July 2010 Archives

Saturday, July 31, 2010

You look at the economy, and you are alarmed. You see the direction the world appears to be headed, and your eyes glaze with near panic. You realize you must prepare for disasters and shortages, but you are overwhelmed by the scope of the project and wonder how you can ever afford to build a stockpile of necessities.
I hope I can throw out a few ideas that will help you build up that stockpile over time with a painless, cost-effective method.
I’ve always hated to shop. The grocery store was a place I raced through, snatching only what I needed and hoping to pick the fastest check-out line. I’d paw through the Sunday coupon pages and the weekly grocery store circulars, hoping for the rare free can of dog food or cup of yogurt, but that was the extent of my interest.

All that changed when my feeling of impending doom induced me to stock up, ASAP. With the possibility of hyperinflation or supply disruption staring us in the face, accumulating consumables while our money is still worth something strikes me as a sound investment. Besides, we live in an area prone to power blackouts from hurricanes. Although my electrician husband installed a transfer switch for our generator, one never can predict how long the power could be off or how long the fuel would last. I decided to buy more supplies in a gradual manner without busting the weekly budget. So I took a closer look at those shiny sheets and ads.
It’s a game, and saving money by spending it can be fun. With attention to detail, one ought to be able to accumulate extra food and household supplies for little or no extra expenditure. I’ve been filling the space under the beds and in the cabinets without spending much more than normal and without attracting attention. In six months’ time I’ve accumulated at least an extra three to six months’ worth of canned food, laundry detergent, first aid items, paper goods, and other household items. I vow not to pay full price if I can help it. Here are a few hints I’ve learned.
Name brand versus store brand: I used to believe that the store brands would usually beat the price on the name brands even considering the coupon discount. At full retail, that’s true. But I suggest you hang on to the coupons, bide your time, and lurk like a Moray Eel waiting in its cave to snap up good stuff on the cheap.

For instance: We enjoy a particular brand of salad dressing. Okay, perhaps you hard-core survivalists press your own olive oil, ferment vinegar from your home-grown apples, and add herbs from your lush garden grown from heirloom seeds. However, olives and apples don’t thrive in my warm, humid neck of the woods. Besides, we actually like the bottled stuff. Anyway, I looked for the $1.00 off two bottle coupons in my Sunday paper or on the Internet, waited for the buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) deal at the store, and bought two 16 ounce bottles for $2.79 instead of $7.58. Because the deals and coupons come out regularly, I have accumulated enough salad dressing for six months of steady use. Because I don’t have to buy more any time soon, I can now use the money I would normally spend on salad dressing for other things.

From time to time, use of coupons paired with a sale can give you a positive cash flow at the checkout. Once I actually made money buying salad dressing. Because I had two $2 coupons for a new flavor of a brand I don’t usually buy, I decided to watch for an even better deal. Before the coupons expired, a store offered a BOGO on the salad dressing, two for $3.79. With my $4 worth of coupons, I actually got paid 21 cents for trying the new flavor, which, by the way, is very good, premium stuff. Two $1 off coupons for organic tomato sauce earned me an extra 22 cents when I bought the items for 89 cents each. A Publix coupon for $5 off the purchase of two pharmaceutical items, coupled with a $1.00 manufacturer’s coupon earned me $1.22 at the checkout because the two items came to a total of $4.78. Profit made: $1.65 plus I got to keep the goods.
Which brings me to another point: Some stores let you use both their store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon on the same purchase. Make sure the store will honor both. If they do, it’s a great way to stack savings.
Watch for the “blinky” coupon machines posted around the store aisles as well as coupons in the Sunday paper and on the Internet. In a blinky I found a BOGO coupon for Curly’s barbecue. I decided to save the coupon, which had a decent expiration date, in case I spotted a special. A few weeks later, a store offered a BOGO on the same item. I used the coupon and scored over two pounds of cooked, seasoned pulled pork for free. The retail totals over $13 . The meat tasted even better for not costing anything and released funds for other items. Cha-ching!

Speaking of BOGO offers, they have allowed me to gradually stock up on can after can of chicken, tuna, beef stew, vegetables, chili, soup, butane lighters, and vitamins. Those BOGOs allied with a coupon can create outstanding deals. I’ve learned that the BOGO deals come around in cycles. Collect your coupons and wait for the opportune time to grab them.
A word here about canned meat, especially for the testosterone set: Guys, I know you think bigger is always better, but listen to a woman for a moment. In a grid-down situation, you don’t want to open that huge #10 can of beef unless you have a crowd to feed all at once. One of those cans contains more servings than a family of two or even four can consume in a whole day (unless you’re feeding teenage boys). What happens to the leftovers if you don’t have refrigeration? Try to store it in 90 degree heat until it starts to smell funny? Maggot food, anyone? Your dog will enjoy it if you don’t wait too long to give it to him, or else you’ll make him sick, too.
On the other hand, I understand big cans of freeze-dried food will keep for a few days if properly packaged. That should give you time to consume it before it grows fur you can neither spin nor weave.
Think small and consider the neat, no-fuss solution. Reasonably sized canned food does not require further cooking, hydration, or even warming, to make it edible. Some cans have a flip top so you don’t even need a can opener. A couple of five ounce cans of tuna or a 10 ounce can of chicken, a 14-½ ounce can of tomatoes and one of corn will feed two people a nutritious, reasonably palatable meal. No big deal if you can’t eat all the vegetables. They won’t give you dysentery if you eat them at the next meal. From a previous blogger I’ve also discovered B&M brown bread in cans, which is not much more expensive than fresh bread and will store nicely. That illustrates the variety of food available in cans.

