May 2010 Archives

Monday, May 31, 2010

Today we present the final entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends today, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for the next round. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

For a lot of survival-minded folks, gardening is one of the first, most logical steps to take toward self-sufficiency.  Most of us agree that when the Schumer hits, the thin veneer of society will be removed so fast that in weeks we won’t even remember it was once there.  Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that during hard times, a garden could become a prime target for theft, destruction, raids or other attacks. 
The most discussed hypothetical garden raids include a Golden Horde or Mutant Zombie Bikers who, like locusts would descend upon your garden and rip it to shreds, leaving nothing more than a memory and bare dirt.  For a lot of us, we imagine fighting to the death with our battle rifles.  They can have my turnips when they pry them from my cold dead fingers and such.

The second scenario is much more chilling and difficult to deal with.  This scenario is the nearly feral child or the father stealing to provide for his children.  How do you defend your garden against desperate but opportunistic feeders?  Furthermore, should you?  Obviously harming any trespasser is a savage thing to think of, much less do.  Surplus garden harvests should be doled out as charity but in a controlled manner and at the owner’s discretion. 
There is but one real solution to both of the scenarios I mentioned.  That solution I call the Five C’s.  By following all of these steps, you can take a broad-spectrum approach toward garden safety.  The garden is not advertised except to those who can help, the risk is shared when possible, and defended when all else fails with less than lethal means.  These ways allow you keep your garden safe in some passive ways that don’t require a constant guard.

—the best defense is to hide what you would otherwise need to defend. That’s not to say you don’t still defend your garden. If it’s hidden well and everyone in your cadre keeps tight lips, there is little chance that it will be found by opportunistic feeders or roving hordes.
The best way to hide your garden is to use land features. You want your garden to get plenty of sun from exposure to the southern sky (if you are in the northern hemisphere) so keep that in mind when deciding on position. Utilizing slopes is a permaculture practice. If you can find a nice south facing slope and you position garden beds down the slope (but stay away from the bottom where frost is a threat) you can potentially hide a garden in a way you could not if that garden was on the apex of that hill. The ideal position is a piece of land where the only approachable position is from the north and it would have a hill facing that direction.  The backside, which faces south, would be ideal land for a garden.  Be sure to terrace and add swales where appropriate to retain water that would normally run quickly down a hill and away from your plants. 
Permaculture can help us in another way by allowing us to use the high canopy at the edges to hide your food crops. Again, southern exposure is key but if you leave your large forest trees in place, they can hide your garden efforts from strangers.  This is a good technique for land without the hill I mentioned above.  The large canopy trees would serve as a living hill and would hide everything south.
If there is a lawn near the garden you can let the lawn grow up around the edges to keep it hidden.  In a SHTF scenario with no fuel or running mowers you may not have any choice in that matter.  You can also plant annual or perennial flowers nearby that grow tall to hide your garden.  As a welcome side effect, these flowers will sometimes bring in pollinating insects and repel bad ones.  Grow Echinacea (coneflowers) or Calendula (pot marigold) for a concealment effect and for effective herbal medicine.

—this is not the same as concealing your garden. Concealing implies that something is positioned to prevent it from being seen. Camouflage implies that the thing you want hidden is in sight but just not apparent or conspicuous.  Placing something under a rock conceals it.  Making it look like a rock camouflages it.  In areas where your garden may be seen, grow ground-hugging crops that blend in. Tomatoes are tall and produce huge red fruit that can be seen from a long distance. Save them for your inconspicuous areas where they can be concealed. Instead, plant lettuce and carrots (which produce wispy leaves). Instead of planting pole beans and climbing peas, use the bush varieties that stay close to the ground.   Root crops are great for this purpose.  They never grow much more than a foot tall.  The greens are quite nondescript while nutritious.  You can cut them at opportune times for food and then still harvest the roots (that are almost completely covered) at a later date.  Don’t plant varieties or types of plants that are colored differently from the adjacent areas. If you lawn is bright green then red rhubarb is going to stand out like a sore thumb.  Don’t grow bright yellow crookneck squash.  Instead grow dark green zucchini squash.  You can even find tomatoes or peppers that are colored differently to prevent the contrast of red fruit on green foliage. 

—this is the most obvious thing that many people overlook. A sense of community is absolutely necessary for the self-sufficient life. Gardens tend to be a feast or famine activity. Unless you are the best planner in the world and nature works for you at every step you will have huge harvests and then suddenly nothing. Share your crop when you can. You will build community and gain guards. In my industry we have a term called buy-in. If your neighbors buy-in to your garden and relish what you share they will certainly help you guard the goods or weed or water. You get the point.  Sharing converts potential thieves (not that our neighbors aren’t honorable people) into partners.
If you get your neighbors involved, the food security of the neighborhood will also increase.  They won’t have reason to steal your food if they have their own.  Plus if one person’s garden gets raided and they have the only garden then all the eggs were in that one basket. 

—this point goes along quite well with both camouflage and concealment. Your garden must be contained. This is accomplished in two ways: keeping it close to living areas and keeping it enclosed.
The first is obvious. Keep the garden as close to windows and your living areas as possible. Period.  You need to be close to your garden to provide proper care anyway.  Permaculturists call this a Zone 1 kitchen garden. 
The second is a little less obvious. Try to locate your garden in funnel areas. Make sure that if anyone wants to come into your garden they are funneled into a known route that can be watched, blocked or trapped. Utilize thorny bushes such as blackberries to close off your garden in vulnerable areas.
One bonus method: on fruit trees, prune branches so that they cannot be reached without a ladder. If you have a ladder and thieves do not, you have access and they do not. They risk being caught or injuring themselves climbing for fruit. Only desperate people will try this. If they are truly desperate then you should provide any help you can.

—when all else fails use the practice of deception. “Did you hear about old man Gregor? He shot at some carrot-nabber last week.” Spread rumors and have your community spread them as well when the opportunity seems right. Just remember, the cobra strikes as a last resort. It puffs up and folds its hood out so it doesn’t have to strike.
Most people are unprepared to defend a garden by force.  Those who are prepared will avoid it at all costs. If you learn and hone the five C’s of protecting your garden you can make sure you never have to put yourself or even others in desperate situations in which there are few or no options.

James Wesley:
The idea of using ammo as currency has been ridiculed by many. "It'll never happen." they say. "It would take an economic catastrophe for ammo to be used as money." Not so. Today some friends of my wife came over (we were moving) and asked what we had for sale. One gentleman jokingly asked if I had any ammo (.22, .223 and .308) or magazines (Ruger 10/.22 or SKS) for sale. I looked at my wife and she nodded. Okay, she knows them well enough to feel comfortable with the exchange. I don't need to sell any of it, so it's a favor to him. I agreed to get him what he needs. It's not that these items are illegal, or even expensive (although they have appreciated in value since I got them). Rather, the local stores never have any. They get it in once or twice a year and you can only get one box per person and it's all gone the same day. It's policy now for the mainland vendors not to ship here to Hawaii. We agreed on a partial sale and trade. He will bring over some venison for a big party and grill it up for us on premises [in exchange] for a few magazines and use FRNs to purchase some ammo. I told him it was all sealed up. I knew the caliber and the quantity per canister, but not necessarily whether it was hollow point or any other factors. He would have to commit to buying whatever I opened up, match grade or Wolf [brand, imported from Russia] at market prices, plus shipping. He agreed gratefully. My wife thanked me and told me I was doing them a service and that should we return, we will have additional good will to return to. If this is how it is now, imagine later? As long as the meat supply lasts, I should easily be able to trade ammo for meat with the local hunters and who knows what else. We'll be gone in a few days so the OPSEC risk is minimal (having said that, I am packing until we're gone). - Anonymous in Hawaii

Regarding livestock, I recommend long horned cattle. During the U.S. Civil War, cattle in Texas were left to fend for themselves. By the time the men came home from the end of the war there were over one million wild cattle taking care of business on their own. Many of these cattle were rounded up the next few years, making for the cattle drives north to Kansas and Missouri. If cattle are left feral and have access to water, they are pretty successful in foraging on their own. There is no comparison in maintaining cattle and goats, or sheep. Plus if you're interested in keeping beef as part of your diet, someone, most likely you, will have to do the hard work in keeping the cattle contained, pasture at optimum, and fresh water available. Or if you're ,blessed to have a nearby box canyon that is green most of the year round, drive them into it blocking the egress off. Otherwise you could develop fence rows of thick banks of thorn wood, ironwood, and various bushes as wild rose and holly to contain them. Being on a vegan or vegetarian diet after the fact of an infrastructure collapse is not my idea of well rounded diet when
we're all most likely to see our level of living return to the 1800s era, if we're lucky.

As to the horse, in the past the horse was the line between survival and death. The only Indians known for eating their horses, after they rode them to death, were the Apaches. I suspect the horse might regain his higher stature due to the fact he can be an efficient mode of transportation. Here again, the horse is a versatile animal, in what they eat. They're more likely on their own to eat not just grass/hay, but the bark off trees, and the leaves off of various bushes.The Lakota [Sioux] would go in the evenings gathering up branches broken off of trees to feed their horses if they'd been rounded up.

Containing goats would mean having fencing they cannot penetrate, and this means either having non- climb before the meltdown, or building a Mexican fence which is posts positioned immediately next to each other...lots of heavy work, and intensive in cutting hundreds of posts, digging hundreds of holes, and then setting hundreds to have a fence that can contain the goats or sheep. The cattle can be maintained as they were before the country was fenced off, by having several pastures that can be rotated year round. This way the need for hay for the cattle is not needed, although it will be necessary for the horses. I'd recommend investing in scythes as well as fencing for hay stacks.

As to chickens, that is going to be a whole other story, the game chicken is a survivor, of course it's a challenge in finding the eggs. Domesticated chickens can be kept by shutting them up at night. We free range our chickens now, they have a body guard, a Pyrenees. I believe the way the situation is handled by individuals will determine on what you have, keep, and develop. We now need, and will need when the fit hits the shan, is a can do attitude, no matter how hard the going gets. Being with like minded folks will make it more bearable, and maybe even joyous once we've adapted to the new living standards.

There are two books I recommend having and reading many times:

The Prairie Traveler: The 1859 Handbook for Westbound Pioneers by Randolph B. Marcy, Captain of the U.S. Army. Written in 1859.
Includes: Routes, First Aid, Recommended Clothing, Shelter Provisions, and much, much more. This is a daily dialogue of what was needed, and used. This book is being printed by Applewood Books, Bedford, MA. 01730

The other is Easy Game Cookery: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin.; This gives safe procedure for skinning and cooking critters listed from small game as rabbit to large game as bear with recipes. Printed by Storey Books, Pownai, Vermont,

Regards, - EMB

The following recently ran in The Daily Bell, published in Appenzell, Switzerland: Euro Crisis to Set One World Currency? (OBTW, subscriptions and RSS feeds to The Daily Bell are free. I read it often, and recommend it.)

Reader "Two Dogs" sent this interesting analysis: ObamaCare's Economic Dominoes

David R. sent us an op-ed by David Einhorn: Easy Money, Hard Truths. Here is a key quote: "According to the Bank for International Settlements, the United States’ structural deficit — the amount of our deficit adjusted for the economic cycle — has increased from 3.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2007 to 9.2 percent in 2010. This does not take into account the very large liabilities the government has taken on by socializing losses in the housing market. We have not seen the bills for bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and even more so the Federal Housing Administration, which is issuing government-guaranteed loans to non-creditworthy borrowers on terms easier than anything offered during the housing bubble."

Items from The Economatrix:

Richard Russell: This Market Has Nowhere to Go But Down

US Plays Down European Crisis But China Worried

Six New Hurdles for Home Financing

Euro Currency To Set One World Currency?

Consumers More Cautious About Spending in April

Capital Gains Tax Rise to Punish Prudent Savers

Stocks Retreat as Fitch Downgrades Spain's Debt

Clock Ticking On 100,000 Teacher Jobs

Ron Paul: Inside Sources Told Me Fed is Panicking at Mass Awakening

K.T. recommended this insightful piece over at the Western Rifle Shooters Assn. (WRSA) web page: Lessons From Lithuania

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Some of us may have watched a few too many old westerns. For those in the Cowboy Action Shooting fraternity, you've gotta check this book out from you library, or get your own copy: Packing Iron: Gun Leather of the Frontier West. The book has a whole chapter devoted to H.H. Heiser, one of my favorite gun leather makers that I discovered back in the days when I rented gun show tables.

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I've often mentioned the concept of Christian charity in my blog, but have you ever really studied it? This online book might be helpful.

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Trent H. sent this news from England: Identity cards scheme will be axed 'within 100 days'

"The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." - James Madison

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Today we present an entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Let’s all hope that the information contained within this article is never used. To put it simply, for most suburban type folks, we would be in a world of hurt if we actually had to use this information during a SHTF situation. Mitigating a basic need such as water should be at the forefront of our preparations. Since preventing ourselves from being in a situation that would require the skills I will describe is ten times better than using them. With that in mind I have also described techniques to minimize the need to utilize these skills.

If you live in or near a desert environment then preparedness is the best course of action with regards to water. Are there springs, pools, water holes, canals, or any other sources of water nearby? In this discussion nearby is a relative term. Do you plan on driving 100 miles through the desert on the interstate in a bug out situation? If so, 100 miles should be considered nearby. Plan and prepare accordingly. Be prepared to find water, when it’s over 100 degrees, with minimal disruption to your travels and your well being. Ask yourself how far you could travel, on foot, in order to obtain enough water to carry on with your task at hand. To put this in perspective, here’s a little story that goes along these lines. A close friend of mine moved to the desert. He and his wife went out for a night on the town shortly after arriving. When they decided to travel home the wife decided to drive while the husband slept in the passenger seat. The wife ended up traveling toward a distant town, which was actually in the opposite direction they needed to travel. She was driving towards the lights and ran out of gas. My friend hitchhiked towards the nearest settlement and after a few hours reached a gas station. He was able to procure a full three gallon gas can. He then hitchhiked back to his vehicle, put the three gallons into the tank and proceeded to run out of gas ten miles short of the gas station. A funny story but it transitions easily into a survival situation. Always know your limitations and prepare accordingly. Do not put yourself in a situation where you are ten miles short of the next source of water.

What does being prepared mean? The most obvious is having enough water with you to begin with. To me prepared means having in hand, or direct access to, enough water to provide one’s needs for a determined amount of time. We hear of a guideline of one gallon per day. But as with everything else in life a guideline is rarely the optimum. It will simply allow an average person to survive. If you’ve not spent time traveling across country, in the desert, when it’s hot, you may want to rethink the gallon per day idea. I know folks that could easily get by with a quarter of that amount while I actually need more. I was hiking with a friend and we both had a large quantity of water with us. We were fully hydrated but my friend started to develop heat stroke. It was quite hot and to maintain his temperature at a manageable level we had to use the water to wet him down. In that situation the amount of water we had was barely enough. I always carry as much water as is practical at the expense of other useful items. But there are a few other ways in which to prepare for desert travel. Here are some of those I have learned.

First and foremost find water prior to the emergency you are preparing for. Travel the route you are planning to use and determine where water is along your route. You may find that by doing this your route will need to be altered accordingly. Native Americans traveled based on access to water. Just as today we travel based on access to fuel for our vehicles the natives traveled based on access to fuel for their bodies which is water. Their trails were rarely in a straight line to their destination. One important resource on the road to discovery, which is often overlooked, is talking to people familiar with the area. As an example, I hiked a trail for years and did not realize that less than 100 yards off that trail was a grotto of at least a thousand gallons of water, until I hiked it with someone who knew of the grotto’s existence! No maps, contemporary or old, showed this liquid treasure trove. Is there a water distribution canal along your route? Would it be viable in an emergency? Are there livestock watering holes nearby? Would the owner allow access? A spring? Free standing pools? A seep? All of these could save your life when it’s 115 degrees out side and you find yourself without water. I would suggest looking for these areas in the fall. To illustrate, a water seep found in the spring may be dry in the late fall season. If you find water in late summer or in the fall chances are it will probably be there year round. Be aware of droughts since even those areas of water may dry up during a drought.

But there is an even better way to prepare, and people have been doing it for thousands of years. It is simply to cache a supply along your route. My friends and me sometimes hike in the desert nearby during the heat of summer. During the cooler months of the year we cache water all along the routes we travel. What better way to prepare for an emergency than to preposition water along your route? Be sure to cache more than you will need and in a usable sized container. I prefer a five gallon sized container for long term storage but know of thirty and even fifty-five gallon containers positioned throughout the desert nearby. Be sure to use a container that will survive the desert heat and no matter what the ecology folks say the common one-gallon "milk" jugs water is sold in will turn to dust quickly when exposed to the [harsh light and ] intense heat of the desert. Don’t forget about animals when hiding your water. The most dangerous of which is man. I have cached water in the most secure of places only to find that it was found by someone (or something) else. Another reason to hide much more than needed. But probably the most important thing about caching water is being able to find it when you need it. There is nothing worse than, being within fifty feet of your cache, not knowing exactly where it is. Use your GPS to mark your locations as well as a topo map. Take a picture from your cache spot of a prominent feature nearby, mark your topo with an arrow pointing in the direction of the photo then number the photo and the spot on your map. Be sure to print the photos directly and store them with your treasure map.

But let’s say Murphy’s Law has reared it’s ugly head. You have to find water to survive.

Look for signs of man in the area. A windmill, waterhole, or cistern could be nearby. Watch for smoke, fresh tracks, a well worn trail or even a trail cabin.

You can also follow washes since they eventually gather together in low areas where water would be more likely to be found. Two particular things to look for are, pools in a wash, or a canyon with steep sides (a narrow canyon is best) that is shaded from the south and west sun for much of or all of the day. Small pools of water will stay in these places the longest and water might be found just underground in a dry pool at these spots. Before drinking such water look for signs of poisoning by checking for signs of animals using the water. If you see lizard, rodent or other animal tracks leading to and from the pool, but don’t see any remains of small animals nearby, chances are the water is okay to drink. Small pockets of water may also be found in these areas between rocks. A small flexible drinking tube can be fished into these crevices and the water sucked out. Water is often located just below the surface trapped within the underlying rock layers. The key, in this regard, is to know where to dig. Water often collects beneath the surface in areas of the streambed where there are sharp bends. Dig near the outside of such bends. If you do find water it may not be in large quantities. When you dig down and find wet sand or gravel, keep scooping out this material until water gradually seeps into the hole. You can line the hole with grass or cloth to act as a filter. If there is not enough to dip out and drink you can sponge it up with a shirt or other article of clothing and squeeze it out into your mouth.

Another particular thing to always look for is vegetation. Cottonwood and sycamore trees will tap into underground water and grow quite large. These trees can be seen from quite a distance due to their size but their roots can go down 100 feet to get to that water. Two plants that have shallow root systems are a tree called desert willow (mulefat) and the desert cane. If you see them green in dry weather there is always water within a foot or so of the surface. These plants grow in washes or canyons with cottonwood and sycamore sometimes nearby. Mountain Laurel is also a good tree to look for if it is in a grove and is of a very unnatural green color and especially growing in a ravine or coming down off the side of a mountain or hill leading to a canyon bottom. Another technique near the large trees is to find rock outcroppings in the washes and to dig before after or in the bedrock outcropping. Many times the bedrock in these locations have depressions or bowls carved over time that will hold water.

Of course the best way to find water in the desert when there are few clues to vegetation is to find a good trail with lots of tracks of animals like javelina, coyote and deer. Usually these animals know where the water is and if the trail and tracks are numerous and the trail is used constantly, follow it and eventually it will lead you to the only water source in the area. Sometimes these trails go for miles but these animals need water on a daily basis so following these trails could save your life.

Also, doves and quail always go to water just before sunset and roosting for the night. Watch for flights of these birds and which direction they are flying about sundown and go in that direction. They always travel in groups to water but will return from drinking one or two at a time. So always look for groups of birds and note which direction the large groups are all traveling.

Watch for insects such as bees or flies. They do not venture far from water. Sometimes you can actually see lines of these insects flying to surface water. Bees and wasps will protect their water supply so be very careful. Approaching these locations at night, when they are dormant, would be wise.

Obviously, some desert vegetation such as certain species of cactus contains water. The barrel cactus is one example. If you can cut open the cacti to get to the pulpy inside, you can obtain some water out of them. But the structure of this cactus makes this a difficult task and the small amount of fluid you obtain almost prohibitive. Besides the spines you will also have to cut through the wooden skeleton which surrounds the pulp. Unless you have an ax the work involved would far exceed the amount of water you obtain. A cousin of the barrel cactus is far more suited to fluid recovery. It is the hedgehog cactus. With a knife you can easily cut off the top of these small cacti. Holding the top stable with your finger or a stick cut the spines and skin off like peeling a cucumber. You can then slice off a chuck. Eat the soft pulp or squeeze out the water in a bandanna. You won’t get much moisture from a cactus, it’s more like slime than water, and the taste is pretty bad. But it’s something, none the less. An even more productive part of the cactus to harvest is the fruit. Barrel, saguaro and prickly pear all produce edible fruit, which will provide juices. In fact, all cactus fruit is edible but some are not palatable. The barrel is somewhat unique since the fruit will survive for up to a year on the cacti. Another nice feature of the barrel fruit is the lack of spines. With all of the others you will have to remove the small, almost invisible prickers, by rolling them in the dirt for a bit. Cactus produce fruit in the spring and it matures into the summer so they are a viable source to look for. The taste is usually tart and the texture is rather slimy. Another technique is to place many small pieces of edible cactus into a plastic bag, place it in the sun, and let moisture collect inside. Obviously, the bags of cactus pulp are also transportable.

Animals, reptiles, and insects are another source of water. Of course the water is a part of the creature so is not easily obtained. Sucking the blood of a rabbit or chewing the abdomen of a tarantula may not sound appealing but could allow you to survive if you could handle the experience. Many folks could not and it possibly could cost them their lives. Having never done this I doubt I could get far with a large spider but I could chew on a raw rabbit.

Another possibility for very short term survival is your own urine. If you absolutely have to you could drink your urine to survive. But there is a trick to it. You have to drink it immediately, you cannot carry it in a canteen for later use. The natural bacteria will overcome the ammonia very quickly and become toxic in an hour or so. Urine as it is passed from the body is 100% sterile and if drank within a few minutes contains no bacteria and other than a bad ammonia taste and a mild upsetting of the stomach, will keep you going for another day.

The most important thing to remember if you are in a desert without water is to not give up. Don’t die of thirst when water may be just a few meters beneath your feet or nearby in a hidden rock outcrop. If there are animals and plants living in the desert in which you are located, then there is water as well, if you know how to find it.

I have recently been viewing a show on Netflix [via "Watch Instantly", on-line] that I believe contains information your readers would be interested in. The show is called, "Special Ops Mission." It is a war game show filmed part, "Survivorman," style, and part film crew. A lone operator is given a couple objectives and a four man enemy team (and time limits) to compete against. The weapons are real, but firing simunitions. Both parties talk about the tactics they employ, tactics they wouldn't use, and some of their thought processes in their decisions. There is much food for thought, to put it short.

Thanks for all you do. - C.B. in Albemarle Co.

Brian B. mentioned this commentary by Robert Prechter: Gold Correction Factors, Hidden Dollar Swap Hammer.

Signs of the times: Wait grows longer for Rhode Island tax refunds

My old friend Fred The Valmetmeister wrote: "It looks like some of us will be paying a lot more tax next year - [in all] more than 50 percent [income tax]. The 35 percent [Federal income tax] rate goes back to 39.6 percent next year, plus state income tax (6.9 percent in my state) plus 3.8 percent to cover the new health care that just passed. I find it amazing that dividends will be taxed like ordinary income; that will get all the old people; it'll get the ones who voted for BHO and they thought that only 'the rich' would have to pay..."

Items from The Economatrix:

Debt Level, Spending Pose Risk to U.S.'s Aaa Credit Rating, Moody's Says

Greek Scramble for Physical Brings Gold Price to $1,700 Per Ounce

Big Brother's Lock on Your Money is Complete

Stocks Close Out Their Worst Month in Over a Year

K. in Montana forwarded a link to the Livin' The Dream blog: Preparedness Apologetics.

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Chad S. spotted this on a North Dakota State University web site: Preservation of Game Meats and Fish

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Lest we dwell too much on heaven and not the alternative, Hank D. suggested reading some sermons on hell.

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Senate Takes Up "Emergency" War Bill Despite Obama Pledge to End Practice

"So teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom.." - Psalm 90:12 (KJV)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most of us that live in the post-modern era have undoubtedly heard the term “carbon footprint.” This is a term that has come to the forefront of most of our daily lives due to a streamlined and tenacious push to increase the green mentality. We have seen posters, commercials, testimonials, political rants and even legislation on this topic. The idea is to keep your impact on your local environment small so that you minimally affect the “worsening global condition.” I will not go on any type of tirade about how those that impose these ideas don’t follow it themselves (multiple houses, vehicles, wasted finances, etc.) On the surface this sounds like a sound idea and in principle we should do our best to take care of what we have been given. I believe that our Creator mandates this; “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:27.

So as much as we should aim to reduce our carbon footprint in the sight of men we should more-so reduce our carbon-copy footprint. I can safely say that all reading this have probably seen, read, or heard about what transpired in Michigan a few months ago involving militia, guns, “questionable ideals”, and the web site YouTube. I am not saying anything about the people or their ideas/plans, nor am I saying if I feel this may have some Hollywood influence or be somewhat reminiscent of what took place in a particular small town in Texas. What I am saying is that regardless of what transpired we should learn from what happened there and not make the same mistakes ourselves. We should not make ourselves to have a “Carbon-Copy Footprint” of somebody else and make their mistakes. For some reason it seems that the average person lives to relish in the glory of their own accomplishments or resources. This has become more evident as technology allows for us to follow the lives of average (term used loosely) Americans. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. make contact and information sharing almost instantaneous and impersonal. If you go on YouTube and look for “gun” or “shooting” you may find more videos than you could possibly watch in a lifetime of people flaunting their weapons and making untactful expressions of themselves. I fear this is a learned experience but can attribute almost every video that I have watched to one very common humanistic flaw, Pride. A wise Proverb holds true: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” This certainly proved to be the case in Michigan. A good portion of the investigation was done online through video and commentary analysis. An entire case was built off what they said/did through their computers.

Most of us can agree that the idea of being a survivalist does not appeal to the masses that live comfortably in a four bedroom 2 bathroom house with a flat screen in almost every room. (Not excluding myself here). Subsequently if it does not appeal to the masses it most certainly does not appeal to those that “serve” these masses. The idea of modern democracy is don’t rock the boat and point out those that do so. We live in an age of information and security, both of which are very subject to outside influence. I recently read that Facebook was in the midst of discussions with groups like the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and the infamous Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Duct tape an (inside joke most will get.) If you don’t believe me, then just as Rabbi Google by searching for the above key words. I am not here to spread paranoia and fear or start some anti-government movement. All as I am saying is to be aware of your surroundings an act accordingly. For example, I work as a Civilian contractor for one of the military installations in my area. I love to do research on survival technique, weaponry, food storage, etc. and read a certain novel twice through on my down time at work. But it took someone pointing out to me, my beloved wife, that I was not acting responsible or being aware of where I was and the implications such actions could have on my employment or security. It goes without mentioning that this all happened around the time of the Fort Hood incident and has not happened since I received reproof.

Most people reading this probably have, at least to some degree, their beans, bullets, and band-aids stored within arms reach and safe. Even though common sense would suggest that this is wise I have read where this could be deemed Un-American, hoarding, and in a loosely defined Patriot Act, Terrorism. There are probably very few of us that leave our stores and supplies out in the open for all to see, right? Or do we? It is easy to say “I don’t talk to anyone that does not need to know about what I am planning.” Even though you may not speak openly around family or friends, in some cases it is easy to infer what your plans are based on what you type or post on the internet. This brings us to the next defined term, Operational Security. In layman terms this is defined as the ability not to be detected or found out. It may be one of the few things that if you loose you can not get back, or at least not back in the same state as you created it. It seems funny that some people will go to great lengths to camouflage their guns, clothing, cars, gear, dogs, houses, etc but will speak openly into cyberspace about the very thing they are trying to conceal.

I am not the type of person to say that I was not immune to the fad that is Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube. Nor would I ever try to advise or warn someone on something that I did not experience for myself firsthand. I used to spend hours on Facebook giving updates about my life and throwing out my two cents which is fine if you feel the need to do that. But what became a survivalist’s no-no was in the videos or pictures that I had posted. I have been an avid shooter and love going to the range with my wife and friends. (My wife is quick to tell you that she is a better shot and figuratively descendant of one Mrs. Oakley.) Again nothing wrong with that. What was the problem was that I had the pictures of what we were doing plastered all over my sites. I had pictures with our pastors joining us taking shots at human silhouettes and sporting some pretty heavy firepower. For any of those people who are involved in a religious organization I would advise to not place any physical ties between your place of meeting, the people involved, and any type of weapons training or firearms. Think Waco, Texas, and think how it is going to be perceived by those trained to spot “religious extremism” even in the most mundane acts. In other words don’t advertise a day at the range during fellowship service. I only say this because I have seen it happen many times first hand. Without thinking we also had pictures of out of town friends shooting weapons not legal in all the states they may have resided in.  I placed myself and all those around me at risk. For all the preparedness that I thought I had undertaken, I broke one of the cardinal rules that could have made it all worthless. I compromised the operational security of myself, my family, and those in our group unknowingly. I let my pride say, I am a man, I have a rifle, and the world wants to see me use it. Don’t fall into that trap as I did.

Since then I have deleted my Facebook page, I don’t post on YouTube, and have become an Internet nobody. That works for me. I am not telling everyone to run out and delete their accounts or that you are putting unnecessary risk on yourself, I am saying to think before you act, post, speak, Twitter, blog, etc. All the planning and equipment will be useless if you loose the initiative and make yourself a target. I chose to write on this after much thought, consideration, and prayer. I read some of the older posts and realize there is probably not much that I can provide that has not already been discussed or written about in regards to materials and equipment. I try to make myself a student of common sense and point out things that some people often overlook. Alas, you ask, what is the point of all this? Why should I care about what I say or post on YouTube or the Internet? Or sometimes worse, what other people post about you on the Internet. The answer is, it just may be a culmination of your pride before the coming destruction. May you seek the face of the One that formed you. In Christ, - Matthew S.

The recent submission by K. in Florida left me scratching my head in disbelief. I don't know if his wife thinks shaving her legs after TEOTWAWKI will be important, but I absolutely don't intend to shave mine. Nor do I think spare car parts will be important. Folks are thinking in terms of Pre-TEOTWAWKI rather than Post-TEOTWAWKI. This way of thinking is just plain wrong, IMHO. Let's face it, we can only imagine how things will be. We don't know how things will be. But I seriously doubt that anybody will be needing replacement parts for his car -- because there won't be any place worth going. And if there was a place worth going, it might not be smart to drive there. Odds are that stores will be looted and trashed almost immediately, so a trip to town for supplies could become a ride into barbarism on a grand scale. Better to stay away. Besides, there will be plenty of abandoned cars for the taking, no replacement parts needed and nobody to respond to the car alarm..

Anybody trying to maintain cattle after the fall of Western Civilization will be greatly disappointed, I suspect. Cattle are a lot of work under the best of conditions. They don't do well if left to their own devices, and they need supplements to maintain their health. Who will have adequate time and materials to maintain a healthy herd after all hell breaks loose? Perhaps goats would be more practical. They'll eat almost anything and they don't need a lot of care. Goats can be milked, hitched to carts for transporting small loads, and they make lots of noise when danger comes around. Plus, they can be stewed, fried, baked, and barbequed. Their hides can be made into gloves, moccasins, and knapsacks. In the US, rather than raising cows (or sheep), raising native animals seems like a no-brainer. The American bison or the Rocky Mountain Elk have a better chance of living off the land, and they are far less subject to predation when fully grown. Many elk herds are already raised on mini-ranches in Idaho. Even California has a few privately owned bison ranches. These animals are being raising domestically today, so it isn't a stretch to think they can be raised by survivalists tomorrow. [JWR Adds: The fencing requirements for elk and bison are tremendous, compared to cattle, sheep, or goats. Therefore, it is not realistic for most of us to be able to afford to fence a true pasture area for these critters. And supplemental feeding with hay brings with its own large set of requirements--a hay mower, hay wagon, hay storage, tack ,harness, and trained draft animals, (or fuel)!] Think about the native fauna that inhabits your area and study their needs. Then develop a plan for raising them if commercially available today. Bobwhite quail, grouse, and turkeys can be penned and raised for food. Since they're indigenous species, they'll thrive in their own environments. They are available from breeders who will ship them anywhere it's legal to do so. Even some non-native fowl do well in the US and they make good eats -- chukar, pheasant, Guinea fowl, and pea fowl. Pea fowl are terrific as alarm animals and as Sunday supper. Guinea fowl had been a staple farmyard species as recently as the 1950s. They have regained some popularity in the past 10 years where Lyme Disease is prevalent because they eat adult ticks, among other pests. I'd think of these bird species before I'd think of chickens because they have better survival instincts.

Successful hunting and fishing forays are not sure things today. Expecting to have success at hunting and fishing when everybody else has the same idea will be even less productive tomorrow. The most numerous animals in the USA today are domestic dogs and cats. Their populations far exceed whitetail deer, black bears, and feral pigs combined. And they breed more often and more successfully than the aforementioned species. So, doesn't it seem far more logical to plan on trapping, snaring, and/or shooting feral dogs and cats for fresh meat rather than on taking wild game? As long as they weren't your family pets, it shouldn't bother you to snuff 'em and stuff 'em. A dog gone feral can be a dangerous animal. Better to eat it before it eats your child. Feral cats will decimate many native species of small game and birds if humans don't decimate them first. Keep your pet cat as a mouser for the barn, but don't hesitate to view the neighbors' cats-gone-wild as lunch.

We have been taught through PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, and other groups that eating horse meat is akin to eating something sacred or even a part of the family. Balderdash! Horse meat kept many a Native American, trailblazer, and westward pioneer alive and strong 150 years ago. A person can ride a horse, eat a horse, and use a horse for burden work. Horses need attention, but they are more versatile than cattle. Think outside the box, there is more to flesh than cows and sheep. There are goats, horses, dogs, cats, rats, snakehead fish, and even exotic animals that morons have released into the environment when they grew tired of them. Throw a reticulated python or boa constrictor on the grill and chow down.

The most difficult thing to wrap our minds around is that The End of the World As We Know It is just that - the end of the old and the beginning of the next. We must stop thinking in ways that mimic today and we must start thinking in ways that anticipate the new reality. We have to think about getting back to basics, about dropping the emotional attachments we have to things and animals, and about making do with less. We can't take it with us if it means slowing us down, jeopardizing our safety, or wearing us out trying to defend it.

In TEOTWAWKI, less may actually be more. After all, civilization began with a dull rock and a sharp rock - one for smashing and one for cutting. That's all we really need to start again, and that may be all we can salvage. Don't let our relatively comfortable lives of today control our thinking about tomorrow. We must think more like the Indians, the pioneers, and the mountain men did. In other words, Keep It Simple Survivalist (KISS). To think otherwise may be our undoing. - Wry Catcher in Northern California

Craig S. spotted this bit of chartistry: Dollar Primed for Collapse by End June. Yes, the US Dollar is presently artificially strong. But we are looking at a study of relative weaknesses. All the major fiat currencies are in a race to the bottom. Don't make the foolish mistake of swapping from one un-back currency into another. Instead, swap into tangibles!

Brian B. and Jon M. were the first of several readers who sent this: US money supply plunges at 1930s pace as Obama eyes fresh stimulus. The money multiplier effect works in reverse, as credit collapses. But at some point the huge waves of stimulus spending will be financed by monetization, and that will be hugely inflationary. Be ready for a rapid transition from deflation to inflation, possibly as soon as late 2010 or early 2011.

Stocks on Track for Worst May Since 1962. (Thanks to Brian B. for the link.)

S.M. sent these last three links: Home Sales Set to Plummet in Markets Hit Hard by Foreclosures

Three Florida Banks Closed May 28, 2010

Spain Loses its AAA Credit Rating at Fitch Amid Debt Struggles

Items from The Economatrix:

Double-Dip Fears Over Worldwide Credit Stress

Collapse of Euro Would Open Door to Democracy

Eric Sprott on Financial Farcism

Inflation, Money Supply, GDP, Unemployment and the Dollar

Dysfunctional Markets that Change Every Hour

Slow-Motion Recovery Keeps Unemployment High

Mortgage Rates are Back Near Record Low

Here at the Rawles Ranch, and in our vehicles, we've standardized with Anderson Power Pole connectors for all of our 12 VDC radios and accessories. We mostly use their 30A Power Pole Connectors. These genderless connectors have been adopted by most Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) organizations and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARE ) organizations. They are vastly superior to the bulky "cigarette lighter plug" connectors, which have a bad habit of popping loose, unexpectedly. In our experience, one good source of Anderson Power Pole connectors, cables, and adapters is Aand another good source is Quicksilver Radio Products.

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DARPA’s Super Sniper Scopes in Shooters’ Hands by 2011. OBTW, the article mentions that British army sniper has earned a place in military history by killing two Taliban machine gunners from more than a mile and a half away.

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Susan H. flagged this: Millions face hunger in arid belt of Africa

"There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, Are our poor, modest humble and thankful? And do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burden? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them." - Benjamin Franklin

Friday, May 28, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

So since the balance of power change in the Federal Government I thought I was sitting pretty good for my ability to survive a possible TEOTWAWKI . Man was I so wrong. I have learned in the past three months that I am so far behind that if The Collapse happens in 20 years I will still not be as prepared as I thought I was.

Yes I have some basics and am a bit off of the beaten path, but there is still so much more that I am not ready for. Let me explain. I have lived in Hurricane Alley my entire life and have always made sure I and my family could get by for up to a week on our own. But, after meeting a few survivalists and reviewing their plans, be it G.O.O.D. or hunker down, I see how woefully unprepared I am. I have bullets band aids and some beans, but not enough. So I thought I would write about where to go from here. And list the things that I know I should have when or if the Schumer Hits the Fan.

First off, I have 10 acres of land most wooded with yellow pine and some white oak. It has a pond that is fed by a small spring. Briers grow just fine so I have blackberries in the summer along with plenty of wild blueberry trees. But, no much in the way of a garden plot. Not that it matters much as I have a hard time getting ordinary grass to grow. So the first thing I need to do is learn how to grow a garden.

Hunting is not much of a hobby for me but I can do it and am able to access plenty of deer and wild boar on and near my property so I should be set there. The pond has a few catfish and bream in it so I will be able to supplement there. The current plan is to continue to stock the pond and feed the fish as time passes. I am thinking of buying a few cattle and letting them graze on unused areas of my property. I can do that with minimal cross fencing and a place for them to get shelter. This would be an easy thing to do as except for the cows I have that stuff already to take care of the shelter and fencing.  The biggest problem is keeping them in water so I would have to grant access to the pod for them after The Collapse. Now I do have a place to clean any animals that I kill and can do it so I should be fine there. I would recommend anyone reading this to learn how to do it themselves if they do not know how. This can be a skill easily learned by even the youngest of children so get on it if you have not yet done so.

I have a small stock of barter goods and am adding to them every chance I get. I have learned that the internet is a valuable resource in this respect. I posted a few well placed wanted ads on Craig’s list and got a supply chain started. Also registering with storage shed companies so I can attend their abandoned property auctions helps too. The stuff I do not want or need goes to a flea market to recoup losses or to local charities to help out there. I have further found several other auction sites that sell off surplus government items and bid there as well for items I want. I missed out on an entire pallet of MREs by just a few dollars on one site. The special thing about those ones were that they are the ones not for military use so they are quite a bit more appetizing for delicate palettes. That reminds me. If you have kids. Open up a pack of MREs. Treat it like a prize pack from a box of Cracker Jacks. My 10 year old daughter loves eating them now. When she first heard my buddy and me talking about them she was less than thrilled. Now she asks to take one for lunch at school every so often. How cool is that?

Now for vehicles. I have a diesel powered Chevy four wheel drive one ton.  The drawback there is it is a 1994 so it has the electronic injector pump. They furthermore have a reputation for snapping crankshafts. I am looking to get an extra motor to store for it and an extra fuel pump drive module. I would seriously recommend finding older vehicles as proposed in "Patriots" (by Mr. Rawles). I have a 1986 Dodge Ramcharger that was my previous [primary] vehicle and I am extremely capable of any repairs that it may need in the future. Stock pile extra belts, hoses, starters, alternators, ignition coils, voltage regulators, water pumps, antifreeze (for colder climates), oil, transmission fluid, wiper blades (you only have to see to drive so you can expand their use time) and the other such items for future repairs. This thought was with me because of my “day job.” It is important to new preppers to think of such things. Whatever vehicles you own get at least a Chilton’s Repair manual, but preferably a Factory Service Manual. No, do not get the ones on compact disc for your computer. How would you propose accessing it post Collapse? They can be found with ease on eBay for around $50 to $100 each. Tools are not an issue for me since my hobby is wrenching on cars. But, for newbies … get a good set of Craftsman, Matco, or Snap-On tool kit. You need sockets, wrenches, ratchets, Allen tools, screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, pipe wrenches, sand paper, emery cloth,  floor jack, jack stands, engine lifting device (a tree limb and a come along will get the job done), chains, the list is almost endless.  Duct tape, rolls of wire, electrical tape and connecters would be things to have also. I now think a different way. Just think about anything you buy. Ask yourself the following question; “What if there was no way to ever get another one of these ever again?” Get extras if you can for future bartering and charity. That goes without saying on most things we are looking to have. Want to save money on this stuff? Go to flea markets, estate sales, yard sales, auctions, etc to get them.

More on tools; now that I think about it. Edged items for one example.   You need knives, axes, razors, scissors, etc. Do you know how to sharpen them? I do. Be sure you have the equipment to do it by hand. You need files, whet stones and leather strops to do a decent job. Remember that you are wearing away the metal so you need extras of the edged items. I also have several multi-tool items. I got them at Dick’s Sporting Good Stores when they were having a clearance sale one day. Remember that certain knives are for certain jobs. A fillet knife is not a butcher knife. Try to buy knives that are multi-use items instead of specialty items. Leave out ones like paring knives for an example. Are you really going to be making display boats out of watermelons? I think most likely not after The Collapse. 

Personal hygiene stuff. I just got done shaving and realized; am I going to grow a beard after The Collapse? I have to get stuff put away. Then I thought what about my wife and daughter? Are they never going to shave their legs again? I need more stuff. Razors, shaving cream, tampons, tweezers, nail clippers, small scissors, emery boards, tissues, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, detergent (for clothes), etc. Speaking of clothes, can you sew? I mean with a needle and thread not a machine. See a new skill you might need. How are you set for clothes in the future? I know I need to buy more BDUs (even though I wear them at work I need more). There is another article on this so I will not drag into it. Except to say: are you going to wear something or nothing? Don’t forget the adults are probably going to lose weight and the kids are going to grow up. Hold onto your old stuff so they can wear it in the future.

These plans are all assuming I can defend my current position and not have to bug out. I really do not have any place to bug out to, to be honest. Not that I am complaining. The resistance has to have many fronts to be successful.  But, I have to get on it about defensive plans of my area in case the horde does come. I tend to think the biggest problem at least locally will be from groups of young gangs to start with. My neighbors and I should be able to fend that off. But if it becomes “The Road Warrior” type of hordes then we will probably have issues. So I need a good perimeter fence. I am thinking like 15 feet high with barb wire and razor wire rolls at a minimum. The fortunate thing is the few access points I have can easily become overgrown with foliage in a summer. However I do have a pair of driveways from the right of way that are difficult to manage due to the geography and mostly rolling type gates would be the only reasonable solution, until The Collapse occurs. At that point I can disable the driveways manually (i.e. Dig them up with a shovel). There is so much to do.

This is a short list of stuff I am working on now. And there are probably two more articles I could type without even trying hard. For example fresh food storage and cooking is a pair of topics that come to mind. So I strongly recommend that if you are just getting started to do all you can as quietly as you can. Because I certainly did not realize how clueless I was until I discovered others who are prepared.

I have been reading the novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen. I just finished it. Whew, what a heavy book. I decided to write it up as a "lessons learned" book review. A couple of you may be wondering why I sent this to you. Well, I just thought of you and know you to be like-minded ... I think. That is, concerned about what the future holds for us as a nation, as crazy and uncertain as things are getting in the world. I've been following the elctromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat for a couple of years now and regrettably, just now made myself purchase my own copy of this novel and read it.

My initial reaction, to get to the point, is that it is my hope is that each of you will buy a copy of this novel for your own personal libraries. It should go on the "Mandatory Reading" list, right next to "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" , by James Rawles.

EMP is a very real threat, as is the threat of a major economic collapse, as addressed in Rawles' novel, "Patriots".

Since I expect most all of you will acquire your own copy, I'll spare the commentary of the characters' specific experiences, and get to what I gleaned as "lessons learned." I'd love to hear feedback from each of you and know your thoughts.

This is an insightful, well-thought-out and researched novel. Dr. Forstchen is extremely knowledgeable and is a respected subject-matter expert on the topic of EMP and has a web site dedicated to his research.

Also, consider checking out this video. There are lots of videos of interviews with Dr. Forstchen

Also, separate from the book and author, this piece on future weapons.

In my opinion, this author has a keen sense of human behavior, especially in stressful and traumatic situations; an acute sense of the sociological implications of an event such as an EMP attack. I think that he is extremely accurate in his assessment of what our culture could be reduced to in the event of this type of catastrophic event. The novel gives one a lot of food for thought regarding steps that could be taken to lessen the blow of such an event ... at least, on a personal/family level.

Lesson 1: Never, ever, ever, if you have any choice at all become a refugee. Do everything within your power not to let your family become refugees. Remember the television series, Jericho? But we've seen it real world, in Sudan, Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Hurricane Katrina, and as far back as WWII, through Korea, Vietnam, and on and on. If you think you've got it bad in your hometown or neighborhood, you should count yourself lucky to have one (home or neighborhood).

Lesson 2: Have enough supplies stored up to last you and your family one year. That means food, water treatment capability, first-aid/medical supplies, toilet paper, .22 ammo, etc. Do not depend upon wild game (deer, elk, grouse, squirrel, etc.) in your survival plan. In a serious situation, such as described in this novel, 30,000 other people are going to have the same secret idea, and there will be no wild game to be had, and in short order.

Lesson 3: Be able to produce your own food when your food stores run out. Seeds, saws and knives for dressing game, chickens, rabbits, etc. The supplies are there to last until you can start producing your own. Be able to preserve it, as well. Learn about canning and preserving and stock up on the supplies.

Lesson 4: Security: Be able to defend your family if you have to. The ol' lever action .30-30 is great for knocking down a deer. But have something serious on hand. Perhaps one of those kinds of firearms that make the uninitiated ask, "why would a civilian ever have a use for something like that?" Because when you do need something like that, there is no substitute. And then pray you never have use for it.

Lesson 5: Security 2: If you think you can make it on your own in a TEOTWAWKI situation, you and your family will die. That simple. The exception is some family living remotely in a valley in Alaska somewhere. Otherwise, better start figuring out now who you might want to band together with ... friends, family, etc.

Lesson 6: Keep a survival kit in your vehicle. If for some reason you have to abandon your vehicle to get home, have the supplies to get there fast. Don't forget loose, non-descript clothing and comfortable shoes. Food, water, shelter, tools, and a weapon of some sort. You can go to YouTube and look up keywords such as G.O.O.D. Bag, Bugout Kit, Urban Survival Kit, etc.

Lesson 7: As with many natural disasters in the past, and a worst-case scenario such as an EMP attack, computer banking systems go down and cash transactions will be the only transactions. Have cash on you at all times. At least $100 in small bills. ($1's, $5's, $10's, and a $20 bill or two.) Never bring it all out at once. Make it appear that it's the last of your money. If you know something bad went down, and you are safely able to, make a B-line for the store and stock up on perishable items that you couldn't stock up on much, such as cooking oil, brown sugar, batteries, gasoline, medications, etc. Make a list of "grab from the store" items now. Purchase those items in the first minutes or hours while everyone else is still dumbfounded and trying to figure out what just happened.

Lesson 8: Try to protect electronic equipment now. Even if you purchase a couple of FRS radios just to stash away. A short-wave radio, a ham radio transceiver, or a scanner, etc. There is a ton of information out there about EMP hardening, such as Faraday cages to protect electronics from EMP. Those with communications will have huge advantages over those who do not. Do you have an old ([early] 1970s or earlier) car, motorcycle, mo-ped, etc. that does not have electronics built into it? Hang on to it, or get it running and stash it away. Mobility would be a valuable resource.

Lesson 9: Have a safe place to go to. If you have family or friends with property, or know someone who lives a self-reliant lifestyle, develop that relationship and learn from them. More importantly, it would be better if they would allow you to come there and use it as a sanctuary location if things got that bad. But be prepared to take care of yourself and them as well. In other words, bring something of value to the table. Don't be a leech. The best bet is to have a huge store of supplies already there, just in case. Rawles' novel "Patriots", covers that in great detail.

Lesson 10: Learn! We all agree that things are getting volatile; in the world, in our country, economically, strategically, politically, socially. Get rid of distractions, such as television, sports, entertainment, and self-indulgence. At least for a season, prepare to be self-sufficient. Then, go back to all your "fun" stuff. Learn how to take care of yourself and your family if (when) things get worse.

It's estimated that 90% of the US population would die within a year if we were struck by an EMP. This is a very real threat. I know it seems like something out of a Stephen King novel. And although Forstchen's novel is fictional, he simply took a real town, with fictional characters, and wove a story around the real threat of EMP with uncanny insight into the social effects of such an event.

Our enemies have been working on such a weapon for a long time. This already exists, by the way. This isn't something "being developed." It has been developed! What's more is that very similar effects come from the sun in the form of solar flares. It happened in the mid-1800s, but the extent of the damage was limited to telegraph lines bursting into flames. We weren't living in a vulnerable electronic age, as we are now. Scientists are monitoring the sun and claim that we are over due for this type of solar activity. Some scientists assess that similar EMP-producing solar flares are highly probable, and expected in 2012. How they know that, I haven't a clue. But it might be worth watching closer.

NASA Warns Of Super Solar Storm 2012

2012 may bring the “perfect storm” – solar flares, systems collapse

I don't get all caught up in the 2012 hype garbage. If anything happens in 2012, it is coincidental, in my opinion. Everything will happen in the Lord's timing, and if He decides to end it all in 2011, 2012, or 4015, then that's when it will happen. Until His Word reveals something different, and I can't find it anywhere in the Bible, there's no specific date given the end of the world, or his return, or armageddon, etc. I think the Lord let's up come up with our little date formulas just to confound us. We'll all be surprised when He comes. And make no mistake about it, He is coming. Until then we need to be ready to defend the defenseless and provide for the needy when danger comes.

As far as I'm concerned, my children are at the top of the needy and defenseless list, by the way. In the novel, One Second After, it was amazing how many people were unprepared to take care of themselves. To position themselves in their preparations and lifestyles ahead of time. To not become victims, refugees, and casualties. Of course, the author wrote it that way to highlight the point that not being prepared has catastrophic consequences. Still, amazing.

The novel did a great job of bringing awareness to the reader about this real threat, and in such a way as to (I hope) motivate the reader to action. Toward self-reliance in a proactive way. It was a stark contrast to Rawles' Patriots, which followed a couple groups of characters through TEOTWAWKI who had prepared in advance, who did not become refugees and didn't need to, because they took action ahead of time. There were definitely some strong parallels between the novels though, in regard to a societal collapse and the cultural effects and personal triumph and tragedy that would be inevitable in either scenario.

It's a must-read and although a fast read it is insightful. For those of you who have already read it, and for those of you who are about to, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'd be happy to pass them along to the others as well, for everyone's benefit. God Bless, - Jack R.

CPT Rawles:
While there are many potential methods to emplacing a cache of supplies, I wanted to provide some insight into a very simple but very effective cache method that I have saw during a recent deployment to Afghanistan.

Most Afghans rely on the karez system for getting water for survival and watering plants. For an aerial view of what the karez system looks like, look at Michael Yon’s photo essay on water in Afghanistan. The lines of holes dug in the ground are the karez system. Some of these tunnels are very deep in order to get to the water. The Russians, unfortunately, did a very effective job of destroying karez systems during the denial phase of their war in Afghanistan. Fortunately, the Afghans are extremely resourceful, and have rebuilt many of the systems.

When one goes down into a hole, at the bottom there is a tunnel with water flowing through it. The tunnel becomes so small that a Soldier will have to remove all of his gear except his clothing. Armed with only a Beretta M9 and a flashlight, our great Soldiers go into these tunnels to clear them like the tunnel rats of Viet Nam. While clearing the tunnels, our Soldiers found that the tunnels often expanded into underground rooms with caches in them. We frequently found drugs and weapons cached in these underground caverns. Interestingly, the weapons were not rusted by the high humidity or dirty though it was impossible to get them into the underground cavern without submerging them in the muddy water.

The Afghan solution for extremely simple and cheap caches was to use an old [truck] tire tube like those that some Americans tube down rivers in. Cut the tube all the way through, which creates an open rubber tube. Fold one end over in a gooseneck fashion, and tie it off. Insert your supplies in the open end. Once loaded, fold the open end in a gooseneck fashion and tie it off. Once in the tube with both ends tied off, the equipment is protected from dirt and moisture. - W.J.

SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate George Gordon ("G.G") flagged this article by veteran prepper/economist Howard J. Ruff: Gold and Silver Insurance

Also from G.G.: Italy Banning Cash Transactions Over €5,000 As Latest European Austerity Package Revealed

One more from G.G.: Number of the Week: 75% Chance of Greek Default

Moody’s Reiterates U.S. Spending Risks Credit Rating

Jim D. suggested this article by Mish Shedlock that illustrates the incredible depth of California's budget crisis: California to borrow next 20 years worth of bottle returns.

Items from The Economatrix:

Falling Home Prices Stir Fears of New Bottom

Consumer Confidence Up Again

Factory Orders And New-Home Sales Rise in April

Oil Prices Jump 4% After 3-Week Slump

Just 24 hours left! Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) is running a special sale that ends May 29th, with 25% Off All Mountain House #10 Cans, and free Shipping to the Lower 48 States. There are additional freebies, depending on the quantity that you order. (See their web page for details.)

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Reader Steve H. spotted a fascinating "heat" map with some implications for picking retreat locales: World's most and least touristy places. Steve's comments: "This is an interesting map that could give some insights into less visited regions for retreat location planning and determining 'Lines of drift.'" Here is a quote from the web site: "Based on analyzing the location-based photo sharing service Panoramio, the World Touristiness Map is a compilation of the most frequently visited places in the world. (Which may not be a perfect measure, but should offer some good insight.) The map is color-coded by its level of touristiness: the color yellow indicates a high level of tourism, red indicates moderate levels, and blue indicates low levels. Gray means that there are no Panoramio photos in that area at all."

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Tamara's View From The Porch blog yielded this interesting article link that might also be a data point for those weighing the pros and cons of different retreat locales: 'What are the odds that the first person I talk to in Georgia would be from Boston?'

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Do you remember the Biosphere 2 project? It is still there, but overgrown and semi-abandoned. (Thanks to Simon J. for the link.)

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Two years ago, I was a busy guy. I worked 50-to-60 hour weeks as an equipment and auto mechanic in south central Alaska. I was a Dad, delivery driver and taxi for the family, and maintenance man for our aging trailer. We lived a couple miles from a town of 15,000 on a .75 acre lot with a mobile home. My decent pay barely paid all the bills and fuel costs of going to work. To top things off, I had just “woke up” to what was going on and had no idea how I was going to prepare for anything. SurvivalBlog became my daily stop in my web browser. I bought and read both "Patriots" and the "Rawles Gets You Ready" course.

I had discovered SurvivalBlog and knew I could put away some food and supplies with the “Two is One, and One is None” idea. I approached my partner carefully to see if she would be onboard with a little prepping. To my surprise, she had been thinking the same things, and was even ahead of me on starting to stock food.

