The meteor was traveling northwest and was presumed to have landed beyond the Botswana border. This video footage was taken approx 350 kilometers from the border.

   o o o

The editor of The Mountainsteps Blog posted a very favorable review of my latest book.

   o o o

Jason sent a link to a sporadically-updated blog on trikes, bikes and small campers.

"A fine marksman is with a second rate rifle is far more effective than the reverse." - Colonel Jeff Cooper, writing in Mel Tappan's P.S. Newsletter

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! There are just four days left in the 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course. Order your course binder and audio CD soon!

Mr. Rawles,

I'm glad that I bought the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course! It has a ton of great information. I followed one piece of advice in the course, and I struck pay dirt: I went to three local bakeries (one was actually part of a supermarket). All three had food grade buckets available. At two of these bakeries, I got charged just $1 each for five gallon buckets with lids. Most of them had already been cleaned. They also threw in a few extra [bucket]s with no lids, for free. And at the other bakery, the buckets and lids were absolutely free. "Just remember us, if you ever want to order a cake," was all they asked in return.

Thanks again for putting the preparedness course together. When I first ordered it, the price seemed high, but it is now plain to me that having it is going to save me and my wife thousands of dollars. Thanks for all that you do with your blog and books. It is nice to see that you still offer all the stuff in your archives, free. You are a saint. God Bless, - P.D.K. in Cleveland

Dear James,
Many of SurvivalBlog readers look for or mention places to find food grade buckets for their long-term food storage needs. I have tried many of them myself (supermarket deli's, ice cream parlors etc.) with some success, however one place I recently found via a Craigslist posting ended up to be my new "motherload" source for these buckets. It was a local vegetable farm. Unbeknownst to me, the seeds to plant various crops just so happen to come in bulk quantity in either five or six gallon plastic HDPE #2 food-grade buckets with rubber gasket lids and sturdy metal handles. I paid the farmer one dollar for each bucket, including the lid. The buckets were dusty but clean, had no traces of any odors, and a quick wash and rinse with soap and water was all it took to prepare them. The farmer told me that he had over a hundred available, with many more to come during the planting season. He said that most all of the local farmers had so many buckets that they just ended up throwing them away in the recycle bin. He told me that his young daughter had suggested trying Craigslist. He told me to stop by at anytime if I needed any more (which, rest assured, I will).

With the price of these same buckets going anywhere from five to eight dollars (plus shipping) on e-bay and other sources, one only have to make a few enquiries at any local produce farms. You may end up be pleasantly surprised.

Wishing you and all of readers a happy and Holy holiday. The late Memsahib, your family and your good self will be in my prayers. - Bill M.

Mr. Rawles;
Spinning and weaving are certainly not lost arts. I know many women and some men who spin, and some who also weave. Spinning wheels and lessons are available in many cities, and there are active spinning and weaving guilds. Cards, wheels and looms can also be ordered online, and there are YouTube videos demonstrating the various processes.

It is true spinning is more difficult to learn than knitting, and requires a larger initial investment in equipment. The cheapest spinning wheels start at around $200, from Babe's Fiber Garden. (I have not used one of these so I cannot comment on how well they work, but I know they have been selling them for ten or twelve years.) It is also possible to make your own spinning wheel from directions available on the internet. The basic principles are not that difficult. [JWR Adds: In my family's experience, rather than buying a low-end wheel, it is best to look for a used name-brand spinning wheel, such as an Ashford or a Louet. These can often be found for under $250 if you watch Craigslist diligently.]

As to whether spinning is practical as a survival skill—well, maybe. It is time-consuming, especially if you start with preparation of the fleece itself. However, once the yarn is spun, knitting or weaving it goes much faster. But hand spun or at least hand knit wool socks, gloves, mittens, hats, and sweaters are a great comfort, so there is that to consider, too.

As much as I love spinning, knitting, and weaving (I am still very much a novice at weaving), I do think it would be more practical to lay in a supply of yarn, cloth, thread, needles, scissors, pins, etc. (Don’t forget sewing machine oil!) Bear in mind that cloth deteriorates with time and cannot be expected to last forever on the shelf. The fibers will weaken and the cloth will rip or fray when you finally try to use it.

If one anticipates having to do without electricity, treadle sewing machines in working order may still be found in some places. There are also hand-cranked sewing machines, from the British Isles , available on e-bay. I bought one a year ago and am very pleased with it. If I had the right set-up, it could be converted to foot treadle operation, which would be even nicer. There are instructions available on the Internet for repairing sewing machine—search for “how to repair a sewing machine,” or “how to repair a treadle sewing machine.” It would be a good idea to locate a set of instructions and print them out to have them available any time in the future.

My condolences on the loss of your dear wife. The thought of her Ashford wheels standing silent is a very sad one. Sincerely, - Kathie C.


Mr Rawles:
I read with interest the article about the fabric of our life and it got me to thinking about my own sewing. I learned to sew when I was in the 7th grade. I sewed on my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. I still have that machine along with my mother’s and my own sewing machines. For those of you that don’t sew -You Can Learn. This goes for you men as well. Through out history it was the man that was the tailor. There are classes at places like Joann’s Fabrics. Most places that sell sewing machines have sewing classes to teach the basics. Adult Education many times will have classes on things like sewing and knitting. If you contact places that sell fabrics they can direct to places to learn. There are a number of books that can show you the techniques. I like the Singer series of books but there are others out there as well.

Like most women that sew, I have the “fabric stash” and lots of sewing notions. I decided to take a look at what I have and what I needed more of. For men, I have patterns to make basic collared and cuffed long sleeve shirts, pants, men’s underwear, casual jackets, tee shirts and pajamas. For women, there are patterns for blouses, skirts, pants, jackets, bras and pajamas. As all our kids are grown, I don’t have too many patterns for children but children would need the same types of clothing in sizes for them. I like the multi size patterns and just trace out the size I need while leaving the pattern intact. I buy a bolt of tracing pellon (a thin polyester fabric) just for this. After assessing my fabric stash I think every one should have a bolt of white cotton sheeting (it is a little more substantial than regular muslin) It can be used for a wide variety of items and could be dyed to what ever color that you want. You could use Rit Dye or try your hand at natural plant dyes. There are lots of books out there to guide you. A bolt of denim is great for pants and light jackets. A bolt of cotton knit for underwear and tee shirts. If you get a bolt of white cotton knit you can have a lot of fun tie dying it for your tee shirts. A bolt of polyester fleece can make jackets, hats and I like to use it for warm pajamas. You could also use the fleece to line a jacket or pants to have something warmer for winter. A bolt of flannel can be used for shirts and pajamas.

For notions you will need zippers and buttons, snaps or Velcro. I like the no sew jean buttons that you hammer in like rivets. Lots of thread especially in black and white. Elastics for pants and underwear waist bands and wrist openings. The plastic snap buckles and webbing are great for pants self belts. Plush elastic and plastic parts for bras. The hook and eye part and plastic parts can be recycled from your older bras if they are still in good condition. You can order bra patterns and notions online from places like So Sassy Fabrics. Bias tapes in the single and double fold. Make sure that you have lots of needles for hand sewing as well as your sewing machine. It is a good idea to have lots of straight pins and safety pins and several pairs of scissors and tape measures. Interfacing is used on lots of thing like collars and cuffs. If you check out the back of your sewing patterns they always list the notions that you will need and when you see the same things listed over and over again you will know what you need to stock up on. For those that have not tried sewing give it a chance you might find that it is not as hard as you thought. Best Regards - Glennis

Hi Jim,

May your family count your blessings during this holiday time of the year. Being the first after losing a loved one. We all make that trip eventually. If the time was spent in a good fruitful life, then their are no regrets. Peace be with you and your family.

I was in the Peace Corps in West Africa, The Sahel. This was the southern portion of the Sahara Desert. Water was plentiful but had to be drawn from 60 to 80 ft. deep wells by hand. Then transported in containers to or throughout the village. It was labor intensive. Water was the most critical item for everyday existence.

No one in the native population living in the bush used toilet paper. It was the left hand wipe and clean off in the sand.

Water drawn from the well was not used by the natives for body washing. They just could not afford that kind of labor. Nearly all of the adult men were gone to neighboring countries to work. The women were left to do the manual labor.

Viruses abounded in this area.
Once I was deathly sick with massive diarrhea and massive vomiting simultaneously for six hours. The Peace Corps doctor told me I had UAV: "Unidentified African virus"I learned my lesson. Extreme cleanliness had to be the norm.

Staying healthy was the most important thing you did each day in terms of time. No shortcuts. This activity to transport, purify water and cook meals that were not contaminated took 60% to 80% of my time each day. Exposure to viruses, bacteria, skin parasites and internal parasites and insect vectors was vast. Both subtropical and tropical diseases were present including malaria. Because I had taken classes in bacteriology and microbiology during my college trials I was aware of the potential for infection. I was extra careful.

Cleaning yourself rectally with your hand was inviting exposure to a plethora of sickness. My answer was to use a rubber glove and soft cotton cloth. Then sterilize the glove in water and Clorox.
Wash the cloth in warm soapy water and sterilize it also for reuse. I kept dozens of these cloths in case the trots returned. Note: the bleach was not that brand name since it was a French product. I don't recall the name of it now but it was the same [hypochlorite bleach sold] as Clorox.

This method worked well for me. I stayed healthy during most of my time as a Peace Corps volunteer. But I was told that the greatest infectious problem among the Peace Corps in this country was sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

I was the only person in our group [46] of Peace Corps volunteers to bring with me pairs of work and rubber gloves. Also among the few that showed up for transport to Africa without a Western style suit and street shoes. Instead I brought a kit of tools, an 18" Ontario machete, a large Buck knife and a good compass. Being raised partially on a farm by extended family I knew about gloves, tools, boots and such. Most of the Peace Corps people in my group came from the far east coast ivy league universities. They for the most part were helpless outside a modern house without water, electricity, phones, television and air conditioning. For this they suffered and were not prepared for life in the bush.

I was all of 44 and the third oldest in the group. But I was the best prepared of all of them for the bush.

Learn to solve problems using the simple principle: Complexity is time and intense maintenance. Avoid creating problems that are greater than the one you are to solve. Use what you have and improvise. Above all else, engage brain and think.

I read your site every day. Cordially, - J.W.C.

As a member of the military, I've spent a lot of time in cultures where toilet paper is uncommon, like writer E.B.G. I'm deployed to one as I write this. But before I agree not using toilet paper and instead using your hand and water is a practical alternative for Western preppers, I would point out one key issue. In most of those cultures, the left hand is considered unclean and unfit for almost any other use. It's not hard to deduce the very practical reason behind this- and this "one-handed" society is not something many of us adapt to very well. - Todd in Baghdad

Mr. Editor,
There's no need to clean your backside with your hand. Just use an ordinary kitchen sink sprayer to clean yourself after using the toilet. Come on people, this isn't that hard!
Regards, - Owen G.

While I agree hot water and soap would be a sanitary alternative to toilet paper (TP); a bucket of cold water sitting next to the toilet does not. Even with toilet paper (TP), the lack of hot water and soap is of concern in light of limiting disease transfer. I'll stick to stocking TP; it is relatively cheap, and while space is always a concern, TP can be stored just about anywhere that is not wet. God Bless,- Eric G.

Mr. Rawles-
E.B.G. mentioned a method of cleaning up after a bowel movement that, as you noted, would not be an ideal choice. Here in the south the old timers kept a basket of corn cobs or a Sears and Roebuck catalog in the privy to use in place of toilet paper. If you shell your own corn the cobs would be available and while it would not rate up there with Charmin' for comfort some of that junk mail could be used. The junk mail won't last after the SHTF but you can conserve toilet paper while it does. Don't forget old phone books, too. - Gordon in Georgia, a former ASA 98C

Well, I'm not quite ready to use the old left hand for that.. but I did buy a bidet. it was less than $30 on eBay. its plastic and connects right on the [toilet] seat. the wife doesn't like it. But I bet she will reconsider when the TP runs out. My eight year old son thinks its lots of fun, I just have to watch him so he doesn't make it hit the wall on the other side of the bathroom. - Brad S.

I grew up in good old USA. I traveled to the Philippines after High School. They sell toilet paper in the stores and we bought some, of course.

It wasn't until later that summer that I forgot to bring some toilet paper with me once when we went to the mall. (Yes the malls do not have any toilet paper, it is a "bring it yourself" world). Luckily I happened to pick the stall that had a scoop and a bucket with water. I had no choice but to use the water "the way the natives do".

After this experience, and it was quite a learning experience, I learned to use a good amount of water and to splash it around really well. Only after I used 1-2 scoops and splashed it around well did I then touch anything with the 3rd and 4th scoops of water. Usually after the first one or two scoops there is hardly anything left.

I happen to be lucky this day and the bathroom had soap. They don't always have soap but I guess it was fortunate for me that they did.

Would you believe it that I actually felt cleaner using water rather than toilet paper? It is true, it feels much cleaner. My wife and I joke that we will buy a bunch of toilet paper and then hold it for a while if/when the SHTF. We'll then sell it for a premium while we use soap and water.

Anyhow, if you have never tried it then at least try it for a few days and learn to use it. Remember, you always have soap and you can always clean up. It may be a skill that will come in handy in the future.

Take care, - KP

Dear Jim,
When my daughter was growing up, some of our favourite home-school activities were our history 'lessons'. We didn't just read about it, we would spend a week or so actually living as if we were in a particular period of history. It was a great educational experience for all of us and went some way towards preparation to cope with possible primitive situations. My daughter is now quite at home making soap, paper, gathering herbs and a myriad of other low-tech activities.

One thing we discovered during these enactments is that the Roman method of cleaning one's nether regions - a small sponge on a stick kept in disinfected water - was particularly effective and not unpleasant. We kept several small sponges in a bucket and the used ones would be washed at the end of each day. Natural sponges or artificial baby sponges are the kindest on your rear. This is probably more acceptable to First-Worlders than the hand and water method and requires less storage space than cart-loads of toilet paper. For the record, I store both paper and sponges!

Praying for you all. Blessings, - Luddite Jean in England

Reader Paul D. sent us a YouTube link that shows how to make a 16 Brick Rocket Stove.

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FJ forwarded a link to an article on Teeny Tiny Houses

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Reader MP recommended this Wired article: Vanishing in the modern age

"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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

JRH Enterprises is having their fourth annual "Black Friday" sale, which includes brand new Generation 3 AN/PVS-14 Starlight night vision scopes for $2,995, complete with the factory data card. I should mention that I personally purchased one of these units from them, and I love it. It is very versatile, since it can be used as a weapon sight (lined up behind a Aimpoint Comp M3), or with the flip of a throw lever be used hand-held, and then with the provided head mount it can be used as a hands-free monocular. The quick detach and consistent return to zero feature has turned my dedicated night-fighting rifle into a true day/night rifle. This is the Hotel Sierra set-up!

Greetings Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to pass along a quick reminder to your readers who took the time and expense to buy a backup generator, but haven't taken the time to periodically test and maintain it. Here in southeastern Virginia, we are still recovering from what was called the "Atlantic Assault" by the hyperventilating reporters on the Weather Channel. To be fair, though, this was indeed a whopper of a Nor'easter that gave us flooding only a foot or so less than Hurricane Isabel in 2003. We lost power the evening of November 12, but luckily got it back 29 hours later even though we were told to expect several more days of grid-down living. But here's the kicker: on my street, only two of the four houses with generators could get them started. Of three other friends I checked with after the storm, there was one other [like me] that could not start his generator. So what's going on?

As many boaters unfortunately have also discovered, infrequently used engines are suffering significant damage to their carburetors from the ethanol in our gasoline supply. Extra precautions to completely drain fuel tanks, fuel lines, and carburetor float bowls are absolutely essential before putting the generator away for storage. Ask me how I know...

I was also guilty of insufficient testing and maintenance, but I discovered my mistake well before this storm. In early June I pulled my generator out for its yearly testing at the beginning of hurricane season. Yes, I know. Testing my backup power source only once per year was pretty stupid. Anyway, no amount of cord-pulling or carburetor cleaning would induce my generator to start. The gasoline had stabilizer in it, and even draining the old gas and using fresh didn't help. I eventually got tired of messing with it, and I bought a replacement carburetor via eBay for $70. After installing the new carburetor, along with a new in-line fuel filter from the marine parts store, the generator started on the second pull and ran like new.

I now have a standard monthly testing cycle for my generator that runs it under load for about half an hour. I also have a standard routine for servicing my generator after each use. This routine includes draining the fuel tank, pulling and draining the fuel lines, and fully draining the float bowl of the carburetor. I even leave the lid off the fuel tank for a few hours -- in a well-ventilated space -- to let it completely air dry. And I also have a new schedule for changing the engine oil. During heavy use, I change the oil every once three days (about 50 hours) of operation. Otherwise, I just change it once per year. Remember that oil is cheap and it's the life-blood of a small air-cooled engine.

So my generator was one of the ones that worked during the recent storm, and I was able to run 12-gauge extension cords to two of my neighbors to keep their refrigerators running, too. It was nice to be in the position of being able to help others rather than needing help myself. I hope your readers can learn from my mistakes and how I corrected them. - Mike in Virginia

Good Day JWR,
My prayers continue daily for you, and for your son's hearts healing at the loss of Memsahib. May you find some fraction of reciprocal solace and warmth from the Thanksgiving Blessings from God for the many hundreds of thousands of lives that you have enriched with your blog and books. Thanksgivings to you JWR for what you have done and do so very well, by providing this valuable multi-national information highway of connectedness on survival and preparedness!

Here is my organizational tip of the week I would like to share. We have free range poultry and very rogue ducks and geese. The chickens and guineas are pretty reliable about returning to the coop for their egg "layoff". However, our many hen ducks just roam and lay where ever they get the urge to do so. Most of their eggs are used for baking and if I don't check the property for newly made nests with eggs every day or so, I end up with occasional bad, rotten eggs in my mixing bowl, because I have lost track of the age of the eggs. This is a smell you are likely not wanting inside your kitchen! Phewy! Always break eggs, one at a time, in a separate bowl before adding them to your other ingredients.

To help me organize and pull these piles of eggs for sorting in this order for my use: for eating,(the freshest), for incubating under a surrogate brooder, (the next in oldest date and these get marked with the date with a wax china marker pencil before getting placed under the surrogate), and then those which are past hatching (after 35 days) and end up in the compost pile. What I use now as nest place markers, is a saved and placed used and cleaned styrofoam plate or used aluminum pie pan (these are long term reusable) which have been marked and dated with a fine tip marker onto a piece of masking tape on the outer rim of the plate where it can be seen easily once filled with eggs, the actual date that I set it on the ground and place it under the surrounded pile of leaves and plucked out down and pin feathers. Then when I am scratching my head, two or three weeks later, wondering when this pile was layed, I have a reference to refer to and do not have to toss all the eggs in the composter. Those eggs that are freshest, by the way, are usually on the top and to the back, and are still warm to the touch hours after being laid.

Those eggs that a broody hen has pushed or rolled away from the nest, you can go ahead and remove and place in the compost pile. She knows that the egg is not viable for hatching.
Also, another tip for barnyard time savings: Keep your old egg cartons out by the hen house. Instead of transferring the eggs twice, from the nest to the basket and then to a bowl or carton, just pull the fresh eggs and place them straight into a carton, mark the date on a piece of masking tape on the end of the carton for easy viewing. Eggs that I donate to charity, or sell to neighbors and friends, I ask them to please return my cartons cleaned for reuse and recycling again. May all Have a Blessed Thanksgiving Day! - KAF

Being born and raised in Maine, I was introduced to B&M baked beans at a young age. Beans and brown bread were our standard fare on Saturday nights for many years. Over the years, I have grown increasingly fond of them, although harder to find in the Midwest - they seem to get crowded off many grocery store shelves in favor of lesser rivals.

In particular, I love B&M brown bread (with or without raisins) - rich, moist dense bread made with molasses and packaged in a can. It is heated inside the can (hint: slice it cold, before heating). A pat (or two) of real butter melting on it makes the meal complete.

From a preparedness perspective, both the beans (available in glass jars or cans) and brown bread are a treasure. The manufacturer confirms (below) that their standard freshness shelf life is three years from date of manufacture (longer is still good, I'm sure). Given that we regularly eat it, there is no problem adding this to our "rotation". And in the case of distress, we have the ability to heat the meal right in the can - the original MRE.

When I had trouble finding B&M at my local grocer, I wrote the B&G Foods and purchased several cases directly from their distribution group.

Blessings and love to you and your family. - BeePaw

Real estate bust opens doors for parties at vacant houses. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

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Reader Ken S. wrote to mention: "I have also been diving construction dumpsters at various construction sites for excess building materials. You'd be shocked at what a construction hand will throw away. It's just another way to survive this worsening economy and put stacks of building materials in my storage shed."

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Courtesy of reader HPD comes another Nanny State Britannia Update: British police arrest people ‘just for the DNA’; More than three-quarters of young black men are on system, watchdog says

"A wise [man] feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident." - Proverbs 14:16 (KJV)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A reminder that the special two-week 25% off sale on canned Mountain House foods at Ready Made Resources ends in less than a week. They are offering free shipping on full ("unbroken") cases lots. But because of the higher handling costs, if you "mix and match" cans within cases, shipping will be charged.

I saw [Roland Emmerich's new movie] 2012, the movie and must say it failed to live up to my hopes. It depended little on Mayan predictions and the coming of Planet X or Niburu but instead on some very iffy particle physics, the rapid heating of Earth's interior due to an intense neutrino flux from an immense solar flare, the "largest ever recorded."

Never mind that a flare that size would have fried all grids, chips, and transistors and reset civilization back to the early iron age due to Carrington Effect. Nobody would have known what the hell was going on because communications would be kaput. But in the movie cell phones, Internet and television were fully functional until the earth gave way beneath them or volcanic blasts engulfed them.

I wasn't looking for good science fiction though, just stunning special effects, and I thought the inclusion of Niburu would have presented some great possibilities: approaching extra-systemic planet causing miles-high tides, polar ice fields deposited on Europe, supersonic winds stripping Earth's surface down to bedrock, and so on. It could have been downright Velikovskian. And the material was right there for the taking; Niburu is the Web favorite of the more ardent 2012 speculation.

Instead we were treated to one car chase after another, except the chasing car was the fragmenting, tilting, erupting landscape/seascape and the fleeing vehicle was alternately a limousine, a motor home, a small prop executive plane, a Russian cargo jet, and finally a Chinese-built "ark" that narrowly escapes going accordion on the north face of Everest.

The massive inundations for which the arks (4-6 of them maybe) were presciently and speedily built were not caused by the slippage of the Earth's crust mentioned in the movie, but instead were giant tsunamis produced by powerful earthquakes. Fill a cookie sheet with water then jerk the cookie sheet across the counter. Inertia will keep most of the water where it is, flooding the counter. That's crustal shift; oceans stay where they are while land mass moves, causing wholesale landmass inundation. The 10.5 magnitude undersea quakes blamed in the movie would be woefully insufficient in my opinion. A very large region of ocean floor would have to experience sudden, huge, tilting uplift to move the amount of water required to flood the Himalayas if crustal shift were not the cause.

Well, I suppose on the bright side there yet remains the opportunity to produce a film based on Velikovsky's "Worlds in Collision" with all the effects I was hoping for. They had better hurry it along though. 2012 is not far off . Regards, - Jim McC

JWR Replies: Upon seeing the promotional trailer for 2012, My #2 Son's droll comment was "I don't think the script writer likes America's landmarks." Prepare to munch some popcorn at this blockbuster thrill ride, but don't expect to learn many practical survival tips from this film. For that, get a copy of the Jeremiah Johnson DVD.

I really liked the post about preparing your spouse but saw one thing missing or at least not stated explicitly. Your spouse needs to know how to do these things and the only way to really learn most of these practical tasks is to do them with your spouse. Binders [full of information] are great but unless you know how to execute all the steps, where all the necessary tools and pieces are and how to use them binders are not going to help much. To illustrate the importance of actually doing something I will relay a recent tale from my house.

A while back I tried to make Spanish rice from the recipe Wifey always uses. Every ingredient and step was there but I didn't know what a couple of the steps meant. I was able to get her help me figure them out but if she wasn't here I definitely would not have had Spanish rice with dinner. Now that I know how to do all the steps I could probably look back at that same recipe in a year or two and make it.

That same point could be easily applied to getting the chainsaw ready for the season or making soap or any other task which is done (even almost) exclusively by one spouse. Think of it like an Infantry Platoon. You are probably never going to be able to shoot the M240 like the gunner or program the radio as fast as the RTO but everyone should at least know how to use both of these essential tools. An added benefit of making sure your spouse is at least somewhat familiar with all of the household/ preparedness tasks you do (and visa versa) is spending time together doing productive things. Spending a weekend afternoon doing something together that is normally done alone can sure make another boring chore into a fun day. Also as always many hands make light work. - TheOtherRyan (of Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest)

Mr. Rawles-
I've seen it repeated everywhere that an item of big importance in survival preps is toilet paper. I do not understand this, myself. While I do use the stuff, I grew up as the son of immigrants from an impoverished nation, and learned a bit about the bathroom customs of the old country. Basically, my progenitors would use a small bucket of water and their hand to wash themselves post-elimination. Frankly, I think it gets the area cleaner than the best 3-ply can. It would put less of a load on a septic tank, if you've got one. It certainly costs less. It's far more gentle on your skin than wiping, and less likely to irritate or exacerbate a hemorrhoidal condition. And you can store a lot of food and ammunition in the space that a 1-year supply would occupy. It's even a more "green" solution to that particular problem, if you're into that sort of thing.

I understand that there may be a bit of a "blech" factor in getting used to this manner of post-BM cleansing. And in areas where water will be difficult to obtain, this may prove less convenient than storing a pallet of hind-end wipes. I think, though, for a great many people, this would be a superior hygienic solution.

Sincerely, - E.B.G.

JWR Replies: This method is not appealing to most First Worlders, but I must admit that it is pragmatic, if the requisite sanitary measures are taken. Just be sure to to store lots of soap, and in the long term, be prepared to make your own soap. (Regardless, be sure to get a copy of Anne Watson's book Smart Soapmaking.)

Mr. Editor,
It seems that when we have to store anything it is always recommended to store in a cool dark area with low humidity. What things can we store in less than favorable spots like attics or outside sheds where the temps and humidity varies greatly? Thanks for all you have done for us. - Bill H. in Delaware

JWR Replies: Humidity can be problematic, but some items that can tolerate fairly high temperature inside a shed include salt, ammunition, paper products, and many cleaning supplies and lubricants. (But do your homework on potential leaks and fire danger, especially for items in liquid form, or that are packaged in aerosol cans!) If you live in a humid climate, then be sure to keep your eyes peeled for airtight containers--the bigger the better. Five and six gallon plastic buckets with gasketed lids have become ubiquitous. If you are creative, you can store a surprising variety of items in these buckets. For example, I found one brand of meat butchering paper that come in 10" diameter bulk rolls, that when turned on end fit perfectly in a 6 gallon bucket, with just an inch to spare at the top.
Also note that in addition to the tried-and-true milsurp ammo cans, some military surplus stores sell airtight shipping containers that were originally made for military electronics--made variously of metal, plastic, or fiberglass. I've see these up to nine cubic foot capacity! In the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, I describe using silica gel desiccant packets, as a well as Golden Rod Dehumidifiers. OBTW, these days, the least expensive source of bulk silica gel, is the new variety of "crystals" unscented odor -absorbing cat litter, such as Tidy Cats Crystals and the Amazing Cat Litter brand. (OBTW, these cat litters are often sold in three or four gallon rectangular HDPE buckets, which can be re-used for storing non-food items.

Mr. Rawles,
My test indictor for properly functioning Oxygen Absorbing Packets while packaging bulk storage in food grade buckets is the downward pull on the lid. If a good seal is formed by the lid (which is imperative for any method of purging the Oxygen) the packets will cause a vacuum to be created in the bucket and the lid will be concave. It may take up to three (3) days for this to happen. I have had one bucket so far not seal properly and it did not display the concave lid. I replaced the lid and absorber packets and the lid then showed that a vacuum had been created. This is also how I determine if the seal is holding over the long term.

A good source for the absorber packets is Walton Feed [in Montpelier, Idaho, near the Wyomimg state line]. They sell packets of 100 at a very reasonable price along with buckets, lids, and bags. Not to mention all the other bulk foods at good prices for those of us located in the Pacific Northwest. I drove from Montana to their location in Idaho to pick up my first large order and saved twice what the shipping would have been over what I spent in fuel to make the drive. I also liked not having to explain to anyone about a large delivery of food. - K.L. in Montana

"We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
Several years ago I took a serious fall and was out of commission for several months. My husband had to completely take over the household responsibilities during that time. Fortunately, he was working at home and I was available to give him direction and information. Had I not been, he would have really struggled to figure out just how I got things done. As he was buttoning up the house in preparation for winter this year it occurred to me that, if he were suddenly unavailable, I too would be at a loss to remember all of the details that go into his part of household management. Realizing that each of us has a critical role to play in running our mini farm put me to work on putting together a plan that will provide each of us with a guide for taking over should we be thrust into managing alone.

I started with two simple three ring binders, a sheaf of notebook paper and twelve pocket dividers for each notebook. Each divider is a one month plan. I use the notepaper to jot down what we each do each month. November would include things like planting the seed garlic, getting my daughter a birthday gift and ordering the turkeys (for me) and getting the cider press under cover, turning the compost heap and replacing furnace filters (for my husband). I use the divider pockets for things like business cards of businesses we use or to hold index cards with instructions for various tasks. This month, we have to get new tires put on the truck so the pocket will hold the information on tire size and the contact information for the business we use. In December, when I usually put in a big wheat order, I will include the recipe I use for the bread we all like, the contact information for the farm I order the wheat from and directions for how I store it.  My husband knows when to order a load of compost for the garden and I know when the fiddleheads will be out. He will note when he orders new queens for the hives and I will jot down where the best place is get the kids new sneakers.

These may seem like small things but they aren’t. They are the details that make this house run smoothly. It is very easy to lose sight of the contributions of a partner, especially when they are done so well as to be invisible in execution. For instance, I expect that no one in my family actually notices when I make up a new batch of laundry soap. It just appears. I never see my husband sharpen the saw blades. I just know they are always good to go.

If we are both diligent in keeping our notes, in one year we will have a comprehensive guide to what needs to be done, when and how it is managed. An added benefit is that it will be kind of gratitude journal. We each know the other works hard but to see it on paper will probably be an eye opener. I know my husband had a new appreciation for just how much I accomplished when he had to do it.

If a crisis catches one of us away from home, the other is going to have to do the work of both. How much easier it will be with a guide. - A Prepared Wife

For anyone in Northeastern Ohio, look into taking advantage of the resources in and around Amish country. Lehman's Hardware in Kidron, Ohio is an excellent place to find non-electric household and farm equipment. They do sell some bulk grains to be used with their wide variety of grain mills, but I would also suggest looking at Swiss Village Bulk Foods in Sugarcreek, Ohio. They run sales weekly, and there are often coupons and additional discounts offered in local newspapers. There are many other similar resources in the area, but these two stores are the largest, and the ones I most often shop at.

Mr. Rawles, I would like to personally thank you on behalf of my husband and myself for all the work you've done via SurvivalBlog and your books. While we are on a very limited budget, we are surely and steadily working ourselves out of debt and acquiring the skills and materials to better prepare ourselves. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Do you have any suggestions for newlyweds on a limited budget who are renting? Also, any prep suggestions for those who travel for a living --my husband is long haul semi driver-- in a SHTF scenario?

May God bless and keep you, - Mrs. A.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to give some input regarding buying food items in bulk. For folks who live in areas where there are larger populations of Amish, often you can find bulk food stores that cater to their needs. In northeastern Ohio, I frequently shop at The Ashery Country Store, near Kidron (not too far from the Lehman’s Hardware). They also have a satellite store in Heath, Ohio, called Ashery Farm Store. I often buy items in bulk (50 pound bags) from these locations. Prices for spices are the best, too, often one-quarter of what I would pay at a grocery store.

Also, I found another source for bakery supplies. I contacted a local mom-and-pop type bakery and asked them who supplies them. They gave me the company name and phone number and this bakery supplier has been willing to sell to me and my friends. I pick up the items at the local bakery when the delivery truck arrives. I am able to buy flour, shortening, oats and other supplies for cheaper than what I would pay at the bulk food store. I also bought a 50 pound bag of baking soda (and I have been stocking up on cream of tartar) so I can make baking powder and to have on hand for cleaning.

Thanks for all you do for the preparedness community. Be blessed! - Star K.

One good source to buy bulk dried corn, wheat and other grains is at a store that sells farm supplies and animal feed in bulk. You can buy 80-100 pound sacks (save the sacks, they are very useful) and the price is low. I purchased several tons of grain years ago this way. Tell them that it is for human consumption, not for animals or seed. You don't want it treated in any way. You can buy food grade buckets or barrels online, or find cheap or free used ones. Check bakeries, grocery store delis/bakeries, restaurants, etc. Avoid buckets that held anything like mayo or pickles, the bucket will retain the smell and your food will pick it up. Good buckets are often free, or maybe a dollar or so. Invest in a tool to open the lid (Emergency Essentials sells one). The buckets are usually clean, but clean them again to be sure. Use a screw driver to carefully pry the rubber gasket out of the lid and clean that area thoroughly. Make sure everything is dry before you fill the buckets.

You can get food grade Mylar bags from Emergency Essentials. These will be necessary if you use barrels. When you open a 55 gallon barrel you can remove one bag without exposing everything to the air, moisture, etc.. Also you can put multiple things in barrels and separate them. Full buckets will weigh 40-60 lbs, barrels can weight 450-600 lbs. You can stack buckets and barrels (loading the top barrel after stacked). You will need to invest in a hand truck if you plan to move those barrels. Whole grains should last nearly forever if stored properly. Do not buy flour unless you intend to use it within a year or two. The shelf life is short. Once wheat is ground the nutrients are lost fast. For short term use we store some flour, but our bulk supplies are whole grains. Invest in a quality grain grinder to make your own flour (Lehman's).

You will need to pack your buckets using some dry ice. A Google search for the nearest city and dry ice should turn up a nearby dry ice company. You can learn the dry ice method by reading Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens. We have tons of self-stored grain, for over 20 years. We use some of it periodically to check it, and it is perfectly fine. A family can buy an extensive supply of bulk food this way at a very low price. Gather the buckets and barrels first and plan for some work to haul and bucket things up. Then enjoy the security and peace of mind of having all of that food. - Don in Ohio

JWR Replies: The containers to look for are 5 to 6 gallon HDPE food grade plastic buckets. If any of them come without lids, don't worry. since you'll surely want to have a few to equip with Gamma-Seal lids. These lids have a screw top that makes them very convenient to access the bulk grains and legumes that you use the most often. In the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, I describe a couple of methods for creating an oxygen-free environment for bulk storage foods in plastics. I actually prefer the dry ice method over using commercially made oxygen-absorbing packets. This is because there is no way of knowing if an O2 absorbing packet might have inadvertently been exposed to atmospheric oxygen, thereby rendering it useless. When you buy O2 absorbing packets, buy only from the most reputable dealers. Less reputable dealers have been known to repackage O2 absorbing packets that they have had on the shelf for months or years. In contrast, with the dry ice method, you know for certain that you are creating a bucket full of CO2 that critters can't breathe.

Thanks to Jeanan for raising a very important but easily overlooked point. It's amazing how we take for granted having drawers full of clothes!

Curiously, though, I do know folks who know how to spin thread and weave cloth. Some of the ladies in a Dark Age re-enactment group that I'm a member of perform demonstrations of these very skills. I have seen them work with raw wool, spin thread, and demonstrate weaving on period looms. Granted that the Dark Ages are a little too primitive (no spinning wheels, for example) but it does point to a partial solution, namely consulting with re-enactment groups from, say, the 18th and 19th centuries. Of course, very few do this sort of thing full time (usually more of a hobby) but some are nevertheless quite passionate about period crafts, and probably possess some useful information. Also, museums like Colonial Williamsburg might be able to point you to instructions and so forth.