Dried beans and rice are cheap, great storage items and have many uses. However, they take a lot of preparation and cooking, are deficient in many nutrients, and get mighty boring mighty quick. On the other hand, if you could somehow harness your natural gas production they would make a fine energy source.

Other perks: See what premiums are available in your local stores. I can’t tell you anything about Kroger or Safeway because they don’t exist where I live. The Winn-Dixie stores in our region offer discounts for gasoline purchases. As you buy food and other goods the credit accumulates on your store card. Certain items earn you extra points. You have to use the discount in for up to 20 gallons by the end of the calendar month. My last gasoline fill-up was discounted 30 cents per gallon, though I didn’t spend more than $200 at Winn-Dixie that month. The Shell station charges a few cents more than the cheapest gasoline in the area, so I still saved about $5.70 over what I would have paid at the BJ’s supermarket. That $5.70 could have translated into a few cans of beef stew or a half dozen cans of tomatoes, with the BOGOs offered.

Some stores generate coupons at checkout for future use. I’ve taken advantage of those at Winn-Dixie, Walgreens and CVS. The ones from Walgreens and CVS are like cash that can be spent on the next purchase. Combined with specials and store coupon items, let’s make a deal! Winn-Dixie’s printouts are specific and conditional. I was very happy one day to receive two $2 coupons good at WD for any Oscar Mayer product. O-M lunch meat happened to be on sale at two for $5 the next week. It was then possible to buy one and a half to two pounds of pre-cooked meat for a mere buck. Not a storage item, but good for our immediate needs.
Some manufacturers offer rebates on items. For instance, Sorrento made an offer of a $5 rebate on two packages of cheese sticks. I found a couple of coupons for the same product, bought the handy and tasty cheese, and sent in for the rebate. I got my check for $5, which equaled what I had paid for the cheese after using the coupons. I did the same thing for a package of Perdue chicken and a bunch of Activa yogurt.
Sniffing out the deals: I start with the store flyers that come out weekly, and study them for bargains on items I normally use or storable items I expect to use in the future. Every Sunday, except holiday weekends, is like Christmas with all the shiny sheets full of coupons. I clip the ones I think I’m likely to use and save the other sheets in case I’ve overlooked something or an unusual deal comes up. The clipped coupons go into file folders according to the classification. For instance, one of the folders is labeled “meat,” another “dairy,” another “household goods” and so on. The folders go into a holster-style file folder so I can take the whole thing with me to the store. That way, if I spot a deal I didn’t anticipate, I can pull out the right coupon to capitalize on the spot.

It might pay to buy an extra newspaper if the coupons are really good that week. Having two $1.00 coupons for a BOGO is great fun. The Internet is also a good source. CouponMom.com has links to printable coupons. Other online sites are available, too. Sometimes by going to a manufacturer’s web site you can score a coupon or two. I’ve already mentioned the blinky machines in the stores, and in-store specials sometimes aren’t advertised in the flyers. It takes me several hours a week to match coupons and store specials, make my plan, then do my shopping, maintaining predatory alertness. When I get the checkout ticket and see I’ve saved half the bill, I just got paid for my time.

After all, time is money. You can make your own soap, but soap isn’t expensive. Between coupons, sales and rebate systems, I’ve found laundry detergent to be so cheap it wouldn’t pay to make it from scratch. It’s good to know how to make soap, but having a sizeable stash of it is easier in the short run.
Other people are also alert for good deals, so stores will often run out of sale items. Depending on store policy, you can either substitute a similar item, or get a “rain check” ticket that will honor the sale price after the deal has expired. If the item is advertised as “while supplies last” or like wording, you’d better not wait to long to score the deal or you’ll be out of luck.

Drawbacks: If you live in a rural area without much chain store competition, you may have trouble finding the best deals. If your local weekly rag doesn’t provide coupons, a Sunday subscription to a metropolitan paper will bring those shiny sheets to your doorstep. I’m blessed with a Wal-Mart, two Publix stores, a BJ’s, a Big Lots, a Dollar General, a Family Dollar, a Winn-Dixie, a CVS and a Walgreens within a two-mile radius, so I can take my cooler for refrigerated items and make a sweep. Drive time and gasoline aren’t the issue for me they would be for folks who live in a less congested area. On the other hand, the stores in my region don’t seem to offer double value for coupons, though I understand some run such specials in other parts of the U. S.

Common sense applies here, remember. If your family hates lima beans, don’t swoon for the great BOGO with a coupon on huge cans of lima beans unless you intend to donate them to the food bank. Or give them to your mooch of a brother-in-law for his birthday. If you think air fresheners stink, skip the super deal unless it makes you money equal to or greater than the purchase price, then give the goods to somebody who wants them.
A word about expiration dates: Most stores won’t accept an out-of-date coupon, so be sure to watch those dates. Use them or lose them, but don’t fret if you can’t get a good enough deal in time. Another will likely pop up by and by. As for the food itself, most packages and cans have a “sell-by” date stamped on them. If stored properly, they should still be good beyond that date, but make it a point to rotate your storage food. That’s another good reason to stock up on foods you and your family would enjoy, crisis or not.

I decided to keep about a three month supply of bagged dog food as well in a cool, dry environment. So if the SHTF, my first tier intruder alarm system will be okay for a while.
My husband is bemused and a skeptical, though he was happy to buy me the 20 gauge shotgun I requested and we enjoyed a fun date at the shooting range. I keep telling him one of these days he’ll be glad we have full cabinets and boxes of cans under our beds. Really and truly, I pray we will be able to consume our stash at our leisure, not as a matter of life and death.

I must first thank you, Mr. Rawles, for your advice. I truly believe it will one day save my life. Also, the amount of knowledge I have gained from all of the contributors to SurvivalBlog is astounding!