After about six months, we found ourselves with about six months of food put away. I used my Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) check from Alaska state oil royalties to buy a couple rifles, a 12 gauge shotgun, and an XD .45 for hunting and bear/bad people protection. Things were going good, and then I lost my job right at new years. My employer executed an “at will employment” clause and terminated me. They then filled my position again at about 60% of the pay rate. I quickly found myself searching for work and found no-one hiring. I had never, as a mechanic, been unable to find work until now. It seemed everyone was in a pinch. I did find one low paying job and worked it for three months. I quit that job when the paychecks stopped coming reliably.

I was at a loss of what to do. I had a family to feed and a house payment to make. We made the decision to get out of the rat-race. I let my ex-wife take over the house, and walked away from it, bought three acres in a small town about 100 miles south. It was a town of about 400, separated from the road system by a bay five miles wide. Access to the town was by ferry, skiff, and plane. Access to our property was by Moose buggy, ATV, or in winter by snow machine.

A 15'x15' cabin had already been started; so finishing it and adding on a little more for a kitchen was quickly done. A charger/Inverter that had been in storage for a while was hooked up to some old deep-cycle golf-cart batteries. The old woodstove in the cabin was fitted with a stainless grid that now heats water in an old propane water heater.

This is where a small town is so nice to get into as opposed to a remote cabin. On our own, the first winter would have been really tough. We were living off our stores for most of the winter. While our setup, with batteries, used much less generator fuel than most cabins around, we still needed a little income to survive. I salvaged metal, building supplies, an old Toyota truck, and all of our house batteries from the town dump. They encourage people to do so, and even have a small area set aside to drop off “good stuff”.

Another reason the small town was better than going it alone was that I could barter my repair skills for food, fuel, or firewood. I did not cut nearly enough wood for ourselves that first winter. However, we did have a lot of red salmon from set-netting summer before. Mostly I traded fish and handyman services for dry firewood. I made friends with a couple people who cut firewood or have sawmills. Sawmills generate an amazing amount of [scrap that is usable for] firewood.

We moved to town in July and were treated friendly enough, but you could tell that we were new, or not “Local” yet. But after being here all winter, when all the summer residents left town, we were suddenly one of them, and almost everybody really opened up. Where I had barely been getting any work, I had people flagging me down in town wanting me to look at something for them. I also got hired to work on the ferry that serves the town. Things are looking up, and we are now much less dependant on all the things most take for granted.

So you ask what the point of this is? We could not have dropped everything and done this after something big happened. We have been here a year now, and are just getting settled in. I have even had friends here say things like “you know, this town is really defensible, if something happened, no-one is coming to town without us knowing, and without a reason.” And he is not a “prepper”, just a small town Alaskan.

Hi James,

One of the pages on my web site has to do with budgets. It's a short page, and takes into consideration that there are four basic pay periods for individuals not working under contract (IRS Form 1099 workers). On it, I've included four spreadsheet files that are Excel compatible. These are blanks, with calculations that carry over from month to month, and are not too involved. I wanted them to be useful for people that have basic computer skills, but feel uncomfortable with traditional budget software packages.

I also included a link to OpenOffice, which is an open source offering that duplicates Microsoft Office. OpenOffice is free, and can be setup within a few minutes of the download, and will read just about all Microsoft Office files, including those spreadsheets I wrote.


My ASurvivalPlan main web site
My budget page

Thanks, - K.R.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
What a fine blog you have! I read with interest the entry Caring for Babies in TEOTWAWKI. I respond to the part about breastfeeding your infants. The author makes many excellent points about the tactical advantage of breastfeeding infants as opposed to relying on formula, including the potential to feed other members of your family. If you are successfully breastfeeding when the balloon goes up, it would be very advantageous for your family to have a battery operated breast pump, simply to collect more milk. The author also included a very touching video of a woman acting as a wet nurse after the Chinese earthquake in 2008.

I am currently in the throws of breastfeeding an 8 week old, and successfully breastfed another baby for 18 months. Although I am exclusively breastfeeding, I often think about what my husband would do if TSHTF and I was killed, but the baby survived. What if he couldn't get to the store to buy formula, or what if it was sold out, or, like the author mentioned, $4,200 per can? I hope there's an altruistic wet nurse nearby like the Chinese lady, but what if there's not?!

Then I started wondering what I would do if I survived TEOTWAWKI, but if I found, like the Chinese lady, there were hungry babies without Mothers? Right now I could be a wet nurse, but what if it's in five years after I've stopped lactating?

For starters, I ask for formula samples each and every time I go to the pediatrician. They are very generous. I also got quite a supply at my OB appointments! Yes, OBs get formula samples too. I am hesitant to spend a great deal of money stocking up on formula since it would only be used in a very, very bad combination of events, and it has a limited shelf life. However, if you are formula feeding or supplementing with formula, it's a really good idea to have a few extra cans stored away that you will eventually use.

Some women are lucky and produce an abundance of breast milk, and so they can pump extra and freeze it. But if the electricity goes out, that's only going to be good for 1-3 days.

So, while we know breast is best, and formula, while not as convenient, is a good second choice, but what if neither is available? In the event of TEOTWAWKI - do not use this recipe under normal circumstances - you can feed an infant under 12 months old [for a short period of time] with this homemade recipe:

2 - 12 oz. cans of evaporated milk
32 oz. water
2 Tbsp. Karo syrup
3 ml. Poly-Vi-Sol vitamins

This was the homemade version used a generation ago, and is still being used in developing countries, but is a distant 3rd in quality behind breast milk and formula, but it's better than letting an infant starve to death.

One other option that could be tried, if desperate, is relactation. Often, women who have successfully breastfed in the past can produce milk again as a wet nurse, although they would not produce the volume that a current breastfeeding woman can produce. Also, a woman that has never been pregnant or breastfed an infant can produce breast milk - adoptive Mothers do it every day, but again volume is the issue. A currently non-breastfeeding wet nurse may just produce enough milk to tide a baby over until you can get formula, or perhaps for baby to be reunited with its Mommy!

Praying that it never comes to that, - Dee, (In a city much too big)

Brett G. highlighted this news article: Roubini Predicts 20 Percent Stock Market Fall

Also from Brett: 25 Questions to Ask Anyone Who is Delusional Enough to Believe That This Economic Recovery is Real

Reader M.S.B. sent this piece by Egon von Greyerz: Hyperinflation Guaranteed

Jonathan C. forwarded this: Global Banks May Need $1.5 Trillion in Capital, Study Says

Also from Jonathan C.: FDIC Closes on Sale of $233 Million of Notes Backed by Commercial Real Estate Loans. Jonathan's comments: Reading between the lines of the $233 Million sale is the fact that it is a 77% discount since the assets have a value of $1 billion. When banks go under the FDIC looks for a buyer of the assets. Given there are no buyers, the FDIC finds a bank who will enter into a loss share agreement footing the FDIC with 80% of any potential loss and the acquiring bank with the remaining 20%. The assets referred to in this article where not able to be disposed of in this fashion so they stayed on the books until Barclays agreed to securitize them and offer them as a type of collateralized debt obligation (CDO). You may base your assumptions as to the significance of this as you deem fit but it seems ironic that a government sponsored organization is creating securities similar to those in question in the Congressional Goldman Sachs hearings."

Items from The Economatrix:

Economic Rifts Widen in Eurozone

European Cities On Edge of Debt Crisis

Roubini: He Said Bubble Would Burst, it Did, So What's Next?

Danger In Numbers: The Decline of Paper Currency (The Mogambo Guru)

A Billionaire Goes All-In on Gold

UK: Banks Threaten New Recession Over Capital Ratios

Euro Crisis "Spells the End of Welfare States"

Commercial Foreclosures Pick Up Speed

Smart Money Holds Gold and Buys Major Miners

Why Silver Could Take Off Soon

Jeff B. sent this scary article link: What if a hurricane were to slam into the oil slick?

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Robert S. sent us the link to this charming news: Dengue Fever in Florida Portends a Growing Problem

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JM from Michigan mentioned the many older (out of copyright) on-line books and info that are available at BTW, it is also the home of the "Way Back Machine"-- a fascinating web archive search tool that allows you view deleted web sites, or to see what current sites looked like in their early days.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: German ex-soldiers to work in Somalia

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories." - Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

You’ve seen it in the movies: the very pregnant woman gets stuck in traffic, or an elevator, or wherever on the way to the delivery room. (Although, a very pregnant woman was recently rescued by Sheriff’s helicopter on I-40 during the recent floods here in Middle Tennessee!) On the screen she usually makes it to the hospital with some stunt driving from a frantic father or some Samaritan will deliver the baby in the back seat. The whole affair ends with smiling patients and doctors happily mewling over a freshly swaddled newborn. Then everyone heads home in their nice family car and new baby in a properly approved, rear-facing car seat.

But what would scene look like after TEOTWAWKI? "And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!" - Matthew 24:19 (ESV)

This article is not about child birthing, though finding a local midwife or doula isn’t a bad idea. Instead I’m writing about some important aspects about taking care of infants and toddlers post SHTF that new or hopeful parents may not have considered.

Know that child rearing advice is always a delicate matter, both in the giving and the taking. Also know that I accept that each family has its own best way and if what I say offends, please forgive and extend the benefit of the doubt. Regardless of what I have to say, I humbly mean offense to none. Experienced parents know how little they actually know!

The main points of this article will be to discuss, literally, the ins and outs of babies after TEOTWAWKI. By that I mean nursing and diapers, with a bit of talk about carrying your little bundle of post-apocalyptic joy.


Obviously feeding your baby is of utmost importance, balloon up or down. Aside from being God’s best plan, nursing offers very common sense prepper advantages over bottle feeding. For full disclosure, my wife is a member of La Leche League and became so after our own frustrating experiences. Now she helps frustrated mothers (and fathers!). This isn’t a plug for LLL, but they do have wonderful book, on-line, and human resources and many places have local meetings to help mothers.

Health- This article is not about offering medical advice. It is enough to state that breast milk has known anti-bacterial properties suited perfectly for the baby. Staving off illness and hunger after the loss of services we have all taken for granted will be very important. Following is a very short list of benefits:

-Water used to mix formula might not be trustworthy after the collapse.
-Breastfeeding reduces risk of future weight problems. (1)
-It can also decrease heart troubles later in life by controlling cholesterol and blood pressure. (2)
-Breast fed babies are far more resilient to infections, allergies, diarrhea, and dental problems. (3)
-Babies who are breast fed have more advanced neurological development. (4)
-Mother’s are shown to have reduced risks of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer. (5)

These are some of the few reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends breastfeeding for child and mother. You wouldn’t know it considering that America has the lowest percentage of breast fed babies of all the industrialized nations, but I digress. The official policy statement is chock full of benefits, research studies, and supporting data. You can see it here…

(1) 1. Harder, T. et al. Duration of Breastfeeding and Risk of Overweight: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology 2005 162:397-403.
(2) Current Paediatrics 04;14;97-103; Circulation 04; 109 (10):1259-66
(3) Goldman AS. The immune system of human milk: antimicrobial, antiinflammatory and immunomodulating properties. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1993 Aug;12(8):664-71.
(5) Obstetrics and Gynaecology , May issue 2009; Ing, K, Ho, J., Petrakis, N. Unilateral breastfeeding and breast cancer. Lancet 1977; 2: 124.

From personal experience in the circle of friends we adopted as new parents (you know, the ones you hang out with when all of your childless friends stop returning calls,) our children seemed to spit up less, had less stinky diapers, and far fewer illnesses on average than those we knew who used formula. Before any collapse, health care—actual caring for one’s health—saves a family on stress and money. Still not convinced, read the ingredients on a can of formula!

Supply- Will you drive down to Wal-Mart or the local FEMA camp for baby formula after the mobs start torching things? How much can you fit in your B.O.B. and what about stopping to mix it up? Talk about expensive powdered food, formula is it!

On the other hand a nursing mother is a self-mobile, heavily armed food factory for your baby—a real mobile canteen. A nursing woman’s supply of milk will increase with the demand for milk. Lactation can be greatly reduced however without sufficient food, rest, and water for mommy. Take care of your troops and they’ll take care of your baby.

But wait! With those two enormous tactical advantages, why doesn’t everyone nurse?

From my own conversations with mothers around places (I like to brag on the missus you know) it basically seems to boil down to convenience and lack of support. It takes effort and commitment, both of which are hard to maintain in the face of the grocery store convenience of “better” living through chemistry. It is hard for working mothers and recent generations have not been brought up with nursing as the norm. They know only the “ba-ba.”

Possibly more important are the social aspects of nursing. When we decided to try to nurse our first baby, there was little to no support from the medical staff. We had one nurse (“Big Red” as I dubbed her, though she was quite thin) who just flat-out ignored our directions not to give our baby a bottle. We would also find that what little advice we got on breast feeding was outdated and / or incorrect. It was an uphill slog all the way.

Despite the fact that the majority of the world feeds their babies from the breast, nursing doesn’t always come natural or easy. I think in part as it is no longer—at least generally speaking—a skill that is passed down and certainly not seen in the corporate media. As my mother-in-law said, in her day nursing was for “poor, white-trash mothers.” Our first nursing experience was a complete nightmare with many sleepless, worried, tear filled nights. For what ever reason we, especially my wife, were fully committed to nursing our babies. We couldn’t do it. We had to hire a lactation consultant and every penny was worth it. For the sake of you and baby TEOTWAWKI, please make the effort. Even nursing for a short time is better than nothing.

Help is out there if you need it. Aside from professional lactation consultants there are volunteer groups (such as the La Leche League) and the American Association of Pediatrics with resources for helping nursing mothers. Check your local area. You might want to ask beloved Granny too—she may have just the answer you need. She often does, you know?

Final Tactical Breastfeeding Breakdown-
After TEOTWAWKI, wet nurses might find themselves in high demand. When other, less prepared families go through their typically small supply of food reserves, supplying milk for babies could be useful for charity or barter. Teaching young mothers to nurse themselves when all the Wal-Mart’s are burned-out, or formula costs $4,200, will be a marketable skill. Remember the pictures of mothers screaming out for formula and diapers in the wake of Katrina? There are real world examples of just such nursing aid, here’s one real world example concerning the Chinese earthquake in 2008…

And let’s not forget one last thing about survival nursing—mother’s milk is good for the whole family. With decent food, rest, and water a lactating woman can produce a good bit of milk. If expressed by hand or pump, mother’s milk is a good source of protein and other nutrients along with the aforementioned health benefits. Think that’s gross? Have you ever taken a close look at the non-human beasts whose milk you don’t think twice about drinking? Gross? You be the judge.

Again, the caveat: I DO fully support, condone, and believe breastfeeding is far superior to baby formula. I do also know that nursing will not work for everyone, even some who try very diligently and do “all the right things.” My only goal is to point out the tactical advantages thereof.

Cloth Diapers

Well now that you’ve got all that good mama’s milk in baby TEOTWAWKI, where does it go? It will eventually come out (though some nursing babies poop far less and that poop is less stinky, two more tactical points!) and you’ve got to decide what to do with it. Did you pick up diapers when you ran to the Wal-Mart or the FEMA camp? Drat. Maybe you can trade some .223 for a box of Pampers the next time the local brigands ride by?

Health and Wealth- One of the most compelling reasons to switch to cloth diapers even before the zombie hordes attack is their chemical makeup. Like the unnatural foods offered us and the plastics we use; disposable diapers are filled with dangerous and unhealthy chemicals that you may not even realize. Do a web-search on the health risks of Sodium Polyacrylate, Tribulytin, and Dioxin.

These are just some of the chemicals that have been found in disposable diapers. Also remember where those chemicals are in contact with your baby and perhaps those studies linking disposable diapers with male infertility and increased urinary tract infections in baby girls will make sense. These same chemicals go into the land fills and trash burners.

From personal experience, two of our three babies have had reactions to disposable diapers when we’ve used certain brands (yes, we have used them and on occasion and still do.) None have had reactions to any cloth diaper liners but one does seem to break out when we put a wool cover on her. Obviously, we don’t use those on her any more.

As to wealth, cloth diapers represent a larger initial investment (way less than that third Armalite you just bought!) versus more money spent on disposable diapers over the long run. Disposable diapers are expensive and from our own budget analysis (YMMV) we saved about $1,000 the first year we started using cloth diapers. We also used our cloth diapers on subsequent children which increases savings greatly. Larger cloth diapers can also be used for “night-time undies” for the older kids who may still wet the bed. Cloth diapers are inflation proof!

But wait! With those two enormous tactical advantages, why doesn’t everyone use cloth diapers?

Like nursing, cloth diapers do require more work than their modern convenient counterpart. Not as much as you might think, but there is definitely more laundry to do. Many folk are also put off by the idea of dunking poo-poo diapers. ‘Tis yucky, ‘tis true. But is it yuckier than gutting livestock, skinning game, or composting chicken dung? You be the judge. I got used to dunking diapers pretty quick. (Secret husband note: rinsing out poopie diapers is great marriage capital! Women will want you; men will want to be you… OK, maybe that’s stretching it a bit. But it is definitely appreciated.)

But really, the added work mostly consists of an extra load of laundry. When you finish rinsing out a stinky, just drop it in the diaper pail / wet bag. If you are traveling, just think how easy it would be to strap on a diaper wet bag on that tacticool MOLLE assault vest! I would also suggest getting a clothes line—nothing takes out stains like good ol’ Sol. Clothes lines are also very useful in general for other no power situations.

There are times when using disposable diapers will be more convenient in the short run. For long road trips we have been known to occasionally get some ‘sposie’s (diaper jargon) as there is obviously not going to be any laundry stops along the way. In certain  G.O.O.D. situations disposables might well be the only reasonable answer. It will take a tactical judgment call to be sure, but I highly recommend making cloth diapers your main stay with disposables as backup.

Types of Clothe Diapers-
Every prepper’s favorite part; the gear!

Trust me when I say that the AK versus AR or 9mm versus .45 flame wars have nothing on the Fuzzy-Bunz ersus Good-Mama’s or Prefold versus Insert fights on the cloth diaper boards. You think gun-talk forums can get nasty? Go follow some diaper swapping threads. Yikes!

Anyway these are the three basic styles of cloth diapers we are familiar with. There are a couple of other types that have attributes of each of these.

Prefolds & Flats- These are your familiar, one-piece diaper closed with a diaper pin or snappy (snappies work sort of like shirt-stays) known far and wide. These have the advantages of being the cheapest with the fewest moving parts. They are also fairly easy to make for someone with a bit of sewing savvy, or in a pinch someone who just has an old blanket and a pair of scissors. The only trouble is that it can take some practice folding these correctly and learning to pin them in a way that will keep them secure. Snappies are very easy to use but not terribly durable.

Flats are just that—flat pieces of cloth that need to be folded up properly to be absorbent and stay properly. Prefolds are also flat pieces of cloth, they are just thicker (i.e. pre-folded) than flats so they are absorbent without any fancy origami.

Fitted Diapers- These cloth diapers look almost like disposables with elastic fittings around the legs and back. They are basically Prefolds with snap or Velcro fasteners attached instead of needing a diaper pin.

In order to keep everyone else dry Flats, Prefold, and Fitted diapers have to have some manner of cover. Commonly rubber or polyurethane diaper covers are used, but wool covers (also easily knitted or crocheted by someone with the skill) are also popular. The wool covers (shorties or longies) tend to be sturdier than the rubber britches, but some babies don’t react well to wool—like our youngest. There are other covers available on the market as well.

Pocket Diapers- These are made of a layer of fleece sewn to a leak-proof cover, usually polyurethane. An insert of some type is slipped into the “pocket” between them for absorbency. The diaper is secured using snaps or Velcro sewn into the diaper. Fitted and Pocket diapers are both available in “grow with your baby” models that will fit from very small to larger toddler size.

My advice about getting cloth diapers is to do your research and not to jump in all at once. Start with a supply of Prefolds and then get other brands or types one at a time. Many times diapers we thought looked good on-line did not meet our expectations. I’ve seen some go overboard—repeatedly—and spend a bunch of money on diapers they later don’t like.

My personal preference is the Pocket variety with snaps. I find them to have the best balance between ease of use (no pins!), cleanliness (pulling covers off can sometime be tricky if there’s been a blow-out, so to speak), and washing. You can also use Pocket diapers without an insert as swimming diapers.

I would definitely suggest learning to use Flats however for that full crash scenario. They can be made or cut from just about any cloth and the wool for their covers can be had from local folk with sheep or alpacas. They can also be used as rags, towels, bandages, or inserts for other types of diapers. Flats and Prefolds are also the easiest to clean.

Some Final Thoughts on Tactical Baby Booty Armor-
My experience leads me to suggest getting choosing snaps over Velcro. The Velcro is very easy to use but I find it doesn’t last as long as snaps, especially when reusing for other children.

Many cloth diapers and covers are made by work at home moms. Quality definitely varies, but if you find a good WAHM, isn’t better to support her than some big pharma or big box retail company?

Finally, I also suggest using cloth wet-wipes instead of—or at least along with—disposable wet-wipes. Soak the cloth wipes in water with a bit of soap, essential oil, or baby oil mixed in and keep them in a container (old wet-wipes containers are great) or zip-lock bags. There are many formulas for cloth wipe solutions on-line so finding one that works for you shouldn’t be too hard. These wipes can also be field stripped (i.e. washed) and reused without leaving any buried trash. They can also be used by adults in a pinch—so to speak.

The Carry-
Finally we discuss the age-old debate of 1 point, 2 point, or 3 point sling for carrying our new baby. No, I actually mean your “fruit of the loins” baby, not your .308 with ACOG baby. I may or may not have done some low-impact tactical movements with a baby strapped to me when no one (especially mama) was looking. But admitting to that is beyond the scope of this article. Just always make sure that baby is tightly secured and the head is supported before attempting maneuvers. Moving right along…

Tactically speaking, there is no good way to carry a baby in a fire fight. This is obviously that nightmare of nightmare situations where your baby is in the line of fire. If you get hit, baby is probably going to get hit or get fallen on and trapped beneath your body. If you shoot back you are going to run the risk of severely injuring your baby’s ears, as they are very sensitive and easily damaged when young. Running madly away you will likely trip and stumble at least once. What else is there to say, avoid all contact if possible when you have baby. Escape and evade if you can’t.

LBE (Lil’one Bearing Equipment)
While there isn’t probably quite as a large a variety in baby carriers as there are in tactical gear, a load bearing parent does have quite a few choices.  There are many, many different brands with their own takes on particular styles (and colors, colors, colors!), so I’m going to limit my discussion to two general classes: Slings and Backpacks. I’ve found both styles to be effective and comfortable so it is up to you to research your gear and find what works best for you and your baby.

Sling Carriers are simply long pieces of cloth that are used to swaddle a baby close in to the one carrying the baby. Think of it as sort of a baby bandolier (but I wouldn’t try carrying multiple babies). The type we used has two steel rings on one end and the other end is fed through them as a cinch. Wraps are similar but—as the name suggests—use various ways of wrapping parent and baby together. These take some learning to properly wrap a baby in place, but are very versatile and able to hold larger babies than other slings. Pouches are also available, which have pouches to hold the baby. Sling carriers have the advantage of being very easy to make from local resources.

Overall, slings are bit more complicated to use and the excess fabric can get bulky. They are also not as easy (for me anyway, the wife is a pro) to carry larger babies. Slings do allow the best opportunities for mothers to nurse a baby on the move and they are great at keeping the young ones warm. Conversely, they also make the person carrying warm, which may be good or bad. Slings also have the best range of carry positions (front, hip, back, tight, loose, laying, and sitting) age and size of baby depending.

Backpack Carriers are the more familiar type and have many different styles as well. Some are completely soft and only tie on. Some have frames. Many use an array of straps and buckles or snaps to keep everyone in place. Some even have D-rings to clip on your favorite combat accoutrements!

Backpack carriers have the advantage of being very easy to use and being better at distributing weight for long hikes, wearing camping backpacks, or other G.O.O.D. family fun. Some backpack carriers allow the baby to slide from a front to back carry without removing the baby or parent from the carrier. Another advantage for the tactically minded are the carriers (not all do this) that keep baby buckled in even if the parent unbuckles the carrier; very handy for passing baby back and forth. Backpack carriers are generally limited to upright carrying positions, but can do front or back carries, facing in or facing out.

I will wrap up my ever lengthening article with a few notes on the basic carry positions. Please keep in mind that men and women have different load bearing curves and each will have their preferred carry position and baby carrier.

Front and Facing Out – A good position for fidgety babies that like to see what’s going on or may be prone to spitting up or ill. Those little hands can get grabby though if you are handling anything. Also not a good place if footing is unsure.

Front and Facing In – A comfortable position for both baby and parent, and especially good for napping for both parties. Good nursing position and easiest to comfort baby.

Back and Facing In – This is in my opinion the best overall position for carrying comfort and protecting the baby. This is also the best position for keeping your hands free. Not a very helpful place to put a baby that likes to yank hair or boonie hats.

Back and Facing Out – Papoose style! Well not quite. I never tried this position, but it apparently worked well for the American Indians.

Hip / Side – The hip carry will be the only comfortable way to carry larger children in slings. This can be used as a nursing hold for slings and works pretty well when needing to use your hands.

I hope this information has been useful and I pray we will never have to use it for baby TEOTWAWKI’s sake.

My husband and I have been studying and implementing many of your recommendations in your book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and I have a question about the Cobra 148 GTL 40-channel CB radio. Does it work on DC power only, or can it be used in our safe room on AC power? The shortwave receiver you recommended also includes CB, so why do we need another CB radio? Although these are old technologies, they are new to us, so we would appreciate more info. Thanks. - Linda G.

JWR Replies: Like most other CB radios, the Cobra 148 GTL was designed for vehicular mounting and hence needs a 12 VDC power source. So for use inside a house, you'd typically need to have a large 12 VDC power supply that transforms 120 VAC to 12 VDC. This is something larger than a typical little wall power cube. You'll need something like an Astron 3 Amp (or larger)12 VDC power supply. These can often be found used at ham radio swap meets or on eBay. But the good news is that you can operate a 12 VDC radio with power directly from an alternative energy battery bank. (The batteries linked to your photovoltaic, wind, or microhydro system.)

I specifically recommended the Cobra 148 GTL 40-channel CB because its design allows a fairly simple modifications it can be operated "out of band" in the so-called "free band." (See "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and the SurvivalBlog archives for details, including some important legal disclaimers on transceiver modification and out-of-band operation.

First things first, please accept my heartfelt thank you for your excellent web site and all of the information you have helped disseminate to folks such as myself.

My heart goes out to the people of Nashville and the disaster they are facing from the flooding. However, the logical part of me is astounded by all of this as the media and government ( in Nashville have been repeatedly warning people to prepare for a major flood since 2005 and have held numerous public meetings in conjunction with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The warnings were not from a large rainfall in a short period of time, but for an even larger disaster which is the potential failure of the Wolf Creek Dam. The 80% earthen and 20% concrete dam is located on the Cumberland River 150 miles upstream of Nashville and the dam is on top of a large limestone formation which has continued to leech away causing a history of extensive, repeated dam repairs. The dam holds back the largest lake in the state of Kentucky , and prior to drawing down Lake Cumberland the USACE classified their remediation program to stabilize the dam as heroic/crisis with the dam having less than 5 years of useable life remaining. Numerous resources were made available to the public such as the Wolf Creek Dam Consensus Report, Engineering Risk and Reliability Analysis and flood inundation maps for both Kentucky and Tennessee. The inundation maps are a great resource for deciding whether to bug in or out, and if you bug out which route to take.

The purpose of writing was to offer a lesson in situational awareness. Preparing for the Wolf Creek dam failure should have left more people prepared for a smaller tragedy like what recently occurred in Nashville . Survivalblog readers, have you checked your local emergency management office for specific threats to your city or neighborhood and made plans and preparations based on those threats? - Todd B.

Mr. Rawles:
Thank you for your time, efforts and thought in providing all the survivalblog readers with an excellent resource. I have been a daily visitor to your site now for about a year after being introduced to it by my brother. I consider myself to be an amateur prepper, and am hoping to move into becoming more prepared in large part due to the information that I have been the beneficiary of through resources such as your site, others like it, as well as other resources both in print and through training and group participation. In any event, the letter re the "Lessons from Nashville, Tennessee" got me thinking and I wanted to send along three of the lessons that I have learned and/or had reinforced in my mind after this recent event. I apologize for the length of this email, but, as Mark Twain once said, I didn't have time to write you a short one. Also, in order to understand the "lessons learned," I think that a complete recitation of the underlying facts is necessary.

I live not far from Nashville, but far enough away that my area was not submersed like portions of the city were. However, as I work downtown, I know a multitude of folks who do live in Nashville. Unlike myself, they prefer to live close in rather than have to deal with a daily commute. I wanted to relate a story from one of my friends that underscored for me the importance of preparing in advance.

My friend is a working mother of two children. She is a highly paid professional, and her husband is a member of the group of folks that due to loss of employment have gone back to school. What those first two sentences mean is that neither she nor her husband have time to cook, and so their daily routine is to send their kids to day care where they are fed breakfast and lunch, and then they eat out as a family almost every night. In other words, they have limited food stores at their home.

She told me that when the rains came down and the floods came up she decided to leave work early and get her kids in order to try and avoid traffic at rush hour that would be made more infuriating due to the heavy rain. When they arrived at home she and her children sat and watched the rain fall, and fall, and fall. They live on a sort of hill so the water wasn't collecting in their yard. She didn't turn on the television or radio, and she and her children just sat there and looked out the window while the kids complained about not being able to go outside to play.

Finally, she received a call from her mother in another state who was watching the news and asked her daughter if she and the grandbabies were okay. My friend was surprised to get this call, and went and turned on the television. Or, at least she tried. At this point her power was out. She had no access to the television or radio. She hung up with her mother and accessed the web on her iPhone to learn that the river was heaving beyond its bounds and that Nashville was being soaked and flooded. She called her husband and asked him to come home immediately and to stop and buy some food and flashlights for the night as they didn't have any in the house.

The husband left school and stopped at Wally World [Wal-Mart] and grabbed some flashlights and food and started to head home. However, he quickly discovered that although his neighborhood was not underwater, the roads that lead into his neighborhood were under water. About four feet, and thus impassable. He called his wife and let her know. She and the kids ate Doritos for dinner that night and went to bed early without flashlights or candles. The husband slept in his car.

The next day my friend and her children walked down to the entrance of their neighborhood with their neighbors who also stayed behind and were hungry and in search of food. They found that other neighbors had gathered canoes, john boats, inflatable tubes, etc. and were in the process of ferrying everyone over the newly formed mini-lake at the mouth of their subdivision to the other side where family members and friends waited to carry the stranded off to safety and, in all likelihood, [the] Cracker Barrel.

My friend, her husband, and her children were all reunited safely. No severe damage occurred at their home, and things seem back to normal for them.

However, for me, this was a great learning opportunity. Three of the take home lessons for me were:

1. Try your best to have your preps on hand before you need them. My friend was without things that most of us consider essential and likely have many of at our homes or retreats right now: food and flashlights/candles. She had none, and when she needed them, she couldn't get them. I know I am a great procrastinator when it comes to securing some items that I know I "need." I am not advocating spending more than we can or going into debt to acquire preps; not at all. Remember in my story that my friend makes a good salary ($100,000 plus). And yet, she didn't have food or flashlights/candles. I learned to look at my own preps and determine what items I can realistically afford right now, but simply have been putting off. For me, it was nothing expensive or significant, and by way of example I'll tell you what I purchased after speaking with her that was cheap, I'd just been putting it off: plastic sheets for window/ventilation coverings in the event that they break or I need to put up some sort of a "defense" against the outside air.

2. We don't know when we'll need our preps, and the need may literally fall out of the sky. Here, there was no real advance notice that Nashville would flood. In fact, my friend didn't know until someone told her that it had already happened. For me, this was a wake up call. I guess I figured that TEOTWAWKI would somehow be a gradual thing that I would see coming from a mile away. As I saw with my friend, this is not necessarily the case. I was reminded of the parable of the 10 Virgins in the Book of Matthew. They were all waiting and waiting for the bride groom to come—like many of us wait, not necessarily with eager anticipation but often with trepidation, for TEOTWAWKI—but some had failed in their preparations. Then, when he came at midnight, half were shut out of the feast because they were absent, in search of oil (preps) they should have already had. We don't know when, or if, it's coming, so we must remain vigilant and prepared. This was a lesson for me about physical preparation, but more so about spiritual preparation.

3. There are many without preparations out there, even basic preparations, and we need to plan accordingly. I know that there are different theories about how preppers are to deal with friends, family, neighbors, and the Golden Horde post TEOTWAWKI, and I will not advocate any particular approach here. I myself am of the opinion—at least now—that I would rather share my food and shelter than fight over it barring threats to my family's safety. Regardless of what one's opinion is on this subject, the truth that my friend's story offers is that there will be many, many people who are without even the most basic of preparations and part of our "prepping" should be preparing for that reality.

Thanks again, and God bless you and yours and may we all prepare with prudence for the future, - R.B.M. in Tennessee

Just three days left! Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) is running a special sale from May 16-29 only, with 25% Off All Mountain House #10 Cans, and free Shipping to the Lower 48 States. There are additional freebies, depending on the quantity that you order. (See their web page for details.)

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Reader Ray B. mentioned this article in an Everett, Washington newspaper: Our volcano: Glacier Peak is the hidden threat in our back yard

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Beatriz mentioned this great web site on dehydrating foods at home: Dehydrate2Store.

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I have a had a lot of positive feedback from SurvivalBlog readers about the new greatly-expanded edition of Making the Best of Basics - Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens. I highly recommend it!

"What the mainstream media publishes is not news, its 24x7 psy-op infotainment." - A subscriber's post

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

If you even so much as glance at the news or if you're like me and check out The Drudge Report every morning, you can't help but realize the world is becoming more and more uncertain. It seems that anything could happen at the drop of a hat and without little, if any, fore-warning. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods seem to be changing or taking the lives of unsuspecting people almost daily. The threat of nuclear warfare is always just beyond the horizon. If we ever experience an EMP, we could be without power and [utility-supplied] water for months. Most of western civilization isn't nearly prepared for something like that!

My family and I don't live in fear, though, because we take comfort in God's word which tells us to not to fear or be anxious about anything. However, He also tells us to have understanding of the times we live in. My family and I live day to day with an awareness in the back of our minds that we're living in uncertain times and need to be diligently prepared for anything that might happen. For my family, preparedness is a part of our daily lives. I've noticed over the last few years that the more we practice living prepared lives, the more naturally it comes.

My hubby and I keep two large green totes in the back of our van at all times. We packed these totes (which we got at a local hardware store) with MREs, cases of bottled water, a large first aid kit, hand sanitizers, blankets, tools, and other things that might be necessary if we have to leave at a moments notice or, if for some reason, we just won't be able to go home because of an unforeseen emergency.

We always keep "to-go" bags packed, too. We have four young children (twin girls who are six years old, a daughter who is five years old, and a little boy who is two years old.). Needless to say, things need to be as prepared as possible when there are such young children in the picture. The girls have one bag with numerous articles of clothing. My son's bag is simply his huge diaper bag which has been fully stocked since the day he was born. We also keep small totes filled with clothing that we could easily throw into the van at a moment's notice. My own personal bag contains a few days worth of clothing along with weeks' worth of toiletry items for the whole family (those handy to-go toothbrushes with the toothpaste already in them, single use Clorox wipes, soaps, etc.) These bags don't just sit around in a closet forgotten. We use them often and keep them "updated." They come in handy when my hubby and I decide to take a getaway to a hotel or camping trip while the kids stay the night with Grandma. We can make plans with minimal notice and everything's all ready to go.

Two years ago, we had a power and water outage that lasted five hours. The kids were already in bed but the sudden pitch-blackness woke them up and they started crying. We let them get out of bed to play with flashlights and glow sticks for an extra hour. We gave them a small LED light to use as a nightlight. Thankfully, everything was right where it was supposed to be and we had everything we needed. Once they got used to the power outage, the kids went peacefully back to bed.

While it's hard to imagine living without power or water for weeks or months at a time, I have to admit that a short power outage can be a bit of an adventure. It's also a learning experience. Let me pass along one interesting tip I learned during our "adventure." By the time my hubby and I had put the kids back to bed, we were getting thirsty. It was August in the southwestern desert and the house was beginning to get a little warm. I was only too excited to use some of the bottled water from one of our emergency totes in the garage. I opened my bottle and took a nice big gulp before rushing to the sink to spit out what was left in my mouth! The water, which had been stored with candles for about two years, tasted distinctly of Glade Vanilla. I'm not sure if it was dangerous to ingest but it sure tasted like it! Note to the reader: never store bottled water with scented candles!

Besides candles and bottled water, it's also a good idea to have some good, old-fashioned items handy. Do you have a washer-board and a clothesline? You just might need that. Do you have a battery-operated or wind-up radio in the house? You just might need that, too. Do you have a water filter? Do you have a dehydrator? Use them now! Use all of these things now. Especially if you have kids, using these things can go hand in hand with a history lesson and can be just plain ol' fun and interesting.

Just this year, we began growing our own fruits and vegetables in our backyard. We don't have as much yet as I would like, but it will help supplement our food stores. I home school my children and based an entire month long curriculum on gardening and cultivating our own food. The children love it and it's helping to prepare us for anything from inflation to a deflated or non-existent marketplace. My two year old son was incredibly excited when he got to pick his own blueberry from one of our bushes and eat it. Besides being a good preparation for a future catastrophe, gardening is daily rewarding (especially if you live in a warmer climate where you can grow food year round). It is also possible to turn one of your rooms into a greenhouse. I don't know much about that myself since it's always so warm here, but that might be worth looking into if you live in a colder climate.

Since my four children were born (the first 2, six years ago), I haven't spent more than a few hundred dollars on clothes for them and those few hundred dollars were spent on holidays and birthdays. I swap for everything. I very rarely buy anything new and no, we don't run around looking like vagabonds wearing someone else's cast-off clothing. I don't have to do this but since I do, I can spend the money I save on more important things. Certain friends brag about the good deals they get at garage sales. I get just as many things as they do but don't spend nearly the money! Once in awhile, I pay a small postage cost to mail something to someone, but often I'm getting something for nothing at all but my time. I can use those extra funds to store up canned food and other necessities. I can invest in charities and my church, storing up treasures in Heaven where there is no rust or moths to destroy. Because frugality is already so much a part of my life, I'll be more able to adapt to a lifestyle of bartering and trading if TEOTWAWKI ever comes.

I think most people reading this blog are prepared to learn, considering the wealth of useful information on this web site alone. There could come a time, though, when the Internet might not be accessible for weeks, months, or even years at a time. You might not be able to call friends for help. You might not even feel that it's safe enough to venture out of your house. You need your own special survival bookshelf to go to in case of an emergency. Even a very well-prepared and knowledgeable survivalist may not know how to create a solar still, or remember which mushrooms are edible off the top of his head. Books like the SAS Survival Handbook by John "Lofty" Wiseman are a necessity in case of TEOTWAWKI. Cookbooks like "Food at the Time of the Bible" tell you how to prepare, store, and trade food like they did back in the day. These are just a few references I want to always have near, but there's such a wealth of good survival books out there! Build up your library now, while times are good (enough) and bookstores are easily accessible. Someday, they might not be.

Maybe it can be like that old REM song: "It's the End of the World as We Know it and I Feel Fine." I'm being a little facetious; I don't know how fine I'll feel if and when TEOTWAWKI really happens. I hope I will be able to sing. Singing brings joy when there is none, peace when it seems distant, and comfort in uncertainty. In any case, there is quite a measure of comfort in knowing that you're living as prepared as is practical for you and your family. Living this way is rewarding in itself even if that day never comes. For me, living diligently prepared, having things ready, acting frugal, practicing for unexpected changes to life's plans, and gardening makes each day richer.

When I first started investing in precious metals, I was very unsure of how to do it. My first problem was to find a place that sold them. That is no mean feat in Canada.

Naturally my first response was to buy paper metals. As an investment, these were cheaper and more convenient to buy and sell than taking physical possession. When I decided that it was important to take physical possession, I was faced with the problem, how do I buy an ounce of gold without getting burned by fluctuating prices. For the last five years, I have been using a combination of paper and physical that seems to work pretty well.

Jeff's Gold Lay-Away Plan:

1. I ended up using Kitco as my precious metals provider. They are a Canadian company (no cross-border issues for me), and they offer both paper and physical [precious metals]
2. Every month, I write a cheque for the same amount of money and send it to my provider. They put the amount on my account.
3. I order the most paper gold that I can. My provider tracks the paper to four decimal places of an ounce. Some people will recognize this as dollar cost averaging.
4. Eventually, I have a full ounce of gold in the account. At this point, I sell the paper, and use the funds to buy the physical and have it shipped to me.

This has several benefits:

1. In the event of the company going belly up, I never have more than an ounce of gold at risk.
2. I am regularly saving. It doesn't hurt to put a little away every month.
3. By buying regularly in small amounts, I don't get burned by regular fluctuations. I buy less when it is more expensive, and I buy more when it is less expensive (dollar cost averaging)
4. In the event of the price of gold going steadily up, I am not sitting around with a bunch of dollars, watching the gold become less attainable.

This worked for me, and I think the general principal is a sound way of going about it. Naturally, there is plenty of room for refinement depending on your situation.

One little refinement I have involves silver. Really, when I send the cheque, I put half toward gold and half toward silver. Silver is expensive to ship because you get so many more pounds per dollar. To reduce shipping costs, I wait until I have an ounce of gold, and then I cash in both my gold and silver. This meant that I am getting less frequent shipments, but also less expensive (dollars to pounds). - Jeff C.


Hi Mr. Rawles,
FYI, I bought (back-ordered) a half bag of junk silver (about 26 pounds) on Friday, May 21st ($500 face = approximately $6,500. That is 75 cents per ounce over the spot price of silver). It's cheap now like you said, especially in relation to gold's premium ($1,178 spot, $1,272 Am. Eagle 1 oz., on Kitco, and over $1,325 in coin stores)

The owner is an honest, mellow, like minded guy I've been buying from for many years. A good man. He said he's been talking over the last 15 years to a family friend, a $2m/yr stock broker. The guy always said gold was old fashioned, just a relic left over for "survivalists like those nuts that run up into the mountains". This week the guy called him and said, "buy me $100,000 in gold. I'll mail you the check." My guess - Now he just wants to protect his wealth from the fiat erosion.

It's a very small store that's doing $50,000 to $250,000 per day, six days a week! Business is up several times over last year.

He had just two gold coins (other than numismatic) left in the store for over the counter sale, they sold while I was there. Most sales are back-ordered.

Silver eagles are advertised on Kitco at $3 over spot, ($17.66 = $20.72/oz, a 17% premium). But can you get them? The coins he can get are about $22. (about $5/oz. over spot). I saw a man take deliver of 100 of them while I was there. Clearly, junk (pre-'65) and bullion (as in silver rounds and 100 oz. bars) are the bargain. Still, people that won't or can't buy gold seem to like those Silver Eagles.

According to this coin merchant bottom line- it's concern, not fear or greed. he's "seeing folks that (I) never saw before, lots of them, buying one or two coins at a time." (that means they're paying tax). "They say they'll never sell them, won't even watch the price - they want to save for their kids and grandkids. They just don't trust the dollar."

Thank you for you efforts sir. God bless, and keep you safe, - G2

As a gardener of over 30 years, I garden for the most produce from my limited garden spaces. I can tomatoes, salsa, beans, relishes, corn, applesauce, pickles, etc. At this point in time I have no illusions that I could feed our family of four on our gardens. I’ve been growing what we like to eat versus what will give us the best nutrition and can sustain us year round. The SurvivalBlog site has been a wonderful wealth of information and the books they recommend have enhanced my gardening knowledge in ways that lead to being self-sustaining. I’ve used the list of books on the web site to check them out at the library, skim or read thru them, and then purchase what I feel I need to keep on hand. Many garden books will cover similar materials. Here is a list of my newest favorites:

The Plant Propagator's Bible by Miranda Smith (ISBN 1-59486-448-9). Did you know you can work with hybrids to either develop them or breed back from them to develop an open-pollinated cultivar? It takes time and effort but I’m glad it is possible. I personally prefer certain hybrids because they yield much better and survive much better. Maybe keeping seed from both your favorite hybrids and some non-hybrids is a better plan. Many hybrids cost much less.

This book also shows many types of propagation techniques and which methods work best for specific plants. It has inspired me to try grafting some Japanese plums onto existing native wild plum stock!

Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel (ISBN 978-0-88266-703-4) our basement is to warm to keep vegetables in good condition all the way to spring. I will have a better basement root cellar by this fall and this book has various options that can work. Last year, we stored apples in our shop in two ways, inside a refrigerator and in a big cart surrounded by big Styrofoam blocks and covered with blankets and a tarp. We had some intermittent heat when we used the shop for repairs. The fridge failed because the apples froze at -30 degrees outside. We spent two weeks making applesauce with the others the end of January. They didn’t freeze and they didn’t spoil. We give thanks for the ideas in this book!

The The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman. I live in a gardening Zone 4 and never even thought about growing anything in the winter. The Coleman’s book shows how they grow year round in a Zone 5 with unheated greenhouses and/or cold frames. I am really excited about this opportunity as we have a small greenhouse. Some of the varieties grown are new to me, but we will be trying them.

The Farmer's Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden And Eating From It, Too!by Barbara Doyen (ISBN 0-87131-974-8) She gives good information on growing, storing, freezing, and cooking for 30 vegetables. There are over 200 recipes included. I hate growing something and then not finding a way to use it or share it with others.

For pure inspiration, This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow. (ISBN 1-931498-24-5). Joan and her husband lived self-sustaining and they share their story, recipes, and tips that will save you countless hours of back-braking work. It also showed me that I need to prepare in other ways than just in growing my own food. A garden failure should always be in the back of our minds.

Everyone should have the book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth, as suggested by SurvivalBlog, to learn to grow, find and collect seed. Label and date all seed collected! Even if you can’t read it right now; have it for reference.

Our gardens feed us well from July to October. Our fresh garden surplus stores until about January. The garden canned and dried goods last until about June or July. We have four in our family and a pint of applesauce works for a side dish for one meal. I guess my point is that providing a majority of your food from your garden is very hard work and takes planning. The Root Cellaring book tells you when to plant certain vegetables so they will store longer-you don’t just plant everything over Memorial Day weekend. I know how to produce massive amounts of food; for a short period of time. Keeping it and using it efficiently, not so much! (Hint: a compost pile helps gardeners deal with the guilt of growing something and having it go to waste!). I’ve always given lots away and will continue to do that. I am changing what I grow, from just favorite food to more storable food. This also means cooking new produce and in new ways that my family will enjoy. One resource for storing and cooking is Jackie Clay. She is a writer for Backwoods Home magazine and her article archive has some wonderful canning tips. Everything of hers that I’ve read is very practical; safety minded, and useful; especially her cookbook/canning book.

The field guides about wild edible plants are another reference that have been mentioned in previous articles and should be on everyone’s bookshelves. Even if you live in a very barren environment, there are plants you can eat—but you need to know how to identify plants and what is safe to eat. If nothing else, pick out 5-10 plants in the guide that grow in your area and become very familiar with them. If you have children, give them a summer assignment to identify these plants until they are proficient at finding them. With your supervision, make meals or meal additions with these plants and serve them several times a week. You’ll save on groceries and be giving everyone life skills. (Be sure any collected plants are from good locations as ditch banks, edges of fields and roadsides are often sprayed with herbicides. And of course get permission if it’s not your property!)

I suggest as you read and research, do not overlook experienced gardeners and farmers, and your own grandparents. Ask them what they ate in the 1930s. It may surprise you! Start growing now, when inputs are readily available and tools can help. Better to start now, even if you fail; and learn to improve.

Seed viability is important to know. It doesn’t always follow what the seed catalogs say.

Maybe they want to sell more seed! An example: I had an old pack of Jalapeno Pepper seeds that had a few left in it. It was from 1995. I planted them and ½ of them grew. Some seed will not keep even until the next year. This gives me hope as God will provide for us and if we start out with good seed, we can expect a harvest. He will multiply it and we can bless those around us. Thank you Jim for your web site and knowledge, it is all good seed. - Jack G.

Reader Dan V. mentioned that a scanned copy of the scarce Operation and Maintenance Manual for the AN/PSR-1A Intrusion Detecting Set (TM-04074B-15) is now available online. You can find it linked near the bottom of this page.

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RBS spotted this: Why Snakebites Are About to Get a Lot More Deadly - Cost of Antivenom Production Creates Shortages

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Jack T. sent us a link to some good reporting from C.J. Chivers of The New York Times: A Firsthand Look at Firefights in Marja. It is refreshing to hear from a mainstream reporter that understands firearms. (Most of them don't.) Jack had this comment: "[I]f the shooter did indeed have a bolt action rifle as suggested, and apparently commanded a good deal of respect, imagine what he could have done with a real battle rifle like the FAL which you so highly recommend."

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Greg S. wrote to mention that he just purchased the Imperial Berkey water filter with two Black Berkey elements from for $225 (normally $305). It was a "scratch and dent" sale item. (There was a dent on the lid.) Greg reports that the company has just a few more of them available in the special "scratch and dent" sale. Call this number directly to order, since they are not listed on their web page: (877) 886-3653.

"A Governments purpose is to serve those individuals from whom Government receives its authority; it has no other purpose." - Jerry Ahern, Chapter 1 of “No Survivors

Monday, May 24, 2010

We are rapidly approaching the milestone of 20,000,000 unique visits to SurvivalBlog. Our readership is still steadily growing. Many thanks for spreading the word. If you haven't done so already, please mention SurvivalBlog to your friends, co-workers, and members of your congregation.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I live in Nashville, Tennessee.  Most people have heard about the devastation of the recent flooding of  our city –what a  lot of folks don’t know is that there were over 1,400 boat rescues of stranded people who could not (or would not) evacuate their homes before the water overtook them.  The events of these past few weeks has heightened my disaster preparedness and has proven to me once again "that being prepared" is paramount "to surviving" any natural or man-made disaster.

This brings me to share with you what I call the “oh my gosh” moment.  When the forecast for Nashville was for heavy rain on Saturday, May 1st it was just that –heavy rain.  I work at Opry Mills Shopping Mall right next to the OpryLand Hotel.  Saturday it was pouring cats and dogs.  I worked from 2:00 p.m. till our normal closing time of 10:00 p.m..  A lot of the employees were hoping that we would close early not only because of the torrential rain – but because we were also in a severe storm warning.  The roof was leaking in several spots so we had to keep bringing buckets from the stock room to hold the water.  The store was busy – we even had customers until the last register closed. I live 10 miles from work but had no trouble getting home.

The next day Sunday, I was scheduled to work at 1:00 p.m..  I had heard on the news when I got up that we had had 6 inches of rain – a near record amount of rainfall for Nashville and it was still pouring like crazy and was predicted to rain all day. At 9:30 my husband asked me to go to the store for a pack of cigarettes.  Well that ½-mile trip to the store scared me half to death.  Because of the heavy rain, every low spot in the area was filling up and with no place to go was now gushing over the roads. And not slowly – very fast. Small cars were having trouble going through it and even with a large car, I could see how this would very soon get out of hand. The road in front of Opry Mills- Briley Parkway -is a low spot and I knew that if I went to work it would be very dicey coming home.  When I got back from the store I told my husband I would not go to work no matter what – in fact I decided I would wait till noon and call out. I thought: "Well, I didn’t have to do that."  At 11:00, my supervisor called and said the store would be closed because Briley Parkway was starting to flood and that tomorrow the managers would call the employees if it was safe to come in.

Later that night, my husband and I were eating dinner and the local news station was showing pictures of cars stranded on the freeway – people being evacuated from homes and the like. The announcer said ”Someone has sent us a picture of Opry Mills”  Well it showed the shopping center –the parking lot and the road completely under water and our store under three feet of water!  The Cumberland River had overflowed and would not crest for 12 more hours!

That was it- that was my “oh my gosh” moment when it hit me that this was not just some rainfall –not just some flooding – this was really a very serious situation. About one hour after that, I heard they were evacuating Opryland Hotel - a major feat since they had 1,500 people in the hotel and no place to go.

I had experienced this same moment about 15 years ago. I was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. and was in the worst tornado that ever hit the city.  I remember that night- it was not storming- not even raining. We did not have any severe weather predicted.  Just all of a sudden, the wind started howling – I looked outside and all the trees were leaning almost horizontally because the wind was so strong. That’s when it hit me “oh my gosh” –this is serious- I got to the safest place I had access to and within  minutes a tornado fell from the sky and completely destroyed four of the eight buildings in my apt. complex.  I am happy to let everyone know that I was not injured and never experienced any loss of property in either disaster. After seeing the chaos and what happens in the aftermath of these situations there is one thing I learned: You need to try to get out of any bad situation as soon as you have that "Oh my gosh" moment. Why?  Because you may not be able to do so afterwards.  After the tornado –within about 10 minutes the apt complex was surrounded by police and fire trucks. You could smell gas in the air and I found out very soon that a main gas line had broken.  The chief fire marshal came in and did a door-to-door evacuation.  He knocked on my door and said I had to leave, immediately!  It was dark in the apartment and I couldn’t find my purse – he said to me – you must get out Now!  Okay – no purse, no driver’s license, no money - I had to go.  We were told to walk to the front of the apt. complex and that we would be taken to shelters.  I realized that even without my purse, I was one of the lucky ones – I had on sweats and a pair of moccasins.  Most people were in their pajamas, nightgowns or underwear, with no shoes.  The tornado had hit at 1:30 in the morning and many had been thrown out of their beds (literally into the parking lot.)  Everything was very chaotic – people were injured- many had cuts on their feet because over one hundred cars in the parking lot had imploded and there was glass and debris everywhere. Even with no experience about shelters and FEMA, etc. I knew I was not going to a shelter.  I had a friend that lived 3 blocks from the site.  During the confusion – when the fire marshal turned his back -- I started to walk away -- not fast but very controlled – no one saw me. I got to my friends house and stayed there.

One of the articles this week in the Nashville paper told of one neighborhood that was flooded out.  The lady that they interviewed told the reporter how they had called the police and emergency agency and asked if they needed to evacuate.  They could get no answers. Finally, her cousin that worked on one of the dams called her and said Leave!  They knocked on the doors of their neighbors and evacuated – just as the water was almost blocking their exit.

I thought to myself, "Why did she wait? She was concerned enough to call!  She doesn’t need permission to leave her house.  Why did some of the other people wait?" (Not leaving even when the water was 3 feet, 4 feet, some not leaving even when the first responders were there to help them.)  It reminded me of 9/11. When the plane hit the first twin tower someone called the police from the other tower to ask if they should evacuate- the police told them "no".

Remember when you were little and something bad happened?  Maybe it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was disturbing your little world. You probably cried or screamed very loudly.  Then what happened?  Probably your mom or dad came and said – it’s okay – nothing is going to happen.  All the adults would “discount” your gut instincts and then through the years you no longer listened to your gut instinct.  You may have heard that“oh my gosh” this is serious -in your head initially but shortly after that you heard the words- It will be okay!  Well I want everyone to start listening to their gut instincts.  If you think it is be a bad situation, get out immediately!!  The worst that could happen is that everything will be okay and you can return home.  But if you don’t seize that opportunity, it may not come around again.

For all the people that have little hideouts outside the city there is a lesson to be learned. In Nashville both interstates I -24 and I-40 had areas underwater and were impassible as were many side roads.   I’ve had to re-do my evacuation plan to not just include the best routes out of the city but to include every route out. You never know which roads may be affected. Since this flood included 30 counties even into Kentucky, this made escaping extremely hard.  Like I said – if you want to get out it has to be done before things get out of hand. Fortunately, this disaster was local and was handled very well by our mayor and city officials.  Opry Mills went completely underwater and the Opryland Hotel had 6 feet of standing water – if you go to youtube there are some amazing pictures of the flooding of our city. We are without work until the rebuilding- 2 to 4 months.  Opryland Hotel may not open for six months.  It was very scary and will make me work harder to get my survival plan in place.  The next event could be worse, much worse.