One comment on "going back to the Indian method of tanning hides for clothing." That is technically Stone Age, not Dark Age. Would that we could be fortunate enough to only fall back to the Dark Ages! - G.F.L.

Thank you for your huge contribution towards the preparedness of us all. I thought I would share a darning trick I grew up seeing my mom using. Instead of finding a darning ball, a standard incandescent light bulb works fine. It keeps the form well and is cheap, effective, and easy to get hold of. A reader in his teens. - Callum

Mr. Rawles,
In regards to the readers letter about making fabric/yarns for clothing, here is an interesting machine most people have never seen: A hand crank sock knitting machine. Extremely interesting to see in person, it does still require a tad bit of hand knitting to finish the socks. American ingenuity at its best. - D. Fish

JWR Replies: Knitting machines do work. However, as The Memsahib learned with her Bulky Knitting Machine, they are very sensitive to variations in yarn thickness and texture. Only the most advanced hand spinners develop the uniformity of yarn thickness required to feed a knitting machine without jamming it. Therefore, I only recommend knitting machines for someone who has set aside a large quantity of skeins of commercially made yarn varieties that you've proven work without trouble with your particular machine. (They can be very finicky.) In a short term disaster situation, a footlocker full of socks purchased inexpensively on closeout may make more sense, for most preppers.

More than a dozen readers mentioned this London Telegraph article: Société Générale tells clients how to prepare for 'global collapse'. Gee, folks must be catching on...

Beepaw sent this: Bloomberg news: U.S. Housing Recovery Delayed to 2010 as Market Wanes. BeePaw's comment: "It is remarkable that the [same] pundits who failed to see the crisis at all are now able to pinpoint its recovery. I don’t believe the markets will recover in 2010. Or 2011. Or 2012."

Peter D, suggested the latest installment of some speculative fiction from John Galt: “I Have Been to the Fields of Gettysburg” (The Day the Dollar Died Part III)

My old friend Fred the Valmet-meister has been helping me for the last few months in restoring several "All-American Five" 1940s vintage AM and Shortwave table radios. These have included a RCA, a Crosley, a Motorola and two Pilot brand radios. Fred has installed all new replacement capacitors, checked the tubes, cleaned the tuners, and realigned the radios. The end result has been EMP-proof dual band radios that can operate on both AC and DC power. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, these are ideal for anyone that has an alternative power system where they have a 110-to-120 volt VDC battery bank. A surprising variety of replacement and replica parts for radios of this vintage are available via the Internet.

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Reader Steve S. recommended as a good source for mail order herbs and spices, with reasonable prices.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson spotted this over at the Classical Values blog: Where Were You When Wood Became A Felony?

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The special 33% off sale on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course will only run through the 30th of this month. This is the first time that the course has been on sale in almost a year. Don't miss out!


Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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 don’t often think much of the clothes we wear. Oh, we think of what color they are, whether or not our purse matches our shoes, does this make me look fat, blending in with our surroundings or not, but not the actual fabric. We lost our “fur” a long time ago, and we always seem to have items like jackets, sweaters, undies and socks in abundance. We now argue over the benefits of the latest innovations in fabric, whether it will wick moisture or not, how waterproof it is, but we never seem to worry about where we are gonna get the stuff to make all those wonderful new garments.

Fabric manufacturing was one of the first American industries to be moved overseas. Fabric is a commodity that is technical in manufacture, or it is extremely labor-intensive. Manufacturers searching for cheap labor were quick to jump on the “global” bandwagon and take advantage of low wages overseas.

I have long feared that in preparing for a TEOTWAWKI situation we would not realize how precious fabric is to us. The technology to create, for example, cotton fabric, even a simple shirt, is very intricate. One of the first beneficiaries of the industrial revolution was fabric manufacture, and not only do we not know how to do it anymore, we do not have the factory tooling nor the people who know how to work that machinery any longer.

In Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, the old car manufacturing plant sat idle, but at least I still have a husband who understands the parts of a car engine and how they work. And those engine parts don’t wear out very fast. But clothing, on the other hand, wears out relatively quickly.

When a fabric manufacturing plant in the US would close up and move overseas, most of the time the [capital equipment] buyers at the plant auctions were foreign. They came over here and snatched up the tooling and machinery so that they would not have to reinvent the wheel. If you look closely at the machinery in photos of oriental women slaving away at fabric factories, most of it is of American or British origin.

So, what would happen if say a global oil crisis (nuclear war breaking out in the Mideast?) were to occur and we could no longer get any import goods shipped here? Oh yeah, we would have plenty of clothes for a while. Every Wally World is full. But they wear out, and long term, we would not be able to fill the gap. Making the garments is not that hard, and there are still many people who know how to do that. But most folks don’t realize that there is maybe a handful of fabric manufacturers left in the United States. If there are any, I can’t find them.

A few Christmases ago, I wanted to see if I could purchase gifts for my family members and still remain in the “Made In The USA” camp. Toys, I could find. Kitchen appliances, that was harder, but I could still find some through Lehman’s. I was able to find some clothing still manufactured here, but not when I started asking about the fabric. As soon as I would ask the factory personnel about the origin of the fabric, they would say that they bought the fabric from some company or other, and I would have to ask them.

So I would. And in every case, the fabric was manufactured overseas. Sometimes it was even dyed here, but never actually made here. That part of the clothing manufacturing industry is the most technologically difficult.

When I speak of this problem to men, their reaction is always funny to me. “Well,” they say, “aren’t there weavers? You know, the people who work with those big looms?” Yeah, there are weavers. Got one in your town? Do you personally know of anybody who does that?

Besides that, the thread and yarn manufacturing necessary to provide you with the raw materials to weave that fabric is not in the US anymore, either. I recently purchased a set of “cards” for carding cotton [or wool] at an antique store. When I checked out, the lady at the counter asked me what they were, and she was at least 60 years old. So far, no one I have showed them to even knows what they are, much less how to use them.

Spinning is a very lost art, and the people who know how to properly use a spinning wheel are extremely rare. I’ve seen one, but it wasn’t actually a real one, merely a reproduction. They are mentioned in some of the “back to nature” books, but the actual method of doing it is glossed over. After all, any woman should be able to figure that out, right?
Let’s look at that cotton shirt you are wearing as an example of how long it would take to make it by hand. First, you’ve got to know how to grow the cotton. My grandfather told me once that cotton sprouted but after that it was a plant that just wanted to die, so it might be hard, but we do at least have a few cotton farmers around. However, now they are planting genetically-altered cotton seed exclusively.

After that it must be harvested and de-seeded. While we don’t normally do this here in the states, we do still have some old gins around. Probably could be done.
But then the cotton must be carded into “batts” and spun into thread or yarn. On a spinning wheel, folks. To spin enough thread to set up a loom would probably take a week or more, just for a couple of yards of fabric. Then the weaving has to actually occur. I once had a friend who had a big loom to make blankets, and it would normally take her weeks of working in the evenings after her chores were done just to make one blanket. And a shirt takes more [linear feet of spun fiber for] fabric than a blanket.

Knit or crochet it, you say? Have you ever knitted? It takes forever. That is why stockings were so highly prized during the revolutionary war period. Now, I can knit a sweater in a few weeks, but things like stockings are made with much smaller needles and much finer yarn. It is very hard to knit with yarn that small, and incredibly time-consuming. And, once again, you gotta have the yarn in the first place.
My husband thinks I’m crazy, but in my TEOTWAWKI planning, I’m stashing away some fabric, thread and yarn. I’ve been a needle arts hobbyist for years, and if I have enough of those things, I can keep my family in clothing and blankets for years. But I know that it is going to be that long before we can ever recover the process, if we can. It would probably be faster to find someone who can sail across the ocean in a sailing vessel and bring back some fabric.

I’m also stashing away some needles and an old treadle sewing machine, plus some spare parts for it.

Otherwise, we’ll have to go back to the Indian method of tanning hides for clothing. I really don’t want to go that far back into the dark ages, myself!

JWR Adds: When my late wife ("The Memsahib") went to be with the Lord two months ago, our family lost our fiber arts expert. She hand carded, hand dyed, hand-spun, and hand-knitted (or wove) many items that our family wears. Getting fully proficient took her about seven or eight years. She got so good at it that she taught lessons. She could even hand knit socks. Her skills with fiber arts were just some of many that we now miss, as we mourn her loss. Her Ashford spinning wheels and hand-crank drum carding machine now stand idle. :-(

OBTW, speaking of socks, one important skill is darning. If you can't learn how to knit socks, then at least learn how to repair your existing socks, darn it! Find a darning ball, darning needles, and several different weights of thread and yarn, for sock repairs.

Dear Jim,
You mentioned that someone with a Gold IRA might want to take the [warehoused gold] out and hold it in physical form after they turn 59-1/2 and are able to withdraw it without penalty.

I see the merit in that, but I am a tax accountant and want to warn you about the tax implications. When you take money out of an IRA, it is taxed as ordinary income, even if you escape the penalty. You can very well get shoved into higher tax brackets than you'd otherwise ever pay. Because, as you know, so much of the rise in gold is due to inflation, you will end up paying taxes on imaginary gains.

A better plan to avoid taxation is to move a Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA in increments. You will have to pay taxes on the amount you convert in the year you convert it, but with some tax planning you can convert only enough to fill up a low bracket that year. Be careful, this is calendar year conversion, no extended deadlines to do it, so you need to do this tax planning and make the conversion in November or December, not wait until you do your taxes.

Another thing to mention about gold outside of IRAs. It is taxed as a collectable and not subject to the lower long-term capital gains rates. Again, this is entirely about taxing inflation. It's a tricky problem because moving large amounts of gold necessarily involves working with a reputable firm, and reputable firms also do tax reporting. My analysis suggests that having gold in a Roth IRA has the best tax advantages.

As always, your individual tax situation may differ and I encourage you to discuss this with your own accountant. There are opportunities for conversions coming up next year that make this plan newly accessible to wealthier people. Best wishes, - Gwendally, CPA

Dear Sir,

I was perusing your blog for the first time and saw the post about dehydration due to diarrhea. I have five sisters and one brother (yeah mom!) so my mother is quite the home medic. My eldest sister had been prescribed a very strong antibiotic for a common infection she had. After she took the course of the antibiotic, she also began having severe chronic diarrhea (we're talking months here).
She began going to a specialist after her regular doctor couldn't diagnose her. My mother, conscious of her medical history, realized the antibiotic she had taken for her other ailment had killed all the good bacteria in her intestines which help make it possible for food to be digested and absorbed into her body. She had my sister tell her new GI specialist and the doctor confirmed as much.

My mother also told her that she had to eat Goat yogurt with live bacteria in it to get the bugs back. She had to eat yogurt and banana (which is nutritious and also is a "binder") for 80 days. She couldn't vary from her diet. If she tried to eat anything beyond her bland diet, she found out real fast that it was a mistake.

The GI team was going to put her on a much fancier drug for a much longer period of time with far more life impacting side effects.
My sister started taking the drug (I don't know what it was) and didn't have much relief. Out of desperation she started eating the goat yogurt and felt immediate relief in her bowels. Yeah mom, again!
I vote for the yogurt! My mom learned about the yogurt method from a female doctor in Saudi Arabia who had to help travelers when they drank the water and all the bugs got killed in their systems. She didn't prescribe medicine, she had them eat yogurt and banana for 80 days.

I just finished reading "Patriots," I greatly enjoyed it, found it inspiring, and can't wait to talk about it with the friend who lent it to me. I was glad they had goats in the book, so they can make goat yogurt! May God bless and protect your ministry! - Hilary C.

Mr R.,
First, my condolences on the loss of Mrs. Rawles. One of your contributors mentioned using non-nutritive sweeteners in rehydration solutions. That is an absolute No - No! Non-nutritive sweeteners are not absorbed. They increase the solute load in the gut, will elicit GI mucosa fluid dump to maintain isotonicity . Translation to plain speak: the gut will maintain - or attempt to maintain - the same ration of solvent and solute. Nutrasweet isn't absorbed, and the gut lining will dump fluid into the system to maintain ideal balance. Net Result? Diarrhea. This will occur in healthy, uncompromised individuals, let alone those with lower GI distress. Gum chewers who load up with Xylitol and sorbitol-laden gums experience this in a low grade way. In an emergency medicine situation, with absolute requirements to maintain fluid and electrolyte levels, it's potentially fatal.

One quart of verified safe water (boiled or treated as necessary) with a couple tablespoons of sugar or Karo syrup (for better mix ability) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and baking soda, sipped by spoonfuls works very well. Slowly sipping approximates the rate achieved via IV line, and prevents "overburdening" an already inflamed intestinal wall. You maintain fluid, Na+, HCO3- , glucose levels and body function while immune response and other measures come to bear. - Murray P.

JWR Replies: Thank you for mentioning that. While I'm not a proponent of the extensive use of refined sugar in a regular diet, it is certainly preferable for prophylactic use in oral rehydration solutions versus using artificial sweeteners. In my opinion, it is likely that in another 20 or 30 years, following extensive testing and correlative statistical analysis, some artificial sweeteners will have been proved to have profound deleterious health effects, and hence they will eventually be banned. I predict that they'll have a reputation on the par of that currently held by Red Dye #2.

For details on do-it-yourself oral rehydration solutions, see the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

On a recent trip in foul weather, we were reminded how useful it is to have several whitewater rafting "dry bags." These heavy-duty rubberized nylon bags have a virtually watertight seal, and have become ubiquitous with the paddling crowd. Ours were purchased back in the early 1990s, and were made by Northwest River Supply (NRS). This is back in the days when nearly all of the NRS products were made by hand in Moscow, Idaho. And this was when their "Bill's Bag" was available in green. (Now, the only choice is "shoot me " red!) There are now umpteen dry bag makers, and umpteen styles and colors available. We find these very handy both for canoeing and for road trips--for stowing extra gear on our rig's roof rack. In addition to the lightweight version with a carry handle and lightweight shoulder straps, you can pay more and get a full-up "portage pack" with internal stainless steel stays and more-heavily padded shoulder straps and a proper backpack-style padded hip belt.

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Bret F. told us about a swell deal in Mountain Home, Idaho. An auto dealership there is running a "Buy a Truck, Get a Gun" promotion.

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Our family has recently been reading the newly updated Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens. We've been impressed at the extent to which the book has been expanded and updated. If you have one of the older editions I highly recommend that you upgrade to the new edition, and pass along your older copy to a friend.

"The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb." - Psalm 19:7-10

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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.

Several factors have resulted higher prices and in shortages of ammunition. These include higher commodity prices, recent political developments with many people buying to prepare for uncertain availability as well as demand from the military for the ongoing war on terrorists. This storm of demand has resulted in very real shortages of many common calibers. Although the situation is easing in some ways it doesn’t require an above average IQ to realize this condition could reverse and quickly get much worse.

Developing skill in marksmanship and gun handling is not difficult but does require some training and regular practice. These skills are perishable if not carefully maintained. The following are some ideas that will help you save money and precious ammunition while still allowing you to train and practice these vital skills.

One practical idea is to invest in .22 Long Rifle (LR) caliber conversion kits that are available for many types of handguns and some rifles. As I write this .22 LR sells for about 3 cents per round versus 30 cents per round for many common centerfire calibers. Kits are made for Glock, H&K, SIGArms and Model 1911 pattern pistols. These kits typically allow you to use .22 LR rimfire ammunition instead of more expensive centerfire ammunition. They can cost from $150 and up. Manufacturers include: Advantage Arms, CMMG, Spike's Tactical, Tactical Innovations Inc., and Ciener. For semi-automatic handguns these kits include a new barrel, slide and magazine. For the AR-15 style rifle they include a different bolt carrier group and magazine. You can also get a dedicated .22 LR upper receiver. Conversion to a new caliber is as simple as field stripping the gun and installing the new components.

There are advantages aside from the cost savings of ammunition. The gun typically uses the same manual of arms and the controls operate in the same manner. Consult your owner’s manual for specifics on each conversion. You are also able to shoot at facilities that might be closed if you were shooting the centerfire version. They also help the newest shooters transition from a mild shooting .22 LR caliber to something more potent.

In order to function reliably the kits need to be well and properly lubricated and use the correct ammunition. Some of the units have a specific brand or type of ammunition they prefer. I suggest you by small quantities and test them until you find a match. You should also acquire enough spare magazines especially those that hold more than ten rounds. Black Dog makes a reliable inexpensive high capacity magazine for the Atchisson and Ciener AR-15 conversions.

Another option to consider is using .38 Special ammunition in a .357 Magnum handgun or .44 Special ammunition in a 44 Magnum. While it doesn’t have nearly the savings that a .22 conversion has it does offer some savings. Be sure you clean your cylinder or chamber carefully. You could have trouble someday chambering the longer round if you don’t.

Another technique is to substitute dry firing for live firing for much of your practice. Dry firing is the act of utilizing your firearm for practice without any live ammunition. You begin with a firearm that you personally have carefully verified is completely unloaded. Next set up a target with a solid backstop in a convenient location. I have one I made from and old bullet resistant vest sandwiched between two pieces of thick plywood. Using this target I practice my grip, draw stroke, sight alignment, sight picture, movement off the line of attack and my trigger release. I can also use dummy ammunition to practice loading, unloading and malfunction drills.

Dry firing is a safe and effective way of maintaining your skills when you can’t afford or don’t have the ammunition available to practice with. The vast majority of competitive shooters in a wide variety of disciplines dry fire to hone their skills. Some years ago the South African Army was faced with an international arms embargo including ammunition. In response to the embargo they trained some new recruits using only dry firing. [When they eventually qualified with live ammunition,] these soldiers did as well or better than other troops did using traditional methods.

Dry firing allows you to practice when bad weather, lack of suitable shooting facilities or limited time would otherwise prevent you from practicing.

Safety is critical with dry firing. Never restart your practice routine after you stopped practicing without carefully ensuring you still have an unloaded gun. Never bring live ammunition into the same room where you do dry firing. Never allow an interruption to your practice routine without completely revisiting the condition of your firearm.

Please note: most .22 LR or other rimfire caliber firearms should not be dry fired. That is because by design the firing pin strikes the hard surface of the chamber. That can cause the firing pin to break.

Another key idea that can save you money and ammunition is to have a specific plan for your practice. I am amazed at what passes for “practice” with some people. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind as you fire each shot you are “plinking” you are not practicing anything. I love plinking but it won’t improve my skills.

You should plan each session carefully. For a handgun you should execute a series of basic drills. Shooting one, two or three shots (mix it up) at relatively close range under some time pressure. The basics include the presentation or draw stroke, sight alignment, sight picture and a compressed surprised break of the trigger. You should keep a training diary and take notes on your performance. If you have the basic skills mastered you can add additional elements such as movement, malfunction drills, retention position shooting and using your non-dominant hand. Firing 30-50 shots within a careful plan is far better than shooting 100+ shots without any particular plan. Here is a short handgun example:

  1. At 3 yards, draw and fire two shots center mass, time shooter
  2. At 5 yards, draw and fire two shots and each of two targets, time shooter
  3. At 5 yards, draw and fire Mozambique (two to the body – one to the head) at each of two targets, time shooter
  4. At 7 yards, draw and fire two shoots at each of two targets, time shooter
  5. At 10 yards, draw, move to kneeling cover and fire two shots, repeat

Each session should also include a scenario or story based problem you must solve. An example might be the following. You are sleeping in bed when you hear the noise of breaking glass. You begin the scenario from the prone position. Your sidearm is unloaded and placed two steps away. You must “get out of bed” and find your flashlight. Next find and load your pistol. Finally, find the target and engage with two shots. If that sounds too easy use your imagination and make it harder.

Rifle practice should always include some time using realistic field positions such as prone, sitting or braced. You won’t find any nice stable shooting benches out in the wild. Don’t become overly reliant on a bench for support during your practice. However you might be able to find and use a shooting stick in the field.

Reloading is another way to save money and provide additional practice ammunition. You may be able to save 30 – 40% by doing the job yourself. Reloading is a specific skill and requires some knowledge, preparation, special tools and most importantly attention to detail. The process reuses fired cartridge cases or “brass”. The brass is returned to its original size (length and shape) by means of a die and press. A new primer, powder and bullet are added in successive steps. The NRA offers a specific class in reloading which I recommend. There are also various manuals and videos available from the bullet and powder manufacturers. Make sure you do your homework before you start reloading. Primers are the weakest link in the reloading supply chain. Stock up on the most common types. There are many quality suppliers of all types of reloading supplies and tools on the Internet.

Field expedient training aids can also save you money and make your ammunition budget go further. Paper grocery bags can be carefully dissected to make silhouette targets. Bingo daubers can be used to mark shots on target. Another trick is to cut a small random sized hole in your target. The object is to shoot thru the hole and not touch the surrounding paper. It is a serious test of your trigger control and saves on targets.

Another area to conserve ammunition is when zeroing a weapon. You should always try and bore sight the gun before you fire a shot. With an bolt-action rifle (or any AR-15/Stoner family rifle) you can remove the bolt (or bolt carrier assembly) and sandbag the gun to your bench or lock it in a vise. Next look down the bore and adjust your sights and or scope to the point of impact you see from the barrel. You can also use a bore sighting fixture or laser designator. Always make sure your scope is accepting adjustments. Once you start shooting you may need to ask for help from a excellent shooter to speed the process. In the long run that may save you money and ammunition. Scope adjustments should be made in one dimension at a time. Most quality scopes today adjust in ¼ minute clicks. Each “click” moves the impact ¼ inch at 100 yards. So if you are off by 3 inches you should move the sight 12 clicks. Do not try to “creep up” on the desired point of impact while shooting between each adjustment.

Paintball, Airsoft and Simunitions offer opportunities to engage real live moving and reactive targets without using any real ammunition. I strongly recommend people get some experience with these tools. You can find paintball fields in most areas of the country. At these locations you can rent the guns and buy the paintballs and participate in some outstanding force on force activity. Airsoft guns and pellets can be found at many retail outlets. These guns can be fragile. You typically get what you pay for. With the proper safety precautions you can conduct your own practice just about anywhere including your living room! Simunitions are a proprietary marking cartridge technology. They use a conversion kit and special ammunition. Access to this technology has been limited to Law Enforcement and the ammunition is expensive but if you ever get a chance to work with it don’t hesitate. It is very realistic training.

One more safety rant: Be very cautious picking up any dropped ammunition while practicing especially when there are other shooters present. I have seen too many cases of people putting the wrong caliber ammunition into a gun with spectacular results. It is false economy.

Good Evening,
I recently purchased your book, How to survive the end of the world as we know it. I wanted to say that I have found it to be extremely useful and very helpful. I have been researching everything that I need to do to keep my family safe WTSHTF, but I have not been successful at finding information on how to properly prepare and safely store food for my larder. My second problem is were to find a store that sells bulk oats, wheat, flour etc. I live in northeastern Ohio and have not been very successful at finding a store. If you have any suggestions on were to look or what exactly to look for I would greatly appreciate it. I have tried other books from other authors but yours seemed more common sense to me. Heck one of the books tried to tell you how to catch and cook rats and mice if you really need to, while this may be helpful at some point, I am much more interested in getting stuff together before it is to late.

I am not a total idiot when it comes to knowing how to survive. I am ex military, and did the whole Boy Scout thing for most of my life, so I have some general knowledge.

Thank you again for any help you have already provided and anything else you maybe able to help with. - Rick G. in Ohio

JWR Replies: The information that you are looking for on safe long term food storage methods can be found in one place, in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, which is presently being offered at a sale price. And if you are willing to take the time to dig, much of the same information can also be found in the SurvivalBlog Archives (which have grown to nearly 8,000 archived posts).

As mentioned in the preparedness course, many of the bulk foods that you'll need, most notably rice and beans, can be bought quite inexpensively at the major "Big Box" warehouse stores like Sam's Club and COSTCO. Check your local Yellow Pages for "Restaurant Supply" stores, many of which are open to the public, or at least to anyone with any sort of business license. Contact your local Latter Day Saints (LDS) church, and ask if they have a cannery that is open to the public, and their hours. These "dry pack" canneries sell bulk wheat, rice, beans, and other foods at cost, and have #10 Can sealing machines, with cans and lids again available at cost. You just add the labor and a bit of clean-up time.

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for the time and energy spent on your blog and your books. I read your blog and static pages often and own most of your books. Your writings offer a deep perspective not often found.
Your writer from Idaho has hit on one of the most debated topics that has ever been discussed between a man and his wife. How does a man prepare his family without frightening, boring or going overboard?
I’ll tell you what has worked in my family. The most important point is to bring your spouse on board, slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day and either was a shared marital point of view. I think it is best to not go overboard financially, briefly mention certain purchases that are made and leave the point alone until the items purchased are needed.

For example, we have several space heaters as a simple back-up plan and to compliment our main heating source. When we had problems with the main heating system, we were able to get these heaters out and boy were they useful! The house temperature was kept up until after we could get a 2nd opinion. The first man came out quick but had some tricks up his sleeve and tried to sell us a new heater, out of fear. Our second opinion, a real professional, came out and determined that we just needed a new sensor. By having back up heaters, we stayed warm when we had an issue and we weren’t desperate when the first technician tried to take advantage of us. Now that we had that issue, we decided to buy a propane back-up heater and quite a bit of propane. If this happens when the temperatures are lower, we should be fine. We didn’t talk about the heaters too much until after we were so happy to have them. This part of our preparation plan is just a positive memory; not a sour, over-debate d topic.

There have been several other times that forward thinking has proven to be advantageous for us. So many times it is something small that leaves a big impression. Something like a spare roll of quarters when a locker is needed. Maybe it is having plenty of toilet paper so you don’t run out. It could be having a flashlight readily available when the power goes out, extra propane when the grill consumes the last bit in the current tank, or extra food from our ‘larder’ if I forgot something at the store.

It is very important to discuss the benefits of being prepared after it has become a positive topic, rather than being overbearing before. This has helped open my spouse’s eyes to the need to have continually better preparations. Once some creature comforts fail, like heat, it becomes understood that having some extra food may be a good idea. Also, I have paralleled 'preparing' to other topics like the scout motto, “Be Prepared” as my husband achieved his Eagle Scout award when he was younger. For most people, the seeds of being prepared are there, they may just need some watering from time to time.
Best, - Nora in Indianapolis

A gentleman asked how to get his wife involved. Speaking as a female prepper and survivalblog reader, it might simply help for her to know that she is not alone. It might be helpful to find a gun club, or another Christian couple who are into being prepared. Some women feel silly spending a lot of time and money on preparedness because most other people think it is silly or unnecessary, and some women feel funny because shooting guns and learning to hunt are considered to be "manly pursuits" by much of society. Having been referred to as "an NRA gun nut", I understand that there can be some apprehension involved in committing to preparedness. Try making it a family activity, and even though it is very serious, that doesn't mean it can't be fun. I am involved with a small group of people, mostly from my church, who go shooting together and hunting and camping and all sorts of activities like that. We have a blast! But we also know that we can count on one another in a TEOTWAWKI situation. I think that my mom is much more involved now because it's also something I am passionate about. She thought that preparedness was just a phase my dad was going through until she realized that I was every bit as serious about it as he was, and now she's all for it! Don't expect her to become Sarah Conner overnight, but give it time and patience, and try to find something simple to get her feet wet. Again, making it a whole family activity could make a big difference, and don't lose the fun side of preparedness, of marriage, and of life in the Lord. - A Survival Sister in Christ


Dear James, and all:
I have gotten the same response from Christians about preparedness, and, in general, concerns over the state of the world. "I'm so glad God is in control," etc. is common. Then they usually just move on with a smile, obviously unconcerned. I believe this is related to poor Biblical knowledge, or a misunderstanding about the role of "works" in the lives of Christians.

Primarily, believers do not always understand that America was founded on rights deemed to be given by our Creator, and is, therefore, a GIFT and under the expectations of Christian stewardship. While the Gospel is hope for all time, peoples and circumstances, it does not give us permission to become lazy with the blessings we've been given. Jesus was pretty clear in the parable of the talents: The Master is hard. The Lord does not look kindly on believers who "bury" what they have. To whit, "To whom much is given, much is required." If we have a major event, then your good wife will be expected to follow the Biblical commands for hospitality even more so. Will she be prepared?

Please remind her that salvation is free, but the Lord also has expectations for us to become the "good and faithful servant." That requires work. Sincerely, Gretchen O. - in Northern Illinois

SurvivalBlog's British-born Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: British Navy was within 50 feet of Somali Pirates as they Kidnapped British Citizens. Mike's comment: "Their poltroonery in letting the pirates do this may be related to the advice that no pirate should be taken on a British ship in case he might apply for political asylum. Words cannot express how far this is from the Nelsonian tradition."

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Also sent in by Mike: No, they're not kidding: UK proposal to ration carbon usage on an individual basis.

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Attention South Carolina Citizens: S.C. offering shoppers tax-free weekend on guns. "Second Amendment Weekend" begins just after Thanksgiving. Ya gotta love the South. Somehow, I can't imagine New Jersey doing the same thing.

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I just heard that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken a cue from Nancy Pelosi. They may try a "Saturday night sneak " vote tonight on ObamaCare! If this troubles you, then please take a few minutes to contact your US Senator, today!

"Mischief springs from the power which the monied interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, and from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privilege. . .which are employed for their benefit." - President Andrew Jackson

Friday, November 20, 2009

The special sale on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course is in full swing. There are just a handful of copies of the bonus book still available. (A free copy of my latest nonfiction book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".) Today (Friday) is the last day to order to get your bonus book. By the time Saturday's blog goes up this evening, the free books will no longer be available.

Hi James,
You have an excellent blog. It is good to find another right-wing Christian who thinks we’re going down the wrong path, and someone who cares about other people.

I have to take issue with your blog though. It focuses on survival in the short term (maximum five years after collapse). It does not give direction for how to proceed from there, how to thrive, how to rebuild society (or rather, how to build a better society). Surviving the collapse on modern medicine only to die from disease when it runs out is pointless. Surviving only to find that your gene pool is too small to survive into the coming centuries, or that you don’t have enough books or ways to copy them (or write new ones), and thus pass knowledge on... It makes a mockery of survival. Short term focus is what got us into this mess. Let’s have some longer term articles on what we should do to lay the foundations for our children and grandchildren, and more distant descendants, to thrive.

Also, I do not see any articles on how to disappear from view of satellites, or other high-tech surveillance equipment, or how to fight against a modern army. I know it might sound ridiculous, and it is a conspiracy theory (and those are nowadays automatically disreputable), but I do not think that we are in this mess entirely by accident. The constriction of our seed supply to a few large corporations is deliberate. That there exist doomsday shelters with high technology for the elite is known. Might there not be at least some deliberate engineering of the current crisis? And, if so, might it not be with a view to facilitating control by the elite? A reduced world population would be easier to control. One desperate for food, shelter, medicine etc. would do some presently inconceivable things – such as surrendering freedom in exchange for those “necessities”. I am speaking here of the Mark of the Beast: subdermal microchips. We might find ourselves fighting against much nastier groups than mere marauders. If I am correct, much of that situation will be out of our hands anyway – it’s the Lord’s battle. But that doesn’t mean we can just sit back and say “I don’t have to do anything.”

Regards, - David in South Africa

JWR Replies: I think that you drew a conclusion about SurvivalBlog without digging very deeply. If you take the time to work your way back through the SurvivalBlog Archives (now nearly 8,000 archived posts), you will indeed find a large number of posts that discuss long term self sufficiency. These articles and letters cover steam power, home-made fuels, photovoltaics, micro-hydro power systems, home-grown herbal medicines, low tech do-it-yourself architecture (including rammed earth, adobe bricks, discarded tire Earthships), blacksmithing, home chemistry, farming, aquaculture, wood and coal heating, saddle and draft horses, primitive weapons, leather working, community organizing, gravity-flow water systems, traditional carpentry (without power tools), and much, much more. For discussions specifically about long term scenarios, be sure to use the search word "multigenerational."

To provide some ideas on how to fight against a modern army, I wrote "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse". (The last third of my novel describes modern resistance warfare, in fairly good detail.)

Dear CPT Rawles,
To follow up on the recent thread about cashing out of precious metals ETFs: Long ago, I took your advice and got out of stocks for my IRA and switched to a Gold IRA with Swiss America . It's done quite well and I was fortunate to read your advice several years ago. [Since then, most stocks went down substantially. Meanwhile gold has appreciated substantially, at least when denominated in US Dollars.]

My question and I'm sure I'm not the only one, is this: I will soon be 59-1/2 years old. Should I continue to keep my Gold IRA at the storage facility and pay storage fees every year, or should I withdraw the gold and keep it myself? I'd like your recommendation on this issue as your advice is always sound. Best Regards, - Michael B

JWR Replies: I also have a Gold IRA (also set up through Swiss America), and I highly recommend them. But given your age, I recommend that you get that gold in your own hands, at the first opportunity! Too many things can go wrong with warehousing, not the least of which is a change of government policy. In a severe economic crisis, all IRAs might become centralized (read: stolen) by the Federal government disappearing into some amorphous (and actually non-existent) "trust fund", just as they have done with our Social Security "contributions". We "contributed", all right!

During my many travels in Asia and Central America I never brought along medications to stop diarrhea, only to prevent it. Diarrhea is natures way of getting rid of something your body doesn't want in it. Preventing that can lead to serious problems. Water and food born bugs (bacteria, not parasites) can be dealt with by taking Doxycycline Hyclate as a prophylactic.
Prior to the likely encountering of suspect food and water, such as a bug out situation, a pill a day will keep you reasonably safe. You should be able to talk your doctor into proscribing for emergency use only or you can pick them up over the counter in any Third World country.
I also take along Keflex in case of wound infections. Google has a wealth of info on these and other medications if you can't find a doctor willing to advise on TEOTWAWKI situations. - LRM in Perth, Western Australia

My mother was recently hospitalized and learned the hard way. She had taken some antibiotics to fend off an infection. Antibiotics kill off the bacteria in our intestines (the good and bad kind). In her case, it killed off a larger portion of the good bacteria which led to an imbalance. The bad bacteria began to thrive. The diarrhea she had would've helped get rid of the build up of that bad bacteria. However, she took an anti- diarrhea

When the bad bacteria builds up like that and your body can't get rid of it, the bad bacteria begins to poison you (as it did her). She couldn't eat or drink anything without throwing up because her stomach was no longer in a condition to absorb any water or nutrients. She suffered from severe dehydration and malnutrition.

Her condition [Clostridium difficile] is commonly referred to as "C-Diff". She was in the hospital for a week and a half and is slowly recovering now.

So, if you get diarrhea after taking antibiotics, it may be best to just let nature "run" its course. Just be sure to drink lots of fluids. - Daron in San Diego, California


You recently posted a letter from a reader inquiring about oral rehydration solution. I have chosen to stock up on oral rehydration salts instead of pre-mixed solutions such as Pedialyte.

The salts are packaged in little foil sachets. When mixed with water, each sachet produces one liter of oral rehydration solution. They can be purchased in bulk from a company called Jianis Brothers either by the carton (125 sachets) or by the case (5 cartons = 625 sachets). I don't recall how much I paid but I believe the unit price was around 50 or 60 cents per sachet - much less expensive than Pedialyte.

The sachets are convenient, compact and durable and I believe they would make a great little barter item if the need should ever arise.

The web site of The Rehydration Project contains a wealth of information on dehydration due to illness as well as treatment using oral rehydration therapy: Contact information for Jianis Brothers is also available on the same site. Sincerely, - Michael in California


Dear Mr. Rawles,
In reference to the recently-posted question/answer concerning anti-diarrheals, I have just a couple of comments from a pharmacist's perspective.