My profession is in the animal industry, so I am familiar with antibiotics and other meds. At work, it is many times frustrating to pull out dosage instructions from a bottle of medicine, only to find that they're all written for humans. Especially the antibiotics! I order only from veterinary pharmacies, but these drugs are manufactured and labeled for human consumption. Now I laugh when I go to the local Rite-Aid. I recognize many of the bottles on their shelf.

In addition to fish antibiotics, I strongly suggest making use of livestock supply companies. I love my local Tractor Supply, but I could never afford to purchase meds from them. I would like to share links to two reputable companies that offer prices much lower than those at the local agricultural supply store:

1.) Jeffer's Livestock Supply is #1 on the list. They have great customer service, super low prices, and fast shipping. This is a great resource for antibiotics- Sulfas, Penicillin, Oxytetracycline, etc. They also carry medical supplies like suture packs, sterile gauze, Telfa wound pads, elastic bandages, needles, and syringes. If you're really worried about sterility, read the descriptions- they won't state that it's sterile unless it is... Also, I use these things on a daily basis, and have cross-referenced the companies. The syringes, for example, are produced, packaged, and sold for use on humans. There aren't many companies that make medical supplies for animal use only, so when you purchase them, they are typically large quantities of human products.

2.) KV Vet Supply carries the same products also at great prices.
Depending on what part of the country you're in, you may find shipping to be significantly faster or cheaper with one of these companies.

I will also include here a list of medical supplies that I have used extensively and feel that I wouldn't want to be without, especially in a world without local doctors and nurses.

- Chlorhexidine solution- bactericidal, fungicidal, virucidal. I hardly ever use iodine for wounds. I reach for this product almost every time. Chlorhexidine is even found in human mouthwash, so you may be using it already without knowing it!

- Tissuemend is an absorbable glue for closing skin lacerations. It works better than super glue on skin. It is pricey, but trust me, a little goes a long way.

- SSD - I saw on the blog today that someone else recommended it, and I couldn't agree more... It is hydrophilic, breathable, gentle, and very effective. * order it from the livestock supply- a one pound tub could last you for a very long time, and it's around $32.

- Vetrap - a person could go broke buying bandages, but not with Vetrap. You don't need scissors to tear it, it stays put, and works great to wrap sprains as well as to hold a nonstick pad in place on a wound.

- Cast padding - this is cheap, soft, and makes a good first layer in your bandage. It helps to stretch the more expensive adhesive bandaging materials. If you pull too tightly on it, it will simply pull apart, which helps to keep from wrapping too tightly. The cushion factor keeps other wraps (like Vetrap) from forming a wrinkle that could rub your skin raw.

- Probios Powder - I am so thankful that people are accessing antibiotics, but please don't forget the probiotics! Some antibiotics can really do a number on your gut! They kill all the good bacteria right along with the bad, so you need to build back your numbers during and after treatment. Who wants to take the midnight patrol with a bloated, crampy gut and diarrhea? The great thing about Probios is that the bacteria is "colonizing", unlike the probiotics in yogurt, which get passed through the digestive system. It is available in a powder as well as gel. Get the powder! The gel must be refrigerated.

- Diamond V Yeast Culture - It goes hand in hand with Probios. The yeast acts as a "prebiotic", and nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your gut, helping the colonies form faster. It is sold as "Epicor" to humans, but us farmy-types buy it in 50# bags at the feed store. Please take a few minutes to read up on this product- it really does live up to the hype for people as well as animals. I have taken it for almost two years, and have been shocked at the reduction in bronchitis and sore throats I've had.

- Ichthammol - I don't want to ever be without good old drawing salve. Skin abscesses are usually best left alone. Opening them allows bacteria to enter and compound your problems. Ichthammol, applied topically and covered with a Band-Aid will do wonders in a few short days. It also works great for insect bites, swelling, and splinters that won't come out.

- AluShield Spray - This is a powder-based spray that acts as a bandage. If you want to save your gauze and Vetrap for more serious injuries, AluSpray can cover a wound and seal out dirt while letting your wound breathe. A can is around $10 and will give over two hundred treatments. I love this stuff! Thank you again, - S.S.

Mr. Rawles,
The AllDayChemist.com site was mentioned on a recent post on SurvivalBlog. I wanted to express to you and your readers that this site is, in my opinion, one of the best places to order medications from. They do have a minimum $25 shipping charge though. My wife has very bad asthma. Through our insurance at our pharmacy, one albuterol inhaler costs us over $30 each! I heard about all day chemist about 6 months ago. I bought 8 (yes, eight) equivalent inhalers from them for $3.50 each (just a bit more that 10% of what we pay with insurance at our pharmacy). Even with the shipping it was under $50 delivered to our door (for all 8 inhalers) from India. This site is an excellent one for stockpiling much needed life-saving medications. I should note that I have no allegiance to them other than being a very satisfied customer

Thank you for a great blog, - L.R. in Wisconsin

A State of Oregon public health web site may help your readers regarding the types and amounts of antibiotics necessary for some common medical conditions. They are easily printable (pdf form) and provide a treatment algorithm/decision making tree that is quite helpful. - Regards, - J.P.

In addition to stores of long-term food in #10 cans (Mountain House and cans from the LDS cannery), I keep about a six month supply of "grocery store" canned and boxed food and a multiple-year supply of
OTC medicines. A lot of this stuff goes unused because I'm pretty bad at rotating and while they are items we like, we just don't eat them that often.

Every year around the holidays I box up a ton of stuff and donate it to the food bank. The tax deduction I take is the "fair market value" (i.e., current grocery store price) of the goods donated. Inasmuch as
I typically pay less than half of retail by using coupons and catching sales - and every year have thousands of dollars in consulting income that I pay 40% tax on, this results in my short-to-medium-term food
supply being close to free.