Lessons from Nashville, Tennessee - Small Windows of Opportunity

I talked to you about the need to evacuate an emergency as soon as you realize the situation or that “oh my gosh” moment.  Now I want to tell you about the small window of opportunity you may have immediately following a disaster.  Although my home was virtually cut off from the main road (we live on a peninsula on the water).  We live in the very center of the peninsula and on the highest ground in the area.  That meant that although there was drama all around us – my husband and I were safe.  Nashville virtually came to a standstill on Monday after the rain.  Most businesses were closed- the Mayor asked everyone to stay home so they could assess the damage and the worst  was not over because after all the small rivers flooded and were receding the big river – the Cumberland would not crest until later that day.  People set glued to their television sets all weekend- the local channels broadcast the news 24/7.  There was so much damage over such a large area it took a long time to see everything that was going on.  The Cumberland River finally crested at 8:00 p.m. in Nashville 10 feet above flood level.  In Clarksville Tennessee, an area lower in elevation- the Cumberland crested at 20 feet above flood level.  It seemed strange that the worst flooding came after the rain on a beautiful warm and sunny day.  The next day –Tuesday I got up early.  People were venturing out of their houses for the first time and wow what a site.  Even though some water was receding it was awful.  Our local park was a mess – five feet underwater and every ballpark fence down.  So many roads were still flooded it was almost impossible to drive without being detoured. 

As people were gawking at the site, I had an agenda.  The first thing on my list was to get to the grocery store.  My regular store was closed – they lost power during the storm and lost all their frozen foods.  I went to the other store expecting it to be crowded. To my surprise and delight it wasn’t.  Being a prepper I already had a stocked pantry and freezer but my intent was to get some milk, bananas, fresh produce and bottled water.  Even though I did have some I knew it would be in short supply very soon. (At the time of this writing 20 days after the storm we are still on water conservation because one water treatment plant went down with the flood.)  I was right about the water – they had sold out of my brand. I left and went to another store and got what I needed but noticed that as I was leaving – people were getting up and figuring out they better get stuff before it is gone.  My husband needed cigarettes and when I asked for a carton I noticed the girl pulled the last one of his brand off the shelf. Hmmmm  I thought maybe I should go get another carton.  My next stop was the gas station where I topped off the car and bought the other carton of cigarettes. Now on to the bank(s).  We have four bank accounts for a variety of reasons.  I went to each of them and pulled out the maximum amount that you can get for one day at the ATMs.  I do keep cash at the house but decided to get a little more than usual just in case. I purposely did not go into the banks so as to not let my tellers think I panic in situations such as these.  Besides by having multiple bank accounts you can get so much more out without drawing attention to yourself.   By 9:30 when the majority of our neighborhood was just venturing out I was on my way home with everything we would need to be comfortable for at least a month- even longer in the event we would go into “emergency mode”.  Fortunately for our city the Mayor and city officials were very much on top of everything and even though there was widespread destruction there were only minor incidents of looting. Maybe it helps to live in the Bible belt.  At any rate you need to be aware that you have to act fast in any emergency and take advantage of these small  windows of opportunity.

Captain Rawles:
I am a fairly skilled soldier in the U.S. military. Without going into details suffice it to say that I am extremely capable mentally because of my military experience as well as a healthy desire to educate and train myself in my free time. However, I travel most of the time. I have no stored food and don't own any possessions that won't fit in my car. Due to travel I don't even own my own firearm, even though I am trained in the use of dozens of arms and explosives. Assume that I'm am the perfect soldier for hire. How do I convince someone that is ultimately prepared for any scenario, specifically extra armaments and food, to allow my assistance? How do I make myself a walking resume in a time of crisis? Would a well-prepared person have any reason to accept my assistance? Is there some sort of "secret handshake" between survivalists that couldn't be faked?
Sincerely, - Andrew S.

JWR Replies: Yes, a well-prepared person would want to accept your assistance, if you can document that you have specialized skills--particularly in field medicine, sniping, and field demolitions and improvised weapons.

I recommend that you make two full-size laminated copies of your DD-214. In a double Ziploc bag, also carry copies of your commendations, OERs (or EERs), and at least two letters of recommendation from your current and recent commanding officers (COs). To get letters of recommendation from your COs (or perhaps your CSMs), tell them that you are thinking about working as a Personal Security Detail (PSD) contractor in the Stans, with a company like Xe Services (formerly known as Blackwater.) That way, their letters will highlight your tactical skills.

I also recommend that you assemble a full-blown Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) kit--also called a Bug out Bag (BoB). Think of it as a "sustainment load" for TEOTWAWKI. In your circumstances, you should try to fit most of this gear into a large backpack, plus a dufflebag or two. Keep in mind that since what makes you marketable is your skills, you consequently need to have the references to back them up. That means that you should be carrying copies of books like these:

A few key tools, such as a full-up medic's bag (the bigger the better) would also be a comforting sight for someone that might hire you. Also, a pair of cap crimping pliers (or a Leatherman tool with a cap crimper) and a small blasting machine might also prove useful.

One last suggestion: Wearing a SurvivalBlog Operator's Cap might also prove to be useful for introductions. In some circles, it is the next best thing to a "secret handshake".

Hi Jim,
I would like your thoughts on something. I have been stocking up on silver for many years, but I'm wondering what you think will happen to the value of it at TEOTWAWKI. Here is my thinking, right now silver is worth around $18 U.S. dollars per [Troy] ounce, that is easy to understand. But if the dollar goes away then how do we put a value on the silver? I have been told that silver will go way up if the dollar fails but I can't seem to understand how it will work. Currently I could trade silver for cash, but if there was no [functional] cash how would I know what the silver would be worth? So, right now an ounce of silver is worth, two laying hens, or $20. But what happens after the SHTF? Will an ounce of silver be worth twenty hens? Or maybe just a can of beans? How will it all work? Any insight? Thanks for all you do. - M. in Utah

JWR Replies: I think that a better long term perspective on "prices" versus "values", we should examine four points of reference: Wages, manufactured goods, services and real property (houses.) First, let's look at wages. Back "in the old days"--say before World War I--the average wage for a working man was around one silver dollar a day. One day's wage right now for someone that works at a minimum wage job (at $7.25 per hour) is $58 for an eight hour work day. A more typical wage for a workman with experience is around $11 per hour ($88 per day.) One dollar (face value ) in 90% silver pre-1965 coinage contains 22.5 grams of silver, or 0.7234 troy ounces per dollar face value. Today's spot price of silver is $17.55 per Troy ounce. So that makes a pre-inflation Dollar (a true dollar in silver coin) worth $12.79. (Or just think of it as roughly 13 times $1 in face value -- "13 times face", whether it is silver dimes, quarters, or half dollars.) So, to put things in perspective, it takes $6.76 in Pre-'65 silver coinage to equal one typical day's wages ($88 in the current fiat paper money). Thus in terms of wages silver should have a spot value about five or six times it current value. By this measure, silver appears to be grossly under-valued.

Next, let's discuss manufactured goods. As I mentioned once before in SurvivalBlog: In 1964 (the last year that silver coins were in general circulation in the U.S.), a basic blued steel Colt Model 1911 .45 automatic pistol cost around $65 retail. Today, a comparable Colt M1911 (a Series 80) costs around $775 retail. So if you were to sell $65 face value of your cache of silver coinage at your local coin shop, and they offered you 12 times "face"--that would net you $780 in the current funny money. You could then easily go buy a .45 at your local gun shop with the proceeds. The bottom line: it is not autopistols that have gone up in "price". Rather, it is paper dollars that have gone down in purchasing power.

How about services? In 1964, a haircut cost around 75 cents, or perhaps $1 in the big city. Today it costs $14.

Now let's look at the relative values of silver coinage and real property: In 1964, the median house price in the U.S. was around $18,000. Today, it is around $170,000. (A 9.4x increase.) If you had set aside $18,000 face value in silver coins in 1964 (18 bags of $1,000 face value each), and held them until the present day, they'd net you around $216,000 if you sold them to a bullion coin dealer. That is enough for an above average house. So obviously silver coins have held their value far better than paper dollars. Anyone who sits on paper dollars for very long--at least dollars that aren't earning much interest--is a fool.

In my opinion, you can trust tangibles (like silver and guns), but you shouldn't put much trust in paper currency in the long term. To safeguard your net worth in the inflationary days to come, always remember: Don't leave your earnings in paper money for long. As quickly as possible, convert it into tangibles, to protect your savings from the ravages of inflation. Consumer price inflation is mild now, but that probably won't be the case in the near future. Adjust your monetary mindset and you modus operandi!

Yes, I realize the foregoing is simplistic. Among other things, it overlooks factors such as compounding interest and stock market values. But the essence of it is clear: In the long run paper currencies that are not genuinely redeemable for specie lose value. Inflation is a hidden form of taxation. Cui bono? Who benefits from currency inflation? The organization that runs the printing press.

In closing, let's return to that hypothetical practical barter in a Schumeresque world. You asked: " would I know what the silver would be worth?" I surmise that it will probably buy you about the same value goods or services as it does today, give or take. The exact value is not important. Those things sort themselves out rapidly, in a free market. (Free markets reach price equilibrium very quickly.) Within a few weeks after a currency crisis, the "in silver" price of beans, rice, .22LR and gasoline will already be established and become common knowledge. The important thing to remember is that the relative values of precious metals and irredeemable paper currency. Metals hold their value, whereas paper currencies do not. You know where I stand, and where I suggest that you place your trust.

Explanations about constructing homemade slow sand filters are on numerous web sites and have been for years. Typically, they use 5 gallon buckets with layers of sand (sometimes they specify the size of the grains of sand), gravel and charcoal. A little bit of research will show how to construct one to experiment with and to maintain for use in an emergency. Typically these are not very effective against water that is contaminated by chemicals. While barrels will allow you to filter more water, you will not be able to move it and there will be the problem of bringing enough water to fill the barrel in the first place. Five gallon buckets of water will weigh about 40 lbs and that is a safe amount of weight for most adults to carry. Alan W. in Maryland

For slow sand filter designs, see the web site.

The critical point is that the surface of the sand supports a film of slime that does the heavy lifting of the filtration. Disturb the film and you degrade the filter. Pouring 5 gallons of water into the filter from a height of 3 feet will degrade the film, so you need a way to drip the water in. Also, keep in mind that the slime is a biologically living film of bacteria. It takes some time to develop and will starve if it is not fed (used). Regards, - J.H.

Jim and Family:
See the Wikipedia page on slow sand filters. I used to work in an office that shared space with a water treatment engineer. They talked about using 60 foot deep sand pits to filter water for an entire town. The more sand it goes through, the cleaner the water coming out from the bottom is. It scales up nicely, and its very cheap to setup. Best, -InyoKern

Reader Brad S. spotted this: PIMCO's Gross: Markets exhibiting "flight to liquidity". Mass inflation is coming soon, folks. Transition out of dollars and into tangibles now, while it is still affordable!

FDIC: Problem banks at 775. "A total of 775 banks, or one-tenth of all U.S. banks, were on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's list of 'problem' institutions in the first quarter, as bad loans in the commercial real-estate market weighed on bank balance sheets."

K. in Montana sent me this one: Whatever Germany does, the euro as we know it is dead

Items from The Economatrix:

Regulators Shut Small Minnesota Bank

Jobless Claims Rise By Largest Amount in Three Months

Oil Settles 2% Lower After Wild Swings

Leading US Indicator Drops Unexpectedly

Worldwide Stocks Fall for Sixth Straight Day

Behind the European Drama Lies a Global Crisis

Mish: Meredith Whitney Sees Bleak Second Half in Stock Market, Small Business Credit Crunch, Double Dip in Housing, Says European Banks in Worse Shape

D.J.A. sent this article that illustrates how the mainstream is catching on: The Prepper Movement -- a Growing Network Preparing for the World's End

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For those of you that--like me--up until now have just been mildly bemused at the sight of people walking around with their prized Kindle readers, here is some good news: you can read Kindle books on PCs and most recently announced, on Mac desktop and laptop computers. And even better, the requisite software is a free download. Of course once you've done that, you can get the Kindle software editions of various preparedness books like "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" and "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". (Hint, hint.)

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A reminder that Safecastle is running a special sale from May 16-29 only, with 25% Off All Mountain House #10 Cans, and free Shipping to the Lower 48 States. There are additional freebies, depending on the quantity that you order. (See their web page for details.) There are just five days left in this sale, so order soon!

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Kevin S. sent this: Backyard gardens become income generators in lean times

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K. in Montana pointed me to a great series of posts over at the Rural Revolution blog, edited by Patrice Lewis: Preparedness 101.

Describing the current economic crisis and why no nation can print its way into prosperity: “If debt and money printing equaled prosperity then Zimbabwe would be the richest country.” - Marc Faber, as quoted by Andrew Mellon of Breitbart's Big Government blog.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When you mention bicycles in the context of survival preparation, most people roll their eyes. I used to feel the same way. The image of pedaling through the apocalypse with mushroom clouds in the background is almost comical. But, after buying a motor kit as a toy and trying it out for a while, I have completely changed my opinion. These are serious machines that may fit a niche in your survival plans. They fit my plans perfectly.

We are much more likely to experience a severe economic decline rather than a collapse. In fact, a lot of people would argue that we are already in the middle of it. High gas prices and chronic shortages are more likely than a total meltdown of society. Blocked or debris-filled streets are much more likely than the end of the world. If you live in a good area for bikes, and expect extreme gas prices, bikes start to make a lot of sense. Even without a motor, bikes are not a bad emergency form of transportation, but if you mount a small motor, they suddenly become a very viable transportation tool. Without readily available fuel or working phone lines or when roads are blocked by debris, face to face meetings and short errands around town become a real problem. A motorbike can be a perfect solution.

I commute to work on a motorized mountain bike. I bought the kit on Amazon for under $150 and it moves my bike along at about 25 mph. Since I built it myself, I can repair almost anything that goes wrong with it. Spares are currently cheap, so I keep quite a lot of spare parts on hand. In fact, I have two bikes now and spares for both. They get over 100mpg and I expect I can keep them moving long after all the SUVs are off the roads.

The engine kits I am talking about are made in China and mount onto most bike frames as long as there is room inside the frame (no ladies bikes or rear suspension types). They are basically a big chainsaw engine with a drive chain and a better muffler. They generate about 2.5 to 3 horsepower. They are available via mail order and cheap and easy to mount. They turn a normal beach cruiser into a mini-dirt-bike.

Advantages and disadvantages:

1. Speed. Pedal powered bikes are not as useful because they are slow and require a level of fitness and commitment that may be beyond many of us. A 20 or 30 mile trip becomes an ordeal on a normal pedal bike, especially without paved roads. Motor bikes can move 10-20 MPH on almost any road or trail all day long without breaking a sweat. On a level paved road, they can cruise along at up to 30mph (with a speed sprocket). (One of my bikes is geared for a maximum speed of 25 MPH and high power at lower speeds, the other is geared for 35 MPH). This is comparable to a car inside most towns and allows you to cover serious distances without serious effort. Your bike carries well over 50 miles of fuel in a 2 liter tank and you can easily triple that by carrying a one gallon gas can. (You could easily get over 75 miles per tank, but I am being conservative.) A 50 mile round trip is not an excessive distance for one of these bikes.

2. Economy. This is the biggest reason to choose one of these bikes over a small motorcycle. The cost of a new bike and motor kit is well under $300. A full accessory and spares package including cargo system, cables, tires, spare carb, inner-tubes and everything electronic on the bike will cost less than $300 more. You can even store a whole new kit for less than $150. Buying a systemized kit with full spares will cost less than $600 total outlay. This is half the price of a commercial mo-ped with no spares or accessories.

Adding 2 stroke oil to gasoline raises the price by about a dollar per gallon. This is more than offset by the added mileage you enjoy. These bikes get between 100-150 mpg on the average. Economical speed is roughly 20mph and can get a little better than 150mpg. If 2 stroke oil becomes hard to find or too expensive, you can use regular motor oil by just changing the mix ratio a little. While this is not as efficient as real 2 stroke oil, it works just fine and won't damage your engine. Buy a 1 gallon gas can and store all your fuel in larger cans. This allows you to easily mix fuel by filling the 1 gallon can half full, dumping a 4 oz bottle of oil into it and then topping it off with gasoline. One gallon will fill your tank twice.

These engines burn any kind of gasoline a car will burn and then some. They are not very choosy about fuels. They will burn E-85 or you can even mix up to 1/20 kerosene or heating oil and they will burn it without even noticing the difference.

Last, but not least, you can (and have to) do all of your own maintenance and repair work, so you won't ever be paying a mechanic (or looking for one). This sounds discouraging until you realize just how simple these machines are to maintain and repair. The ability to keep these bikes running in a crisis is a major selling point for me. I understand everything about them and can keep them on the road without help.

These engines are not designed to last as long as a car. You can expect about 10000 miles or so from an engine, depending on how hard you ride it. Or another way of looking at it, I can commute to work for over 2 years before I need a new $70 engine. The bike tires and brakes won't last nearly that long.

3. Easy maintenance. You can tear your bike and engine apart and do maintenance that would be impossible on a car, or even a motorcycle. Replacing a head-gasket on a car requires a fully stocked garage and trained mechanics, but I can do it on my bike engine in about an hour and even make my own replacement gaskets out of junk laying around the house. Notice I said easy maintenance rather than no maintenance. You will have to maintain your bike and that requires about an hour a week if you commute on it. This is much more trouble than a car. If you are afraid to get your hands greasy, these bikes are not for you.

4. Simplicity. There is not much to go wrong. These engines use a carburetor that is little more than a sliding valve made up of a pin and a bigger hole for air. They also have a bowl to hold gas and a little float valve to regulate fuel. They suck the fuel into the crank case (this lubes it too) where it vaporizes and gets sucked into the piston. During the next compression stroke, most of it is burned. Whatever doesn't burn gets spit out the exhaust. If your mixture is wrong or you have water in your fuel, the bike coughs a little, spits out the water and keeps right on moving. They are air cooled by fins on the engine block. The simplicity is elegant. You can repair it easily if it ever goes wrong.

All the electronics on the bike (one chip) are contained in a Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI) unit smaller than a pack of cigarettes that costs about $15 counting postage. Keeping a spare CDI unit insulated with aluminum foil in a metal ammo can pretty much makes your bike EMP proof.

Buying a kit:

If you are considering building one of these, I recommend you start out by visiting the Motor Bicycling web site. This is a motorbike blog where the fanatics go to talk. They are an excellent resource if you run into issues building or maintaining your bike. Check out their sponsors to get a look at current prices. You might be surprised at how low the prices are.

If you want, you can buy a complete kit with a bike ready to assemble for well under $300 from Bikeberry. I bought my last kit (A 66cc Grubee Skyhawk kit) from them and was very satisfied with the quality of the kit and the service. They are highly thought of in the motorbike community. You can save a few dollars by ordering from a mail order company. The service is mostly what you are paying for. I have bought two kits from two different companies and the products are the same and have nothing to do with the price. Both of them are mostly identical and both worked just great.

5. Lack of red tape: While these kits are EPA approved, In most states, motorized bicycles require no registration, tags, taxes or special licence to operate. They are just bikes. In my State, they require a helmet and a driver's licence to operate and cannot be operated by minors. That's all. Check your local laws before you buy one though because some states are more restrictive. (The People's Republic of Kalifornia, for instance, has outlawed 2 stroke engines for road use, so if you live there, forget about a 2 stroke and look into a 4 stroke kit at the web sites I just mentioned).

6. Too dangerous to use after a total meltdown. If society crumbles and law enforcement fails, riding any bike or motorcycle will become dangerous. Any travel after law enforcement fails will be hazardous, but it's suicidal on a bike.

Assembling your kit:

Get some decent instructions! The instructions that come with the kits are horrible. They are poorly translated from Chinese and not worth reading unless you need a laugh. You can get good instructions at these sites:


All of these engines are similar and all bikes are slightly different, so feel free to improvise. You will need some mechanical aptitude and a few tools to assemble one, but nothing spectacular. My first kit took 9 hours to assemble, including a lot of searching on the Internet to find instructions. Building my second kit took maybe 2 hours (really 3 hours because I also had to assemble the bike).

I bought a pretty good tool kit at an auto parts store for $30. It included a full (metric and USA) socket set, hex key set, pliers and a complete set of wrenches. That's all you will need, but an electric drill and hacksaw might be useful too. This is a good weekend project for a complete beginner. Check out the instructions at the links above to see the scope of the work, but don't get discouraged. It's easier than it looks.

Tips for getting the most out of your bike:

Buy a heavy steel frame bike. All expensive bikes are optimized for low weight and high speed, but many of them won't carry any cargo and won't hold up to this level of abuse. You will be adding 20 pounds to the bike with a motor kit and may be hauling over 400 pounds counting yourself, so saving 10 pounds by spending more for a weaker frame makes no sense.

Don't worry too much about weight. Your bike is going to be almost as fast as a racing bike anyway and you won't be pedaling it much. Schwinn makes a "beach cruiser" frame in several configurations that are strong and cheap and work great. The cheapest Schwinn cruisers work about as well as the more expensive models. You won't need more than one gear unless you just want more or anticipate pedaling long distances without the motor. The 7-speed models are a little easier to convert to a motorbike than the single speed models with coaster brakes, but either will work. You will want a better rack on it than Schwinn provides, so why pay for it twice? The object is to buy a frame that's strong enough and large enough to make a good cargo hauler.

The big tires on cruiser frames are pretty good on dirt tracks, sand or mud and still give you a smooth ride on streets. I don't advise mountain bike "knobby" tires unless you intend to ride off road on rough trails most of the time. You will probably prefer staying on roads to take advantage of higher speeds and you will appreciate the smoother ride. You can customize your bike for either purpose by getting an optional speed or power sprocket, but the standard 44 tooth rear sprocket is a pretty good compromise, with a top speed of something like 25mph and enough power to pull a trailer. (With the speed sprocket, you may find that your bike moves faster than you want to go on a cheap cruiser bike anyway. 25 mph is fast on a bike, but 35mph is scary on a bike.)

Get a good cargo carrying system. I have used both panniers and baskets and like them both. A pannier system is sort of like a large laptop case on each side of the rear wheel and perhaps another day-pack sized bag on top. If you choose baskets, you can mount a large one on the rack and two more bolted along the rear wheel. Whichever system you choose, A good rear rack is essential, so don't scrimp and buy a cheap one. I recommend the "Topeak Explorer Bike Rack" which costs under $30 on Amazon. It's not the best, but it's inexpensive and well built. A good rack allows you to carry quite a lot of cargo. Don't try to wear a backpack on a bike. It makes you top-heavy and unstable and tires you. I can fit a fully loaded day-pack or patrol pack easily in a basket on my rack and hardly notice the weight. The same weight on my back would be unsafe.

To be truly useful in a long term or EMP emergency, you should probably have a trailer for your bike. Even a baby-carrier allows you to haul at least four bags of groceries or a couple of Jerry cans of water or fuel with ease. You can fit a very heavy bug-out bag in one of these trailers with room and weight to spare. These bikes behave pretty well with a cargo trailer, you just have to keep your speed low enough to keep the trailer from self-destructing. I recommend the "Aosom Bicycle Bike Cargo Trailer-red and Black " which costs about $130 on Amazon and carries up to 180 pounds. This trailer shouldn't be hauled much faster than 15-20mph with a heavy load or it may break. Go easy on the throttle when you are hauling a trailer and really slow down if the road is bad.

Make sure your brakes are up to the task, especially with a trailer. Most bikes are made to go a maximum of 20 mph with a normal cruising speed of about 12 mph. You will be moving much faster than that. Accidents at 30mph are much more serious than accidents at 10mph. If you can find a bike with disk brakes, it will stop better, especially on wet roads. Be sure to wear a helmet and long pants.

Get an aftermarket spark plug. In fact, get a couple so you have spares. They are cheap. These bikes use a cheap Chinese plug and get a little better performance with a name-brand part. Spark gap is not critical. Gap your plug anywhere between .025"-.035 and it will work fine.

Champion L86C
Autolite 4093 or 425

Clean out your gas tank before you mount least look in there and see if it's full of rust or dirt. One of my tanks was coated inside with motor oil and was full of metal filings. If the tank is rusted, put several hundred BBs or a length of chain in there and shake the tank for a few minutes to remove any loose rust and then wash the tank out with about 1/4 cup of fuel mix (being very careful! Gasoline is explosive.)

Remove the covers from both sides to expose the magneto and transmission and clean out any metal shavings you find. Re-grease the gears. You have to lube the gears periodically anyway, might as well start out right. You should grease the gears every 50 miles or so or they won't last. You don't need anything special. Any grease will work, but lithium grease comes highly recommended. A tube of grease will last you basically forever. You only use a tiny amount each time. In an emergency, you could probably use Crisco or tallow.

While you have the covers off, take a good look behind the magneto flywheel- there is a seal behind it, and if it is not properly seated, do that with a wooden dowel, not a screw driver. Just gently push it in evenly all the way around. Wipe out any dirt or metal shavings.

Use a fuel filter. Buy one if your kit doesn't come with one. As TEOTWAWKI transportation, you never know when you will need to burn really dirty fuel. A fuel filter costs about 2 dollars and mounts in seconds. These engines don't mind a little dirt, but sand in the fuel line can ruin them. Even a really cheap 80 cent filter makes your fuel system worry free.

A better aftermarket air filter might be a good idea if you anticipate riding in dusty conditions. They cost about $10 at any auto parts store or you can order it when you order your spare bike parts.

Make sure your chain is aligned and lubed. Take your time when you mount the rear sprocket. Keep it perfectly aligned and you will have a smoother ride and less wear. You can do this by spinning the wheel and holding a pencil against the sprocket. Tighten bolts next to high spots until the pencil makes a complete ring around the sprocket. It takes an extra 5 minutes but it's worth the effort. After you ride the bike a couple of hours, check it again. Once your sprocket is aligned, put a drop of Locktite on each bolt and you can forget about your sprocket. It will stay aligned.

Don't ever use WD-40 or other penetrating oils on your chain to lubricate it. They wash out the remaining real lube and then evaporate. Use any good chain oil or motor oil if you must and then wipe off the excess so the chain won't pick up dirt as bad. The same goes for the pulley/tensioner. Don't make the chain too tight. About 1" of play is fine. You should probably wipe down and re-lube your chain about every 50 miles to keep road grit from wearing your sprockets and chain.

Use a thread-locker such as Locktite (or at least nail polish) on every bolt you ever touch with a wrench. Without it, bolts vibrate loose in no time. Even bolts with lock-washers should get a drop of locktite. Never over-tighten the head bolts, or any bolt that goes into aluminum- 10-to-15 ft/lbs. is enough. The locktite will keep everything secure and trouble free.

Carry tools. This is not a car. Bikes require frequent tinkering to keep rolling. You will need to carry a small tool kit to allow you to effect repairs on the road. I carry a leatherman, hex key-ring, spark plug wrench, bone wrench, spare cable, air pump, spare tube and patch kit and pliers (also a little tube of locktite). These tools (except for the spare tube and hand pump) fit conveniently in a US Army M16 cleaning kit pouch. I carry a length of 550 cord wound around the kit to allow me to hoist the bike if I ever need to. These are the same tools I use in my garage. With these few tools and parts I find that I can fix pretty much anything that can break. I have only used the kit twice, once to help another biker, and once to replace a broken clutch cable, but it was nice to have and takes up little space.

Armor your tires. Your tires are your weakest spot. TEOTWAWKI probably won't have clean, litter free streets. Buy some self sealing tubes and tire armor and install them. Tire armor strips are heavy plastic strips that fit between the tire and inner-tube and prevent most punctures. All of the objections bikers have to these are related to the extra weight they add. Weight is not a problem for you, so feel free to armor plate your tubes. If you get a puncture, try to remove the object that caused it and then simply rotate the tire to place the leak at the lowest point and re-inflate the tire and it will probably seal itself. You should also carry a spare tube with your tool kit, just in case. It's hard to patch self sealing tubes, so carry a standard weight tube as a spare. If the worst happens and you have an unsealable flat, you can be rolling again in less than 10 minutes.

If you buy lights for nigh time running, I recommend a LED battery system that can be quickly dismounted and used as a flashlight. Standardize your batteries with the ones you already store. Old-school generator lights are a pain to keep adjusted and running a light off the magneto is not as easy or useful as a system that dismounts.

All bicycles need to be ridden before they are reliable. When you first buy a bike everything seems to go wrong for the first hundred miles or so. Things fall off or vibrate loose. You find that the seat hurts your backside, or the mirrors aren't properly aligned. Put a couple of hundred miles on it so you break in the motor and get all your accessories working. At the end of the break-in, you will have a safe reliable ride. At that point, if you want, you can drain the fuel and mothball the bike for emergencies by letting some of the pressure out of the tires and hanging it up on hooks in your garage. It will be ready to fuel up and ride when you need it.

To "systemize" your bike, you will need some spares. Any time you have to buy a part, buy a second one as a spare. You will want to keep spare inner tubes and a couple of tires, a spark plug, several spare brake cables and brake pads. You will want clutch pads too. A spare chain make sense. Ride your bike for a couple of hundred miles and you will have a good idea of which parts are starting to wear. You will also need some lubricants such as chain oil and grease.

Buy at least enough 2 stroke [gas mixing] oil for the gasoline you store. Five 5 gallon cans of gas and 25 x 4 oz bottles of oil will carry your bike 2,500 miles, or about 4 months of moderate (150 miles a week) around-town use. I would recommend storing twice that much oil and rotating it to allow you to continue another 2,500 miles range if you have the opportunity to fill your fuel cans occasionally. That way, you won't have to resort to burning motor oil for a long time. You can lower the ratio of oil to gas slightly and gain some engine performance, but I use 1:32 mix (4 oz oil to a gallon of gas) and it works well enough.

If you ever have to burn motor oil, use normal 10W30 and increase the amount of oil to 1:16 (double the amount compared to 2 stroke oil). It will create clouds of gray smoke, and reduce your power slightly but it won't hurt your engine. This is the recommended ratio from the manufacturer and is supposedly a common practice in China.

When gasoline is scarce or too expensive to afford, or the roads are choked by debris, a motorbike can give you the ability to move around your community freely even when cars can't. In a pinch, it can haul a surprising amount of cargo over almost any terrain for very long distances. They are simple, cheap, durable and sip gas. You may be able to keep one rolling long after the cars stop. A motorbike may fit a niche in your survival strategy.

Reading over all the responses to Dan B.'s article, there seems to be a common misunderstanding of the foe we are facing. I have seen several failed states and disasters up close and they are nothing like a "B Movie". Please don't expect to face a disorganized mob of lightly armed refugees. The refugees are going congregate in a town nearby. They are not going to storm your cabin, they are going to vote in a town meeting to send professionals to do it.

There may be "raiders" in the form of biker gangs or prison escapees (think The Road Warrior), ravaging your area. If so, you have a slight (but possible ) chance of standing them off with a determined armed response. Outlaw raiders suffer from all of the faults pointed out in the recent response letters. They will be too selfish to risk death, and not cohesive as a unit. They may also move on to easier pickings if you bloody their noses. The trouble is, Mutant Zombie Biker (MZB) gangs are almost a fantasy enemy. I don't see outlaw gangs as the primary foe.

The enemy that will approach your homestead will be wearing a badge and smiling. He may be a deacon in your church. He will politely knock on your door and show you a paper that authorizes him to search your property for "hoarded food" and fuel. He will probably have a small group of workers and a truck, but may not even be armed. He will be apologetic. He's "just doing his job". What are you going to do? Shoot him?

If you choose to refuse his reasonable request, you are a criminal. The polity that sent him, (probably a town council) will put out a warrant for your arrest. They may not have enough food, but they have other resources, like weapons and manpower. They can deputize hundreds of men if they need to. The very fact that you are not letting them search your property will be enough justification to use whatever force they require. Remember, the Mayor or council, doesn't have to storm your homestead. They are in no danger of being shot. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain from sending in the dogs of war.

Their "professionals" may be a sheriff and a small police department and you might even be so arrogant that you think you can beat them in a firefight. But remember, the local town sheriff is not alone. He can request assistance from the county, or state. And he will. No sheriff can let a group of nuts with rifles defy him with impunity. He must take you down or risk losing his authority or even his job. He will get help in the form of heavy weapons and troops from the national guard if he needs it. You may be facing a Bradley [Infantry Fighting Vehicle] platoon, or an artillery barrage, not a starving mob.

A local government is never going to "move on to easier pickings if you shoot a few." That's because they are going to systematically search every building...not just the easy ones. You literally can't fight city hall (and expect to win).

I know this is hard to think about, but please believe me: An infantry squad or a SWAT team will defeat you if you plan to fight from a fixed defense. Dan B. is absolutely right. You can't win, no matter how much ammo you store. You are much better off storing more food. - JIR

Dear Mr. Rawles:
With regard to the thought of BG in his comments on Four Great Preparedness Myths, I recall Bruce Clayton in "Thinking About Survival ", relating his evolution as a survivalist, finally considering securing enough wheat to feed every family in a five mile radius from his homestead for one year. (pp. 21-26). One aspect of his rationale bears on this issue: "...(my neighbors) might not form a very effective fighting force by military standards, but at least I'd know that anyone who started taking potshots at my windows would soon have one of my neighbors getting into position behind him. It wouldn't just be (my family) and me against the world any more". BTW, I strongly recommend this book to one and all. Very thoughtful, very thought provoking. - Skyrat

Dear Jim and Family,
Thanks to articles on Polities, defending against the Golden Horde, and Greece, I have to conclude there are some very different, and probably equally viable ways to get through this enduring crisis we call the Great Recession (which is still not over). Some of the outcomes have been rather surprising. I did not, for example, expect the price of oil to drop. Its running out, after all, so you'd think it would go up and up. Greece and the rest of the EU depression has drastically cut demand so the price has fallen. This will only happen until the oil producing nations cut production so they can hang onto what they've still got for their children.

Thirty years ago, in 1980, the conventional wisdom for dealing with TEOTWAWKI was "beans and bullets". That's not so much the best way now. This is a multigenerational collapse, but it's not a Golden Horde MZB collapse. It's a Great Depression type, perhaps similar to what has happened in Japan for the last 20 years. Japan has been in and out (but mostly in) Recession since 1990. The population endures long term unemployment. They tried to cheer themselves up, and have finally moved to saving their money in the mattress rather than buy things they don't need. We are looking at much the same thing. Manufacturing jobs have moved overseas to benefit multinational corporations. Our only defense against them is to refuse to buy their products. Those same multinationals somehow convinced (Bribed?) our government to bail them out when their bets went South, but they always kept the profits when things were good. We have to hold our government responsible for that. The poll results of the primaries have certainly shown we don't like what they've done. I think it highly unlikely the current president will get a second term. He's made Jimmy Carter look successful, and that's really saying something.

The good news is that this multigenerational collapse is so slow moving that the fears of a population panicking and turning into the Golden Horde hasn't happened and probably won't. They have lots of time to adjust to the new reality, a return to poorer roots. It will be hardest for today's teenagers, raised on limitless wealth and materialism. Some here refer to spiritual defense. In this case I'd agree. A spiritual defense against materialism is definitely called for. If we fail in this, those same youth will be hurting us to get what they want via gangs and mafia and even simple burglary or falling into drugs and prostitution, which is typically a short trip into the next life, such as it is. It is easy to say: respect their choices and let them die. But we do need them. We need them to work and reshape our world into something which can exist without cheap energy and easy solutions. We can't throw money at a problem until it goes away. That was how our parents did things, and look where that got us. We have to do better. It's our job now.

The only ways through the current mess of enduring Recession (Depression) is 1) hide or 2) lead. Leading is easier and cheaper. Hiding may end up making you a target, once your position is known. You can build the rural complex, and call it a farm and start bartering with your neighbors, but eventually the tax man or the burglar will come and the wrong choice at the wrong time will lose the farm or get you locked away, maybe both. This is the biggest downside to the firearms collection. It has very limited utility, and a very small legal window, particularly because Rule Of Law is not suspended during our Long Recession and probably won't be. We don't get to have easy answers. We get to have hard ones. That's the biggest and most unpleasant truth to this Multigenerational Collapse. If you lead you have a chance to change the course and fix the mistakes and say no when it must be said.

The good news is once the current generation of materialist twits, and the past generation that caused this collapse have either grown up or faded away, ourselves and a generation without the conceits of easy materialism can build a serious future that will actually work, one without cheap oil, celebrity worship, and cultural antagonism. Why am I so optimistic? This isn't optimism. It's pragmatism.

The Recession is a temper tantrum. It will end when we stop clinging to a past that isn't going to get better. We have to embrace a future built on honest labor, clean water, local agriculture, local manufacturing, rail transport, and renewable energy. No more money to angry Middle Eastern tyrants, hypocritical Asian capitalists, African pirates, or pretentious Venezuelans. Our government has shown itself incompetent dealing with those threats. Those things aren't our concern any more. There is no point in continuing to pay for failure.

We really should let our leaders know that the world needs to take care of itself, and we should take care of ourselves. As is the case in business, being first is often the way to succeed. If you've shaken off the yoke of materialism, you have a real chance to lead the rest of your generation out of this mess and end the collapse, at least locally, sooner. I really do think we'll end up locally bootstrapping ourselves out of this, that relying even slightly on Washington DC to fix it is childish. We have to be grownups here, because they can't be. They're trapped into the image of a lost age, one that's well and truly over. Best, - InyoKern

Estimate for Nashville property damage from flood tops $1.9 billion. The eventual insurance tab may surpass the New Orleans flooding, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina!

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Nic mentioned that the excellent Gun Test consumer review magazine has come out with a new online magazine - Gun Reports - to cover the multiplicity of guns and gear that can't fit in their print magazine:

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Savings Experiment: Where better batteries meet bargain power. (Thanks to Matt in Oklahoma for the link.)

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Judy T. was the first of several readers to send this: US rifles not suited to warfare in Afghan hills. My congrats to Associated Press writer Slobodan Lekic, who got the technical details right in reporting this complex issue.

"Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." - 2 Corinthians 1:2-4

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’ve learned that the best way to obtain much needed resources is to look on the ground.

We grow a large garden at two sites for my family. We can and preserve what we will use later and eat the stuff from the grocery now while it’s cheap.
The fruits and veggies we consume come from the ground. We box in one area, add proper compost, manure, sand and dirt and then till until we get the proper texture for the different plants we grow. All the while the ground is the entire reason for this. Everything we use for our gardening techniques starts from the ground.
Rabbits and chickens for meat and eggs walk the same ground we use to fertilize our gardens. We feed the rabbits and chickens leaves, stalks and any inedible bits from the garden to minimize the cost of feed. Again, it starts from the ground and ends back on the ground when the critters are done with it.

Of all the countries I’ve traveled during my military career, water is one of the hardest, if not most impossible commodities to come across. However, we all literally walk on water every day.
Our forefathers were able to drink from rivers and streams during their time. My grandfather was able to drink from rivers and streams as a boy because they weren’t polluted with chemical and pesticide runoff like they are today. However, some of that same “dirty” water is filtered with, well, dirt.
Dig deep enough and you will find water in most climb and place. The deserts of the Middle East have natural springs scattered throughout their vast terrain. The mountains of South America have water running through them. The plains of the central United States sit atop one of the largest water reservoirs in the world.
Again, look at the ground for what it is. It’s your helper for almost everything you NEED.
One thing I’ve realized, and it should have been common sense, is that if rain water is absorbed by the ground and filtered through layer after layer of sand, gravel, sediment and rock, we should be able to mimic this same natural process to help us obtain clean water to use during TEOTWAWKI.

I’ve seen nothing on the Internet to demonstrate how to do this, but the way I figure it, do it in stages. Filter water through a 55 gallon drum filled with sand. A drainage hole at the bottom would allow the first stage of water to flow into another container. Dump that container into another drum filled with gravel. Repeat process until you have sent it through multiple stages. I’m not 100 percent certain, but what you should end up with is usable water for feeding animals and cleaning. If all goes well enough you might end up with water that can be boiled, cooled and then used for drinking and cooking. The boiling should remove the final remnants of bacteria that escaped the natural filtering process.
This is just a thought but as of yet I haven’t found anything to prove it wouldn’t work. I’m sure with enough attempts someone will get it right and it will work for the benefit of others. And I’m also certain you have readers who are familiar if not experts in this field that can write something to help this along.

Food storage
We store most our canned goods underground in a root cellar. It’s a genuine cave that stays generally the same temperature year round, with the exception of winter when the cold air settles into the cellar. But nothing has frozen or spoiled since we’ve been doing this.
Our larder grows larger by the month because of our ability to keep our food fresher underground than in the cupboards in our kitchen. When we need something to feed our family, which all growing families generally do, we go underground to get it.

Alternate living spaces
During the summer months in the Midwest the humidity can sometimes be unbearable. Some families have adopted to live in their basements to stay cooler. Others have moved kitchens into their basements to avoid heating an entire house while cooking. Still others aren’t lucky enough to have this retreat built into their homes.

A place to escape
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m scared to death of thunderstorms in my neck of the woods because they generally create a few tornadoes.
I’ve lived in tornado alley for more than four years now and my home has so far gone untouched by one, but I’ve lost sections of fence and a couple windows from the high winds. When a tornado siren starts sounding its alarm we retreat to our basement. It offers us as much protection as we need to avoid flying debris and broken glass.
Also, a basement is a great place to store the first part of your G.O.O.D. supplies and anything you will need for the long haul if you bug out in place. Aside from escaping natural disasters, a basement offers protection from an intruder.
I would never flee in the face of adversity, but if I had to choose “run, run away but live to fight another day” I would haul tail to a place I can reorganize and resupply. My basement is that place for me and mine.

A meeting place
What a better place than a hole in the ground to meet like-minded individuals to discuss plans on how to defend your community. Where else can you think of that offers more protection or privacy than a cave or in modern terms, a basement. Where else can you store an entire supply of goods and materials that will last and you have easy access to. Privacy is preached on this site almost as commonly on how and why to store what and how much of any certain item. A quiet corner of your basement is a great place to invite friends to talk about what to do in these uncertain times. I’ve got few friends whom I trust enough to see my basement. It’s a secret place for me and my family because it offers us a place to live and breathe. So choose who you open your cave’s door to wisely.

Just a final thought
I’ve eaten from it, off it and slept on it. It grows the food I need and filters the water I drink. What more can you ask for?
I’m no ground dweller, but I see the benefits of using what the good Lord gave me to my advantage because one day I will return to the same stuff I’m made up of.


Regarding Lynn in Washington's pointer to the YouTube video (as representative of a "secure" lock?), I know of, and have known of, for quite some time, two 'other' locks which fit, much better, the criteria of "round" and "disk".

The first "round" lock is manufactured by the American Lock Company. (Yes, that is its real name).
Many truck-delivery companies (in New York City, and surrounding vicinity) use this lock on the back doors of their vehicles, and anyone who, honestly, believes they can open this lock with a bolt-cutter is being dishonest with themselves. Picking is also rather difficult.

The second lock ("disk") is manufactured by Abus, and is known as [the]"Discus". I owned my first one while in High School during the late 1970s, and it never failed me (amongst a dorm full of amateur-lock pickers, this was quite an achievement). As seen in the illustrations, it would be extremely-difficult, if not impossible, under ordinary conditions, to push a bolt-cutter in to cut the shackle of a Discus lock..

That's all here. You have a very nice blog. - Manatee

Mr. Rawles:
I do believe R.J. may have some valid points but the way it is presented was very disturbing. RJ is making it sound as though the food (grains, rice and corn) will cause health problems. We already have health problems with the majority of the population. Hopefully all the preppers are changing their ways eating and living healthier.

I do believe that R.J. thinks those of us that are putting food into storage for the future are putting processed food away. That is very far from the truth. Everyone that I have talked to are putting the basics (grains, rice, corn, protein) away. Very little comfort food (processed food) is on the shelves. (It takes up too much room)

My great grandmother lived to be 98 years old, lived in the mountains of West Virginia and her diet consisted mostly of dried beans (pinto) and corn bread. Very little meat was used and very little sweetening was around. And she worked hard and lived without running water and electricity. I hope I can match some of her longevity. She died in a farming accident not from health problems. Blessings to you and your family. - J.A.N.


I just read the article about “healthy” food storage. While the author is correct about sugar and soy, perhaps I am missing something but I have to disagree with the overall theory that grains, legumes, and corn are bad for you. Since the time of Adam mankind has always tilled the earth, getting our sustenance “by the sweat of our brow.” Peoples of that time lived for hundreds of years but I have yet to see any evidence that they needed to soak their grain in yogurt to do so. As a person with Celiac I know first hand about Gluten, but wheat is only one of many grains and there are different kinds of gluten. Potatoes have gluten.

How are whole grains, legumes and corn considered a “refined” grain? I have always read that unless one of these is stripped of its natural nutrients it was a “complex” carbohydrate the human body gets long-term energy from. Does the fact that game must be cut up and cooked make it refined also, because it cannot solely be eaten in the raw? If the mere necessity of having to soak beans or remove hulls from grains to eat them makes them bad for you, then what about the coconut? Coconut hulls have to be removed for consumption also but it makes them no less nutritious, and the benefits of coconut oil have been discussed on this blog.

Native Americans were eating corn and beans when the Pilgrims arrived, along with fish and game. Perhaps what the author is missing in the fad/raw food theory is that all these foods eaten by themselves are incomplete, no matter how they are prepared, but eaten together they neutralize the bad and maximize the good. That is what the term “Balanced Diet” means. The Native tribes the author describes also do a great deal of physical movement, labor and calorie burning. Perhaps it is the circulation that improves dental health, or keeps the cholesterol from hurting their eyesight? Some peoples like the Mayan had worn teeth because of how they prepared their food, grinding corn with stones. I’ve spoken to elders who grew up on farms and ate corn right off the stalk and chewed raw wheat like bubble gum. They are in better health for their age than most of us at our ages.

In a TEOTWAWKI life I am going to be much more worried about the need for antibiotics, a common cold or being shot by looters. Having three family members who have died of cancer I do not mean it lightly when I say: If I live long enough to develop cancer from my food storage I will be truly blessed.

Thank you for the information, but I am happy with what the good Lord provided for his children and I won’t be throwing out my grains, legumes and corn any time soon.

Thank you, - Rebekah

E.M.B. sent a link to a useful US Coin Melt Calculator.

Michael K. sent us this: South Africa Fights Rand Counterfeits a Month Before World Cup

Brett G. suggested this: Jim Rogers: Even More Currency, Market Turmoil on the Way

Andrew H. sent this from Richard Russell, the editor of The Dow Theory Letter: You Won’t Recognize America by the End of the Year. Here are a couple of quotes: “Do your friends a favor… Tell them to get out of debt and sell anything they can sell (and don't need) in order to get liquid. Tell them that Richard Russell says that by the end of this year they won't recognize the country.” ... “Just as for years I asked, cajoled, insisted, threatened, demanded, that my subscribers buy gold, I am now insisting, demanding, begging my subscribers to get out of stocks… and get into cash or gold (bullion if possible).”

Items from The Economatrix:

Moody's Sovereign Debt Head to Quit Moody's

Pfizer Axing Eight Factories, 6,000 Jobs

Dozens Storm D.C. Bank Branches

With Local Gold Inventories Depleted, Panicking German Dealers Stage Run an Krugerrands

Shadow Inventory Sales for Years to Come

GCM sent a link to this cool water, gear, and fuel storage product: Rotopax.

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G.G. flagged: The Closers: How the pros shut down a failing bank

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Reader J.A.B. suggested, a relocation web site that finds "your spot", based upon 40 to 50 questions are asked about your lifestyle and preferences, and you're given (immediately) a list of
20-odd locales across America that suits your needs. At the end, they'll be some questions pertaining to advertising, but never fear, you can click through to the selections. Some locations might be no-brainers for the SurvivalBlog readership types but who knows, some may be surprised. For many folks, this may be the first step to finding a general retreat locale.

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Loren sent this link: Global Cooling Is Coming -- and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns

"We’re just fragile machines programmed with a false sense of our own importance. And every now and then the universe sends a reminder that we don’t really matter to it, hurtling us into confusion and a panic for answers that will allow us to resume our program again." - Neil Strauss, Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life

Friday, May 21, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

A common staple in any good prepper’s store is food and another is medication.  We make sure to have loads of food that will last a long time (grains, legumes and corn) and do not realize that eating these very things help contribute to cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and cardiac syndrome X (just to name a few).  WTSHTF where in the world are we supposed to get chemo medication?  Or who is most qualified to do a triple bypass or mix up a new batch of insulin?  If the need ever comes to actually use our stores it would be a great help if we knew we could avoid some of the major diseases that plague modern society.

Studies of modern hunter-gatherers like the Maori, Inuit, Aborigines, Masai and !Kung show a lack of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and had incredible dental health.  But these same people contracted these diseases like cancer, diabetes and tooth decay when they adopted foods not indigenous to their lifestyle.  These tribes ate lots of protein (land and sea) but not just the muscle.  They also enjoyed the organ meats like the liver, heart and kidneys, which provide great amounts of soluble vitamins.  Vegetables were enjoyed (though not by the Inuit whose diet is almost all protein and fat), with some tubers and the occasional fruit. 

What these people did not eat was a lot of sugar or refined grains.  These two items are the main causes of cancer, heart attacks and the whole host of diseases that society faces today.  So much so that these diseases are referred to as diseases of civilization (DOC).  Sugar, for example, is the food stuff cancer cells like most and thrive when there is an abundant supply of glucose (sugar in the blood) in the blood while people without cancer will have normal glucose levels.  And refined grains turn straight away into sugar directly in the blood when ingested and raise glucose and is often the precursor of diabetes.  Any doctor worth his salt will tell someone with a glucose level above 100 to stay away from refined carbohydrates (read grains). Though great civilizations are built on these things it does not negate the fact that these societies have health problems stemming from these foods and doesn’t mean that we cannot take protective measures to ensure that we live beyond what our government tells us is healthy. Other examples can be made to associate these things with the other diseases mentioned but since this is down and dirty I will refer you to other more in depth books on the matter which should be right next other books in your bookshelf next to "Patriots", “Where There Is No Doctor” and "Atlas Shrugged"

So what the heck do I do with all my wheat, corn and beans?  These foods cannot be eaten raw.  They were the world’s first processed food.  If one were to try to eat these three foods in plain form you would become sick.  And when you eat them without the proper preparation you will in all likelihood contract one of the abovementioned diseases.  Not a happy proposition especially after TEOTWAWKI

Grains have a great deal of Phytic acid, which is bound to phosphorus.  This is in the outer part of the grains (husk), which is the healthiest part.  Phytic acid combines with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in your intestinal tracks and blocks their absorption.  Now if you go without these minerals there will be a lot of problems with overall health.  There are also enzyme inhibitors that slow down digestion and stress your pancreas.  Irritating tannins, complex sugars which can’t be broken down and gluten.             

Animals in the wild that have multiple stomachs and various acids to break these properties down but people don’t have these things and need external preparation to properly digest grains.  This is accomplished through soaking, sprouting and fermenting.  Take your grains that you are about to make into pancakes, cake or whatever and soak them in buttermilk, kefir or yogurt for twelve to 24 hours before baking or cooking.  This process enables the cultures in the fermented food to predigest the grains so that the anti-nutrients are rendered harmless and allowing the body to digest more of what is good about grains like the mineral and vitamin content. 

Beans contain a lot of alkaloid toxins.  While these protect the beans in the wild these toxic cyanogens like cyanide in Lima beans do nothing for health.  Beans and peas contain hemagglutins that cause blood to clump along with substances that inhibit digestion of protein.  Fava beans contain vicin, covicince and isouramil, which can’t be broken down by some people.  These toxins keep red blood cells from delivering oxygen to the rest of the body, which can cause, headaches, nausea, vomiting and fever (stay away from the fava).  Soybeans negatively affect the thyroid and cause estrogen in men to spike.  Asians never eat the amount of soy products like in America.  The only soy products that are consumed are fermented soy like miso, tempeh, and kimchi in small amounts.  Soak beans for 24 hours before cooking to make beans fully digestible (helping to eliminate gas) and enable the body to digest all of the good stuff.  These steps neutralize phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors and breaks down the hard to digest complex sugars.

Corn has spread all over the world but the proper preparation has not.  Nixtamalization is the process that enhances the nutritional quality of corn.  This process helps make the amino acids more like a complete protein and making niacin more easily absorbed.  Cultures that do not use this process often develop pellagra (niacin deficiency) and kwashiorkor (a protein deficiency).  Soak for twelve to 24 hours and cook with lime-the alkaline substance and not the fruit.  This process is even briefly discussed in the revised edition of “Where There Is No Doctor” on page 117 under “lime soaked maize.”

Get the books “Nourishing Traditions ” by Sally Fallon for great recipes using these techniques, “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz for more recipes but know that the author of this books swears and is a bit of a commie in my humble opinion and “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes for the total science and history behind the studies (a bit dry but very knowledgeable).  Good luck.

Mr. Rawles:
Please tell me, what would be the best form to purchase gold to store, that is not a stock [or an Exchange Traded Fund]? I cashed out a penny stock that my father left me, which will cover almost one once of gold. Thanks, - Wendy H.

JWR Replies: At the present time, I don't recommend gold for most investors. Instead, I recommend silver. The silver to gold ratio is currently around 63 to 1, which is way out of whack. It should be closer to it historic norm, which is 16-to-1. This means that gold is relatively over-valued, and silver is under-valued and has a lot of catching up to do. In my opinion, at the present time silver is far more likely to double in price than gold! Also, as I described in my novel "Patriots" (see Chapter 16, "For an Ounce of Gold"), silver is a superior choice for barter. Gold is simply too compact a form of wealth for most day-to-day barter transactions. For some advice on silver purchasing search the SurvivalBlog archives for articles with details on U.S. Pre-1965 mint date "junk" 90% silver coins. Silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars are your best bet. Also, as I've often been quoted, it is important to get your Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids squared away first, before considering any precious metals investing.

Several readers mentioned this: Fallout shelters for a new generation. I'm reserving any judgment on this particular venture (since it is only in its early stage of what has been promised). But I must say that in general I'm opposed to getting involved in large commercial shelter projects. For around $35,000, you can construct your own fully-stocked in-home underground shelter with a blast door and HEPA air filtration for a family of five. Why spend more for just one shelter space in a distant locale, and in a shelter that belongs to someone else? And what are the chances that you'll actually get there, when the balloon goes up? My advice has always been: relocate and establish a self-sufficient retreat, and live there year-round! Among other things, that eliminates the "Get Out of Dodge" timing worries.

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Tina W. mentioned these two related articles: Arab world grapples with pending food shortage, and Rising U.S. Corn Exports May Increase Prices

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This bit of advice from a skip tracer might be of interest to any SurvivalBlog readers that are considering expatriation.

"An armed republic submits less easily to the rule of one of its citizens than a republic armed by foreign forces. Rome and Sparta were for many centuries well armed and free. The Swiss are well armed and enjoy great freedom. Among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible. It is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed; or that any unarmed man will remain safe among armed servants." - Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Prince" (1532)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

At the young age of 17 and a half after having completed High School earlier than most of my peers and with parental consent, I joined the United States Marine Corps.
The date was June of 1999. The next four years of my life would be interesting, exciting, dangerous, and eye opening. Quickly making me leave the naive boyhood I had then, and realizing what a dark place most of the world really is. At the end of my four year commitment, I returned home from a year deployment in Afghanistan, and chose to discharge honourably once my contract was completed.
A few adventures later, found me moving to Ontario, Canada. By adventures, I mean my current, and at that time, future wife. We just married May 1st of this year, 2010.
Arriving back from the Honeymoon a few days ago, I was surfing through many of my favourite internet survival sites, and came to Survival Blog as I always would at least once or twice a week but had neglected to do so lately, with all the wedding preparations and stress the past few months.