1. As the poster mentioned, loperamide (aka, Imodium) is available over-the-counter (without a prescription) in the same strength as the old prescription product. This effective anti-diarrheal is not considered an opioid, and does not appear on the DEA's Controlled Substance list, as does diphenoxylate/atropine (aka Lomotil - Schedule V). Be aware that individual states can add drugs to their own controlled substance list, but I don't know of any that have done so with loperamide. The dosing depends on recurrence of diarrhea episodes, but take no more than 8 tablets (16mg) per 24 hours period.

2. The bismuth subsalicylate-containing anti-diarrheals, such as Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate and their generics, contain an active ingredient similar to aspirin, and in quantity, can have a similar effect on bleeding (inhibits platelet function). Therefore, be sure to stay under the daily maximum dosage of 8 30ml (1oz.) doses. Also, if you have any ongoing bleeding problem, such as active gastric ulcers, shy away from these products.

Thank you for all you do! Best Wishes, - S.H. in Georgia

The most effective anti-diarrheal medications are usually sulfa drugs.

In my travels there have been times when I have lost 20 lbs. in a few days time due to the effects of diarrhea. I've had it so bad that the Air Force took a C-141 out of service to decontaminate it.

And my travels started when I was three years old (42 years ago now) so I have lots of practice in dealing with this issue. Outside of the US and Western Europe you have to assume that the water supply is contaminated and you will come down with something at some point. I've reached the point where I routinely add purification tablets to even bottled water in some countries.

First and foremost, if diarrhea is not caused by a virus then usually it is caused by a bacterial bloom in the body. When you travel from one area to another the normal flora and fauna in the body change to match what is local to the environment. As a result the balance of the flora and fauna in the body gets out of whack and you end up with the common traveler's diarrhea. If you have not drunk/eaten food in your home environment that was not processed/packaged/etc. etc. then you can get the same effect the first time you eat natural foods (farmer's market ...). A low dose of a sulfa drug usually is enough to take care of this problem. (Sulfa drugs are usually over the counter in most countries outside of the US.) In the US the doctor will normally prescribe Ciprofloxacin. Living and working in Turkey I learned to say "Streptomagma var mu?" or "Do you have Streptomagma (a sulfa drug)" -- and the same phrase will work across the near east (from Turkey through Afghanistan).

One of the tips/tricks that I have picked up over the years is to eat yogurt or other foods that contain live bacteria and/or drink a shot or two of hard alcohol. This helps stave off but does not 100% prevent diarrhea. But it is critical to continue to eat yogurts once you are treating the diarrhea symptoms with medicines as it helps to re-balance the flora in your body and prevent a second round of problems.

For viral infections (or protozoa) you just have to suffer unless you can get your hands on prescription only drugs. Nitroimidazoles seem to have the best effect on Giardia but when I've taken them in the past (seven Giardia infections to date) they are rough on the body. Hence oral rehydration is probably the best route unless you have a severe case of it. Amoebic dysentery is also common in many parts of the world -- and is almost untreatable and you have to suffer with it for years after your initial infection. Again oral rehydration (and having a wee bit more than 7% body fat) helps the most.

One of the better oral rehydration products out there is Ceralyte. Gatorade and other sports drinks usually are too much sugar and the wrong types of salts for long term oral rehydration (such as during an attack of Giardia which I have now had several times). You will also find Crystal Lite (and the store brand generic equivalents) makes a sugar free rehydration mix. My preference for these two routes comes down to portability and long storage life. (I mentioned that I carry several packets of rehydration powder with me in my travel kit.) I also lean towards using the Crystal Lite mix as I have a tendency at my age to pack on pounds even with a vigorous workout schedule.

The other tip to add? Always carry toilet paper with you. It is horrible to have dysentery in a country like Indonesia where the public toilets (even in office buildings) don't have toilet paper and you are using leaves and newspapers in a vain attempt to clean up afterwards. - Hugh

I read the recent post about dealing with diarrhea, and while I have made sure we have some OTC pills such as Imodium stored, I have also stocked up on dried Blackberry Leaf and made tinctures. It works extremely well in ending diarrhea, our family has had the chance to use it a few times over the years and it does indeed work. My darling husband says it tastes kinda 'woodsy', and I admit is is not the best flavor, but it certainly works. Just a teaspoon at first and maybe another teaspoon if there is another 'episode', but we have found that one teaspoon usually does the job the majority of the time, only a few times have we had to use a second dose. It can also be put in water or juice and taken that way.

I just wanted to pass this on. Dried blackberry leaf can be found at any online herbal store like [in Oregon] and a one pound bag is very inexpensive, around $8. Id suggest that interested people buy two bags and tincture them up right away with any 80 proof vodka to have it on hand when needed. Though it can be made into a tea or decoction, I prefer to tincture for long term storage.

All the best to you and yours and God Bless. - Karen F. in Colorado

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding Skyrat's and other readers that may be interested in obtaining large C-Band dishes for Shoutcasting, I have a potential free source: I work in the satellite industry and often receive calls requesting that decommissioned and obsolete C-Band dishes be removed from the roofs or ground mounts of hotels throughout the country. When the hotel management receives the estimated cost for the removal, more often than not, they reluctantly decline to have the eye-sores removed. Some enterprising readers may be able to negotiate a deal with a local hotel manager to remove a dish at no charge to the hotel. It's a Win-Win scenario for all concerned. The hotel gets an eye-sore removed and the Shoutcaster gets a free 8, 10, or 12 foot diameter dish [to supplement] secure communications at a retreat. Best Regards - RPH

We've had a tough deer and elk season here at the Rawles Ranch. Thusfar, we've filled just two deer tags, and haven't yet got an elk. The season has been difficult because there have been two hard winters in succession with deep snow that have taken their toll on the herds. The local wolf population seems to be increasing as well, and their depredations have been obvious. (And so are their big piles of scat that we see all-too frequently when we are out in the woods!) After they've cleaned out the deer, I suspect they'll move on to consuming domestic sheep, dogs, cats, and perhaps even unarmed people. BTW, a bumper sticker is now popular in our region: "Too Many Wolves! Smoke a Pack a Day"

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Reader Joe K. spotted this at the VOA's web site that provides one more reason to have a deep larder: More Americans Than Ever Experiencing Food Insecurity

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Walt H. was the first of several readers that wrote to mention a deadly home invasion robbery in Utah that had "prepper with bad OPSEC" written all over it: Neighbor describes a horrifying scenario in man's slaying in Payson.

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Damon sent this article link illustrating another close call: Meteor illuminates the Utah sky

"The new danger was that when the peasants finally refused to deliver produce to the towns, the towns would go and fetch it. It had happened in Austria during the blockade. It had happened in the Ruhr and the Rhineland under the provocation of French militarism and enforced idleness. Now there were reports from Saxony -unoccupied Germany -- that bands of several hundred townspeople at a time had taken to riding out into the countryside on bicycles to confiscate what they needed. Anna Eisenmenger's diary included a first-hand account of the plunder of Linz and its neighbourhood in Austria -- the place which Hitler regarded as his home town. She transcribed a letter from her daughter who had been staying there for a few weeks with cousins who ran a small farm with eight cows, two horses, twelve pigs and the usual poultry:

I had driven with Uncle and Aunt to church at Linz. The nearer we approached the more crowded became the usually deserted high road. All kinds of odd-looking individuals met us. One man wearing three hats, one set on top of the other, and at least two coats, excited our amusement … We met people drawing carts piled high with tinned foods of every description … A man and a woman were seated in a ditch by the side of the road and, without the least embarrassment, were changing their very ragged garments for quite new ones. 'Hurry up', the woman shouted to us, 'or there'll be nothing left!' We did not understand this remark until we passed the first plundered shops.

Peaceful Linz looked as if it had been visited by an earthquake. Furniture smashed beyond recognition littered the pavements. But not only provision shops, inns, cafes, and drapers' shops had been looted. Jewellers and watchmakers, too, had been unable to defend their wares. We saw that the inn at which Uncle and Aunt usually stopped after Mass was completely devastated. The old innkeeper caught sight of us and hurried up, almost in tears. He could not open his inn because all the furniture had been smashed and all the provisions stolen; and he strongly advised my uncle to drive home, since the ringleaders of the mob were inciting their followers to ransack the neighbourhood." - From When Money Dies (1975), as recently quoted in Bison Survival Blog

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My recent trip to the library and skimming through a few books on diseases led me to the conclusion that some of the secondary or follow-on effects are often bigger killers that the diseases themselves. I'm talking about pneumonia and diarrhea. Respiratory bugs often develop co-infections like pneumonia. And stomach bugs often cause diarrhea, which can cause such severe dehydration, that the patient dies. Obviously, [some forms of] pneumonia can be avoided by getting a pneumovax innoculation. So how do we deal with diarrhea? It can be controlled with over the counter (OTC) medicines. According to, some of the best available OTC meds include loperamide (such as Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (such as Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol).

My questions to you are: what about prescription antidiarrheals? And what should I store for re-hydration? Thanks for your great blog and books. The number of lives that you will save, by encouraging people to get really and truly prepared will go beyond counting! Sincerely, - H.F.I. in St. Louis

JWR Replies: OTC antidiarrheals are usual sufficient in all but the most severe cases. Most of the prescription antidiarrheals are opium-based so they are on the controlled list. As my late wife learned in the last few weeks of her life, heavy opium-based pain medicines slow down the gastrointestinal tract dramatically. (And in fact, many pain patients have to take stool softeners like colase and laxatives like docusate and senna, to keep their bowels moving.) Because of their scheduled drug legal status, it would be almost impossible to get opium-based drugs by prescription from your friendly local doctor to keep on hand for contingencies. However, some of opium-derived meds to keep in mind for disaster situations include diphenoxylate (with atropine) and the industrial strength version loperamide (a synthetic opioid). Because of their side effects, and obviously because some of them are addicting, these meds are reserved for only the most severe cases of diarrhea

As you noted, and has been previously discussed in SurvivalBlog Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORSes) are very important to keep on hand. Every family should storing a few bottles of Pedialyte (or better yet, one of its many commercial equivalents, which are identically-formulated and often self for about 40% less). It is vitally important to know how to make your own ORSes. This is described in detail in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I just came across a post that might give some more ideas to the gentleman who wrote in about getting his wife "on board" with preparedness efforts. It's titled "All Aboard" and was posted over on Kathy Harrison's The Just In Case Book Blog. (As may be obvious, Kathy is also the author of the [nonfiction preparedness] book entitled Just in Case.)

As a side note, my husband and I "came together" on our preps about two years ago while watching the television show Jericho. We had seen some episodes in passing earlier in our marriage, but I finally rented the DVDs at one point to see what all the hubbub was about. Lesson learned: despite the Hollywood "angle", we learned a lot and more importantly found out that we were each quietly prepping without mentioning it to the other. He has his specialties and interests and I have mine, and both of us were silently tackling them. Ahhh, the fun of two very independent newlyweds finally figuring each other out. <Chuckle>. I admitted I'd been stocking the pantry for more than just a rainy day and he admitted his interest in gear wasn't just so we could try out camping sometime. We later found that his interest in things mechanical and my interest in topics "green" worked out quite nicely when he mentioned a preference for diesel engines and I brought up biodiesel - oh, the topics we've covered since.

If "L.K." thinks such a show might interest his wife, it might be worth a shot. Best wishes, - M.K.

Mr. Rawles,
The writer of this letter in your blog today might be interested in referring his wife to my blog, TheSurvivalMom. I try to break down preparedness into very small pieces, provide lots of rationale for getting prepared, and overall, it’s a very woman-friendly site. - Lisa

Mr. Rawles,
I would like to comment on this letter about questioning the need for preparation. This wife needs to look at the situation from her motherly perspective. My husband and I watched, helplessly, as our 4 month old daughter suffered for six weeks from a blood infection contracted while in the hospital for a heart issue. We knew she was going to Heaven to live with God, free from all pain; however, watching her suffer was the worst thing we had ever endured. My understanding is that starvation takes 60 plus days before a person dies. From my reading of history (pioneer times and war times), starvation is a very horrible death. Would this wife be comfortable standing by, watching her precious children suffer, knowing all the while that she could have prevented this by storing up food (like Noah and Joseph in the Old Testament did) for the difficult times? Yes, our daughter is in Heaven but we would have done anything to protect her from the suffering she endured for six weeks. Our larder is full and constantly being rotated so that we will not have to watch another of our children die if it is within out power to do so. To God be the Glory. Condolences to you and your family, the pain is great, I know. - Brenda from Virginia and sometimes our West Virginia retreat

For L.K. in Boise:
I must remind you that we don't just prepare for TEOTWAWKI , but for everything between now and then. We may never experience a severe, life changing event, but we do have power outages, blizzards, floods, drought, unexpected car trouble, unemployment, & so on. Those are the things we prepare for, not for TEOTWAWKI. We really don't know how to prepare for that - it's never happened to us. So we do the best we can and prepare for the little things.

Our preps have gotten us through very personal hard times. I wouldn't want to be without them.

Have your wife read Proverbs 31. We have a duty to be prepared so we can look after our husbands, children, and others who come into our lives.

God Bless, - Bonnie S.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I first want to extend my concern condolences for the passing of you dear wife "The Memsahib". Second: I have been in my mind, a "survivalist" for many years, I guess out of necessity. I have been in the Air Force for over 17 years now in the communications field but haven't had lots of money to go out and the things that I needed or wanted so I just learned how to build them. With this mindset and financial situation, I have become more and more suspicious of government particularly in regards to fuel and food prices. My first dream was to just be left alone with my family in a remote cabin in the mountains. My wife always giggled every time that I threatened to purchase a generator. She figured that once that I went through with it, that the gig would be up. I had not yet been into preparedness or knew anything about it. I was naive in all ways.

While I was on Temporary Duty (TDY), I met and began chatting with an older gentleman. We talked about scouting, firearms, reloading etc. I mentioned my dream alone in a mountain cabin and that's when my life changed. This gentleman educated me that my dream was a good one but flawed. He told me that I needed friends to watch my back, which would allow me to sleep in that cabin. He also recommended that I read this novel called "Patriots". I immediately after work, found a book store and purchased it. I devoured that book in three days. I'm currently reading:

One Second After by William R. Forstchen, and
World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler

[Once I started reading the novel,] I was so excited that I called my wife and began explaining the different chapters to her. She was interested probably due to my excitement as I explained. Once I returned home, I begged he to read the book. She was hesitate so I begged her to just read the first chapter. She agreed. I quietly watched her as she began to read and her eye brows began to raise and lower. First Chapter completed, she continued until she finished. My wife's outlook changed that day also. We live in base housing so we plan to rent a garden plot in the spring for a garden, I'm slowly stocking up on ammo and we plan to can what we grow. To sum it up. I was able to get mt Christian wife involved with Preparedness by begging her to read your novel "Patriots". Thank You Mr. Rawles, I'm eternally indebted to you for opening my eyes. Very Respectfully, - T.S. Wichita, Kansas

I have a suggestion. Maybe he could gently suggest preparedness things she might be interested in. A good example is a scrapbook. Most women (even if we aren't crafty) enjoy scrapbooks of their family. Start a family project of a scrapbook for your car evacuation kit. She might get stressed out on what to exclude so you might want to buy her two. I saw at Sam's Club they have gorgeous "ready made" scrapbook albums where you just insert photographs or documents you wanted to save for $20. That is perfect for someone that wants one but doesn't have the time or postpones it to be perfect so it never gets finished. It might be a fun family project for the holidays. :-) I think the digital scrapbook and photo albums are awesome but I have no experience with them.

Your dilemma shows what a good provider you are, she has probably never been hungry or seen her kids go without a need to understand how she won't just stop and starve with the hope of heaven and not fight and find ways of providing for her children. - Lisa

Wow. This is letter that really disturbed me. If we allow ourselves to carry is wife's sentiment to its logical conclusion, we should all lay down right now and stop moving until we die of hunger or exposure. God did not create us to be mindless moochers. Once we have committed ourselves to his will, we are to contribute to the order and abundance of his world, to seek out evil and counter it, and to heal those damaged by it. We are extensions of his love and grace through right living and must not be meek or passive in times of tribulation. If through her rebirth this flame was not kindled within her, I'm not sure how to help her get it lit! - Gretchen R.

Reader Chris B. wrote to mention that a software update glitch caused him to lose all of the address book data on his Blackberry. He wanted to remind folks to periodically write down (or upload and print out) all of the phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses that you keep stored on hand-held devices. Chris wrote: "I felt pretty sheepish, using my laptop to e-mail everyone for their cell phone numbers because I don't know them and didn't have the foresight to write them down." Nothing beats a hard copy backup!

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Gun Sales Shoot Up Amid America's Fear of Rising Crime and Terrorism

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Cheryl mentioned some Free Downloadable Survival Books

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Don't miss out on the special two-week 25% off sale on canned Mountain House foods that runs through the end of November, at Ready Made Resources. For even greater savings, they are offering free shipping on full (unbroken) cases lots. But because of the higher handling costs, if you "mix and match" cans within cases, shipping will be charged.

"It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable." - Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Molière

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
I've been into the survivalist genre since I first read [the novel] Alas, Babylon [by Pat Frank] about 10 years ago. Since then i've read just about every book on the subject I can get hold of. I ran across your novel "Patriots" about six months ago and it has really lit a fire under me. When discussing the subject with my wife, I was surprised when she asked me, "why?". She said that if our great country collapsed, what would be the point of surviving? Why keep struggling to go on when our Father in Heaven is waiting with open arms? I told her that I believe in our country and our ideals. I believe we are a force for good in the world and provide freedom and God-given rights that are found in almost nowhere else. That I believe is worth fighting and dying for. But I still struggle with her question. How do I get her on board? I know it's a personal decision and motivation comes from within but I just wish I knew what was going to do it for her. In the meantime, I will continue to be the head of my household. I will prepare in an effort to care for and protect my family and I know that with many issues of family, when a godly man leads, his family will follow.

Do you have any advice? I know there are probably many folks in the same situation that could use some encouragement.
Very Respectfully, - L.K. in Boise, Idaho

JWR Replies: You need to talk with and pray with your wife about God's purpose for your mortal lives. Although our lives are brief in the grand scheme of things, they can and should be used for God's glory. (That is our Great Commission.) I can think of no better Christian witness than being well-prepared and hence being in the position to share copious Christian charity in a time of crisis or catastrophe. The bottom line is that you can't share the gospel when you are room temperature.

You also need to think in terms of your progeny. Parents have responsibility to protect and provide for their children. That is Biblically mandated. And on a longer time scale, it would serve God to pass on Christian values to future generations. But that can only happen if your children survive to have children of their own. Parenthetically, I'd like to mention that I'm a descendant of Dr. Rowland Taylor (who's life and death is described in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.) He was burned at the stake for holding to the inerrancy of the Bible. He died singing hymns, amidst the flames. Part of Taylor's legacy is not just in that book, but also in the witness of his descendants, like me. Ask your wife: What will be your legacy? The certain fact is that our lives matter, in many ways, and some of these may not be apparent until after we've left this mortal life.

Mr. Rawles:
I had thought I had seen mention of it on Survivalblog, but have been unable to find it. "It" is a commo system for line of sight communications, which could be employed between adjacent homesteads. The technique is to situate two dish type antennae, as in the "C" or "Ku" band (roughly 1.5-2 meter) earth station antennae used for rural satellite television reception, pointing at each other. With gain on the order of 30-35 dbi, they provide roughly 8 to 10 fold amplification of the signal inputted into it. Now, if I were to face the dish, pointing at my neighbor's place, and speak at a normal tone, my voice would carry roughly 8+ times farther than I could shout, and also have a beam spread of around 2-10 degrees, providing considerably greater security of commo than bellowing. (breathe).

Can you help me find the reference I am recalling? I want to toy with such an apparatus, and am looking for guidance. Thanks!
BTW, if someone has leads on how I might obtain surplus or used dishes for a song, that, also, would be welcome. Thanks, - Skyrat

JWR Replies: The letter you mentioned was posted in SurvivalBlog, way back in November, 2005. Since 90% of the blog's current readership came on board in the interim, I'll re-post it, in full, below:

Dish Communications

[In response to an earlier letter,] a HF network is a good idea. A local network also has its merits. There are lots of methods and frequencies for local area usage. Some use military surplus equipment, some CBs, some ham, some TA-1 field phones with wire, some use Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) access points (a great idea if you've planned ahead for electricity and it actually works.).

I know three people in Colorado who use old solid [metal-coated fiberglass or sheet metal--not expanded metal mesh ]satellite dishes to be able to stand on their hills and talk to each other over several miles using a normal speaking voice. It must be strange facing away from someone several miles away and having a conversation. It works surprisingly well, but I was told that the rare scream of a hawk flying between the dishes can be slightly unnerving.

Local Networks
Many people aren't aware that the Atlanta, Georgia ham community has a city wide internet that's not part of the [International] Internet. All courtesy of Wi-Fi. Now that's an interesting concept. Voice, Phone, Data and Video on a parallel internet. Kinda like the Fed, huh?

Long Haul HF
Lots of ideas and most are good for their particular arena. But here's the but). But HF can link the continent together so you know what is happening all the way across the continent, even to the other end of the continent. It beats restricting yourself to only knowing what's going on 20, 40 or 60 miles away.(Not to mention talking worldwide or just listening worldwide, Hmmm?). Check out this article on the Regency Net and GRC-215s radios to get an idea of how the government planned to use HF to provide trans and post attack communications among nuclear capable units in the European Theater and then applied the concept for use in CONUS for FEMA.

Excellent idea overall. [For example,] I look forward to seeing where people suggest landing. One suggestion might be similar to the HF Backpack net, all USB. Geared to HF with less than 20 watts and the ability to carry it on your back while talking on the radio. Rough times? Conservative power requirement! Excellent capability. Perhaps someone will show up there and suggest moving to a quieter spot to start a discussion?

OBTW, the web page cited above states that the units could regularly communicate over 400 miles. Not quite accurate! From Colorado, I regularly talk to San Francisco, San Diego, Maine, and Georgia [the U.S. state]--all from this little radio which fits in a flight bag. It is 20 watts and has a 10 foot vertical whip antenna powered by a 28 volt, 7 amp battery which I can (and do) recharge with solar cells. And it's about the same size as the venerable PRC-77! Best Regards, - The Army Aviator

JWR Adds: Please note that this letter was first posted at a point in the sunspot cycle,when HF propagation was still good. But since sunspot numbers are presently "scraping bottom", HF is now "deader than disco." I'm confident that this pitiful propagation situation will turn around in a few years, but for now, it is a good time to just accumulate bargain HF equipment, as hams give up on HF, in desperation. (In many cases selling their HF gear at "desperation" prices.)

A reader wrote in and was posted with a letter called Converting Precious Metals Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)s to Physical Metals. This is pretty good advice but I would consider one change. I would not invest my IRA or 401k into ETFs or mining stocks as they are too volatile. Like his idea that investing in food companies wouldn't feed his family like physical food, investing in ETFs and mining stocks guarantee nothing as far as actually getting any money out if things fall apart. Rather, what I recently did was convert them to physical metals. The IRS allows this with the metals being held by an approved storage facility. While there certainly is a chance that those facilities could be seized by the government, it may be possible to take possession of the metals if we see the end coming and move quickly at that time. In the meantime, you actually own physical metals in your retirement fund instead of stocks. The only issue for a 401(k) is that you may need to check with your plan administrator to see if they'll allow you to choose that investment. In my case, I am self-employed and had an old 401k with a former employer that I converted so I didn't have to work within their system of investment choices. - Dave R.

JWR Replies: Since starting SurvivalBlog in 2005, several times I've mentioned that Gold Eagle IRAs are available through Swiss America. I set up one of these accounts through them in the late 1990s, and have held it ever since. My largest contributions to the account were made in 2000 and 2001, which was when gold dipped to a 20 year low. While not as absolutely safe as gold in your hands, these gold warehousing IRAs are a great way to shelter dollar-denominated funds that are presently parked in 401(k)s and IRAs. In most cases you can roll these over into a gold IRA without taking a tax hit!

Bobbi-Sue spot what must surely be our cue to stock up before some hefty retail price increases: Rice to Return 100% as Typhoons, Drought Roil Asians

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Chalk up one minor victory for personal liberty: Airport rules changed after Ron Paul aide detained. (A hat tip to HPD for the link.)

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Straycat sent us this: Death Valley Bones May Solve Mystery of Missing German Tourists. The Cat's Comment: "First rule of survival; Be prepared! Second rule; Don't do anything stupid! "

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'2012' Movie Tops Box Office, Pulls in $225M Worldwide. (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

   o o o has announced that they’re giving away a free Nukalert every month!

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." - Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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.

It was a gorgeous Saturday night, Sept. in Montana's mountains the weather was hanging onto summer's 70 degree temperatures, warm and dry. Working all day at the hospital and finishing some of my home preparedness projects gave me a satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Time to relax, I sat down, put my feet up and was sipping my week's end treat, a cold beer. I phoned my friend, “Brett” to finalize our plans to butcher a few of his farm animals tomorrow. He was finishing a Bible reading with his boys and was putting them to bed, and would call me back in a few minutes.

It was quite strange, as soon as I hung up, the phone immediately rang. It wasn't Brett, it was “Eric.” His voice had a tone and panic I'd never heard before. Through his hollering and shouting I gathered a forest fire had just erupted a mile from his home. He was pleading for me to get to his parents' home and tell them he is being evacuated! He was about to loose his house, horses, tools, everything. His call ended any type of relaxing for this Saturday night.

Eric and I have been friends for years. We live about 30 miles from each other. His parents and I are only 5 miles apart. He was unable to phone them. They have discontinued their land line, living tucked away on the side of a hill, far in the country and far from cell service. We of like minds prefer it that way don't we?

My job in the health center was to train staff to respond to emergencies. We prepared for heart attacks, missing children, chemical spills, the usual. I am also a martial art's instructor and former fighter. Eric's call had ignited my fight or flight response dumping adrenaline into my body. My mind was racing, hundreds of thoughts and ideas all at once. I had just let my guard down. It was my time to relax, but my friend needed help. His request, and my urgency was to notify his parents, get people to the scene!

“Should I ride my Harley”? It would be quicker than my truck, but the thought of being in a smoky fire on a motorcycle wasn't appealing. I'd ridden it before during a bad fire season a few years ago, the memory of the smoke stinging my eyes and my lungs burning made my decision easy. I ran to my truck.

Oh adrenaline, how amazing you are..more thoughts flooded my mind, simultaneous, in a moment, “grab my boots, Carhartts, jacket, chain saw and Pulaski to fight the fire. I'll need my cell phone and lights, No, don't waste time get going! Hurry! I can always come back for my gear. It's only a few miles. Got to get to his parents! The fire was at least 30 miles from my home. My two daughters were safe, my wife was out for the night, the animals were all in their pens, go now, go fast!”

I blasted off in my truck. My mission, my friend's request was clear, notify his parents. I took off wearing a pair of worn out sneakers, blue jeans and a T-shirt, no wallet, no ID, no phone. I raced my pick up to Eric's parents' home. “I can come back for my gear” disappoints me to this day.

Completing my mission caused another families' Saturday night to change quickly, crying, disbelief and shock. It took them an eternity to accept this, get dressed and get on the road to help Eric. I followed them at 80 mph for the next 30 miles. Of course, we got stopped for speeding but the considerate officer knew of the fire situation and let us go, no ticket. I hope he reads this. I'd like to thank him.

As the miles passed, the outline of the mountain tops were easily seen glowing a dull red. Smoke was now thick from the burning trees. I shut the truck's air vents. As we turned off the main highway I was suddenly cut off by a frantic heard of deer, several horses and a few dogs. They were crisscrossing the old road running wild. The fire was spreading quickly. I wondered, what I was getting into? This isn't safe. This really happening!” My friend needed help, there was no hesitation, only my commitment.

The country dirt roads were not made for the traffic created from fire and pumper trucks, pick ups and trailers. The dust from the vehicles choked any attempts at normal breathing. I wrapped a bandanna around my nose and mouth but they were already dry and burning. It was quite dark but the glow from the fire and headlights created an eerie radiance. Any form of light was now encased in an evil combination of smoke and dust. Nothing was seen clear. Nothing was for certain. My Saturday had changed so quickly I couldn't keep up.

My thoughts drifted to how valuable my gear would have been. Great planning and preparedness on my part. I never drove back to gather my equipment. I even have it organized for this type of grab and go situation. Wondering if the extra time spent would have been worth it? Saving those few minutes and racing off could prove costly.

My instincts told me to drive my truck. My gas tank was rarely below ¾ full, and true to my nature, I'd even topped it off after work. I had a full tank, (no wallet). I always stocked my first aide bag, pistol, extra mags, leather work gloves, 120 ft. of rope, jumper cables and a spot light in my truck. I plugged in the spot light, holstered my pistol, put on my gloves, grabbed the first aid bag and rope and set them on the front seat. I lit up the spot light and in this smoky confusion of animals, firefighters, trucks, trailers and flashing lights, I found Eric. He was standing in a grass field, sweating, dirty and holding two of his five horses.

I jumped out. Eric was in shock, my friend and brother needed help and lots of it! I used my 120 foot rope and several of us banded together forming a human fence. We were able to coral two more frightened horses. It took several attempts and over an hour to trailer those two. We roped off others and tied them to the trailer Like us, they were scared. confused and running on adrenaline One horse, was cut and bleeding bad. Her chest and legs sliced open, looked like she tangled with barb wire. I released my right hand from the rope and rested it on my pistol, assessing her, wondering?

One lady was standing alone in the middle of the dirt road, trucks and trailers driving around her. I grabbed my first aide bag and went to her. She was stiff, didn't speak, didn't answer my questions. I checked her, no signs of injury, B/P and 02 sats were within normal limits, pulse was racing, whose wasn't? No cuts or bruises, shock. I drove her down two miles to the small country town, Lakeside where others had gathered by the Red Cross station and were sharing information and horror stories.

I could hear conversations of those who needed to get gas at this time of night, without success. Most stations were closed and the one that was open was choked with long lines, and taking credit cards only. Beautiful 350 Turbo powered Cummings trucks sitting, going nowhere, without fuel. Frustrated drivers, swearing, pounding their fists on their hoods as the fire threatened their homes.

One lady was standing in shorts and a tank top, great for the warmth of the day but more than exposed to numerous dangers in this situation. Her home was directly in the fire's path. She had called the police prior to attempting to go to her home. They told her not to worry she would not be evacuated. By the time she got home, the fire had changed directions and she was not permitted to go near her home.

Eric had made several phone calls and other friends arrived. Some were quite prepared, some not. With his friends there to help him, all Eric could do was stand in disbelief, mumbling, “I've lost everything. I've lost everything.” I held both his arms, looked him square in the face and reassured him he hadn't lost everything. “There still is time. Look, your house is right here, the fire's still up on the mountain top. What can we get out of it? What's first?” He didn't answer. He ran off to get a chain saw.

What are his priorities? What did he want out of his home? If his house did burn down what is important to him? We may only have this one chance. How can I help? What do I get for him? birth certificates, insurance papers, cash, guns? Where is all this?

Then amongst all the fear and shock, unexpectedly, an angel gently touched my arm. It was Eric's mom. She was a calm in all this confusion. Her and Eric's dad are older, not in the prime of health and took a little longer to find us. His dad, Charles may not be in his youth but he sure proved his efficiency on the front end loader. Charles took up his position on Eric's loader and immediately started pushing over smaller trees and brush, dragging them away from the house and work shop. He was also building 10 ft high mounds of dirt around the house at the same time. He was amazing! Efficient, productive, we were making gains now! We were on the offensive! We rallied behind their calm wisdom and experience.

All too sudden, it was quite, very quiet. The front end loader stalled while dragging a tree and wouldn't start. After several attempts to restart it, the battery died. At this moment I felt the weight of the Red Sea crash in on me. I felt the fatigue. I was exhausted. I couldn't breath. My knees, ankles and feet were throbbing, the past few hours walking, running and tripping in unfamiliar fields and dirt roads had taken its toll. My boots were now worth millions.

“My boots, my gear, Wish I would have....wait! I always carry jumper cables in my truck! I hobbled to it and eased into the front seat. Shifting and pushing the clutch sent waves of pain through my battered ankles and legs. I drove through the field right up to the Bobcat and popped open my hood. Charles had been trying to restart it and grabbed my jumper cables. In a few short minutes, we had her running again! Guess I wasn't that sore after all and Charles didn't seem quite as old.

As I moved my truck out of Charles' path, the headlights caught an outline of Eric at the base of a tree. He found his chainsaw and had started to cut down the larger trees close to his home and shop. Charles could push them away from the house once they were on the ground and the fire would not have any fuel. Great idea.

Eric was halfway through a 60 ft. Tamarack and found his chainsaw had no fuel either. He ran out of gas and had none stored. Vehicles, people and animals all racing in the glowing dark and now a 60 ft. pine tree ready to come down at any time. We had an experienced logger, a Stihl chain saw but no fuel. This was very dangerous and we created it.

Tired, thirsty and frustrated, I lit up the tree with my spot light and parked my truck sideways on the dirt road blocking any traffic from the North. Others stood on the South side and stopped any flow from their direction. Charles inched the Bobcat closer and closer and was able to push over the 60 ft. danger without incident. We all sighed in relief.

The whole night was filled with events like this, success mixed with failure. You never experienced any one emotion for more than a few minutes. The burning fire created a constant urgency in everything we did. The eerie backdrop of a mountain glowing red with an uncontrolled fire wouldn't let us rest.

Time changed that night. It would slow and pause for a moment, then by the time you blinked the smoke out of your eyes and it sped up creating situations and forcing immediate decisions throughout the night. There were times when I was watching all this unfold, far away from the fire, danger and confusion. There were times I was in the middle of everything, eyes stinging, scared, tired, wanting to do more for my friend.

Lessons learned:
1) Take the next step, if you have been preparing, don't let up.
2) Emergencies seem to happen when we let our guard down
3) Do not become drunk with wine or strong drink
4) Help your friends prepare.
5) When a situation occurs, it will probably be at night and dark, you'll be hot or cold and definitely tired
6) You respond they way you practice/prepare
7) If you do not practice or prepare............things will get ugly
8) Little things we do on a daily basis, our habits, make big differences in crisis situations
9) Have fuel

I'd like to thank Mr. Rawles and your blog page. I've been a regular for almost two years now. It has been very valuable to read it and your books. You have given sound advice and enhanced my sense of preparedness. Because of your mission people were better off in a Montana wild fire. I hope and pray similar situations never come again but I feel it is only a matter of time. When the next one occurs, I will be even better prepared and will react with more efficiency thanks to you and others like us.

Since I initially started writing this our weather has changed. In a 48 hour period it has gone from sunny and 70 to 4 inches of snow, icy roads cold, and minus 4 degrees at night.

God Bless us all. - Daniel in Montana

Hi Jim,

You've probably already seen this storage food now sold by COSTCO but it was news to me. Is that a sign of the times or what? In Him, - Karen H.


I just noticed that Shelf Reliance "Thrive" brand food is being sold at

I love your site, - Robert C.

JWR Replies: With a few supplements, the Thrive food storage system would make a very good "core" food storage system for someone that puts a premium on their time. These are top quality products. You would of course want to add other foods for variety and to up the calorie count to compensate for the rigors of doing lots of physical work in a disaster situation. Don't overlook having additional fats and oils, as these are often lacking in many of the commercial food storage systems. (Too many lean meats and not enough fat and other nutrients can induce Rabbit Starvation (aka protein poisoning) --where you can have plenty of protein-derived calories, but still starve to death.) Adding a good quality multi-vitamin supplement and/or a sprouting kit is also important. And, needless to say, if you store wheat, you will also need to buy a hand wheat grinder.

If you do your own CO2 packaging (as I describe in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course) then you can set aside a one year supply even less expensively, and tailor the choice of foods to match your own preferences. In the course I describe in detail how to shop for nearly all your storage food items at "Big Box" stores like Sam's Club and COSTCO. By buying in bulk and re-packaging, you will end up with foods that are more palatable, and close to what you are already eat on a day-to-day basis.