I've never been audited and in any case there is nothing wrong with this, but 'tis best to itemize the list of goods donated, take pictures and get a receipt from the food bank.

This approach provides charity, tax savings and food storage all at the same time! - Matt R.

I have several friends in China under different guises, work or school visas for instance, but their main purpose is evangelism. When we e-mail them we have to be very careful about what we say because the Chinese government reads incoming e-mails. For instance "I'm praying for you" would be written as "I talked to Dad about you". Just so we aren't thinking all our e-mails are secure. - Richard C.

Mr. Rawles,
I would like to say the article “How to Bypass Blocked Web Sites, by Tamara W.” was technically correct, and I will not question the legality of the methods used. One word of caution: trying to use any of the mentioned techniques will get you fired if you use them at work to bypass security measures in place. As a consultant for several mid-size companies, it is my job to provide the evidence to the corporate attorneys for use during dismissal.

I still love the site and read it every day!

Best Regards, - Scott P.

JWR Replies: I trust that SurvivalBlog readers will use the information in that article (and all of the others posted here) responsibly. Fighting tyranny and maintaining personal privacy are admirable, but stealing time from your employer is not!

Reader Mike P. forwarded a link to this BBC News article: Greek police clash with hauliers amid crippling strike. Mike's comment: "The truckers' strike is in its fourth day, gas stations are empty, and the government is implementing emergency measures originally intended for wartime or natural disasters. Does any of this sound familiar?" Reader Tom G. sent a link to a fascinating companion article: Greece Haulier Strike - Your Experiences.

   o o o

Some charming news, courtesy of reader R.F.J.: Rats Overrun Manhattan Park

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Also from R.F.J. comes a link to an Instructables article: How to build a log cabin with dovetail notches.

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K.A.F. flagged this: 100 Million Facebook Users Learn True Meaning of Going Public. I told you so! Also from K.A.F.: White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity. Let's face it, folks: There is no expectation of privacy for anything you do on the Internet. None. Zilch. Nada. Henceforth, try to envision your Internet forum posts and e-mails being printed in 10 foot tall letters on a billboard sign in Times Square.

"A pistol defends your property and your person from unanticipated and barely anticipated threats from thieves and robbers. With it, you can control your immediate environment. A rifle defends your freedom from oppressors and tyrants. With it, you can enforce your will." - Gabe Suarez

Friday, July 30, 2010

Today we present two entries for Round 29 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

The first article might seem off-topic for SurvivalBlog, but it isn't, especially when you consider that both the Internet and political world are dynamic.We cannot predict how political situations might change. Consider this part of your preparedness.

The prizes for this round of the writing contest 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends tomorrow (July 31st), so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 30. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Web sites can be blocked for many reasons. Employers block web sites to protect productivity. Parents block web sites with violence, pornography and illegal activities to protect to their children. Internet Service providers block web sites with child pornography because of the law. Some nations block certain web sites with opinions that dissent from those of the predominant political powers. Unfortunately, whether it is through the proposed “Internet kill switch” that the federal government has proposed or a deployment of government Internet censorship as China and Iran already employ, there is a possibility that those in the “free” world will find the government censoring web sites.

These blocks can be bypassed through changes in web site references, connections to anonymous proxy servers, Google redirects and changes in web site connection. All of the methods described here require either no technical skills to very little skill. The last section gives advice and resources for those who have servers and would be interested in creating the work around web sites and servers that others would value should a web of silence fall.
Accessing the Blocked Site Through Address Work-Arounds
Step 1
Enter the IP address of the blocked web site into the browser’s address bar. This may allow the web site to open via the IP address without triggering the block that is tied to the web site URL or web page name. For example, an IP address could be accessed using the address format:

Ping the web site name by going to the command line prompt. Then enter the command:

ping sitename.com

The response by the ping command will include the IP address of the web site.
Users can also use an IP address lookup based on the web site name. An example site for this is:

Step 2
In the URL of the web site, change the HTTP to an HTTPS without changing the remaining web site name. For example, http://example.com would be entered as https://example.com. The browser will then treat the web site as a secure site, in some cases bypassing the web site block.

Step 3
Bypassing the block of secondary web sites when the main web site was accessed via HTTPS or IP address may be necessary when the secondary web site is blocked because of key words in the web site. For example, a news web site is accessible but linked pages are blocked due to controversial material, references to politically incorrect views, or subject matter meta-tags. Bypass this block by selecting the “e-mail this story” option offered by some web sites. Send the story as text or html to an e-mail account. Then access your e-mail to read the material.

Step 4
Nations and ISPs that block forbidden web sites do not apply the same filters to e-mail. One work around is to have an associate with access to these sites to e-mail desired web site articles to you. This can be done by copying and pasting material into an e-mail. It can also be done by saving the web site page as a PDF, Microsoft Word document, or filtered HTML document and then e-mailing the web site as an attachment.  
One could imagine services by those in “free” areas creating e-mail mailing lists, e-mailing news articles and information to those who do not have access to blocked sites that could include FoxNews.com, SurvivalBlog.com or other politically incorrect web sites.

Connect to an Unblocked System

Step 1
Access an anonymous proxy server. These are often called anonymous web proxies. If you do not know of one, search for the key words “anonymous proxy server” for many such web sites. Then access the anonymous proxy server. From the anonymous proxy service, a search window will appear. Enter the key words or web site name in the search window of the anonymous proxy server. The anonymous proxy server will then serve up the web site in a lower portion of the browser session, bypassing the block. Examples of anonymous proxy web sites include youhide.com, kProxy.com, proxify.com, bypassthat.com, and anonymouse.org.
As a warning, avoid any anonymous proxy server web site that requires payment for use. If the intent is to remain anonymous while surfing blocked sites, payment information creates a record that is traced back to you. And unlike web site viewing history that can be deleted off a computer by a system administrator, payment records are both impossible for the user to eliminate themselves and the most likely to be kept by the system administrator. Payment records are also at high risk of review by others, such as accountants and tax officials. So it is safest to never use an anonymous proxy server web site that requires payment for usage – because that defeats the user’s desire to be anonymous.
Users should also avoid any anonymous proxy server web site that requires installation of any additional software. Even if the software is not malicious, it could provide a trail from software source to your computer that is available to network administrators. 