Up until recently, I felt that my own TEOTWAWKI plans were not to the point I would like them to be. So I told myself I would write a piece one day, when I finally had reached the comfort and safety blanket that I thought was finally good enough for myself and my wife. If I felt it was good enough for us, it should be good enough for others, right? Or so the thinking goes.
Having been a combat Marine, I of course have advantages that a lot of people that are only recently waking up don’t have. But let me tell you. Even having been in the military for four years did not prepare me nearly enough. The knowledge I have gained in the last six years from reading resources on sites such as these, if not outweigh, definitely are the defining attribute to complete the brute force survival instincts one receives in the military.

Lucky for me, my wife has been willing to humour my survival instincts and supports me, so long as I don’t make us bankrupt in the process! So without further adieu, I will tell you how we slowly prepared for TEOTWAWKI. Due to the space constraints necessary for this story, the juicy storyline details are going to be left out with just the necessary ones included. The planning stages began of course, in the spring of 2006 after having stumbled upon some “nefarious” web sites such as Infowars, SurvivalBlog, and many others. It didn’t take me long in the military to realize that while I was a patriotic, country loving American that you could not trust the government completely. If anyone was going to secure our future, it had to be us.

The first thing that really caught my eye was an event still fresh in my mind, Hurricane Katrina. We had opened our wallets immediately, donating to help the tragedy stricken people of the area. But the more we followed the story over those months. The more we realized the complete disaster it was.

How could a government of 300 million people of the largest and richest nation (in terms of resources) on the earth be so unprepared? While this event was big, it was not nationwide and it was not global. It affected only a few percent of the entire population of our great nation. The response was mind numbingly slow.

This is when we decided to take matters into our own hands. This wasn’t even close to a TEOTWAWKI event, and it was obvious just from watching the news just how devastating it really was.
The first thing I began to do was research on methods of food storage and water purification as well as making some emergency kits. A first aid kit, water, candles, all the primary goodies a kit should have. Wound up getting a food dehydrator, and lots of #10 cans to dehydrate food and store it. Ultimately after a lot of trial and error, over the next two years we wound up storing away almost 200 of these cans. We stored beans, rice, quinoa, oats, wheat, honey, salts, sugar, spices. I Dried fruits, vegetables, meats, all sorts of delicious things. Even as I write this, I had opened one of the cans now being almost four years later. This dried fruit still tastes amazing. Yum.

Fast forward two years. I’m cruising on my survival web sites and come across the web site for Mountain House foods. After doing my due diligence and research I head to the local survival / surplus store and buy a few individual pouches to try out. Wow, I’m blown away by the great taste of the freeze dried foods. After going home and doing some more research, I’m saddened to learn that nearly of all them have monosodium glutamate (MSG) in them, but I think to myself: "We all eat some terrible things once in a while in peacetime. Who among us hasn’t headed down to the pub for chicken wings and beer once a month or so with the buddies?" I’m guilty as charged. Eating some food with MSG has got to be healthier than not eating at all.

Comfort food is sometimes just as important as any other food. We decided to buy 2-3 of these #10 cans from Mountain House every month to add to the stash. Normally we were against buying pre-packaged stuff like MREs because the shelf life was only 5-6 years on average, and the per unit cost was (at the time) too high to justify the short shelf life. Dehydrating was far more economical. The 25-30 year shelf life of this, what I called “The fast food of survival food” was more than enough to convince me (along with the taste of course) that they were worth the prices listed.

Fast forward another year. After our diligent monthly purchase (and a few times throughout the year we decided to purchase a case of them when we came into unexpected extra money) we had about 50 of these cans. They varied from breakfast foods, desserts, dinner entrees, and even frozen ice cream! Between these, and all the other things we had purchased and or dehydrated in the past, based on some rough calculations I figured we had nearly two years supply of food for the two of us combined. That’s two years of eating at 2,000 calories. We definitely weren’t planning to skimp. I mean, it’s TEOTWAWKI. We aren’t going to be going to our office jobs all day, then playing PS3 all night like we do now. There is going to be a lot of physical labouring going on right?
Yet something still wasn’t sitting right with me. We had food. We had water purification systems. We had written plans to execute for the day the emergency did strike. We had our cozy little condo that we could hunker down in on the umpteenth floor. We had means by which to defend ourselves with. Even a solar powered generator that ran almost silently on our balcony in the sunlight to charge the icebox and emergency communications equipment that we would almost certainly need. What was missing?
Then it hit me. We were sitting ducks. And sitting ducks in the city which is even worse. How long before our neighbours and others realized we didn’t look like we were starving and still somehow paying our mortgage (with the silver and gold we have also stashed away in the form of bullion coins.)
Did I really think we could defend ourselves in some kind of Rambo: First Blood scenario? A mob will always win. They have the same determination to survive that you have. But they have numbers on their side. They can sleep in shifts. They can wear you down or just brute force you.

I somehow convinced my wife of this. Our search for a property outside the city began. We eventually came on a piece of land a few hours outside the city that was off the beaten path. There was no electricity on the property, no roads leading onto it or anywhere near it, no plumbing, nothing. The parcel of land was surrounded by what we call “Crown Land” which is owned by the government. There wasn’t a neighbour or a building within 50 miles of us in any direction. The fact that this land is so remote meant another great aspect. It was cheap. Believe it or not, we got near 75 acres for under $12,000 dollars Canadian. We had rights to the trees but not minerals. Oh well, we weren’t planning on digging for gold anyway.
I’m going to break down an entire years worth of anguish for you in a few sentences here. If you have ever had the boyish dream of building your own log cabin or cottage in the woods, please let me warn you of the absolute agony you’re going to put your body through. It is hard, hard, hard work.

A year later, I am looking around proudly at my little 650 square foot handmade log cabin. It looks like a snap shot out of a Lincoln cherry wood scene. It’s not the prettiest site. But it has held up all winter and is weather tight. The wood stove keeps it toasty as can be. The outside is nicely done up. My wife just has this amazing ability to bring out lovely flowers and gardens anywhere she goes!
We even built a few really cool things like a small patio covered outdoor kitchen with a stone/brick stove and oven. Powered by, you guessed it, just wood or charcoals. It has a stone water basin with drainage system for washing dishes with a tank above that slowly releases rain water collected from the patio roof. The water runs through a filtration system of course. A large fire pit is in the center, to help provide some heat in the winter if any cooking needed to be done outside. You have to be able to get back to the basics right?

My wife suggested that we attempt to build some sort of refrigerator system into the ground. It was freezing here 6-to-7 months of the year. Mild three months, and the others were just plain warm. A little procrastination and a few youtube videos later, I was back up at the cabin and managed over the course of a month (during the weekends) to dig in a very nice root cellar as well as an underground, very well insulated refrigerator. It keeps things very cool in the summer, and prevents them from freezing in the winter. It is between 2 and 3 feet underground.
It took a long time (several months) to get all of our supplies moved to the cabin and its root cellar. Trucking the supplies up and then ATV-ing them off-road style to the cabin. I had to do other work to the root cellar just in case some sort of rodents or animals managed to burrow into it by mistake and find it, lest our tin cans be discovered. Although they were all properly packaged and sealed so should have been odourless. The entrance to the root cellar was cleverly disguised to appear as part of the hill it was dug into.

We have even managed through a close relationship with our family doctor, to obtain prescriptions of antibiotics that neither of us are allergic to, for our retreat. The only stipulation that he gives us is when they expire we return them to him for a new prescription. They expire about every three years if stored properly. He gave us lots of training and literature on how and when to use them and only under the circumstances that of course, no medical help is available at the time. No one should ever try to diagnose themselves if they are not a doctor.

Fast forward again (I know, you must feel like you’re in that Adam Sandler movie “Click”) to the present day. With our retreat in place and our supplies stored in it, what now you ask? Continue to live life. Continue to gain survival and knowledge skills. We are even considering taking a year off work to move to the cabin and see if we can live at it long term. Maybe even build a chicken coup and small building to raise some rabbits in for meat.

All you can do at this point is to try and continue to live life, and thank God for every day that he gives you. While we are now very much in our minds prepared for what is or what may be to come when TEOTWAWKI happens, five years ago we were ill-prepared individuals and I was naive enough to believe being a marine I could just “bug out” into the bush and survive.
When we first began preparing, I can tell you, I felt like the end of the world was around the corner any minute and I would never have enough time to prepare. None of us middle class citizens can afford to instantly build a hedge against a society collapse. This feeling of helplessness and hopelessness engulfs many of us and probably prevents many of us from acting in the first place.
I can assure you from experience that all the baby steps will eventually come together. Don’t hesitate to begin planning for your future. I think society has brainwashed us to believe the end is always “just around the corner” or maybe it is our own survival instincts. It may be 20 years from now or 50 years or 200 years from now. But isn’t having some sort of peace of mind worth it? I don’t any longer feel that same desperate sense of impending doom that I used to when we were unprepared.

Rather than being sitting ducks like the government wants us all to be, my wife and I took charge of our lives and made our TEOTWAWKI retreat. Could we defend our retreat against a mob should they find it? Of course we couldn’t. But we’re investing in the fact that it is so far away from civilized life that an angry mob shouldn’t be tramping around in the middle of nowhere in a forest hoping to find our garden of Eden. We’ve told no one of it. When the social breakdown begins, we will get into our truck loaded with ATVs on the back and head for the retreat and hope for the best along the way. If your circumstances can help it, don’t bunker down in your condo like we were planning unless it’s absolutely your only option. If it is your only option, then prepare as privately and quietly as you can. All any of us can do in the end is hope that our preparations were enough. God Bless America, and all of humanity!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read with a great deal of interest Dan B.’s piece on the Four Great Preparedness Myths, and although I have to agree with points 3 and 4, I have to take issue with the first two in his list. He says that “no one who has actually tried to defend themselves against a large group of determined assailants actually thinks it can be done”. Yes, no one person can defend themselves against a horde of attackers very long. But a group of ten or more, if they prepare themselves mentally, logistically and above all spiritually, can prevail against long odds.

History shows that with the right preparations even a small group can hold out against the most determined attackers at odds of up to 20 or 30 to 1, and that is without any type of heavy ordnance, i.e. artillery or air support. Yes, in most cases these were soldiers, but being a soldier is more than wearing a uniform. It is discipline under stress, pulling together with the individuals that are your comrades to become a unit with the mindset that you will not let them down and knowing they will not let you down when push comes to shove.

Dan states that the “math is pretty simple: the horde has numbers on its side, time on its side, and its determination probably matches yours. If a large group of people decide that you've got something they want, that's all there is to it”. Not necessarily so, the strengths he states are also weaknesses.

1. Numbers are not always a good thing, especially when you have what is basically a large, probably undisciplined, mob. Time will not be on the side of the mob for the simple reason that it will be living off the land, and even though it may be known that you have supplies, no large group can stay in one place more than a few days or a week at the most without completely depleting all available resources. A study of history shows that most sieges were unsuccessful because the besieging force ran out of supplies. And remember, these people are hungry and desperate to start with, if they cannot rapidly gain control of your homestead they will probably be forced to move on to a more easily conquered target.

2. There will probably be, at best, only a rudimentary command and control structure, with leaders who have gained control through charisma or by force through an existing gang structure. To keep their position these leaders have to be flashy and visible to followers, this also makes them prominent targets, as the old saying goes, the fastest way to kill the snake is to cut off its head.

3. This lack of discipline and cohesion can be the deciding factor in defeating an attack. An excellent article on the 1874 Battle of Adobe Walls at shows how a badly outnumbered group of defenders can defeat a much larger disorganized foe.

4. Remember, these people are not Spartans, and they do not want to die. A vigorous defence will probably discourage further attacks.

You have to be vigilant and you have to prepare you home for defence, but it can be defended. - Harvey H.

I've wanted to share this concern for a long time, and the recent letter regarding the four myths has inspired me to share it, which is this: Those folks that have the two days worth of food, and the 2-3 MBRs, and the arsenal, and the 1,000 rounds per gun... Those are the people that are going to be the ones I worry about more than the average member of the "Golden Horde".

Collecting guns and ammo is the "fun" part of prepping, right? At least for many, that's where 80% of the money spent on survivalism goes.

They'll have the money. They'll have read the articles. They know there are nuts to be cracked.

Those are my biggest fear. We need to make sure we evolve beyond just guns and ammo. If a person doesn't have a substantial amount of resources stored up, the temptation to go appropriate others' stores could be too much for some - maybe not for themselves, but they'll be darned if they'll see their wife/son/baby girl/mother starve.

Expand your preps people!
Or the likelihood is I need to harden up more against you than the typical "Golden Horder". - Austin


Dear Editor:
First of all, great piece! I appreciate Dan B.’s perspective.

Re: Myths 1 and 2 - I think a SHTF situation can be improved strategically if one is truly prepared. It will not always be perfect, and it certainly is far from desirable to have to consider these possibilities.

If done right and one is really prepared, then you can take out a good number of people before you have a chance to start shooting. Let’s first consider, sentries, Lookout Posts, trip wire warning systems, moats, fences, thick bushes, sensors, traps, and well trained guard dogs. Maybe I have watched too many movies, but if you know it is coming, then you should have the upper hand.

As one specific strategy, you can boobytrap to take out a large number of people who might “hunker down” in particular areas. Think chess! What are the top 50 moves that you or anyone might make and then protect against it. There are shotgun shell trip wires that could be rigged to take out a group hiding behind a particular wall or tree. Maybe you put in a pit with sharpened spears. Maybe a couple of pressure sensitive mats can be hooked to a nice bomb made from a glass jar lined with buckshot glued to the glass? This could get very ugly very fast. (And maybe you only arm those positions at night when you can’t see off in the distance?)

In the novel "Patriots", I recall a fougasse pointed to cover a road approach. Did you build a heavy duty fence out of railroad ties or a wimpy one? Did you forget to strategically use your night vision baby monitor that you got from your kid’s room? What about Molotov cocktails? What about thermite grenades? Can you deliver a bomb via a zip line? What about a clearly disguised bear trap - I hear those things hurt! What about tunnels from your facility to outflank your opponents? What about razor wire? Did you put alligators in your moat? Can you quickly destroy the bridge to your main facility to keep the enemy from getting to you? Is there a field with a high incendiary material or just oil to take out a large group? Can you drop balloons of gasoline from the trees and ignite with a flare gun or roman candle? - people really don’t fight well while they are on fire! Have you purchased and read the military’s books on boobytraps and special make weapons? There are so many options that I can’t write them all! How many can you quickly take out is the point? Just know that it is all about preparation - play the scenarios in your head a thousand times before they happen!

Next, you are right that you can’t expect to fight and survive by yourself. This is where the “alliances” mentality can been seen in shows like “Survivor” or in certain movies where it is important to have allegiances in other areas. Look at the Lord of the Rings Trilogy - they frequently summoned other ally forces.

If you have the right combat gear, mindset and strategic technology, you may just be able to take out a favorable ratio. Think of what the US military was able to do in Somalia in 1993. Sure, we lost many good men, but what was the ratio based upon better training, weaponry, technology, and psychology? (About 1,000 Somalis compared to 19 US Servicemen - that’s 52 to 1) How big is that horde going to be anyway? Perhaps the odds would have been more favorable for the US forces if they were truly prepared for the mission (ammo, armored plates, special weapons, ability to prepare, etc.) All this to say, in your preparations, did you recruit enough people and the right people to your retreat?

Another point is that you can’t expect to horde your food and ammo and have it pay off for you. Perhaps if you share (or you may consider this a bribe) with very trusted, like minded local sources, you might gain good fortune and they may come to your rescue to save your backside. Remember, if you are surrounded, you best have gotten word to others very quickly to come help you out! At the same time, what better way to flank your opponents than to have a group of friends show up on their backside and pick them off while they “stake out your joint”?

I am not a military expert, however I have studied enough to know one thing, strategy (with skill and preparations) always wins in the end (statistically speaking of course). As a consideration, if you have the right tools, weapons, mindset, and ideally, preparations such as alliances, food, and perhaps a little of God’s provision, you have a much better chance to overcome any engagement - you must be truly prepared first of course. - BG

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I haven’t corresponded with you in quite some time;. I hope you are keeping well.

The reason I’m writing is that I’ve just received an email from a woman I used to work with who came from and went back to Bangkok, Thailand. I thought your readers might be interested (especially in the second paragraph).

"Things are getting very bad out there. They are happening on major streets of Bangkok and they are not far from my house. I can hear Helicopter flying over head and can see black smoke over the sky. This morning the red shirt terrorists have burned tires right outside one of the major hospital. It’s not far at all. That’s why I could see black smoke clearly. Soldiers are on the streets and Tanks have rolled out today. It gets ugly each day. The red shirts terrorists have burned down several buildings and looted stores and ATMs in the stores. They shot lots of people down to create fear and more tension. The soldiers are trying very hard to control the situation.

My family has stocked up supplies i.e. rice, food, water. This is in case things get worsen. Many gas stations have shutdown because no new delivery can safely come in to town.

All of the businesses located on the unrest streets have to shutdown. Subway and Sky train have shutdown for week now. - X."

Thanks, - Greg T.

JWR Replies: Your letter and recent news articles illustrate the point that the citizens of virtually every nation need to be prepared to hunker down during times of civil unrest.

Reader R.B.S. pointed me to a web site that I heretofore hadn't heard of: Escape From America Magazine

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Ben L. mentioned a new electric "limb lopper" electric chainsaw. They are quiet, but of course for Grid Down situations, always keep a gas chainsaw on hand!

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F.S. pointed me to an interesting site: Modern Stronghold.

"God, Who provides for all, will not desert us; especially being engaged, as we are, in His service" - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote (Book 1, Part 11).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do you have any favorite quotes that relate to preparedness, survival, self-sufficiency, or hard money economics? If so, then please send them via e-mail, and I will likely post them as Quotes of the Day, if they haven't been used before in SurvivalBlog. Please send only quotes that are properly attributed, and that you've checked for authenticity. Many Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As a mother of a toddler with one on the way, and a former medical student and “birth junkie,” I’m very interested in the plight of the pregnant woman and newborn child in Third World nations (i.e. women with no access to higher-level medical attention) and in TEOTWAWKI scenarios.  Pregnancy is a vulnerable time in a woman’s life, and her nutrition is paramount. Of course, quitting any noxious habits, like smoking, drinking, and drugs of addiction, is crucial. Beyond that, good nutrition is the best prenatal care mother and child can get. The modern pharmaceutical industry would have you believe that prenatal vitamins negate the need for good nutrition in pregnancy, but this is not true, especially when you consider that mother and child need to be in the best possible nutritional status for a non-medical childbirth and for breastfeeding in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. Both for your own family and for a supply for charity, it’s good to consider pregnancy nutrition when planning food storage. Nutrition is the most important aspect of a healthy pregnancy and is the easiest to plan for ahead of time.

The pregnant woman needs plenty of high-quality proteins, essential fatty acids, folic acid, calcium- and iron-rich foods, and vegetables and fruits both for vitamins and for fiber (to prevent constipation). She also needs adequate salt and pure water for hydration – no high-blood-pressure diet here!

FOLIC ACID: Early in pregnancy, the baby needs about 800mcg of folic acid a day (about twice the pre-pregnancy requirement). Prenatal vitamins have their place, but if these are not available (or not well-tolerated, in the case of severe constipation or morning sickness), there are plenty of natural food sources. If she can tolerate blackeyed peas or crowder peas, a cup of these a day plus some fortified cereal and/or orange juice can provide adequate folic acid as well as protein, iron, vitamin C and fiber – it isn’t a varied diet, but this doesn’t matter as much in the first trimester. She needs to eat well, even if she has morning sickness. Morning sickness will be less severe if she can drink plenty of water, perhaps with some drink mix or tea in it, eat some bland carbohydrates first thing in the morning, and eat plenty of lean protein and fresh vegetables. Constipation can contribute to morning sickness and should be avoided by eating fiber and drinking water. Milk thistle may also help to decrease nausea, as well as candied ginger or ginger root tea (easily stored items). Hard, sour candy in small amounts may help also.

CALCIUM AND IRON: The pregnant prepper, beginning in the second trimester, should consider eating and/or drinking several servings of dairy – powdered milk, freeze-dried or canned cheeses, and powdered sour cream or buttermilk are good storage food sources. Other calcium-rich foods for storage include salmon and sardines (with the bones, which are easily mashed into the fish before consumption), freeze-dried broccoli, dried figs and apricots.  Fresh kale is another source that is easy to grow quickly. For iron, of course, red meats, poultry and fish are good sources of heme iron, which is easily taken up in the body and made into hemoglobin. Aside from meats, good sources include broccoli, blackstrap molasses, beans, and lentils. Iron is more easily absorbed when foods high in vitamin C are eaten at the same time – think citrus fruits or broccoli, tomatoes, melon, berries, or potatoes (surprisingly good for you, despite what the Atkins diet would have you believe). Wild sources of vitamin C are dandelion greens and berries, including mulberries (though they should be cooked first due to toxins). Another good source of vitamin C is sprouted beans or seeds. Soaked, sprouted beans and grains can be eaten like a salad topping or ground up to make a kind of meal which can be baked into “Elijah bread.”

PROTEIN: Protein is very important, not only for the nutritional needs of the baby but for maintaining the expanded blood volume of the mother. The Brewer diet for the prevention of preeclampsia recommends over 70 grams of protein a day (more important in the second and third trimesters). This should not be hard for the pregnant prepper to accomplish, as relatively inexpensive beans and peas are an excellent source of protein. However, they are an incomplete source of amino acids and must be supplemented with grain products such as wheat, rice, or corn. Fresh or freeze-dried meats, fish, eggs, milk, and dairy products are excellent sources of complete proteins. Eggs contain a number of other important nutrients and are inexpensive – or you may buy a couple of chickens and have them fresh for literally the grass and bugs in your yard, plus a scant amount of feed. Nuts and pumpkin seeds are a good choice as well.

FATTY ACIDS: Essential fatty acids (including omega-3’s) necessary for the baby and mother are easily acquired from vegetable oils, which of course are stored and rotated yearly. Olive, canola, and corn oils are all good sources. Other good sources of fatty acids are fish and flax seeds (which need to be ground to release their inner nutrients). [Unsaturated fats like these are also good for the nursing mother, as they prevent plugged milk ducts and mastitis.]

CRAVINGS: Cravings often indicate a nutritional need that isn’t being met. When this is a craving for cultured dairy, pickles, kimchi, or sauerkraut, indulge if possible – these foods contain probiotic bacteria that are good for the immune system. When it is a craving for something non-edible, however, like dirt, clay, baking soda or ice, this is called “pica” and means that the woman is anemic. Do not eat or encourage a pregnant woman to eat inedible items but instead provide and encourage more iron-rich foods and sources of vitamin C.  See if the diet includes any iron-binding foods, like beet greens, chard, coffee, or sweet potatoes, and either avoid those foods or eat them several hours apart from iron-rich meals. Fruit, dairy and vegetable cravings are normal and may indicate a nutritional need which the food itself will provide; try to accommodate such cravings. (Popular examples include watermelon and ice cream.)

FOODS TO AVOID: Meats to avoid: liver products (extremely high in vitamin A, which is dangerous to the baby), raw shellfish, undercooked meats, and fish that are known to contain high mercury levels – mackerel, kingfish, and albacore tuna (light tuna is fine).  It’s not likely that you’ll be running out to the deli post-SHTF, but deli meats and soft cheeses like Brie are also potentially dangerous to the baby (Listeriosis) and should be cooked to steaming hot before eating. Unlikely but good to keep in mind in case you do have these items on hand. Peanuts should also be eaten sparingly because of the potential for toxins. Moderate consumption of soda, which can leach calcium from the bones, and sugar or honey, which can encourage yeast infections and gestational diabetes. When eating sugar, try to incorporate it into a nutrient-rich meal, such as a milk-based fruit smoothie.

Finally, let’s consider why even a confirmed bachelor needs to know these things about pregnancy and nutrition.  Knowledge is power in pregnancy, as well as in our survival preparations, and you may find yourself a powerful source of information (and maybe a charitable donor of food) for a pregnant woman. Our Lord says that what we do unto the least of these we’ve done to Him, and an unborn child is certainly the least of these.

Hello Mr Rawles,
I have been reading your blog for about a year and truly have benefited from the valuable information.

In regards to the round or disc lock for the self storage units, I have found that these locks can be easily picked by a simple pen as demonstrated on YouTube. Here is the following link:

If anyone knows of another device/lock that can not be easily picked I sure would appreciated it.

Sincerely, - Lynn in Washington

JWR Replies: Even the best padlock should be considered only a delay--not a true barrier. Most padlocks --including disc or "hockey puck" locks can have their cylinders (typically brass) drilled out, very quickly. Concealment should be your first line of defense for your cached supplies. (As previously described in SurvivalBlog--such a wall cache or a hidden room.) Only use a commercial storage space when you don't have other secure alternatives. And of course keep in mind that high temperatures greatly decrease the shelf lives of stored foods.

James Wesley,
Mrs. C.J. had some excellent ideas in her article, and I'd like to add a couple of suggestions about laundry/cleaning supplies. Since we have a septic system, I'm always mindful of the substances we're putting into the ground. The Internet is a great source of recipes for homemade cleaners of all types, using ingredients that are a lot cheaper and safer than the store-bought items.

For example, I use a few drops of tea tree oil (an antibiotic) and a squirt of Ivory Liquid in a spray bottle, add water, and have a great all-purpose cleaner for the kitchen and bathroom. If something needs a little scrubbing I use baking soda. For laundry detergent, blend together 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of washing soda (not baking soda), and 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha soap, or any white soap. I use a food processor but the soap could be hand grated and mixed with the powders. Use only 1-2 tablespoons per load. I'm also experimenting with making my own creams and lotions, candles, etc. It's fun and saves money!

Thank you for all that you do, and to everyone in the SurvivalBlog community for their help. Sincerely, - Barbara in Tennessee

Reader L.S.C. sent us this: Army recalls 44,000 combat helmets. L.S.C. says: "File under 'caveat emptor' for anyone looking to buy helmets on the surplus market!"

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L.J. sent us the latest news from England: Parents of under-fives face 'nanny state' home inspections to keep children safe

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I just heard about very worthy non-profit charitable organization called Homes for Our Troops. They build specially adapted homes for severely wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Al lof the homes are donated to the veterans by the organization. This is their way of thanking them for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our country.

"While Barack Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand new, even more unsustainable entitlement at the health care "summit," thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split-screen - because they're part of the same story. It's just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They're at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is further upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided, instead, that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter 20 (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter 17 or 18." - Mark Steyn, February, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

One of the hardest things to do in living a survivalist lifestyle is acquiring a retreat. You’ll discover rather quickly that your finances will determine the type and size of property you’ll be able to purchase.

Another problem which you will encounter is determining where you should buy your retreat. The area you’re looking at property in should be done with a good deal of research. You’re likely to come across many types of deals in your search and you’ll discover that some are better than others, but you need to find the one that’s right for you. This of course is easier said than done.

An important consideration in your property search should be what type of employment you’ll be able to find in that area. If you’re in a position where you’re retired or have a lot of savings this won’t be an overriding factor in your decision.

Once you’ve determined the area you want to shop for property in you can then begin your search based on your criteria. Depending on your finances you may choose to buy a parcel with a structure on it, or a vacant piece of land.

Fortunately the current real estate market is a buyer’s one compared to what it was just five years ago when it was a seller’s one. The current economic depression has dragged down real estate prices to 20 year lows in some areas throughout the country. If you decide to purchase a vacant piece of land you may want to check out The channel is run by LaMar Alexander, he has several videos posted on how he purchased vacant lots and then built cabins on them. He also has other videos posted on how to improve a homestead.

Having worked as a realtor for several years I can tell you there are plenty of sources available to help you in your property search. The auction site eBay is one source which is touted by Alexander. Through the site it’s possible to buy vacant land in isolated areas for as little as $500 an acre. Many of those types of deals are on properties in the Midwest and the Pacific states region.  

For those who don’t want to move so far into rural areas there are classified web sites like Craigslist. This site will allow you to search listings in your local metro area. Another option with Craigslist is that you can put the type of property you’re looking for under the “wanted real estate” section. This is one way to bring sellers to you without having to go through listings to find properties to fit your search criteria. is another source for properties. This web site is much better tailored than Craigslist to help people with their real estate needs. The site is very easy to use, if you find a listing that you want information on then you can contact the realtor who’s information will be listed on that property’s page. The realtor can e-mail you a full write up about the property including its address.  

You may find that using a realtor directly will help you in your property search. For those who are experienced and resourceful you’ll be able to find properties on your own, but it can be useful to have a realtor to e-mail you listings. Realtors have direct access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system. This system is where the bulk of properties are listed in. A realtor can e-mail you listings from the MLS, these will have a complete write up about the property as opposed to the short listings on

You can also use a realtor to make written offers on properties, but if you do this you’ll have to pay the agent a commission when the property closes. For some people this may not be a big deal, but others may not want to pay the fee.

Courthouse auctions are another option for buying property. Some county clerks do the auctions from the courthouse steps or online. Over the last few yeas many of the clerks have been switching to an online format because fewer people are attending the auctions in person. Having the auction online brings in a lot more bidders, which drives up the final price of the property. One benefit to courthouse auctions is that you usually have a few weeks to look at a property before it gets auctioned off. This gives you time to evaluate it against other properties which are up for auction.

The current depression has done a great deal of financial damage to millions of Americans. So if you don’t have enough money to purchase your intended parcel outright don’t despair. Instead get creative and evaluate all your options. You may have some family members who would split the cost of a property with you. Or you may have some like-minded friends who would be interested in doing the same. As an example you may want to purchase a 20 acre parcel which is listed for $50,000. You only have $20,000 to put towards it. Pitch the idea of splitting up the cost with your family or friends. Sell them on the idea of buying a piece of property and setting up a homestead. Considering how bad the economy is becoming they shouldn’t need a whole lot of coaxing.

Once you have your money in order you can then begin making offers. You should have a short “want list” of properties together in case you’re not able to get the one that you want you can then submit a bid on another one. If the property you’re bidding on is listed with a realtor you may find them to be uncooperative to the extent that they won’t forward a lowball offer to their seller. If you come across a realtor who says this to you then you can remind them that they’re required by law to present all offers to their seller. If they get confrontational with you then you can go around the agent and contact their broker or contact the seller directly.

In this rapidly declining real estate market it is possible to get realtor listed properties for far less than their listed price. Two years ago, through a realtor I purchased an $11,000 lot for $4,000. Originally I had offered $2,500 for the property and the seller countered with $7,000. After several more offers and counter offers we agreed to a $4,000 sales price. During the negotiation process I reminded the seller’s agent that the property was very unlikely to sell anytime soon since it had been on the MLS for over 200 days. Finally the seller realized that if he wanted to get any money from the property that he would have to accept my offer. Which he did and the deal was done. Haggling is the same whether it’s personal or real property. If you end up paying too much for real estate you’ll find yourself having buyer’s remorse for quite some time.

Since the credit crisis began in 2007 it has become progressively more difficult to get a loan. The banks and the lenders scrutinize borrowers much more now than they had prior to the credit crisis. What this means is that you’re going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to try to get a loan. And I emphasize the word “try” because there’s no guarantee that if you do everything the lender wants you to do that they’ll give you a loan.

Because of the difficulties in obtaining conventional financing I suggest trying to purchase a piece of property for as little money as you can, and of course pay cash for it. There are other financing options available to acquire a piece of property. One of those is owner financing. During the housing boom I bought a two acre lot with a structure on it through owner financing. I haggled back and forth with the seller, but eventually we agreed on the terms and completed the transaction. If you do an owner financing deal and the seller wants a ridiculous rate of interest then haggle with them over the rate. For example if they want to charge you 10% counter with 4%. At some point you’ll meet in the middle and if you can’t then walk away from the deal. There are plenty of other properties out there which will be better tailored to your criteria.

There are other creative financing options available. You can also find information about these financing techniques by doing internet searches on “creative financing”. One idea is if you’re buying a large lot with trees on it you may be able to sell them to a lumber company and then use that money as the down payment for the property, provided the seller agrees to the terms. Don’t be afraid to suggest unconventional ideas. The worst a seller can do is say no to them.  

Searching for the right property can take a lot of time and be a frustrating experience, especially if you find yourself in situations where you’re dealing with unrealistic sellers. But finding and setting up a retreat should be the number one priority for survivalists. You can have all kinds of survival supplies, such as food, ammo and guns. But if you’re still living in a major metropolitan area when the riots begin you’ll wish you had taken the time earlier to find your retreat. Don’t put yourself in that position, start looking for your retreat today!

Mike M. and S. both sent this piece from The Times of London: Scientists forecast decades of ash clouds

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Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) has announced a special sale from May 16-29 only, with 25% Off All Mountain House #10 Cans, and free Shipping to the Lower 48 States. There are additional freebies, depending on the quantity that you order. (See their web page for details.)

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Reader M.T. sent this item: Obama Plan to Make Cheaper Coins Criticized by Businesses. Let's face it, inflation is relentless. Sooner or later, they'll have to debase the U.S. nickel coin. Otherwise, these coins will be snapped up by event the Generally Dumb Public, immediately after being put into circulation. Gresham's Law has been proven time and time again.

"I do not think there should be a limit on the rig's liability, because they are sitting on top of unlimited amounts of oil, and thus, there could be an explosion occur that could do untold damage. ... The amount of damage that an offshore oil rig can do is infinite." Senator John Chafee, Senate Floor Debate, 135 Cong. Rec. S9689-S9716 (August 3, 1989)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just as a I expected, Dan B.'s article Four Great Preparedness Myths (that was posted on Saturday) prompted a flurry of responses. You can see those, farther down in today's posts. OBTW, one of the things that I love about SurvivalBlog is the lively and articulate interchange of ideas, yet without the flames and rants that are all too common in the various preparedness Forums. Thanks for your civility, folks!

Mr. Rawles;
Several posts have mentioned that in a serious, long-term disaster, diabetics unable to maintain a store of insulin will have a high death rate.

The following may help. Note that Jerusalem artichokes contain Inulin, not Insulin; however, the effects are similar for stabilizing blood sugar levels, according to several online sources (see Jerusalem artichoke, diabetes, and inulin). Inulin works for diabetes, pre-diabetes, and hypoglycemia; and helps with overweight which is related to a variety of medical conditions. It may also help to prevent the development of diabetes for those prone to it, or with mild cases.

Jerusalem artichokes are a natural source of inulin, and easy to grow. "Directly after harvest the carbohydrates are in the form of inulin, and are good for dieters and diabetics. The inulin changes gradually in storage to other starches and should then be regarded more like a potato by diabetics. Can be frozen or kept refrigerated in plastic bags. Can be stored un-dug in the garden, or in the root cellar as long as tubers are kept moist to prevent shriveling. The next crop can be planted from harvested tubers or you can leave some the in the ground to grow again." (Johnny Seeds 2010 seed catalog, page 48).

Since Jerusalem artichokes take 90 days to mature, starting some plants indoors very early should provide a continuous supply for the year. The plants are perennial, and more than able to take care of themselves, but need to protected from animals digging up the tubers. Tubers look somewhat like ginger roots, have a sweet, nutty flavor, are about the size of large eggs, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

The Jerusalem artichoke is a native North American vegetable, is easy to grow to the point of being difficult to eliminate, and grows well in almost any garden soil, even in wet or dry soils. It grows from six to eight feet high, and makes a good windbreak or screen. Jerusalem artichokes are actually a species of sunflower, and have bright yellow, daisy-like flowers.

Their site should be carefully selected; make sure you want them there forever. The soil should be fertilized and aerated for maximum tuber size, since tubers will get somewhat smaller over the years. If you have lots of land, you may not care. The tubers also make excellent livestock feed.

Dosage varies, consult internet sources and check with a knowledgeable doctor, nutritionist or medically qualified herbalist. They have excellent probiotic qualities as well, which unfortunately means they can create a lot of gas. Best to start with small amounts and work up to the needed dosage. Internet sources suggest anything from two a month to one a day, depending on severity.

Oddly enough, for carbohydrate sensitive people, TEOTWAWKI could result in obesity if protein supplies are limited, and people are living largely on wheat, beans and rice. Jerusalem artichokes should be particularly helpful for weight control for carbohydrate- triggered weight problems, but probably not for fat sensitive people. Recent research suggests that about half of the obese are genetically carb sensitive, and the other half fat sensitive, and weight control methods hat work for one group won't work for the other.
On the other hand, if you are trying to prevent weight loss, it also helps to know which group you are in. To use Jerusalem artichoke for weight gain purposes, store it until the inulin changes to carbohydrate.

Best wishes from New York. - Janet W.

Two Letters Re: Self-Storage Spaces as Caches

Mr. Rawles:
I have written before about Self Storage Facilities back in October, 2009. I am still a resident manager of a small self storage facility. I agree with Ryan in British Columbia about using self storage caches for your preps.

Recommendation on locks: the round lock or disc lock is about the best defense you can purchase for your self storage unit. They cannot be cut with the more common bolt cutters and usually take an electric disc grinder to cut them off. A hint as to the keys for this type of lock. Go to a lock smith you trust and have a couple of extra keys made. Stash one in your bug out bag, one in your wallet and one in the ashtray of your vehicle. This is cheap insurance to assure yourself of getting access to your unit.

Also if you are storing food do so in the plastic totes or galvanized trash cans. Stay away from cardboard boxes, especially ones that have had produce in them. The only food items that should not be stored is items in paper/plastic wrappers. Cans an bucket that are properly sealed are usually okay. Check your food items often.

No matter how well the facility is maintained there is always the possibility of attracting mice. You really don’t know what the unit next to you has in it or where it came from, they could have brought the mice with them. To assure yourself of no rodents find out what the best rodent bait is in your area (speak to the guys at the feed store they know what works). Every couple of months when you go to take more goods in, put down some more rodent bait and remove the old. Mice need to be within 10 to 15 feet of a water source so many sure nothing is holding liquids that the mice can access. The plastic totes and galvanized trash cans will help detour some rodents. Plus they are easier to carry.

Mark your totes with things like “baby stuff – 1990” “Pregnancy stuff” “College junk” you get the idea.

Keep an inventory of what you have stored. This will serve two purposes: 1.) You will know what you have and 2.) keep you from over buy/storing the same thing over and over.

Shop around for your storage facility. Get to know the managers . Some people go to their units at the same time, on the same day of the week these are the people you want to avoid. Go different times, different days and all kinds of weather.

In getting to know the resident manager you might be surprised to find out they are preppers also. They will protect your unit as they will probably be hunkering down where they are. Regards, - Wilson

The author was clear in spelling out that a self-storage cache is not perfect but it is better than no cache, to which I agree. I also have used self-storage unites as a “cache” but primarily when moving. Move your survival stores from the house you are leaving into a storage unit and then bring it into the new house over time without the prying eyes of nosy neighbors watching everything that comes out of your moving van. And, I am very thankful that my friends and relatives will help us move but I don’t want them moving “everything” we own. Especially in an age were you can read a story on any given day about someone arrested with “a large cache of weapons and ammunition”. Drill down in that story and find that the guy had two long arms, two pistols and 400 rounds total.

And while a storage unit cache may be better than no cache, it does have some serious limitations in addition to what the author points out.

1) The author is correct in that you will need to plan on a manual way to enter the grounds such as cutting through a fence or lock. However this is not legal! Your contractual relationship with the storage unit does not allow you to destroy their property even if the power is down and you don’t have access to your “stuff”. If you happen to be unlucky enough to have a cop or Jeep full of National Guardsman roll by as your “breaking and entering”, and as Ricky Ricardo used to say, you are going to have some “splaining” to do. And the line that you are only trying to access your personal possessions may not fly.

2) Furthermore, what if the circumstances change your proposed timelines and you happen to be at the storage unit when it is being raided?

3) In a “bug in” plan, when you leave your place to go to the storage unit, is home base protected? Do you really want to be “out in it” if you don’t have to be?

4) In a “bug out” scenario, a fully loaded trailer in a storage unit ready to hook onto and “roll” has potential viability. I would look for a gate with a lock that you can cut. If you get caught, apologize, say that its an emergency and you needed to get your personal belongings and here is some money to replace the lock.

5) Storage units that are not in big buildings with elevators and have external doors; in our part of the world are minimally (if at all) insulated and do not have HVAC and they get very hot in the summer time. Not good for food storage and God forbid that your stored gasoline would start a fire.

6) Since most likely you are the one who is going to access your storage unit cache do you really want to be climbing over/through large rusted pieces of metal and nails in an "Oh Schumer" situation? That sounds like an injury waiting to happen.

7) I have minimal experience working a bolt cutter but people who I have spoken to tell me that rather than an expensive lock or a big lock, it is better to get those rounded type of padlock with metal that protects the metal loop as a bolt cutter cannot “get onto” the lock.

Be careful out there, may God bless - Brad J.

I enjoyed the letter by Dan B. on preparedness myths. I couldn't agree more with his opinions and in particular with Myth #1 "You can defend yourself against the horde" I have no combat experience but I am a student of Sun Tzu's military treatise "The Art of War" The principals and logic therein demonstrate that a wise prepper will be as prepared as possible to defend oneself but will use all means available of avoiding the direct conflict with so vast a number of enemies (other than surrender of course) One would employ deception, concealment, positioning etc.

I would like to add another common myth "The golden horde will be your biggest problem." This assumes that the government will quickly and completely collapse. This is not likely. Sure all services and infrastructure will collapse but the government will retain it's military power and will commandeer resources people and anything else it needs to retain power. The golden horde will be a huge problem but government pillaging, martial law, disarming of citizens and so on will be as big if not a bigger problem. History bears out the fact the governments do not die easily which leads me to agree whole heartedly with Dan’s Myth #4. TEOTWAWKI will not be fun. It will be horrendous. - Mark S.


I couldn't agree with Dan B. more. He hit the nail on the head and identified the weak spot in most people's preparations. I have been in hundreds of training firefights using MILES gear and two real firefights. Real firefights are characterized by an eerie feeling of being alone. Everyone takes cover and essentially becomes invisible. Nobody is shooting because that gives away your position. It's like a lethal game of hide-and-seek. Targets are fleeting and rare.

Real fire fights rarely last more than a couple of magazines because you don't have any targets to engage. In the military, If you ever actually see an enemy and give away your position by firing at him, your chances of surviving the next few minutes are low. If you engage an enemy, his buddies will know your position and kill you. The odds of a single survivor holding off hoards of hungry people are effectively zero.

The basic load for soldiers carrying M16 rifle or M4 carbine is seven magazines or 210 rounds. This is as much ammunition as most people can carry and still maneuver. The only way you are going to use up that much ammo in a single engagement is if you and your enemy are at extreme range and can't see each other. This isn't combat, it's a demonstration or at best [fire] suppression. At effective combat range, somebody is going to die within seconds, not minutes. If your position is known, you will be dead very soon. If you are defending your house from inside it, your position is known from the start.

Bunkering up can give you some advantage since you can fire from behind cover. But a lot of preppers seem to overestimate the effectiveness of fixed defenses. If you consider your defenses a "last ditch defense" that's exactly what they will become. In the Army, we call this "Custering." or "Die in place" (DIP). Fortifications will only buy you time. Your enemy will take more casualties until they determine where your defenses are and your fields of fire. But make no mistake, they probably won't just give up and go away. They will besiege you and form a plan. Given time to plan, any fixed defense can be breached. They will use suppression fire or smoke to mask movement. They may use explosives or tear gas. They may have an armored vehicle or heavy weapons. The point is, once you are located, you are doomed unless you bug out and abandon your fortress. If you are under siege, you can't bug out. Rule number one for snipers is: " Always have an egress route".

If you have a good reliable weapon and two basic loads (just in case you survive a firefight or two) you are probably overstocked on ammo. If you ever allow yourself to be put in a position where you actually have to use that weapon, you probably won't survive it. - JIR


Dear Mr. Rawles,
Thank you very much for your great site.

Dan B. is right- defending yourself against the hordes is a fool' s errand. ``This is why experienced preppers either live in the middle of nowhere or conceal that they are preppers.'' Might I suggest a third option, that there may still be time to work towards preventing the starving hordes, and that this effort will directly improve one's family's survival odds? I am referring to large scale survival planning (formerly known as civil defense efforts), say on the state and county wide level. Basically, having communities providing insurance for failures in the just-in-time inventory delivery of essentials in case of natural or man-made disasters.

For example, counties should have distributed reserves (with redundant
layers of civil authority to distribute in case of emergency):
1) Food supply for every resident in county
2) Temporary foldable shelters
3) Water purification equipment and fuel store to run
4) Fuel stores for trucks to distribute water/food/shelter
5) EMP-hardened comm equipment
6) Earth moving equipment and fuel store
7) Field hospital supplies

This reserve system could have been put in place for less than the cost of the ``stimulus''. If there are hordes, they would head to the protected reserve sites and be provided with essentials in an orderly fashion.

What is lacking is political leadership which understands the fragile systems we live in, and the political will to spend money on something which hopefully will never be needed. Perhaps some readers of SurvivalBlog have the political talents which could be put to use in the public arena and increase everyone's chances of survival? Sincerely Yours, - N.F.

Hi Jim,
Regarding “Four Great Preparedness Myths, by Dan B.” I feel I must offer some counter thoughts to Dan’s opinions: As a first point Dan makes the case that you can’t defend yourself forever against a numerically superior and determined horde. This is absolutely true. A superior force, completely determined, can and will eventually overwhelm any defense you can put up in front of them. The point that I believe Dan is not considering is that this force that you may have to contend with, probably won't be quite as determined as Dan believes. The countryside will be littered with "soft targets". People and places with significant resources that will offer very little in the way of resistance to the hungry hordes. After the first two or three people that are scaling your wall get shot, the hordes are very likely to abandon the "assault" on your property and go looking for easier pickings. Remember, these are not going to be ideologically self sacrificing people, willing to die so that the crowd behind them may live. These are people trying to survive for themselves and as soon as they see that this seeming path to life is getting everybody that tries it, "dead". They will leave you alone and head for easier targets.

I keep a "Club" on the steering wheel of my car. A determined thief could certainly defeat it. I could defeat it myself in about 30 seconds with an angle grinder and a cutting wheel. But nevertheless, it works amazingly well. Why? Because there are 40 other cars in the parking lot at least as desirable as mine, and on these, the thief doesn't have to deal with the "Club". Your defenses don't have to be impenetrable, they can't be. All they have to be is better than most.

Dan's second point on the futility of stocking up on ammo for defense has some insight in it. Personally, I figure that before I have to fire 1,000 rounds in defense of my families life and property, somebody will have gotten me. It's not because I'm a bad shot... On the contrary, I used to be on the 25th Infantry division rifle team. It's just because of statistics. You are not likely to be able to shoot at hostile targets 1,000 times before one of them successfully shoots you back. But the ammo storage is for more than this. It's a force multiplier. You can give it to your friends, (trusted friends) and have them helping to fight your battles with you. It's a commodity. You can trade it to other people who need it to fight off the nere-do-wells in protection of their own families. It is also utilitarian as a means for securing food. I suspect that even the most ardent of the PETA crowd will have procured a rifle and be out looking for Bambi by this time. Dan: Ammo is good.

Now lets take a look at Dan's Myth #3. Dan makes the point that you need to store copious quantities of food. This is great! It is absolutely best practice! If you can do it, go for it. It is a hugely worthwhile pursuit. But some people can't. They don't have the money or perhaps they don't have the storage space. Perhaps they are in a place like I am, where outside temperatures in the Summer routinely reach 115 degrees and they may not have the money to air condition a large storage area for the food. It's really difficult to rotate through any of this scale of quantity of food quickly enough to make this work at these temperatures. So do you really need enough food to hold out for years? Maybe... but maybe not too... I would like to address some statements Dan made that I respectfully don't agree with. Dan stated, "Some people who've never been without food for a couple of days will point out correctly that the human body can go for weeks without food, but I suggest that you fast for just four days and then try to engage in any kind of real physical activity - it's a nonstarter." There are two reasons why your energy level will be low on a fast. The first is that your blood sugar will be going very low. Once your body figures out what is going on and stops producing large amounts of insulin, your blood sugar will normalize and you will feel better. The second reason is that your body will begin to purge accumulated toxins. These poisons go into your blood stream to be eliminated and they make you feel terrible and weak. Nobody likes the feeling of being poisoned. But this too will pass. It's interesting that Dan picked out day of a fast because this is usually the day that people feel the worst. Come around day 8 to 10, you are likely to be feeling much better and stronger. I ran a 10K road race on day 8 of a water fast. I felt great. My thoughts are, "if you have enough food to hold out for a few months, you are likely going to be in much better shape than 99.5% of the people out there. At that point, they are going to have very little energy with which to cause you problems. Yes, I know about the organized, well fed biker gangs that have raped and pillaged their way to get to you--but then I go back to point #1.

As to Dan's Myth #4: " TEOTWAWKI will be fun!" No arguments all... It will be miserable. It will face us with hardships we can't even imagine or begin to truly understand at this point in time. Don't look forward to it folks... It's going to stink! Now that doesn't mean we won't find moments of joy and happiness in it. We will. We will still work, love, play, plan, dream and learn. I have a pile of board games like Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, Life, Clue and Cribbage that I occasionally play with my kids. I suspect I will be doing a lot more of that should SHTF time come rolling around. The apostle Paul, who spent a goodly amount of time chained to a wall in prison said, "I have learned, in whatever situation I am found, to be content." I hope I can be like him. - R.J.M.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
While I agree completely with myths #3 and #4 in Dan B.'s recent letter (Four Great Preparedness Myths, by Dan B.), I would like to point out that myths #1 and #2 are really only myths if you were planning to hold off the horde all by yourself or with just your own family or small group. Other scenarios in which you could have a significant chance to hold your own against the horde would include neighborhoods, subdivisions, or other communities with sufficient like-minded, prepared folks that could form a reasonably well-organized and well-equipped army. Geographic advantages such as limited access, good lines of fire, and easily defended borders would also help. David Crawford's online book "Lights Out" presents a fictional account of how such a scenario might play out, as does William R. Forstchen's book "One Second After". In all such scenarios, having sufficient weapons and ammunition for yourself and all your neighbors will be very important not only for the attacks themselves but also for the necessary training to prepare for them. Again, I believe that whether or not Dan B.'s first two points are myths or not really depends on your perspective, so you should think carefully before deciding that extra ammunition would have little value. That is, after you've got your water and food squared away! - Mike in Virginia

Several readers recommended an excellent "must see" video that was produced by the National Inflation Association, titled: The Meltup

By way of the No Money No Worries blog, we found this Four Big Banks Score Perfect 61-Day Run. Something is rotten in Denmark on Wall Street. (Thanks to Geoff in Texas for the tip.)

Blood in the Streets! Bank Bailout Protesters Storm Ireland's Parliament. (Thanks to Kathryn D. for the link.)

Danny B. flagged this: 401(k)/IRA Nationalization Quietly Moves Forward

Gary E. sent this: US faces one of biggest budget crunches in world – IMF

Items from The Economatrix:

Government Data Shows Solid Recovery But Concerns Remain. [JWR Adds: I would counter that the apparent "Recovery" is nothing more than a short term artificial blip created by hundreds of billions of stimulus spending amidst the early stages of a deep, long-lasting Depression.]

Big Seller in Market Drop Identified as Waddell & Reed

Gulf Oil Spill Disaster: The Trigger of the American Economic Collapse?

Rigged-Market Theory Scores a Perfect Quarter

Finance 101: Blame The Poor

Brian B. reccommednded listing to the Shrugging Out podcast. (The podcast's name is derived from the libertarian novel "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.)

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Reader RBS suggested this article: Montana FWPD Wolf Management Fiasco

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The Ammo Shortage Continues. (Thanks to Brian B. for the link.)

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S.A. liked a video at the Better Homes and Gardens web site: Fire Safe Garden.

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." - H. L. Mencken

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have been an athlete all my life in one form or another.  I hear many survival and preparedness enthusiasts’ talk about fitness, health, and well being (being in sound physical condition) but I have yet to see a thorough guide to becoming “fit” for a survival scenario.  I have heard Crossfit mentioned a few times on this web site and while I agree that Crossfit is a decent program to get someone “fit” it is not the end all solution to everyone’s needs.  Crossfit is merely a re-hashing of things that have been around for a very, very long time but have been given a new face.  We have all seen “fitness” fads come and go, from Richard Simmons to Jazzercise to P90X to the newest “Cave Man” Training, and yet we are still getting more obese and more out of shape as a nation year after year.  The problem is twofold and lies with our understanding and application of sound “fitness” principles and methods. 

The reason I keep putting “fit” and “fitness” in quotes is because there is no way to actually define “fitness” and so it is largely up to the individual to determine what “fitness” is.  If you look up the definition of fitness Merriam Webster will simply tell you that fitness is the quality of being fit!  In nature the deciding factor in determining “fitness” is who lives and who dies.  It doesn’t matter who was stronger, faster, or smarter, but who survived; those who survive are deemed “fit”.  Similarly is sports, if someone wins, they are deemed “fit”.  So “fitness” is a very elusive term made up of smaller, more definable terms like strength, speed, and endurance.     I have found, over the years, that fitness is simply a person’s capacity to perform and can be built up by increasing things like strength, speed, and endurance.  In order to access “fitness” and build it, we must determine the needs that must be met in order to perform.

The reason to identify need is because need addresses the S.A.I.D. principle, which simply means “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands”, or more simply that our body will only adapt to the demand we place on it and that it will adapt specifically.  For instance, while you can improve your general physical preparedness by cycling, cycling will not improve your ability as a runner; only running can make you a better runner.   We don’t want to spend all our time on a bicycle only to find out that survival is a footrace.  To find the needs of a survival situation we need only look to the experience of others in times of crisis, war, emergency, etc.   Being a former Marine I tend to look at war as a good measure of the needs of survival, since a military campaign will have all the elements of a survival scenario with the addition of being shot at.  To clarify, I don’t mean Modern Warfare (not to disparage our soldiers on the modern battlefield, but I think that most of our WW1 and WWII vets would be shocked to see the kind of battlefield luxury that our modern soldiers enjoy).   I am talking about warfare that went on during the Revolutionary War all the way up to WWII, where soldiers had to carry everything they needed to fight and survive on their backs, make do in the most austere conditions (the Frozen Chosin and the Battle of Bastogne come to mind), and at the end of the day fight for their lives and country.  So what qualities would help someone be a more capable war fighter?

Let me just get this out of the way: running is not the answer.  There I said it.  Running is the cornerstone of our military’s fitness structure and I can tell you from personal experience that running doesn’t make anyone a better war fighter.  I am not saying that running doesn’t have its place, I love to run, but it must be used in the proper context in order to help and not hinder us.  Many long distance runners are plagued by infection and sickness because of all the stress that long distance running places on the body.  Some also have very little muscle mass, are very weak both muscularly and structurally (their bones and ligaments), and actually have higher body fat percentages (20 %+) than you would think. (They look lean because of the lack of muscle mass).  On top of all this about 65% of runners report sports related injuries every year!  I am a huge advocate of short, quick runs, and have seen their benefit across different age groups and backgrounds.  I haven’t run over two miles in years and I am more fit than 99% of the people I encounter.  When people tell me that they are going for a run I usually ask them what they are running from.  Think about what kind of movement you are likely to be doing in a survival situation.  If you aren’t hunkered down at your retreat you are either going to be on patrol (slow, steady, walking), cross country trekking (slow, steady, walking with a heavy pack), or running for cover (all out sprint, with or without gear).  What good will it do you if you are used to running 5 miles a day in jogging shorts and Nikes if, when the SHTF, you find yourself unused to rucking with a heavy pack?  The blisters will build up on your feet, hips (where the pack rubs), and shoulders which will inhibit your mobility and can lead to infection.  You will also get tensions headaches from the strain on your shoulders and neck, which can be some of the worst discomfort a person can experience.  What I am saying is that running has a place in a well thought out training program, but should not be the focus of one. 

I once heard a Special Forces operator say that there is no such thing as too strong, only too slow.  This is true in any situation.  Strength is the foundation of all athletic ability; the stronger someone is, the better they are able to perform.  Think of it like this: while you can build up a 4 cylinder to almost do the job of a V-8, it’s much easier to simply start out with a V-8.  If we look at vehicle engines we see that there is a mechanical advantage to having a big engine when there is heavy work to be done, the heavier the load the bigger the engine needed.  So why should survival be any different?  Strength should be the number one priority of anyone who is interested in survival.  I have never met a soldier who told me that they wished they had been weaker or skinnier.  Strong people are generally more useful and much harder to kill than weaker people.   A stronger person is much more likely to survive anything than a weaker person.  Gunshot wound?  A stronger man will survive over a weaker one.  Sickness, infection, or plague?  A stronger man will survive over a weaker one.  A stronger man will also handle the stress of manual labor and constant vigilance better than a weaker one.   