I send this respectfully to those delusioned Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) investors. Just like the people of earth believing the world was flat, it will become common knowledge that ETFs are just a vehicle for investors and not for those who believe in the metal. It is proven in the ETF prospectus that most are backed with the same faith as our Federal Reserve Notes. Both are still good for trading for profit now but when TSHTF at least your dollars can be used as tinder. You will never be shipped a single ounce of precious metal from an ETF. Just like you would never be shipped a barrel of oil or given the keys to a house owning shares of their respective ETFs.

I don't own shares of bulk food companies, I own bulk food. That is what will feed me and mine. If you believe in the metals and want to store your value for the long haul then buy the metal itself.

So the question now is as it should be, How do I get the most metal for my money? I am sure most who may be reading this do not trust the system as it is, so stop using it.

First, stop putting cash into it. A matching 401(k) is the only reason I still play along, for now, its free money.

Next take out what you don't want others (gov) to have access to or know about.

Whatever you leave in the system (401(k), IRA, etc.), apply to ETFs and or mining stocks.

Based on your investing time line and plan for TEOTWAWKI, your metal will be far more valuable than any dollar amount in any account. It will be hard enough just to cash out your accounts when TSHTF.

The way I see it as a 31 year old, the Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Pension fund systems will not be available to me when the government let's me "retire". My company just this week told us that my age/time in service group will not be given health care benefits after retirement, so that just gives more credence to the impending need for self reliance.

I believe in precious metals as a store of wealth over time. I also believe precious metals are a great investment at this time. In the Fall of 2008, I took a 50% loan out against my 401k (the most I could take without closing my account). The day I got the check I went to the store and spent 100% on silver bullion. The remaining half of the account is in silver and gold mining companies. From that time until now, my stocks are up more than my bullion, both though are moving up.

Personally, I chose to keep my 401(k) account open and at a minimum as my company matches 5%. I continue to manage my account in "speculative" mining stocks.

Like I said, my time line fits. When my stocks go parabolic and the investment side of the precious metals opportunity expires, I will sell the remaining stocks, cash out my 401(k), pay the taxes which may tally up to 45%, and be out of the system. Yes I will give up almost half but you must remember that was my companies half. Yes I will be young and without a 401(k), but I will have everything I own paid off including home, vehicles, stored food, and other preparations. I will be out of the system and self reliant. I will still have my metal, I will have my health, I will have time, and I will have the option to work where I want, if I want, as I will owe nothing to anyone but charity and God. If that is not retirement then I don't know what I'm working for in the first place.

There are many people out there who believe in precious metals for the right reasons. If you are involved in ETFs and your not a hedge fund manager, read your prospectus. If you don't get out of them after that re-read it. Any penalty or tax that you pay to the system so that you can own the same thing in its natural form should be another eye opener to things going on around us all. Stay away from ETFs, buy physical metal and be prepared. God bless, - K.A. in Ohio

Ryan (not one of the one of the Ryans of TSLRF fame) sent this news item from a southern Idaho newspaper: Driggs boy shoots bear on family's porch. Ryan's comment: "This is great. Hope my daughter turns out like this". Speaking of bears in Idaho, my old college roommate e-mailed me the link to this archived picture from the Colt Firearms collection.That was lucky shot. (Needless to say, .32 ACP is not a reliable stopper for predators of either the two-legged or four-legged varieties! Here at the ranch, we regularly carry .45 ACPs in the woods, and feel just barely sufficiently armed.)

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I heard from a reader that as of January 1st, in California and Washington it will be illegal to balance car and truck wheels with lead weights.This might present an opportunity for anyone in California or Washington to acquire some scrap lead for various post-TEOTWAWKI projects. Just ask your local tire shop what they plan to do with their bins of old weights, and offer them a nominal sum for what they have left. You might get a real bargain.

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K.L. in Alaska suggested this article from England: Organic GM alternative considered. K.L's comment: "Apparently there's a move afoot to re-brand genetically engineered seeds
as "organic" to make this monopolistic practice more palatable to the public."

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Lawrence in West Virginia let me know that the mail order catalog/Internet company Sportsman's Guide got another batch of pre-1899 Chilean contract Mausers, that they are selling sans papiere for $299. That is a fair price, these days.They have them in both 7x57 Mauser, and arsenal conversions to 7.62mm NATO. The latter are safe to shoot with standard 7.62mm NATO ball, but NOT with commercially loaded .308 Winchester soft nose, since it has substantially higher chamber pressure! If you want to shoot soft nose through these, then work up a mild hand load. Or, using a .30 caliber bullet puller collet and a reloading press, carefully pull the bullets from loaded standard 7.62mm NATO ball cartridges and re-seat soft nose 150 grain spitzer bullets. (This is how some high power rifle target shooters make "Mexican Match.") By the way, for some details on the legalities of pre-1899 guns, read my Pre-1889 Cartridge Guns FAQ.

"It is a cruel thought that, when we feel ourselves standing on the firmest ground in every respect, the cursed arts of our secret enemies, combining with other causes, should effect, by depreciating our money, what the open arms of a powerful enemy could not." - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 16, 2009

Update: There have been a large volume of orders received for the 33%-off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course. I just heard from Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing, that they've already used up about half of their available supply of copies of "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". So order your course soon, if you want to get one of the free bonus books!


I noticed that we've surpassed 12 million unique visits, and we're about to reach the milestone of 8,000 archived articles, letters, and quotes for SurvivalBlog. Please let your friends know about SurvivalBlog, especially that all of the archives are available free of charge. We don't charge any fees, or have any "special member access areas". Our Ten Cent Challenge subscriptions are entirely voluntary! A link to SurvivalBlog in your e-mail footer or in your web page would be greatly appreciated! Oh, and please mention that you read SurvivalBlog when you write your obligatory annual Christmas letter. Many Thanks!

I occasionally hear from consulting clients that get stuck in the rut of "over -planning". They do so much planning for training, and planning for stocking up, that they never seem to get around to doing either! Lengthy "to do" lists are worthless if they never get implemented. This sometimes reaches absurd lengths, as illustrated by one of my clients that showed me a spreadsheet on his laptop PC, in which he not only compared prices from various vendors for ammunition, but also tracked the changes in their prices, over the course of two years. I asked him: "Well, when did you buy, and how much did you buy?" His reply: "Well, none yet, actually, but I've found the best sources, and I've logged their price increases, shown in dollar prices here, and in percentage terms, here. Look here: This company has increased it prices by 12% less than these others. Now look at this column: their prices are up an average of only 21% since this time last year." So, while he was busy fiddling with his spreadsheets, the purchasing power of his money went down by more than 20%. He would have been ahead by at least 20+ percent, if he had just bought ammo a year earlier. But instead, he sat idly by and watched the value of his dollars melt. And these were dollars kept in a typical bank account, perhaps earning only 2% interest. (If he had invested precious metals, then he would have at least stayed ahead of the price increases on ammo.)

The foregoing instructs an important point: Avoid infinite planning cycles, and get started with some concrete steps at preparedness. Clip some coupons and go to you local discount grocery store or "Big Box " store, and actually lay in some supplies, when prices are favorable, of course. If you are not sure exactly what you should buy, or about the shelf lives of various foods, or how to repackage them in oxygen-free sturdy containers, then get a copy of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course. The bottom line is that a good plan today beats a perfect plan, tomorrow. Or, as we often used to quote in the US Army: "Better is the enemy of good enough."

One of the most troubling things I see when speaking to people about going off grid is how badly they want to keep all of their electrical appliances and just spend many thousands of dollars on a battery bank more appropriate for a U-boat and solar cells or generators to keep them topped off. Having had a minor role in a micro-satellite system design proposal one thing you learn when confronted by limited power supply is to either economize or do without.

The appliances you own for on grid use are not efficient. They are built to be inexpensive or if you are better off durable, even the fancy electrical appliances out of Europe with the Energy Star are in reality a big waste of power once you are paying by the off grid watt for solar panels and battery banks. There is no reason a normal family shouldn't consider an off grid option for their home. Even in a national emergency and societal breakdown it is very rare for supplies of diesel fuel, gasoline, kerosene, and LP gas to be unavailable for long periods at some price.

Dryer - Enemy number one especially in a large family, a solar clothes dryer is under $5 at nearly every hardware store, ask for a clothesline. Folding indoor drying racks are very popular in Israel. Even in winter indoor drying can be assisted by using a fan, it will also keep the air humidified. After trying the above and finding you just can't make it there are LP gas heated clothes dryers, but these still need mains power for the drum motor.

Oven/Stovetop - There is no reason to use electrical power for cooking. Excellent caterer grade ovens and stoves are available at most appliance stores which run totally on gas. Some may use an electrical ignition or thermostat but nearly all can be retrofitted either with a piezoelectric (no battery needed) spark starter or can just be lit with a match avoiding the danger of the old style pilot light since they now are equipped with a thermal safety. Most people find they actually prefer gas once they are used to it as it is a more even heat. We have had good success using MSR camping kerosene burners when the gas to our home was unavailable for a few weeks.

Hot Water - Nearly any off grid home will benefit from the addition of a solar collector in addition to a well-insulated gas water heater. Think about turning down the thermostat or using a secondary gas instant heating system and low flow shower heads to stretch your hot water supply.

Heating - Most stores and contractors can provide a wide variety of wood, pellet, gas, kerosene, or oil-fueled stoves and furnaces and space heaters. Insulation is key to keeping your alternative heat system from breaking your bank account.

Power Tools - Some older large shop tools can be powered by a PTO shaft or belt system. The possibilities from a gas motor, to steam, to hydro and beyond are limited only by your imagination.

Water pressure - In many areas there is not enough wind for a windmill to keep a water tower full so an electrical or gas pump might work better once all factors are evaluated. If your retreat is located below the summit of the hill it would probably be much easier to install a pool or cistern on the summit to provide pressure for firefighting operations even if your pump is destroyed, for every foot of elevation .433 pounds of water pressure is required for filling your tower or cistern and this pressure is returned when water is used in your home or property. Anyone living in a wilderness area should have in addition to a gravity fed water system of at least 1,500 gallons and a 300 gpm capacity, and at least one portable reservoir. There are portable swimming pools that are the same as US Forest Service uses for firefighting, and a gas powered portable pump for emergency firefighting. Descending water can be run reverse through some pumps generating electricity making it a very effective and inexpensive way to store electrical power once your battery banks are full.

Refrigeration - Most readers if their inventory their refrigerator will find mostly leftovers or things which actually will last until consumption without refrigeration. There are high quality kerosene and LP gas powered absorption refrigerators, some with secondary mains power optional, available from a few suppliers even in the US.

For those with the skills required to build and test a system which can withstand 250 psi anhydrous ammonia, copying the old Crosley Icy-Ball chest refrigerator-freezer is a thrifty option. Since anti-drug manufacturing laws make obtaining anhydrous ammonia difficult, an icy-ball can be built with drains on the absorptive water side to self distill ammonia from cleaning solution. A warning: Ammonia is a dangerous respiratory irritant and any homemade system should be used with caution and kept and recharged outside in case of leakage. One DIY design includes a shutoff valve to keep the ammonia from reabsorbing until the valve is opened allowing it to be stored in a charged condition.

Before refrigeration people would buy eggs and milk fresh in the city or if they could have chickens and a cow or goat would produce their own. A chicken is easily consumed by even a small family once cooked, in less than a day.

A water evaporation cooler cabinet is another very cheap option for keeping food.

Lighting - Gas mantle lighting once found in most urban homes is not difficult to implement using either camping lamps and piped gas or better yet certified indoor lamps. While in college I worked in a gun and camping shop which sold a reverse fitting for refilling disposable Coleman LP gas cartridges from the older non-tip over shutoff bulk tanks making camp lights highly practical for hanging. It must be remembered that gas lighting presents an increased fire hazard so precautions including avoiding clutter and considering the floor and wall surface must be taken into account. Battery powered florescent and LED lights and LED nightlights are also useful for reading and small tinkering. Metal halide lighting is much more power friendly than incandescent if large areas require illumination for security purposes.

Communications - Your radio communications system should have a redundant battery bank and power supply should your services be required in an emergency. It should be remembered the operating rule of just as much power as required and the usage of low power consumption modes like CW. Tube systems are notoriously wasteful of power and tubes have limited life so these should be kept as backup systems in most cases. Only power up satellite Internet systems after you have typed up all the e-mails and set them up to send immediately after going online. There are offline viewers which will call up all the web sites you normally visit and grab them all for later viewing.

Television sets, satellite receivers, and large stereo systems are wasteful of electrical power if left on. A small notebook computer for occasional movies and an MP3 player for music will save many valuable watts. Unplug or employ a disconnect switch [or power strip with switch] on all electronics unless they are in use. This will protect them from power surges in addition to eliminating sleep-state power draw. [Also know as a "phantom load."]

Telephone - If your retreat can obtain telephone service a secondary redundant system connecting you to selected neighbors can be set up in some areas by ordering an old style alarm or bell line to one central home, this is usually cheaper than a line with actual telephone service, and should work in most telephone systems even if the central office with its redundant power goes offline but the wires are still intact. The Telephone company will either splice the wire pairs at the neighborhood box or at the closest central office, officially only for alarm systems, it is possible to set up anything from long run Ethernet or simple voice lines with an old style "everybody rings" party line. This will not save off grid watts but is a good way to add redundancy to your retreat.

Safety - Install at least two combo carbon monoxide sensing smoke alarms in your home in addition to a smoke alarm in every occupied room. In these alarms, install long life lithium batteries and check on the first of the month and every time you change to or from daylight savings. DO NOT use rechargeable batteries for your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms!

Due to the higher fire risk using flame-based alternatives to electricity I even more strongly recommend installation of fire sprinklers in all rooms, flame hoods over all cooking surfaces with automatic sprinklers that have a manual activation, and at least two standpipe and hose cabinets with 100 gpm gravity flow minimum per standpipe, ABC-rated fire extinguisher, gloves, goggles, and Nomex face shroud. Install outdoor standpipes and stocked hose locker for wildfires, a charged mobile phone for 911 (BTW, you need not have an active calling plan to use a cell phone to call 911 in the USA) and if you have to retreat from interior firefighting. Most importantly have an evacuation and rendezvous family accounting plan and volunteer with the local volunteer fire department, learn when the fire is just too big to fight by yourself.

With an engineering eye it is often possible to reduce your home or retreat electrical requirements to an inexpensive few hundred watts once alternatives are considered. Shalom, - David in Israel

Hi Jim,
The bulk-buy solution I settled on was to start my own food co-op or buying club, as an associate of a bulk supplier. They send out a monthly price list and can deliver weekly in my area with only two days' notice. My orders must meet a minimum of $350 each and I must be present when the truck backs down my driveway in order to properly receive and write a check for the shipment. The driver calls me an hour ahead of time so I don't have to wait around all day.

My aim was to make the buying club available to other nearby preppers strictly for bulk orders of long-term storage items but so far I have been the only one to use it.

The great advantage I see in a buying club is that it permits large purchases that would seriously raise eyebrows in a grocery store if they even permitted you to clean them out of the items you sought. (Some stores at least have threshold policies.) It meets the needs of procrastinators who finally decide that now is the time to stock the bunker. Also, the supplier's wholesale warehouse would not be mobbed as early as grocery stores would after TSHTF because few consumers would even know about it.

A downside of the co-op approach would be curious close-by neighbors witnessing you receiving scores of bags, buckets, and boxes, possibly coming over for a nosy visit while you are unloading. This has not been a problem in my location due to my long driveway but would present OPSEC concerns to many. Members of a buying club club who pick up their orders at the drop-off point might benefit from unloading their vehicle while the neighbors are gone or asleep. Another potential downside is that authorities or criminals could seize the bulk supplier's membership list in a search for "hoarders" of food supplies, an excellent reason for creating off-site caches. - Jim McC.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. Two more caveats: Depending on your locale, you might need both a business license and liability insurance. We now live in a very litigious society. It is sad but true, someone that merely strains their back while on your property might file a lawsuit. So if you decide to operate with liability insurance, I recommend that you do not open up the organization to anyone except your relatives and trusted friends.

Mr. Rawles,
I have read your blog with interest for several years now, and I am coming around to your view that using long-term physical holdings in precious metals as a "time machine" to fight inflation is a good strategy. I have some small investments in bullion-backed exchange traded funds (ETFs) that I would like to convert to physical holdings, but I am unsure of the most efficient way to proceed.

Of course I could always just sell the shares, head to the coin shop and pay the tax man next spring, but all I really want to do is shift the location of the bullion that I already own. It doesn't seem right that this should be taxed. Okay, I'm not the first person to whine about unfair taxation, but is there some way to postpone Uncle Sam taking his cut for a while?

Are you aware of any method to convert shares in a precious metal ETF into physical holding without incurring a tax penalty?

Best Regards, - Brian in Michigan (another one of your "burbivalist" readers)

JWR Replies: Sorry, but I don't know of any way to avoid the tax hit with cashing out an ETF. Perhaps a SurvivalBlog reader with a background in a tax law knows a way, and can comment.

FWIW, I've never recommended ETFs. Rather, I 've always said: "tangibles, tangibles, tangibles". To me, in the context of precious metals that means owning the physical metal and holding in your own hands. I recommend that all of your future precious metals purchases be done that way, to eventually minimize you paper or "synthetic" metals holdings,

CDC Now Says There are Likely 4,000 Swine Flu Deaths in the US. This is 4x what they had been reporting.

Ukraine Dead at 213; Still No Sequences From WHO 1,192,481 Influenza/ARI; 62,462 Hospitalized

WHO Appeals to Ukraine for Help with Hemorrhagic Pneumonia

Senators Debate Requiring Paid Sick Leave for Workers with Flu

11 Die of H1N1 in War-Ravaged Afghanistan

Cheryl sent this article auto-translation link: Belarusian doctors: "Swine flu triggers a deadly form of pneumonia disease"

...and this data from the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.

Cheryl also did some digging and found this: Norway: 300,000 Infected. Doubling of cases has occurred, they are watching for the hemorrhagic pneumonia that occurred in Ukraine

Jonas sent this: GLD ETF Warning, Tungsten-Filled Fake Gold Bars

GG flagged this: China: Loose US Policy, Weak USD Creating Speculation

From Pamela E.: Arrogant Fed hasn't learned a thing

Items from The Economatrix:

White House Aims to Cut Deficit with Unspent TARP Money

AIG May Tap Credit Line as Commercial Paper Expires

Japan Derivative Market Unraveling

If You Thought the Housing Meltdown was Bad...

The Midnight Food Line at Wal-Mart. There are American families who aren't eating at the end of the month and are literally hitting Wal-Mart at midnight, as soon as their food stamp benefits hit their accounts.

Yishai spotted a link to New Scientist, posted by Glenn Reynolds, over at Instapundit: Mini ice age took hold of Europe in months

   o o o

Steve S. mentioned a recent article in The Detroit News that briefly quotes JWR: Apocalypse now: Armageddon scenarios reach fever pitch

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SurvivalBlog's British-born Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson mentioned this incredible news story from Nanny State Britannia: Find a gun, go to jail.

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For the OPSEC-minded amongst us, Ron A. suggested this article with umpteen links: Web World Wide -- 50 Free Internet Tools for Tin-Foil Hat Wearers. OBTW, I take offense at the "tin foil hat " moniker. SurvivalBloggers' hats are made of food grade reflective mylar, topped with a region-specific camouflage cover. ;-)

   o o o

Ken M. suggested some short videos on how to escape from "zip tie" handcuffs. Ken's comment: "This might come in handy if you are ever in a hostage situation."

"I, for one, do not trust Congress to be in charge of monetary policy. But I do not argue that the Federal Reserve System should maintain its independence from the Federal government. I maintain that it should be made completely independent of the Federal government: cut loose and left to fend for itself, just as the Second Bank of the United States was in 1836. It went bust.

I am not so naive as to imagine that this will happen in my lifetime, short of a true social collapse in which several million people die because of the collapse of the division of labor due to hyperinflation. I do not expect this to happen. But I can dream [of such a catastrophe]." - Dr. Gary North

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A special two-week 25% off sale on canned Mountain House foods began this morning (Sunday, November 15th) at Ready Made Resources. (One of our most loyal advertisers.) For even greater savings, they are offering free shipping on full (unbroken) cases lots. But because of the higher handling costs, if you "mix and match" cans within cases, shipping will be charged.

I just had a quick question, I recently purchased a 100 round BETA C-MAG from a man at a gun show, but there are markings on the front that say "For Law Enforcement/ Government Use Only" . Does this mean I should not have bought it? And what should I do with it if it's unlawful to have? Please help, - Peter B.

JWR Replies: Your drum magazine was produced sometime between 1994 and 2004, during a time when production for civilian sales was banned in the US. But that restriction marking became null and void after the 1994 "Assault Weapons" Ban's sunset clause went into effect, in September, 2004. Except for residents of New York (where a separate state ban was enacted) and a few other hoplophobic localities, you should not be concerned. However, it is possible that magazine might be a source of confusion if a new full-capacity magazine production ban is ever enacted. Save your receipt, so that you can prove when it was purchased. And to avoid all ambiguity, you might eventually want to trade it off to someone in law enforcement or the military, for another one that is unmarked.

Dear Jim,
In all the posts I have been reading about storing water, I wondered if a typical home hot water heater could be used as a source of stored water in an emergency or TEOTWAWKI. Containing about 50 gallons in a glass enclosure, could that be considered a source of water, if [civic supply tap] water was not available or had run out? I’d be interested to hear your readers’ responses.- Diane G., Springfield, TN

JWR Replies: Yes, the water in your home's hot water heater is a good source of emergency water, if your utility water is ever disrupted. (Or, if you are on a private well, and you don't have access to a backup generator that can power your well pump.)

You can drain the water from the hot water heater, using a standard garden hose (or the cut-off stub of a garden hose), that has the female hose fitting. OBTW, it is a good idea to drain the rusty sludge out of the bottom of your hot water heater at least once per year. Not only will this mean that you will have cleaner water available from the tank in the event of an emergency, but it will also extend the life of an electric hot water heater. (Typically, the bottom electric heating element will burn out, once the sludge level eventually works it's way up to the bottom element.)

Hello James,
Regarding wound irrigation, wound preps, surgical site prep, etc., folks would do well to purchase a gallon each of Betadine, Povidone, or other generic tamed iodine, in both the scrub and solution formulations. These are not terribly expensive and one likely could talk his/her Veterinarian into getting some for them, as they are not controlled substances. [JWR Adds: They are also available in the vet supply department at some of the larger feed stores, and via mail order and Internet vet supply companies like Jeffers.] These are concentrates and can be diluted, and used on wounds if the patient has no iodine allergies. Sincerely, - Mike M., DVM

The key to stopping a wound infection is to change the physical characteristics of the wound to make it hard for the bacteria to live. Most bacteria are very specialized and sometimes something as simple as oxygen will kill them dead. Irrigation is a great help too, it gets rid of a large numbers of bacteria and the pure water causes bacteria to swell up and pop. You can also change the pH of the wound, or the salinity.

Wound care in the Third World is almost always a problem. It seems that you never have all the supplies you need. Antibiotics and even antiseptics are scarce.

One of the key pieces of kit used by some NGOs in Africa is something called "sugardine". It's just plain old table sugar, mixed with a mild solution of iodine. Either one works pretty well, but for a raging infection, plain old table sugar (granulated sugar or sucrose), will cause bacteria to dehydrate. Your body will respond by oozing liquid into the wound, which also helps dislodge bacteria. The normal way of using it in Africa is to unwrap the wound, irrigate it with clean water and then pack it full of sugar and re-wrap it loosely. (Don't worry too much about dry dressings. It's going to ooze quite copiously.) After a couple of hours, you can open it back up and irrigate it again and let it air out with loose, cry bandages until the next sugar treatment.

Repack the wound with sugar twice a day and the results are amazing. - Jon

Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) mentioned that Sun Tzu's Art of War (Sonshi's translation, not the Giles edition) free on-line. Be sure to check out the Strategy Course.

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I found this linked at The Drudge Report (a very good news aggregation page that I scan at least once a week): Asteroid passes just 8,700 miles from Earth - with only 15 hours warning

   o o o

Also from Drudge: Cuba orders extreme measures to cut energy use. An energy saving tip for Papa Fidel: You could save half a million watts, if you just pull the plug on the Schumer that spews forth from La Voz de la Propagandistas.

   o o o

Cheryl spotted this article: Survival School: Why More Americans Are Learning To Pick Locks, Bust Out Of Handcuffs, And Avoid Surveillance

"The righteous cried [out], and the Lord heard, And delivered them out of all their troubles." - Psalm 34:17

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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 various TEOTWAWKI scenarios there will probably be no organized fire companies to help out the survivors with timely a fire suppression response. Here are some simple and low cost solutions that individuals can do to suppress and fight fires that are type A fires such as paper, cardboard, wood, cloth, plastics etc. Do not fight other fire types with water . Search engine “fire extinguisher types” to learn more. [JWR Adds: You should keep at least two 10+ pound A-B-C fire extinguishers in your home, for fighting grease, chemical, and electrical fires.]

In many homes there is currently water under pressure from some supply. This can be accessed for fire suppression by various means if one takes the time to plan and practically tie into it. One of those coiled snake type 25 foot or 50 foot ½ inch or ¾ inch diameter (preferred size) garden hoses can be attached to a Y splitter ball valve from the cold water line that feeds the washing machine. You turn it on by flipping on the ball valve spigot and uncoiling the hose to move throughout the home as needed to fight the fire.

A handy person could put such a hose line anywhere in the home that water can be plumbed into such as a main hallway closet or corner area of a room on any floor. I would recommend a quality brass 90 degree ball valve as the main shut off at the end of the hard line plumbing where the flexible garden hose is connected. This prevents those nasty slow leaks from the cheaper plastic or pot metal valves.

A good quality spray valve with various spray patterns works well on the business end of the coiled hose and can very effectively give either a strong stream or various short wider spray patterns. It is not the power or volume of a real fire hose but can work well if the fire is caught in time. The key to water fire fighting is a spray or mist to quickly lower the heat and wet potential fuels. Always have working smoke detectors throughout the home and practice fire drills regularly including both coordinated fire fighting and evacuating the home. If you and the family members can get some volunteer fire training now or study fire fighting techniques from books or online this will be a big benefit later in times of crisis.

You will also want a crook staff shaped metal tube sprayer with a long metal handle. They are normally purchased to water high-hanging planters. They can be bought or made from pipe with a bending jig. It can be used for those times that fire suppression (the Molotov cocktails threat?) is needed out a window against the side of the house while maintaining some protective cover from behind a wall inside.

With a well or pressurized tank system you can add extra storage capacity by plumbing in extra pressure tanks with other valve splitters and “no leak” metal mesh covered washer hoses. The tanks can be located anywhere in the home plumbing cold water lines. Just make sure they do not freeze. This gives an added benefit of keeping your pump from cycling too much with a small tank. In an off grid or grid down scenario hook up a potable Shurflo brand or similar 12 volt pump powered off of deep cycle batteries. They are available from farm or Do-It-Yourself stores. The water can be stored in 55 gallon or similar drums and then drafted out and used to pressurize the house system by back feeding a washer spigot. These pumps usually have a 30/50 lb on off type switch built into them like a regular 120/240 volt AC water pump.

The older water type fire extinguishers which are air charged are ideal to have but they are few and far between with the modern move to and versatility of dry powder. If you have an older fire extinguisher that has a metal valve base assembly and pressure gauge you may still be in business. Those small dial pressure gauges on the side generally have a 1/8 inch NPT port which they are threaded into. You can get older spent fire extinguishers (cottage industry job potential?) from a local fire extinguisher service company.

There is usually at least one of these businesses in an area. The fire codes call for many models to be rotated out of service on time intervals or discontinued due to changes in powder formulas and such. Make friends with the owner as I have done and you can probably get all you want as they usually have to pay to haul them away because it is not worth their time to dissemble them as various scrap types.

To convert them you first make sure they are completely empty. Sometimes they leak gas or air propellant and are still partially full of powder. Squeeze the handle in a safe area outside where you do not mind killing grass or weeds. The powder kills yards dead in concentrations. Avoid breathing it as it is a slight irritant. (A twenty pound dry extinguisher also puts out a white cloud bigger than three military AN M8 HC smoke grenades and is just as irritating, for future reference). If no propellant gas is inside you can carefully unscrew the small dial pressure gauge off the metal valve base with a set of slip joint or water pump pliers. This will reveal a small port hole that goes down into the main extinguisher tank. Get some 1/8 inch NPT / Schrader Tank valves from an auto parts store such as NAPA tank valve numbers NTH 90294 or NTH 90290 (about $2 each). It is a male 1/8 inch NPT and Schrader (automobile tire) valve on the other end.

The 1/8 inch NPT end of the valve can be screwed into the port hole with some pipe dope or Teflon pipe thread (be careful not to close over the end) and you now have a way to recharge the fire extinguisher. You can take an air hose and partially recharge the tank from an air compressor and use it till it is empty or safely trigger the sprayer to make sure all the powder is out. Then take a valve cap with core tool such as NAPA part NTH 90188 ($2.39) or a valve tool NAPA part NTH 90344 (about $2.22) and remove the core which will allow the water to be forced into the tank and the air to come out. Water can be forced back into the spray hose end. To fill it simply use a garden hose and duct tape or a hose to hose with a screw pipe band clamp or any other standardized coupling designs you may devise.

The tricky part is getting the right amount of water to air mixture in the tank. Most of the old water extinguishers had a mark on the side about ¾ way up the tank side to fill them to when you removed the top. They had the luxury of being designed with a total top removable valve assembly with a big gasket seal which allowed water to be poured into by sight and the valve assembly being resealed by hand or with slip joint or water pump pliers. The valves on powder extinguishers are not practical to fill this way.

This filling process will be a trial and error on your part with your specific size and style of extinguisher. The key is to weigh the extinguisher when empty and each time you fill it and charge it with an air compressor. Most air tank compressors fill to about 100 to 125 lbs pressure. You may have to fill and charge it a few times until you get the right amount of air and water so they both run out at the same time. You usually want a little extra air pressure when the water runs out to make sure the water is all delivered under pressure. Once you have the right water/air mix write the tank empty and full weights and air charge pressure on the side of the extinguisher in marker or stamped on a brass key tag attached to the pull pin chain. This weight method of filling is similar to what is used on 20 lb propane tank fills. Check it regularly with a high pressure hand tire gauge to make sure it is still charged properly.

It is also advisable to paint over or remove the old fire ratings on the extinguisher and visibly mark the extinguisher in some manner such as a big blue stripe or bold letters H2O or WATER on the side so someone does not grab it to use it on an electrical or grease fire.

If you are real handy and have the time you can always plumb in a room by room sprinkler system that is automated (lower fire premiums) or one that just takes a ball valve to turn on when fire is discovered.

Remember that if the fire is too big or smoke too thick it is not worth your life to fight for a house. A house is just a structure. Good and prepared people make it a home. Good luck and keep the faith.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have just ordered your preparedness course. I can't wait for it to get here. I've been reading your blog for about a year now and it has changed the way that I look at everything. My husband is slowly getting on board with the preparedness thing, but he has a long way to go. Our house burned down over 2-1/2 years ago and we have been fighting the insurance company and contractors ever since. We still live in a trailer so I don't have much space for storage. But, we have found many places to hide 5 gallon buckets of food and thousands of rounds of ammo.

My point to this e-mail is that I have a suggestion for an alternative to big box stores like COSTCO, etc. My husband is a commercial beekeeper and buys large quantities of granulated sugar to feed his bees in early spring and late fall when there is no honey flow. Stores like The Restaurant Depot are an amazing deal. If you have one in your area, membership is free. The only requirement is that you have proof that you are a business. It doesn't matter what kind of business you are. This place is food storage heaven! 100 pound sacks of rice, beans, flour, corn meal, etc! It's much cheaper than COSTCO! Plus other shoppers don't look at you like your insane when you are buying enough rice and beans to feed an army. But we still have a good time messing with people in the store.

Thank you, Thank you , Thank you for writing this blog and "Patriots"! Although my family now thinks that my cheese has slipped off my cracker, I know that if the time comes, I will be able to provide for them.

Many thanks and prayers for you and your family, - Tricia H.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. As I described in "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, I have found that COSTCO, Sam's Club, and similar "Big Box" stores are a great place to stock up on bulk food that you can re-package yourself. (Typically done with 5- or 6-gallon food grade HDPE buckets. Commercial vendors like the one that you mentioned are a great option, but their selection seems to be much smaller, and the condiments that they sell are in either ridiculously large or small containers. (Such as one gallon bottles of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, and mustard, or itty-bitty single-serving packets) Another option that I mentioned in the preparedness course is ethnic food stores. You'll often find the very best prices on rice there, and they do such a large volume of rice sale, that their inventory is usually very fresh.

Mr. Rawles,
My husband's grandmother often told about her busy days during the depression, raising seven kids with almost nothing. At the end of her busy day, while cooking supper for her family, she had to make two or three pans of cornbread to feed her husband's hunting dogs. The dogs were valuable because they helped her husband bring in rabbits and squirrel which sometimes were the only meat the family ate. I've always figured if I could no longer afford dog food, I would try Grandma's cornbread solution. - S. in Indiana

One way to feed your dogs is with vermin. Every rat you catch can be cooked and fed to the dogs. When you clean fish there are lots of leftovers such as the head and guts. All of this can be ground up in the sausage grinder and boiled. I had a big black dog who would dig up moles and swallow them whole. She would also run down rabbits. So the right dog can be somewhat self supporting, not to mention they can be a big part of helping in hunting game. A hungry dog won't turn his nose up at much. - KJG

I don't have a dog and am kind of afraid of them so I have no experience with dog food but I wanted to encourage the writer to use coupons if they have time. I have four cats and a HUGE stockpile of cat food. Most of it I paid only tax for or $1 per bag + tax. To get head start this coupon is $3.50 off any Purina pet food. You can also call Purina they will send you coupons for dog food and maybe a coupon for a free dog treat bag that don't expire for a while. One nice thing about PetSmart is there deals are all month long so you have time to order coupons from a clipping service. YMMV but our PetSmart accepts competitor's coupons. So if you went to (it's not my site - I just find it so helpful) and printed the Target store coupons and then combined with them a manufacturers coupon with a sale you could get a great deal. (Store coupon + manufacturers is okay at many stores, you just can't use two manufacturers for the same item.) You can get manufacturer coupons from a clipping service from a n Internet site or eBay instead of a Sunday paper.

Every store/area is different so me telling you about my grocery store pet food deals won't help but once you learn how it works you can find the best deal for your furbabies. There are a lot of helpful people on that site who know their area stores could guide you through your first deals while you learned. I would encourage you to start out slow. See if you can find free dog treats first or a buy one get one free can of dog food.. that way you won't waste money buying too much from a clipping service for a deal that doesn't work out. Once you learn it's will be giving dog food to the animal shelter. - Lisa E.

In reference to your answer on home made dog food: My grandfather used to have corn and wheat ground up at a mill
and he always referenced additional meal ground up more coarsely for "Dog bread". They used to actually add ground up bones and leftovers as available and bake it (mostly corn meal) as dog bread. I envisioned it as something like a dog biscuit. I later did some research and found that domestic dogs differ from wolves in three key aspects:
They bark at intruders. Wolves don't bark.
They can digest grain and starches (wolves get sick)
and dogs like people.

If you look at the ingredients on cheap dog food, it sounds almost identical to my grandfather's recipe. - Jon

As to dog diets, I have already reverted, upgraded actually, to a post Schumer dog feeding program. I raise all of my own food for me and all of my animals including fish , rabbits, egg layers and meat chickens.. Here's what my dogs eat on a daily basis (on most days):

Rice with 2 sunny side up eggs fried in bacon grease and one banana or plantain mixed in.
About 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of honey go in.

My butcher friend gives me his meat scraps and I save all of my rabbit and chicken innards so in the evening they get this. I make my rice water from broth made from the carcasses. Bone marrow, brains etc is great for carnivores.