Step 2
Access another server via a VPN secure location. This secure access connection bypasses the blocking instituted by some firewalls. Users can then surf the web, only limited by the web site controls that the connected computer has installed.  This does require the ability to set up a VPN connection as well as knowledge and permission to access a server that is not bound by the same access restrictions.

Step 3
View the Internet through a cell phone. Many web site blocks managed on a national level are done through ISPs and telecommunication company routers. Using cell phone networks can sometimes bypass these blocks. If used in conjunction with disposable phones with Internet access, it also provides more privacy.
This is an expensive option, since Internet access will be charged to the cell phone bill at data plan rates. The cost can be reduced by requesting web sites be viewed in text instead of HTML format. However, this option can bypass the web site filters in some nations that are based on the computer network.

Step 4
Go satellite Internet. Just as satellite television bypasses the local television programming by allowing viewers to select from a wider array of television shows, satellite Internet connections can bypass the Internet restrictions based on the local network. Hughes Satellite Internet is the largest but not the only provider in this area. This option is more expensive than surfing through a cell phone. It is also easier to be tracked down to the specific user, since a satellite dish is allowed. However, the proliferation of satellite dishes for television can provide cover in this regard.

A future form of speakeasy would be a sports bar with Internet satellite connections providing web sites that are not available on the consumer’s home computer. Or Internet cafes could simply have private rooms that provide broader access than those in the main area would have. The constant flow of customers also provides anonymity. If the computer does have software to track usage and sites visited, the turnover of users makes it harder to determine which individuals were viewing which web sites. Visiting different Internet cafes or sports bars with the unrestricted Internet access also provides more opportunity to not have one’s own computer searched and then seized due to illegal viewing of politically incorrect material.

Let the Block Think It is a Harmless Page – Bypassing the Block

Step 1
Go to Google or another  browser. Search for the web site name in the search bar. Instead of clicking on the web site link, select the “cached” option below the web site description. This will be seen by the browser as viewing a web page from Google or the search engine, not the blocked site.

Step 2
Open up Google. Enter the URL in the format below, but with the blocked web site's URL in place of www.showme.com: http://www.google.com/translate?langpair=en|en&u=www.showme.com
Translations through Google are read by web site filters as coming from Google, thus the web site is visible even though the original content is brought up through this command.

Step 3
Search for the blocked topic in a search engine. If the web site summary is visible but the web site is blocked, copy the web site URL. Then e-mail it to yourself for viewing on a less restricted system. For example, if a web site appears interesting but the computer on which you are working may be monitored, simply copy the URL and e-mail it to yourself to view on an unmonitored system later.
If the computer has software used to prevent illicit digital copying of material (as is used by some companies today to prevent users copying company data and pasting it in e-mails to send to others), a simple work around is to paste the URL into a text document like Microsoft notepad. Then perform several other transactions. At a later point in the session, after the copy and paste buffer has something else stored within it, cut the link in the text editor. Then paste the link in to an e-mail to send to yourself or others. 

For Those With Advanced Computer Skills

Option 1: S
et up a personal server. Then install an anonymizing web http proxy like PHProxy. In many cases, this creates a searchable web site. The safest location to get this software is through sourceforge.net, an open source software consortium.

Option 2:
Alan Huang, the founder of UltraReach Internet and the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, does distribute his simple software through e-mail to allow anyone to bypass web surveillance. Contact his organization to install his software, currently used by many in Iran and China to get the rest of the story their own nations do not want them to see. Do NOT install software claiming to be his application from any other site; there is a high risk that software from any other source is likely malicious software.

Note: All techniques listed in this article are presently legal per the laws of the United States. Bypassing blocked sites using these methods may be illegal in the nation in which you reside.

For further reading on these topics or more advanced reading, refer to the books in the following list.


Introductory biographical note: The author is 64 years old, father of nine children, BSAE Aeronautical Engineering, Ex-Army Infantry Training Officer (1970-1974), former Gym Trainer (1996-1997), Firefighter and EMT training and certification (2009-2010), Real Estate Broker/Owner

Phase I
I began realizing my vulnerability in 1998-1999, when Y2K-induced turmoil was a potential real possibility. I began, in all haste to find and prepare for the possible disaster that might come when the clock struck 12:00 midnight and 2000 would ring in. My first step was to find enough land that would be secure enough for my family and to design a place we could live and that would handle any disaster, whether it was of nature, man-made or God directed. My requirements were simple. It needed to have relatively high elevation (1,500ft+ above sea level), close enough to a populated city , but rural enough to not easily be found, basically within a 1 hour drive. Secluded, but not to isolated, and not to far removed from all civilization, but yet be sparsely populated and hard to find. It had to have access to running water and have soil to grow crops. 
I found a piece of property that was nearly 50 acres on the top of a ridge line, that was part of a 1,000 acre tract, with only 15 other property owners, with tracts ranging from 15 acres to 200 acres. The 1,000 acres was gated with one main, electrically operated secured gate leading in and a permanently locked gate leading out for emergencies only. The community had two 400 ft wells, with creeks running through the 1,000 acres and touching my tract. One of the wells was at the bottom of my property and had a 5 h.p. pump. The well was on a timer and delivered water to multiple tanks at different locations on the three highest elevations. Gravity feed then brought the water to the 15 property owners. I purchased an 8kw mobile generator, for standby power, to run the pump, if we were to loose electricity for any long period of time. The owner of the 200 acre tract reserved his for hunting and kept it seeded, to attract deer, rabbit, bear & turkey. The developer of the 1,000 acres paved the main road coming up to about 1,500 feet and then graveled from there to all the tracts ranging from 500 ft to 2,500 ft. My parcel sits at about 2,200 ft. ASL. All of the tracts are heavily wooded with hardwoods as well as evergreens.