Training for strength is a pursuit that will not only develop the strength of the body, but the strength of the mind and the willpower.  If you don’t believe me, spend a while developing a good Squat and Deadlift and tell me that you aren’t mentally and emotionally stronger because of the effort.  When I first started lifting weights, I avoided things like the squat and the deadlift because my bodybuilding magazines said they were bad for my knees and back respectively, and they were simply hard to do.  Consequently as a young man (19-23) I had a series of back and knee injuries that plagued me for years.  A couple of years ago I developed sharp pains in my knees when I would walk up and down stairs, and I was only 26 years old!  I decided to revamp my entire philosophy regarding fitness, health, and well being.  I began looking into athletic training, because athletes put their body under such rigorous training and competition they had to know how to avoid injury.  The one thing I found in common amongst almost all athletes (sprinters, hurdlers, throwers, jumpers, football players, baseball players, racecar drivers) is that strength training was a major part of their athletic development!  All those baseball players aren’t taking steroids because it makes their biceps big!  They are taking steroids because more strength equals better ball players!   While I am not endorsing steroids, you cannot argue that the increased strength in these guys also increased their performance. 

After gaining some insight into methods and practices of developing strength I began to Squat, Deadlift, Press, and Row with heavier weights than I had ever used before.  Miraculously my knee problems disappeared, my back problems disappeared, and I have had no injury or lingering pain since I began these exercises!  These four exercises, and their respective variations, are the cornerstone of developing a strong and healthy body.   In fact the Deadlift used to be referred to as the “Health” Lift because it does so much to improve body function and health.   Something else I found out was that regardless of how big or small my upper arms get, if I don’t have well developed hips and shoulders then I am going to be weak and injured.

It’s all about the hips.  Say it with me, it’s all about the hips.  The hips are the body’s engine, its where all the power of movement comes from.  If you need to throw a punch you rotate your hips, unless you hit like a sissy.  If you need to throw a ball you rotate your hips, unless you throw like a sissy.  If you need to pull or push something, you get your hips in line before you do your pushing or pulling.  The better developed your hips are the better you are able to throw, run, jump, swim, etc.  Unless you are sitting down, and frankly the less of that the better (sitting down to often is what got us messed up in the first place), the hips are involved in every movement.  As a test, stand up and throw a baseball.  Now sit down and throw a baseball.  Do you see the difference in power?  It’s all about the hips. 

The two best movements to develop the hips are the Squat and the Deadlift.  I am not going to into length describing these movements; they have been dealt with ad nauseam by better men that me, so I will simply refer you to some of these better men.  Simply go here for good instruction in the squat.  The man coaching in the video is Dan John.  If you are interested in getting stronger and “fit” and you don’t know Dan John then you aren’t that interested in getting stronger and “fit”.  He recently wrote a book titled “Never Let Go” that I could not recommend more highly. Also, buy the book by Mark Rippetoe.  Mark Rippetoe is one of the best coaches when it comes to training novices how to perform these movements, their accessory lifts, and how to get strong.  These two gentlemen are a wealth of training knowledge and wisdom.  Dan John has competed successfully in athletics since the 1960s and is a foremost expert on many different subjects ranging from fat lost to muscle gain to athletic success.  If you want to do it, Dan John knows about it because he’s done it to himself; probably twice.  I cannot stress enough the importance of these two movements.  In my years as a trainer and instructor I have only seen improvements in strength and comfort in the lower back and knees using the squat and deadlift.  These two movements are principle in the development of lasting strength, solid muscle mass, and a healthy skeletal system. 

The shoulders make up the other half of the strength equation; they are the other half of the hips.  The shoulders play a vital role in strength because while strength flows outwards from the hips, if the shoulders are not strong that strength will never reach the arms or hands.  The shoulders are also the most flexible joint in the whole body and are thus the most fragile, proper strength training will keep them surgery free for life.  A key to shoulder development is to always remember that there are two sides to the shoulder, a front and a back.  Yes, I know technically there is a middle deltoid, but with proper exercise selection it will be developed in conjunction with the front and rear deltoids.  The front half of the shoulder, along with the chest and triceps, is responsible for all pressing movements while the back of the shoulder, along with the traps, lats, and biceps, is responsible for all pulling movements.  All of the major muscles of the upper body (upper body being defined as the ribcage up, lower body being the hips down, with the abs and lower back making up the core or “transmission” of the body) are attached to and move with the shoulders.  You always want to pair a pressing movement with a pulling movement to balance the shoulder development (i.e. a pull up with a pushup).  Muscular imbalances in any joint (especially the shoulder and knee) cause most of the joint problems we see today and can be avoided or corrected with proper training.   You may also want to perform what is called prehab for the shoulder.  Prehab typically refers to exercises that strength and correct muscular imbalances, for the shoulder this typically means the rotator cuffs.   Look up rotator cuff exercises on Google and perform them as part of your warm-up every time you workout.   If you work your shoulders properly you will have a lifetime of strength and vitality that will keep you away from surgery and pain free.  
On a side note I want to talk about the American male’s most favorite exercise: the bench press.  The Bench Press has been around since the 1970s and since then we have seen a dramatic increase in shoulder problems.  The bench press puts the shoulder at an uncomfortable and weak angle to press weight from.  Think about it, when you need to push a car, do you stand perfectly upright and press on it with your arms?  No, you get down low, with your arms vertical in relation to your shoulders and your shoulders in line with your hips.  Also, more people die on the bench press every year than any other movement performed in the gym.  Think about it: you are putting your body between an immovable object (the bench) and a heavy weight (the bar) with no means of escape and only your strength to keep it from falling on your most vital bodily areas (the upper chest, neck, and face).  A much safer exercise for the novice is a standing shoulder press, aka the Military Press.  The reasons for this are twofold: 1) Your shoulder is in a more natural and strong position to press, mitigating the chance of injury, and 2) if you should goof up its really easy to just drop the bar down in front of you.  As an added bonus if you work out at home, you don’t need a bench to perform a military press.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t bench press, I do it fairly often.  What I am saying is that it should not be your only pressing exercise and that you should perform this exercise with more caution and concern for good form than you do other exercises. 

A healthy adult male at 5’10” or taller should [lift or press] weight at or above 200 lbs.  A healthy adult male who is under 5’10” and above 5’4” should weight between 180 lbs & 200 lbs, and anyone shorter than 5’4” should get as close to 180 lbs as possible and healthy.    All men under the age of 65 should be able to perform a double bodyweight deadlift, 1.5x bodyweight squat,  a bodyweight bench press (or three quarter bodyweight press), and 15 pull ups without falling off the bar (unless there are pre-existing injuries that prevent this, do the best you can with what you have).  My grandfather could still do 20 dead hang pull-ups without dropping off the bar at 70 years old.  If you think you are too old to do this kind of stuff then just take a look at Jack LaLanne.   A healthy adult female 5’10” or taller should weight at or above 165 lbs.  A healthy adult female between 5’10” and 5’4” should weight between 130 lbs and 150 lbs.  Adult females below 5’4” should try to weight above 120 lbs.  Adult females should be able to perform a double bodyweight squat, a 1.5x bodyweight deadlift, a one half bodyweight press (or a bodyweight bench press), and 8 dead hang pull-ups without dropping off the bar. These numbers are not difficult to achieve and are not world class by far.  What they are is a very general guideline that will lead you to a healthy adult bodyweight and an appreciable level of strength.   Women do not produce as much testosterone as men and therefore will not put on anywhere near the muscle mass that a man will and so their bodyweight to height ratio will be lower (no women, you will not get big and muscle bound by lifting weights, you don’t have the right hormones).   Also a woman’s upper body strength is very disproportionate to her lower body strength, a woman will be much stronger in the legs and hips than in the arms or shoulders (why the squat is heavier than the deadlift). 

In conclusion, I would like to better explain what I mean by strength.  I don’t mean power lifter or strongman.  Those guys carry around way too much muscle and fat to be healthy long term.  The joint issues these guys have is astounding.  Just take a look at Dave Tate’s career injuries.  I am talking about developing a healthy amount of muscle and fat along with appreciable levels of strength (I will address fat in a subsequent article).  

I am also not talking about gaining strength and forsaking speed, agility, or endurance. (Again, I will address fat in a subsequent article.)  I think that you will find that an appropriate level of strength will not only complement your other athletic abilities but make you a more capable war fighter and in the long run increase your survivability.

I just found your blog and want to thank you and all the like minded individuals who post to it. I have never thought of myself as a "survivor" or as most on here seem to prefer, "prepper". I just always thought of myself as a collector of knowledge much to my wife’s annoyance. I can’t help it, I just like to learn different things.

For one of the most recent "hobbies" I’ve been researching and learning about Quality Deer Management (QDM). I don’t know if this has been brought up before now, I’m still going through the archives, but I see where this would be a benefit to preppers.

In QDM, the goal is to assist Whitetail deer reach their maximum potential. This involves everything from harvesting does, passing on young bucks, removing predators, planting food plots, creating watering and mineral sites, creating sanctuaries and enhancing natural food sources.

In helping the deer, you also help turkeys, quail, rabbits, hogs and many other game and non-game animals and birds. How this would help a prepper is obvious.

Removing predators increases game species plus puts meat in the pot.

Planting food plots pull more game onto the property plus some of the food plots are edible by humans.

Creating watering sites gives the prepper additional water sources and possible fishing sites.

Mineral sites pull more game onto the property.

Sanctuaries would be great places for long term caches.

Enhancing natural food sources increases the amount and quality of foraged foods.

One other benefit to the prepper is it gives them a cover story to tell the neighbors as to why all the enhancements to the property.

A great source of information on QDM is the official Quality Deer Management Association’s web site.

That’s my pre-1983 penny’s worth for now but got a question for you and your readers.

Thanks - Okie in Muskogee

G.G. recommended this over at Alphaville: In fiat money we do not trust. "Monetise. Monetise. Monetise. Inflation. Inflation. Inflation."

Chad S. sent this: Millions of jobs that were cut won't likely return.

Darin W. was the first of several readers to send this link: Another Gold Dispensing ATM

G.G. sent this: US faces same problems as Greece, says Bank of England

Also from G.G.: Roubini: "The US Economy is Unsustainable"

From The Wall Street Journal, Four more banks closed on Friday, now 72 for the year.

And in case you missed the news last Friday: Bank closures cost $7.3 BILLION for one week. Reading through this article, one learns we are bailing out banks in Puerto Rico: "The Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) was tapped for $6.5 billion in the first quarter of 2010 and another $9.4 billion for just the first month of the second quarter. This brings the estimated DIF deficit to $36.8 billion excluding the prepaid $46 billion that sits on the sideline for 2010 through 2012. After applying the $15,333 billion prepaid assessments for 2010, the DIF is in arrears by $28.0 billion. After you apply the total $46 billion prepayments, there is only $9.2 billion left that's supposed to cover all losses through 2012. It looks like the FDIC will have to tap its $500 billion line of credit with the US Treasury, which will put tax payers on the hook yet again." (A hat tip to S.M. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Protesters Attempt to Storm Irish Parliament

FDIC Backing 8,000 Banks with $13 Trillion in Assets and a Negative Deposit Insurance Fund

Gold: The World's #1 Asset Class

Toxic Mortgage Fears Hit Morgan Stanley

UK: More than 1 Million Forced to Take Part Time Work

Panic Buying of Physical Gold in Europe Threatens Depletion of Austrian Mint

L.J. in England sent this: Curse of the caterpillars: Residents trapped indoors as insect invasion brings asthma and allergies. Excerpt: "There's something blowing on the breeze in West Street. And it's not pleasant. Residents are keeping their windows and doors tightly closed, and gardens are no-go areas. Some householders even need to don full-body protective clothing - complete with breathing masks - to venture outside.It's all because the road is under siege from an invasion of caterpillars little more than an inch long. But what the brown tail moth caterpillar lacks in size, it makes up for in its covering of hairs, which break off as barbs into the air."

   o o o

Karen C. sent us a brief example of delusion and liberal indoctrination, at their worst: A caller to the Michael Savage radio show.

   o o o

EMB sent this interesting historical photo essay on bomb damage assessment in Germany at the end of World War Two: The Trolley Project.

"And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new." - Leviticus 26:10 (KJV)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

There is some interesting commentary by David Von Drehle in the recent Time magazine article titled Gold Fated. BTW, the article briefly quotes yours truly.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I subscribe to the RSS feeds of a number of blogs about survival, including Rawles' (top of the line!), and I subscribe to numerous firearms-related blogs and message boards. I also periodically meet people who are interested in survival issues in my non-electronic life. All preppers are trying to prepare for a particular situation, and their preparations reflect their beliefs about what that situation will be like. Unfortunately, many of those beliefs are false, and those false beliefs seem to be brought about by four myths, which I thought I would describe. The strange thing about these myths is that they seem to be largely taken for granted and rarely discussed - preppers will debate endlessly the right rifle to have for a survival situation but rarely talk about the big picture. I hope to dispel these myths, but at the very least, I hope to start an interesting conversation.

Myth #1: You can defend yourself against the horde.

Most of the beginning and intermediate preppers I've met believe that they will be defending their property against a horde of starving or otherwise malicious people, and prep accordingly. It's important to note that no one who has actually tried to defend themselves against a large group of determined assailants actually thinks it can be done. The math is pretty simple: the horde has numbers on its side, time on its side, and its determination probably matches yours. If a large group of people decide that you've got something they want, that's all there is to it. You can take a stand, but sooner or later, you're going to run out of manpower, firepower, or sleep (or all three), and it's all over. These aren't slow-moving, unarmed, clumsy movie zombies who want to eat your brains - these are determined, smart people who are just trying to preserve their own lives, who can scale fences, create strategies, or simply overwhelm you with sheer numbers. This is why experienced preppers either live in the middle of nowhere or conceal that they are preppers. (By the way, the concealment strategy is a pretty limited one - how long do you think you can living in a community and conceal that you're not starving while everyone else is starving? At that point, you can go right back to the horde problem.)

Myth #2: Stock up on the ammo you'll need to defend yourself with.

Once again, the math just doesn't add up on this one. There is only one scenario where you think you'll be be using a lot of ammunition, and it is the horde scenario. You won't - the horde scenario will be over in a few minutes to a few hours, with you the loser, and your stored ammo with go to the winners. Don't get me wrong - you need guns and ammo, but the idea that you're going to expend thousands of rounds is just a reflection of people's erroneous beliefs about what kind of shooting situations they'll be in. If you're determined to buy ammo, don't buy them for [just] your guns - buy them for everybody else's, and you'll actually own a valuable commodity. Better yet, use the money to buy food, which leads us to myth #3.

Myth #3: I only need X number of days of food.

I was motivated to write this article by a thread I saw on a message board where people were comparing the contents of their bugout bags. Seven people in a row described having less than two day's worth of food. What is the point of having survival gear if you are so debilitated by hunger that you can't use it? Some people who've never been without food for a couple of days will point out correctly that the human body can go for weeks without food, but I suggest that you fast for just four days and then try to engage in any kind of real physical activity - it's a nonstarter. The body can keep itself alive without food, but that's about all it can do. In a real survival situation, you won't be sitting behind a desk typing e-mails; you'll be running, walking, digging, and fighting, plus any other actions that a machine used to do for you. All that requires energy - lots of it. You're going to have to supply that energy - all of it. Now multiply that obligation by the number of people in your group, and the number of days you'll have to go without a resupply of food. The result is a mountain of food, much more than what casual preppers sock away. The problem isn't just food - what are you going to drink? How are you going to sanitize that water supply? How are you going to cook all that food? However much food you store, you'll need an equivalent source of energy to cook it, since most long-term survival foods, like grains and legumes, all need to be cooked. The myth I'm describing is perhaps more a tendency than a myth - preppers focus on weapons and defensive equipment (some out of fear and some because those are the things they like using anyway), when they should be focusing on food. You can buy an awful lot of wheat for the price of a single gun.

Finally, the king - the big kahuna of survival myths:

Myth #4: TEOTWAWKI will be fun!

A rarely-discussed but obvious undercurrent in survival circles is the general idea that somehow a serious survival situation will be great for those who have prepared adequately, and likely good for the world in general. A number of justifications are given for this view: It will have a cleansing effect, it will be a neat little "reset" button for society, people's priorities will improve by necessity, etc. Although this issue is not discussed often, there is an obvious hoping-it-will-happen theme to the attitudes of many survivalists, because for those who have prepared, somehow things will be better than they were before SHTF. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The bottom line is that if you survive a worldwide collapse, you haven't earned immortality - you've just earned the opportunity to die a later death that will likely be violent but will almost be guaranteed to be painful and lingering. And it isn't just your death that will be slow and painful - you'll also have the experience of watching your friends and family go the same way. Culturally, we are now so many generations removed from primitive medical care that we've almost completely forgotten what life will be like without a professionally-staffed, well-equipped, electrified, sanitized, and heated hospital to go to when we have any sort of illness. You think appendicitis is bad with anesthesia, antibiotics, and a trained surgeon? It sure is - but now try it without any of those things. It doesn't stop at medical care - in our culture, we have come to take for granted general security, food availability, reliable utilities, sanitation, the rule of law, human rights, access to information, and on and on. By definition, none of these things will be available in TEOTWAWKI. And if you think living in a world where none of these things exist is going to be anything other than misery, you haven't thought very hard about what it will be like. Thomas Hobbes wrote in the 17th century that life was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." We've come a long way since then, but that description will fit a TEOTWAWKI situation perfectly. It's pretty obvious to me that many in the prepper world hope that there preparations weren't for nothing, and to them I'd say: be careful what you wish for.

Christine W. wrote a very nice article about raising rabbits for meat. As a rabbit raiser myself, I'd like to add a few suggestions:

I have never had problems using straw in nest boxes, but prefer to use hay, or better yet, long dry grass. The does like to arrange their nests, and they get a good snack as well. You can add more bedding material if a doe gets piggy and eats all the bedding.

I used to raise fryers commercially, and rigged up a great way to stack cages but eliminate the expensive trays that are time consuming to clean. Each layer of cages had a "drop board" underneath, which was a sheet of painted plywood suspended about four inches below the back of the cages and 6 inches below the front. (You can hang these boards, or build frames for the cages and boards)

This was enough room to use a squeegee to pull the droppings forward, letting the fall to the floor. I used cedar tow on the floor in front of the cages to soak up urine. All I had to do was sweep the aisle (I had 280 cages in four layers on both sides of a 12x36 area in the barn) to keep the droppings contained. A quick sprinkle of lime on the row of swept tow and droppings kept the smell to a minimum. Once a week I swept the rows of tow/droppings/urine out and shoveled it into sacks for selling to customers, into my garden, or into someone's truck. Then I would spray the drop boards with a wonderful product "Nature's Miracle" which completely eliminates ammonia with enzymes. Many, many times I had customers exclaim "How do you keep so many rabbits with no smell!"

Another way to do this that works best on single layers of cages as it takes up more space: Hang a strip of tarp or heavy plastic under the cages, one end a little lower than the other. Cut a hole about 6 inches in diameter near one end. Put a bucket under this. You can them flush with a hose! Everything goes in the bucket, and is easy to put where you need it. If you look in the Bass Equipment catalog or web site, you will see where I got this idea. And I did it for very little cost!

Wheat germ oil added to the does feed during the last week of pregnancy really helps them build up fat and milk. This is especially important if you are breeding in winter.

The biggest reason new mothers kill their young, (or simply neglect them to the point of death) is [the stress of having] strangers in the area, whether human or critter. When raising fryer rabbits, I always bred does on Tuesdays so that they would kindle over the weekend. I would then be around to be sure no one wandered into the barn.

Aas CW mentioned, another trick for keeping rabbits cool is to put frozen 2 liter water bottles in the cages. Rabbits will lay up against them!

I raise my fryers from weaning to butcher in outside cages on the ground. We live in a high predator area, so the cage must be tight. I use 2x4 utility wire for a "floor" which keeps the rabbits from digging out, and allows me to move the cages to clean ground every day without removing the rabbits. One tip though: Don't make the mistake I did! I have a 4x8 cage, which is wonderful until it's full of 20+ rabbits at 5-6 pounds each. Then it's tough to move by myself! (grin) This year I will be building two smaller cages.

Another idea in regards to outside cages: Build them in a size that fits in the rows of your garden! Then the rabbits can eat the weeds and grass and fertilize right where you need it. You can do this with chickens as well.

A couple of excellent sources for rabbit supplies: Bass Equipment and Morton Jones.

Regards, - WarMare in Southwestern Washington


Mr. Editor:

I second the motion on using 2-liter pop bottles full of water (frozen solid) for preventing rabbit heat distress crashes. Another plus, by the by, is that those frozen bottles help keep your freezer full, which makes it operate the most efficiently. (Each time you open your freezer, it lets in warm air, so a full freezer is an efficient freezer--especially for an upright design, where the cold air "spills out".) Also, of course those bottles represent a small reserve of stored emergency water. So storing its a total "win-win." Cheers, - Pat N.

Dear James,

For conventional Rabbit raising, if you will be able to provide the required ice, or other methods of cooling we have done this for several years.

Our basic Rabbitry has consisted of a Geodesic dome made from 2X4s and a set of “Star Plates” available from Stromberg's Chicks, Gamebirds and Poultry Supplies these little metal plates allow you to build an amazing number of farm/retreat utility buildings, with very little in the way of carpentry skills. Using a enclosed Rabbitry will increase your OPSEC since the animals will be out of sight 99% of the time. The next thing for our basic rabbit unit is to build a bench high rack system for the cages. As I mentioned before the cages should be all wire and set, or suspended so that wastes can simply fall through to the ground.
To do this build a wood frame as though you were building a work bench against a wall. Rather than putting a solid work top on the frame I cover it with 2x4 welded wire anchored at the front and back of the frame. I then just set my cages on this “top”. This way the rabbit waste never contacts anything but the ground, or a catch basin. Once a year I take cages out and use a propane torch to flame off the build up of hair, and those few bits of waste that may have built up. I never have had an ammonia problem so long as I keep the Bunny Barn well ventilated. I can step in and scoop up a shovel full of dropping anytime I need to top dress, or amend a bed, or I can fill a garden cart for mixing with top soil when starting a new garden bed.

As for First Time Mothers, I don’t actively support a new mother or use litter, beyond setting up a good nesting box. For the most part I don’t use litter at all, except in the kindling box. We use all wire cages, with a standing pad, so that the Rabbits can rest their feet from standing on wire all the time, and so that they have a place to sleep. In the past we keep all our cages in a well ventilated, but draft free structure, so no bedding box was needed except for a kindling mother. With the cages set on wire topped frames all the rabbit waste fall through the cage floor to the ground or into a catch tray, which is sometimes used to collect up the droppings for use in the garden. (Rabbit droppings are Mother Natures time released fertilizer, no composting needed.)

Our Kindling boxes are lined first with cardboard, then with newspaper, then topped with fine pine shavings. We have had no problems with kit’s eyes, or with respiratory problems. Mom’s still line this with belly fur just before delivery.

I always give a Doe three litters to figure it out; if a mother can’t get at least half of her third litter weaned all by herself then I cull her. Some will consider this a harsh attitude on my part, but in all honesty, I just don’t have the time to teach a doe how to do her job. Once the bottom falls out, and you are actively depending on your gardens, goats, chickens, and rabbits to feed you; you will find that you have even less time for such things. Select now for naturally good does, then you don’t have to work so hard later. The same culling process applies to any buck problems; if they can’t do their jobs without special handling or housing, cull them now, and select for animals that will take the least amount of effort on your part.

C.W. is absolutely right about heat issues. While a rabbit will survive -30F temps with a minimum of protection; Heat will wipe out your herd in just a couple of days of 100+ degree weather. The biggest problem with Rabbits in a grid down scenario is that the production of ice will be very energy intensive, and therefore expensive. What is needed is a way to raise your rabbits in a temperate climate where temperatures can reach into the triple digits, without ice, or artificial cooling.

What is the answer? Well do you live in an area that has wild rabbits? How do you think they survive the summers? Answer: In underground dens.

Based on some research I found from FAO (part of the UN. Hey, I'll take good ideas from the enemy.) I have started to experiment with artificial dens, made from 55 gallon drums set on their sides, and buried with an artificial tunnel to a standard wire cage. At this time I am not willing to venture an opinion on how well this will work out, as results are still pending. [JWR Adds: In my experience, rabbits kept in "colony" pens on the ground will soon begin to excavate their own tunnels. Just be advised that they can be prodigious tunnelers, so your pen fence should be constructed by first digging a trench that is two feet deep, and extending the fence wire mesh below the grade, to prevent escapes! It is best to create a "starter" hole" in the center of your colony pen, for them to expand. ]

What I can tell you is that it takes a lot of work to build good permanent housing, and especially the artificial dens, but once done they should provide you with years of service, with a minimum of effort later.

That is after all at the core of preparing now for the tough times ahead. Now the resources are available, now we have the time to build, and learn, now we have the luxury of getting by on specialized skills. We do things now so that we will have the systems, and resources in place later to make life possible, or maybe, easier. Just My Two Cents, - Fanderal

"I believe that the physical gold rush we have seen in Europe is proof that the bailout was an epic failure. Of course propaganda will be used all over the place from the emotionally captured mainstream media to the stock market, which as I have said for over a year now is largely used as a political weapon because the uneducated masses actually believe the stock market going up means things are getting better. All we have to do is look at the stellar performance of the Zimbabwean stock market during the hyperinflation to know this is complete nonsense." - Michael Krieger, as quoted by Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Many self-storage caching ideas have been put forward by readers of SurvivalBlog. Generally, most people in the preparedness community do not approve of using a self-storage unit as a cache, but I think it has some great advantages. As with anything, you must properly plan and weigh your options. There are many considerations you must make, but if you find a self-storage place under the right conditions, it can be very helpful.  A main concern is that it should be walking distance from your home. Also make sure the place has rodent and insect control. Some pros and cons are listed below:


  • It is located away from your home (your eggs not "all in one basket".)
  • It is very secure while the grid is up. Semi-secure during grid-down.
  • Almost nobody stores food there, so raiders will mostly be looking for tools, clothing and things to burn [for fuel] like boxes, paper and furniture (won’t be immediately raided.)
  • If your wife / family / roommates are not on board, it’s private.
  • If you are low on space at home (apartment), it’s great for reducing clutter.
  • Nobody gets suspicious when you move 20 large containers in and out whenever you want.
  • Fire is of little concern as four-hour firewalls are common in these places, and most new storage buildings are constructed out of concrete.


  • Expensive rental fees.
  • Will eventually be raided for equipment and burnable materials.
  • May not be located close enough to your home.
  • In Canada, you cannot store firearms in these facilities, as they must be in your home.
  • These storage businesses usually have a clause in their rental contracts saying you can’t store food or flammable goods. Just make sure the boxes aren’t labeled as food, ammo, etc.
  • If you are caught breaking the contract before a collapse, you may be liable for damage or injuries.
  • Storing fuel is a BIG “no-no” in these places, so be careful. At best you’ll get one warning, and then be kicked out.

Of course you want security, but not too much security. In a grid-down collapse, you want to be able to get inside the property with some bolt-cutters and access your goods. Most of these places have chain-link fences with barbed-wire. This is perfect, because in a pinch, you can easily cut a hole in the fence. Also make sure you can access your storage unit from outside. In some of these places, you have to walk into a warehouse and go up an elevator. In a grid-down collapse, these units will be unavailable because the exterior doors to the warehouse will be locked. These places are pretty secure so good luck getting through those heavy metal doors.

While it may be nice to have a heated indoor storage unit for your cache, lack of access is simply too big a risk. Get a unit with direct access from outside, preferably heated for food and water storage. You don’t want your food and water going through many freeze-thaw cycles.

Get a good lock! You are going to be spending $1,000 to $4,000 a year on rental fees anyway, so you might as well buy the thickest, highest quality padlock you can afford. Often, these storage places provide you with a padlock of their own. Do not use it! They have their own master key, and it will be a cheap lock that they bought in bulk. A raider could easily cut those locks.

It is my opinion that these facilities won’t be raided immediately in a TEOTWAWKI event. Grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, and food storage warehouses will be first. Apartment buildings will be second, then suburban homes, and lastly rural homesteads. In my opinion, storage places won’t be picked clean until all the food, water and fuel has been secured by whoever is in charge at the time.

If possible, store your goods among a pile of the worthless things that nobody would steal. Namely, make sure it can’t be traded, worn, eaten, or burned [as fuel]. Scrap metal is one idea. It is heavy, and has no immediate value in terms of day-to-day survival. Who is going to steal a rusted 200-pound boat anchor? Nobody will, at least not at first. 

I am currently working on a self-storage cache and have been collecting scrap metal. Among the dirty, rusted heap of garbage I plan to put together, I’ll have a couple very large boxes with large labels such as “House Furnace, 1986”. Inside these boxes will be my cached items. These boxes will be at the back of the storage unit, and thieves will have to walk over piles of twisted metal and rusty nails just have a peek in the dusty old beat up boxes. Hopefully raiders will simply move on before that. Well actually, I hope I’ve emptied the cache before they raid the place!

What you should store has been constantly discussed on SurvivalBlog so I won’t go into much detail. We all know what to put into a cache... Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids!

I’ll also include tents, propane, camp stove, clothing, blankets, stabilized gas, some water, batteries, flashlights, candles, a water filter, rope, knives, chlorine powder, lighters, and a radio. I’ve also been considering whiskey for barter if space and weight don’t make it prohibitive.

A Word About Water:

It is difficult to cache enough water to survive for long, so keep more at home, along with a water filter. People can’t carry much water very far, so I will have a minimal amount of water in my caches. Without access to a replenishing water source [and a water filter, if needed], we will not survive for long, but we all know that already--thanks to Jim. Try to have access to a replenishing water source, or buy a hand-cranked reverse osmosis filter if on the coast, as I did. This avoids so much work if the SHTF, and you can concentrate on food, shelter and security.

I came upon the Find A Spring web site the other day, thought it might be interesting.

Water being one of the most important assets in a great time of need, just maybe it is closer and better than your tap. Look up the closest natural spring to your location at Find A Spring. Bring all your water carrying gear and try it out to see how it tastes. Some of these springs mention sulphur or other tastes. You might find that it is the best water you have ever tried, best of all it is natural and typically free. In a TSHTF scenario, this could be life saving to everyone in the area and would be profitable and make it easy to take care of that most pressing of needs; clean, healthy water available from nature. If you are traveling to a safe place, it might be that you could plan your route to hit these springs along the way, saving you the hassle of carrying large amounts of water or the worry of not finding water. Best of luck, - Steve O.

Dear James:
I recently stumbled across a book with surprising relevance to survivalists: David E. Stuart's Anasazi America. Stuart is a professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico, and Anasazi America is an overview of seventeen centuries of New Mexico prehistory, focusing on the Anasazi, builders of the Chacoan civilization, and their descendants, the Pueblo.

At their peak in the eleventh century, the Chaco Anasazi were an extremely successful society, larger than any European state of the time, having built extensive road and trade networks and huge "great houses" that were used as food distribution and ritual centres. But over a period of a few decades, they underwent what qualifies as TEOTWAWKI by anybody's standards; increasing disparity between the ruling class and the poor, several years drought leading to famine, failure of the ruling elites to recognize and respond to the exigencies of their situation, and a multigenerational collapse which saw a rise in warfare and a sharp decline in population. Although the book was published in 2000, Stuart attempts to draw parallels between the situation of the Chaco Anasazi and what he perceives as disturbingly analogous trends in American society at the time.

While most SurvivalBlog readers won't find much of interest in the first five chapters unless they're amateur archaeologists, and many of them might not agree with Stuart's prescriptions for modern-day America, I suspect that they might find the remainder of the book of interest; it's an interesting study of collapse, and one that supports a lot of current survivalist thinking; while the ruling Chaco Anasazi elites attempted to deal with the crisis by repeating old formulas that no longer worked, the smart Anasazi bugged out to the hinterboonies early and took up more self-sufficient lifestyles as opposed to staying dependent on the centralized food storage and distribution system, followed later by a Golden Horde of sorts. Several generations of warfare and population decline ensued. Unlike many other pre-contact societies in the Americas that underwent collapses, however, the Chaco Anasazi eventually managed to rebuild a more stable and successful society.

It's not your average survivalist read, and rather academic, but it's still worth a read for its big-picture perspective on a well-studied case of a complex society collapsing.

Best Regards, - E.D.R. (A moderately-well prepared Canadian)

Several readers mentioned this: 20 Things You Will Need to Survive When the Economy Collapses and the Next Great Depression Begins. The writer is a bit naive, but seems to be well-intentioned.

   o o o

Details emerge about the new Supreme Court nominee: Clinton staff: “We are taking the law and bending it as far as we can to capture a whole new class of guns.” Kagan wrote the Clinton ban on gun imports.

   o o o

Ian sent us a news story link that illustrates how paper currency privacy (and ease of transport) is slipping away: Organised crime fears cause ban on 500 euro note sales. Look for the truth behind the headlines, folks. Think about the face value of what you can fit in a money belt today, and what options will exist in a few years. Here in North America, $500 Canadian dollar notes are now available only on the collector's market. (But thankfully, they are still legal tender.) And anything larger than a $100 USD bill would not be available without paying a large collector's premium, and presumably even then wouldn't be accepted as legal tender in the U.S. or abroad.

"A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that 'individuality' is the key to success." - Robert Orben

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Food production is the most important skill in survival. Without sufficient food you’re sunk. You won’t have the energy to protect yourself or your supplies, you won’t be able to get firewood to keep warm, or water to stay hydrated. So yes, you can live for weeks without food, but only if other people are there to take care of you and they have enough food! And meat is one of the best energy foods. Unfortunately most meat production is a high feed/time endeavor. It takes a lot of feed and time to get that cow to butcher size. Two years from birth to butcher if you’re looking at optimum growth. Plus a cow standing out in a field is going to draw attention, even if you live in the boonies. That’s why rabbits are such a good survival idea. They are very low profile, quiet, easy to raise, healthy, easy to feed, reproduce quickly, and reach butcher size in 10 to 12 weeks. No other livestock animal has a better feed to weight ratio. Meaning it takes less feed to get your rabbits to butcher size than any other meat animal. There are some great rabbit raising books out there with the standard information, but some info is only learned by experience. These are tricks about rabbit raising that we had to learn the hard way through trial and error, or was passed on to us by other rabbit raisers. So if you are a rabbit raiser or just starting a rabbit journey I hope this helps!

Do not use straw in rabbit cages. If mice have been in the straw their feces and urine can carry infections that will spread to your rabbits. We had this happen! Old newspapers, clean grass hay, or dry wood shavings are the safest.

Wood Shavings as litter: I would only recommend putting litter like wood shavings, clean grass hay, or newspaper in cages for pregnant females for their nesting box. But wood shavings have a drawback. The dust can get in the babies eyes causing eye problems. We had this happen too! Mother rabbits should make their nest out of fur they pull off themselves, more on that later.

Clean litter trays frequently, at least once a week. Rabbit urine is high in ammonia and can cause health problems for your rabbits if left to accumulate. Keep your rabbits in a well-ventilated area. Rabbit droppings make excellent compost!

Give your rabbit a piece of natural wood to chew; they really like apple wood branches. This helps keep their teeth from growing too long.
Always put an untreated piece of board in the cage for your rabbit to sit on. Meat breeds are heavy and the pressure can cause sores called hutch sores to form on the bottoms of the feet.
If hutch sores occur build an outside run for your rabbit. Cover on the top with wire or wood but not the bottom. Let the rabbit run on ground until the sores are healed. Letting the problem go can cause feet problems or even death!

We use wire stackable cages with wire bottoms with trays underneath each rabbit to catch the urine and feces. We use wood shavings in the trays to absorb the urine and keep the smell down. It works much better than newspaper or straw. Stackable cages take up less space, are easy to clean, and make rabbit chores go faster. They are also easier to keep in a secure location like a garage or basement. Worth the price in my opinion.
Empty aluminum soda pop cans are fun and safe toys for rabbits to play with. Rabbits get bored too and can start destructive behavior! But be careful, a few rabbits will actually bite through the metal. If you have one of these then take the can out and try something else.
Always provide a mineral salt lick for rabbit health. Make sure its “mineral” not plain salt. And stock up, they are cheap right now, but may be unavailable later.
Keep rabbit food secure from mice. They carry diseases!
Give pregnant and nursing females oats (about ¼ cup per day), they love it and it helps build up fat stores for good baby production. Also give to babies to fatten them up for dinner!

Kindling/Baby Problems
This is the most problematic aspect of rabbits. You will devote more time to kindling (rabbit birth and newborn babies) than anything else in rabbit care. While rabbits are easier to breed and raise than chickens in my opinion, that is only true with a good experienced doe (female rabbit). If you have good mom, baby care on your part is non-existent. Here are some hard learned tricks to problems.
Do not use wood shavings in kindling (birth) box! Give the doe newspaper or clean grass hay if it seems like she is not pulling fur good enough. Putting grass hay and newspaper in may also stimulate her to start building a nest. Do this about a week before kindling (birth).

First Time Mothers
Almost everyone you talk to and every book you read will say that first time mothers will always loose the first litter of babies. And frankly this is pretty true. But I have noticed that it is usually due to the mother not making a good enough nest and the babies getting chilled as they are born furless. Also the mother almost never gives the first really good feeding that is necessary after birth, causing the kits to be weak. Put those two together and you have dead babies! So here are ways I have solved this problem. Works in other situations too.
Chilled babies: So you go out and find babies chilled and close to death. Or maybe you think they are dead. Hold on! Unless the baby is actually frozen to the wire they may be just barely still alive. Get them inside and if they are hardly moving submerge them up to their neck in warm (not hot!) water. Be careful to not get the head wet. I have had babies that were so still it took this measure to show me they were alive. And like a miracle they came back. Now after they are moving pretty well take them out and gently rub them with a warm dry cloth, being careful of the umbilical cord area. Once dry put them in a box with a heating pad covered with a folded towel or hot water bottles to keep them nice and warm.

Weakness due to lack of milk
If momma didn’t feed them right after birth your going to have weak babies who will be unable to nurse the next time, or if momma rejected them and you need to put them on a surrogate mother (more on surrogates later) the babies will need enough energy to nurse once put back with a mom. Here is what I do and it usually works. Make a warm sugar water solution 2 parts water to 1 part table sugar. Put in an eyedropper and put in warmed babies mouth. Do not give to a chilled baby! Wait until you warm it up. Give only one drop of sugar water at a time; it is horribly easy to drown these babies! After two drops stop. With any more you risk drowning the baby. You should see them swallowing while feeding, don’t force it. You will see these babies start moving around making noises and looking for food as energy increases. Now you know they are ready to be given back to mom or surrogate mom. If you fear it’s too cold outside bring mom to the babies inside to feed them. Mother rabbits only feed babies once a day. Some moms won’t feed under these conditions and then your going to have to try taking babies out to mom twice a day and bringing them inside until they get fur. Or to solve this problem keep your rabbits in a rabbit barn with heat available, or only breed in warm weather.
Insufficient Nest: Mother rabbits should pull out their fur to make a nice warm nest, but first timers almost always do a bad job. If this happens you’ll have to do it for her. After birth (if you do this while mom is still pregnant you can kill the babies inside her due to her struggling) take mom out and gently pull fur from her tummy and sides. It will come out easy due to hormones and reveal her nipples to babies. Shove all this fur into a nice nest shape and make a hollow with your fist. Put babies in and cover with fur. Now put mom in and watch closely. If she tries to reject them you will know because they will start screaming as she hurts them. Get them out! Now you have a problem. Hopefully you can find a surrogate mom.

Surrogate moms: I always breed more than one rabbit at the same time, that way if one mom rejects or has too many babies to support you can give them to another mom. Most rabbits can only support about 8 to ten babies at one time. And if you are breeding meat rabbits your going to have big litters. If different litters are born too far apart it is harder to get the surrogate to accept them. So breed together. Here is how to get a surrogate to accept different babies. In the morning (not night) take the babies and put them in the new nest. Cover well with moms fur so they will smell like the other babies, you can also rub vanilla extract on moms nose to help mask the scent. Now watch mom closely, if she rejects you will know. Check the babies a few times first day, trying not to upset mom. The more you mess with a new mom the more likely she is to kill her babies.

As I have said meat rabbits have big litters so your other moms may not have room to take more babies. What then? Well, you can keep another smaller breed of rabbit just for surrogating. The smaller lops make excellent moms. We always bred our pet Holland at the same time as the meat rabbits. Smaller rabbits generally have smaller litters, but can still support up to eight babies. Our Holland was a rock! She accepted anything and always took great care of her litters. Also bonus, you can tell whose babies are who’s. This is important for future breeding purposes. If all babies look alike then you will not be able to tell which babies came from which moms for future breeding.

Buck Problems
Most bucks (male rabbits) have no problems except one. Due to living in a small cage they have very little staying power when it comes to breeding. So when you are trying to breed a male to a female he gets tired very quickly. The solution is to give your buck an open space or rabbit run to live on. His muscles will be stronger and he will breed better as a result. Just make sure it is secure from dogs and predators!
Predator problems - Animal and Human
Rabbits are a prey animal for pretty much anything bigger than a squirrel. So securing your rabbits is a major concern. The biggest predators Pre-SHTF are neighborhood dogs. They get really excited when they see a rabbit and kill mode kicks in! Even a Yorkie could kill your rabbits simply by jumping at them and barking. Rabbits aren’t the cleverest of creatures and panic easily. When they get really scared they will run circles in their cages and jump up sometimes breaking their own backs! Any rabbit not in a secure cage is a sitting duck for owls, dogs, cats, hawks, raccoons, skunks, badgers, possums, and mean kids! And that is just in town! So my advice is put your rabbits in a rabbit barn. This can be a humble shed, garage, or basement. This will become even more important in a SHTF situation. You will not want people [outside your family] knowing that you have meat available.

Heat - The Silent Rabbit Killer
The most tragic thing to come home to is a barn full of heatstroke-killed rabbits. Rabbits can die of heat stroke in 80 degree Fahrenheit weather. That’s it! They are covered in nice warm fur, which is great in cold weather, but not in the heat. Here are the ways to avoid heat death:
1. Shade! Never, ever, put your rabbit hutch in direct sun in warm weather, or they will die! Put your hutches or cages in the shade of a building or tree.
2. Always provide frozen water bottles for your rabbit to lie on in the heat. I like big 2 liter ones for our meat rabbits because they last most of the day. Keep one in the cage while the other one is in the freezer refreezing.
2. Always provide lots of water in the heat. Use water bottle feeders so the rabbits can’t defecate in them or spill them.
3. In really hot weather 90 or above soak the hutch roof and sides in water from a hose several times a day to cool it down.
4. If you notice your rabbits panting take action immediately, your rabbits are in heat stroke! Mist your rabbits with the hose and put frozen water or pop bottles in the cage with them. Monitor to make sure they are cooling down.
5. If a rabbit is laying still in the cage and won’t wake or is sluggish but still breathing it is now in a coma from heat. Get it out and submerge in a bucket of cold water up to the neck. It should revive if not too far gone.

Rabbits are an easy animal to raise once you get the cages and feeders, and much of that you can make yourself. They are also perfect for kids to care for, as they are small, cute, and generally non-aggressive. The worst you will get from a rabbit is a bad scratch. A cow or a pig however, could easily kill or injure your eight to ten-year-old child.

If you had 5 to 10 does breeding every two months you would have a good meat supply for the year. Another major advantage is that you can butcher for daily needs. If you butcher a hog or cow you have to process, pickle, salt, or freeze hundreds of pounds of meat all at once. It’s a tricky business to do safely. With rabbits you have no possibility of spoilage and a nice pelt of fur to turn into clothing. We have seen interest in our rabbits triple in the past months. So much so that I have run out of breeders to sell. This is something that has never happened to me before! People are waking up and looking for ways to ensure food safety. If you are looking to buy breeding stock then make sure they are young (under a year of age) or proven to be fertile, and buy from a good breeder who knows about proper care and feeding. Good Luck!

Mr Rawles,
I have shared the experiences of many with skeptical spouses. My solution has been a very gradual (and low-key) process of preparing and building up a basic supply of items/food in combination with education and hints of what was going on around us (local crime issues, Hurricane Katrina experiences, etc.). Again, she wasn’t too happy with my weapon and ammo purchases, but accepted it grudgingly. She began warming to the issue of “being prepared” with some of the bad weather in 2008, when she realized that as new home owners, we now had to solve our own problems. We also began to expand our larder from the perspective of “her convenience.” I then installed the safe to protect “her valuables” as well as my guns. However, “Snowmagedon” in January this year was her wake-up call, and I was far away overseas at the time. Every time she needed something (our young clueless neighbors as well) she went into the basement (my bunker-of-redundant-redundancies) and found what she needed. Granted, she was often surprised by what she found (when did you get that!?), but she ultimately needed it and was very thankful. She may still call me Burt Gummer and accuse me of preparing for the “Zombie Apocalypse,” but it is said in a much more affectionate tone of voice now .- J. in Conn.

In my case getting my truly skeptical spouse of 13 years on board was easy: I gave her "Patriots" to read. She asked me many great, probing questions as she read it, often about terminology and the like. She was clearly deep into the story and the material. She is now fully on-board with had previously been my solo efforts at preparedness. I'll spare you the details but it has been a truly amazing thing to watch and has brought us even closer than before, something I did not think possible. So I guess you could say your book can now be considered a "relationship strengthener"!

Several readers sent this news item to file under "I told you so": Gold hits all-time high as investors seek haven

Arnaud de Borchgrave: Stock Market Time Bomb?

Reader Rich in Montana notes that recently "two minutes of honesty slipped out", on the David Letterman Show: Hmmmm.... A Crack In The Dam?

Bill Downey sent me his essay "Brother Can You Spare a Trillion?" Since SurvivalBlog is intentionally light on graphics (in deference to our readers that use mobile devices), I'm pointing you to the essay (with charts) which is already posted at the excellent Zero Hedge blog. The charts and text that Downey presents are alarming!

A press release from the National Inflation Association: The World's Fiat Currency System Risks Collapse

Unions warn of Greek-style riots in Britain against public sector cuts after court victory over capping of redundancies. (A hat tip to Brian B. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Roubini: We Will Have Even More Crises in the Future

Germany Might Have to Pay Entire Euro Aid Bill!

Unions Warn of Greek-Style Riots in Britain

Stock Market Crash Exposes World of Electronic Trading

Ron Paul: How the Euro Bailout Will Lead to Currency Collapse

US Exposure to EU Bailout is $50 Billion

Schwarzenegger Preps "Terrible Cuts" to Close Deficit

Jonathan H. suggested this article: The Failure of the Unfree Market. Jonathan's comment: "Big changes are coming soon - the 72 year rule predicts the downfall of Social Security in 2012. It doesn't necessarily mean a societal collapse, but definitely fundamental changes are coming, as you have been warning."

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Arab World Grapples with Food Shortage. (A hat tip to Bob G. for the link.)

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The folks at Centerfire Antennas (one of our former advertisers) has an incentive deal for newly-licensed Hams. If you contact them with your new call sign that was issued between 4/1/2010 and 8/31/2010 then you'll
receive $25 credit towards their antennas and co-ax.

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Looking for some .30-06 armor piercing (AP) ammo? The DoD's Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) just got a batch that they are offering for sale. This was mentioned this in their latest newsletter: "The .30-06 AP ammo that we now have available includes headstamps: AYR, SL, TW, and LC. Dates of manufacture vary from the 1940s to the 1950s. Most of the ammo is corrosive, but some may be non-corrosive. The ammo is packaged in 8 round M1 Garand en bloc clips, in bandoleers, in spam cans. Purchases of multiple cans will be shipped in what appear to be the original wooden crates (two spam cans per crate). Cans and crates will be selected luck of the draw as to the head stamp. 4C3006U202-192P. Single spam can (192 rounds). $60.00. S&H at $8.95 per can." (State and local restrictions may apply!)

Jim's Quote of the Day:

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." - Winston Churchill

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reader Justin S. sent me this article that has some OPSEC implications for prepared families: Multi-level bunker found under East Austin home. Justin's comment: "I thought this might interest you if you haven’t already seen it. The implications are obvious and interesting. Does the man get to retain his property or does he have his weapons and house confiscated for 'building code violations?'" Learn from this, folks!


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am by no means a financial expert and have lived most of my life from paycheck to paycheck, so the first thing I thought of when I read "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse"was "Wow, those guys must have been rich to buy all that stuff!" I was very overwhelmed and felt somewhat hopeless that I could ever have enough money to buy the things we needed to make it through TEOTWAWKI, especially now that the economy is worsening, and people have less and less money. So I set out to figure out what I would have to do to scrape together enough money to start preparing. I have compiled a few of the tips and tricks I have discovered over the last few years here, in hopes of sharing my knowledge so others can follow suit and become better prepared in these hard times.

A few notes here before we go on:

A. In this article I will refer to any "extra" or "saved" money as TEOTWAWKI Funds (or "TF"). This is to be used for buying your preparedness supplies, not hoarded away in a bank account as useless cash.
B. There IS a difference between "NEED" and "WANT". Anything you buy requires three things; Money- not only for the purchase, but also for operation, maintenance, storage, licensing etc. Time- not only to find the item, but also for maintenance and repair. Space- to keep it in. Never buy on impulse. If you want something go home and think on it for a few days. Ask yourself: is this necessary? Who is it being purchased for? What will it be used for? When will it be used? Where will it be used and stored? Why is it needed? How can I pay for it? Most of the time when people sit down and think about it, a "need" actually isn't a need--it is actually a "want".

With that being said, here are some of the things I have learned. No one thing is going to save you a ton of money, but added all up together can mean the difference of having money for your TF or not... Think and act as if you are poor and you will have more money in the end!

The Big Things-

1. Credit Cards- Do Not live off your credit cards! Do Not pay credit cards with other credit cards. Do Not pay recurring bills on credit cards. See a trend? Credit Cards should be used for emergencies only. Sell what you have to sell and do what you have to do to get them paid off to a zero dollar balance, then Do Not use them. If you can't help yourself, take them out of your wallet and leave them at home. I can't overemphasize this enough; too many people stretch themselves thin by living over their means and off their credit cards. That is not what they are meant for, and doesn't do anything except get you further and further in debt.

2. Entertainment- Living in San Diego, I am in the epitome of wealth, status, and spending, so the first thing we will talk about here is entertainment. Do you really need those Pro Sports Jerseys, barbecues, flags, #1 fingers, helmets, cups, bottles, pens and all the other useless stuff they have? No you don't. Put your money in your TF, and get your head out of the clouds. In fact, why not take up hiking or running, (which, incidentally, are free) and start training yourself for TEOTWAWKI. Buy yourself that expensive coffee every morning? Guess what, you don't do it- brew your own at home and save a bundle! Spend money on toys? Do you really need an electric airplane? Gas-powered RC car? Boats? Quads? 50" Flat-screen TV? $5,000 stereo system? New china set? New furniture? I think not. Make do with what you have and save your money. What good is a high definition TV going to do for you when there is no food? Nothing. In fact, sell your big expensive items, downgrade, and use the extra money for your TF.

3. Cars and Appliances- Do you really need that new BMW you've been looking at? Ahem, no you don't! If you have a vehicle that is paid off or close to it, it would be cheaper to keep that vehicle and fix it up than to buy a new one- even if you had to put a new engine in it! Better yet, if it's financed, sell the vehicle you have- get out from under that loan- and go buy a used multi-purpose vehicle in cash. Even if you had to replace the whole drive-train in a used vehicle, it's still cheaper than buying a brand new car! Also, while we're on the topic of cars. Limit your driving and errand running; If you need a gallon of milk, don't make an extra trip to the store- wait until you need to do your weekly grocery shopping. You will save so much money in gas alone just from cutting out useless running around. Limit your driving; write down where you go in one week's time, and cut out or combine trips.

4. Electronics and Gadgets- people think they need things they actually don't. Do you really need that new fridge, stove, washer, computer, cappuccino machine? CD, iPods, Blueray discs? I think not! As long as it works then keep it! If it stops working, learn how to fix it, and only then if it is too expensive to fix, sell it as used junk and buy another one, used. I see people all the time buy new appliance after new appliance needlessly, and it's such a waste of money.

The Little Things-

1. Clothes- This is a big one for women, but also applies to men. Everyone already owns clothes. Look in your closet and arrange them to category. Work clothes. Play/ Relax clothes. Clothes for getting dirty. Clothes for going out. Do the same for shoes. You only need just a few per each category. That's pretty much it. Sorry women, you don't need 20 pairs of shoes and 15 purses. One works just fine. Get yourself a nice pair of sturdy boots and put the extra money in your TF. I haven't bought new clothes in years. Take care of the ones you already have and you will be just fine- you can even alter them if they don't fit or need adjusted for a very small fee. Again, cheaper than buying new ones. When you have to buy new clothes, buy ones that are on sale, functional, and easy to take care of. Sorry to say, you don't really need a $200 pair of jeans, or a $500 cashmere jacket. Take the extra cash and buy TEOTWAWKI gear.

2. Food- This is an important one and not just for people new to survivalism. I have slowly learned how to cut our food bill- it does take some work, but it's very possible. If you can cut your current food bill in half, then you could be using that other half to buy store away foods!

First- grow as much of your own food as possible! (Including animals; chickens and rabbits are cheap and easy to keep!) Even if you have a small yard, or no yard at all, buy some 5-to-15 gallon buckets and grow plants. You can set them up on your lawn, balcony, or even in your driveway if need be. You would be amazed at how much food you can get from pots. From just four big pots I got tomatoes all summer long, never had buy a single one. For whatever you can't grow, buy your produce at the local vegetable stand or farmers market. Find the cheap ones. Either of these are usually much cheaper than the grocery market. Also, don't buy expensive exotic fruits and veggies- you don't need them.

Second- don't buy name brand products. Most of the time the store-brand tastes exactly the same, and in many cases is even manufactured in the same plant!

Third, look through the weekly circulars and newspapers and find the cheapest meats, milks, and cheeses, etc. More likely than not, you'll have more than one grocery store close to you, so it won't be a big deal to go to more than one. Do not think that "I can only shop at this store." No you can't- you can shop anywhere the prices are cheap!

Fourth- this one is a little more time consuming but very worth it. Get a large bag and envelopes (for sorting) and collect as many coupons as possible. Circulars, newspapers, and the internet are all great sources. Also, you can call or write most manufactures and they will send you coupons for free. Look every week and keep adding to your collection. Then when the weekly circulars/ ads come out, find items that are going on sale and match up your coupons. Example- a jar of mayonnaise is normally $3.99, it goes on sale for 2 for $5.00, then you have a manufacturers $1.00 off coupon, now you have twice as much mayo for the same price! You just cut your food bill in half! It takes time, but is worth it!  We used to spend about $300 for a full grocery cart of food, we can now get the same amount of food for about $150-to-$175!

Fifth- consider learning how to can and store your own food. Extra tomatoes from your garden? Make spaghetti sauce and can it! It will last months instead of days. You may never have to buy spaghetti sauce again!

Sixth- Always use your leftovers and be creative! Use meat as a flavor enhancer not a main dish. Instead of serving a steak with a side of pasta, chop it up, add it along with your older veggies, canned tomatoes, pasta, spices and voila- what could feed two, can now feed four or more!

Seventh- Don't eat out! You are better off using the money and going to the grocery store; what could potentially be only one or two meals can easily be six or more.

Eighth- just because your eating cheaper doesn't mean eating less healthy. We don't eat any fast food, frozen dinners, et cetera.  Stay away from chemicals, and veer towards healthy well balanced meals. Stick to the basics, lots of fruits and veggies, potatoes, grains, and healthy lean meats. If you are overweight then consider losing some, it may mean the difference between life and death if you have to make a run for it. If your very thin, consider gaining some- you might need a little extra reserve in the times of need.