Rice, about 2 cups with about 2 cups of whatever meat I have for them. A handful of finely chopped green beans, a small handful of carrot and some type of root whether it be yucca, potato, sweet potato, malanga. It depends what we are eating that night. Instead of root it may be a portion of the many types of squashes that I grow. Do not forget to include a pinch of salt. I have fish out of my pond a couple of times a week and boil the carcass after I filet them. This slurry gets mixed with their rice, and a bit of milk, on those days.
My dogs will eat oranges and bananas out of my hand and those are their daily treats ! Mine too.

The vet says the blood work is superb and all is well. He has actually added some of my items to his personal hunting dogs diet. These are 100 lb American bulldogs. I'll never buy the "poison in the bag" [commercial dog food] again. Peace, - Mr. Orchid in Costa Rica


Mr. Editor,
We have been cooking for our dogs (Weimaraners) since the dog food contamination scare a couple of years ago. While they no longer like 'real' dog food they do go back and forth easily.

We cook them pretty much what we eat but our basic receipt for them is rice with mixed veggies and meat. Any meat, hamburger, scraps from leaner cuts and chicken. Thighs and legs are very cheap and boiled supply broth to cook the rice in. They also like fried 'taters and one of our dogs really likes carrots.

When we have a surplus of eggs in the summer we scramble lots of eggs for them with old bacon fat. They love this version of fried rice. Our bitch has puppies right now and is doing very well on this diet and the puppies are fat and happy.

I've enjoyed your blog very much as it reflects in many ways what my husband and I have always thought/planned. I will say it can be a tad depressing on occasion. - Jeanne G.

Hello James Wesley,
Back in the day when I went to stay with my Grandparents on the farm, they never bought dog food as far as I know. The dogs were fed what was left over from the "Mush" in the morning (Oatmeal), the bacon always got finished. In the evening the dogs got a mix of potatoes and carrots or corn with a little fat, broth, or gravy from our evening meal. I would caution you against too much protein and increase the starches, just read the ingredient list on the back of a dog food bag. It is lots of grain and veggies and a little protein. God Bless, - Bucko

Reader "Sharp Shepherd" highlighted this article: Rental Goats Clear Brush Better, Beat Cosmonauts in Space Race

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Bridget sent this, about the ever-encroaching Nanny State Britannia: Every phone call, email and internet click stored by 'state spying' databases

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The folks at Directive 21 (one of our advertisers) are having a special on Royal Berkey water purification systems. The regular price is $275, but for a limited time they are $262.50. The sale will end when their small on-hand stock of the filters runs out, so don't hesitate. OBTW, because of state certification issues, none of the Berkey filter systems or replacement filters can be shipped to any California addresses after January 1st.

Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. - John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776

Friday, November 13, 2009

I read the blog regularly and have noticed people mentioning the value of having a large dog on a property--for protection, extra set of ears, etc. Having recently purchased a German Shepherd puppy and seeing the costs of dog food rising, plus the looming dangers of hyperinflation and disruptions of supply chains, I'm wondering if anyone out there can share the recipe for a nutritious food for a large breed puppy/dog--especially a food that can be made from common items and stored. Otherwise, when the storm hits I may have a great dog, and no suitable food for her. Probably many people out there are wondering the same thing. Thanks for all that you do to assist people like me. - Scott S. in Colorado

JWR Replies: Dog food--as we now know it--didn't become popular until after World War II. Dogs didn't starve before then, although their diets were not nearly as uniform as they are in the present day. In the old days dogs were just fed table scraps, butcher scraps, and the occasional excess milk and eggs (in judicious quantities, of course, to avoid making a dog vomit.) Most dogs can revert to this traditional diet, especially if the transition is made gradually, over the course of a couple of weeks. Here is an illustration: Two decades ago, The Memsahib and I temporarily foster-homed a "rescue" Great Dane that at first refused to any dog dog food unless it had fried beef livers mixed in with it. Transitioning that pampered pooch took more than a month. My first attempt at having it just going "cold turkey" was a failure, as the dog starved itself for three days. Bad idea! So then I decided to just gradually reduce the amount of beef liver that it got each day. By the third week, it was down to just a bit of beef liver juices. I simultaneously tapered its daily ration by 30%, to increase the dog's appetite. Finally, after a month, the dog was on a pure diet of moistened dry dog food, and was soon back to a full ration.

There are are several recipes for "do it yourself" dog food on the Internet, but in my estimation, that is only a stopgap, for true preparedness. There is no way to store enough dog food for a couple of large dogs for an extended disaster situation unless you have a huge budget. And unless you live in a permafrost zone, this would also require a huge backup generator and a couple of chest freezers. That just isn't practical for most of us. You really need to be ready to transition your dog to a traditional diet. This necessitates keeping a two month supply of your dog's currently-used food on hand, to effect a diet transition. In warm climates, rancidity can be a problem, so if possible store two-thirds of this supply in a food grade plastic bag, in your freezer and rotate it, just as you do your other frozen foods.

Using the worst cuts left over from our from deer and elk butchering, (such as the strips from between ribs, and pieces from near the knee joint that are too sinewy to include in our elk-burger and Bambi-burger), I have made "dog jerky". This is made just like any jerky for human consumption but with a bit less salty brine, and no fancy seasonings. As with our other jerky, it is dried in our old workhorse nine-tray Excalibur dehydrator. If you will be feeding a dog jerked dry meats that are lean (such as venison or rabbit), then don't neglect adding essential fats and oils. You should do so only shortly before they are used. (Again, to minimize risk of rancidity.) OBTW, some of my dehydrator recommendations as well as some important notes on fats and oils are included in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course.

Most of our stored cooking oil here at the ranch is in the form of frozen olive oil, and a bit of coconut oil. We've never had problem with plastic oil bottles rupturing, when frozen. Most of our stored fats are in the form of butter, again, frozen in our chest freezer. But we plan to experiment with using some canned New Zealand butter, next year. (That is available from several SurvivalBlog advertisers, at a surprisingly affordable price, considering that it is shipped from the other side of the planet.)

When times get Schumeresque, I plan to transition our dogs to a diet of table scraps, dog jerky, and butcher scraps. This will be supplemented with small amounts of excess milk and eggs from the barnyard. Oh, and one word of warning: Never let a dog watch you break eggs and put them over its food. Dogs are intelligent! Crack the eggs, whisk them, and pour them over the dog's food, while the dog is in another room. You do not want to train your doge to become an egg thief!

TEOTWAWKI will result in a lot of wounds, including not just lacerations but scrapes and burns as well.  These will happen regardless of if the injury is the result of a disaster or if post-crash efforts lead to injury.  This is bad enough, but you could be in even more trouble if infection sets into one of these wounds. 

A lot of preparedness/survival-types focus on suturing, including having access to suture material and instruments to allow for laceration repair. While this is all well and good, you shouldn't focus too much on actual wound repair without first being sure that you can provide wound closure with minimal risk for infection. Additionally, abrasions and burns are also at risk for infection and will benefit from good cleaning.

For any wound, infection prevention after injury consists of “irrigation” because as the poison control folks say: when it comes to pollution, dilution is the solution!  Irrigation not only aids in prevention of infection, but also increases the chances of a wound healing without too much pain, functional impact or cosmetic disfigurement.

What should you use to irrigate wounds? In most health-care settings, sterile solutions such as saline are used. Under the best of circumstances, these are expensive. After the Schumer hits the fan, they will probably be in very short supply. If you have access to stored saline, you are in good shape, but what happens if it has run out or you don’t have any?  Lucky for us, there are alternatives.
One “solution” is to make saline with water treated with bleach.  Clean contact lens solution, bottled water or tap water can be treated with household bleach, resulting in a solution that is sterile and non-toxic. The residual bleach may actually have bacteria killing effects as well.  Simply add a tablespoon of table salt to each gallon of clean water to make a suitable solution for wound irrigation. 

There are even options if the grid is down and we can’t rely on delivery of clean water, either from a tap or in a bottle.  Military doctors in one study took surface water from lakes, ponds and creeks. The water was “non-turbid”, so you may need to let it settle and/or filter it.  Next, they treated it with 1 teaspoon (or 5 mL) of common household bleach in each liter of water. This killed 99% of the bacteria in the samples, and even the 1% left was thought to be contamination from the air picked up during testing. Their technique gives us a field-expedient method for obtaining water suitable for irrigation of wounds.
You can also purchase distilled water in advance, store it at room temperature, and make your own irrigation fluid later simply by adding salt (a tablespoon, again) to each gallon.  When stored in a refrigerator at or below 48°, home-made solutions like this were sterile at least 3 weeks after they were made. Theoretically, using sterile (bleach-treated) water derived from the sources above could even be used in place of distilled water as well.  Thus you can replace expensive or unavailable sterile saline without buying it from your pharmacy. Researchers used this fluid safely as peritoneal (abdominal) dialysis fluid as well. 

You don’t need to worry about adding antibiotic to the irrigation solution either.  A physician from the University of Missouri showed that patients with compound fractures of their legs did better if they were treated with irrigation solutions made from non-sterile tap water and Castile Soap rather than water containing bacitracin, a common antibiotic.  Researchers from SUNY-Buffalo also showed that straight tap water was just as effective as sterile saline irrigation in preventing infections in lacerations closed in their emergency room. [JWR Adds: Castile soap is multi-purpose, and a has a long shelf life. Stock up. watch for it a discount stores, or find discount Internet vendors. Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile soap is a standby, here ate the ranch.]

Once you have your solution prepared, you need to use it to wash the wound. In general, burns and abrasions should be washed until they're free of visible dirt. Lacerations, on the other hand, may need a little bit more work: It’s best to irrigate them through a syringe and intravenous catheter or needle such that you get good pressure, in order to the blast germs out of the wound. The textbook standard is 50 mL per centimeter of length; this converts to about 4 ounces for each inch long the wound is (not how deep it is.)  Obviously, if the wound was grossly contaminated, you need to make sure to rinse it under pressure (ideally with pulsatile flow like from a WaterPik) until the wound is clean, with no foreign bodies left behind. Only then should you think about suturing a wound closed. [JWR Adds: Wound drainage is subject unto itself. My general advice, based on that reiterated by several experienced trauma doctors that have contributed to SurvivalBlog is to delay wound closure for an extended period, and even then a drainage tube should be left in place, even longer.]

If you don’t have a suitable syringe and catheter set-up for irrigation, one austere alternative is the ubiquitous 2 liter soda bottle; just be sure to clean it well beforehand, and don’t use one that held anything besides drinks!  Next, drill two small (1/16th inch, for example) about 1/8th inch apart in the lid.  Put your solution in the bottle and then cap it tightly with your modified.  Now, simply squeeze the bottle while sweeping the stream across the wound.  Keep in mind that if you don’t know the person is free of disease that you must use personal protective equipment to protect you from body fluids.
Finally, in a severe pinch, remember that we all have our own supply of sterile saline with us:  yes, I am talking about urine.  Dr. Gene Lam, then a Battalion Surgeon in the US Army, was held captive by North Korea.  He describes many ingenious and heroic medical improvisations, including use of urine to rinse off burns and other wounds.  Just be sure that the person “donating” the urine has no pain or burning on urination, cloudy or bloody urine, or other signs of bladder/kidney/urinary infection.  Place it in your irrigation container and use it immediately as well. 

All of the aforementioned techniques are only for a truly Schumeresque situation!  If you have access to the usual care systems, that is the way to go.  Otherwise, if you must provide your own wound care, the cornerstone of good care is meticulous wound preparation with copious irrigation. When you’re in the Schumer, making your own irrigation fluid will work in place of commercially made irrigation solutions and gives a lot of advantages in the fight against infected wounds.

Andre sent this from Radio Nederland: Madagascar! Slovakia closes borders with flu-hit Ukraine

Bobbi-Sue mentioned that respected surgeon and fiction author Robin Cook thinks a mix of avian and swine flu could be the next global plague on the scale of the Black Death. In a piece in Foreign Policy magazine, he details why.

Belarus Has 1/4 Million Swine Flu Cases

Suspect H1N1 Death in Romania on Border With Ukraine

US Pandemic Options Include Crippling Home Modems

WHO Silence On Ukraine Sequences Raise Pandemic Concerns "In the days post shipment, cases in Ukraine have quadrupled to over 1 million and the reported fatalities have grown from 30 to 174. The clinical presentation of 90 of the fatalities was classical H1N1 linked hemorrhagic pneumonia, which led to the "total destruction" of both lungs. These fatal cases were hospitalized 3-7 days after disease onset, highlighting the rapid progression of the infection in a large number of patients, suggesting genetic changes in the H1N1 virus."

Over 2,000 Health Care Workers In Ukraine Ill

1918 RBD Polymorphisms In Ukraine H1N1

Ukraine: Over 1 Million Cases

WHO: Animals Need to Be Closely Monitored for Flu. Swine flu found in Denmark mink.

Spread of Swine Flu in Ireland "Intense"

D.F. in Michigan's Upper Peninsula suggested this solar homesteading and woodworking web site: ManyTracks

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Jimmy suggested a YouTube clip on inexpensive heat and light: A Common Man's Grease Lamp. It uses Australian beeswax and petroleum jelly mix, sold under the brand name Murray's Beeswax. Buy a jar for each of your survival kits. OBTW, it will likely melt in a hot car trunk, so be sure to store each jar in two thicknesses of Ziploc bags. Or, if you live in a hot climate, perhaps re-pack your supply in a small water-tight container with an o-ring seal, like a Pelican micro case. (That is somethimg that I already carry my tinder and matches in, as part of my outdoor survival kit.) Stock up before the US Dollar slips further against the Aussie Dollar.

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Another State (Ohio) Introduces Firearms Freedom Act, similar to those enacted in Tennessee and Montana.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: Power for U.S. From Russia’s Old Nuclear Weapons

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I've been reading your blog for some months and went out and purchased "Patriots" as soon as I learned about it. Good job, I very much enjoyed it and will probably read again and again as I often do with books I enjoy.

After reading your ‘Precepts’, I thought I would drop you a note. because I have always appreciated anyone that agrees with me.

First, I am a retired cop and a retired soldier so I have studied people in one career and weapons and equipment in another. I have been to a number of Third World countries and learned that what we have now is unbelievably good and where we might be going is will be unbelievably, well, sad.

I decided a very long time ago that the best place to live for my family would be a rural town. I did not want kids to grow up in an urban setting and having grown up myself in a suburban setting, I didn’t want to inflict that on them either.

So we moved. It was a shock at first. The nearest fast food was almost twenty miles away in any direction and the nearest traffic light is seventeen miles away, even today, twenty-five years later.

The town I chose was twenty miles from the nearest Interstate and even a couple of miles from nearest state highway. It is in the center of one the largest agricultural areas in the country and has its own grain elevator and storage business.

That means at any time of the year, there are upwards of 5,000 tons of corn and soybean stored within the town limits. You know, "the perimeter".

I had often thought that if given the means, I would like to own a house on a hilltop with cleared fields of fire and a view of the surrounding area. But that wasn’t practical and as time has proven, it wasn’t even smart.

If you’re going to have a survival retreat, it would be best if you already lived there. If the necessity ever arose, I don’t think I would want to have to fight my way out of the city or suburbs.

In "Patriots", you describe a survival group that spent a great deal of time preparing for the “what if?” I did the same thing but I chose was to have all those skills that you searched for and recruited all ready present.

Farm communities already have a host of survival skills that are needed ready made. In our town, of less than a thousand, are welders (and equipment) fabricators (and their tools) food, fuel, military veterans, plenty of weapons and folks that have already spent a lot of times together dealing with blizzards, electrical storms, and power outages and all those things that bind a small community together.

We have some good people here and should the occasion arise, I think we could make a pretty good stand. Organization is key, of course. To that end, I have been active in the town in the past , my last police job before going back in the Army was Chief of Police here. I made a pretty good name for myself and I continue to help out in the town whenever I can.

Someone that I have absolutely no respect for once said, “it takes a village” and in this case, she was right. We are far away from the nearest urban areas, have food and water available and our folks every day work skills translate very quickly into survival skills.

I wanted to share the thought because I think most people who are planning to attempt to escape from the urban areas when the SHTF may be much better served if they would make that escape before it happens. My very best to you, - JCH

I'm writing this to thank you for your blog, novel and preparedness course. Reading those has revitalized my prepping efforts, which had gone dormant since Y2K fizzled. Since then, I had the nagging feeling that I should be preparing, but I wasn't--until I stumbled across your novel in a local bookstore. Then I got back on track. (BTW, it was mis-shelved in with the "how-to" books! Or maybe it wasn't mis-shelved, since its a novel that doesn't fit any mold!) And it wasn't until I read through your "Rawles Gets You Ready" course that I had any real sense of priorities. If I had to name just one thing that I found the most useful in all you've written, it would be your big "List of Lists", which you have as a part of your prepping course. Those lists really helped me to crystallize exactly what I had to do, and in what priority. Like you suggested, I'm custom tailoring my lists, to match up with my locale. (I live at 5,900-foot elevation, which makes gardening a huge challenge. I'm heavy into sprouting, these days.)

I'm now working my way back through your blog's archives. I'm amazed at how much is there, and all with the level of detail to do really concrete things to get ready. The thing I love about your blog and your prep course is that it is all hard facts, and tested ways of doing things by people that have "been there, done that"--not just vague generality and "this might work" sorts of guesses. Thank you, Jim, ever so much! - Stan in Colorado

James Wesley,
In September 2008 a chain of events began which got me thinking about food storage and survival. Living in a small bedroom community to a moderately large city we’ve always had food, water and electricity, except for an occasional day or so when we have a storm. However things changed when Hurricane Ike rolled through the Ohio Valley (along the Ohio river). We had power outages and destruction city-wide of the magnitude of what you would normally see from a tornado that hits part of the town. But in this case a city of 1.5 million was without power for weeks and 24 Kroger’s grocery stores had to throw out all perishable food in dumpsters and were closed for close to a week. Add all of the businesses and school and transportation closings food wasn’t being delivered. Although our problems were never as bad as Katrina or Galveston it really drove home that we were not prepared.

During the storm I couldn't stop thinking of “my kids”, Boy Scouts in the poorer part of the town. They had no utilities and little food. I was a day away from taking a cook stove and setting up a mini food kitchen at a church near where they live. But what could I buy in bulk at Sam’s that they could cook on a fire for them live off of? Rice and beans, beans and rice, as Dave Ramsey says. (But I hate Dave’s arrogance).

An then the stock market crashed 9/29/08. So in three weeks what was a reality only on television had come to my town… to my front door. A probable economic meltdown. A lousy choice of Presidential candidates, one that was very anti gun, and the other that was looking to close the "gun show loophole" as well as not being versed in the world political arena. It felt like end times.

As the man of the house I realized how ill prepared I was to take care of my family. I had been talking about the future of gun control due to our potential next president but I didn't have food storage or anything resembling survival preparedness on my radar.

In the beginning months I have put several $100 of short term food, can goods, bags of rice, beans, sugar, salt, etc “on the shelf”. I bought two Mosin rifles and then to celebrate the election of our new anti-gun President I went out and bought an AR-15 the day after the election. Then I bought an AK and then I bought another AK, then I bought son .22’s and on and on.

I began adding a few hundred worth of food each month to “the bunker” as we jokingly call the garage. My wife is actually impressed that we will have food on the shelf that she can go get when she doesn’t have something in the house. The goal of course is to pack away a year of food supply and then some.

As far as long term food I did order and receive 2 of the 5 gallon sealed Red Wheat buckets, but at about $150 delivered for both it will be slow for me to stock the long term, air sealed, supplies.

One of the first things I ordered was a dozen 100 hour emergency candles from Being a Boy Scout for over 40 years made be appreciate their domain name, but the final price of $3 each got me to order from them. I also got a very nice wheat grinder from them too. I looked at a lot of wheat grinders on the Internet but in the end came back to and trusted their expertise and recommendation and ordered from them.

Next I just purchased received two of the Vario Katadyn Dual water filtration water filter hand pumps. As we do a little backpacking and camping I felt I could justify them with the wife. By the way the Katadyn’s came from

Now a few times over the first 12 months of prepping I’ve ordered Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers and diatomaceous earth from I purchased got a 20” 5mm bag sealer from I’m now vacuum bagging many food items as well as stocking spices, cereals and other supplies like matches and such.

I’ve also read a lot in many forums about survival guns and have standardized the majority of my firepower on 9mm handguns and rifles, 12 gauge shotguns and a 22 rifle and 22 pistol for small food hunting. For 9mm handguns I already had two Rugers and a Kel-Tec pistols but I did add a nice Springfield XD9 to the collection. I’ve since been blessed to purchase a Springfield XD9 subcompact, which is now my carry gun. On the rifle side I also wanted to stick with 9mm and already had a Highpoint 9mm carbine, so I picked up an Olympic Arms AR-15 in 9mm [Parabellum]. For a shotgun I went with the Mossberg 500 Deer and Field 12 gauge with two barrels which is at Dick’s for $340. My son has a Remington 870. In the 22 family and I chose a Savage 22 LR Bolt action and a Savage semi-auto, each about $160 at Dick's. For the pistol I got a 22 Ruger Mark III which I believe many forums list as a very reliable 22. My son and I also bought a few Mosin Nagant M44 rifles (WWII Russian surplus we bought at $80 each). We had been buying 300 round tins of 7.62 x54r ammo for $64 a tin every few months which now are selling for about $100 a tin. This are great rifles and a blast to shot. Many armies used a variation of these rifles for over 75 years and they have proven to be very reliable and extremely accurate at 300+ yards. Now that I have met my basic armory equipment list the goal is to sock away about 10,000 rounds of each cartridge or shotshell. After I get this all laid in and my year food supply then I’ll come back and look at different caliber guns, but for now I want to keep the ammo shopping list simple. The other thing I’m looking to do is duplicate all of the guns I purchase so I have parts if I have a breakdown of any kind. On my shopping list is to purchase a 5.56mm AR-15. I did just buy a 30-06 Winchester at a gun show recently. I noticed that with all of the ammo shortages .30-06 ammo never sold out at Wal-Mart. It seems to be good hunting ammo and capable of some good ranges.

Some other items I purchased are two small generators of the same make and model, once again so I have a backup. I also purchased an 1980s step van that has provided me with 6 months of storage and transportation for my Scout Troop. If things ever got bad I could dump the Scout gear and head to land we access to about an hour away.

I’m sure there are several other little things like that I’ve ordered over the year. I know that some of this makes me seem like a nut but I’m not going to be the man God wants me to be if I don’t protect and provide for my family, parents, and in-laws.

If my wife ever did the math on what I’ve purchased, more than $3,000 in guns, $3,000 in food, $1,000 on a generator she would be upset but I also know that she respects my desire to protect my family in the best way I can. She also knows that this has made me confident and secure in my daily life and that will go a long way to help me more successful in my job and life.

The biggest confidence builder for me was to take the two-day Appleseed rifle training program. I never had any experience hitting a target (I just pointed the rifle down range). Appleseed has given me all kinds of confidence and a skill to build on.

Lastly, I read several blogs and visit several forums. SurvivalBlog is certainly where I start most evenings. Then I’ve got a list of about five forums that I try to read daily. I’ve added this forum to my list as it makes sense to support those around me and build friendships.

I’ve broken my Survival preparation list down into the following and listed each topic on a separate Excel Spreadsheet where I can collect information and do calculations on: Quantity, Food Shelf Life, Shelf Space, Cost Per Unit, and Equipment to Buy.

Lastly I signed up for Life memberships with the NRA and GOA, and $3 per month for your Ten Cent Challenge. Periscope up, head down. - Don E.

Joshua K. suggested this free instructional video: How to make your own powdered eggs.

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Several readers suggested this article: Blackout raises doubts over Brazil infrastructure. Reader Steven W. noted: "Knowing how fragile our grid system is, I thought the readers would find this article on yesterday’s power outage in Brazil interesting, especially the note about gunmen robbing people en masse, in Rio.. I work for a Brazilian company and have been to both Rio and Sao Paulo and can tell you they are not safe under normal circumstances and I cannot imagine what really happened during the blackout."

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Ron B. sent me the link to some commentary from novelist Ralph Peters: Fort Hood's 9/11.

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Chicago Mayor Daley Blames Fort Hood on America’s Love of Guns! One of the first few comments was priceless: "Does he blame 9/11 on a love of planes?" Perhaps Daley would like to disarm the US Army and just teach them how to use taunts, harsh language, and projected farm animals.

"The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivalry of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise." - Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today, 11/11, is Veteran's Day in the US (aka Remembrance Day or Poppy Day in Canada), when we honor the hundreds of thousands of men that have selflessly served, and often bled and died, in the defense of our Republic. If you have a relative that served, please send them a thank you note or e-mail, or give them a call , to thank them for their service.


In response to my recent comment about the Federal Tax credit available for some electric vehicles, where I mentioned Eco E ATVs and Bad Boy Buggies, I received this contributed article. Although it is essentially promotional, it includes some very useful information. Please note that I have not made an endorsement of any particular brand. Do your own research on the specifications, reliability, and relative merits of electric ATVs from different makers! Take note of the Dec. 31st deadline to make a purchase and take delivery, and get verification in writing that the model you choose has been certified as eligible for the tax credit!

Having been a “prepper” for more than 25 years, growing up in Florida where you had to be prepared for the inevitable annual hurricane, I have experienced many powerful storms, with the associated loss of power and the joy of waiting in line for gasoline. These experiences have cultivated a growing interest in solar power and how it relates to providing power in an emergency situation. Until recently photovoltaic (PV) power solutions were out of reach and electric transportation was just a pipe dream. I always wished that I could have a motor vehicle that didn’t depend on the “grid” for its power, i.e. gas, diesel, bio-diesel, ethanol, etc. With recent advances in PV technology and electric vehicle technologies, that wish is now a reality.

In the mind of the “prepper”, PV power has always been a viable means of providing power to his or her retreat, dating back as far as the early 1970s. Early visionaries put largely inefficient banks of PV panels on their homes or barns to utilize the sun’s endless power. However, back then, the primary drawback was the enormous price tag and limited power that first generation PV panels produced.  Until recently PV options have remained principally out of reach; however, with the advancements in solar technology and falling prices, as well as tremendous increase in quality and efficiency of PV panels, energy directly from the sun is now reliable and affordable for the average consumer.

With never-to-be-seen-again Federal Tax incentives, PVs are certainly worth a closer look.  Just think of the uses for solar on the family farm/retreat or even the home in the suburbs.  Power the well, produce all the power needed for the home and sell what you don’t need back to the grid for peak prices.  The uses are virtually endless around the home but what about getting around on the homestead? Why not take advantage of the sun’s limitless power with the vehicle you drive?I’m not talking about those fancy space-age looking gizmos that you’ve seen gliding along on the Salt Flats someplace in Utah. We have developed something more functional and far more cost effective for the average person or family that wants an alternative means of transportation.

The new PV vehicles that are being produced by several manufacturers in the US are classified by the IRS as Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs), most of which can be used on any road, meaning, any public road that is posted 35 mph or under and allowed by local ordinances.  These LSVs are quickly gaining national attention and are completely “Street Legal”. Likewise, there is an “off-road” or ATV classification of the LSV, which can be driven on or off-road while still qualifying as a “Street Legal” LSV. You must be a licensed driver to operate a LSV on any public roadway.

The uses for this type of vehicle on the retreat are endless, not to mention they are a lot of fun to drive. What’s even better is the “fill up” is free; all you have to do is park your LSV in the sun to let it recharge, free of charge. [JWR Adds: Keep in mind, however, that it would take more than two days of full sun to recharge a LSV's batteries that have been deeply discharged. Also, like any other lead-acid deep cycle battery bank, you will need to buy a new set of batteries once every 4 to 7 years, because of inevitable sulfation.]     

This year I had the opportunity to go to work for Long Drive Solar, LLC a company that markets and sells street legal, PV electric hybrid, low speed vehicles (LSVs) for “on-road” and “off-road” use. As long as you have sunlight, you have reliable transportation.

The product line starts with vehicles that may appear similar to a standard golf cart all the way up to 24-seat trams. These vehicles are powered by strong 5.5 horsepower motors, use Curtis charge controllers and a powerful 48-volt battery bank with eight large 6 VDC batteries, (8-Trojan T-145s, producing 260 amp hours), self-adjusting drum brakes, turn signals, headlights, taillights, brake lights, horn, seat belts, and DOT-appoved windshields.  The factory installed 210 or 230 watt solar panel is state-of-the-art, giving you higher performance, greater range, and substantially longer operating time between battery charges. Long Drive Solar has a wide range of on and off-road tires for just about any terrain or environment. Every vehicle has a 120 VAC plug-in charger, in case you ever need a conventional charge. However, under normal usage, you’ll find that the sun is all you need to keep your vehicle fully charged and ready to go.

Options include just about anything you can think of including AM/FM radio, CD player, wood grain trim, etc. But the one that I like the best is the 12 VDC to 120 VAC power inverter. This lets you have a 110 power outlet anywhere you can take the vehicle, as the solar panel acts as your own personal portable generator.  Most models sold by Long Drive Solar have been certified by the IRS and are GSA approved.

So what’s the difference between a standard golf cart and a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV)?  Golf carts are not street legal [in most jurisdictions], and most have a top speed of around 10 mph, whereas the LSVs (by law) must travel between 20 and 25 mph.  The golf cart motor is normally just 3 horsepower, while our LSVs are 5.5 horsepower, and up. There are many additional difference, so when you go to buy your LSV, make sure you get the right vehicle for your money.      

Long Drive Solar has several models to choose from but the one that works best for a retreat application is unquestionably the Scout.  The Scout is designed for on or off-road or trail use. It has 8” ground clearance to the axles, and an unusually-high 19" ground clearance to the bottom of the deck, off-road knobby tires, brush guards/bumper, front basket, and top rack (if you don’t use solar, however, I strongly suggest the solar option). The Scout comes in 2, 4, and 6 seat configurations and can also have a box body on the back for hauling hay, firewood, garden produce, or other items.  This is clearly the way to go for a rural retreat.

One of the most frequently asked questions is how far and how fast will these vehicles go. As previously stated, to qualify as an LSV, the vehicle must go between 20 and 25 mph. As to “how far”, most standard golf carts have a range of about 20 miles on a single charge. Our LSVs are constantly charging the batteries through the solar panel and have an average range of 80-100 miles [in a day] on a single charge.  That mileage may vary depending on terrain and driving conditions.  Either way, you can count on a minimum of at least a 30% increase in performance.  I’ve driven the one I have for several months and I have never had to “plug it in”, not once.

Federal and State Tax Credits
With the Federal and State governments pushing to implement “green technologies”, this opportunity is just right for those interested in buying a vehicle that is a self-sustaining, affordable means of transportation. Although a vehicle like this costs between $7,000 to $10,000 dollars (with a solar top), thanks to Uncle Sam and your local State government you get an early Christmas present in the form of huge Tax Credits. Depending on which State you live in, you could get your “dream-come-true” off-road vehicle for a net cost of zero; that’s right, zero.  If you happen to live in Oklahoma, you have the ability to capture up to 120% of the actual cost. Yes, you can actually make money by purchasing one of these vehicles. Other states, like Georgia, Hawaii, and Florida benefit in the 70-80% Tax Credit range. Go to and to find out what your State offers as Tax Credits.

Note that the largest part of the Federal Tax Credits expire on December 31, 2009 and will likely mot be renewed, therefore, all electric vehicles must be purchased no later than December 31, 2009, to take advantage of this tax credit. Individual State Tax Credits vary, some end at the end of this year, while others extend until 2015. Please check with your local State Tax Commission on the time lines.

So where can you buy your LSV?
Here’s where I get to plug our company and some of our competition. If you go to our web site, you can find a lot of good info and can take a look at some of our products.  Long Drive Solar has its corporate offices in Atlanta, Georgia. We also have a large Dealership in Oklahoma City and dealer representatives located throughout the US. Please give us a call or contact us online. Some of the other companies that provide quality products are Tomberlin Vehicles, Eco E ATV, Bad Boy Buggies and several others.  Note: Long Drive Solar is the only company in the US that sells a factory installed solar system on most models of their LSVs.

Beware before you buy: When you go to buy your vehicle, make sure that your dealer provides you with certification from the IRS that their vehicle (and specifically the model you are buying) qualifies for the Federal and State Tax Credits. Make sure you check with your tax accountant regarding any paperwork you will need to get from the dealer, so that you can legally take advantage of the tax credits.

One other important note: All electric vehicles are not created equal with respect to the Federal tax credits. The IRS has many different levels of tax credits on the same vehicle. The amount of credit depends on the amp rating of the battery bank; the higher the amp rating, the higher the credit, so make sure you’re getting the most power and the highest available tax credit for your dollar.

For those of you that lean toward the “green movement”, and believe me I’m all for renewable energy, these vehicles can help with your LEEDS certification points as well as helping to offset your personal carbon footprint.

If you have always wanted a reliable means of transportation with a renewable source of energy it would be well worth your time to take a look at the new forms of sustainable transportation on the market today, as well as the once-in-a-lifetime Tax Credits that could make your solar vehicle absolutely free [after you complete your taxes for 2009]. Believe me, my solar LSV was looking mighty fine when gas was pushing $5 per gallon.

From my perspective this type of transportation is something to consider. Just remember, do your homework and buy the best you can afford because one day your life may depend on what you have invested in.

If you would like to learn more about any of the products or technology talked about here please feel free to contact me at:

An idea for maintaining security: One could setup and run their own IP telephone server and use encrypted IP phones to communicate amongst their group. Asterisk is an example of an open source telephony server that runs on Linux. The server must be connected to the internet and has to be made specifically aware of the particular encrypted phones that the group uses. The phones must also have Internet connections. The entire comm channel is encrypted. If the server can be kept secure, then I think there is no point in the channel that is subject to monitoring. If someone were able to piece together all of the IP packets for a particular conversation they would then have to break the encryption.

I have not proven this out in any way, but to my understanding this could be a solution. Keep up the good work. - Michael W.

Concerning the post, "Letter Re: Maintaining OPSEC in a Geographically Extended Retreat Group," one answer might by Skype. Video calls need not be used, calls can be made from computer to computer or computer to phone, and conference calling is possible. For some details on encryption see this article. With Very Kind Regards, - Suburban Survivalist

Damon recommended this tutorial written by a university professor: Beginning Cheesemaking.

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Tom at Camping Survival (one of our loyal advertisers) has announced a special "Overstock Giveaway", just for SurvivalBlog readers. Only the first five readers that respond via e-mail will receive a FREE Coghlan's C Tech Wireless Weather Station. Here is a description: "This device lets you keep an eye on the weather conditions and trends. The high-impact body with rubberized finish is weather-resistant for reliable service in outdoor environments. Includes a long-lasting lithium battery and includes a lanyard cord for carrying. The detachable wireless sensor has a 100-foot range, providing you with ample placement options. This item also features a display with weather icons and trend graph which will relay future weather predictions based on the preceding 8-hour time period. The temperature can be displayed in either Celsius or Fahrenheit and the thermometer has a min/max temperature function for both indoors and outdoors. Integrated hygrometer provides relative humidity percentage, which is helpful in determining the heat index. Also provides clock functions which works on a 12 or 24 hour format with an alarm features. The integrated calendar display shows day, date, month and year. These retail for $34." Thanks, Tom!

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Reader Michael D. mentioned the Solar Ovens web page.


"You have never lived until you have almost died. For those who fight for it, life has a flavor the protected will never know." - An unattributed quote, penned on a C-ration box for display at a Marine Corps command post, Khe Sahn, South Vietnam, during the 77-day siege in 1968

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
I'm writing both a thank you and a warning. First, thank you, thank you, for putting together the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course. By getting almost all of our storage food at Sam's Club and packaging it ourselves in 6-gallon "super pail" food storage buckets, we saved hundreds dollars, versus buying commercially-packed storage food. That alone made the course worthwhile. (Not to mention the ton of other useful information it includes.) I have also loaned our course binder to both my sister and to my sister-in-law, so the course has also gotten triple the mileage!