My next step was to design and start construction of an impregnable home (fortress) that would withstand any disaster within the constraints of my budget. My plan was to dig into the mountain such that only one side would be open and dirt would surround the other three sides up to 12’. Because time was a factor, I knew I could only get the basement part completed before the New Year would ring in. This meant my roof would be the floor of the home that I would need to finish someday in the future, if the world was still around after Y2K.

I sent my floor plans to the engineering department of a nearby university and asked for help.
The dimensions I gave them were to be 37’X 52’ split lengthwise by a 12’ separation wall 12” thick of poured reinforced concrete surrounded by 12’ walls of the same. To handle the load of a semi-truck driving over my roof, they told me I needed  8” of poured concrete, reinforced with rebar, 10” on center and 6 by 6 [heavy] wire mesh. I added an 8’ wide X 5’ high fireplace on the open side of the basement with large racks for grilling my kill. The basement floor was 4” poured concrete that I ran one inch polyurethane tubing 4’ apart throughout the basement floor, which ran into a plenum in the base of the fireplace and back to a recirculating pump and holding tank. In addition, valving was added to reroute the heated water into the hot water system of the house. A small, electric hot water heater was added to the system capable of running from standard 120 VAC as second water heater capable running at 12VDC from solar panels via deep cycle storage batteries I purchased (4) 2’X 6‘ solar panels with frame, and a windmill.
Prior to having the roof poured I dropped in a 500 gal urethane water tank built into a frame that raised the tank from 6’ to the roof. This would allow me for gravity feed system in the basement.. I constructed two fiberglass shower stalls for two bathrooms, a work/mechanical room, two bedrooms and a kitchen on one side of the divided wall. Two metal framed doors secured this area from the large living room that is between the divided wall and the outside open wall. There are two metal doors exiting the basement. One is through a stairwell to the roof (future floor of the main house) and the other through the open side.
I also decided to add one additional piece for security, as well as escape. At the back of the basement going into the mountain I put in a 30’ X 10’ cleaned out metal fuel tank (25,000 gal to be exact). This is what I called my Survival Tank. I found the tank at a scrap metal yard out in the boonies and had a local welder cut one end out and put in a double hinged door secured by 1” X 1” sliding bars that were lockable with the largest master locks I could find. On the top of one end of the tank I had him cut out a 3’ X 3’ square and ran 4 walls, 6’ up with a latchable top, secured from the inside, as well as a metal ladder to go from the floor to the top of the latch. I then had a floor frame put in that was 30” from the bottom of the tank and added 2’ x 6” wood removable flooring. This is where I store all of the 5 gal urethane storage buckets.  From the 2”x 6” floor I built metal shelving with 2”x 6” wood shelves to the roof of the tank. That left me with about an 8’ walkway front to rear down the center of the tank. The hard part was getting the tank up the last 500’ vertical 30 degree incline to the homesite. For this I had to find the largest wrecker in the state. We had to winch the tank up the 500’ and then drop it in the ground before we poured the 12” back wall around it, leaving the welded doors as the entry from the basement to the tank. The tank was now about 4’ underground, with the escape hatch protruding above the surface. A few years later, after Y2K became a no- event, I enlarged my floor plan above the basement and added an additional 1,000sq ft and poured concrete over the entire area where the tank was buried. With all this, an oversized septic system and drain field needed to be designed. I have since changed the design of the house to have a castle look that is an additional 26’ above the basement, using split face block that is reinforced with rebar and filled with concrete. Other things that have been done are the purchase and installation of an inverter system, solar array and windmill. I have a 600 gal gas tank and 1,000 gal propane tank. I have an extra 5kva generator which has been converted to be a dual-fuel system, i.e. gas/propane. After nine years I have the walls up from the basement roof and hope to have a metal/concrete roof put on before 2012, for what I hope is also a non-event.

Phase II
This is really a continuation of Phase I, but it is the process of preparing the list of lists and then accumulating the items necessary to insure a plan A, B & C and in some areas a plan D.

  1. CACHES- I keep most of my equipment& supplies that I cannot easily replace or want to safeguard the most, in the Survival Tank. But I have also build special caches for firearms and ammo that I can bury in different locations, if for any reason any of my residences become compromised. I did this by taking 8” X 5’ sections of PVC pipe and capping each end. They are waterproof, can hold two rifles, hand guns and ammo each and can easily be buried and retrieved.
  2. EMERGENCY LIGHTING- Purchased wall-mounted LED kits that can easily be mounted above telephone jacks, thus utilizing the 2nd pair of phone wires on a 12VDC circuit wired to a single automobile battery with a small solar panel for emergency lighting.
  3. EXERCISE/MILLING/12VDC GENERATOR- I purchased a Country Living Mill and then found an exercise bike. I also mounted both the mill and a 12VDC automobile generator, pre-1975, to a board with a 12 VDC battery. I can generate 12 VDC power for my emergency lighting  or charge up the car battery or grind wheat into flour, while getting in our daily exercise.
  4. TRANSPORTATION- Purchased a customized  ’71 & ’74 4WD Chevy Blazers on the internet. The ’71 was customized for brush firefighting and the ’74 was customized as a dual fuel
  5. GARDENING- I have just applied for a subsidy grant, and received it, from a program launched in December 2009 by the Department of Agriculture, whereby I will be reimbursed up to $3,300 for materials to construct up to 2,175 sf of high tunnels for growing crops. A high tunnel or hoop house are miniature greenhouses without all the fancy bells and whistles The grants are being awarded to 38 states for the purpose of extending the growing seasons of food crops and most families can qualify if they have a small tract of land to put them on. Last month I had a bob-cat grade out about a half acre and will start planting in the fall for a early spring harvest.
  6. FOOD- Thousands of  rations of  MREs. Freeze-dried , dehydrated and raw wheat, rice, sugar, honey etc.