Last- Don't buy Tupperware, Zip-loc bags, Rubbermaid boxes, twist ties, and other various expensive "food storage" products. Save your glass jars from your mayonnaises, salsas, spaghetti sauces, etc. You can sterilize them and reuse them to store your foods- for free! [JWR Adds: I look for Tupperware and Rubbermaid containers as well as heavy duty canning jars used, at garage sales. These containers effectively pay for themselves, since they allow my family to fully utilize left-over food, even if they are just dog scraps.]

3. Utilities- This may seem like a big "duh" factor, but you would be surprised at how many people "know" and don't follow their own advice. Don't leave water running. Turn off lights when not in use. Unplug appliances when not using- including televisions and computers. Don't use the heater; installing a cheap wood burning stove can save you thousands on your heating bill. And as unpleasant as it sounds, don't use the air conditioning- or cut way, way back. Another option is a swamp cooler, they use less electricity and are better for the environment. Hang clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer. This saves a bunch! Case in point: A lady that I know living in a two bedroom house was spending approx $250 a month on electricity bills living the typical American way. But we live in a four bedroom house and our electricity bill runs about $40 a month. [JWR Adds:Pay particular attention to the profusion of AC to DC power adapter "power cubes" all over your house. You might be surprised to find how many of these are on, 24/7/365.Would you leave the same number of light bulbs on all the time? (Some power cubes suck as much wattage as a 40 watt light bulb.) Leave them unplugged except when you are actually using them! One good way to manage this is to put all your power cubes on power strips. When you are done using the appliance, flip off the switch on the power strip!]

4. Kitchen, Cleaning, and Health Products- Most people spend hundreds if not thousands on bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, paper towels, Lysol products, beauty products, etc. Contrary to popular belief you don't need to. First- Buy yourself a few gallons of standard laundry bleach, dilute it to 1 part to 20 for cleaning, mix it and put it in a spray bottle. Clean with white wash cloths or rags that you can wash and reuse. You never have to buy a different cleaner for every room again! You can clean the kitchen, bathrooms, floors, walls, windows, pretty much anything! Just be careful of colorfast items, carpet, and clothing- it will bleach and discolor them! You can also use ammonia and lemon juice as well for cleaning various surfaces. Two- Use plain ivory soap for hand and dish washing- it's cheaper, safer, and has less chemicals than most stuff out there. Three- Use only rags or washcloths for cleaning, drying, washing, and wiping. You don't need napkins or paper towels either- use rags. Disposable Diapers? Nope- get reusable ones. Four- Health/ Beauty products- I see people buy so many health and beauty products that it's literally cluttering up their lives! Pick one shampoo, one conditioner and one body wash, buy in bulk and forget all the extra expensive soaps and beauty products. Ladies: you don't need $150 eye cream and hundreds of dollars worth of make-up and facial care products. Get yourself one good cleanser and one good moisturizer and that's all you need! This is a huge area in wasting money because people trick themselves into thinking they need the items when they actually don't. Four- Laundry detergents, soaps, shampoos, etc, use as natural product as possible while finding great deals, use your coupons, and buy in bulk. Beware of bulk warehouses though and do your research, some items can be great deals while others not. Warehouse A is famous for buying in bulk, you get a case of soup (8 cans) for $9.90. But you may be able to the grocery store and get them individually for less than $1.00 each. Do your research, and shop smart.

5. Recycling- Recycle everything you can. You pay for it in the first place, so why not get a little of it back! Give your scraps to your animals; dogs, chickens and rabbits can eat most leftovers and you could potentially save money in feed bills, and the chickens and rabbits will in turn create more food for yourself. I also believe in giving your animals the best natural nutrition, but you don't have to go out and buy the most expensive food- pick a high quality food where you can get coupons and buy in bulk. Compost- put all your food scraps and biodegradable items in a compost pile. You will get back nutrition for your plants instead of buying commercial fertilizers. Recycle cans, bottles, jars (that you don't keep) and glass. Use old paper for tinder in your fireplace or wood burning stove and burn it for warmth. Another plus: If you are buying much less stuff you'll have way less trash!

I hope that these few things have helped at least some people to open their eyes and realize that just because we were raised a certain way, does not mean that we can't change or learn a better way! Be smart, be deliberate in your thinking, and don't buy useless stuff! Good luck!

I recently "took a bad turn" and re-experienced some back pain. My original injury was in 1979, when I was in the military. After three days I decided to see a chiropractor ... like many men, I will see a Doctor only when I have one foot in the grave ... (insert visual of wives nodding their heads here). This painful episode got me thinking about survival pain management.

In a previous career, I was the Safety Manager at a poultry processing plant. One of my duties was to manage the in-house Clinic staffed with RNs and LPNs and Paramedics. The jobs at the plant were highly repetitive and strenuous. We saw lots of ergonomic problems that had to be treated, managed and creatively eliminated.

It occurred to me tonight that in a survival situation, even a mild one, we will find ourselves involved in very physical and repetitive tasks that can result in long term pain, swelling and nerve damage if not treated quickly and effectively without having the luxury of using the local physician or pharmacy.

The problem with ergonomic injuries is the swelling, which left untreated, can cause nerve compression damage and long term debilitating pain. Not being able to effectively use your hands after developing carpel tunnel or having severe pain when walking can seriously reduce your ability to engage in needed activities.

Long story short is that, as part of survival preps we should seriously look at pain and injury management and prevention. Powerful pain killers that adversely affect our mental capacity is not a long term or even short term solution. Powerful pain killers should only be used for traumatic injuries and then only for a few days. Extended use can be debilitating, as well as make you live with the side effects.

One of the real problems with pain is that the body muscles overreact causing continual stress and that makes things worse. Managing the pain and swelling is the key.

For my recent pain, the Chiropractor used a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Unit in the office. It worked great. I asked if there were any home versions of the TENS Unit. The answer was yes. I found the one I bought on Amazon.Com. I received the shipment it today and it works great.

I thought I would share some other practical therapy and ergonomic prevention measures that we used for employees:

1. Compression gloves - these are thin elastic gloves that really work to prevent hand pain and cramps. We not only used these at the plant, but my wife used them to elevate her hand pain she experienced while sewing. For some, these gloves can prevent carpel tunnel syndrome from developing. You can find them on line and in sewing supply catalogs.

2. Compression wraps - used post-injury, they can help with swelling and pain management. Be sure they are not too tight.

3. Hot wax soaks - We melted paraffin in a crock pot (not too hot) and used it for those experiencing hand pain. Just dip in the hands and remove. The wax stays on your hands and stays warm. A very effective relaxant and therapeutic treatment. Use 4 to 8 times a day to manage pain. This also gives your hands a rest period.

4. Ibuprofen and vitamin B complex - Double the recommended Ibuprofen dose and four times the daily Vitamin B. This was actually prescribed by our company physician and it works for not only controlling pain and swelling, but speeds recovery and healing for muscular-skeletal disorders. [JWR Adds: Doctors advise that there is no harm in increasing the dosage of water soluble vitamins (which include vitamin B), but beware of over-dosing the fat soluble vitamins, namely vitamins K, A, D, and E. (Use "KADE" as your pneumonic.) These can cause poisoning!]

5. Warm-up - before engaging in repetitive or strenuous activities, warm-up the muscles and joints.

6. Work hardening - All new employees were provided supervises work hardening exercises and the amount of activity from first day to two weeks was strictly managed.

7. Vibration reduction gloves - these are generally for use with powered hand tools that create vibration. Excessive exposure to tool induced vibration can and will cause long term tissue damage. These gloves can also be used to absorb shock from non-powered hand tools.

8. Ergonomic matting - these are used for jobs that require prolonged standing such as meal prep and workbench tasks. These mats will prevent back and leg fatigue, especially when accompanied by the use of a small step to alternately rest one foot/leg at a time. Being able to shift position while working is a basic ergonomic strategy.

20 More Ergonomics Tips

I can drive a nail with a hammer (skill knowledge) but it would be unreasonable for me to expect that I could do it for hours, day after day like a professional framer who has experience in proper tool & body mechanics and has a body conditioned to do this physical work (conditioned experience). In a survival situation, especially those that are long term, we can quickly take ourselves out of the game when we develop, what is called in the industrial and job ergonomics world, Muscular-Skeletal Disorders (MSDs).

Ergonomics is the study of motion, force and stress on a body at work. and in a survival situation, our bodies will be engaged on a lot of that, including use of tools with which we are not proficient . you can't be everything all at once. But we can use the knowledge gained from industrial ergonomics to lessen the occurrences and effects of MSDs while we ramp up our skills and proficient use of tools in a real world situation.

There are two types of causes of MSDs - Overuse and single event trauma. We have all heard the term "tennis elbow" which is inflammation of the elbow tendon from overuse. A muscle tear would be from a single forceful event. Both are classified as MSDs.

Having had a career in industrial safety, I could go on for hours about ergonomic problems and solutions, but time and space being the limiting factors, I will provide some bullets that may get you thinking about survival ergonomics and do some research on your own. The following list is in no particular order:

1. Job Hardening - Getting the body ready to work includes a ramp-up over time so you can do the hard physical work without injury. Work to strengthen your body core muscles - abdomen, back and sides - to help prevent back injury from repetitive or stressful exertion.

2. Pre-work warm-up - Most gym rats and all professional athletes with do a lot of warm-ups and stretches before starting any strenuous activity. While muscles warm up fast, tendons and ligaments take longer due to the very minute blood flow to and in them. For survival preps, extended, full range of motion exercises with low weight is better than pushing a lot of heavy iron in the gym.

3. Environmental effects - Negative effects, such as high and low light conditions, high and low temperatures, uneven footing, and noise contribute to increase in injuries.

4. Pain & swelling - Tissue swelling causes nerve compression (pain) which can lead to irreversible nerve damage. Muscle and joint pain causes your body to compensate with other muscles, causing strain and more pain and unbalanced effort. Use ice & heat for pain and swelling and medication for reducing inflammation and pain. Once the swelling and pain reduce, get the joint moving again. Don't stabilize the joint for extended periods. This can lead to loss of range of motion and muscle atrophy. Understand how and when to use hot and cold packs to more quickly recover.

5. Lifting - Proper lifting must include evaluation of the weight, bulk, body position, grip engagement, starting and ending position of the object. The safe lifting zone is between the knees and shoulder. Consider asking for help or using mechanical assist devices

6. Carrying - Flip through some old National Geographic magazines and see how people have carried large, bulky and heavy material on their backs and on their heads. These are not recommended. Breakdown large loads into several smaller ones when rearranging, stocking shelves, etc. Use wheeled helpers such as carts, wagons, bicycles, wheelbarrows, and hand trucks to move heavy material over a distance. Put some bicycle wheels on a child's wagon and you have a great cart.

7. Backpacking - Experienced backpackers know to keep things light and compact. Heavy items go low in the pack and close to the body to reduce stress from an unbalanced pack. How far can you carry your bug-out-bag?

8. Hands - Rule number one is to keep wrists in a straight and neutral position. The force required to grasp, pinch, or squeeze is multiplied when the wrist is out of neutral position. Working with cold hands is an extreme hazard. Use gloves that are suited for the job. Consider a range of gloves such as sure grip, anti-vibration, compression, warmth, and cut resistance. Make sure the gloves fit well and work with the tool you are using. Improper and extended use of vibrating or impact tools can cause irreversible nerve damage to the hands and wrist

9. Feet - Good non-slip, supportive footwear can prevent injuries. Consider using arch supports and sole inserts for extended comfort and cushioning when moving over flat surfaces, uneven terrain, and climbing ladders. Good work shoes/boots are generally not designed for extended walking or hiking and the reverse also applies. Eye strain - General body fatigue can result from eye strain caused by too much light, too little light or doing fine, close detail work for an extended period. Have good sun glasses and be sure any area in which you work has good lighting. Take eye rests every 15 to 20 minutes when doing close detail work such as sewing.

10. Back - We all know to lift with our legs, not our backs. Lifting and twisting especially in a repetitive motion will cause injury at some point. Our backs are just not designed to do this with even a moderate weight.

11. Repetitive motion - Be sure to stretch and warm-up and take rest breaks. Use fingerless compression gloves for hand work that requires using fingers to repetitively manipulate objects. Use anti-fatigue matting when standing for long periods at a task. Vary your tasks so you don't fatigue specific muscles. Avoid using your body to create impact force.

12. Tools - Properly designed handles to fit your hands are essential. Handles that are too big or too small with quickly cause hand fatigue. Hand geometry should allow a straight and neural wrist position. Consider the weight and bulk of a tool when selecting your tools. Usage position is important. Off-balanced or twisting or overhead use of tools can cause MSDs.

13. Pushing and Pulling - From a body mechanics standpoint, it's better to push an object rather than pull it. Make sure you have a good grip and do not flex your wrists if you are doing repetitive work that involves pushing or pulling.

14. Sitting - Extended sitting while working should be done so that there is no stress on the lower back. Knees should be above the hip joint.

15. Standing - While doing work for an extended period at a work bench or counter top, use foot rests, soft anti-fatigue matting and shift your weight periodically. An adjustable work height will be a bonus to keep you from hunching over.

16. Squatting - Watch your body mechanics of moving up or down when squatting. You should generally avoid this position while working.

17. Mechanical advantage - Use levers, block & tackle, hand trucks, pull/push carts, wheel barrows and anything that will minimize the force and exertion you must provide with your body.

18. Temperature - Working in either high and low temperatures can cause rapid overall fatigue that can cause MSDs.

19. Sleep deprivation - Not getting enough sleep creates body fatigue and affects judgment which leads to an injury prone condition.

20. Be prepared to avoid recognize and treat MSDs in a survival situation. Being flat on your back in pain or having lost the effective use of your hands can make it a very bad day for surviving.

I could go on and on about ergonomic solutions that employers (and OSHA) have found effective that could be directly transferred to crisis survival activities, including properly designed tool handles, job rotation, frequent breaks for rest and stretching, etc. Check out the ergonomic sections at the OSHA web site for solutions to problems that you have not yet encountered.

I'm sure there are other non-pain pill pain management and expedited healing techniques, including hot and cold compresses, that are "outside the box" and could be very useful in a SHTF situation.

In keeping with the "if you have two, you have one" dogma, I am ordering another TENS Unit to put in my Faraday cage.

Regards, - Marc N. in Alabama

Mountain lion confirmed in rural Greene County, Indiana (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson for spotting that article.)

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A word of warning to field foragers: Hemlock May Have Caused Tacoma Woman's Death. (It is important to learn how to identify poison hemlock -- not to be confused with the various hemlock trees.)

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K.L. in Alaska spotted this piece in a Prescott, Arizona newspaper about Cory Lundin: Local survival teacher gets Discovery Channel TV series

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You read about this first in SurvivalBlog: Could another Icelandic volcano erupt soon?

Some recent twisters -- a photo essay. (Be prepared, folks!)

"Freedom is not a place to visit, or a thing to be achieved. Freedom is a commitment, a way of life that will endure only as long as men love it for themselves and their children, more than their weariness, or their fear, or vain comforts." - Michael Casey, Phil’s Stock World March 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Long term survival means you need a three part system. You need (1) Water, (2) Food, and (3) Security. most people only prep for two of the three or one of the three. I know too many "preppers" that say "all that I need is my AR-15 and a ton of ammo", but the issue with that is obvious. you will have to turn into a bad guy and steal or kill for the other two. I also know guys who say " will hoard a 90-day supply of food and water, and my neighbors will help me keep my stuff. Right, because your neighbor is the guy with a gun and no food or water. You need all three in combination, or none of them matter.

Another thing to consider is in a SHTF situation how are you going to do some common things? Let's take a few things and look at how we are going to deal with them in the future. First, are you going to bug in or are you going to bug out. Well, a lot of this depends on what is the SHTF scenario. Take for instance a dirty bomb attack and you live within the danger zone, or the danger zone where the winds are taking the fall out to. In this situation it is obvious you need to bug out. On the other hand what if the same dirty bomb hits, but it is far enough away to impact others, but only impacts you in Electricity, Water, and other utilities. In this situation I would say you need to bug in.

So you have similar things happening, but totally different out comes. What I am trying to say is you need to be prepared for all types of bugging situations. You need a good 72 hour bag for each person, a first aid kit for either each person(level 1) or a first aid kit level 2 for your family(also, you need to think about taking some first aid classes to go with the tools). I mean what good is it to have a suture kit and bags of intravenous fluid, but not know how to use them? You also might consider a bug out kit for the vehicle you are using, and that also brings up the question, what makes a good bug out vehicle? Now I am not going to tell you the best vehicle, because the area you live in determines a lot of this, but more than likely an older SUV with a carburetor and points will usually be a good choice, for a few reasons. You will be able to haul more gear(including food and water), you can haul more people, most are four wheel drive, and the carburetor and point systems are the only sure way to avoid the pitfalls of an EMP.

Continuing the bug out scenario, consider where are you going. Practice the route, all times of the day and night. Know alternate routes to get there, and map these out. Consider alternate locations, you never know where a disaster man made or natural will occur. Store the gear you need at the locations, that way if you are in route and have to ditch the vehicle you can grab your 72 hour bag, hike the rest of the way, and know that when you get there, you can live.

Do not count on the generosity of others. There will be a few people that will help you, but for the most part civilization will be, well, uncivilized! Don't think my neighbor has a place I have heard about, or, I can go stay with my mom or kids. If this is not what you, and they, have planned then they do not have enough for you and them. (Another thing to consider is it takes approximate 2,000 plus calories to live, but in a high stress situation you need more than that, some times a lot more.) So do have a plan, don't rush into things. Think out as many possibilities as you can and plan for all of them. You can not have every possible thing in your possession, but you can account for as a bunch.

A word about bug-out-bags, first aid kits and gear. Stock them with what you think you will need for a real world problem. As things in your life or the world change, change the items in the bags. For instance, in summer you may not need a wool sweater, but in winter you might. if you live in Arizona you probably will not need a winter parka, but if you live in Colorado you more than likely will. Be smart when you are prepping, again this is a lot of common sense, but using common sense when you are calm and only preparing for the situation is easier than throwing a bunch of junk together when you a scared because the Chinese have landed on the Pacific coast Also, one more thing about vehicles. You need to always make sure and maintain your BOV, seems simple, but how bad would it be if you have not driven it in three months and go to start it and the battery is dead, or having to head out at night and the headlights being burned out, think!

Now, onto bugging in. If you decide it will be safer for you and yours to stay in place, then do it! You need to be able to assess the situation and make an informed decision. So now you have decided to bug in and the power is out, natural gas is gone or worse, on fire at the transfer station, Now what? How are you going to cook that three months worth of food? Did you think to buy a propane system and propane? Did you think of a solar oven? there are hundreds of things to think of. When you where putting your food and water stores together, did you get all of the meds you and your family will need for the next 90 days, a multivitamin supplement for each of you, and did you go over all of this with your spouse of another responsible person if you are to get injured or become ill?

This is not a complicated thing, but it does take preparation. You need to go over this over and over, until you and everyone you are bugging in with know it backwards and forwards...

If you live in the mountains [or a northern climate], did you think of how to heat in a grid-down situation? You live in New Mexico, did you think of how to have enough water to work in the heat? there are so many small things to think of, you need to really plan for your area and for your own personal needs. I can tell you a hundred things to look at, but most of them will fit me and my family, but may be totally wrong for you and yours.

A thing that I did not think about until recently, communication. If the SHTF then more than likely you will not have a working cell phone. Did you plan on it? Did you buy a CB or ham radio? Do you have a way to power them? There are [photovoltaic] solar panels, generators, and wind turbines. So many options, but what is right for you? It all depends.Wind is great if you live in Kansas, but solar is better if you live in Florida. As a prepper I can tell you ideas, and problems, but you need to come up the best solution for you.

There a hundred things to consider, rain barrels for extra water for cleaning or boiling for drinking and cooking, food and water for your pets, fuel for the generator,vehicle, and cooking appliances, and so many more. We over the next few weeks and months will hit as many of these as we can. If you have a question, ask, I will get you the answers. We will learn this all together.

A few things all of us need to think about is long term food, water, and security.

( a little note: the point of all of this is to survive. This seems obvious, but if you make it through what ever happens and can go past your 72 hour kit, your three month supply of food and water, or if you are very ambitious, make it through the one year mark, and you die because you have no skills to thrive after, then what is the point of all of the prep? One thing you need to consider doing outside of the prep most people teach about is learning to live without technology. Growing your own food, hunting for your own meat, and a trade or skill to barter. In most SHTF scenarios the government will have failed or collapsed and the money you have will be useless. So if you are a stock trader for a living, then learn a trade or skill that will be useful in a market that doesn't need a banker. The point is to live on, and take care of those in your family and hopefully help others around you.

May God bless you and yours. In Christ's Love, - Brother Robert

I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed the preview to your new book. I am really looking forward to reading the entire book.

I also wanted to pass on two "observations of life", if you will, that I have made in the past few years.

First, in a post conversation that I had with a person I had worked with at the time, this person was laughing about a pre-Y2K conversation he had with an elderly neighbor. This person lives in a fairly rural area and his single, elderly female neighbor was asking if he was storing food in preparation for Y2K. Even though this person had plenty of land, other resources and ability to do so, he told her no. He told her he was only stocking guns and ammo. When she asked why he stated that with guns and ammo, then he would be able to take all the food he needed from her and people like her.

This person laughed when he said this and there were several others that laughed as well. I personally was horrified since I could tell that this guy was serious. This was his survival plan and unfortunately and I think that it's the plan for many like him.

I am thankful for your blog and the work you do. Hopefully, more people will be thoroughly prepared for long term survival should TSHTF in the future.

Second, I was recently speaking with a sergeant who works in a jail/prison setting. Somehow the conversation turned to a TEOTWAWKI-style event. This sergeant looked me in the eye and stated in a cold, calculated manner and told me that if the "lights go out" due to such an event and he's on duty, then he will make sure he's the last to leave. But, before he leaves, he's going to get his AR-15 from his car, go to the floor where the "worst of the worst" criminals are [housed] and "make the world just a little bit better."

When he said this, I had just read "Patriots" for the second time and remembered that happening in your book. I see that there are people out there thinking about this.

These are just thoughts/observations that I wanted to share with you.

Thank You and God Bless - Doug T.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
My wife wasn't exactly skeptical, but her focus was defined by other requirements. Her family history showed her that keeping family close and healthy was a first priority. So her natural drive was in that direction.
My re-entry into the world of prepping came from critiquing the television show Jericho. At first, I was embarrassed to let her know about my interest in the subject matter, and how I thought there were better ways to handle
things in the plot. When we talked about it one night, I saw an interest in her eye, and the prepping drive came to the fore front, with dedicated
efforts in the open.

I believe that getting a skeptical spouse on board calls for some visual example. A movie, show or well done documentary or news series detailing cause and effect will go a long way in helping disorganized emotions and
concerns evolve into planning. Getting to the point where these are a lifestyle will naturally follow. For us, it was Jericho. For others, it might be "The Book of Eli" or some other movie. One friend was convinced
by a good series of news stories on the markets, and reading FerFAL's letters.

Show and Tell. It works well. I heartily recommend it. - LP

I wanted to chime in with a bit of my experience here, my wife is a pretty typical citizen, while some of my firearm purchases were done against her best judgment I found we both began getting involved with preparations when it came to food and household goods. We stocked our basement with shelves of day-to-day food and supplies like canned fruit, pasta, peanut butter, oils and other stuff that lasts a while, toilet paper, toothpaste, soap and detergent, mostly from Costco. Once we had a couple months of food in rotation, we went for the 55 gallon water containers and big stockpiles of grain and dehydrated food. Lately we've been expanding our supplies of medicine. She still thinks I am a bit obsessive at times but I think she feels good now knowing that we have a two-year plan, and we'll hopefully be adding a third year of food provisions soon. I think if you approach it by saying "lets go buy some shelves and start stocking food in the basement", then the rest will follow more easily. She will find it very convenient being able to grab an extra bottle of olive oil from the basement when she runs out. I think the backup generator likely gave her the impression that you just wanted a new and expensive toy and that gave her doubts.

Also, if flood is a consideration, might I suggest purchasing a box of sandbags to contain the flood, that would perform double-duty to reinforce your house during a riot or societal breakdown. - Jeff M.

EMB mentioned: The Crisco Alternative

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Mark P. spotted this: Farmers Cope with Roundup-Resistant Weeds

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Tina W. alerted me to this article: Rodents pose new health threat in Zimbabwe's towns. If our economy ever collapses, rats will be with us, in large numbers!

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The America I left - reactions of a retiring expat. (A hat tip to Brian B. for the link.)

"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 10, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

While many readers of SurvivalBlog might be hard-core, prepped to the nth degree, live off the land survival types like Mr. Rawles, I would suspect that most are much like myself: quiet suburban dwellers whose eyes have been opened by Mr. Rawles at SurvivalBlog and similar voices to the fragility of our modern intertwined civilization. However, my awakening and “journey” was begun without my most important companions: my lovely bride of seven years and our two very young daughters.

While I consider my wife to be one of the most resilient and resourceful individuals I have ever met, she shares a similar upbringing with most of America complete with its outlook on TEOTWAWKI: things like this can’t happen in Chicago/Illinois/America/The World. It’s a world view that I and I suspect many of the readers of this site once shared as well. Convincing her to take disaster preparedness seriously has become one of the most important tasks I have undertaken. Doing it in a way that doesn’t make me come off like a “nut” is a gentile and time consuming process.

I have found two effective methods to facilitate this: use real world examples to stress the need for preparedness and family activities to build skills critical for preparedness. It also doesn’t hurt that spending time together with my wife and children also strengthens our own familial bonds and is a lot of fun.

Using seemingly mundane real world examples of manmade and natural disasters can drive home many concepts to the skeptical spouse. For example, I convinced my wife of the practical need for a bugout bag by using a highway accident in a neighboring town. A tractor trailer carrying anhydrous ammonia had been involved in a multi-vehicle accident on I-55 and several thousand local residents had to be evacuated. I asked her a hypothetical: what would we do if that happened here, and we had only a few minutes to leave? I then posed a more sever hypothetical: what if we had to leave for several days because the refinery/chemical plant the next town over had a large accident (being an engineer really helped me drive this home to her)? Maybe we should fill a large suitcase with spare outfits, diapers, wipes, and. Wouldn’t it be good keep a storage bin filled with juice boxes, water bottles, crackers, snacks, mac-n-cheese and canned foods if we had to leave for a couple of days .. you know, so as not to be an imposition for the home we wind up crashing in for a couple of nights? Just in case.

After answering some questions and dispelling her belief that “things like that don’t happen” with more real world situations, she agreed it was prudent to take these seemingly small steps. And like every journey, the journey to preparedness begins with a few small steps.

The usefulness of a generator and some kind of alternate power supply was also communicated using another real world example, this one was a bit closer to home. A friend’s basement had flooded during a power outage costing them more than $10,000 in damage. I asked her another hypothetical: what of that happened to us? Perhaps we should look into some kind of emergency backup power supply for the sump pump and a “few” other household appliances? What about solar PV with a battery backup? (fun fact: did you know that lightly bruised PV panels can be had for free from road sign rental outfits … all you gotta do is ask the right person). Maybe you clear your schedule next weekend and we can do this together?

This kind of task killed two birds with one stone: we put in a valuable backup power supply, and we did it as a team, building skills (electronics, carpentry, cooperation, etcetera) that may one day prove quite useful.

The preparations she and I make together are usually never all the preparations my household makes. While “our” G.O.O.D. bag (for example) is packed with clothes, batteries (rotated periodically), food, toiletries, sleeping bags, and some cash, my “camping” rucksack contains fishing equipment, two sealed .308 battle backs, MREs, camping stove, 550 cord, fire making supplies, two Leatherman tools, shortwave radio, tarps and the like. “Our” workouts consist of jogging, bike riding, canoeing, and long walks with the kids while my workouts consist of free weights, boxing, and swimming.

Firearms and the skeptical spouse is a clear no brainer. I have always been an avid outdoorsman and hunter and when we met wife cared little for firearms. The reality of the situation is, and one that took little convincing, is that with the amount I am away from home for work (2-3 days a week) a situation may arise where an intruder may find his way into our home. As a responsible gun owner, I demand everyone in my house to familiarize and master firearm handling and usage as soon as they are capable. Her willingness to learn about firearms and become proficient with them crystallized when our first daughter was born. If your skeptical spouse has not yet come to the realization that although men and women are equal in the eyes of the law, laws are constructs of people and a large male intruder cares little for feminist theories of gender identity. A small diminutive woman can stop a NFL lineman with one careful or several hasty shots from a Model 1911. Learn them, respect them, and know that not only your safety but the safety of your children will rely on the ability and willingness to use them.

Do as much as your spouse is willing to, but don’t push them. Keeping things fun is a great way to keeping them interested. Building skills and preparedness can be made fun and does not have to be a chore.

I have also found gardening to be another critical skill that can be innocently portrayed as just another fun family activity. Picking wild berries, fruit, and asparagus (which are abundant and go unused by people in the forest preserves and public lands by me) and canning them into homemade jam/preserves/vegetables is a preferred alternative to spending a weekend afternoon on the couch, or worse, in the mall. (fun fact: did you know that while most people release the boney Northern Pike, they can be easily pickled for delicious meals and have long shelf lives). This was presented to my skeptical spouse as not just a “fun thing” to do with the kids (which it is, nothing cuter than seeing the little devils eat as many as they pick), but also as a way to save money and enjoy some beautiful spring and summer afternoons.

Craft projects are another avenue for skill building. I recently read an article here on SurvivalBlog about braiding parachute cord and we sit down occasionally and make bracelets and necklaces with our daughters. Sewing is skill I had very little knowledge of, and one where my wife actually taught me a great deal of practical sewing skills (hemming pants, sewing patches and buttons).

Some might say that my approach is deceptive and they have a point. However, considering the importance of the task I would rather build skills and preparedness prudently and cautiously, all be it slowly, then have my skeptical spouse think that this is just another one of my many eccentricities and write it off as such.

And remember, the best case scenario of being prepared is building useful skills, becoming more self reliant and spending quality time with your family and friends. The worst case, its is your family’s survival.

Dear Friends,
Most of you are preparing, Great.

Some of you are thinking of preparing, but find it hard to believe tough times could happen in the near future as this never happened before in our life. We all have insurance for our homes and/or automobiles that we pay for in premiums year after year, after year.

Please think of food storage as insurance. Come what may, be it disruptions in "just in time" inventory at the local food chain, civil strife, or inflation. Food storage will pay great dividends for you and your family.

Please read the following and then spend a hour or two reading about world current events outside television news programming.

If you think I'm just crazy, then so be it. Sorry I bothered you. Let me know and I'll stop with the e-mails. Enjoy your World Wrestling Federation events, your Dancing with the Stars, and America's Next Top Model/Singer programming. - Steve K.

Mr. Editor:
Might I humbly suggest a couple additions for Eric? First, a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills. Second, build a couple Kearney Fallout Meters (KFMs) as instructed in Nuclear War Survival Skills. These meters are not that difficult to build, but do take some time to build if you do so carefully. Two pound ice fishing line for the suspension threads work very well. A charged KFM with Stren-type monofilament line still had noticeable leaf separation three days after charging this last winter using drywall core as drying agent. A KFM would allow a person to survey the unsheltered surroundings to determine with certainty when leaving (and for how long) is safe. Nuclear War Survival Skills seems to be the best of the choices for information dealing with a nuclear attack situation.

Hopefully, someone will be able to toss out the KFMs I have built after I die of old age; all of them unused. - Dave W.

JRH Enterprises has secured eight AN/PVS-14 weapon sight/monoculars that they are able to offer for $2,995 each. These are the new third generation Pinnacle Autogated units with a five year warranty. OBTW, I have a PVS-14 here at the Rawles Ranch that I bought from JRH Enterprises, and I absolutely love it.

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Montana lawmakers suggest Congress should be on trial in gun law dispute.

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G.G. sent this piece "for those who buy expensive gear and don't know how to use it": Aspiring sailor trying to sail round the UK circles the Isle of Sheppey instead. Common sense, its seems, is all too uncommon.

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When will the good people of Chicago ever un-elect this lying liberal buffoon? Daley: Send gun industry lawsuit to World Court. (Out thanks to Hal in The Windy City for the link.)

"Chicago politicians will always be Chicago politicians." - Karl Rove

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. It was written under a pseudonym. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Will day to day economic transactions in America in the years ahead continue pretty much as they have for the last century or so, or will they change? In other words, what will ground-level finances look like in five or ten years—or possibly three or five years? To answer that question, at least to the extent that I’m able (I’m not a professional economist), I reviewed my own experience, and studied up a bit on history. The answer I came up with isn’t outlandish or apocalyptic, but it’s still not a pretty picture.

First, a bit about me: I’m in my early 50s, a retired military guy, a Christian in chronic need of forgiveness for my sins, living in a semi-rural area in the Midwest. I’ve been married for 27 years, and we have a 25-year-old disabled son whose care will be our responsibility for as long as we’re physically able to meet it.

As to the issue of TEOTWAWKI, I’m quasi-apocalyptarian (to coin a term) at best. I don’t think we’ll revert to the Dark Ages, but I do think we’re headed to roughly a world that my mother, who was born in 1925, would recognize from her childhood. I also think it’ll be a bumpy ride down, not a smooth one. My favorite commentator on this prospect is John Michael Greer at The Archdruid Report, who is often of two minds on the subject, or so it seems to me. (So am I.)

I should probably add that my wife, who’s an intelligent and reasonable person, thinks I’m a nut on the issue of TEOTWAWKI. She thinks our immediate future is going to be pretty placid, just like our immediate past. I hope and pray she’s right. But her view does nothing to change my responsibilities to my family.

Anyway, here goes:

What is Money?

Modern governments and citizens tend to view money differently. To governments, money is just a medium of exchange for commercial transactions. To citizens, money is both this and a reliable store of value. (This generalization has many exceptions, but is accurate enough to be useful as an analytical tool.)

In America, from about 1800 to 1913, the dollar served both these purposes well. Keeping a sack of dollars in your mattress created some risk of loss through theft, fire or other disaster, but was otherwise both rational and prudent. Paper dollars were redeemable for dollars made of gold or silver, and inflation during this period was virtually zero.

Starting in 1913, however, with the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank, things changed. Since then, dollars have met the government’s definition of money (a medium of exchange), but have met only half of citizens’ definition, in that dollars have not been a reliable store of value.

The dollar has lost 95 percent of its purchasing value since 1913, according to the St Louis Federal Reserve Bank. (Ironic source, huh?). Citizens haven’t been able to redeem paper dollars for gold since 1933, or for silver since 1964. And keeping sacks of dollars in your mattress has been a recipe for slow ruin.

Interestingly, though, the Fed has managed this erosion of purchasing power cleverly and gradually. With effective annual inflation typically between 2 and 3 percent, the dollar’s decline has escaped the notice of the vast majority of Americans—or, perhaps more accurately, this decline has not prompted widespread alarm or panic.

Also interestingly, most of the rest of the world has been just as complacent as we Americans have been. Throughout the globe, and particularly in the developing world, the dollar has become the basis of the underground economy, so much so that over half of the roughly 800 billion actual paper dollars estimated to be extant in the world are outside our borders. Is it possible that this phenomenon provides a clue as to our likely future?

Bad Money

It is well known, and often repeated among preppers, that every previous fiat currency in the history of the world has failed. While true, I don’t know that this observation is particularly illuminating or helpful in our day to day lives. What really matters is the pace of this failure, and the extent to which the failure is recognized by the citizenry. Moreover, that second factor (recognition by citizens of ongoing failure) has a strong effect on the first (pace of failure).

I’ve concluded that the pace of failure of a fiat currency is primarily a function of the prudence of the issuing government. The more imprudent the government, the faster the failure will proceed. “Imprudence” in this context refers to fiscal policy and tax policy. Specifically, any government that spends a lot of money it doesn’t have, or taxes its citizens at confiscatory rates, or both, absent some temporary crisis situation, is imprudent. Sound like any government you know?

But how do citizens recognize this imprudence? It’s tougher than it sounds—how does a fish know that it’s in water? I don’t know exactly what prompts people to conclude that their government is imprudent, and its currency at risk. But I think I do know what these citizens do once they reach that conclusion: they start using an alternative currency for some or most of their daily transactions.

This phenomenon is ubiquitous overseas. In many of the foreign lands I lived in or passed through while on active duty in the 1980s and 1990s, most of the foreign nationals I encountered were fully immersed in a dual-currency world. It was so much a part of their lives that they never gave it a second thought. They had one pocket full of whatever paper their own governments printed up as money, and one pocket full of dollars. And, given the choice, most wanted to conduct as many transactions as possible in dollars, not the other stuff.

Economists will tell you that a sizable so-called “underground” economy in a nation, whether in the local currency or an alternative, is primarily evidence of tax rates that are too high. Thus citizens seek to avoid that taxation by conducting their transactions “out of sight” of government. Current estimates of the American underground economy vary widely, but the mean seems to be about 20 percent of official GDP. In the United Sates, so far at least, our underground economy has used dollars, just like the above-ground operation. But I think that’s about to change.

Good Money

So, here’s my prediction: in the next five to ten years, and possibly sooner, we’ll see both here and worldwide a substantial and growing abandonment of fiat currencies for everyday transactions. Citizens will choose instead to use historically reliable stores of value: silver and gold. Since most routine transactions are relatively small, I think silver will be the preferred medium.

(I also think there’s a very good possibility that private ownership of gold money in America will be outlawed, just as it was during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Anyone who thinks that our government won’t do again what it’s done before is dreaming. But the world’s supply of silver is vastly bigger than that of gold, so the sheer logistics of confiscation make it substantially less likely.)

If I’m right, we’ll first see rising silver prices, and increasing investor preference for delivery of physical silver. Actually, based on some of the articles linked on this site in the recent past, we’re already seeing both. But to my mind, the real proof will be the first time that a plumber or electrician or other tradesman tells me “I’ll do the job for a hundred bucks—or a couple of silver American Eagles.” It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I bet it won’t be long.

So, do I have the courage of my convictions? Like most people, my answer is “Sort of.” We’ve bought some one-ounce silver bullion coins, both American and Canadian, but not as much as I’d like. There’s that little matter, mentioned earlier, of a certain someone who thinks that I’m a nut.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
In reading the responses to Criss K.’s question regarding a good multi-purpose rifle I was surprised to find no mention of the Savage 99. The later Model 99 can be found in .308 [Winchester] with a detachable box magazine and while “collector” grade rifles command a higher price, “shooter” grade rifles can generally be found for a very reasonable price. Granted, you can’t get high capacity magazines for these, but this lever action does address the problem of reload time and you get the power and availability of the .308 [Winchester] caliber. Thank you, - Will S.

Blog reader N.R. recently mentioned using storm drain pipes under cities for escape routes. This article shows the potential danger of sewers [which can be even more dangerous than storm drains]: Middletown city worker dies after falling in manhole.

Be safe! - Philip R.

This YouTube dramatization sounds like something out of SurvivalBlog, or a novel I once read wrote: The Economic Collapse. (Thank to David W. for the link.)

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Ash delays and reroutes trans-Atlantic flights. (Thanks to Mike M. for the link.)

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Mat in Tennessee suggested this: Getting Prepared for an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. This is also apropos for massive Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) events.

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Allen M. flagged this: NetDISK multi-function NDAS - the 'hack-proof' drive

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This is an unusual writing contest entry. It is a letter that a SurvivalBlog reader wrote to his son, who attends college in a major city that could be the target of a terrorist nuclear attack.

A serious letter to my dear beloved son, Eric,

It is quite possible that the USA will soon experience a terrorist attack in the form of a nuclear detonation. The city just west of the University you are attending would be a high profile, terrorist "trophy" to attack.

If a nuclear detonation by terrorist occurs in that city, you will notice a bright flash of light and, then feel the blast wave a few seconds after. Although the University is somewhat distant and shielded by terrain from that city, train yourself to not look toward the flash and immediately duck behind a solid barrier. Expect glass to be flying from any windows and plug your ears. Once the blast wave passes note the time. Your goal is to be inside a fallout shelter within 40 minutes and with enough supplies to last 2 weeks. This will only be possible if you prepare in advance.

Given that your location is 25 miles east of that big city, and the prevailing winds blow east, lethal levels of radioactive fallout could begin falling on your campus within 50 minutes.

Right after the blast wave hits, a strong wind will start moving back toward ground zero. Depending on the size of the nuke, the reverse wind could be strong enough to knock down trees and people. If you are outside, you need to decide in the short 15 seconds between the blast wave passing and the reverse wind if, you can make it to a temporary safe place. If you are near a building, get in it. If you are in a building already, stay in it. If you are outside get away from tall trees. Wait for about three minutes for the wind to pass, then start for your dorm to get your packs. If it is a small detonation, the wind will be manageable. By this time you will have only 35 minutes left to shelter "Lock Down".

To prepare before an event, pack your back pack with things like long lasting candles, matches, Bic [butane] lighters, flashlight with extra batteries, portable radio, first aid kit, basic medications, toilet paper, water bottles, bucket, washcloth, towel, bar soap, dust masks, gloves, duct tape, some basic tools or a mufti-tool, pry bar, hammer, small trash bags for making a toilet, big trash bags to wear as a fallout suit. As for nutrition, pack instant foods like oatmeal, trail mix, beef jerky, nutri-bars, raisins, nuts, dried fruit, vitamins, etc. You should still have the water filter, hatchet and sharp knife in the back pack from our last camping trip. There is already Potassium Iodate in your respirator kit I gave you. Do not pack more than one change of clothes except, underwear and socks. You will only need to change clothes if they get wet. . Get extra dust masks which will help the others who join you at the last minute. Be sure to include a sleeping bag or some warm bedding and something to read. Prepare to be in the shelter for 2 weeks minimum. Since you will be mostly sedentary, you can eat and drink on a small daily ration. Clean water will be more important than food. You will need to drink at least 2 liters a day.

Pack everything in two large trash bags, one inside the other, and keep them packed. You will not have enough time to pack everything and then get to the shelter within the remaining 35 minute window, so it is important to prepare your packs in advance .

Prepare with a team of other people who are of like mind. Keep your team small and, if an event happens, each team member can bring a few other persons with them to the shelter. Evaluate the capacity of the shelter and supplies to accommodate the final number of people. You can expect that number to grow during an event when people see that you have an effective plan in the process of implementation.

If a detonation occurs, there will not be enough time to try to contact each member of the team or to figure out what happened. If You hear a "boom" and all power goes out, assume it is a detonation and, everyone just shows up at the shelter area with their packs. A small detonation is just as deadly with fallout, even if you do not experience much flash, pressure wave or wind.

Inquire at the University Office about the fallout shelters and how well equipped they are. Do they have any windows and are they high up? How deep is it submerged below ground level and how thick are the walls? Are there toilets? Is there a water tap to a storage tank? Does the University have gravity water pressure from an elevated water tank? Usually the boiler rooms are well built and submerged below ground level. Decide which one your team will meet at and, what each team member will bring to it in the event of a detonation.

I would not rely on the Official Plan of Action from the University Administration Office. Even if they have a plan and, assuming they have considered and planned for this kind of situation, the effect of shock, panic and, lack of regular drills will make it non-effective. Remember lethal fallout could reach your area in less than 50 minutes. It may take them that long just to find out what happened and by then, it will be too late.

Evacuating the University in the event of a terrorist nuke is a big mistake. Most fallout at first is invisible. Latter it is mixed with ash that falls like snow. It is carried by upper winds which are faster than surface winds. Roads will be clogged with traffic, and they who are stuck there will not make it ahead of the fallout. The fallout is eventually going to travel down wind for more than 100 miles. Sooner than you think traffic will start getting heavy, so, traveling fast to a shelter will be the best decision depending on the wind direction.

With a compass, map and looking up at the clouds for a few minutes, you can tell if the wind is blowing from ground zero toward your location. To evacuate the area you would need to travel in a direction at a right angle of the wind direction blowing from ground zero. In your case, since you have large natural barriers north and south of the University, and you will not be able to outrun a fallout cloud going east, you should plan to head for the shelter.

Who has the keys to the shelters? If phones and radios do not work, how will you contact them? If the key cannot be found in time after a detonation, break the lock and get in. You will need the pry bar and hammer. Maybe you can use the selected shelter for a student film project. In that case you can get the keys and covertly make some copies of it for a few members of the group.

What do you think it will be like with several hundred people, most of them sick and dying in one crowded room, with little or no water, no bathroom, not enough air, no ma tresses, no lighting, and no effective leadership or medical care for two weeks? Any of the larger shelters that are easily access able to the greater population will be over crowded, under equipped and, they will probably let everyone in no matter how late and contaminated they are. Living in this condition may not be survivable, so, be somewhere else.

Select the smaller shelter like a boiler room or a more distant building basement and equip it yourselves. These more distant buildings will be less crowded and more manageable for your team. Locate and check the water spigots but, be aware that unless the system is gravity fed from a water tower, the water pressure will be decreasing to zero very quickly. If no water tower or if the tower is damaged from the blast, the water coming out of the tap will only be the amount that is still left in the pipes. If there are water spigots in the shelter area, you can stock up empty water bottles in a big plastic trash bag and fill them immediately upon arriving at the shelter. You should also keep four liters in one of your packs ready to go.

Look for any hot water tanks that supply showers or sinks, they usually have a drain tap at the bottom or on the pipe coming from the bottom of the tank. If you find one of these you will have plenty of drinking water. At first the water from this lower tap may be a rusty color. It is still okay to drink, it is just Iron which, you can let settle to the bottom of the water jug. Avoid using water from hot water heating systems for institutional building radiators or fire sprinkler systems that may contain antifreeze which, is poisonous. These pipes are usually labeled.

If the fallout shelter does not have a water tap, you should consider stocking it in advance with some water jugs. This will lessen the weight of your packs and reduce your tasks within the remaining 35 minute time window. You also do not want to be making more than one trip after a detonation to the shelter if, it is distant from your dorm. If the shelter is close to your dorm, you will be able to make a few trips. Practice now by timing these trips.

You can also establish an alternative location for a shelter. Maybe a basement area that can be barricaded easily. It needs to have at least 14 inches of solid masonry or concrete structure between you and the fallout that will be settling on the flat surfaces outside. Your shelter should be below ground level as much as possible. Radiation is also dampened by distance, especially when there are right angle corners between you and the radiation source outside. The more right angle corners consisting of solid masonry between you and the radiation source, the better. Select alternative shelter areas now, so, it does not have to become a panic decision latter.

You should have a few drills with your group. From the time the group leader calls everyone on the Mobile phone, how long does it take for everyone to go to their dorm, get stuff and go to the shelter?

Make sure group members keep the plan secret. Refer to shelter locations by a code name or letter. Before leaving your dorm for the shelter place a note on your door stating that the group is meeting at location "Alpha" . In this way, only members of your preparation group will know where to show up with the pre selected number of people.

The travel route to your selected shelter should not be a direct route so, people cannot figure out where you are going. If possible, take some detours around barrier objects like buildings and landscaping, keeping in mind the elapsed time since detonation.

For the shelter, if possible establish two separate areas; one primary area for those who show up on time and, a secondary area for those who show up late and who are contaminated. A slightly contaminated person will survive but, be sick. and, the more contaminated person will not live very long. Those who show up late, should not be admitted inside the primary shelter because of contaminating the healthy survivors. A secondary area within the building which is well shielded from the primary area like around the corner of a masonry wall or, a separate room should be used for contaminated people arriving late. If the shelter room is large enough, you can place them at one end of the room. In a boiler room they can be placed on the opposite side of the boiler. Boilers are made of thick, heavy iron and make a good radiation barrier. Consider how you can barricade the primary and secondary shelter entrances after everyone is in.

All backpacks for gear should be sealed in a trash bag for the trip to your shelter. If you get to the shelter late, before entering the primary shelter remove the trash bag cover from your gear which is inside another trash bag, then throw the clean bag with your stuff inside the shelter and discard the outer bag outside. This procedure keeps the inner bag from being contaminated by fallout. Then remove the trash bag covers from your pack and yourself and also discard the bags outside. Wash thoroughly all exposed skin with soap and water.

Be sure to wear the full face respirator I gave you beginning at about the 30 minute mark. You should be at the shelter by then. Wearing it too soon could draw attention from "wrong doers" who might want to take it from you. Remember that desperate people will do desperate things.

Anyone showing up late without wearing protective bags, and contaminated, strips off all outer clothing and cuts off as much of their hair that was exposed as possible. They do this inside the building but outside the primary shelter entrance. Carefully throw the contaminated cloths and dust mask outside. They are to wash down previously exposed skin with soap and water if, water is plentiful and, discard the towel outside. Then they can change into the extra clothes that you brought along in your sealed trash bags.

Once inside everyone should wear a fresh clean dust mask or respirator for at least three days, and after three days when briefly visiting the secondary area. Make a dust masks using cloth and duct tape if necessary. As people show up to the shelter, dispense the potassium iodate; first come, first served. Dosages are on the bottle I gave you in the respirator bag.

All contaminated people should be segregated from each other by some distance and according to their exposure i.e. the lateness of their arrival.. This procedure limits unnecessary exposure to the less contaminated people who are more likely to survive. Slightly contaminated people if, they are still alive in a few hours can wash down thoroughly again and, be integrated into the primary shelter area.

Consider what your fresh air needs will be. Fallout settles down toward the ground so, you can open a window or crack a door open after 48 hours has past, as long as it is not windy. Minimize your exposure to the outside radiation by staying away from windows, exterior doors and thin exterior walls. After two days it is permissible to open some more ventilation. The further away from the opening you are, the better. If the shelter is small or crowded, do not use candles for the first two days unless you can establish filtered ventilation. Using candles in enclosed spaces uses up your oxygen along with normal breathing so, you will need to consider this in balancing your ventilation needs with exposure to the fallout outside. It is better to suffer for 48 hours and wait than to risk unnecessary exposure.

The best situation apart from filtered ventilation, is a fallout shelter entrance which is located within a larger building like a gym or an auditorium. The larger building space acts as a secondary area outside the primary shelter and allows the fallout to settle far away from the shelter entrance. This makes it possible to open the shelter door for ventilation if the building glass remained intact during the blast wave. Many school gyms and auditoriums do not even have glass windows so check for this when selecting your shelter.

After two weeks you can carefully venture out beyond the shelter to set up an S.O.S. message for the military who will be looking for survivors. Before going outside, place plastic bags on your feet and tape securely with the duct tape. Use curtains or white sheets to spell out S.O.S. on the ground large enough to be seen from the air. Secure them from the wind with rocks or wood stakes you make with the hatchet. Make a white flag using a sheet and hang another white sheet out of an upper window facing the approaching road. Listen for rescue trucks or helicopters. Remember that a distress signal is to wave only one arm or a single white flag. Limit your exposure outside to only short and necessary visits. Remove the bags from your feet before reentering the shelter. Be careful not to respond to just anyone, make sure they are government rescue.

If a helicopter lands do not run out to meet it. The prop wash will be kicking up a lot of dust with some fallout into the air. Signal them from inside the building and let them come to you. Once rescued, you will be taken thru decontamination, given a physical and given new clothes to wear. The rescue unit will probably not allow you to bring your packs so, take anything valuable out with you in your pockets.

After all these years of camping and discussing survival scenarios with you and your brother, I've tried to prepare you the best way I know how. Now that you're both adults, living independently, I hope some of it stuck.

You may not need to use any of this information and I hope it never becomes necessary but, it is better to be prepared now. You will not have time to prepare after an event if, it happens. You will only have time to act quickly. If it is never needed, you will all have learned and practiced survival skills that very few people in this world know. I

Hello again, James;

Greece is in the news rather a lot at the moment and none of said news appears very good. Debt, sinecure occupations, corruption (the infamous 'fakiraki', or little brown envelope), bail-outs, strikes, riots, deaths. A downward spiral, if you believe all you read.

However, 99% of the news footage is from Athens and life away from the Capitol carries on pretty much as always. Here in the islands, the main pre-occupations are repairing the winter damage to the infrastructure and preparing for the hoped for influx of tourists.

Whilst the age-old occupations of farming and fishing continue, the main source of revenue for many Greek communities (in the islands particularly) is the yearly crop of pale-skinned northern Europeans who are disgorged from an endless stream of charter flights, in search of some much needed sunshine and R&R.

The tourist season extends approximately from Easter to the end of October, some seven months. For those employed in the tourist trade, this period is their sole opportunity to earn the year's money. If one has worked and paid into the national insurance scheme (IKA), for two years, one is entitled to unemployment benefit over the winter months. It is sometimes as low as 30 euro a month. If one doesn't have the requisite number of stamps, no benefit is paid.

To ensure sufficient funds to survive the year then, many of the Greek people involved in tourism have two or even three jobs during the season and 20 hour days, 7 days a week are frequently the norm throughout the tourist season. Whilst non-tourism related businesses often close their doors from around midday to about 5pm (the hottest part of the day, where temperatures can and do reach the mid to high 40s) tourist businesses are by necessity open throughout the day, often till the early hours. No siestas here.

In recent years the tourist trade has been hit by a variety of problems. The collapse of tour companies, the seemingly never-ending increase of 'all-inclusive' holidays and hotels (where the money is paid in the tourist's home country and little, if anything reaches the local economy), the dire exchange rate (affects the non-EMU countries) and of course the recent unpronounceable Icelandic volcano's attempts to ground Europe's air traffic. One family run hotel, the owners of which are great friends of ours, during August 2009 suddenly lost their contract with their tour company. This led to large hotel having two couples in residence during the last two weeks of the month and similarly dire occupancy for the rest of the year. Not enough to pay the electricity bills, let alone living costs.

Flying in the face of the much-vaunted Greek complacency, the owners went it alone, advertised their wares independently and this year are fully booked, volcanism permitting.

Away from the tourist fleshpots, this is a lifestyle where you can still go out for the day and leave your house unlocked, your bag on the seat of your open top car and where violent crime is virtually unknown. Indeed some of the smaller islands have no police presence at all, as is the case in many of the villages throughout the many islands.

The only noticeable effects of the current crisis is the ever-increasing tax on goods (e.g. VAT now 23%, up from the previous 21% rate) and a similar increase in bureaucrats looking for novel ways to extract taxes from businesses and home-owners.

This is not to say that all the media hype is incorrect. The only time we have been issued receipts for anything is when shopping at the supermarket. Most everyone else does appear to like good, old-fashioned cash and always seem to have left the receipt book somewhere else. Similarly, the 'fakiraki' or little brown envelope, is on occasion required to gain access to services - or so I am told!

Financial crises notwithstanding, life here is very different from life on the mainland, indeed it is very different from our previous life in the UK. We are completely off-grid, installing solar photovoltaics and wind turbines, collecting rain water for household and irrigation and attempting to turn a wild patch of land into a sustainable plot. What is on our side, is the fertility of the place. Three crops a year, plenty of rain and 300 sunshine days a year (average) with one or less days below freezing on an average year.

We've been trying out various forms of lighting, LED, olive-oil lamps, candle power, etc and are also experimenting with water collection, storage and filtration. SurvivalBlog is an invaluable resource for us and I'd like to say a hearty 'thanks' to Jim and all the contributors, from whom we've learned - and are continuing to learn - so much.

More on our adventure, and about a country relocation and its joys and pitfalls when the batteries have enough to supply the computer, or when we're back on the mainland for a visit!

Keep up the great work James. SurvivalBlog is required reading these days!

Best, - Michael

Reader D.R. pointed us to a news story with some serious implications: Fake Roadblocks in Houston, Texas.

   o o o

Several readers have mentioned that they've been impressed with their LifeSaver water filtration bottles. I just received a sample of one of the new LifeSaver filtration Jerry Cans. It looks absolutely bombproof. I can't wait to try it!

   o o o

I heard about a web site with some useful field gear reviews: Canadian Wilderness Survival.