Now here is the warning part, for SurvivalBlog readers: When we bought most of our food (in the Fall of '08), we didn't have quite enough buckets to fit it all. So I thought, "Well, I'll just leave out those bags of rice, spelt, beans, pasta, and use them up first, before we use what's in the buckets." Logical, right? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I got into the back of our pantry, and pulled out a 5-pound bag of rice, from the top of the back row [on the shelves]. It spilled all over the floor A mouse had eaten a hole in the back end of it. Then I looked more closely, and I found out that a family of mice had built their house, behind a wall of plastic-bagged and cardboard box[ed] food! They even made a bed out of food and some fluffy material (probably furniture stuffing, I haven't located that destruction yet). And not to just be content with opening a few bags, they chewed holes in almost all of the bags! So as my kids and I were cleaning up the mess--nearly filling a plastic garbage can, I found that among the few bags and boxes that the mice hadn't penetrated, some moths had. There were weevils! I was practically in tears, ready to scream. So I had to throw out nearly everything else that wasn't in the thick buckets. Crumb!

The good news is that the mice and moths did not get into any of the stack of big [6-gallon] pails that we had stored with the dry ice [CO2 packing] method you taught in the course. (Which is 90 percent of the food we had stored.) So we learned a valuable lesson, and luckily not too costly a one. Mostly just a big, sickening mess. I just wish that I had taken your advice and put all of it in the pails. I have found, that just like you said, the Gamma Seal screw lids make it very easy to get into the buckets on a regular basis. If I had just bought a few more buckets and Gamma Seal lids, I could have avoided all that waste, mess, and clean-up time. Y' all learn from my mistake, people.

Thanks again or sharing your wisdom and knowledge! - Jessica in Raleigh, North Carolina (Still Learning!)

My Dear Brother in Christ,
Before I get to my question my wife and I would like to express our sympathy (a overused word I now but heart felt) at the loss of your partner and our sister in Christ. I know there is joy to be had for her being with Jesus but the loss is still felt by you and your kids and our prayers are with you.

Now my main question. Do you have any ideas regarding security with it comes to putting a group together where the potential members are separated to the extent that it is impossible for them to get together on a regular basis to formulate ideas and plans? The concern over theories that "Big Brother" is out there listening to every phone call or reading every e-mail for certain phrases causes some people to balk at the idea of conference calls. What are you thoughts.
Thank you and God Bless, In Christ, - G.S.

JWR Replies: I was reluctant to post your e-mail and this reply, for fear that it might be misconstrued by someone that is new to SurvivalBlog. (Since we've never advocated doing anything illegal, but posts on security might erroneously lead newcomers to think that we have "something to hide.") With that said, since operational security (OPSEC) is a concern for many readers, here goes: Beyond a cell structure, such as those used by resistance groups, and avoidance of paper trails, bit trails, "cookie crumbs", and using the phone, there are no perfect solutions. Just don't recruit anyone into your prepping group that might do anything illegal. You have little to fear, as long as all of your preps are legal. That is, unless "hoarding" (by someone else's definition) someday becomes a crime. But just on principal, you should exercise discretion, and utilize plenty of OPSEC and communications security (COMSEC).

For extended groups, to avoid a bit trail, hard copy letters that are distributed via snail mail in a circular rotation might work--since we live in the era of inexpensive photocopying. ("Circular letters".) Each letter is given a number, and each addenda that is eventually tacked on is given a letter. Subsequent letters can reference the content of earlier ones. ("As mentioned in Letter 2-A...")

Be discreet and proceed with prayer. And it won't hurt to memorize Psalm 91.

Raymond sent this New York Times piece: Inside The Global Frenzy For Gold

Several readers sent this: Gold price hits record high as dollar wanes. JWR's advice: Wait until the next profit-taking dip in precious metals, but then invest in silver, not gold. (I anticipate that silver may dip to as low as $12 per ounce, a proportionately much deeper drop, than gold. Watch the silver-to-gold price ratio closely! In the long term, the value of silver will gain versus gold, since silver is being consumed--and not reclaimed--from industrial use. (Nearly all gold is reclaimed, but an incredible amount of silver ends up in landfills.)

"Oxy" liked this article: The Next Big Bubble?

Items from The Economatrix:

AIG Taps Another $2.1 Billion from US for ILFC Share Purchase

Calderon Says Mexico No Longer in Recession

Mexico Faces Possible Downgrade After Tax Bill

World Unemployment Up Despite Economic Recovery

Japan PM: The State of the Economy is Severe

Japanese Shares Close Down 2.31% Over Doubts of US Recovery

Bank of Japan Begins Gradual Pullout of Credit Markets

Jeff B. flagged this from ABC: Massachusetts family of six lives off $4 per week for food. Coupon clipping pays off! For anyone on a low income: If you have the time, but not the cash, then this is one way to stock your larder. (With our Search Posts on SurvivalBlog box, enter the word "coupons" to find previous articles with links to online printable coupons and discount codes, such as this one.)

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Jim W. and Norman both suggested this 60 Minutes segment about a former US spy chief's dire warning about the vulnerability of America's power grids: Sabotaging the System.

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Zach F. and Cheryl both mentioned this piece: How Safe Is Your Safe-Deposit Box?

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Bridget sent us another installment on the growth of Nanny State Britannia: Now safety police want to check all our smoke alarms. Britons: If you haven't caught the clue yet, now is the time to Take The Gap!

"Of all contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effective than that which deludes them with paper money." - Daniel Webster

Monday, November 9, 2009

The special sale price on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course from Arbogast Publishing began Friday night, and will run until November 30th. Just the first folks that order will also get a free copy of my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", so order soon! The course is designed to get a family's food storage squared away in a hurry, by stocking up on bulks foods, most efficiently a "big box" store such as a COSTCO. Oh, and speaking of COSTCO, my new book is now being sold there (for around $12), and is featured in their latest "COSTCO Connection" member newsletter. The sale ends on November 30th. But again, the free copies of my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" won't last nearly that long.

Some time ago mention was made on the site regarding "square buckets" [that are food grade]. I came across this deal which readers may be interested in (I have no relationship with these folks). The company is called Five Star Preparedness, in Utah. God Bless, - Bob B.

I have searched your great site, and the Internet in general for more info on storing grain (such as wheat) inside good used food grade plastic pails.

So far I have learned that a mylar food grade bag should be used inside the [sealed HDPE plastic] pail to put the food in, And a small (thumb size) piece of dry ice should be placed on top of the food and allowed to "melt" until almost all gone, And then seal the bag for long term storage.

What I cannot find out is if the dry ice should be applied directly to the foodstuff, or onto a small piece of cardboard etc to keep the extremely low temperatures away from direct contact with the food?

I live out in the boondocks where it is very difficult to obtain actual "dry ice" However, I have been picking up used (But still charged) CO2 fire extinguishers at rummage sales, etc for years and now have plenty of that source of "dry ice" available. Can that source of dry ice be used for food storage? (Of course I would clean up the inside cone of the extinguisher, etc before use to eliminate dirt, bugs, etc.)

If that source of dry ice will work, How big of a "pile" of dry ice from an extinguisher would be about right for a 5 gallon pail of foodstuff?

Any other comments about this source of dry ice, And it's possible uses?

Thanks again for your great web site! - K9

JWR Replies: Brief direct contact from dry ice will not harm most grains and rice, using a square of cardboard works, fine, if you want your grain to be pristine. Starting with piece of dry ice that is about one cubic inch is sufficient for a five gallon bucket. As I describe in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, wait until the piece of dry ice almost completely sublimates to fill the bucket with CO2 (displacing the normal atmospheric air. The piece of dry ice should be be allowed to "melt" until it is a disc about the size of a nickel. Do not pound the lid in place with a mallet any sooner, or dangerous pressure could develop in the container.

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding your discussion of adobe construction - Adobe can be used for structural and exterior construction in a range of climates based on how you make it.

I used to work for a company in Fresno, California that made stabilized adobe - it included a bituminous emulsion (tar-like stuff that's water proof) to make the bricks water proof. They have been sold across California in residential and commercial construction. Their products included several that were considered structurally sound enough to meet California's earthquake codes and generally made walls from 12 inches solid to 18 inches (two row with slurry in between) wide.

These bricks did not require any surface treatment to protect them from the climate, but did provide all the benefits of adobe.

Bear in mind, the only real drawback was that bricks ranged from 20 to 48 pounds each! - Steve G.

Would you be kind enough to add me to your e-mailing list for your blog? I would appreciate it. Thanks, C.R. - Lebanon, Oklahoma

JWR Replies: For the privacy of my readers, I don't keep any e-mail lists. My blog is accessed by readers with a web browser either by clicking a bookmark, or by using our RSS feed. Just be sure to book mark our URL, or better yet, make it your browser's home page. SurvivalBlog has been updated daily, without fail, since its inception in 2005. All of the blog's content, including nearly 8,000 archived articles, letters, and quotes are available free of charge. We do ask for subscriptions to help keep the blog in the black (our "Ten Cent Challenge"), but that is entirely voluntary. I don't even keep a list of the people that have sent donations. Only about 1% of SurvivalBlog's 150,000+ regular readers are voluntary subscribers.

Amid shortage, big NYC firms get swine vaccine. Reader Garth S. (who sent us the article link) asks: "So is this how it works? I get six zeros behind my salary and I can get to the front of the line?"

World First As Swine Flu Found in US Cat

Critically Ill Swine Flu Patients Spend Weeks in ICU

Scandal: NHL Team Gets Priority Flu Shots

WHO Targets Hemorrhagic H1N1 Cases in Lviv, Ukraine. So, assuming that his is a new, more lethal strain, I'm led to ask: Will contracting the current mild strain circulating in the US protect someone from contracting the new strain?

National Swine Flu Pandemic Called in Bulgaria. "Spikes in deaths have already been reported in Turkey and Italy, although none have approached the numbers reported in Ukraine, where influenza/[Acute respiratory infection] (ARI) cases are approaching 1 million, and will likely surpass that number in the next report. The explosion of cases in Ukraine raise concerns that the H1N1 virus has subtly changed, with associated increase in cases and deaths."

Majority of Californians to Ignore Late Swine Flu Vaccine

Withheld Ukraine Swine Flu Sequences Raise Pandemic Concerns. "[T]he rapid spread of H1N1 in Ukraine... ...coupled with the high frequency of hemorrhagic pneumonia raise concerns that a small change is leading to a more virulent virus."

Reported Cases in Ukraine Double Again

Canada: No Life Insurance for a Year if You Get Swine Flu!

How to Minimize Your Risk of Getting Swine Flu

Banks' H1N1 Flu Vaccines Stir Outrage. Protests mount that Goldman Sachs, CitiBank, JPMorgan and others have the vaccine amid shortage

H1N1 Swine Flu Deaths Highest in 50 and Older Once Hospitalized. The overall death rate of those hospitalized (the worst cases, often with underlying health issues) is 11%

Polish PM: Poland Not Buying Swine Flu Vaccination Unless it Has Been Properly Tested

WHO Says Swine Flu Virtually in Every Country on Earth

Reader Chad S. sent this: No risk of hyperinflation, says Bernanke. (I feel so much safer now, knowing that he's grounding the helicopters.)

Also from Chad: The Truth about Hyperinflation and Price Controls.

Items from The Economatrix:

Ahead of the Bell: Consumer Credit

Mortgage Rate Falls Below 5%

GM to Axe 10,000 in Germany

Analysis: 10% Jobless is Obama's New World
. Sadly, 18-22% is more realistic. See the data at

Unemployment Rate Rises Above 10%. "The 10.2 percent unemployment rate does not include people without jobs who have stopped looking for work or those who have settled for part-time jobs. If you counted those people, the unemployment rate would be 17.5 percent, the highest on records dating from 1994."

Freddie Mac Loses $6.3 Billion in Third Quarter

Consumer Borrowing Drops $14.8 Billion in September

Oil Prices Tumble
(on Friday)

AIG Plunges as Sales Decline at Life, Property Units

Soaring US Unemployment Threatens Path to Economic Recovery

Several how-to videos have been posted that were filmed by Outside Magazine editor Joe Spring who accompanied Tony Nester of the Ancient Pathways school on a "Knife-Only" outdoor survival course.

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File this is the "Why Am I Not Surprised?" Department: U.S. reverses stance on treaty to regulate arms trade. This, BTW, is the same Presidential Administration headed by the guy that promised voters: "I'm not going to take away your guns."

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Jeff B. forwarded this link: Seven (more) ) Abandoned Wonders of America: From Deserted Breweries to Famous Auto Factories.

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Pelosi: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail. We are just now starting to learn what was hidden in the "fine print" of HR 3962, the 2,000+ page bill that was just ramrodded through the House of Representatives on a Saturday.. All that we can hope to do now is stop this socialist legislation in the US Senate. If you are concerned about this bill, then please contact your Senator by both phone and snail mail!

"With reasonable men I will reason, with humane men I will plead, with tyrants I will show no mercy." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
I'm fairly new to your blog (three months), and still feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. I'm a 5th grade school teacher, and my husband is a former truck driver, now a truck dispatcher/supervisor. Not just am I realizing that I have a lot of catching up to do to get my family prepared for the rough times ahead, but I'm realizing how much my husband and I have to learn, to be truly ready! I've taken your advice and have asked my mother to teach me how to do pressure cooker canning. That was something that I had always been "too busy" to learn, when I was a teenager, being more engaged with academics and chasing boys. We're also scheduled for taking three classes from the Red Cross, in quick succession. When I mentioned the Appleseed shoots to my husband, he said "Yes, that for us!" He didn't even play his usual cop-out of waiting for better weather in the Spring or Summer. We are gong to the first one available, though the weather will be uncertain, and its a 130 mile drive. My husband was in the Marines, so he has the gun thing covered. But he wants a refresher [course], and wants me to learn to shoot "under stress, out to 300 meters." He bought us a pair of silver [stainless steel] Ruger Mini-14s, and he also has antique Springfield "O-3" [Model 1903] that belonged to his dad. He has more than two dozen extra [Mini-14] 20 rounder magazines (made by Ruger--not the cheapie copies that jam) now ordered, plus Mollie [MOLLE] pouches to hold 16 of them in. Our twin daughters (now 9) are getting Ruger .22 rifles for Christmas, and he found used wooden stocks on eBay to "cut down" to fit them. (Under $10 each--the shipping cost just as much [as the stocks]!)

I've already bought a food dehydrator and meat grinder both very inexpensively on Craigslist and a wheat grinder from Lehman's. One of those "Food Saver" vacuum packer-sealers is next on my list. (I'm hoping to get one used on Craigslist, since they are expensive, when bought new.)

The other thing I've done (following your wife's guidance), is to buy two copies of Carla Emery's book [The Encyclopedia of Country Living]. I've dived into that book, head first. The Memsahib was right. What an amazing reference! Owning that book is like having a country aunt on "speed dial" that you can turn to, to ask just about any question about the old-fashion ways of doing things.

Since we are members of both Sam's Club and Costco (discount memberships, through my husband's work, and my school district) we plan to buy most of our bulk foods at those places. So I'm getting a copy of your ["Rawles Gets You Ready"] prepping course. I'm sure that will fill in some gaps that Carla Emery didn't cover, like details on food shelf lives and modern food packaging. Most important, it is perfect for people like us that want to be able to stock up [on food storage], just [shopping] at supermarkets or the Big Box outlets like Sam's [Club] and Costco.

OBTW, my husband devoured your novel. It kept him up 'til 3 A.M.!

We are selling off our "fluff stuff" on eBay and Craigslist, to get cash for prepping. So far, we've sold my collectibles and some vintage clothes, our Bose sound system, my husband's stamp collection, and more than 200 music CDs, in batches of 10 to 15, [sorted] by genre. We dropped our dish television contract--no time for that sort of time-wasting and mind-numbing entertainment! Next will be selling our Nautique ski boat. Fishing will replace water skiing as our summer hobby, and we can do that from the shore or from kayaks or inflatables that will fit on our Excursion's roof rack. The side bonus is that selling the boat and trailer is that clears one whole section of our garage. That will surely be filled with prepping shelves, shortly. My husband has a source for used industrial-weight shelving and pallet racks for about the price of scrap metal. (They buy shelving from failed companies.)

Thank You, Mr. Rawles, for extracting our heads from the sand. Semper Paratus and Semper Fidelis - Jessica and Ron, in the Non-Amish Part of Ohio (Wishing I lived in Kidron, next door to Lehman's!)

Knowing your Christian beliefs are similar to mine -- Calvinist, reformed -- I thought you'd want to know that the article you linked to is from a cult organization. It follows doctrines generally referred to as "Armstrongism" -- denying the Trinity and salvation by grace alone, and more false prophecies than can be counted.

Here's a write up from a cult watch group describing the doctrines:
Armstrongism: The doctrines and religious movement originating with Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), who founded the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Armstrong rejected such essential doctrines of evangelical Christianity as the Trinity, the full deity of Jesus Christ , and the personality of the Holy Spirit. Armstrong taught British Israelism and believed that worthy humans could eventually “become God as God is God.” Teaches salvation by works predicated on Sabbatarianism , tithing (20-30%), and keeping the Old Testament feast days and dietary laws. Under the leadership of Armstrong’s successors, Joseph W. Tkach and his son Joe Tkach, the WCG has undergone a radical doctrinal transformation. Scores of splinter groups, such as the Global Church of God and the United Church of God , continue to teach various forms of Armstrongism.

Though the article may have some merit re: survivalism, [linking to] it also could also lead some into this cult and away from Christ. With this in mind, you may wish to remove it from your site. With respect, - Chris B.


He starts by tipping his hat to survivalist foresight, but it degenerates into "Forget all that survivalist stuff, put your faith in God and God alone."

I'm in agreement with that in part, but God also told us to take care of ourselves and others.

"God actually wants us to recognize and overcome our tendency to trust ourselves. He is measuring the coming destruction of America and other nations because of our sin, our faithlessness, our self-reliance, our ignorance of Him and our belittling of His power. And if you understand the Bible’s prophecies about the severity of that destruction, you realize that no private bunker will be safe for long. No one is going to escape the coming tribulation—descending on the nation because of God’s wrath—through survivalist moxie.

Those who plan to weather the coming storms through their own foresight and ingenuity are underestimating the savageness of the time ahead. More importantly, they are misplacing their faith."

He wrapped with...

"Above all, God seeks repentance. And to those who turn to Him with supple hearts, He offers individual protection—escape—from the worst of the coming storms (e.g. Luke 21:36). That is the only sure place to invest our faith."

Okay, I'm in agreement with that too, but only after I've done all I can.

I can't imagine that God would have given me the mind I have and sent me down the paths I've gone down to just roll over and go cockroach waiting for the redemption when it comes time.

That would be a really cruel joke. I know bad things happen, I'm pretty sure it's humans at work. The duality of our souls. I don't think God is mean for the sake of it. Probably more disappointed than anything. - Jim B

Hi James -
I am sure you are aware of the recent post on the Trumpet web site detailing their particular view on preparedness. I am not a member of their denomination, nor do I agree with their viewpoint that the Bible precludes preparation and storage of food for more than a few weeks. Did not Joseph store seven years’ worth of wheat in preparation for lean times? It seems to this preparedness neophyte that the Lord has provided us with the precious gift of life and loved ones, and that for us to knowingly waste these gifts would be an affront to Him and his gifts. When the final tribulation comes and we are all called before Him, will it matter that I left behind six months of freeze dried food that will go to waste? More important is how I lived His gift, and how I shared the storage with those whom He has placed in my life. Perhaps I am missing something. Thanks for your great service, - Hunkajunk

JWR Replies: Yes, I 've seen that article. The author (Joel Hilliker) misinterprets Matthew 6:19-2 ("Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth"), in trying to apply it to food storage. Storing grain for your family's sustenance in hard times does not constitute a "treasure". In the modern context, I think that "treasure" is far more applicable to 48-inch plasma HDTVs. But it is certainly not applicable to the large quantities of wheat and rice that I have in my basement. The extra quantity (beyond my own family's needs) is there for us to distribute in charity--not something to gloat about, or run my fingers through, cackling, just to admire.

In his conclusion, Joel Hilliker also quotes a 1966 article written by Herbert W. Armstrong, as if it were authoritative. Obviously, Armstrong's writings would only be credible if he had made accurate prophecies. But in fact he had a horrible track record as a prophet, and he was fortunate that the Old Testament laws on false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) have not been enforced in modern times, or he wouldn't have lived to write that piece in 1966.

I've noticed that people tend to throw around terms like "hoarding" very loosely. Let's get something straight: Purchasing storage food before a crisis does not constitute hoarding. That is because it doesn't take food from anyone's mouth. But if someone tried to amass their supplies after the onset of a crisis, then that would be hoarding. Simple logic dictates that every citizen that is well stocked represents one less individual that will rush to the supermarket to clean out the shelves, when disaster strikes. Hence, instead of being part of the problem, preppers are part of the solution. As I've often stated in radio and television interviews, I don't consider my family's three years worth of storage food a three year supply for one family. Rather, it is a one year supply for three families. Charity is essential, and Biblically mandated for heads of households.

I was having a conversation with my survival think tank buddy tonight and he asked me when I thought the dollar would collapse. I answered that it was like asking when the next ice age would come. It's due in another 1,000 years but we could be off by century or a millennia. It's the same thing with the dollar. It is impossible, mathematically speaking, for it to continue in it's current valuation indefinitely as it is in a non-sustainable negative spiral for reasons people reading this blog are well versed.

A collapse could happen tomorrow but is could also be delayed for years. This is because the timing of the collapse is not something that can be calculated by mathematical formula alone. It also has a great deal to do with psychological and political forces. As an example, Mr. Obama could authorize the sale of missile technology to China in exchange for buying our debt or not dumping the dollar. The media could continue the party line about a jobless recovery (a euphemism still makes me chortle) and people could continue to remain in dollar denominated assets. Banks could continue the counterintuitive action of not moving forward on foreclosures so as to avoid having to put the losses on their books or do upkeep on the property.

The same holds true for gold. As long as the majority of the gold players are willing to take profits in dollars rather than demanding physical delivery of gold contracts the price of gold can be manipulated.
Then there is food. While food commodities can be manipulated, unlike gold, food is continually consumed and we are running out. You can hide the weak dollar by continuing to 'double down' at the world casino until your credit line runs dry. You can hollow out gold bars and fill them with tungsten as long as no one cuts them open. You can even sell the same serial numbered gold bar to 10 people giving them identical warehouse certificates and as long as none of them take delivery, you've just 'multiplied' your gold holdings by tenfold.

This cannot be done with food that is eaten. You either have it or you don't. So, my long winded answer is that you'll know that the gig is up when the food runs out. - SF in Hawaii

KT sent the link to an absolutely hilarious British music video parody on YouTube: Bohemian Bankruptcy (Warning: There are a couple of crude moments, so this is not for the kids!)

Reader Tom. L. sent this: London Officially Dethrones New York as World's Financial Capital

Pat G. flagged this: Big California Bank Fails, Has Two Chinese Branches (Five more US bank failures were announced Friday)

British Airways Makes Record Loss, Cutting 3,000 Jobs. (Thanks to Tom in Essex for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Commentary from Doug Casey: Why Gold Has a Long Way to Go

Clunker Data Shows Pickups Hottest Swap, But Only Got Marginally Better MPG. Your tax dollars at work.

Top Nine Companies With No Layoffs Ever

Fed Keeps Interest Rates at Near-Zero Emergency Level

Long-Term Jobless Face Frayed Safety Net. "By February I will be in a tent."

Fannie Mae Getting Into Home Rental Business

Phelps Says Job Market to Bottom 1Q of 2010
Yeah, right!

Brits put Cold War bunker on preservation list: U.S.-built fortress left obsolete by fall of Berlin Wall becomes landmark. (Thanks to Mike H. for the link.)

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Do you have one of those great folding bicycles? Now you can get a collapsible cargo trailer, to go with.

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Josh in Chicagoland flagged this: Computer meltdown creates traffic-light chaos in Montgomery. Josh's comment: " This shows just how fragile our way of life is - one computer goes down causing gridlock! This should be an eye-opener and stress the importance of having alternate routes for G.O.O.D."

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Judy Kendall, the director or Anchor Charities sent us an update on the Linda Rawles Memorial Fund, that benefits The Anchor Institute Orphanage and School, in rural Zambia. Judy wrote: "We are moving forward with our plans to build a boarding school. Our blueprints should be completed in the next few weeks. Our goal is to lay the foundation for the boarding school in May of next year (our next scheduled trip). We're hoping the boarding school will serve two purposes. One, it will allow paying students to attend school at Anchor and those funds can be used to support daily expenses for all that attend school there such as food, books, etc. Two, it will allow our little orphans to integrate with other children." JWR Adds: My sincere thanks to the more than 170 SurvivalBlog readers that have thusfar contributed more than $9,000 to the Linda Rawles Memorial Fund. The Anchor School is a very worthy charity!

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer. " - Psalm 19:14

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I just heard that Brent S. (the author of the recently-posted letter "Preps and Minimizing My Debts Paid Off When Unemployed"), has been awarded a free "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course binder and audio CD. The special "Inspiration Award" was made by Jake Stafford, of Arbogast Publishing.

Speaking of the course, a special 33% off sale began Friday evening. The first few hundred people that order will also receive a complimentary copy of my new bestseller nonfiction book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", so order soon. Because of the heavy demand, you can expect an up to two week delay before receiving your copy of the course. Thanks for your patience. The sale ends on November 30th.


Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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’re convinced that the free ride is over, that things are getting worse, and when the worst happens, you want to be prepared. But you have a problem—you don’t have a lot of money for prepping and day to day living. Maybe you only make minimum wage. Maybe you make a little more than that, but you’ve got a lot of bills. Maybe you live on a fixed income, or have irregular self-employment. Regardless, don’t assume because you can’t afford expensive classes or pricey gear that WTSHTF, you’ll be unable to fend for yourself and your family. My husband and I make less than $10,000 (I’m disabled, he’s self-employed) a year, but we’ve already got a good start on skills, tools, and storage, have plans to expand, and it wasn’t difficult at all. Being on a low or fixed income can help you with a survival mindset, because you’re already used to making do with little, or having to get creative with what you have. You just have to expand what you have, a little at a time, and, before you know it, you’ve got a pretty good cache of supplies and abilities that can help you and yours no matter what comes down the pike.

Skill acquisition can be one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to help yourself if you’re low on money. Ask family members, especially older ones, and if they could teach you these skills. Family with military backgrounds can be invaluable resources. After I found a Girl Scout survival camp wanting, I talked to my Air Force dad, and he gave me some of his old survival manuals. Friends are also good to ask for help learning things, and sometimes you can trade what you know for what you want to know. I’ve taught friends of mine simple things like gardening and cooking, in return for training in such things as knife sharpening, hand to hand combat, or camp cookery.

If you’re visually oriented, the Internet can be one of the cheapest ways to learn new skills. There are tons of things out there online that are free for the asking. Through various web sites, I’ve learned to make soap in a blender and on the stove, make apple butter, picked up free crochet and knit patterns, gotten gardening tips, and gotten advice on animal care, for a start. Plug in what you’re interested in learning into your favorite search engine and take off. It’s good to check out more than one site for certain skills, as a hedge against errors, and to expand your repertoire.

Books are another great way to teach yourself things, and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars at the local chain bookstore, either. Check out your favorite online preparation sites and see what books they recommend, and make a list. Then hike down to your local library and see what they carry. Inter-Library Loan (ILL) can help you find books that your local city/county library system doesn’t carry. Some libraries provide this free, others charge extremely low fees (our local system charges a dollar per request, and you can request multiple books at one time). This way, you can see what books have the information you’re looking for, and which ones you would like to own. Even a book that you don’t like might help you glean some information that sends you on your way.

After checking out books at the library, you might find that there are some books you just have to own yourself, but you don’t want to pay out full price for them either. Used bookstores can be a Godsend here—I’ve managed to pick up the useful Foxfire series at local used booksellers for a quarter of the current cover prices. Auction sites such as eBay frequently sell books that are hard to find other places, and sometimes you can get whole lots of books in extremely good deals. Online book dealers often have sections for ordering used copies. I’ve used’s used services to get books like The Encyclopedia of Country Living for less than ten dollars. Talk to friends and see if you can swap books with them, and there are great places online where you can swap books all over the world for only shipping.

If you’re one of those people who learn best by doing, there are a lot of places where you can learn skills for cheap or free. A lot of my survival skills I learned from seven years in Girl Scouts, which sounds funny, but because of Scouts, when the major ice storm hit a few years ago and knocked out our power for almost two weeks, I was able to keep my husband and I fed with hot meals because I remembered how to make a hobo stove out of a coffee can with tin snips and a bottle opener. Other things I learned: how to chop wood, how to make an emergency shelter, and how to identify edible plants, and that’s just for starters. Offer to volunteer for your local Boy or Girl Scouts, or, if you have a child in Scouts, look through their manuals or ask them to teach you what they’re learning. This also works for children who are taking classes home economics or shop classes.

Your local county extension society, which connects people in your county with the latest information from your state land-grant university can be a great resource. Many people are familiar with the Master Gardener program they run, which trains people on every aspect of horticulture, so they can work as volunteers to the gardening public. Ask about scholarships to the training classes. Our local Master Gardener program usually costs $150, but when I asked if I could pay in installments, they gave me a full scholarship. County extension programs also help out farmers, administer county 4-H programs, and have a whole home economics department. That division at my local county extension gives out free handouts on many topics like budgeting and food preservation, and sells copies of the latest edition of Ball’s Blue Book of Food Preserving. Some extension societies also offer a Master Food Preserve program, which is administered much like the Master Gardener program.

Many churches offer programs that could help you learn skills for free or cheap. Most people know that the Church of Latter Day Saints helps people get together a food storage program, so ask your Mormon friends for help, or contact the Relief Society of your local Mormon ward for more information. The LDS [Provident Living] web site also has free links to information on preparation and food storage. Other churches have similar programs. A local Catholic Worker house in a city near me grows fruits and vegetables for the poor and homeless, and they are always asking for volunteers to learn how to care for the plants, in exchange for some of the produce. Again, ask around religious groups in your area, or scan the religion section of your local Sunday paper to get ideas.
Here’s a secret about learning survival skills—well before the economy tanks, the bomb is dropped, or what have you, you will start saving money. Learning to garden has helped my family eat better for less, learning to can has kept our pantry full in tight times, learning to make soap has helped us stay clean and healthy, and learning to sew, knit and crochet has kept my family warm and looking good. The money you save with your skills can be reinvested in learning more skills, or, as we’ll get to next, getting tools and supplies.

Tools and supplies for preparation can be an Achilles’ heel if you don’t have a lot of money to spare, but if you’re willing to look around in places you might not usually go, you’d be surprised at what you can find and for how little. Get an idea, first, of what you would like, again, make a list, and ask around. My mother in law gave me a sewing machine she wasn’t using when she heard I was learning to quilt. When I mentioned to one friend I was looking for yarn for knitting and crocheting, he said his grandmother had some she didn’t use anymore, and came over with three enormous boxes full of yarn, from wool to crochet thread to specialty yarns that retail for almost ten dollars a skein. When a neighbor moves, ask if you can have what they don’t want. One of our neighbors, before they left town, gave me a nice cast iron skillet that had just been taking up kitchen space. I was astounded when I checked online and found out that it was worth $80!

Garage sales can help you score fantastic deals. I got two huge cartons of canning jars and rings in many different sizes for $5, just two blocks from my house. I’ve also gotten embroidery hoops, sewing supplies, and out of print books just to name a few. Churches often have annual rummage sales that can be the place you find that one of a kind item that’s been eluding you. I’d searched three years for a used bread bucket (a metal container with a hand crank and a hook that kneads bread), and found one at a local church for $7. You can often dicker at garage sales, so if you see your dream item, but don’t quite have enough cash on hand, give it a whirl!

FreeCycle is a fantastic program online which matches people who have things to give away to people who are looking for free things. Go to their web site, which will direct you to your local program, and, through the mailing list, see what people are offering, and offer things yourself. For the price of bus fare or gas, I’ve gotten art supplies, kitchen helpers, and even more books for the taking.
Let friends and family know about some of the things you’re looking for and request them as holiday gifts. When I decided I wanted to learn canning, I asked my husband for a water-bath canning starter kit as an anniversary present. He thought it was odd, but after three years, he really appreciates the jams, jellies, pickles, and salsas! If people aren’t quite sure what to get you, tell them you’ll gladly accept gift certificates from a local or online store. And don’t hesitate to put items on a gift registry for large events—sure, people thought it was odd when my husband and I asked for archery supplies for our wedding, but they knew it’d be more useful than, say, a lemon zester!

Online auction sites can be a good resource for tools and supplies, but I recommend you research what you’re looking for, ask the seller questions, and don’t hesitate to complain about problems quickly to get replacements and/or refunds. I’m still kicking myself over a pressure canner I bought on eBay that I didn’t touch for months. By the time I learned that it didn’t work, it was far too late to contact the seller to complain or get a refund. However, I’ve gotten canning jars and rings in quantity on auction sites for a fraction of what I’d pay brand new, so just be careful.

Don’t be afraid to step outside of the usual places for tools and supplies. Army surplus stores can be heaven, especially for camping and survival supplies. Dollar stores can sometimes turn up with the most interesting things. One of our local dollar stores got a shipment of lamp oil in, and we stocked up on several bottles. One place that has turned out to have hidden gems for us is ethnic stores and supermarkets. I picked up a great grain mill at a local Hispanic market for $30, and it works great on wheat. We’ve also got our eye on some cast iron cookware at the local Asian supermarket.

If you look around, one of the best places overall to get tools and supplies are resale shops that sell items that were rejected from megastores because of damaged packaging or one item was damaged in a lot. Resale shops nearby have landed us great things, like 11 jelly jars with new lids and bands for $1, or a high quality four-man tent for $20. The best deal we’ve gotten so far was a food dehydrator that was brand new but didn’t have a box or a manual, for $25. Three minutes online and I’d downloaded and printed off the manual and several recipes, and it’s the best $25 I’ve ever spent.

Food supplies for stockpiling can be had for the cheap in many places. Dollar stores that carry canned food have been a great place for us to stock up. Off-brand stores are another wonderful place to get loads of canned goods. Even large chain supermarkets can have great deals on their store brands. Warehouse stores can be a good place for bulk-buying staples that are far cheaper than little individual packages. When I saw how cheap flour was in 25 pound bags at Sam’s Club compared to the grocery store, we started buying them and keeping it in a plastic bucket by the kitchen. While membership fees at these places can be high, go in with friends like we have and you can have a year of bulk-buying for maybe $5 apiece. Again, ethnic stores can be a bonanza for cheap staples. After seeing the price of 50 pounds sacks of rice at an Asian supermarket, we’ve got another plastic bucket filled to the brim with rice.

Some people might shy away from storing food if they don’t have a lot of room, but if you’re willing to think outside the box, you’d be surprised at what you can put away where. Part of my linen closet houses reused 2-liter pop bottles with an emergency water supply. The space under beds is frequently wasted space that can hold several cases of canned goods. You can even turn some of your storage into cheap décor—one book on home storage I read showed that you can stack up a few boxes of cans, cover it with cloth remnants or an old sheet and voila! You now have an end table.
When I first felt led to prepare for TEOTWAWKI, I was worried that our very low income would hamper preparations. But one thing that many people who have little have had to learn is something that we all need to learn: prioritizing, making the most of what you have to get what matters most. Many people spend out thousands of dollars a year for habits of a moment when they could be storing up skills and supplies to last them the rest of their lives. If it is important enough to you, you’ll make the necessary adjustments and start looking around for what you can get and learn.

Changing your habits and being open to learning new things not only changes you, it can change the ones around you. While my husband and I make very little compared to a lot of our friends, we are frequently the ones they turn to when layoffs hit or disasters strike. They’ve started taking notes, and many have asked us to pass on what we’ve learned, so they, too, can be prepared. Should things go south for whatever reason, perhaps our cheapest but greatest resource will be a group of friends that have many skills and supplies that can enable all of us to survive, come what may.