Mistakes I have made:


  1. I put 2-8’x10’ sectioned windows on the open side of the basement. Twice I have had ATV renegades break in, through the windows, even through the metal-doored tank, cutting the locks and thereby taking my guns and ammo and trying to hot wire my dirt bike.  I have since then boarded up the windows and put larger Master locks on the doors. I have found that there is almost nowhere safe from a dirt bike or ATV. A security system is my next step. Booby traps are illegal in most jurisdictions.
  2. Metal tanks, underground, will sweat, making large pools of water in the bottom of the tank. It is difficult to control the temperature, but since I installed dehumidifiers, everything stays dry and cool. Dampness accelerates the deterioration of metal cans making them rust from both inside and outside the can.  Mold or mildew starts to take over everything from bedding, to books to any type of paper products and boxes will fall apart over time Dampness also invites rodents you do not want, as well as insects, so use plenty of rat bait and seal up all possible points of entry. I also fog the place every time I leave.
  3. If you are going to build an oversize fireplace make sure you find someone who knows how to calculate the ratio of the flu and damper.
  4. When building a basement underground, be sure you study up on removing water from the walls created by hydrostatic pressure and have a good wall and below floor drainage system.


  1. Rotation of Food- MREs do last more than 10 years [at temperatures under 60 degrees], with a few exceptions such as high oil content foods which begin to deteriorate. Fruits break down and start to ferment or just go bad.


  1. I'm not yet sure how to handle long term supply of female monthly needs or what to substitute when supplies run out. [JWR Adds: I've had several readers enthusiastically recommend washable fabric sanitary pads. Patterns for making your own are available on-line. Or if you'd rather have someone else do the repetitive sewing work, then I recommend a small, family-owned business called Naturally Cozy. From all reports, their pads are very comfortable and made to last.]

Don’t run out of money, because your eyes are bigger than your wallet or borrowing power is.

My Belief System

For those who believe, have repented and have chosen to follow in his teachings, he has promised eternal life. Although all things are in God’s hand, and it has been ordained as to the end and how and when it will happen, as Christians, we have a responsibility to God, our families, our church and our fellow man to be prepared both spiritually and materially. We may choose that “God will provide”, “ What is meant to be, will be” or “God helps those who help themselves” attitude. Through out the Bible, God gave direction, through his word, directly and indirectly to be prepared at all times.

Most agree on at least the distinction that we live in an unprecedented time in History. Before us, cities, kingdoms and nations have been destroyed by God or God has removed his hand and blessings and they have been destroyed or have destroyed themselves. God has, through his mercy, given guidance and direction for us to be prepared for his second coming. He has warned us of upcoming famine, destruction and the wrath that will be unleashed upon the earth before Jesus Christ returns. [We've also been warned of] the possibility, if not the absolute certainty, of some form of collapse in our system, as we know it. This may come in a variety of forms - flu pandemic, economic depression, or an EMP attack, all of which are likely scenarios. Regardless of the form, the result will be very similar and our concerns are as well: How do we protect ourselves and our families and provide a living? While stocking up on beans, bullets, and band-aids is the initial response, further preparation encourages us to find a defensible, as well as productive retreat. But then what? So you have your retreat (or not), you’ve stocked up on seeds and a food mill, and “the event” actually comes. Are you prepared to provide for yourself when the food runs out or if society never returns to “normal”?

Although it may be difficult to learn and find the time for, the ability to provide for yourself provides incredible rewards. If we should need to return to a less technologically “advanced” society, many people will not have the knowledge, skills, and determination to do so. A few forward-thinkers will. Which do you want to be?

Having suture equipment even if you don't have the skills to use it is useful since you can hopefully find a veterinarian, doctor, nurse, PA, or Dentist qualified to use them. Having your own sterile medical equipment for the medical professionals you find is still a common bit of advice for people planning to visit third world countries.

If there is an injury requiring suture and you are not qualified especially in the highly enervated regions where suture can cause serious nerve damage and local paralysis of the body such as the hands and face there is a better way to use steri-strips and butterfly bandages.

Super-Glue related adhesives made of newer 2-octyl-cyanoacrylate instead of the skin irritant traditional Super-glue or cyanoacrylate (that have been in use in surgery and wound management since the 1970s). Qualified health care providers can provide treatment using surgical adhesives like Dermabond as a substitute for suture in many cases. I understand that the FDA in the United States may now allow these safe adhesives to be sold under several names over the counter, if not then Vetabond is a safe alternative.

Any cyanoacrylate related adhesive is reasonably safe to be used topically on the outer surface of the skin to help anchor your butterfly bandages in cases where suture or direct bonding of a wound is impossible because of training or supply issues.