"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." - Romans 8:37

"Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." - Romans 3:3-5

Friday, May 7, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am new to SurvivalBlog and I am an amateur prepper beginning my trek to becoming self sufficient. My family and I live in the suburbs of the southwest Sonoran Desert. I am by no means an expert in this field and hope that this topic has not been covered by others.  There are so many topics and pages of fish and game that it will take me months to catch up on everything.

My family and I are planning on “buggin in” if the SHTF or the TEOTWAWKI occurs. Unless an NBC attack or exposure occurs here, we plan to ride out the Golden Horde in our home. If we need to leave our home, we will try and do so when it is less chaotic. I am not saying these plans are the best or that they are perfect. For my area, this may be the best we can do with our limited funds and resources.

In making our plans for our home and area, I began noticing the abundance of game in my neighborhood. Our house is located in a suburb several miles from the Sonoran Desert. This desert is the home to many different game animals and other resources.

Our neighborhood has quite the diversity of wild and semi-tame game. My hope is to share some of my thoughts with you on how I may be able to supplement my family’s meals and protein sources, even if only for a short time.

Within several blocks from my house are five separate man-made lakes or ponds. Throughout the year, these lakes are the home to many different species of fowl, fish, reptiles, and mammals. My front yard, although small, is also the home to several different species of game birds and small mammals.

To begin with, there is a large community of quail and dove living in refuge from hunters in the city. There are so many of them, they are seen year round in almost every yard and park. Every morning, I see two pairs of quail that live in our Bougainvillea bushes. Although they are not tame, I can approach them fairly easy before they run off. They may make an easy catch some day. I keep several boxes of bird shot in my house that may come in handy if I need to go hunting the dove and quail here. If I were to need to, I could possibly catch and raise several quail for food and/or eggs.

Several miles south of my location are ranches with farm animals. Aside from the obvious bovine and venison choices that may be left at these locations, there may also be a good supple of poultry living off the land if their owners flee the city. [JWR Adds: As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, the chances are slim that farms and ranches will be abandoned in anything short of a massive pandemic die-off. So any deer hunting on private land would have to be arranged well in advance. Otherwise, you stand a good chance of being shot, as a trespasser.] It is a bit of a hike but may turn out to be a fruitful hunt. Some of these chickens may be able to be caught and raised for meat and eggs.

One of the many birds living here and in most cities around the world is pigeons. Once again, they are fairly tame and can be approached easily before they scatter. They may make an easy target. They may not be as appetizing, but may save your life and that of your family. These birds may even be caught using traps and kept alive until a later time.

Living in the lakes I mentioned above are numerous species of waterfowl. There are at least five different species of ducks that live full time at my local lakes. They are very tame as they have been hand fed for many years by numerous families. Again, very approachable and possibly an easy target as they are accustomed to humans. They may even be able to be caught and raised for their eggs and/or meat. Their nests are made inside the numerous bushes alongside the lakes. These nests can be raided for eggs.

Several species of ducks that spend part of the year here are migratory, including Canadian Geese. As I write this, there are two Goose pairs with 3-5 goslings. These geese and ducks return here every year and lay their eggs. Their young remain here until they can fly and then return north with their parents. Goose parents are very protective. They may attack humans if they try to approach their young. You could possibly kill the parents for food and capture the young to raise for eggs and or meat. This may take more work than the tame ducks but a Canadian goose has a lot of meat. [JWR Adds: As previously noted in SurvivalBlog,consult your state Fish and Game laws before hunting or trapping.]

These lakes have several species of cranes that visit them regularly. I have never eaten a crane or thought about doing so. However, when protein sources become scarce, they may make delectable meals for a hungry family. The cranes are wilder than any other birds at the lake and a small rim fire rifle may be needed to hunt them before they flee when you arrive at the lake.

The five lakes in the green belt are full of 24-36” koi carp. These fish are semi-tame and will come to the surface and sides of the lake when you approach. They have become accustomed to being fed by the numerous visitors. A good fishing pole and bait would probably land you one of them fairly quickly. With a large enough hand net, you could probably scoop up one or two. I have not seen any other fish species in the lakes and fishing is prohibited there. That does not mean there are not any other fish there.

About a mile from my house is a city park. This park has another manmade lake. This lake is part of the “urban fishing program” and is regularly stocked with various game fish. Eventually, the levels of fish may dwindle, but until then a good fishing trip may be had with some good tackle and a pole.

I have also seen several aquatic turtles living and swimming in the waters of these lakes. They are very skittish and flee when they are spotted. Making and setting traps or snares may help to catch them.  I hear turtle meat is excellent.

I saved this part for last as many may not be able to stomach or think of eating some of the mammals I list here. However, when times get tough and meals are scarce, they may be the only thing that keeps you alive.

Some of the easier ones to think of are the many rabbits that live in my yard and neighborhood. There are so many of them, they are hit by cars daily. The cats cannot even keep their numbers down. Remember though, their meat is lacking in some vitamins so don’t make them your sole protein source. Aside from a rim fire rifle and bird shot shotgun rounds, they may be trapped, snared, and possibly kept in cages for future meals.

Because of the many green belts and parks here, there is a large community of squirrels and gophers along with other different rodent species. Some of these species may need to be sniped from a distance with a good rimfire or small centerfire rifle. However, traps, pitfalls, snares, and other means may be used to catch and/or hunt them. [JWR Adds: As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, consult your local ordinances on firearms use!]

Several of the more elusive mammals may also provide your family with some excellent proteins. Coyote and the raccoon all live inside the suburbs and are seen daily here. They tend to be more nocturnal but may be hunted using game calls, attracted to salt licks, or other food sources. Skunks, ring tail cats, and javelina also fall into this section and will make great meals if properly prepared.

Lastly, Hurricane Katrina showed us that many people leave their pets behind when they flee the city. These pets generally cannot fend for themselves and will eventually starve. It may be hard for some of us to think about, but when times get bad and we are facing a TEOTWAWKI, we may need to take advantage of these additional sources of protein. Most of these animals are very tame and may welcome a human. The SAS Survival Handbook says if your pet cannot provide for himself and is an extra mouth to feed, you may need to free him to allow him to find his own food or make him your next meal. [JWR Adds: As I've noted in my writings previously, "freeing" pets is not only cruel, but it might also turn them feral, where they will be a threat to both livestock and humans.]

These are just some of the ideas I have thought of as I drive through my area. There are some things to ponder before beginning any suburban hunt. If the area is still inhabited by other families, you may need to be careful while hunting. Know your backdrop and what’s beyond it. If there are still emergency services in your area, you may need to hunt more covertly. The local police may not be so happy about seeing you walking the streets shooting and hunting. A powerful scoped BB or pellet gun may come in handy as they may be able to kill many of these species and not give off a loud report alerting others of your activities.

Many have written that you should "make the animals come to you". Why not set up salt licks or other animal feed stations that attract these animals to your yard, for easy hunting. Work smarter not harder. As these animals live in the city and the desert, they may have different diseases that could be passed onto you and your family. Make sure you cook the meat thoroughly and use clean preparation practices. My dad always told me to check the liver of small mammals. If it is spotted, don’t eat it and bury the animal.

Eventually the area you are hunting may be thinned out and you may need to expand your hunting grounds. That may be the time our family leaves the suburbs for our retreat or other location. Your specific location will yield different sources and quantities of game and or possible protein sources for your family. I highly suggest you plan now and see where you can search out possible game. Know where they are living and where they find food. If you have migratory animals in your area, know the seasons they will be arriving and leaving.

I hope this gives you some ideas of where to look for sources of food, even in the big cities.

I have only started reading your web site recently and I must admit I am a little nonplussed. I am a farmer living on the far edge of the Western Australian Wheatbelt, 400 km from Perth (capitol city) and I grow a vegie garden, we buy food in bulk and have at least 6months in the pantry,being a farmer I have a rifle( I generally only use it to kill crook sheep and shoot rabbits), we have a 50 tree fruit orchard and preserve our own fruit, we are on the power grid but we do have a generator (lots of power failures) and I slaughter and dress my own animals. Also I am the last person in the district to milk a cow admittedly with a single stand milking machine. I am not a survivalist "nut", this is the way we live. If you live in an isolated area(and there are more isolated places then here) it pays to be prepared. Like keeping common size bearings on hand or always telling someone where you are going and when you will be back. I have found reading your web site interesting and very informative. In my opinion the best thing you can do to prepare for anything the world throws at you is to learn as many things as possible. You may not think knowing how concrete is made (and similar topics) is useful but you never know. You have a great blog site. - Helen

While I do basically agree with your statements on rifles for defense, I think you should rethink your comments about the lever gun in 30-30 or 45-70. You mentioned several drawbacks to the lever gun that I’d like to address if I may:

1) Slow reload time: While it is quite true that a 20 round detachable magazine is faster than any other empty reload method except a second gun, the trick to the combat use of a lever gun is to continuously reload. While my combat experience is over 3 decades old now and I was using an M16 at the time, I don’t ever remember a fire fight where it would not have been possible to slide rounds into a magazine during lulls in the shooting and there were always lulls. Unless you’re going full auto (a horrible waste of ammo) there will be little difference in rate of fire between a good lever gun and any battle rifle.

2) Power and carry: My wife who is a petite 4 ft. 11 in. and older than Criss (please don’t tell her I said so) likes a Marlin carbine in .45 Colt. Not a long range Elk rifle by any means but ample hitting force for most things out to 50 or 100 yards and she will carry it and practice with it where she won’t carry the 7 MM Rem Mag and won’t shoot the .375 H&H Mag (both bolt guns). Marlin makes a guide gun that will chamber .45-70 Marlin or .45-70 Govt. Yes, store rounds are expensive but hand loads are easily done on the .45-70 and it can be tamed down to .30-30 ballistics for practice and most shooting. In bear country it is possible to leave the chambered round for what you’re hunting for and the next one or two (paranoia dependent – I’m very paranoid) for the bear.

3) Styles: As to styles, I’ve had to clear [stoppages in] semi-autos and bolt actions but I have never had to clear a lever gun in 30 years of shooting them. I’m not saying it can’t happen but it has never happened to me and I really like shooting lever guns and shoot them a lot. Marlins can be had in calibers that cover everything from.22s to pistol cartridges to buffalo, bear, or anything else in North America. Since Marlins function all alike, the shooting skills acquired on a .22 lever gun work on the .444 Marlin. While the .30-30 for deer is light for bear, it was originally intended as more punch for use in bear country than the .44-40 and with the 170 grain round or Hornady’s new LEVERevolution ammo it is good for Black Bear at some range and Grizzly up close. If the Grizz is to far out for the lever gun, we aren’t going to be talking to each other. Here are two nice articles:
Hunting with the .30-30 Today
Levergun Loads .30-30 Winchester

You are correct about learning the proper use of the lever gun but the same comment applies to the bolt action on a movement that is not as natural (in my not so humble opinion) as the action of a lever. A great many of the bolt guns don’t allow for a continuous reload either. Neither my 7 mm nor my .375 H&H have detachable magazines so reload for them is the slowest.

4) Accuracy: While not as accurate as some bolt guns, at under 200 yards a lever gun can be much more accurate than say an AK-47. With proper ammo they don’t have to apologize to any gun on accuracy. They are also a simple gun to get started in reloading with. The only drawback is that with the exception of Hornady’s ammo I only feed blunt tip rounds in the magazine or only have one in the chamber and one in the magazine. I’ve never had a magazine detonation, don’t know if they really happen (bet they do) but I don’t want to roll that set of dice.

While I agree that a semi-auto (M14 or M1 would be my choice) in .30-06 or .308 is a preferred battle rifle, I look at the ubiquitous nature of .30-30 ammo, the reliability, the skills transfer, ability to and ease of carry and the commonality (every town has one or more .30-30’s somewhere in it) and think this may indeed be a good choice for the conditions Criss set out. It is a compromise and is therefore not perfect but to my mind it is a better than 98% solution. Unless she envisions shots in excess of 200 yards at targets larger than man sized or intense infantry action, it appears to me that the lever gun might work well. With the prices as they are, even a couple of lever guns could make a complimentary battery for a homestead for the price of a good-to-go battle rifle. You have to prepare for what you think is most likely and what you can afford. For me that points to several really nice lever guns, some in 30-30, some in other calibers. Respectfully, - LBH

I think the lever action .30-30 would serve you well, but reloading time is a factor. One rifle platform that is not mentioned on the survivalblog is the DPMS panther they come in a bunch of configurations. I own 2 in 308 win, one is the LR-AP4 the other is a special order LR-308c. I suggest the LR-AP4 for you. They cost around 1100 to 1300 but the magazine are in the 20$ range for 20 rounders (MAGPUL).and it has a six-position stock. DPMS also makes a rifle and upper in .338 Federal that would be better for bears. You could purchase a LR-AP4 in .308 Winchester and then purchase a. 338 Federal upper giving you more versatility for bear defense or hunting but remember a DPMS lower will only accept DPMS uppers, with a few exceptions. - Curtis

Stocks were down yesterday, but precious metals were up. Its a good thing that you are a SurvivalBlog reader, and wisely got out of stocks and into silver and gold, long ago.

G.G. sent this: Long-term unemployment soaring

Also from G.G.: John Williams: A Hyper-Inflationary Great Depression Is Coming

In a recent issue of his excellent (and free) Outside The Box e-newsletter, John Mauldin had these comments: "It now looks like almost 30% of the Greek financing will come from the IMF, rather than just a small portion. And since 40% of the IMF is funded by US taxpayers, and that debt will be junior to current bond holders (if the rumors are true) I can't tell you how outraged that makes me. What that means is that US (and Canadian and British, etc.) tax payers will be giving money to Greece who will use a lot of it to roll over old bonds, letting European banks and funds reduce their exposure to Greece while tax-payers all over the world who fund the IMF assume that risk."

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Plunge, Dow Has Record Drop, Then Recovers. (Dropped almost 1,000 points within 30 minutes almost 90 minutes before close, then somebody propped the market up, to close at only a 347 point loss (down 3.20%). Perhaps it was that "mythical" Plunge Protection Team.

Moody's Warns Greek Crisis Could Spread to UK

Greek Crisis: Three Bank Workers Killed in Greek Riots

The Laughable Nature of GDP Growth (The Mogambo Guru)

Karl Denninger: Threats of Civil War

UK Bond Traders Poised for Election-Night Selloff

Christopher W. spotted this in Science News: New Wound Dressing Makes Bacteria Commit Suicide

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Several readers sent this: Dugout Dick helped make Idaho, Idaho; The death of the 'Salmon River Caveman' ends an era in the state's history.

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Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned a interesting new product for gardeners: Hot Pepper Wax Repellent . It is a natural pest repellent for your garden, that doesn't have the drawbacks of insecticides. They are offering free shipping on one quart bottles.

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Reader R.S.R. spotted a web-based e-mail privacy tool that generates an anonymous alias that will forward to your real e-mail address. It will automatically be deleted after either your set time or message limit has been reached.

"Within a year of that attack [that drops the power grids], nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can't support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity." - Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy

I recently got a letter from a SurvivalBlog reader who sounded confused about what "Condition One" means for a single action (SA) auto pistol.  So I'll presume that it is time to backtrack a bit and post a short piece on the standardized Model 1911 "Condition Codes." These were originated by Col. Jeff Cooper. OBTW, these terms are also applicable to most other semi-auto pistols with exposed hammers:

Condition 0 - Ready to fire: The pistol has cartridges in the magazine, a round is in the chamber, the hammer is cocked, and the safety is off.
Condition 1 - The pistol has cartridges in the magazine, a cartridge is chambered, the hammer is cocked, and the safety is in the up (safe) position. Also known as the "cocked and locked" carry condition.
Condition 2 - A cartridge is in the chamber, the hammer is down, and the pistol has cartridges in the magazine.
Condition 3 - The chamber is empty and hammer is down, but the pistol has a full magazine. This condition is also known as "Israeli Carry."
Condition 4 - The chamber is empty, hammer is down and no magazine is in the pistol.

My comments:

Condition 1 is recommended for concealed carry.

Condition 2 presents potential safety hazards and is not recommend for either carry or for storage.

Condition 3 could possibly be warranted for open carry in some localities where unknowledgeable people might be agitated if they see you carrying a "cocked" pistol in a hip holster. But be advised that Israeli-style carry requires two hands and more time to get the pistol into Condition 0. (Ready to fire.) The need for two hands could be a problem if you are holding something in one hand, injured, or engaged hand-to-hand.

Condition 4 is how I store our pistols in our gun vault.

It is noteworthy that by SOP, any firearm that comes out of our vault is immediately loaded.  Everyone in the family assumes that any gun seen here at the ranch anywhere outside of the vault is loaded at all times, and it is treated as such. Avoiding ambiguity helps reduce the chance of accidents.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

There are many free to use communications satellites for use only by licensed amateur radio operators, more are launched almost every year with more capabilities. Not licensed? Call the ARRL’s toll-free number at 1-888-277-5289 and request an informational Amateur Radio prospect package. You only need to pass a 35 question Technician exam which uses questions from a public question pool and usually pay less than $15 for an exam seat to begin using the Amateur Satellite Service along with free access to the expansive terrestrial repeater network and Morse code on several HF bands, more when you advance in level. Does this sound like a better deal than the $85 to get a GMRS license?

I suggest a solid state HF radio as the most durable and reliable method of long range communication in an emergency, but for portability reasons and those times where HF skywave or skip under or overshoots where you need to talk there is the Amateur Satellite Service.

There are three types of satellites; linear transponder, FM voice, and digital. I have already written in SurvivalBlog about the AO-7 linear transponder satellite. There are several others with many more capabilities, the high flying satellites like the currently dead AO-40 or Phase 3D poor man's geostationary satellite had several transponders on many bands including microwave and would be overhead for several hours a day. Current FM voice satellites are the easiest such as AO-51, AO-27, and the International Space Station. They work mostly like a regular local radio repeater but cover most of a continent or span an ocean, you just need to deal with the Doppler effect. Digital satellites are either digipeaters or a space based computer BBS mailbox, they require a Terminal Node Controller (TNC) or computer with the right software and sound card. A few of these satellites and the space station combine several of these modes.

This article will concentrate on FM voice satellite operations since this is how most of you will start out since it is cheap and easy to access this service. More importantly it is easy for a person on foot, bicycle, ski, or on horseback to carry and power the gear to access satcom birds, easier and often more reliable than small QRP HF sets for trans continental communications.

Firstly you will need a radio, I have used Alinco DJ-580T and DJ-582 radios for satellite work but they need the large battery for full 5 watts or an external power supply. I know the Yaesu FT-470 and several radios by Icom and Kenwood were also 2meter/440 or 2meter/70cm dual banders, but it is reasonably important that they also be full duplex so you can listen even as you transmit allowing you to tune to your own repeated signal from the satellite. You can fudge and use a 5 watt 2m VHF radio for uplink and a scanner for the 440MHz or 70cm UHF downlink band, the trick is finding a scanner which tunes at 0.005MHz or smaller increments, this fine tuning is critical when we adjust for Doppler, more about that later. I have purchased good dual bander full duplex rigs go for around $50-75 used on eBay, or even less at radio swaps especially if they need minor repairs, are missing the antenna, or need a new battery pack, you can always just use an external power
their battery pack or you need to "re-core" the battery pack.

You also need a high gain antenna, the rubber duck antenna on your radio might be enough to hear the space station, but rare will be the day that you can work contacts on a satellite with just a rubber duck, although it has been done. I see web sites of people who use a telescoping whip but for the plane crash hero fantasy I would just use a roll-up twin lead J-pole antenna like this one. I use the twin lead J-pole for talking to my wife at home and keep one in my bike bag, but have never used it for satellite operations since it requires a stick to hold the antenna out straight. The best antennas for mobile operations are Yagi antennas made from aluminum tube such as the Arrow. it is used out of the box for satellite operations but it is very expensive. The very best antenna in my opinion is one you can build anywhere from stuff at a hardware store,
the Kent Britain Yagi designs are great, this PDF includes how to make a duplexer for splitting the 2m and 70 cm signals for their respective antennas.
For some pictures of these Kent Britain-type antennas and help with working FM satellites see these links featuring Diana Eng. This cute little fashion designer can hand build an easy Satcom antenna and turn the knob on a radio, so why can't you?

My stick Yagi antenna looks like the second Diana Eng Make link except hers use brass and aluminum tube which is hard to find in Israel. I used steel 1/8 inch wire off the roll for the reflector and parasitic elements. I made the antenna from 10 AWG insulated copper ground wire for the actual radiating element. You can either buy the BNC connector at Radio Shack and attach it to the 50 ohm co-ax or get the radio guy at the truck stop to make your custom cables. You will have to solder a bit to attach the feed line cables to their radiating elements but that should be easy. The Kent Britain PDF also shows how to make a simple duplexer with some coils of wire wrapped with a pencil, some 50 ohm RG-58 co-ax, a square of copper or brass, and four 4.7pF capacitors (available from Radio Shack.)
Operating involves knowing when the satellite is overhead, tuning to match Doppler, and trying to make a voice contact.
Knowing where the satellites are either involves knowing the orbital period and spending a few hours scanning then recording which passes are above the horizon and heard, between a week and ten days the pattern will repeat, now you can mark your calendar into the future with this pattern. Know how to track with a watch calendar and some math but if you are more prepared using a PDA or computer with a satellite tracking program installed is much easier and saves time. Here are the TLE Keplarian elements listings to feed to the programs and a list of programs for many platforms I use Gnome Predict on my Ubuntu Linux machines, and PetitTrack on my tough old 2003 vintage Linux Sharp Zaurus 5500 pocket computer/PDA. Remember that a pass is usually only ten or twenty minutes with the low earth orbit birds longer on a hilltop and quite short in a deep valley where you can only catch very high passes. Draw the acquisition of signal and loss of signal times, appearance compass bearing, frequency up and down links, and sky path on a chalk or white board that you can reuse and not endanger your computer to the elements or breakage.

For the current FM sats the uplink is on 2 meter band which doesn't require Doppler adjustment, just punch in the published frequency, but on the 70cm receive band you will need to tune for Doppler frequency shift between 5-10khz(0.005-0.01Mhz) over the published frequency as the satellite approaches your position and tune 5-10 Khz under as it flies away, pretty much when the computer says the satellite is over the horizon sweep your antenna where it is supposed to appear and tune around the Frequency range with the squelch open until you will hear static quieting or radio traffic, possibly your own test calls bounced back. See, it's not hard five clicks; one for far approach, one for near approach, one for overhead, one for passing, and the last click for far passing on most radios. This Doppler shift is due to the satellite moving fast enough to cause a minor, yet noticeable shift! Get the operating frequencies for the satellites you plan to use, include alternate modes and write them in your pocket notebook in case you have no computer. Here are links are for the AMSAT status page, AO-51 schedule page, the AO-27 page, and the International Space Station page. These will help you quickly find the current operating mode of the satellite, you might even get to chat with astronauts or cosmonauts on the ISS or Shuttle, just like in the novel Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Once everything is set and the satellite is over I first listen for other operators, it is rude to talk over other operators. The first few passes as you learn just listen to how people talk on the satellite. Some sats require a PL tone to activate them, just like many Earth-based repeaters, look in your radio operator manual to set that. Evenings and weekends in North America and Europe the satellite will be jammed with people leaving you enough time to say your callsign for training and get a reply, no chatting, if you have an emergency say mayday everyone will quiet up. In low population areas of the south seas you might rarely make contact, keep trying. During an emergency don't play with the sats just listen as they will likely be used by Amateur Radio Emergency Services or other groups supporting FEMA or state relief efforts. I have best success listening with full ear cup headphones, I run squelch open and know I am getting close to getting the signal as the receive band random static quiets down.

If at all possible record both sides of your satellite conversations but more importantly received transmissions, use a Y-splitter and plug the recorder in a full duplex radio will get your signals off the sat too, chances are you missed something and want to rehear the conversation. Things go fast when you are on the satellite with talking, listening, tracking the sat, and Doppler adjusting. Digital and cassette recorders both have merits and downsides. Even smarter is to tape your message ahead of time ready to play on a second multi speed tape machine, once you make contact and the receiving station is ready play it back on squeaky fast speed if you have a long message. The other side can replay it normally by setting their player on slow speed. If you can't put your message on tape have a script ready on your chalkboard. Remember that you will probably have less than 10 minutes of talk time on a good pass when nobody else is waiting to talk.

You can enjoy the amateur Satellite Service even before you are licensed by using your police scanner on the downlink frequencies, of course you still need to correct for doppler and use a high gain antenna.

Most servicemen know that only very special troops get equipped with the satcom gear. You can now include this special communications mode to your preps easily for less than $100 per complete unit. Impress your friends and educate your kids on physics and space travel while you prepare. This may sound hard, but so is making a telephone call or using a microwave oven until you someone shows you how, even a fashion designer could figure it out. - David in Israel


I am a 50-something urban homesteader, selling my house to move to a rural area.

I currently own a handgun (S&W 459 9mm) and a shotgun (Mossberg 12 gauge pump) and am researching what kind of rifle would be good for my new urban homestead.

I am a good shot, not pro and not wild, just get within the target lines. I have hunted in the past with a 30-06 but feel with my age and all this would be too much for me now. Not to mention that I am a petite female at only 5'1" tall and 120Lbs.

The areas I am looking to move to are all what I call "big snow country". The wildlife ranges from Moose to pronghorn, Grizzly to badger, with the usual cougar, bobcat, wolf, coyote and rabbits, etc.

So basically my criteria is a leaver action, short barrel (no longer than 20"), accurate rifle with the stopping power for the animals I may run across or have to hunt if the SHTF.

In short the basic functions that I would like the rifle to be good at are: animal defense, food hunting, home defense (in that order). Then tack on - readily available and inexpensive ammo.

My "friends" have many suggestions from ARs, AKs to Savage, Winchester and Marlin ranging from .22 to 30-06. Somehow I just don't picture the. 22 being good unless I was a sharp shooter and could make a brain shot without thinking, as I stated previously I think the .30-06 would be "too much" for me to be accurate enough with and the "assault" rifles just don't come across or look like hunting & animal defense rifles to me.

I have followed your blog and purchased a book or two, so I value your opinion greatly and figure that some kind of lever action 30-30 would be my best choice.

That said, what type of rifle do you (or your blog readers) suggest for me? Am I way off base, or thinking with reality? - Criss K.

JWR Replies: If moose and grizzly are commonplace where you'll be living, then you have a few conflicting criteria.

First, any ammunition that will be a stopper for moose and large bears will not be "inexpensive". For example, .45-70 ammo is current around $2 per cartridge!

Second, given your small stature, you are better off with a semi-auto chambered in something with lighter recoil, rather than a "whomper" bear-stopper such as a .45-70. Unless you are a seasoned shooter, you are likely to develop a flinch if you buy a gun that is near your tolerance for recoil.

Third, lever actions are fairly fast to shoot, but you must practice the operation of the lever while the gun is at your shoulder. Many shooters--especially smaller ones--have a tendency to lower the butt to their hip when working the action. Don't get into this bad habit! But their greatest detractor is that they are very slow to reload, once the magazine has been emptied. This makes them second-rate guns for self defense. If you are on a budget, then you are better off with a bolt action that can accept stripper clips for reloading, such as a Mauser, a Lee-Enfield, or perhaps a Schmidt-Rubin. (The latter employs a unique and quite fast "straight-pull" action. You might find a Swiss K-31 Schmidt-Rubin carbine at your local Big 5 Sporting Goods store, for under $220.)

My recommendation is that if you are on a tight budget, then buy either a Yugoslavian detachable magazine SKS, or US-made AK-47 clone. Those have fairly short stocks, which will benefit you, given your stature. If your budget is more substantial, then buy a semi-auto .308. Some options include the Saiga .308, the Winchester Model 100 (long out of production, but often found used), or the Browning BAR (not to be confused with much larger military issue full-autos with the same name!). If you have a big budget, then consider an AR-10 or a Valmet Hunter .308. OBTW, I do not recommend the often-mentioned Remington 7400 (or the older Model 742). These were aptly described by a gent over at THR as "difficult to properly clean, sensitive to ammo [variations], and d**n hard to clear when you hit a feed jam." If you opt for any .308, then be sure to have the stock shortened (or in the case of the AR-10, get a 6-position collapsible stock), and have a recoil pad installed. For many years, my late wife used a Valmet .308 with a short stock and a soft Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad. She also had the barrel shortened, and a muzzle brake installed. She considered this the best "compromise" hunting/self-defense rifle for someone of small stature. (She was 5'2", and weighed around 100 pounds.) The Valmet Hunter doesn't look like a battle rifle, but it uses the unstoppable AK action. Extra magazines are available in 5, 9, and 20 round capacity. The big drawback is that these rifles now cost around $1,100, and spare 20 round magazines cost around $250 each!

CMBS Delinquencies Hit Fresh Record, Now at $51 Billion, 268% Increase. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Also from G.G.: Still No Credit Where It's Due (Commercial and industrial loans have contracted 19% in the past 12 months. Consumer credit is down 6% in the year to February, when it stood at the same level as June 2007.)

RBS sent us this: Idle rail cars generate cash for Boise

Also from RBS comes this article in Der Spiegel: The Mother of All Bubbles Could Push Euro Zone into Bankruptcy.

Thanks to Steve S. for forwarding this: China May ‘Crash’ in Next 9 to 12 Months, Faber Says

Greece's Costs Seen Exceeding EU-IMF Help

Items from The Economatrix:

Trickle of Nonsense (The Mogambo Guru)

Frugality Among Consumers Outliving Recession. (Could it be, because people realize that the "recovery" is a fraud?)

Government Debt Explosion Hits Turning Point

Stocks Extend Decline On European Debt Worries

Gold Hits 5-Month High on Greek Aid Uncertainty

No Guarantees at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Newsweek magazine quoted me about the complex interdependencies of technological societies in an article about the implications of the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Finland. But sorry, you have to read Polish. (It was Newsweek's Polish edition. (I was quoted on the third page of the online edition.) Well, at least they mentioned the title of my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". ;-)

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Reader RBS sent this: A swap of seeds in Boise on Saturday will tap into a practice with roots in the dawn of agriculture

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The Gulf of Mexico oil spill--how bad could it get? (A hat tip to Bryan E. for the link.)

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Tony B. mentioned that the Chinese built a better mousetrap. (Tony's comment: "Think of their entrenching tool as a Swiss Army Knife, writ large.")

"As the dollar breaks down, you’ll also likely see disruptions in supply chains, including shipments of food to grocery stores. People should consider maintaining stockpiles of basic goods needed for living, much as they would for a natural disaster. I sit on the Hayward fault in California. I have a supply of goods and basic necessities in case something terrible happens—natural or man-made—that will carry me for a couple of months. It may take that long for a barter system to evolve, which I think is what you’re going to end up with; at least until a new currency system is reorganized and you get a government that’s able to bring its fiscal house into order. No currency system in the U.S. is going to work unless the fiscal conditions that drove it into oblivion are also addressed." - John Williams of ShadowStats, by way of Jim Sinclair's JSMineset web site

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I think we can all agree that a deep larder is good insurance for bad times. There is some variation on how we approach this topic, but we probably all have a lot in common. I would like to present my approach to food storage to give your readers (perhaps) a new perspective. Some of them may have inadequate plans for feeding their families.

First, I have to admit that I am probably not as well prepared as a lot of readers and that my preparations could easily be improved if I were less lazy or worried more. I don't put very much work into survival preparation. I don't own very much equipment or a whole warehouse of guns and ammunition. I don't worry too much about which gun to use with what ammunition or what holster looks best with my outfit. I really don't worry about which brand of SUV might make a good G.O.O.D. vehicle. I finished my main preparations long ago and I now simply live my life as I wish, tweaking my preps here and there as the whim takes me.

I was able to gain a lot of peace of mind by rationally looking at the threats I face and prioritizing my needs. Preparation is easy if you plan carefully with a clear view of the likely threats. I assessed the risks, set some achievable goals, and executed the plan. Now I spend a lot of time fishing or messing around doing what I want.

Important Caveat: Skills definitely come first! You should never skimp on skills in favor of gadgets. Your best survival kit is your own noggin and what you put inside it. I am not advocating sitting idle. You should frantically be learning new skills all the time and honing your old ones. Use your time and money to learn valuable skills. The rest is just stuff.

I take a fairly flippant attitude about survival gear in general. With the right skills, you need surprisingly little equipment to keep breathing. I have firearms, of course and some ammunition, a few basic necessities, like a good water filter, a good grain grinder, camping gear, backup power, reliable vehicles and spares for everything. But all of this costs less than you would probably believe and I think I have my bases pretty well covered on equipment.

But I do take food security very seriously. Perhaps more seriously than some of you. I have traveled to several third-world countries and famine zones in the course of my military career and have seen hunger up close. I have eaten the same gruel given out by UNICEF and other NGOs in their feeding programs and watched powerless as children died from lack of a few dollars worth of basic foods. I have also seen that abundance of food doesn't do much to alleviate hunger if the finance and transport systems don't work. I have seen women with young babies standing along a highway, literally among corn stalks of ripe corn, trying to flag down a truck and prostitute themselves so they could afford to buy some of it. Yes, I take food security very seriously.

Food security is the first and foremost problem the human race has always faced. It's the specter that never sleeps for long. Thomas Malthus was right. Populations tend to increase as long as there is plenty of food, overpopulate in good years, and then starve when the food supply becomes scarce. You can actually correlate death rates in medieval England directly to grain prices. It's been that way throughout history and it still is today. We are just enjoying incredible surpluses and record-low food prices right now (for the last hundred years or so) because of technology and new lands coming under development. Predictably, the population has swelled logarithmically to take advantage of that abundant food. Starvation has become almost unthinkable in the western world. Unfortunately, those good times will end if our society ends. We will be back where we were a thousand years ago, anxiously watching the harvest to see if our children will live
through the coming year.

Food is the one thing you can't improvise. Any interruption in your food supply will kill you and your family, so you need to store a lot. How much is enough? Simply put, I don't think you are likely to be able to store too much. A five year supply is not excessive because there are always going to be people less fortunate than you who need it desperately. Food is wealth. Have you ever worried about having too much wealth?

I take food security seriously enough to make it my top priority. I have a tiered approach to storage that works well for me and I think it has advantages that other methods don't. I have long term storage, medium term storage and short term storage. And, I eat what I store.

Short and medium term storage items I keep in my home. Long term storage items, like wheat, beans, rice and white sugar are stored elsewhere in hidden permanent caches. My short and medium term goods are largely to see me through short and medium severity events, like a regional disaster or slow-slide economic decline. I don't intent to raid my long term storage until I am ready to replace it (in about 25 years, if I live that long) or in the event of an extreme emergency. My long term supplies are insurance, pure and simple, in case there is a major interruption to my family's food supply. I built my caches well and don't spend much time worrying about them. I don't rotate the food in them regularly or need to check on them often. But they will be a life-saver when (and if) I ever need them.

Most of the supplies I keep in my home are more perishable. They have to be rotated regularly. This is easy because we live on these supplies. I don't store anything we don't regularly eat. I choose not to grow a garden since I have some old injuries that make it painful for me, (also I am terribly lazy), so I have to buy all my fresh stuff at retail prices. If you can grow a garden and keep some livestock, like chickens, I highly recommend you do this. That would enable you to be much better prepared than I am. As a non-gardener, I shop every week to get fruit, veggies, potatoes, milk, eggs and cheese. I take that weekly opportunity to top off all of my rotating supplies. Anything we use up, I generally replace within a week or two.

In addition, to the perishables, I probably have about 3 month's supply of most of our semi-perishable staples like canned veggies, meat, pastas and sauces. All of these things, along with most medicines and vitamins, have a shelf life measured in months (or a few years in some cases). Wet-canned foods have to be rotated. You can save a lot of money and (surprisingly) trouble by home canning. The price of home canned foods are lower, even if you have to pay full price, plus it allows you to buy things in bulk when the prices are low.

In November 09, I started canning meat instead of freezing it and now I tend to buy about a "canner load" (20lbs) every couple of weeks and can it for later use instead of freezing it like I used to do. (My stocks of canned meats has been going up ever since). This has already proved to be a wise decision. Our freezer recently got unplugged and we only discovered it because of the smell of a few rotting steaks and the few pounds of fish I keep there. I glanced at my stacks of canned beef, chicken, pork and turkey and smiled. I figure my pressure canner paid for itself that day.

I also maintain about 350 pounds of wheat, 100 pounds of white flour, 150 pounds of dried beans, 100 pounds of white sugar, 150 pounds of white rice, 5 gallons of canola oil, 5-7 gallons of dried milk powder, about 30 pounds of dried eggs, 20 pounds of raisins, 25 pounds of salt, and about 25 pounds of dried corn. (I also maintain a fairly large stock of sprouting seeds, garden seeds and vitamins in our spare refrigerator). All told, I figure my wife and I could eat pretty well for many months in an emergency without dipping into long term storage. All of this stuff is rotated and eaten regularly.

Let me say that again. We live mostly on wheat (in many forms), rice, and beans. (we eat a lot of potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage and turnips too, but I will cover that later). The other things we buy at the store are mostly adjuncts. While they would be sorely missed, losing fresh eggs, milk and cheese wouldn't cramp our lifestyle much. We cook with dried milk, cheese and eggs already and only use the fresh variants for fried eggs, sandwiches and drinking milk. We prefer the fresh, but use an awful lot of dried food in our day to day lives, just for the convenience.

I marvel at people who store foods they don't eat and really don't like. I met a man once who had a "whole year's supply" of expensive dried foods in his basement for several years. In all this time, he had never once opened a can and tried it. Once I talked him into trying his larder, he was sorely disappointed and lost all enthusiasm for storing food. (I have to admit that I didn't like it much either.)

This is a serious issue because I have doubts that most folks could easily transition to a "basic food" diet in an emergency. The caloric density of basic foods is about half as much as the diets most Americans currently eat. If you are used to living on fast food and plan to transition to a whole wheat and bean diet once the emergency happens, you are deluding yourself. You have to eat a lot of wheat to equal a double cheeseburger and frankly, If you eat mostly prepared or fast foods, (as most US citizens do) You have a finely tuned digestive tract that can't handle bulk foods and lots of fiber.

If you introduce these foods gradually into your normal diet, you will grow to enjoy them. I highly recommend that every survivalist attempt to live off of his stored foods. See if you can learn to like them. The benefits of doing so are tremendous. First, my grocery bill is tiny. Most of the foods we all store are the cheapest food you can buy. Second, a largely vegetarian lifestyle is not bad for you. You will feel better if you get most of your calories from grains and beans and eat more veggies and fruit. You will never buy another antacid or laxative and will have more energy. You might even lose some weight.

I am not advocating giving up meat products, lord no! I am a confirmed omnivore and eat more than my share of meat. I am only advising you to cut back on them. Too much meat is terrible for you and probably the most expensive food you buy. It might also be much too expensive after a crisis. Beef in particular is horribly expensive to produce. In most of the world, meat is too expensive to eat more than a few times a month. If you cut down on meats and other fatty foods now, your digestive system will already be adjusted to living on bulkier grains and other carbohydrates. You also won't get indigestion or gas from eating beans. Cut down now and maybe you will miss these high calorie foods less if they become scarce or expensive. I enjoy meat, and eat some almost daily, but I don't crave it any more.

FAMEAL: Famine Chow is a good way to introduce storage foods into your diet. This is a slang word for WSB or CSB (Wheat-Soy-Blend or Corn-Soy-Blend) used by NGOs in their feeding programs. Most Americans have never heard of (much less tried) this stuff. This is the same gruel fed to starving people in Africa and elsewhere. The only word that describes it is "foody". It's delicious. You can eat it as a thin paste or thicken it up and make dumplings or bread out of it. You can add it to soups and casseroles or even make cookies out of it. Best of all, it's healthy and cheap and made of storage foods. The NGOs buy it pre-made in big dog-food bags so they can just add water. The pre-made mix is extrusion cooked so it's easier to work with under primitive conditions. You are not going to find this stuff at your grocery store but here is how you can make your own:

50% (by volume) Corn meal or wheat meal. (I prefer meal to flour, but both work)
30% (by volume) Bean meal. Any kind..even soy. I use lentils because the are easy to grind.
10% (by volume) Oil. Any cooking oil works.
10% (by volume) Sugar or honey or syrup if you prefer.
Add salt to taste. You can also add vitamins by grinding a tablet with the mix.
(With multi-vitamin supplement, this is a fairly well balanced diet).

To cook it (it will be a powder) mix it slowly (it clumps) with boiling water (three cups of water per cup of meal). Turn off the heat and cover it and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. If you add the powder to the water and then try to heat it, it burns to the bottom of the pot, but a microwave oven works great for cooking the wet mixture. Or, use the powder just like flour for baking. It makes an awesome bean bread. It also makes a wonderful cake mix if you add more sugar and other flavorings. You can vary the amounts of everything, including water to suit your own tastes. Try it. You may find that you really like it. It's fairly tasty, filling and satisfying. My kids ate an awful lot of fameal muffins while they were growing up. They freeze well and make a good quick breakfast food if you are in a hurry.

Fresh Vegetables.
Potatoes, carrots, squash, corn, green beans, Broccoli, cabbages, greens, tomatoes, onions and turnips. We eat a lot of these crops, but I don't currently grow a garden. They are all difficult for me to store because they require a cellar or refrigeration, so I buy them as needed. Fortunately, they are cheap and abundant now and will remain so unless there is a major economic crash or other terrible disaster. When this happens, I intend to grow my own. I maintain a rotating stock of heirloom garden seeds for this. Potatoes require a little more work since you must start from root-stock and not seeds, so I will have to try to grow them from store-bought roots when I need to. If I am unable to grow any of these crops when I need to, I will have to do without. Until I can get a garden going, I will be forced to substitute a lot of sprouts for other fresh veggies, but I don't expect any insurmountable problems.

A word of caution: Growing a garden is not easy. It requires a lot of physical labor and practical knowledge. I have a solid set of gardening skills and years of experience, so I feel ok about just storing seeds. I have grown several gardens using the same techniques I will have available without modern society. If you have never done any gardening in your area, especially using only hand tools, you really should. Your learning curve will be steeper than you probably think. Learning is cheap now, but won't be later. Make your mistakes now, not when you need the food. You will have to grow a large garden to feed your family. Gardening is a critical skill! and so is food preservation.

Just as important, you need to learn which varieties of non-hybrid plants grow well in your area and the only real way to learn this is to grow a garden. Even a small one can teach you volumes. Your soil also needs building, so every season, your productivity will increase. You might find you enjoy it. Once you get good at it, you might be safe just to stock up on seeds, fertilizers and tools like I do, but build the skills first.

Long term storage foods:
Your long term storage is your capital for the future. We are going to need time to get our permanent food production capacity going again. We may need several years. I expect farmers in the USA to have to re-learn a lot of their skills once the machines don't work anymore. Plowing with a horse team (even if you have horses available) requires tack and harness and tools that don't really exist anymore. My father's generation in rural Tennessee were among the last folks who grew most of their own food using a horse team (Amish communities and anomalies like them excepted). Since then, the specialized tools needed have been lost to age, antique shops (and cracker barrel furnishings). Before we can go back to a simpler pattern of farming without modern machinery and chemicals, we are going to need to re-invent the tools and breed and train the livestock. This is going to take time. Your storage food is all you have to give you that time.

At the risk of sounding like a nut, I believe you can't have too much food. As long as it doesn't go to waste, the more you have the better off you will be if society collapses. If I were able, I would store a warehouse of grain and keep my whole community alive, but this is impossible for me. If everyone in the USA stored two years of food, we might be able to save many of them after society collapses. Unfortunately, even preppers rarely store two years of food. Most of us have a year or even less in storage. I am not confident that we will have adequate food production to feed everyone left alive two years after a collapse. I think three years is more realistic. Not only will that give us time to increase production, but it will give more people time to die. Starvation will be ever-present until we can grow enough food for everyone left alive and that could take a long time.

Storing food long term is not easy, but right now, it can be very inexpensive. You can store over a ton of wheat for the price of a new Glock Model 17, four spare magazines and holster. Cut down on your gun collection a little and you can store a lot more food. I store almost exclusively wheat, beans, white sugar, salt and rice. I have stopped using plastic buckets for my long term storage. They are just not sturdy enough to last several decades and they are not rodent proof. I use two-quart mason jars with a spoonful of diatomaceous earth, sealed with an oxygen absorber and the lids dipped in paraffin. This is a little more expensive, and the jars are breakable, but they are water and rodent proof and I figure the dry food will last basically forever. Jars are about a dollar each, but worth it for me because I store the bulk of my long term foods underground, where there may be moisture or rodents. Enameled cans are cheaper, shock-proof and probably a better choice for most purposes. If you have a secure environment, plastic pails with mylar liners are a good choice.

I have stored quite a lot of basic foods for a single family and done my best to get others to build up their reserves. But the sad truth is, all of my supplies would still last less than a year for my whole extended family. My meager supply wouldn't feed a whole town more than a few days. You can't feed the world and can't stop the coming die-off with your storage food. But you might be able to save your family and perhaps help a handful of people. If you are reading SurvivalBlog, then you are at least thinking about the problem and that puts you way ahead of the general population. I encourage you to go overboard. Store many times more than you need. Because you may want it. - J.I.R.

Beneath many of our very feet are hundreds of miles of underground piping which utilized correctly can provide valuable resource in the event of a TEOTWAWKI situation.
Storm drainage pipe siphons rain water from urban areas into surrounding streams and rivers. Accessed through manholes and curb gutters water runs off the street into basins and concrete piping. (Concrete piping varies in size, however most urban areas use diameters 36” and upward.) In the event of a G.O.O.D. situation slipping into some form of drainage would at least allow stealth movement for a decent distance (remember water always flows toward the river). To access the storm drainage manholes may be bolted down, however curb gutters usually can be picked up freely, another method would be to crawl into an open culvert. Along with concrete piping many developments use underground retention facilities to temporarily hold water (so as not to over tax the drainage in the event of a flood. Underground holding facilities also allow a development not to dedicate portions of valuable property to open “ponds.”) An underground retention facility is usually composed of some form of greatly larger pipe included in the drainage system; for example a 36” drain pipe may run into several sections of 72” pipe or cistern with an overflow (usually under a parking lot as they cannot support building loads.) Under dry weather or slight water flow these areas are large underground structures that can be used as temporary shelter. JWR Adds: All the usual safety provisos on enclosed spaces, flooding hazards, noxious gasses, et cetera apply! This information is provided only for education purposes. Use common sense, do plenty of research, and use storm drain infrastructure only in an absolute disaster.

Underground water systems use force pumps and gravity to provide water to the consumer. In rural settings these pipes may differ widely in size but are usually composed of plastic or ductile iron (water pipe is usually blue plastic or black ductile, gas is yellow, green is sewer, pink is re-purified water used for irrigation). Usual rural water lines are 4 to 5 feet deep (older water lines may not be as deep) 5-15feet from the edge of pavement of say a rural road (5-15 ft is a wide generalization as easements can differ greatly, when in doubt look for a fire hydrant in some cases.) These lines can be located by looking for obvious signs of past construction, such as gaps in tree lines. In the event of a total TEOTWAWKI situation where drinkable water is scarce, low points in these water lines will retain water even after the pumps stop. Simply find a low point such as sag in-between hills, locate the line and dig. WARNING: Do not attempt this unless there is a major, long-term TEOTWAWKI situation. Some of these lines are highly pressurized. - N.B.

As a foreign reader of this blog (Australian) I keep a very close eye on the U.S. politics. I find myself envious of a country that has a Bill Of Rights such as yours. I carry great admiration for those that defend it, but at the same time it depresses me that so many Americans take it for granted.

In Australia, Federal authority is so pervasive that the only thing the our states provide is an excuse to employ another tier of overpaid under-worked public servants.
Yet regardless of how tight a government's stranglehold on their populace may be (here and abroad), no government lasts forever.

If you survive the crash, and if community is restored then you might just find yourself in a position of leadership. For this reason, regardless of the fact that you may not live in the U.S. of A., there is every reason to make a hard copy of the U.S. Constitution and take the time to understand its value (at least in ernest). Particularly the Bill Of Rights!

History has spawned a thousand tyrants but it only took the courage of one nation and the spiritual nobility of a handful of founders to show the way forward for all mankind, and all you have to do to benefit from their wisdom and sacrifice is print out their legacy.

After all, if you're going to rebuild, then you may as well start with the framework to do it right.

As always, thank you for the invaluable service you provide here. Kindest regards, - The Austeyralian

Hello Jim:
For supper tonight we are having a meal made with ingredients that I gathered from our place, with the exception of the meat which was purchased. I put a smoked ham hock in the crock pot over night. I also soaked some leather breeches (dried green beans) and some horticultural beans over night. These were added to the crock pot this morning along with a couple of hands full of ramps that I had dug yesterday and a couple of hands full of dandelion greens that Abigail had picked last week. Lastly some red potatoes from our garden last year were added.

Abigail will make some of her most excellent corn bread (made from Bloody Butcher corn that we raised) to go along with the meat and greens. The point of this short note is that I feel that people should make every effort to get out of the habit of eating out of the box (yes pun intended) and start now to look at some self sufficient ways of feeding themselves. Eating high quality tasty meals, I might add.

I would also like to put a plug in for one of our favorite training facilities. The faculty at Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) have been training citizens, swat teams, and military on their 186 acre campus for 15 years. Located in southern Ohio, John Benner and his crew conduct classes almost year round. Abigail and I have been able to attend almost half of the classes available and plan to take 3 more this year. If anyone is planning on doing any training TDI is right up there with the top training facilities in the nation. This is not just my opinion but many others. Last year SWAT magazine did an article about one of the carbine classes that we were taking. We have even run into some fellow preppers at some of the classes. We truly a great time and a real learning experience.

Yours truly, - John & Abigail Adams

EMB mentioned this amazingly useful, and aptly-named web site: Radio Reference.

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Since early 2007, I have warned SurvivalBlog readers about the perils of "kanban" inventory control. Here is a bit of confirmation: Volcano Throws Off Ash, Just-in-Time Efforts. (Thanks to Chad S. for the link.)

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Lee C. flagged this: Fat Americans are a national security threat, warn generals

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RBS sent this: Copper thieves blamed for dangerous power surge. A comment from RBS: "Here is what could be considered another classic example of the fragility of our Inverted Technological Pyramid. Notice the "value" of the stolen part, and the "cost" it incurred for others."

"I Have Sworn Upon the Altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." - Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Today we present an article written by one of our long-time foreign correspondents, David in Israel. David was born and raised in the United States. Even before emigrating to Israel, he had a diverse background in forestry, firefighting, mountaineering, emergency medicine, and commercial Kosher food inspection. One of his life-long hobbies has been amateur radio. He is currently a Torah student.

One problem that most preppers fail to take seriously is communications. To most First Worlders communications are something that comes out of the wall like water or electricity, so why should the magic ever end? While not as high a priority as an inexpensive firearm for security, food, water, cooking fuel, non-motorized transport, or shelter, in a safe area communications with those you care about keeps you from going on unneeded health and welfare checks especially during dangerous times.

Typically I would suggest a 100 watt+ multi-band HF radio for vehicle or base use and a QRP 40meter set and/or 2m/440 handi-talkie and home made Yagi antenna for lightweight sat-com for those who must travel or bug-out long distances on foot, ski, horse, or bicycle.

There are circumstances which can impair HF radio such as nuclear detonations, and in an information age warfare situation even amateur satellites can be hacked via their encrypted command channel and shut down temporarily. There is one tough old bird, designated AO-7. It is back from the dead and still in orbit which is for the most part immune to these troubles, possibly even toughing out a few nukes if it is in the right place at the right time. AO-7 is not the easiest satellite to work, so beginners might want to first try the FM birds. But what better satellite for a survivalist than the "reanimated" AO-7. [Insert mutant zombie biker jokes here.]

AO-7 was launched 15 November 1974. It remained operational until a battery short killed the satellite in 1981. On 21 June 2002 the battery short finally opened up and the satellite was heard again on its 2 meter beacon (145.9775 MHz CW) after 21 years of silence, and 27 years in space.

What is bad about the current situation is that power is limited, only a few concurrent CW, SSB voice, or low bandwidth data transmissions are possible before the transponder draws more power than the large but aging solar cells produce resetting the satellite. The good news is that as far as I can tell even if the satellite command channel is somehow hacked it will only be shut down for a short time when it is in eclipse and powers down or when the transponder is overloaded and an undervoltage resets the satellite. For a few months twice a year the satellite is in full sun 24 hours a day and alternates between mode A, B, and C.

One last bit of info for those who have only worked terrestrial Amateur radio contacts or possibly even FM satellites and the space station, this is not so much a repeater in the sky where one guy takes turns on the whole thing, it is more like a snippet of frequency that is picked up by the satellite amplified and retransmitted on another band, many people can squeeze in and use, much like on HF. This is why SSB or CW are important modes to use minimizing wasted retransmitted bandwidth. You might get the transponder to beam back FM or wide band data but it is not acceptable to push several other conversations off a satellite so you can be a hog, on AO-7 it would probably re-set the satellite anyway.

If you are not a ham you can pick up this and the other satellites using your a scanner that has SSB abilities, sometimes you also need a better antenna than the standard "rubber duck" [whip antenna] to pick up the signal. Kent Brian is an antenna genius. Get his free instructions for portable pocket change sat-com antennas.

You will also need to track the satellite, the easy way is with a computer program for your laptop, phone, or PDA that uses a NASA/NORAD two line [descriptor] element for the Keplerian elements so you can tell when the sat will be available and how much the Doppler will bend your frequency. There are plenty of free tracking programs. BTW, it is fun for kids to spot satellites and the space station even if you have no itch for satellite communications.

this is the TLE for AO-7:
1 07530U 74089B 10117.60551541 -.00000027 00000-0 10000-3 0 7622
2 07530 101.4026 135.4310 0012225 014.2326 345.9087 12.53578232622114

If you are working with only a watch, pencil, and paper remember that not every 115 minute orbital pass is above the horizon for you. And only once or twice a day do you get a sweet high overhead pass good for line of sight from valley locales. If you keep a listing of passes in a notebook you will notice a repetition in about a week to 10 days for the amateur sats, now you can extend the repetition pattern indefinitely into the future. Here is a summary that I found at the AMSAT web site:

Orbit: 1444 x 1459 km
Inclination: Inclination 101.7 degrees
Period: 115 min
29.502 MHz (200 mw) Used in conjunction with Mode A
145.972 MHz (200 mw) Used in conjunction with Mode B and C [low power Mode B]
435.100 MHz (intermittent problem -- switches between 400 mw and 10 mw)
Linear Transponders:
Transponder I: Mode A
Type: linear, non-inverting
Uplink: 145.850 - 145.950 MHz
Downlink: 29.400 - 29.500 MHz
Translation Equation:
Downlink (MHz) = Uplink (MHz) - 116.450 MHz ± Doppler
Output Power: 1.3 watts PEP (start of life)
Transponder II: Mode B and Mode C (low power)
Type: linear, inverting
Uplink: 432.125 - 432.175 MHz *See Note
Downlink: 145.975 - 145.925 MHz
Translation Equation:
Downlink (MHz) = 578.100 - uplink (MHz) ± Doppler
Output Power: 8 watts PEP Mode B (start of life), 2.5 watts PEP Mode C

Mode C, while weaker, is useful to us because it allows more operators onto the transponder before it goes to undervoltage and resets. An inverting transponder tunes the downlink frequency downwards as you tune upwards on the transponder uplink, non-inverting tunes with you.

When AO-7 first came back from the dead Jan King, W3GEY, the AMSAT-OSCAR-7 Project Manager commented: "AO-7 has a good set of arrays and the first BCR (battery charge regulator) we ever flew. It's the first spacecraft we ever had that was capable of overcharging the battery. When the battery failed the cells began to fail short. One cell after another failed and the voltage measured on telemetry began to drop. So, the cells were clearly failing SHORT. Now, after all these years, what happens if any one of the cells loses the short and becomes open? Then, the entire power bus becomes unclamped from ground and the spacecraft loads begin to again be powered but, this time only from the arrays. Now you have a daytime only satellite but, each time the sun rises at the spacecraft you have a random generator that either turns on Mode A or Mode B or whatever it wants."