Mr. Rawles,
The following describes my background and how it shaped me.

My Parents' Influences

My parents were from the south (Eastern Tennessee)
They were also children of the Great Depression, their families were farmers and it was normal to prepare for winter or hard times.
Both my parents could can food, especially vegetables and fruit.
My father was an avid hunter and trapper.
I learned from a young age from my parents, never take anything for granted, prepare for good and bad times.

My Childhood
My parents moved to Ohio for work, where I was born.
I spent my youth (from birth to 15 years of age), I lived half of the year in Tennessee and the other in Ohio.
I helped out on uncle’s farm in Tennessee, where my Dad and Uncle taught me to work the land, process livestock, harvest honey & wild fruits and vegetables.
My Uncle and Aunt were children of the Great Depression, yep they were preppers too.
Why this is important, this was the late 1960s to early 1970s.
Their farm was on a route road, where electricity was iffy at best, no city water and the closest store was 25 to 30 miles away, it was natural to just prepare, stock up and be ready instead of heading out on long peat gravel back roads, especially in the winter.

I lost my father, uncle, and aunt in a close span of time together when I was 16 years old. But my Dad, Uncle, Aunt and my Mom gave me some great gifts on taking care of myself.

Young Adulthood
We didn’t get to Tennessee to much after the deaths of my Dad, Uncle and Aunt.
My Mom lost the drive to prepare, can and such.
I did for a while, but once I started working two full time jobs I stopped prepping.
I was working maintenance and training to become a deputy sheriff.
But I still prepped with can goods, drink powders and well water.

An Evacuation
In 1986, we had an industrial accident that affected the region, that started me back to be a prepper
A freight train hauling industrial materials derailed, some of the cars were carrying Phosphorus,
Which caught fire and released a poisonous gas, this caused more of the small towns along the rail line to be evacuated, including our town.
This was my first experience in seeing the baser instincts of human nature take over.
You have to remember, these were small towns, not vast urban areas.
The looting and robbery and loss of the rule of law began.
I saw people fight with police at road blocks.
I saw people nearly run officers dow with their cars.
As in New Orleans during Katrina (several years after the derailment event), some cops didn’t show up for duty, because they were worried about their families.
Our town had not been evacuated as of yet. I was told not to report to any of my jobs, and I wasn’t called up to help.
In fact most law enforcement pulled out of the area to a central location.
I decided to send my mom and younger sister to a family members home outside of the affected area.
And I stayed and protected the home and cared for the animals.
This is the first time I used an Israeli gas mask. It worked quite well.
This was 14 years before 9/11 attacks.
I sealed the windows, doors and any other exterior accesses with towels and duct tape. That worked great.
I set back and watched the circus unfold on television and listen to the scanner, with my Ruger Service Six on the couch.
After the evacuation, the scanner traffic slowed down, a lot of local departments were working their bases out of the county seat in a safe area.
We lived near the town square, so I watched this small but busy town turn into a scene from a nuclear war movie. The traffic stopped, the traffic light in the middle of town wasn’t working due to a car wreck.
Then slowly the cloud appeared, white, thicker than fog.
I was stuck in the house for two days until the fire burned out and the cloud dissipated.
According to police friends, several looters arrested, and one was shot and wounded by a home owner.
One of the evacuation centers at a school turned into a free for all and the police had to shut it down.
So I guess I have a taste of the TEOTWAWKI experience. I hope I never have to experience it again.

Prepper Anew
That experience renewed the prepper instinct in me.
But things had changed, I now lived in a more residential area.
Not much room for a big garden to can or live stock to keep.
So I started looking and what the Boy Scouts and military were doing.
MREs were just a dream, C rations were expensive if you could find any.
So I started with civilian canned goods.
Canned goods available in stores keep an average of one year, maybe up to two years if they are kept in a safe, dry place. This works great if you consume the products and rotate in new during that time.
Some people want to get something that will last 5 -10 -20 years, that’s fine, but I think you should check your stores more often.
Presently, I have a mixture of Dehydrated, freeze dried foods, canned meats, seeds (non-hybrid), food bars and MREs.
55 gallon barrels of potable water and a rain barrel system.
I’m working on a 4x4 vehicle, just in case I have to make a run for it.
I prepare to stay, but I have food bars and portable water, brigade first aid kits in a bug-out set up.
Go to the Dollar stores, you can great deals on basic medical, sanitary, and food products.
Don’t be a snob, it all works.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a working stiff, no longer a sheriff’s deputy I work in the trades. (Another gift from my family upbringing, I can fix just about anything.)
I can’t afford $1.000 to $1.800 weapons. So if you are in a similar financial situation, I would advise you to check your local pawn shops.

I’ve found great deals on used guns. Here is what I've bought, and my costs:
A Interarms Star M30 9mm 15 shot DA/SA auto pistol, a design once issued to the Brazilian military $299.
Mossberg 12ga 20” barrel pump $150
Taurus Mod 66 .357 $169
Hi-Point C9 9mm $130
Ruger 10/.22 $199
The guns at shows are now often much too expensive.
Don’t be a gun snob. Functionality is key, not a gun's looks.

A gun is a tool, if you can’t buy a S&W, then buy two Hi-Point pistols and have money for the ammo.
In the heat of combat, a gun jams and I can’t clear it, I'll leave it, whether it’s a S&W or a Hi-Point,
Plus the more of the same weapons you have, the more extra parts you’ll have if one goes bad.
The cheapest and easiest to get ammo right now is for shotguns and .22 LR rimfires.
No matter what the caliber, bullet placement is the key to survival. In my police training, I was trained to aim for the Instant Neutralization Zone. This starts with ocular window and runs down to the lower edge of the solar plexus
One other important lesson from my training was to stay out of the Immediate Threat Radius. That is anywhere within 10 feet of an armed opponent.
If you are in the Immediate Threat Radius, even if you get the first shot off [with a handgun], you’ll probably still get shot or stabbed by the bad guy.

Tools are just like guns, if you can’t afford Klein or Snap-On brands, then buy Stanley brand and buy more of them.
Learn to work on everything.
Stock up on fasteners, extra wood, and any thing else you use at a regular intervals.
Store some gas, kerosene what ever you use.

Get a Bible, and study it.
Most important have faith in God and in yourself.
I pray every day that none of this prepping will ever be needed.
Of what I’ve seen of the baser side of human nature, if the world goes to he**, there will be a lot of death and sorrow that will touch everyone.
Don’t ask for war, things will go their way by nature and will happen in their own time.

“The Angels of the Lord encamp around those who love him.
The Lord will deliver him in his time of need. "

Wishing SurvivalBlog Readers God's Blessings - Gary J.

Important Safety Tip: Don't sleep in bear's den. Bear kills militants in Kashmir.

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Don T. suggested this: Farmers growing electricity along with their crops

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The spin-meisters are at it again! Here is an update on the Jordanian-American terrorist gunman at Fort Hood, Texas: Now they've stopped calling it "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" since he had never been deployed to Iraq! Well, perhaps "Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder"? Or, since Major Hasan was a psychiatrist with the US Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, perhaps his case should be labeled: "The Stress of Studying Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"

"I am being unfairly accused. Time will prove that I have done nothing wrong, and I am confident that I will be found innocent of these charges." - Mayor Sheila Dixon, in her blog on January 10, 2009. (Her trial on a dozen theft, corruption, perjury and bribery charges is scheduled to begin on November, 9, 2009. Two others implicated have already pled guilty, and are cooperating with prosecutors in Dixon's case. Dixon is a member of the controversial Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dear Mr. Rawles,
With all the bad news reported every day and your personal heartbreaks I hope I can reassure you about our future just a little by sharing my story with you. I started reading your blog three years ago, during the good times. I'm a 23 year-old man from the liberal north east, some college under my belt, married, and willing to dig in and work to secure my family's future. I had a good job with a subsidiary of a major european telecom, I worked every hour of overtime I could and pushed myself to excel at any challenge thrown at me. I rose to the top of the EE techs at my former employer, but that still didn't stop my being laid off when production was shipped to China.

It's been a year since I've been able to find work, and in the intervening time my wife and I have struggled to stay afloat both financially and physically as my wife has Multiple Sclerosis. Thanks to what I had learned from your blog and Patriots, we've made it. When my wife and I were married two and a half years ago I made sure we paid off debt, were smart enough to skip buying an overpriced house, and built up our food stores.

Thanks to you when I watched over the past year the price of homes crash and energy skyrocket we were relatively secure in our apartment debt free and chopping up all the deadfall I could find out in the state owned land behind us to burn in our fireplace. I must have saved a thousand dollars last winter heating with wood and more importantly got myself into shape. Once again thanks to you when inflation hit food prices I dug into our larder to get us past the rise in prices. And thanks to you for getting me to take an interest in emergency medicine because I've been able to keep my wife stable during health scares a couple times now as we waited for the emts to arrive.

We made it through the rough times, thanks to you and the survivalist community. Today my wife is healthy, our persons secure, and my family while not rich will begin to prosper again. I've found a new job, I enlisted in the US Air Force and am shipping out in two weeks. I'll miss all the holidays this year but I'll know my family is celebrating safe and in peace.

Next to good planning, the most important lesson I've learned is to never quit. So through all your trials Mr. Rawles, I hope you can take heart knowing that you and the Memsahib have touched lives from afar for the better. Sincerely, - Brent S.

Dear James Wesley,
In October 1978, with a seventh-grade education, 19-year-old Dolly Freed published a book called Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money, about the five years she and her father lived off the land on a half-acre lot outside of Philadelphia. The two of them lived in a renovated gas station bought "free and clear" in foreclosure for $6,100; they raised rabbits for slaughter in their basement and obtained the rest of their food by growing it in their garden and fishing in local creeks; neither chose to hold a job (jobs were scarce in any case), and instead avoided the kind of gracious one-upmanship that seemed to make so many Americans miserable. "We have and get the good things in life so easily it seems silly to go to some boring, meaningless, frustrating job to get the money to buy them," she wrote, "yet almost everyone does. 'Earning their way in life,' they call it. 'Slavery,' I call it."

Following her success as an author, Dolly Freed grew up to be a NASA aerospace engineer. That is, after acing the SATs with an education gleaned from the public library and putting herself through college. She’s also been an environmental educator, business owner, and college professor. She now lives in Texas with her husband and two children.

Tin House Books will reissue the book in January, 2010, and it includes new reflections, insights, and life lessons from an older and wiser Dolly Freed, whose knowledge of how to live like a possum has given her financial security and the confidence to try new ventures. You can see Dolly Freed in a documentary made by Nancy Schreiber in 1980. Wishing You All The Best, - Nanci M.

JWR Replies:I encourage readers to take 28 minutes to watch that documentary. You'll find that there is quite a bit of the SurvivalBlog mindset there! Dolly Freed's book is a must for the bookshelf of anyone interested in genuine self-sufficiency.

Car batteries are designed for one thing and one thing only - delivering a bunch of power for a very short period of time. Said time is measured in seconds, not minutes, hours, or days.

I have been living "Off the Grid" for fifteen years, and can assure your readers that vehicle batteries can only handle 3-5 complete discharges before they are useless, i.e., after but a few discharges they cannot be recharged and expected to hold said charge. Ergo, they are the wrong choice for any task where discharge exceeds the constant charging input into the battery. They will not last, and the monies and the time procuring and cabling such will have been wasted.

If one intends to utilize batteries and a charger of whatever source to power lights or equipment of any sort, only use "Deep Cycle" types as the plate construction used in these is designed for multiple deep-discharges. The number of discharges varies given the size of the battery itself, and can range from as few as 100 to well over 2,000. Yes, in the case of batteries, size matters.

Another little hint: When engaged in the mathematics of power generated in relationship to end use, whether from solar, microhydro, wind, or fuel powered generators, remember that when using a battery to "store" generated power, factor in a loss of 6% of the power produced due the requirements of the chemical reaction in the battery. Period. And never forget that "Volts X Amps = Watts". If you don't model your production and usage with these numbers in mind, say goodbye to your batteries.

On the way out the door, one more bit of advice, this on "Phantom Loads." Many of the appliances we buy today are never actually "off", even though one believes such is the case. A few decades back, the appliance manufacturers decided to stroke our egos because having to wait a few seconds for an appliance to "warm up" was frustrating. Now such a wait would border on a personal insult. We demand "instant on" from everything, and this comes with a price. Even "off", many of your appliances consume power. Either you pay the power monopoly for it, or if "Off the Grid", you deplete and perhaps even destroy your batteries.

The easiest way to find how much your favorite appliance is robbing you is to buy a little device called a Kill-A-Watt [electricity usage monitor], about $30.00 or so, available at hardware stores and places like Lowe's and Home Depot. One plugs it into the wall and then you plug the appliance into it, with the appliance still "off". Much to your surprise and then chagrin, a little digital readout tells you how many "watts" that appliance uses when it's "off". Pardon the pun, but the results will "shock" you. That television that is presumed "off" may well be using 30-40 watts constantly, 24-7-365. Add in stereo components, computers, printers, and all those other things that we believe make life worth living and pretty soon we're talking about real money. And if you are dependent on a battery bank, well, you get my drift. It's more than just money.

Solution? Whether "Off the Grid" or dependent on a power monopoly, put all such appliances on power strips, and when you want them truly off, shut down the power strip. Then "Off" really means "Off". There's no point in paying for something your aren't using, and if out there pioneering, ignoring this will destroy your batteries, Good Luck! - J. Mo

I noted with concern one item in the recent blog article: How to Capitalize on Urine, Car Batteries, Wood Ashes, Bones and Bird Schumer, by Jeff M. He recommended using car batteries for lead to cast bullets from. As a caster myself I have learned that this is an extremely hazardous thing to do. The lead plates in car batteries are impregnated with arsenic and calcium to aid the the chemical reaction to generate electricity. Melting these down will generate arsine gas which is highly poisonous. He also recommended using lead wheel weights. [Traditional lead alloy] wheel weights [made before the recent switch to zinc] are the preferred metal for most bullet casters. While they contain about a quarter of a percent of arsenic they do not contain calcium and do not generate arsine gas when melted. Safety First!
God Bless, - Jim E.

Rourke suggested this article: What Survivalists Have Right

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Reader Jim S. suggested this mainly humorous piece: 12 places to go if the world goes to h***

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Bob B. found an essay titled: Why Bother? (To Prepare) Bob says: "It underscores the fact that preparing significantly alters your mindset, which might turn out to be the most valuable preparation of all."

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"Straycat" sent us this: Water rationing for Venezuela's capital city. Have you bought a Berkey or Katadyn filter for your family yet?

"In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and next oblige it to control itself." - James Madison

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Several readers wrote to mention these articles: How Reliable is the M16 Rifle? and, a follow-up: The M16 Argument Heats Up, Again. This is sure to raise a ruckus with some of the SurvivalBlog readers that are owners of AR-15s, registered (Class 3) M16s, M4geries, and even AR-10s. Before you send me a fusillade of angry letters, please note that most of the failures mentioned in the After-Action Report (AAR) were with M16s and M4s that had been used in very high volume of fully automatic fire--something that they were not designed to do. (After all these are individual weapons--not crew-served weapons that are designed to be used like garden hoses.) So that is not relevant, in the context of survivalist planning. (If it were relevant, then you 'd be living through a "worst case" whilst living in the the wrong neighborhood!) Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier this week in the blog, this report was circulated by a British newspaper, castigating the inconsistent stopping power of 5.56mm NATO: Bullets used by British soldiers 'too small to defeat Taliban'. (That too, has been debated before in SurvivalBlog, and umpteen other venues.)

Clearly, the Army and Marine Corps could do better for our troops that the current M16/M4 design. Although it would be an expensive thing to do and it would take a bit of a logistics tap dance during the transition, the entire inventory of M16s and M4s could be retrofitted with new gas piston driven uppers for the 6.8mm cartridge. SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Mike Williamson notes that the 6.8 cartridge would provide more consistent stopping power, but he sees it more likely to be fielded as the new cartridge for a light machinegun. And I (JWR) believe that regardless of whether or not a caliber change occurs, a gas piston upper should replace the quick-fouling gas tube design that has plagued the M16 and its offspring for more than 40 years. I doubt these either of these changes will be made, since although they are technically the best solutions, the political will and dollars required will be problematic.

Mike Williamson continues: The Brits found out that 7.62mm NATO recoiled too much for full auto, and most of their L1A1s were converted to semiautomatic-only upon being fielded.The 7.62mm NATO is a good cartridge, but it's too much for an individual full auto weapon.

Along those lines, I believe that the recent Special Ops tests with 6.8mm were in no way related to replacing 5.56. It doesn't take any field tests at all to determine that 6.8 is a more effective stopper, but not more effective enough to justify the reduced combat load (for the same weight of ammo). Logistically, it is an inferior military round in terms of mass carried for stops made. However, the modular nature of the AR made the tests easy to perform.

I expect that 6.8mm will be the next support weapon and machine gun caliber, given its shorter action length than .308, and its considerable effectiveness. I predict we're about to witness the end of .30 caliber weapons in the US military.

JWR concludes: I wasn't surprised to see SOCOM do field tests of the 6.8mm rifles. They are famous for "thinking outside the box", for "off the shelf" procurement of various goodies, and for adopting different tactics and even different weapons than those used by "The Big Army". (The SF's casual term for the balance of the US Army--it's conventional forces.) Weapons fielding changes for a couple of thousand SF troops can be done fairly rapidly, but fielding a new rifle for the entire US Army isn't going to happen overnight. That sort of thing takes congressional approval and waiting for slow turning of the gears of the Big Procurement Machine, which from many perspectives is a snail's pace.

I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers consider the land here in the desert of West Texas for rural remote retreats that are affordable and located away from the major city targets.

The desert acts as a sandy, hot, dry, moat around such retreats...and will attrite gangs of marauders roving out of the ruined cities. Land out here around

Balmorhea, Texas is cheap by your standards: $300 an acre average. The San Solomon spring brings in 26 million gallons of fresh water daily to the one mile square irrigation/fishing lake two miles east of Balmorhea. Balmorhea is about two miles south of Interstate 10, around mile marker 209.

There are about 20-30 farms on concrete viaducts that receive water from the lake for irrigation without pumping...and those can grow plenty of food to support those who live there and in the area. The population is only 700.

A natural gas pipeline supplies Balmorhea without compressors. There are over six new flowing gas wells on that line now so after the SHTF, Balmorhea and the area will still have unlimited gas service to power generators, heat homes, and so forth, even with the national power grid down permanently. It is an oasis in the desert of West Texas with lots of abandoned farm land in the area. Farmers have been driven out of business by the lift cost of water away from the irrigation lake. Madera Valley Water Supply has water lines running all over her supplying these abandoned farms, but their pumps are electric and will be down until we replace them with gas fired pumps or gas fired generators.

If your readers are not scared of good ol' boy redneck west Texans. They can get a good deal out here on survival retreat property. But, don't come expecting to have a high paying job. There aren't any!. In fact, Reeves county has an official unemployment figure of 14 percent, but is commonly acknowledged to be above 20 percent due to the oil and gas exploration downturn. Use ZIP code 79718 for Balmorhea if you want to do a Google Earth flyover and look at the landscape. The circles are center pivot sprinkler systems that irrigate entire sections of land, and most are out of action because no one can now afford the electricity to pump them.

My condolences on your loss of your wife, Jim. Keep up the good work with your SurvivalBlog. It is linked to my group and considered a must read daily. Semper paratus. - R.L.

One of the most notable features of the architecture here in Afghanistan are the adobe-walled compounds called qalats. Looking at them, especially from the air, it seems to me they would be an excellent style of construction for those with the time (and money) to build their own home retreat. See this photo.

As you can see in the picture (which shows attached qalats for three or more families), a qalat can be almost a miniature castle, complete with a tower or towers. The walls are thick adobe, requiring demolitions or tank cannons to breach. (If you've got enemies with access to tanks and [tank] main gun ammo who know where you are, you're pretty well screwed anyway.) One gate to control access, which, if you were so inclined, could easily be built as a old-school sally port. The walls enclose enough space for vegetable farming and in some cases small orchards, along with space to park vehicles. In the winter, the vegetable garden area can be used to pen livestock.

The biggest downside, at least for building in the US, is that I'm pretty sure adobe doesn't meet most building codes, plus it's usefulness is limited to the southwest. Also, a proper qalat takes a long time to build. Now, I don't see any reason you couldn't build one with reinforced concrete walls (covered with stucco if bare concrete is too ugly for you) if you've got the money to pay for it, which would probably obviate any building code issues.

What considerations am I missing? - David L.

JWR Replies: Adobe and rammed earth construction will work in wet climates, as long as they are covered by a roof long with wide eaves, to protect them from rain erosion. As with any other high-mass construction material, it is essential to include plenty of re-bar. (This often neglected in Third World countries, mostly due to poverty. Without re-bar, masonry and earthen structures are prone to collapse in earthquakes.) Do not under-rate the utility of adobe and rammed earth! In retreat architecture, mass is a good thing! As I wrote in my latest book: 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... ...When planning your retreat house, think: medieval castle.

Rammed-earth Fujian Tulous have been used in China for centuries to protect co-located families from the depredations of bandits.
One shortcoming of Afgjan qalats is that they typically have blind sides. (See my previous commentary on Vauban Stars and Cooper Corners.)

Reader Karl B. sent this new item that he spotted on a news wire, dated 29 October: Unidentified virus kills 30 in western Ukraine. Since I was unable to find a link to the English translation of the piece (originally from a Kiev television outlet), I've decided to post it in full:

[Presenter] An unknown deadly virus has taken lives of over 30 people in western Ukraine. The preliminary diagnosis is viral pneumonia. The results of analyses are to be made public early next week. According to the latest statistics, some 12 people died in Ternopil Region, 11 in Lviv Region and six in Ivano-Frankivsk Region. The decease has spread to other regions. Another three people died of viral pneumonia in Chernivtsi, and two in Rivne Region. The Health Ministry has called on people to call at hospitals immediately if they have any symptoms of pneumonia. Prime Minister [Yuliya Tymoshenko] plans to start playing audio clips with this information on the radio.

[Health Minister Vasyl Knyazevych] Today the doctors are ready and they know how to provide emergency treatment [of pneumonia], but the main issue is the timeliness of visiting the doctor. We are already able to detect if this is the so called flu virus, if this is our traditional flu or if it is the California flu, H1N1, the so called swine flu, as we call it. This will be confirmed.

[The UNIAN news agency at 1037 GMT quoted Knyazevych as saying that among people diagnosed with viral pneumonia were those of working age and pregnant women. He said that the best health care experts in Ukraine had been sent to western Ukraine to help tackle the spread of the virus]."

SurvivalBlog reader John in Ohio sent us a link to a Wall Street Journal follow-up: Swine Flu Fears Grip Ukraine

Now They're Calling it Hemorrhagic

Global Uptick In Swine Flu Deaths

China Warns it Faces Severe Challenges in Combating H1N1 Swine Flu

Ukraine in Panic Over Swine Flu

Four Ukraine Doctors Dead of Swine Flu

Reader Bill R. recommended the Here is Bill's description of the site: "It is the only site that I've found that covers county 911 dispatch in my county in rural northwestern Tennessee. This is a good site to find out what's going on at any time. There is a wealth of real time information here, as well as threads and discussions re: 911 comms, amateur radio, and all things radio."

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The folks at Ready Made Resources have announced that they are having another free drawing for November. It will be for a Lifesaver 4000 water filtration bottle (a $169 retail value.). It is free to sign up, with no purchase necessary. They will also be having a sale on Mountain House canned long-life storage foods, from November 15th to 30th. Full Case Lots will be 25% off and qualify for free shipping! Mixed Case Lots are 25% off, plus shipping.

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Disasters may catch Canada unprepared: AG report. (Thanks to Richard S. for the link.)

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One of my relatives mentioned the products from Tactical Medical Packs. They appear to be top quality. Take a look.

"I find it simply fascinating how little is currently being written about the big bull market in gold. Where anything is written, it's almost a warning that 'gold is volatile,' that 'speculators are driving gold up,' or that 'the gold shorts are simply being squeezed.' Never a word about the Fed creating new inflationary oceans of liquidity, never a word about the dollar losing its purchasing power, never a word about real money rising against all other asset classes. Silence reigns regarding what could be the most significant bull markets in recent history." - Richard Russell

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 25 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 25 ends on November 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 last few centuries, mankind has been building and building up, combining raw materials and energy to create... stuff. This stuff is scattered all over urban population centers, and many of it can be used for basic life-sustaining purposes. I thought I'd write in and share some information I've gathered over the years in my work and in my hobbies, as it relates to sustaining life if you're trapped in an urban area. I'm enumerating the primitive uses of some very basic components for those interested, this wasn't meant as a guide for building any of this stuff, further research is definitely necessary and DO NOT try any lab chemistry without becoming an expert first and observing all the appropriate safety precautions. [JWR Adds: Handling strong acids and bases also necessitates wearing goggles, extra long gloves, long sleeves, a safety apron, having proper ventilation, and having an eye flushing bottle (or fixture) and neutralizers close at hand!] I hope this inspires others to share similar uses for modern waste.

Many urbanites will not have enough room to grow self-sustaining gardens in the soil in your backyard, with the limited growing season, and even if you did it would become a target for looters. Construction of a greenhouse in your backyard with adequate security may be a worthwhile compromise. Using hydroponics in your greenhouse will maximize your yield. Hydroponics requires that you're moving fluids around in a growing medium, and this movement requires electricity in the simplest setup. It also allows you to maximize your space by eliminating huge buckets of soil. One downside to hydroponics is that it requires more advanced technology, and most often an energy supply. Another downside is a requirement for more specific fertilizers.

Car batteries can be used to power your food supply and your home, a typical setup is a very sturdy shelf to hold rows of the deep cycle variant. You can calculate how much energy you'd need to power your appliances but a better setup for survival would be to only power a single DC circuit, with some very energy efficient appliances; LED lights, laptop computers, radios, flashlight battery chargers. I have a circuit wired in my basement which can be switched to backup power, so for me it would just be a matter of wiring an extension cable out to my greenhouse.

The equipment to build a battery backup system is widely available, it's very mature technology and has been very easy to afford with the increased usage of solar energy. Solar panel prices have also dropped almost 40% in the last couple of years. I recommend that someone with the cash to spend, who has already bought a long-term supply of food and other essentials, build themselves a photovoltaic backup system to keep your electronics running for years, using deep-cycle marine batteries for storage. It happens to be the cheapest form of storage, the deep cycle batteries are available from Wal-Mart and Costco at the best prices.

I recommend some form of sustainable electricity. Most fuels will go bad with time, the easiest fuel to reliably store is propane and many homes are equipped with propane and natural gas powered backup generators. Propane is extraordinarily cheap right now as well. A 300-to-500 gallon propane tank can be bought used for around $500 in most places, and propane is selling in my area for $1.79/gallon. Propane is produced from natural gas and, along with coal, are the two fossil fuels we're least likely to see a shortage of. Regarding solar, you don't need a 5,000 watt solar panel farm to power your essentials. Just one large solar panel on a pole will be enough [to provide charging] for your odds and ends DC-powered electronics.

If you intend to use scavenged car batteries for home power, you will need to come up with a scheme to charge them. If you charge a random collection of batteries off of one charger some of them may overheat and explode. You need to have an individual charging circuit for each of them, a temperature probe is good but not necessary. The best way to do this with a generator setup is with a multiple-bank charger or charging station, or with multiple charge controllers in a solar setup. It would be a good idea to have backups, so you might as well have one charge controller for every battery. If you're running a generator, it is especially important that you use a battery backup system, as it allows you to use the energy more efficiently to charge up a battery bank which you can use for days to power efficient appliances.

Another interesting thing about car batteries is what you can do with them if you're not using them for power. Car batteries contain two main ingredients, sulfuric acid and lead. Sulfuric acid is used in many industrial processes. It's a source of elemental sulfur, and these strong acids are used to convert many other substances to something usable.

Hundreds of years ago people made saltpeter for formulating black powder by urinating in a jar and adding straw to it (almost too easy, huh?). A more industrious method would be to mix straw and manure into a pile and urinate on it regularly to keep it moist. This was called a "niter-bed". After a year, run water through it and then run the resulting mixture through a wood ash filter, and then air dry the resulting mixture in the sun. Any failed batches could always be used as [the basis for a larger quantity of] fertilizer. Your urine contains nitrogen in the form of a chemical called urea, which means it also makes a good fertilizer (1 part urine and 10 parts water immediately applied makes a decent fertilizer). The urine/straw mixture would change over the course of a few months to contain nitrates, mostly a chemical called potassium nitrate, or saltpeter. Wood ash contains mostly potassium compounds and can be used to convert remaining nitrates to potassium nitrate. Potassium nitrate is a powerful oxidizer. Mixed with a fuel it forms the ingredients of many fireworks such as bottle rockets. Black powder is made with a mixture of 75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur. Sulfur can be found on the electrodes of the car batteries, or it can be produced through electrolysis of the sulfuric acid. A good rocket fuel is 60% potassium nitrate and 40% powdered sugar, should you have a need for rockets, perhaps as a signal flare.

You can buy potassium nitrate over the counter from the hardware store (Lowe's and Home Depot). It's known as stump remover and is available in 1lb bottles. If you're doing that last minute shopping, it might be a good idea to swing by the pesticides shelf and buy all the stump remover while you're getting your fertilizers and everything. Potassium nitrate has an NPK rating of 13-0-38.

In the 1890s, widespread use of "smokeless powder" was adopted, which is about three times as powerful as simple black powder. This was a result of a substance called nitro-cellulose or guncotton, which is which can be made from cellulose and nitric acid and some other chemicals by means of nitration. Nitric acid is a very useful substance. Nitro-groups or nitronium ions can be added to certain chemicals to create explosives. Compounded with hexamine fuel tablets (Esbit fuel), it forms [the equivalent of ] RDX explosive. Compounded with glycerine, it forms nitroglycerine, that with added stabilizers forms dynamite or blasting gelatin. (Not to be confused with trinitrotoluene (TNT), which is generated by the nitration of toluene.) The most useful application of nitric acid though is in making smokeless powder, commonly just called "gunpowder" today, which is a compound of nitrocellulose and a number of other proprietary ingredients. It can be made from cellulose and nitric acid and some other chemicals by means of nitration. [Reader M.H. Adds: Doing any of this will take considerable study and storing some other chemicals, since nitric acid just by itself will not (to any significant degree) nitrate organic compound such as glycerine, hexamine or toluene. For details, see the book titled "Chemistry and Technology of Explosives" by Urbanski (available online).]

The government has made it difficult to purchase nitric acid without a valid reason. You can make it out of sulfuric acid, from the car batteries, and potassium nitrate, from the niter beds. You will need some basic lab equipment to do this, a glass distillery connected to a vacuum pump (a vacuum distillery), and a hot plate. With the leftover parts of the car battery, mainly lead [and wheel weights as a source of antimony for hardening], you can mold lead bullets. The lab equipment required to perform some of these reactions is useful in many other processes, such as an ethanol distillery, so it may be something you'd want, regardless. Take care that you don't cross into illegal territory with your experimenting. Potassium nitrate and black powder aren't controlled substances, but at some point gunpowder becomes classified as an explosive and requires a permit to manufacture. [JWR Adds a Strong Proviso: This summary information is provided for educational purposes only. EXTREME safety measures must be taken, and all the legalities and zoning issues must be researched, permits obtained, et cetera. Also, be advised that the instructions presented in many of the published references on do-it-yourself explosives making have insufficient safety margins. For example, the set of directions on making nitroglycerin in the book The Anarchist Cookbook, could best be described as a "recipe for disaster." It will get you killed or at least maimed, in short order!]

Another interesting thing I'll mention is that handgun calibers and muzzleloaders are better suited for lead bullets with no copper jacket, since they travel through the barrel slower they can be made softer. Forming a copper jacket around a bullet is difficult and expensive. [JWR Adds: One notable exception to this is making jackets for .22 caliber bullets, which can be made with discarded .22 LR brass and lead wire, using commercially available forming dies.] I think it's also worthwhile to own at least one muzzle-loading black-powder rifle, and bullet forming equipment. Manufacturing guncotton is not nearly as easy as black powder. You can no longer readily buy black powder [in gun shops] today, it is less stable and more expensive to ship. Even the modern muzzle-loader propellants (like Pyrodex) are smokeless powders. So, you may find black powder is all people are using one of these days, as they can make it in their backyard. Either stockpile thousands of primers or use a flintlock style rifle.

I mentioned that urine can be used as a fertilizer, nowhere is this more true than in a hydroponic system. Plants need three main chemicals to grow, all three of which must be in a soluble form. urine is easily the best source of nitrogen in soluble form. Potassium can be gathered from wood ash easily by running fluids through it. Phosphorous is the hard part, and many fruiting plants need phosphorus, so it is the area where you focus the most energy. Bone has phosphorus in it, and a commonly used fertilizer for plants is bone meal in the form of calcium phosphate. Bone meal has an NPK rating of 4-12-0. Bat guano is one of the best sources of phosphorous, and bird droppings ("Bird Schumer") can similarly provide a good supply. Be careful with bird droppings though, many contain diseases especially pigeons. You may want to boil it first. Match heads can also be used for their phosphorus content, if for some reason you have thousands of matches with no barter value.

Back to urine fertilizers: When you urinate into the water your urine and many other nitrate fertilizers begin to break down into ammonia, which needs to be filtered out. If you've ever maintained a koi pond you know this can be accomplished with the use of a bio-filter. Another way to do it is with an aquaculture setup, which means connecting a fish hatchery to a hydroponics setup. The fish and the plants thrive off of each other. This has evolved into it's own industry called aquaponics, and has proven to be a commercial success, mainly to serve as leafy plant production on top of a primarily fish producing setup. If you get sick of eating that dried corn, try feeding it to a 55-gallon barrels full of Tilapia. Tilapia has been the preferred fish stock as it will eat a wider range of things, but the temperature must be kept warm. It's possible that even in colder climates a greenhouse would provide sufficient trapped heat to keep the fish alive.

Many of these techniques can form the foundations of exciting hobbies such as model rocketry, aquaculture, hydroponics and gunsmithing. I strongly encourage you to absorb some of these hobbies in your life, if they appeal to you. [Do plenty of research, and get lots of practice,] especially when it comes to something sensitive like fish or hydroponics. Beginner's mistakes could spell the end of you if you're depending on this for your urban survival. I've opted to fortify my suburban home on a quarter acre and optimize it for survival, with over two years of food storage for me and my family to get started and enough energy to cook it. If this is all you can afford then make the most of it!

Letter Re: Making Do at a Rural Vermont Retreat

While I could wish to be west of the Mississippi, my wife and I will have to retreat where we are. My elderly parents are nearby, and my wife has made it very clear she has moved for the last time. Vermont is where we will be for the foreseeable future.

We live within a rural town of approximately 2,000 residents. We are about seven miles outside of a twin-city with a population of 28,000. We lack like-minded neighbors both in faith and preparedness. We hope our far-flung family will be able to rally here, but are realistic about their chances. Not an ideal location, but we work with what God have given us.

We own 60 acres, mostly wooded with some pasture, up and three miles out of town on a dirt road. Our home is close to the middle of the land, at the end of an 1,100 foot driveway and it is not visible from the road. The driveway could be easily blocked if necessary. We have cleared good areas around the house without giving up our privacy. We heat with any of three sources, wood, pellets, or oil. Our neighbors include a medical doctor and a nurse/midwife and two miles down the hill is a dairy farm with 400 head.

We have three spring-fed ponds, (one is stocked with trout), a deep artesian well and a developed spring with a concrete cistern. We use a small greenhouse to extend our short growing season and have apple trees and blueberry, raspberry and blackberry bushes. We can and dry fruits and veggies, I hunt and we both cook. We have about 18 months of food in storage (dehydrated, canned, frozen and grains) and expand our larder as we are able. We used to be cold weather tent- campers and have all of the equipment that goes along with that sport in both propane and white gas.
Our arsenal is varied, deep and redundant. It includes four muzzleloaders and supplies; they are hunting and hobby rifles, but they will still put food on the table or provide defense in a pinch.