Visit the AMSAT site for more information on working the satellites, and specifically their AO-7 page. Also, Emily Clarke has a nice AQ for working AO-7.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
We live in southern Middle Tennessee, about an hour south of Nashville, and we are watching the news coverage of this weekend's record-breaking flooding in the Nashville area. It is confirming our conviction not to live in a metropolitan area as we see how people are affected by this natural disaster.

All three interstates going through Nashville--I-65, I-24, and I-40--have been shut down for long periods of time yesterday and today. The cars and trucks stuck on I-40 as I write this stretch for over five miles, and the drivers
have no way of backing up, turning around, getting off on a side road, or crossing the median. They are stuck! Note to self: when evacuating an area, do not take the interstate.

The motels are full, and even the Opryland Hotel is being evacuated because of rising river levels and sporadic electric service. They're interviewing hotel guests on the news who have been evacuated and left stranded at a local high school with no food, no medications, and no creature comforts. The ones who had cars had to leave them behind. Most of them probably did not have cars because they came in by air. They are complaining about the inconvenience and lack of information. Imagine if this situation [or a comparable situation] were affecting the whole state or the whole country--what would these people do?

Public services are being stretched way beyond capacity as police and disaster workers try to rescue people from their cars and from their homes, and try to keep people off the roads. I have heard that over 600 people
have been rescued. Rescue workers are exhausted, and now that it's dark their work is even more dangerous. So far, five people have died as a result of this flooding, but the count will probably go up as the flood waters go
down. Some areas are dangerous to drive into, but due to the overwhelming scope of the flooding, no rescue workers have been able to go in and put up barriers or warnings.

Many of these homeowners probably did not have flood insurance, as their homes were in areas that have not flooded in anyone's memory. (Some of the these subdivisions are located within the curve of river bends, which
seems incredibly short-sighted to me.) A levee on the Cumberland River is leaking in at least one area and there is concern that it will break. Several areas have no electric service, no home phone service, and no cell phone
service. They are saying that the water supply is safe, but they are asking people to conserve water. Lots of people are spending the night in shelters that have just cropped up today, including people from out of state who got
stuck here when the interstates closed down.

All of this gives our family food for thought and helps us discuss how we can be even better prepared for a similar situation in our area. It also makes us wonder how our nation would fare if a disaster struck across several states or the whole country. It is obvious that there simply aren't enough police or emergency workers to take care of everyone at the same time. So many of the flood victims being interviewed on the news don't seem to have any sense of personal responsibility for emergency preparedness. - Ginny

I have recently started reading your blog. Since I started from scratch six months ago my family and I have stored food, stored water, learned firearms and safety, learned first aid, purchased communications equipment. Some of the ideas were put to test this past weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. with the "once in a century" flood. Our area of Nashville received 15 inches of rain in a little over 48 hours. To putt that in perspective: Our annual rainfall for this area is around 45 inches. Many areas flooded out.

My family and I live on a lake. The water came up to our house but no major damage. Many others were not so fortunate. Things I found out. Scanner radio came in handy to listen to on the ground reports of rescues. For your readers I would suggest they know the local [public service] frequencies. This came in handy vs listening to all the other channels further away from where we were being affected at the time.

I listened to a rescue crew report that a nearby road flooded over within a mile of our house. If we had needed to bug out at that point I would of known not to use that road. One observation were all emergency crews acted professional however at one small point they simply could not get to everyone. Two portions of the interstate (I -24 and another I- 40) were flooded. Both interstates are major roads for Nashville.

One crew was asked to go to a location but they were blocked in on the interstate by traffic and could not move forward due to water over the road. The call was transferred to another crew who handled it. The idea struck me that sometimes no matter how well the intentions are help may not be able to arrive on time thus self sufficiency would pay off. Nashville did not have looting during this crisis. However my family and I were prepared with food , guns, ammo, safe drinking water if that time had arrived. Things I would change: CB radio batteries in portable CB were dead when I went to use it. Fortunately we had power at house and I could recharge the rechargeable batteries. I saw a neighbor outside on the lake our property fronts in a boat needing help to secure docks that were in process of floating away. I ran outside to join him. I made two mistakes on running to his aid:

I failed to let any member of my family know I had left. I also did not take my cell phone. Simple mistakes but nonetheless if the boat we were traveling in flood waters had tipped over my family would of had no clue that I had gone out in the water on a boat. Another small one was my Goretex rain gear about a month ago was obviously no longer water proof. I decided I would wait till next fall when the rainy season hits again to replace this gear. I would of never guess that I would really need this gear in the torrential downpour. I simply put it the gear on and stayed wet. Last night I purchased new rain gear from an online site, with the lesson learned.

The other part I learned and observed was peoples reactions. Some people are very level headed during a crisis and could make good decisions. Others were in panic mode. I still have a lot to learn but felt comfortable in the knowledge we were semi-prepared. I will fine tune some things from this experience for the next event. "Living and Learning", - Kris

Two Letters Re: Removing Orthodontia Braces, Post-TEOTWAWKI

In response to the letter about removing braces, I am a dentist and due to the economic situation in my part of the world, I have de-banded many people who could no longer afford to continue orthodontic treatment.

Fortunately this particular problem is not too difficult, but before do-it-yourself de-banding seriously consider leaving everything in place, until things hopefully come around again, or at least try to find a dental professional.

There is an increased risk of tooth decay and gum irritations with braces, but there usually is no orthodontic problem with leaving braces on too long. At some point the orthodontic forces on the teeth will dissipate and the braces will stabilize the teeth in position without putting much force on them. I would only consider do-it-yourself orthodontic appliance removal in a prolonged TEOTWAWKI. Once the wires are removed, especially if a retainer is not made, the teeth may very well drift and orthodontics will most likely have to be repeated later on.

At any rate, before attempting this procedure wash your hands well and be sure any cuts or sores on your hands are well covered. Nitrile gloves if you have them. Not a bad idea to have the patients brush their teeth and
rinse their mouth as well.

The first step is to remove the arch wire, the band of wire that goes around the teeth. It is held in place with ligatures, usually small rubber bands, but occasionally braided wire. Remove each rubber band ligature from around the bracket, any wires can be unbraided with disinfected small tweezers. A dental instrument, such as a dental explorer works great, but a disinfected paper clip would do in a pinch. After disconnecting the the ligature bands, the arch wire will slip out. Be careful, the ends of the arch wire can be very sharp !

Once the arch wire is removed, it is possible to floss the teeth and cleaning is much easier and effective. If the brackets are not irritating, there is little harm in leaving them in place as long the patient has good
oral hygiene and avoids sweets.

To remove the brackets, small disinfected needle nose pliers can be used. Stabilize the tooth with your fingers of one hand and put the beaks of the pliers on the little arms of the bracket. Give a little twisting motion to
the bracket and most will pop off. Start with the eye teeth (canines) or the larger teeth in back. These teeth have larger roots which stabilizes the tooth and the brackets twist off easier. Once you have a little experience with larger teeth, try the front teeth. The lower front teeth can be the most difficult because their roots are short, so be sure the stabilize them well with your free hand. Some teeth may be very mobile when the arch wire is removed. It is best to leave the brackets on mobile teeth.

Generally some of the back molars have a band instead of brackets. To remove these, try to get your instrument near the gum line and work around the tooth pushing up away from the gum line. You may have to work from both the cheek and tongue side of the tooth to get these bands off.

Treat all these wires, bands and brackets as [biohazard] "sharps" and dispose of the properly.

Once the brackets and bands are removed, there will be bits of cement stuck to the tooth, sometimes this cement can stain. This can be difficult to remove without special instruments, but large patches of cement can reduced with careful use of an emery board, but be very care full not to scratch the enamel of the tooth.

There is some aspiration risk to removing brackets, especially with non-standard instruments, so be very care full to keep the airway clear and try to do as much as possible with the patient sitting upright. There may
also be decayed sections of tooth underneath the brackets and bands, which can become painful once the appliances are removed.

Again, I would only consider DIY orthodontic appliance removal in an extreme, prolonged situation and be very mindful about the possibilities of making a bad situation worse by performing dental procedures without the benefit of dental training. - D.J., DMD

Eric asked about removing orthodontic brackets. I am a practicing general dentist. This information is for informational purposes only, and should only be used in a TEOTWAWKI or in a "hitting the fan" event. I am using household and toolbox items here because the vast majority of people will not have access to the proper dental tools. First, if you have the opportunity, ask your orthodontist if you can be chair side the next time your child's arch wires or ligatures are changed. There is nothing like seeing it being done.

A nice small pair of tweezers for removing the rubber bands (ligatures) will be needed. If you can get your hands on a pair of College Pliers, that is even better as the narrow angled beaks will allow easier access to grab and remove them. Just grab one end of the rubber ligature and pull it over the bracket until it is completely removed. You can also perform this with a dental explorer. This is what many dentists use to remove the orthodontic ligatures. Just hook the explorer under the rubber ligature and work around it until it is free of the bracket. I have actually seen both of these dental tools available at gun shows. A nice small narrow pair of wire cutters could be used for the removing of the actual brackets off of the teeth. Place the beaks so that they are on either side of the bracket and pressing against the surface of the tooth. Squeeze the wire cutters very gently and slowly. This should get the bracket to release from the surface of the tooth. In some cases, both the bracket and the bonding adhesive will come off, leaving very little on the tooth to remove and polish. In other cases, much of the adhesive will remain behind on the tooth structure leaving a lot of clean up work. These wire cutters can also be used to cut the metal arch wire in between the brackets if one cannot remove the ligatures and the arch wire with either of the previously mentioned tools. Once all of the brackets are off of the teeth cleaning up the remaining cement is the most tedious part. Again, the average person will not have dental scalers and polishing devices to do this. I have also seen dental scalers at gun shows. They probably will have broken tips on one end, or they are very dull. If you are adept at sharpening things, you may be able to put an edge on these that would be adequate to do the job. Some of the big box stores like Wal-Mart have little mini dental kits with a mirror, explorer, and blunt tipped scaler in them. Gently scrape (scale) the cement off. In some cases a very fine fingernail file or a piece of superfine automotive wet sandpaper (600 grit or higher) can be used to polish off the remaining cement. Be very gentle in doing this. You do not want to abrade the tooth surface much because this can lead you more vulnerable to developing tooth decay (cavities), temperature sensitivity, and staining in these areas. The cement will not hurt you if it is not removed, but it may feel strange and with time it can stain and be unsightly.

Do not use a Dremel motor tool to polish off the cement. You can overheat the nerve in the tooth, causing the nerve to die; necessitating a root canal or an extraction. If we are in a TEOTWAWKI situation, the possibility of getting a root canal done is not very good. You will also want to consider retaining the treatment after the brackets have been removed. While nowhere near ideal, a "boil-and-bite" mouth guard may help a little bit to retain the orthodontic correction. Purchase them now and place them in your bug out bag (B.O.B.) or store with other medical necessities in case they are needed. Make sure you clean any instruments that you place in your mouth as well as possible. A bottle of Betadine and a bottle of rubbing alcohol will help. Sterilizing with a flame will dull the cutting edges of any instruments. However, a dull cutting blade is easier to fix than a spreading infection. Let's all hope and pray that this info is never needed.

Those of us that are called by His name need to really heed 2 Chronicles 7:14. I just pray that it is not too late for us and the rest of this world. - KJN

El Jefe Jeff E. sent this frightening news on price inflation: US inflation up 2% in March. I've already warned you: As the Treasury monetizes its way out of the recession, be ready for mass inflation, folks!

Jon in Wyoming sent this: Euro Sales Extend as Morgan Stanley Mulls EU Breakup

Also from Jon: Roubini Says Rising Sovereign Debt Leads to Defaults

Yishai suggested this piece by Ronald Bailey of Reason magazine: Peak Everything?; Forget peak oil. What about peak lithium, peak neodymium, and peak phosphorus?

Items from The Economatrix:

Analysis from Dan Denninger: Bernanke is Getting Scared

Goldman's Shares Plunge on Investigation, Downgrade

US "Middle Skills" Jobs Vanish

Greece Faces "Unprecedented" Cuts as $159 Billion Rescue Nears

German Anger Rises as Greek Bailout Triples

Stronger Economic Reports Pull Stocks Higher

Economic Outlook is Cautious Even with Spending Up

Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe; The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter. ( A hat tip to OSOM, for the link.)

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EMB suggested this Lifehacker article: Top 10 Hard Drive Upgrades and Fixes. (I don't normally post computer tech article links, but this one has a some preparedness and OPSEC implications...)

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Reader "Mr. 47" sent a link to a company that makes some clever bullpup conversion stocks.

"One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation." - Congressman Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine (1839-1902), writing in 1886

EMB mentioned this amazingly useful, and aptly-named web site: Radio Reference.

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Since early 2007, I have warned SurvivalBlog readers about the perils of "kanban" inventory control. Here is a bit of confirmation: Volcano Throws Off Ash, Just-in-Time Efforts. (Thanks to Chad S. for the link.)

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Lee C. flagged this: Fat Americans are a national security threat, warn generals

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RBS sent this: Copper thieves blamed for dangerous power surge. A comment from RBS: "Here is what could be considered another classic example of the fragility of our Inverted Technological Pyramid. Notice the "value" of the stolen part, and the "cost" it incurred for others."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thanks for your site, and all that you and your family does for the thousands of loyal readers!

Before I approach my child's orthodontist I thought I would throw it out to you, because I know there are others thinking the same thing. How can I safely remove my child's braces [in the event of a societal collapse where access to an orthodontist might be impossible.] Thanks again, - Eric W.

JWR Replies: That question goes beyond my expertise. Perhaps an orthodontist in the SurvivalBlog readership could comment. Thanks!

In looking at your blog on survival it revealed to me a major problem with safes with digital combo locks. If there is an EMP, those locks would most likely be fried and one could not get to guns, funds, et cetera! Do you know of a process or method of guarding against this? Is there some shielding that can be put around the combo unit that will protect the electronics? Thanks. - R.C.

JWR Replies: This blog topic seems to pop up just as regularly as dandelions. I've mentioned the following several times in SurvivalBlog, but it is worth repeating: A steel gun vault body itself makes a decent Faraday cage. (Although a finger mesh RF gasket at the door perimeter would make it even better.) All that you really need to add is a flat steel can (such as a peanut can or Danish butter cookie tin) to cover the safe's electronic keypad assembly. Taping the can on works fine, but it will look tacky. A hinge attached with epoxy to a tin (allowing the can to swing to the left or right) might look better. Ideally, the tin should be grounded to the vault body. (Again, this looks tacky, but there is no way around it if you want a fully effective Faraday enclosure.)

If EMP is a major concern where you live (i.e. if you live within 250 miles of a major nuclear target), and your vault has an electronic lock then you should use silica gel rather than a 120 VAC rod-type dehumidifier inside your vault. This is because the power cord for a dehumidifier can act as an unintentional antenna that might "couple" EMP to your vault's electronics. (One of the major no-no's with Faraday cages is to have any conductor that can carry RF penetrate the cage or container body.)

And, needless to say, to have a gun vault lock that is absolutely safe from EMP, the next time that you move, you should sell your current vault as an included "bonus feature" with your house. Then, after you move, replace that vault with one that has a traditional mechanical combination lock. Coincidentally, I should mention that I prefer S&G Group II locks. Oh, and speaking of moving, I prefer Zanotti Armor brand six piece gun vaults that can be disassembled for ease of transport. We have a Zanotti ZA-III six-foot tall vault here at the Rawles Ranch that we've moved several times over the years.

James Wesley:
I appreciate your survival ideas over the years. Here, in the Caribbean, we use cisterns for water recovery quite a bit.

I've had occasion to make a cache lately from one of the smaller plastic cisterns, such as this one.

The tanks that come here (Cayman Islands) are black and configured somewhat differently, but same basic idea. They employ a screw-top opening, which can be weatherproofed against all but profound water pressure.

I set mine -- a 750 gallon tank -- in the sandy loam and made sure that the bottom third was all clean fill, especially under the tank. I bedded around the upper 2/3 with fairly large, but smooth rock, and concreted around the circular opening, so I could keep it clear of dirt and grit. I used thread-seal tape and teflon pipe sealant on the threads of the lid, and it's watertight, at least until such time as it is completely underwater (future hurricane?).

I took a piece of 3-foot x 3-foot starboard (polyethylene) and cut it in an irregular shape, and glued sand and rock to it, such that when laid down over the opening, it appears uniform. I used polyethylene plastic rather than plywood, because it tends to not "echo" as badly when stepped upon.

Another idea that I'd like to mention: To prevent flour weevils in my stocked dry goods, I simply freeze each product (flour, pasta, beans, etc.) for 24-hours. That explodes the insect eggs, and they are good to go in preventing weevils after that.

Thanks again for all the time and effort. First time writing. Be safe. - B.L.

I just read [Chet's article in] the blog on urban and suburban gardening. I wanted to suggest something because I've been seeing people want to be more self sufficient by growing their own gardens. I don't want to come off as a salesman for these two products made by the same person. I'm not someone that sells these items. But to give credit where credit is due, I'm impressed with buying both of these items. I picked up a DVD from Linda Runyon about a year ago, and bought her "Wild Cards" card set for identifying wild plants. The latter were only $6 on Amazon!).Visiting YouTube and watching videos from Eat the Weeds (more than 100 episodes, all free!) got me going after reading a few survival books and wondering about food plants. Having either of these two products gives you an informational edge over someone who doesn't know where the next meal is coming from and knows nothing of plant foods.

Linda Runyon's deck of cards is 52 plants you can eat and all of them are really common. So, here is a little list of my top five:
1. Dandelion (all parts of the plant)
2. Cattails (all parts of the plant)
3. Lambs quarters (you can cook it like spinach)
4. Amaranth (again cook it like spinach/seeds make a mush/soup for high nutrition) [JWR Adds: Beware that Amaranth can get out of control, and Amaranth can become a pernicious weed throughout your acreage!]
5. Berries (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry - eat the ripe fruit)

Did you know that the bull thistle plant is totally something you can eat? all of it? minus the thorns! I haven't tried it so I would guess from cutting these down as a kid on the farm, carefully is the only way to eat them! You can eat stinging nettles too- just boil it first to remove the sting. Cook it just like spinach.

The first time you locate a chamomile plant (also called pineapple weed) and crush it up to smell the pineapple smell you'll be amazed that you actually found this plant! If you make tea with it even better!

I also didn't know that so many trees offer food until I watched the DVD and got the cards -

Maples -young leaves, seeds, inner bark, twigs!
Pine -inner bark, sap, twigs, needles, catkins, pine cones, pine nuts.
Fir, Balsam- entire tree!
Birch- black,white and yellow- inner bark, sap, twigs, buds and young leaves.

The DVD (Linda Runyon's Master Class on Wild Food Survival) also has a lot of interesting ways to prepare the plant food, making mush from seeds, drying the plants in a car (the video was filmed around an Arizona summer), little tips and tricks. worth the time it takes to watch the video and take notes, and then you can search by plant also. It is $31 on Amazon. and worth the price to learn about what is good to eat or not.

I'm in no way suggesting going out in the field and trying every plant you find on my list because if everyone did it there would be no plants left. I also don't suggest killing live plants unless you have a million of them around, besides it is better to pick and try a small amount just to see what it tastes like versus striping an area of food that you don't really need right now. It's better not to waste them, but if you take a few leaves off a living plant and don't kill it they grow back so you can always sustain yourself better by not totally killing any plants- just take a little bit from a few in a patch. It's the responsible thing to do, because next time your there and need food all those plants might be dead and gone if you ate them one at a time totally consuming them.

One thing I've recently done was on a hiking trip last weekend a friend and I pulled down handfuls of pine needles from a big pine tree and boiled them for about 25 minutes for an outstanding pine flavored tea. This is one of the best teas I've had in a long time.

The plants are plentiful and people shouldn't have trouble locating food, even when meat is scarce there is something around to eat if your smart enough to look for it. Linda said it best that in places like africa where people are starving- 50% of the greens in that jungle could feed them with out farming anything. (hum no work involved just eat the weeds?! how about that?)
I would say that learning about edible plants has given me a peace of mind knowing that even if I lost a garden the weeds that would grow when the crops died would feed me anyhow! makes me a little happier, knowing that I don't have to fight, struggle and die if the garden fails to yield a small crop or no crop this year. The weeds will always grow and life will find a way. - Fitzy in Pennsylvania

Dear Jim:
Kudos to Chet for writing about suburban gardening and to you for posting it! I have been a suburban gardener for the past few years and can concur that the first thing you learn is that there is a lot to learn, mostly by trial and error. There is no substitute for experience. I have a hint for suburban gardeners turning their lawn into a a garden bed. You don't have to dig up the grass when you convert a lawn in to a garden. Just spray the proposed garden bed lawn area with Roundup® weed killer in advance and let the grass die. Then hoe just enough of the the dead grass in rows to plant seeds, or seedlings, and leave the remaining dead grass in place. The dead grass works as mulch, holding moisture and preventing weeds. Also, soaking seeds overnight in water before planting can help them to germinate.
All best, - John M. in Florida

I wanted to add a tip to Chet for his gardening adventures: In owning a horse ranch, I have many gardeners who come each spring and get pick-up loads of [well-composted] horse manure. I have a 20 year old composted pile of rich "Black Gold" as we call it. I'm happy to allow people to come get free loads for their gardens. I use it in my own gardens and you cannot believe the results! I recommend you check with any local horse farmers and ask if it's available, most of them have a pile of it somewhere if they're not spreading it in their fields, are happy to have it taken away. Make sure you get the old composted manure, not in it's raw form. - Merry

Chet's points about amending soil are important. For some readers in urban areas they may find that soil amendments are available for free. At my landfill the greens materials (lawn clippings, Christmas trees, and even clean wood) are recycled into mulch and then sold and even offered free to local residents. [JWR Adds: I urge caution when using wood chips for amending garden soil! Many varieties of wood chips will badly stunt a garden, by absorbing and locking up needed nitrogen. Do your research and inquire carefully on the exact composition before taking any free "green waste" for composting.]

I make it a point to take advantage of the policy which offers me up to two cubic yards of compost or mulch free per year. Extra material can be shared around so that friends/neighbors will be less needy in the future too. Find out if your local landfill has such a recycling program. If so take advantage of it. Put your cash into other preps which can't be had for free. - Beth F.

Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to expand upon something mentioned in the above letter. The solution to the writer's problem of buying soil amendments for his garden -- at high prices now, and probably unavailable in a crisis situation -- is raising chickens. A small flock of urban chickens provides a ready source of high-nitrogen manure for the compost pile, approximately 50 pounds per bird per year! And, beyond the obvious benefit of also providing eggs for the table, a free-ranging flock of laying hens can serve as garden helpers -- as they forage, they dig and till the earth, and they devour insect pests. I refer interested readers to a most excellent book on this specific topic: "City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-reyclers, and Local Food Producers". Together, home gardening and chicken keeping can save you money and put more food on your table. - Lee in Michigan

I have been gardening here in Texas for a few years now, I have switched over to the square foot gardening method this year with great results. If you are considering getting into growing your own food for these uncertain times, now is the time to get started. Have your beds in place now while you have the gas and cheap supplies to prepare your soil for long term growing. All of my beds are raised beds and this year I have used 'Mel's Mix' [as described in the book All New Square Foot Gardening] since I have good cheap access to the materials needed to make it. This is a maintainable soil after it all hits the fan. I use cedar fencing material for the raised beds and as I can afford it I will switch to Trex [synthetic decking boards] or a similar material. The raised beds with proper spacing makes it easier for this old back to weed and harvest. I can fence and cover with bird netting each bed if need be. I currently have most of it contained in a 5' foot high fenced area to keep out my dogs and my free roaming chickens. All told I have 11, 3' x 6' beds, 4, 3' x' 3' beds, and 1 6' x 6' bed. It is all in my standard corner lot suburban lot. I'm growing three beds of corn, one bed of spring wheat as an experiment, one bed of green peppers mixed with onions, two small beds of sweet banana peppers with strawberries mixed in low. Three beds of tomatoes (two of which are mixed in with potatoes), a bed of blackberries, a bed of watermelon, a bed of cantaloupe, and a large bed with five blueberry bushes and strawberries. The majority of my plants are heirloom [open-pollenated] plants so that I can save the seeds. Doing this now and having it in place and growing is much better than after the Schumer hits the fan. As Chet points out this is hard work without power tools and easy access to supplements. You too can do this, now get out and do it! - Ken L.

Note the fait accompli tone of this NPR article that of course inevitably leads to the conclusion that there will be either massive tax increases, or mass inflation in the near future: The Federal Debt: How To Lose A Trillion Dollars. (Thanks to Gedan for the link.)

Frequent content contributor Chad S. flagged this important article over at Zero Hedge: Treasury Redeems A Gargantuan $643 Billion in Treasuries in April.

Want a good belly laugh? If so, then read this item from Chad S.: Corporations ride a consumer spending spree to better earnings as recovery gains steam. Here is Chad's favorite absurd quote from the article: "We¹re out of the woods for good, says Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. This is no just an arithmetic story. It¹s a story of legitimate growth." JWR Adds: All this "recovery" talk at present is utter nonsense, triggered by short term stimulus money. The end result will be no real recovery and mountains of compounding debt.

Also from Chad comes this more realistic piece: European debt crisis looms over meeting.

Items from The Economatrix:

Another Look at Derivatives

Goldman Whack-A-Mole

Roubini: In a Few Days' Time There Might Not be a Eurozone for Us to Discuss

US Food Inflation Spiraling Out of Control

Rising Federal Debt Found to Cause Alien Intestinal Syndrome (The Mogambo Guru)

The Dominoes are Lining Up for a Sovereign Debt Crisis

More Friday Follies: Banks Closed in Puerto Rico, Michigan, Missouri, Washington

GDP Rise Not Enough to Make Dent in Jobless Rate

By special request from a SurvivalBlog reader, the folks at Shelf Reliance have kindly extended the 10% discount on their Food Rotation Systems. Use coupon code: SBM10. (The special discount price is not shown at their web site.) This offer now ends June 4, 2010, so order soon.

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Yet another local disaster shows the fragility of civility: Crews race to fix break in Boston's water supply after major main breaks. Here is a quote: "There also were economic and social concerns: Restaurants in suburban Lexington shut down Saturday night, unable to wash dishes or serve customers clean water, while police in Revere had to be called into a BJ's Wholesale Club after a run on bottled water turned unruly." (Thanks to H.W. for the link.) Here's a quote from another article: "People were fighting over the water. People were walking out with tons and tons of water. They weren’t trying to share. But they got to fist fighting in there, so I just gave up. I’ll go home and boil my own,” said one woman." All that antipathy when the alternative is simply bringing tap water to near the boiling point. I can't help but ask: How would people act if the grid power were also disrupted?

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Seed For Security has announced a special offer that runs through the end of May 2010: They will be enclosing a free pint of winter rye grain with every order over $25. Here is a description, from their web site: "Rye is one of the most reliable and easy-to-grow grains. It is most often ground into flour and used to make hearty pumpernickel and rye breads. This seed can also be broadcast under knee high corn in early summer, or simply used as a cover crop in your garden. It tolerates cold winter weather very well. Don't confuse our Winter Rye with the common Rye Grass, which does not produce any kernels of grain at all. -- Approximately. 13,280 seeds in each pint [of Winter Rye]. "

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Some basic prepping advice, published by the Great State of Texas. (A tip of the cowboy hat, to Chad S.) OBTW, you gotta love Texas, where the Governor is serious shooter (as evidenced by his gun handling in a recent range day with LaRue Tactical), and he also reportedly blasted a menacing coyote.

"What's the point of [gun control legislation], other than to inconvenience the honest citizen who follows the rules?... I can assure you that the guys I met in the nine prisons I served my sentence in did not get their guns at the gun store. " - G. Gordon Liddy, as quoted in People magazine, January 10, 1994

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I have been a reader of SurvivalBlog for some time now and have slowly moved into the preparedness mindset. I have been trying to increase my supplies, but this year I decided to try to grow a substantial amount of my food. I have grown small gardens in the past, but this is my first large scale project. The final results remain to be seen, as it is still quite early in the growing season, but I've already learned some invaluable lessons. I hope I am can offer some new insight, and not just repeat what others and experts have said. I am writing from the perspective of, and to the perspective of a suburban survivalist who can't/won't leave suburbia for a more secure rural retreat.

I began by cutting up the sod from most of my suburban back yard late last summer. I added grass clippings and leaves to the soil and worked them into the soil by hand. I chose to perform this task my hand rather than buying/renting a motorized “rototiller” in order to simulate the conditions I would be growing in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Lesson 1: Growing your own food is very hard work. I know, “thanks captain obvious”. But I'm writing this to try to inspire and explain to those who have never tried, and only read about growing a large garden. It is back breaking, tiring work.

After letting the leaves and grass clippings and such decompose over winter and early spring, I added some commercially prepared (i.e. I bought it a Lowe's) composted cow manure to the soil. Again back breaking, but Lesson 2: Realization of high amendment costs. Soil amendments, whether manure, humus, peat, or whatever will be in short supply if you are in a suburban locale during TEOTWAWKI (not to mention the cost of buying them now in good times can easily add up and negate the cost savings of growing your own produce). As I mixed in my conveniently packaged 40 lb. Bags, I realized I must start my own composting operation. These types of natural soil amendments may be available in rural locations, but in suburbia, they would be nonexistent, should the Schumer hit.

About the same time I was mixing in the manure, I began sprouting many varieties of seeds indoors, as the early spring here in Michigan is too cold to support seed germination. I purchased trays to start my seeds in (again, an item that would not be readily available). I planted lettuce, cabbage, eggplants, melons, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, onions, and carrots. I placed these seed trays in several rooms and areas, wherever I had space. But I soon realized that for many of these vegetables, I did not start indoors soon enough. The results remain to be seen, but I may not have enough time in my growing season (Zone 6) to grow some of these plants that take a long time. So, Lesson 3: Do your research now, while your garden is not a life or death matter. Plan ahead. Learn when and how to sow these vegetables. I tend to be excited and impatient when I start a new project, I didn't do my research. I just started planting and didn't give it the necessary thought and planning.

Of the seeds I planted, an expected percentage did not germinate and grow. However, several of those that did start off strong petered out and died on me. To this day I'm not sure why; too much water, not enough, to much sun, not enough, I don't know. But this experience taught me another lesson. Lesson 4: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Seeds are cheap and plentiful now, so plant many more than you think you'll need or have room for. Learn how to grow them now before your food supply depends on their success. I plan on continue my experimentation and talking to the local gardening club for tips. Hopefully I will learn what I did wrong and be able to correct this next year.

I have planted some of the hardier plants outdoors now, and have learned yet another lesson. I thought I had adequately fenced in my garden plot, with wooden fencing backed with 48” chicken wire buried 6” deep to leave 42” above ground. Yet some critters have already been nibbling on my plants. Lesson 5: Build your fence twice as high, twice as strong, and twice as resistant as you thought you'd need!

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, this is the first time I've attempted a large garden intended to provide a substantial part of my food supply. So far the absolute biggest, most important lesson learned is... Lesson 6: Get out there and try it yourself. For rural readers, I may have not given any good or new advice. But for those who are forced, or chose to stay in suburbia, storing seeds is not enough. I know this has said before, but please, take it to heart: Get out there and try to grow a garden now! If you never have, try now, make your mistakes now. If you have some experience, challenge yourself to grow a bigger garden. I know it has been said, and is obvious, but I don't think I was alone in believing the growing a large garden wouldn't be that hard. It is. Try it. Gain valuable experience now. Reading about doing it is not a substitute for doing it. Do it now, while it's just a fun hobby, and maybe a way of saving a bit on your grocery bill, so you don't starve later.

In response to the recently-linked article about the UAE's planned food stockpile: Having worked in Dubai and Abu Dhabi off and on for the last five years I can tell you that during the best of times the food supply is iffy at best. When you go to the market you might get one item one day and not see it again for a year. And I am not talking about seasonal or exotic items -- trying to get the same type of flour twice in a row is a task in and of itself.

And try to tell an upset woman that "flour is flour." My friend's wife just about knifed him when he said that while she was trying to make gnocchi just right (and I thought it was only potatoes in it).

So the three month supply just makes sense even without a disruption in that part of the world.

I would add though that lots of the ex-pats over there do stockpile as a routine matter of course (or did -- I have not been there since the financial crises began) and keep several weeks of water in cisterns (those that have their own house -- leased for 99 years). During times of stress the various ex-pat community groups also prepare evacuation plans (I was included in the Australian plans because my friend who brought me over there was Aussie ... and most of them figured I just had a speech impediment instead of being American) on their own using the "social clubs" that the embassies have as an unofficial way of keeping tabs on folks. Because if you are not at least Arab, then don't expect the local government to help. - Hugh D.

Chad S. sent this: Credit-rating agencies under fire in Europe crisis.Chad's comment: "I wondered what the real problem was--is it that credit-rating agencies are skewing the truth or is it that governments are just trying to soft-pedal how bad their self-inflicted financial mess is."

Riots, Violence Break Out at Greek May Day Rallies. (A hat tip to KAF , for the link.)

Eric S. sent this: After the IMF Bails Out Europe, the U.S. May Have to Bail Out the IMF

Items from The Economatrix:

Greek Debt Crisis Rattles Asian Markets, Sends Oil Price Tumbling

Spain Downgrade Sparks European Sell-off; Greece Bans Short-Selling as Panic Spreads

Is Britain Heading for a Greek Tragedy?

The Death of Goldman Sachs

Greek Crisis Compared to "Ebola Virus"; IMF Warns Problem Could Spread Across Europe

K. in Vermont sent this Trunews link: Grasshopper plague in Plain States this summer

   o o o

More evidence that Peak Oil might be real: Kuwaiti study: Conventional oil to peak in 2014

   o o o

Niklas sent this link that could be useful in evaluating retreat locales: Preliminary Spreadsheet of Eruption Source Parameters for Volcanoes of the World

   o o o

How Al Gore is reducing his carbon footprint, and preparing for the dramatic sea-level rise that he predicted: Al Gore, Tipper Gore snap up Montecito-area villa; The Italian-style home has an ocean view, fountains, six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

"Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?" - Job 37:16

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Please say a prayer for the folks affected by the "worst case scenario" oil spill on the Gulf Coast. OBTW, if George Bush were still in office, I wouldn't be surprised to see the use of a Plowshare device, to stop this spill. I don't think Barack Obama would have the nerve.


Today we present another entry for Round 28 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 28 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The following is the second half of a draft chapter from my latest novel, tentatively titled "Veterans", now in development. (Part I was posted on April 30th.) It is a sequel to "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse". Unlike most novel sequels, the storyline will be contemporaneous with the first novel. This sequel novel is scheduled to be released by the Atria Books Division of Simon & Schuster in early 2011. Thanks for your patience. I'd appreciate your feedback.

Just before they stepped out of the Mercedes, Ian straightened his borrowed silk tie.  Blanca whispered: “Bring your video camera. My papa will want to see pic-tu-ers.” After the maid ushered them in, they met Blanca’s father on the screened patio.  Haltingly, Ian made a formal introduction in Spanish. He did this fairly well, since he had practiced it with Consuela, but he was obviously nervous.

After shaking hands, Aurturo Araneta asked: “So, Lieutenant Doyle, My daughter tells me you are a pilot of F-16 fighting planes.”

“That’s right, sir. Pointing to the rucksack on his shoulder, he said:  “I brought my camcorder, with some movies of myself and some of my squadron-mates, flying F-16 Falcons, if you are interested.”

“Of, course, of course.  Let’s go to the library.”

Arturo Araneta asked as they walked: “You have this movie in your video camera?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then let’s watch it on my big screen.  It is the latest from Japan.”

The dimly-lit library was quite a contrast to the brightness of the patio.  It took a while for Doyle’s eyes to adjust to the lighting.

As they were getting the camera’s cable hooked up the television input jack, Aurturo Araneta quizzed Doyle about his education.  Ian answered:  “I did a double major, in Aeronautical Engineering and Industrial Engineering. I also got minor degrees in English Literature and Military History. I did all that course work in just five years, cum laude.”

“Not suma? Ah, well, to do all that in just five years, you must have been studying around the clock.  So graduating just cum laude is understandable.”  After taking an audible breath, he added:  “Engineering, engineering. Excellent! I am surprised that so many other young people waste their time in other trifling fields.”

With a wave of Arturo’s hand, the maid brought iced tea and they sipped it as they watched Ian’s video tape.  Doyle introduced it by just saying: “ These clips you’ll see were all shot by me from the back seat of a D-model F-16—that’s the version with two seats.”

The first clip showed some tight formation flying. The second showed take-offs, landings and touch-n-go’s.

Just before the third segment, Ian voiced the caveat: “Now, this part coming up, it wasn’t me at the controls and I had no warning that my friend was going to do this.  I was just along for the ride and to preserve the events, for posterity.”  The video then showed the plane doing slow rolls, high over San Francisco, passing through patchy clouds and then diving to line up west of the city.  It then flew under the Golden Gate Bridge and then under the San Francisco Bay Bridge, with pilot twice exclaiming “Yeee-haaaaaaw!”

Both of the Aranetas gasped and laughed. Ian then commented:  “I found out later that Fred had the crew chief disable the plane’s transponder, so there’d be no comebacks.”

Aurturo chuckled and said, “Very clever. And I’m glad this was not you flying, so illegally.”

The last segment of the video was several minutes of aerobatics, shot over the pilot’s shoulder. In one corner of the screen, the plane’s altimeter could be seen winding down from 30,000 feet, at an alarming rate. The significance of some of the maneuvers were lost on her father, but Blanca was clearly impressed.  She kept saying “Wow” and “Double wow!”

As Ian disconnected his camcorder, Aurturo exclaimed: “That was fantastic.  Simply fantastic.”

Next, the subject of tennis came up—as Blanca had warned it always did with her father. He started by saying, “You know, seeing San Francisco in that video tape reminds me…” He spent the next half hour in an animated description of how he had toured the United States playing tennis tournaments in the 1980s and how he had learned to disco dance. He ended by mentioning:  “You know, when I was there, I became so fascinated with your basketball.  Other than tennis, that is now the sport I watch the most, on the satellite television.”

“Really?”, Ian asked. “What is your favorite American team?”

The Honduran replied: “Oh, the Detroit Pistons. Most definitely.”

Ian laughed. “Did Blanca mention that I was raised near Detroit?”

Arturo Araneta put on a huge grin. 

Ian put in hesitantly, “Although I’ve gotta say, I’m just as much a Lakers fan as am a fan of the Pistons.”

“The Lakers, they are a fine team too, but sometimes, with all their physicality, they lack the ah, finesse and control of the Pistons.”

Just when Doyle thought that he could not have hit it off more perfectly, Arturo asked:  “So, what does a fighter joe-key like you do, for hobbies?”

“I like to run, swim and I do a lot of target shooting.”

Araneta chortled. “You are a shoo-ter?  Come with me, my boy and I will show you my little gun collection!”
As the three of them walked together toward the other wing of the house, Blanca laughed and muttered, “The lost-long son returns!”

As they walked, Ian glanced over his shoulder and noticed the maid following five paces back, dutifully carrying a tray with their drinks. He realized that this sort of life would take some getting used to.

They spent the next half hour chit-chatting and admiring guns pulled out of a climate-controlled walk-in-vault. Araneta had a huge collection of perhaps 200 guns and 50 swords and sabers. Sitting on a large wooden stand in the center of the vault room was an exquisitely-ornamented saddle, with a saber and a pair of holstered horse pistols.  The saddle was clearly the centerpiece of his collection. Aurturo explained: “This saddle belonged to a lieutenant of Simon de Bolivar.  I bought it by ‘private treaty’ from a collector before it could go to auction.”

Doyle noted that Arturo’s collection was eclectic, ranging from a 16th Century Chinese hand cannon, to one of the latest Colt Anaconda revolvers. But the collection mostly emphasized muzzleloaders and horse pistols, representing 400 years of development for the latter. In deference to the humid climate in Honduras, they all wore white cotton gloves as they handled the guns.

As they were examining, his modern guns, Araneta asked: “What do you think of Blanca’s Glock 19?”

“You have a Glock?,” Ian asked Blanca, surprised.

Blanca said with scorn: “Yes, the one I carry every day, in my flight bag.  It’s got night sights on it. I’m a very good shot.”

“I had no idea that you packed.”

Blanca laughed and said: “You Yanquis have no idea how many Hondurans carry guns every day of the week.  We just make no big deal about it.”

“Daddy bought me the Glock and also the Mercedes.  The car is intentionally old and ugly on the outside, but it has a brand new engine and transmission. Actually, the rust spots on the door panels are no really rust-they are jus’ painted on. It’s the perfecto anti-kidnapping car. Not like anything anyone would expect me to drive. Even then, it is built like a tank and could knock most other cars off of the road!

Ian stroked his chin and said, “The more I learn about you, señorita, the more there is to like about you. You’re the complete package: ‘She flies, she swims, she shoots, she dresses tastefully, she drives a stealth tank, she likes flamenco guitar…’”

“You left out that I’m great cook and an excellent dancer.”

All three of them laughed.

Finally, they sat down to a four-course dinner that was served by the cook and dutifully attended by the maid.  The conversation over dinner ranged from flying, to shooting, to duck hunting and to Arturo’s recollections of what Blanca was like, as a little girl. And of course, tennis.

Ian got to try out some of his new Spanish phrases. His fractured grammar and conjugational foul-ups earned him a lot of good-spirited laughter.  Arturo was gracious, saying only “You are learning quickly, my boy. And I’m glad to hear you use a good Castilian accent.  So many Americans I meet, even scientists and engineers, are educated only in the gutter Spanish of Mexico. They are such, as you say, ‘hicks’,”

After a long pause, Arturo glanced over the top of his glasses and asked gravely, “Are you Catholic?”

“Yes, sir.  Born and raised, Irish-Catholic. I still attend Mass faithfully.”  Realizing that he was taking a huge risk of offending his host, he added:  “But additionally, I have come to more of a personal faith, in Jesus Christ. Between him and me, I feel no need of a mediator. The Pope and the priests are fine for ceremony, but I truly feel that I’m saved personally, by Jesus, by faith in him alone, by his grace and with my sins paid by his sacrifice on the cross. I love Jesus with all mi corazon.”

Arturo brightened and clasped his hand on Ian’s shoulder. “I feel the same way, also.  It is refreshing to hear that from a fellow member of the church.”

Everything continued to go well, until it was time for cigars and brandy.  Aurturo was slightly miffed when Ian accepted a snifter, but refused a cigar, saying, “Lo siento mucho, señor, but I don’t smoke. Yo no fumo.”

As he trimmed and lit his cigar, Arturo tutt-tutted and then said resignedly: “Oh well, you pilots are such health nuts.  You don’t know what you’re missing. Honduran cigars are just as good as Cubanos. But I can say, I now smoke only about one of these a month.”

Blanca joked, “You know, daddy, I gave up cigars years ago, when I decided to follow in the goose-steps of Amelia Earhart.”

o  o  o

As Blanca gave Ian a ride back to the base, she went on and on about how well Ian had gotten along with her father, mentioning how unprecedented that was. After a couple of minutes of driving on, in silence, she said simply: “I think he really likes you E-an.”

“Yeah, pretty scary, isn’t it?”  Then he asked:  “Where’d you get that pearl necklace?”

“Before they were married, my father and mother went on a trip to La Bahia--those are our Bay Islands on the east coast. They were snorkeling and daddy dove to bring up an oyster. Inside of this oyster was this pearl.  Later on that same day, my father asked my mother to marry him.  The pearl it was too big and fragile for a ring, so it was placed on thees necklace.  Ever since then, my father nicknamed my mother conchita, which means ‘little oyster’.  And now he sometimes calls me that.”

After a long pause, she suffixed: “My mother gave me this, when she was dying of the cancer.”

Lo siento mucho, Blanca.”

“Ees okay.  That was a long time ago.”

“May I call you conchita?”

Blanca giggled,  “Yes E-an, you may, but not in public! You see, among the lower classes, conchita has a different—a very crude--meaning, so please don't you call me that around other people—or at least around any other people who speak Spanish.”

Si, mi conchita.”

She drove on in silence, obviously deep in thought,

After passing through the formalities with the air base’s gate guards, Blanca turned and her face to Ian and said: “You know, Meester Lieutenant Doyle, you were very clever, finding out all those theengs about me, from Consuela.”

“Yes, I must admit I do over-plan things.”

“So, why did you do all that--the orchids and the Almond Roca? I theenk also the flamenco music.” Her voice grew sharp: “Why?”

Doyle coughed nervously.  “Because I fell in love with your voice on the radio from the tower, even before I ever laid eyes on you.   And when someone like me loves someone as much as I love you, …well. I’m the kind of guy that will nearly warp space and time, just to make everything fall into place.  I am absolutely head-over-heels, crazy in love with you, Blanca.”

Just then, her car reached the driving circle in front of The White House.

She gave a coy smile.  “Perhaps I will see you again, E-an.”  She ushered him out with a wave and a smile.  He blew her a kiss. As her eyes lingered on him for a moment, he added, half-shouting:  “Encantado, Señorita!”  Her chin dropped and she put on a smile as she drove away.

As he approached the front steps of the White House, Ian Doyle stopped in his tracks. He realized why Blanca had worn the pearl necklace: That pearl had been a key part of her father’s marriage proposal to her mother. Wearing the pearl had been her way of telling her father, “This man is bona fide marriage material.”

The next few weeks were a blur.  The squadron’s operational tempo increased and Ian was flying a lot.  Most of his contact with Blanca was by correspondence. Their love letters began cordially, but became more familiar and gained a note of passion, as time went on.  Partly because two of the Hondo Expedition pilots fell ill with “traveler’s tummy”, Ian was flying as much as six days a week, a grueling pace.

Most of Ian’s missions were uneventful. The only real excitement came on a couple flights when his plane’s radar warning receiver went off, over hostile territory.  These were mainly Gun Dish radars, part of Russian-built ZSU 23-4s—four barrel 20 millimeter anti-aircraft cannons.  This caused a bit of angst for Ian and some lively discussion at the post-flight debriefings.

o o o

On a Sunday 40 days into his Honduras rotation, Blanca took Ian flying. Above his objection to split the cost, she treated him to a two-hour rental in her favorite plane, an Italian-built Pioneer P200.  It was a very small, sleek, low wing plane that had unusual dual sticks in a side-by-side cockpit.

As they approached the plane for their pre-flight, Doyle said: “I was expecting you to rent some zippy biplane, with seats fore and aft.”

She grinned:  “I think a side-by-side configuration like this is much more, ah, romantico, no? “ Quickly changing subjects, she said, “The dry weight of thees bird is only 260 kilos--light as a feather!”

“Oh, man, that is light!  Did you know that an F-16 weighs about twelve thousand kilos, fully-fueled?”

Blanca was wearing a very attractive white flight suit, with zippers everywhere.  As they walked around the plane, checking the fuel tanks, wiggling the wings and checking the flaps and rudder, Doyle’s eyes kept drifting back to Blanca. The flight suit certainly accentuated her trim figure.

They pulled the chocks and climbed aboard. Sitting in the tandem plane’s left seat, he admired Blanca’s finesse as she worked the radio and rolled out to the taxi strip, craning her head to do repeated 360 eyeballs of both the plane’s control surfaces and her surroundings. She didn’t miss a beat. After getting takeoff clearance, she punched in the throttle and took off after a surprisingly short roll. Climbing out at 700 feet per minute, she took the plane up to 10,000 feet and headed west, as they chatted about the plane’s characteristics.

“What’s this bird stressed for?,” Ian asked.

“Four gees pos and two gees neg-a-teev.”

Doyle nodded approvingly.

Blanca continued: “It’s been upgraded to a 110 horsepower plant. She’ll do 145 miles per hour, at altitude. Redline is 5,600 ara-pee-emms. Oh and watch your sink rate if you pull more than a 60 degrees bank. I theenk you’ll like flying it. It takes very light control forces. I love thees plane because you don’t have to muscle the stick.”

Glancing at the GPS, she declared: “Okay, hombre, now we are outside of the TCA and we can plaaay.  Banking sharply left and right to get a view under the plane’s wings and swiveling her head, she said: “I see empty skies”.

Doyle echoed: “Ditto, I confirm I see no traffic. Let’s play!”

Blanca snugged the straps on her X-harness and with no cue needed, Doyle did likewise. Blanca then immediately launched into a series of aerobatics that would have made most other passengers puke.  Doyle was whooping and laughing. She burned through 7,000 feet in less than a minute, doing rolls, loops and spins. At one point, Blanca’s flight bag levitated to the ceiling, as they pulled negative gees.  Doyle snatched it and tucked it under his arm.

After climbing back up to 10,000 feet, Blanca put on a devilish grin. She launched into another series of maneuvers, even more violent. At one point, Ian’s vision narrowed from the effect of pulling three gees. Doyle never once felt tempted to take the controls, even when she intentionally put the plane into flat spin.  She deftly recovered and they both laughed. She climbed once again and put the plane through a pair of Immelman turns and then a neat four-point roll.

“Now you show me something!” and she made a show of throwing her hands up, off the stick.

Quickly drying his palms on his pant legs, he grasped the other stick. Doyle then took a couple of tentative turns, getting a feel for the aircraft.  He throttled the engine up slightly and then adjusted the trim wheel, to counteract the propeller’s torque. This took a couple of tries to get just right, since he was unfamiliar with the gradation of the wheel.

 “¡Vale!  You just showed me a very nice four point roll. Now this is an eight-pointer!  After completing the roll, he continued:  “And this is a sixteen pointer.”

After completing the second roll, he said: “Sorry, that was a little sloppy.  I’m not used to a plane where I’m fighting prop torque like this. Flying jets spoils a man.” After a beat, he shouted: “Hands on stick!”

She obliged.

He then declared: “Its your aircraft!” and dropped his hands.

She was quizzical. “What? That’s all you show me?”

As she resumed control, he explained, “Look, Blanca, I didn’t come up here to show off my fighter jock stuff.  I came to see you do your thing.”

“And what you theenk?”

“I think you’re beautiful and I think that your flying is just as beautiful. Muy Linda.”

Blanca beamed a toothy smile and deftly banked to dive toward Lake Yojoa, visible in the distance.  In the dive, their ground speed got above 160.

He truly was impressed by her flying ability.  He recognized that she was a natural for stick and rudder, as well as situational awareness. The thing that impressed him the most was her gracefulness in both right and left hand turns. Most pilots were good at only one or the other, depending on their handedness. He commented to her on this and she explained: “Mi papa, he’s the tennis guy.  Since I was a little girl, he insist that I learn everything ambidextrous—no, ambidexterous-leee, even with the holding of a fork.”

La tenadore”, Doyle reminded himself aloud, from a recent lesson.

El tenadore”, she corrected.

“Sorry, I always get my masculines and feminines mixed up.”

She turned to give him another smile: “I think you are very masculine, E-an.”

With the aerobatic maneuvering over, they both loosened their harnesses. Back in level flight and approaching the lago, Blanca again pushed the stick forward to swoop down low over the water. The plane scared up a huge flock of ducks. Marveling at the size of the flock of multicolored brown and black ducks, Ian asked:  “What are those?”

“Here, we call them Suirirí Piquirrojo. In English they are called, I theenk the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck.”

They flew well above the flock, safe from any bird strikes.  Blanca repeatedly banked the plane to get a better view and then after circling back, she pulled the throttle out, transitioning to slow flight, to orbit the enormous flock.  It looked like a veritable cloud of ducks. Ian snapped pictures with his camera.  She then advanced the throttle to its mid-range and flew away from the lake, back toward Tegucigalpa.

Ian felt ecstatic. “Wow!  That was an incredible sight, Blanca! 

Ian reached over to place his hand on Blanca’s shoulder.  He realized that it was the second time he had ever touched her. He asked: “Will you marry me?”

She punched the throttle to the firewall and the acceleration threw Ian back against his seat. She looked straight ahead and then glanced down at the instruments. At first Ian thought that he had angered her.  Then she turned and smiled. “Of course I will marry you, E-an. But I gotta land thees plane first.”


[Author's Note: Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved by James Wesley, Rawles. This material is not available for re-posting at other web sites. The novel is scheduled to be released by the Atria Books Division of Simon & Schuster in early 2011. Deo volente, my next contracted sequel novel will follow, in 2012. I'd appreciate your comments and suggestions via e-mail for improvement of this draft chapter.]

Hi Jim,
On Friday, Angus suggested downloading the different sections (Body Armor, Sanitation, etc) of SurvivalBlog for keeping on a USB drive. May I suggest that people download by the month instead of [by the topical] section. This way, when JWR has archived a months' worth of articles, you can easily update your archives on your USB by downloading the most recent month, rather than updating every different section.

I love the Blog! - Ryan in BC, Canada


When I make a backup of SurvivalBlog, I use the following command:

wget --recursive --no-clobber --page-requisites --html-extension --convert-links --restrict-file-names=windows --domains --no-parent

This will create a directory which contains everything linked on from the domain which is navigable per normal in a browser by opening the index.html file contained within.

You can get wget from

Your Mac users can then convert the directory into a compressed, mountable disk-image with the command: (Replace the YYYYMMDD with the appropriate year, month and day of the snapshot.)

hdiutil create -srcfolder -format UDZO YYYYMMDD-survivalblog.dmg

I can also convert this to a .iso if you're interested, which can be burned from most operating systems. If you have access to a Mac, the command is:

hdiutil convert YYYYMMDD-survivalblog.dmg -format UDTO -o YYYYMMDD-survivalblog.iso
gzip -9 YYYYMMDD-survivalblog.iso.cdr

Once you have the iso, you can burn it to a CD-ROM for ease of browsing if you can't mount it as a disk-image.

I only backup your site now about once every six months doing this. Please don't do so any more often, since it uses a lot of bandwidth. Regards, - Mike B.

Steve H. recommended this article: Era of paper assets may be winding down

Reader S.K.F. recommended: While the Greece Fire Spreads, a Trade War Begins

A.C.L. mentioned some frightening charts published by The Chicago Tribune: A Tsunami of Red Ink. JWR Adds: I can remember back in 1977, writing fervent letters to my congressman, urging him to help keep the National Debt under $1 Trillion. Now the debt is 20 times that! BTW, that congressman who ignored my letters was Fortney "Pete" Stark, (Democrat) of California. He is still is Washington D.C. (a 37- year incumbent!) And Stark is still spending tax dollars at a rate that would make even a drunken sailor blush. (On second thought, I shouldn't be so insulting to drunken sailors. At least they stop spending, when they run out of cash. Politicians don't. They just create more, out of thin air!)

Items from The Economatrix:

Unemployment Falls in a Majority of US Cities

Gold Investment Demand Stays Strong, Price Climbs as Markets Dive

Holy Cow! The US Treasury is Taking Donations to Pay Down the Debt

Visa Profit Jumps as Consumer Spending Rebounds

Fiscal Commission Opens to Federal Reserve Chief's Dire Warning on US Deficit

If you do web searches, you'll find that there are some very inexpensive retreat properties available, like this parcel 6o miles out of Rawlins, Wyoming. But of course remember: Land is often inexpensive for a reason, such as when the access is poor, power lines are distant, the climate is severe and water wells--if available at all--must be drilled very deep. That one in Wyoming looks like it might qualify as "all of the above", on those detractors. For some more realistic retreat-worthy parcels in more hospitable climes, see our spin-off web site:

   o o o

During the month of May only, Ready Made Resources is giving away one silver U.S. Mint one-ounce American Eagle bullion coin with each full case of Mountain House or Alpine Aire food that you order.

   o o o

Thanks to Judy T. for sending this: Deepwater Oil Spill is About to Slam New Orleans, and it Freakishly Resembles a Hurricane. I also spotted this article linked at The Drudge Report: Pelicans, otters along Louisiana shore in path of spill.

   o o o

The ultimate irony? Mexico's travel alert for Arizona. (Thanks to Peter T. for the link.)

"What is a Communist? One who hath yearnings for equal division of unequal earnings. Idler or bungler, or both, he is willing to fork out his copper and pocket a shilling." - Ebenezer Elliott

All Content on This Web Site Copyright 2005-2014 All Rights Reserved - James Wesley, Rawles -

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