We have much on our “things to do” list. Fuel storage is a problem in quantity due to permitting issues. We do have the fuel oil tank in the cellar for the tractor, but gasoline will be limited to our cans. Our only generator is small, only able to power the pellet stove, a couple of lights and a radio. We do hope to add solar in the future. Our home is not as defensible as I would like due to glass windows and doors and we lack man-power for long term survival.

We will never be as ready as want to be, but we will be as ready as we are able. Our greatest assets are Jesus and each other. - B.C.

Two Letters Re: Experience with a Shallow Well Hand Pump

Mr. Editor:
Jim W. in Indiana did a wonderful thing, he became utility independent for his water. Not to be critical but constructive, I didn’t see where he made any mention of drilling a small (1/8”) hole in his drop pipe down into the casing about five feet down, to allow for water to drain out of the top section of the pipe to avoid the water from freezing within it. One would think that Indiana might experience some below freezing temperatures. Without drilling the relief hole, one could experience some unexpected problems.

On another note that may be a tad critical, I might question the wisdom in the use of pressure treated wood anywhere near my water supply. While one may have to get some help in the construction of the base, I think a steel or aluminum base may be a more prudent and safe installation. Having said that, Congratulations to Jim! , - Fatboy

Hi James,

I'd advise the contributor of the hand pump article to separate his pump from the pressure treated lumber. I noted that he used stainless steel bolts for mounting, but if his pump is cast iron and is in contact with the PT wood he may be severely disappointed in the results in just two or three years. The current formulation for pressure treated lumber (ACQ--commonly called "copper-quat) is much more corrosive than the old chromium-arsenate formulation. I fully expect a raft of class action lawsuits after an earthquake/hurricane/tornado knocks a bunch of recently built homes off their foundations and it is discovered that all the foundation hold-downs have disintegrated. For the most part the general public is unaware of this problem, and likewise many contractors. Very few folks are opening up five year old walls to check on hardware. Some folks are coming across the problem however, and the word is starting to get out. This letter to the editor of The Journal of Light Construction (July, 2009) is consistent with my own experiences with this material.

I would advise the contributor with the pump to separate the pump (and any other metal which may be in contact at the well) from the pressure treated lumber with a piece of SST sheet metal. Alternatively, instead of using the pressure treated lumber, use Ipe wood. Ipe is becoming more readily available due to its popularity for decking material. It is so dense it will not float, and it is exceptionally durable material. However, it does require pre-drilling before you attempt to put a screw in it.

Thank you for the blog. Please keep up the good work. - Tom F.

Dear Jim,
I would like to commend you on your new book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". It has a plethora of great information and a welcome addition to my preparedness library.

As far as Internet information available for preppers, YouTube has an abundance of information ranging from food storage, weaponry, survival skills and many other topics. The videos are very useful. I would like to let everyone know that there is a simple program that they can use to download and convert YouTube videos for reference and/or storage. The YouTube Downloader enables all YouTube videos to be downloaded to your PC.

Why is it useful after TSHTF? I suspect that many of our readers will still be able to use their laptops or other handheld file storage devices even if the grid goes down using alternate power / recharging sources. The YouTube videos can be stored on your PC, i-Pod or other similar devices for future reference, or they can then be burned onto a CD or DVD for future reference. In today's digital age, even though printed reference materials are best, they are becoming obsolete.

I also wish to point out that I found the LDS Preparedness Manual available in .pdf file format that you can download and keep for future reference. This is probably one of the best reference sources regarding long-term food storage I have found. Thanks for all your hard work, - W.M.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: Number of Utah jobs created by federal stimulus 'inflated'

GG was the first of several readers to mention a recent piece by economist Nouriel Roubini: Mother of all carry trades faces an inevitable bust

Damon S. sent us this bit of gloomage: Small-Business Bankruptcy Filings Up 44% Year-over-year, Equifax Data Shows

Items from The Economatrix:

US Inflation to Appear Next in Food and Agriculture. Here is a quote from the article: "While most mainstream economists such as Nouriel Roubini are warning of deflationary threats to the U.S. economy, it is our belief that massive price inflation has already begun. The Federal Reserve's policy of massive monetary inflation in 2009 has caused the Dow Jones to bounce over 50% from its low, oil to rise 100% from its low, and gold to surge to a new all time nominal high. One NIA co-founder just saw his health insurance premium rise 16% over a year ago; and the average tuition for a four-year public college increased this year by 6.5%."

Budget Deficits Risk Dollar Collapse and Breakdown in International Trade

GAO: Full Recoup of Government Auto Investment Unlikely

Fed to Hold Rates at Record Low, But Cracks Emerge

Goldman Sachs Warn of Huge Oil, Food Price Hikes

US Businesses at Risk Over CIT Group's Bankruptcy

CIT Bankruptcy Will Cost Taxpayers Another $2.3 Billion

How Detroit Turned Into a Ghost Town

Ron Paul: Be Prepared for the Worst

Roubini: Global Markets Could Soon Crash

Grim Reality: US Not Out of Recession

Reader B.B. sent this: U.S. sees shortage of ammunition. I'm glad that I bought most of mine in the early 1990s. Back then, military surplus 7.62mm NATO ball was just $5 per box, if you shopped around.

   o o o

Damon mentioned this article in Backwoods Home magazine: Consider the 20-gauge shotgun, by Massad Ayoob

   o o o

KT flagged this: Russian sniper rifles take aim at American market

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." - Thomas Paine, December 19, 1776

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I just got word from James Talmage Stevens, the author of the book Making the Best of Basics - Family Preparedness Handbook (just greatly expanded and revised, for the 11th Edition), that he is extending the special sale price on the book, just for SurvivalBlog readers. If you wait another day, the price will go up by $5, so order your copy before midnight, tonight. (Tuesday.)

The following are the results of our recent poll of SurvivalBlog readers about favorite movies with survival and preparedness themes. Each one listed below got at least three votes:




Cast Away

Defiance This movie was based on the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec

The Edge (Available through Netflix, as a DVD and "Play it Now" streaming.)

The Flight of the Phoenix (The original version, made in 1965, starring Jimmy Stewart. The recent remake stinks.)

The Great Escape 

I Am Legend

Jeremiah Johnson 

The Matrix Series (The Matrix/ The Matrix Reloaded/ The Matrix Revolutions)  

Miracle Mile  

Never Cry Wolf  

The Outlaw Josey Wales  

Panic in Year Zero

The Patriot 

The Postman

Rambo: First Blood  

Red Dawn  

The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome


The Terminator movies (Terminator 2 is by far the best.)

There were also two votes each for these comic honorable mentions: Tremors and Blast From the Past.

Mr. Rawles,
I am a retired Army warrant officer working for the Army teaching Electronic Warfare and Signal Intelligence. I only started reading your blog last week. It's addictive, but slightly disturbing.

Having worked for the Army for 27 years in a number of different failed countries I may have a unique perspective on survival that I would like to share with your readers. I believe most of the "survivalist community" is vastly underestimating the impact that other humans are going to have on their plans. Hunkering down and waiting for everyone to die off is a simplistic plan and I believe has almost no chance of working. You may be able to hide your retreat, but you can't hide the land it sits on. That land itself may become a scarce commodity if the US transitions to an agrarian economy.

Food is the key resource. Most communities are at risk because they simply don't have enough calories stored to get them through any kind of crisis. But, storage is no more than limited capital to allow people time to grow more food. Food production requires land....if your retreat is sitting on farmable land, it will be a scarce resource.

Carrying capacity of the US using non-petroleum farming techniques is far lower than most of your readers probably think. Also, most areas of the US, especially cities, don't have anywhere near enough farm-able land to go back to some kind of agrarian pattern. Without public infrastructure and modern transportation, we are going to experience a huge die-off caused mostly by starvation. In a total collapse scenario without immediate restoration of the economy, basically everyone who lives in a city is doomed unless they can take over some kind of farm land.

If you live in an area without enough farm land, you will be a "have not". Period. I don't care how much food you have stored in your basement.

Here is my key point. These teeming millions will not just starve and go away. I believe that anyone who thinks they can defend a working farm against raiders is deluding themselves.

1. People are dangerous. They are the most dangerous animal on earth. You can never lose sight of that! In almost any society breakdown scenario you can think of, you will be surrounded by starving predators that are much more dangerous than tigers. In the USA, every one of them (or at least the vast majority) will be armed with firearms. The ones currently without firearms will obtain them by any means necessary including looting government armories. These are thinking-breathing and highly motivated enemies.

2. Raiders, defined as "outlaw looting groups" may be a threat for a very short period, but I really don't see groups of more than 4-6 ever forming...they will be quickly replaced by much larger groups of "citizens" doing essentially the same things, but much better armed and organized.

An Example: A few hours after Albania's political crisis in 1998, (which was caused by a national lottery scam), almost every adult male in the country procured an AKM from government stocks. Armories were the first targets looted. I flew into Tirana packing a pistol and a sack of money, naively thinking I would be able to move around the country and defend myself. What a laugh. Everyone had me outgunned, and the vast majority of them had military training of some sort. I never got out of the capital city. Every road seemed to have roadblocks every few miles, blocked by armed local citizens.

3. Without central authority, people don't just starve and go away. They form their own polities (governments). These polities are often organized around town or city government or local churches. They may call it a city counsel or a committee or a senate. The bottom line is, "We The People" will do whatever "We" have to do to survive. And that specifically includes taking your storage goods.

4. When (not if) a polity forms near you, you had better be part of that process. If not, you will be looked upon as a "resource" instead of a member of the community. The local polity will pass a resolution (or whatever) and "legally" confiscate your goods. If you resist, they will crush you. They will have the resources of a whole community to draw upon including weapons, vehicles, manpower, electronics, tear gas, etc. Every scrap of government owned equipment and weaponry will be used, by someone. Anyone who plans to hold out against that kind of threat is delusional.

5. The local polity that forms is almost certainly going to make mistakes. Some of them are lethal blunders. Odds are, the locals will probably not have given a lot of serious thought to facing long term survival. They will squander resources and delay implementing necessary actions (like planting more food or working together to defend a harvest). They may even decide to take in thousands of refugees from nearby cities, thereby almost insuring their own longer term starvation.

A much better approach is to be an integral part of the community and use the combined resources of the community to defend all of your resources together. This would be much easier if a high percentage of the community were like minded folks who were committed to sharing and cooperating. Because any community with food is likely going to have to somehow survive while facing even larger polities, like nearby cities, counties or even state governments. Don't expect to face a walking hoard of lightly armed, starving individuals. Expect to face a professional, determined army formed by a government of some kind.

A small farming community can probably support a few outsiders, but not very many. The community will need to politically deal with outside polities or they will face a war they can't win. Hiding the fact that you are self sufficient is going to be hard. You can't hide farm land.

Defending your resources against the nearby city will be even harder. You may be able to save the community by buying protection with surplus food...if you have prepared for that. You may indeed have to fight, but stalling that event for even a year could mean the difference between living and being overwhelmed. In any case, your community needs to go into the crisis with a plan. You may be able to shape that plan if you become a community leader instead of a "resource". With Very Kind Regards, - R.J.

JWR Replies: You've summed up some essential truths quite succinctly. Your points square nicely with the scenario in my first novel ("Patriots"). It also matches my premise of gemeinschaft kampfgeist, in the context of cohesion in the "we/they paradigm."

Mr. Rawles,
I would like to hopefully answer some questions on retreat communications.  I have been a ham radio operator since I was 11 and am the third generation of hams in my family.  I was recently asked by multiple people to help them come up with a list of equipment that they could buy to have decent communications in there planning.  These people are not hams and don’t know much about radios.  After giving it some thought I have come up with a list of things that can be purchased on today’s market that should cover basic communications needs.  I know that there are many hams out there that will disagree with this list, but they need to keep in mind that these choices aren’t for the best DX radio but are chosen for reliability, value, and ease of use. 

First I would like to mention that it is illegal to transmit on an amateur radio frequency without the proper license,  and that just having a good radio and not knowing how to use it is like having a rifle and not knowing how to load it.  No amount of high tech gear is a valuable as good knowledge.

HF TRANSCEIVER:  For a new HF radio I recommend the Alinco DX70-TH.  This is HF plus 6 meters. It doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles as some better radios but is rugged, reasonably priced, and very easy to use.  For a backup I recommend buying one of the older entry level radios such as the Yaesu FT757GX, the Icom IC-725, or the Kenwood TS-140s.  These radios can be bought used online at places like eBay or Having an All-mode general coverage receive HF transceiver lets you listen to signals from around the world and transmit on the amateur bands in an emergency.

VHF TRANSCEIVER: I recommend the Yaesu FT 2800M or FT 2900M.  Both radios are rugged, simple, easy to operate radios that you can purchase new for 150.00.  These are also the radios that 90% of amateur radio emergency responders use.  It gives general coverage receive on most of the VHF spectrum, and has a built in weather radio. 

Citizen's Band: I also suggest getting a basic CB radio.  Any of the brand name 40 channel CBs will do.  CB is one of the most common and easy to use radios available, but they are very limited.  one thing to keep in mind is that because of their ease of use, and availability they will probably be the choice of the lowest common denominator. [JWR Adds: For the beast range versatility, and a hair more security, get an SSB-capable model.]

SCANNERS: A decent scanner is also a good tool, a simple Radio Shack scanner can quickly scan a large number of frequencies saving precious time.  [JWR Adds: Be sure to get one of the later models that can demodulate trunked traffic.]

FRS:  These portable radios are a good tool for communications in a small group.  They are legal to use by any one much like a CB.  I will not mention any certain brand or model, just some features.  Make sure that they are the kind that recharges in a docking station and also use common batteries.  Also look for ones that are weather resistant.  I would have at least one of these for every member of your group. 

ANTENNAS:  I will not get into debate about why one antenna is better than another.  I will only give specific suggestions of what to get to have reliable communications.  HF antenna; an off center fed dipole for 80 meters, and the comet CHA-250B vertical.  VHF; Diamond X59A.  Scanner; Radio Shack discone antenna.  CB; Radio Shack mobile whip with ground plane kit.

ACCESSORIES:  Some needed accessories are a 12 volt 20 amp power supply [such as those made by Astron], extra batteries, and 50 ohm coax cable. 

Most of these things can be purchased at Ham Radio Outlet online, or at your local Radio Shack.  Even with this list of equipment if you can’t use them then they are useless.  Also keep in mind that all of these forms of communications are open, non-encoded transmissions, so always exercise good COMSEC.  Also, always store all radio equipment disconnected from the antenna, and in an EMP-proof container.  73s - Tim

Hello Mr. Rawles;
Recently I have seen lists recommending the storage of charcoal lighter fluid. I would like to suggest the use of a charcoal starter chimney. You will not need to use and store the lighter fluid and worry about running out of it. With the chimney all you need to store is a supply of newspaper. It takes just a sheet or two of newspaper wadded up to start the charcoal and in short order your charcoal will be ready to use. You can find the chimneys on eBay or go to the Internet and find instructions for making your own out of a large metal coffee can. We store our charcoal in a large garbage can in the garage. We store old newspapers (but not the slick pages) in a large paper grocery bag. The newspapers are good for not just the charcoal starter but can be used as mulch in the garden as well. It is hard to find the paper grocery bags now but our Kroger’s still have some. The paper grocery bags can be used to make a starter for your wood stove or fireplace. Just gather small twigs, pinecones or bark pieces in the about half of the bag and roll down the top. Place the bag under the wood and light and in no time your fire is going strong. If you don’t have a supply of paper bags and wood trash you can store fire starter sticks. We have used the “StarterLoggs” for our wood stove and now for our fireplace. We find that this brand works well and we don’t have to use the whole piece to start the fire, just maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of a stick works fine. I just bought a box of 24 for $10 at Wal-Mart. Best Regards, - Glennis

"How rare is gold? If you could gather together all the gold mined in recorded history, melt it down, and pour it into one giant cube, it would measure only about eighteen yards across! That's all the gold owned by every government on earth, plus all the gold in private hands, all the gold in rings, necklaces, chains, and gold art. That's all the gold used in tooth fillings, in electronics, in coins and bars. It's everything that exists above ground now, or since man learned to extract the metal from the earth. All of it can fit into one block the size of a single house. It would weigh about 91,000 tons - less than the amount of steel made around the world in an hour. That's rare." - Daniel M. Kehrer

Monday, November 2, 2009

I just heard that the unabridged audiobook of my novel "Patriots" read by award-winning narrator Dick Hill is scheduled for release in late December. It will be available on CD from Brilliance Audiobooks, and it can already be pre-ordered.

A few days ago, The Telegraph reported:

"An asteroid that exploded in the Earth's atmosphere with the energy of three Hiroshima bombs this month has reignited fears about our planet's defenses against space impacts. On 8 October, the rock crashed into the atmosphere above South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The asteroid was around 20 meters across and hit the Earth's atmosphere at 45,000 mph. The blast was heard by monitoring stations 10,000 miles away, according to a report by scientists at the University of Western Ontario. Scientists are concerned that it was not spotted by any telescopes, and that had it been larger it could have caused a disaster. Luckily, due to the height of the explosion - estimated at between 15 and 20 km (nine to 12 miles) above sea level - no damage was caused on the ground."

Later reports mentioned and estimated 5 to 10 meter diameter for the asteroid. Let's consider the implications of this event. If this had happened in the skies over a First World nation, or if the explosion had taken places at ground level (or near ground level, a la the 1908 Tunguska event), then there would be a huge clamor and calls for early asteroid impact prediction, and greater preparedness. But since this took place above what most consider a backwater nation, and there was no visible damage on the ground to photograph, this news story was resigned to "minor headline" status. And what if the object had been 100 meters in diameter, instead of 20?

We've previously discussed asteroids with Earth-crossing orbits--also known as Near Earth Objects (NEOs)-- and the consequences of potential impacts in SurvivalBlog.

Asteroid impacts are one of those "low likelihood but high disruption" events. The chances of one occurring in our lifetimes is relatively low, but if one were to happen, the implications would be huge. In anticipation of future asteroid impacts, here are some factors to consider:

  • An asteroid impact could cause short-term climate change that could in turn cause multi-year crop failures on a hemispheric or even global scale. This means that it would be prudent to have multiple years food storage
  • The importance of living in inland areas. Let's face it: coastal areas anywhere on earth are vulnerable to mega-tsunamis, if you factor-in the threat of asteroid impacts. Unless there is some massive intervening terrain, don't live at less than 500 feet above sea level if you must live within 25 miles of an ocean. A 300+ foot high tsunami might seem hard to imagine, but just ask an astrophysicist. It is possible, and in fact there is some geologic evidence that that mega-tsunamis have occurred in the past 6,000 years.
  • Never underestimate the implications of mass hysteria and misdirected government reaction to a crisis. News of imminent crop failures might inspire executive orders mandating the collection of "hoarded" food. Hint: This will probably include food that you started storing years ago--long before any imminent threat warning or post-incident panic buying. So I must again warn my readers that it is wise to keep a low profile about your preparations.

I have been studying the threat of asteroid impacts for many years. NEOs represent a "wild card"scenario. Since a fairly complete orbital path tracking database probably won't exist for 20+ years, this threat will remain an imponderable for the foreseeable future. Until a fully-populated database is developed, this will remain a quasi-voodoo science. The Indonesian event illustrates just how easy it is to get blind-sided. And even after we have complete tracking data, it will be decades longer before we start to proactively develop a program to "nudge" the larger NEO asteroids into safer orbits.

But again, keep in mind that this is one of those "low actuarial risk/high consequence" events. Plan accordingly.

Mr. Rawles,
I consider myself adequately prepared for whatever events that may happen in regards to a break down of society. I live out in the country and have never been one to rely on local government or social infrastructure for immediate needs. I've had too many occasions where I have had to fend for myself because of a tornado, snowstorm, flood or other event that causes disruption in services. I have a good supply of storage food from canning, dehydrating and past hunting seasons to last for a while. I've got all the hand tools necessary to keep going if it comes to that. Also have ordered from Vic at Safecastle, got some stuff from Ready Made Resources and Lehman's along with Sportsman's Guide, Cheaper Than Dirt and a bunch of other places. These are items that I may need when the SHTF. Overall, I consider myself and my family mostly self-sufficient until I consider the magnitude of life without electric power for an undetermined period of time. My biggest concern is potable water.

I have three ponds on my property, two small ones and one that is fairly large. We have a well for water and a septic for a sewer system. We have a Berkey filter system that I have used in the past when power has been out for an extended period of time to purify pond water. The way we do it is, scoop the water out of a pond in 5 gallon buckets, filter it through some T-shirts into a pot, boil the water then pour into the Berkey and after it is filtered, drop in some bleach and we have good clean drinking water. A lot of work for drinking water but an absolute necessity when faced with a prolonged period of power loss. I got to thinking a while back that there must be a better way to get drinking water than from my ponds when I have a perfectly good well.

I did some research on hand pumps for a water well and saw that it is possible to incorporate a hand pump along with my electric pump. I already have a well bucket that I got from Ready Made Resources and it works great but I felt that a hand pump would be even better. I work private security and as you can imagine business has been booming lately so I don't have much free time. I called a local water well driller and they quoted me $2,500 to install a hand pump to my well. Way too much for my taste. Another place quoted me $1,250 minimum. Still beyond my budget. I decided it was up to me to get it done.

After a ton of research, I decided to pop the cap off my well to find out the static water level in my well. It was a huge effort to get the cap off because it hadn't been off for many years. After a bunch of WD-40 I was able to get the bolts loose. Once the cap was off I sunk a rope into the well and found gratefully that the water level was only 9 feet below the well pipe (We have a high water table as you can imagine with three ponds on my property). Research showed me that a shallow well pump would pump water from a depth of 20 feet. A quick search showed that shallow pumps were within my price range. I ended up ordering a Heller-Aller Pitcher Pump from Lehman's for about $250. The pump is plumbed for a 1-1/4” drop pipe. I got the PVC drop pipe, brass couplings, foot valve and male fittings from Lowe's for about $60. The PVC pipe came in 10' sections and I got 3 pieces. I struggled putting 2 of the pieces together with couplers with help from a block of pine wood and a sledge for a total of 20' of pipe. Thinking ahead, I added a large turnbuckle with a big eyelet about 2' down the top of the pipe attached with two U-bolts that I attached a hooked tow rope to use to tie off onto a fixed object so if the pipe got away from me it wouldn't fall into the black hole of the well where I couldn't retrieve it. I'll save the extra 10' section to add when the water drops below a point my 20' section doesn't pull the water up.

With the drop pipe finished, I focused on mounting the hand pump to my well pipe. I had two sections of pressure treated 2x4 cut to 2' lengths that I bolted to the base of the pump with 5/16”x2-½ stainless bolts to stabilize the pump on my 6” well pipe. With the wood base attached to the pump I was ready.

Putting the 20' section of drop pipe down the 6” well pipe was not as bad as you may think, it only weighed about 15 pounds. I had the rope attached to the turnbuckle so I wasn't worried about dropping it. When I got the pipe into place my wife held the pump with wood base about 2 feet over the pipe so I could screw the drop pipe brass male fitting to the pump. (A note to consider – When the pump was manufactured, they sprayed the red paint onto the threads that the drop pipe screws into. If you don't remove this paint before installing – you'll never get it connected.) Once we finally got it connected, I had to prime the pump from the top while we pumped it to get the water flowing. Once the water started flowing I realized that $500 (as opposed to $1,200+) I had just spent was probably the best money I ever spent as far as my survival preparations went. The pump spout even has a notch built in to hang a bucket. What a wonderful thing.

I'm praying for your family due to your recent loss of your wife. A good friend of mine is music director at our church and his favorite song is – When We All Get to Heaven What a Day of Rejoicing It Will Be! Keep that in mind, my friend. - Jim W. in Indiana

I just met this past weekend with a group of " preparedness folk." They are on a farm about 30 miles from here. I have become interested in the subject after reading One Second After (a New York Times best seller, highly recommended!) and some writings by James Wesley, Rawles. I was surprised at who they were and the mindset I encountered. A few observations:

1) The root idea is that whether or not some disaster hits, we are far too dependent on a very fragile and tenuous energy and distribution grid. Raising your own chickens, goats, vegetables, rabbits, turkeys, pigs and cows is preferable (and more nutritious and tasty!) to standing around in a Kroger (think "post-Katrina") looking at the empty aisles.

2) They were "green" but green in a good way, and not the fashionable mindless silliness coming out of the "environmentally conscious" crowd. (Sorry if my contempt shows here)

I am talking about using a local stream to turn a box of old alternators from junked cars to produce current to charge batteries, building a steam fired boiler to run a generator, and lots of other cool ideas that are scavenged from junkyards...., including using a scrapped walk in cooler from a convenience store for a chicken coop (no insulation needed, and less heat source needed during cold weather).

3) The mark of an "advanced" society is division of labor, with the dependency on each other coming from specialization of labor being more efficient and less costly. However, we have evolved into a society of urban dwellers who produce nothing necessary for root survival needs. Cities are extremely dependent on everything being trucked in, and the ones who make the most money are the ones most efficient in distribution rather than production (think "Wal-Mart"). If that distribution system is disrupted, due to a failure of the electrical grid or a fuel supply disruption, we would be helpless. These folks recognize that.

4) I did not meet any tin foil hat folks, which surprised me. There were realtors, veterinarians, an auto parts distributor, a programmer, a cop, and a contract security guy (a "Blackwater" type, although he never worked for Xe). They were just normal folks living their lives, but concerned about the potential for future instability of a calamitous nature.

5) I was surprised at the political make-up of the group. I expected to see a bunch of rabid Republicans, fearful of antichrist Obama and the New World Order, blah, blah, blah. Rather, they were amazingly cynical of any politics, and were just as critical of Reagan (for different reasons) as Obama. Their attitude was more that of folks just trying to live their lives while being confident that their best shot at any change would come from being fiercely independent and doing what they could to remain so.

6) I was probably the biggest Bible Thumper out there. No religious zealotry at all. In my life, I have encountered a lot of religious whack jobs. I expected this crowd to be a magnet for them. It wasn't

7) I was also surprised about their attitude about guns. I expected to find a bunch of hyperventilating folks screaming out "Molon Labe!" as a password or something to enter the farm. Instead, I encountered a crowd of mostly ex-military guys who understood that guns are tools. They all hunt (mostly deer, but also squirrel, turkey, dove, and some varmints), and they all believe that they have a duty and a right to protect their families themselves and their freedoms and rights against all who would challenge them. Their attitude was that you would no more expect to defend rights and freedoms without guns than try to change a tire without a jack. Especially enlightening to me were the remarks of the contract security guy who worked security in Kosovo. Rather than sitting on his pile of weapons fervently wishing for social collapse so he could play "Rambo" or something, he just emphatically declared that if you ever lived in a society where the social order even partially breaks down, you will want to prepare for it here, but no one in his right mind would wish it.

7) The final funny observation is how close these guys are with all the ex-hippie counterculture who have moved south from Chapel Hill as the area has become completely yuppified. In fact, one of the guys there at the group was just a total stoner who had essentially moved down to smoke his own hydroponic, live cheaply, eat his own "organic" produce, and shoot, prepare, and jerk his own venison. The two types of "fringe" groups have a sort of affinity for each other, even if many other ideas are polarized apart.

The whole group of folks were not now living on the farm. There are only three families there. However, they are all affiliated with it and looking to it as a kind of resource/preparedness area in the event of:
1) a major earthquake (we sit on a huge fault line in North Carolina. I never knew that)
2) a failure of the oil distribution system
3) a major currency collapse (my bets are on this one as having the best odds)
4) a major terrorist attack on the US.
5) ..... you fill in the blank.

My wife and I are not moving down there (smile), but we are interested in some people whose ideas about simplicity and "back to nature" mirror what we would like to see ourselves. I think "survival" is an improper goal for a Christian. We are supposed to be "dead" already, having surrendered all this stuff anyway. I do think that "working with your hands so that you may have something to share with those in need" is a proper goal for myself, though. I am looking forward to interacting more with these folk.

Jeff E. suggested this: Wilbur Ross Sees ‘Huge’ Commercial Real Estate Crash

"FarmerGreen" mentioned: Harvard’s Bet on Interest Rate Rise Cost $500 Million to Exit. Even the best and brightest at Harvard lost a billion to get out of a derivatives contract that went south.

Bruiser spotted this: California to Begin Holding More of Your Paycheck. Bruiser's comment: "The lesson here is that if one needs a loan, just go out and take it from everyone who has a job. Like Commifornia is doing." [JWR Adds: My favorite quote from the article: "The state is closing part of this year's budget deficit by taking an advance on next year's tax revenues. 'It's a one-time acceleration, or on-time speeding up if you will, of tax dollars that would otherwise be collected next fiscal year.' But the state wants to make clear that the change, which has no cutoff date, is not a tax." Yeah. right. (Only someone that graduated from a California public school would believe that Bravo Sierra.]

Items from The Economatrix:

Flat Income, Weak Consumer Spending Raises Concerns

Dollar Rises Most Since April

10-Year Treasury Notes Decline Most Since May

Trillion Dollar Ticking Derivatives Time Bomb to Explode Under Bankrupt Banks

The Dollar Depends on Politicians Now

Reader Brian B. mentioned a new Internet service called GunPal opened last week which allows for the online payment of all transactions, including firearms-related commerce. (PayPal is notoriously anti-gun.) Hopefully this new service will prosper and provide a valuable resource for those requiring freedom of choice. It was founded by a group of pro-gun gents--mostly from CalGuns--and their roster of advisory board members includes fellow pro-gun blogger Oleg Volk. We should help grow GunPal -- effectively voting with our dollars. It took just five minutes for me to set up a GunPal account, and I've already added it as an option for payments for consulting, advertising payments, and voluntary Ten Cent Challenge subscriptions. Let's get the new company off to a great start!

   o o o

Bob B.: suggested this Nightline video from 2008 that you might have missed: Living the Real Simple Life. It shows how much food one family can grow on just 1/5th acre.

   o o o

"Arrggh, me buckos. Time to board that ship!" You gotta love this: The Laserlyte Pistol Bayonet. (The seller, BTW, takes GunPal payments). Take a few minutes to check out Willow Bend's more practical gun gear.)

"We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions." - Ronald Wilson Reagan 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm pleased to report that another retreat listed on property has just sold. (The "Turn-key" retreat near Sandpoint, Idaho.) Be sure to check out the many new listings, including properties in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Also, be advised that the seller of a unique underground home in Colorado has re-listed the property, at a reduced price. We are very pleased that our "spin-off" web site has been so successful in connecting retreat property buyers and sellers. If you have a property for sale that has retreat potential, then please consider advertising it on SurvivalRealty. Full description listings with photos cost just $30 per month, and we charge NO sales commissions! You keep 100% of the proceeds.

I was thinking about the "I Am Your Worst Nightmare" post as I worked in my vegetable garden, preparing it for Spring. I wonder how long it would be until the Looters evolved their strategy
to the next levels, as follows:

Looter+1: Don't kill everyone, leave some alive to loot again later.

Looter+2: Plan to scare, rather than kill, your victims, so that they can continue farming and provide for your needs later. Dead victims can't work.

Looter+3: Claim a territory and collect "protection" money/goods from the people in your territory. Tell them that in return for only taking one-third of everything they produce, you will protect them from "looters" who will take it all and kill them in the bargain. Punish anyone who holds out.

Looter+4: Call your loot taxes. You are now a government.

Regards, - Bear

JWR Replies: Your observation is astute. In many nations, there is not much difference between "the government" and the bandito "Señor Calvera." (You may remember the bandit leader in The Magnificent Seven--which was the American remake of Akira Kurosawa's classic film Seven Samurai.)

Buryl misses the point to storing coffee. Freeze dried blocks of ground coffee wrapped in aluminum foil pouches and vacuum packed is my preferred method, but I also store instant coffee crystals.

I recommend not getting addicted to coffee. I can take it or leave it. But it is a wonderful trade/barter item. Especially after six months or a year or more have gone by after the SHTF and there is no coffee to be found anywhere, a stash of coffee will be good as gold with its purchasing power. Storing jerked meats and especially honey as barter items are favorites of mine. Of course one has to be ultra careful who he trades food and ammo with. I would never trade with anyone I didn't know or not from my home area.

I also recommend stockpiling ammo, especially 22 Long Rifle (LR) ammo, because I think it will become the currency post SHTF. It is light, easily portable, and you can carry a bunch of it. If each cartridge has about the same purchasing power after the SHTF as a dollar has now. And with the scarcity of such ammo and supplies post-SHTF, I think 22 LR ammo will be worth its equivalent weight in silver. People that now can't afford to stockpile gold can still stockpile ammo, especially 22 LR ammo at 3 or 4 cents per round. - R.L.

Chris in West Virginia was the first of several readers that mentioned Glenn Beck's recent explanation of inflation, interest rates, and the history of destroyed currencies. It was a basic primer for the sheeple. I just wish he had taken a couple of minutes to explain the money multiplier effect of fractional reserve banking. Ehh! Probably too complicated for many television viewers to grasp.

The latest from Dr. Housing Bubble: Option ARMs Enter the Eye of the Hurricane: The $189 Billion Recast Problem Targeted Directly at the California Housing Market. Of $189 Billion in Securitized Option ARMs $109 Billion in California.

Norfolk Southern Railroad's profit slides as traffic remains slow. Revenues fell across all of the railroad's business segments. (Thanks to Damon for the link.)

GG noticed this piece by John Browne in The Asia Times: Inflation by Stealth

Items from The Economatrix:

Nine Banks Seized this Week, Total Up to 115. The fourth largest failure was California National Bank in Los Angeles

Are Things Really Getting Better?

New Home Sales Take Surprise Tumble

$8,000 Home Credit Still in Play Critic says government spent $43,000 for each sale that occurred because of the program

Investors Rush Back into Stocks as Economy Grows

Economy Growing But Recovery Could Be at Risk

Consumers Returning to Big Brands

Crude Prices Near $80 Again, Retail Gas Up Again JWR Adds: But wholesale inventories are very high, so expect prices to fall soon!

MetLife Posts 3Q Loss on Investment Losses

First-Time Jobless Claims Drop Less than Expected

Banks Cut Emergency Borrowing from Federal Reserve

US Economy: Consumers, Government Propel Growth; Economy Up for First in a Year

Mish: Houston is Bankrupt (As are California, Oregon, and Pension Plans in General)

Dollar, Yen Tumble as Growth in US Economy Spurs Risk Demand

Sprint Loses Nearly $500 Million in Third Quarter

Are US Treasuries About to Rally ... Or Crash?

World Markets Fall After Weak US Consumer Report

Soros on the World Financial Crisis
His message: China must be part of the New World Order

Tree house man lives off the land. I think he needs to spend less time in the hammock, and more time cutting firewood for the coming winter!

   o o o

Other news from England: Bullets used by British soldiers 'too small to defeat Taliban'. Not only is 5.56 too small, but the entire Enfield L85 (aka SA80) bullpup development and procurement program has been a foul-up from day one. I suppose that it is time to break out some L1A1s from their war reserve arsenal. That is, assuming they still have a few hundred thousand of them... There may not be that many. Many thousands of L1A1 parts kits that came into the US in the early 1990s. The rifles were sold off by the short-sighted British government. Their full-auto receivers were slagged, but thankfully all of the rest of the parts were then legal to sell in the US as surplus. (A tip of the hat to P.D. of the link.)

   o o o

Reader Ron S. suggested a great YouTube Video: From Cherry Log to Country Chair: making furniture with hand tools. BTW, every self-sufficient carpenter should own a shingle froe, a hardwood mallet ("maul"), an adze, and a draw knife. For any serious production, a home-built shaving horse (treadle woodworking clamp) is also a must.

"On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper." - 1 Corinthians 16:2

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