-Use sterile technique at all times, if possible use autoclaved or pressure cooker steamed surgical tools instead of gloved hands just as with sutures
-Observe standard precautions when dealing with blood borne pathogens including eye protection for the care provider
-Clean the wound with antiseptic and remove any foreign debris, iodine based antiseptics are preferred, excellent lighting and visibility is required
-Use alcohol and sterile swabs to remove skin oils from the area to improve bandage adhesion
-consider irrigating or injected epinephrine or epi-lidocaine mix to reduce blood flow and anesthetize the area if you are trained in their safe use
-Close the wound
-Once the edges are aligned apply butterfly bandages
-Glue around the edges of the sticky pads of the butterfly bandage, do not allow adhesive into the wound
-If there is no allergy lightly apply triple antibiotic ointment over wound
-Apply sterile gauze over site
-Assess perfusion and neurologicals below the site
-Change dressing regularly, every few hours at first
-Reassess for infection, perfusion, and neuros after every bandage change
-If there is a question or problem a qualified medical provide should be sought immediately

If there is sign of infection you might need to open, drain, and irrigate the wound. You should seek qualified assistance and antibiotics at this point.

In some cases athletic tape stuck to a larger area of surrounding skin over your gauze dressing may be required to keep the edges of the wound held together. Regular dressing changes are still required.

You must never use circumferential taping (tape which is connected around the circumference of a limb) for any reason as it can act as a tourniquet cutting off blood supply and potentially damaging the limb to the point of requiring amputation especially if there is swelling or bad circulation.

If you have run out of sterile gauze clean white T-shirt material which has been steamed in a pressure cooker works well, only use when dry.

In a world without access to antibiotics an infected wound is one of the leading causes of untimely death so use sterile technique, equipment and supplies. Treat early and aggressively to prevent amputation or mortality.

Shalom, - David in Israel

Kevin S. forwarded a link to a piece on building with compressed earth bricks (CEBs) (Also called compressed earth blocks.)

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Reader Joshua H. sent this: Tight budgets and fewer cops; time for citizens to 'arm up'

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Ready Made Resources now has just one or two full mil-spec AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ weapons sight monoculars remaining on hand, in their special sale. These are autogated and complete with military issue monocular head mounts, manuals, sacrificial lenses, mil-spec soft nylon carry cases, et cetera. The price is just $2,995, which is less than most dealers charge for a standard Gen 3 scope. (As I mentioned before, these are the much more sought-after Gen 3+ variety.) Once they've sold out, that will be the end of the special sale price, so don't miss out!

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Courtesy of KAF: Gel that can help decayed teeth grow back could end fillings and pain

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T.M. mentioned the other big oil spill: Michigan oil slick spans 20 miles; 19,500 barrels

"Whoever looks upon them merely as an irregular mob will find himself much mistaken. They have men among them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as rangers against the Indians and Acadians; and this country being much covered with wood and hilly is very advantageous for their method of fighting." - Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, from a letter written April 20, 1775

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 30. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have been reading SurvivalBlog for a few years now, and have noticed that many folks think outside the box on a variety of issues, but when it comes to building or modifying a structure for a retreat – or even a full-time place – they lapse into conventional thinking.  So many times I have come across the words “house”, “cabin”, “home” or even “residence”.   I guess the idea is that we have to “reside” somewhere, and the rest of the world may as well know where that is.  Allow me a chance to share some of my thinking on this issue, and you may decide to avoid anything “residential”.

With just my wife and myself to plan for, we have decided that for the next decade at least, we’d like to keep as low a profile as possible.  We are also building new, but if modifying an older structure, we would use the same techniques.  Our first goal, already met, was to purchase the land for cash.  This was not as big an expense as it sounds, as very rural undeveloped land can often be found quite cheaply.  

We bought this land in a state that allows purchase by land trust.  This is important for some of you to think about, especially if you have any problems from the past that may resurface.  We did not name it the “The XYZ Family Trust” as many attorneys just automatically do; we used a name of a fictional agricultural facility.  Anyone looking for property that we own will not find us there.  No GPS coordinates will mark our property, and no bureaucratic thugs will be smashing down our doors at 3 a.m.  Even traditional incorporation or LLC would not provide this degree of anonymity.  And buying for cash leaves no mortgage trail.

I say this quite sincerely: I would rather live in a 5th wheel or a tow-behind trailer, on a piece of land that I own outright, than in a fine “house” with a mortgage on it.  Many are still employed right now, but what if they lose the job?  What if the dollar becomes worthless?  What if there is a bank holiday, and funds are not available?  How will they make the payments?  We all need to think this through very carefully.  We maintain that not having to make “payments” for the roof over our heads is of the highest priority.

We also needed to keep building costs very low.  In most parts of the country, building a “home” means dealing with all sorts of bothersome building codes.  Granted that many of them are for safety, but stop and think about this: banks make more interest on loans if the building costs more to put up; insurance companies get larger premiums if the value of the building is higher; and tax collectors pull in more revenue on expensive structures.  Think about all those greedy hands held out, grasping at your hard-earned cash!  We did, and decided that there had to be a better way!

We settled on the idea of building a “barn” and an “agricultural building”.  Neither one of these will officially be a “residence”.  This allows us to by-pass all sorts of nonsense.  As a team, my wife and I know how to build stick-frame, as well as post-and-beam.  If we could hire some local unskilled labor for part of the work, the “structures” would be up in a jiffy.  If any building inspection is required, this is the point where it would be done.  Once the inspector signs off, the owners are free to secretly finish the inside as they see fit.  In our case, we intend to finish off the interiors as very comfortable homes.

What is the point of all this, you may wonder?  By owning the property as a land trust for say, some sort of agricultural institute, it won’t appear on any municipal or county lists of “residences”.  In this day and age of computerization, you need to be careful what types of lists your property and your name show up on.  Disappearing from the face of the earth might not be such a bad thing!  Any utilities used would be in the name of the trust, not your name.  You’d never be visited by the Census (for those of you not comfortable with that issue) as no one would “live” there.  If the Golden Horde came out your way, they wouldn’t find any house.  The NAIS people would not be registering your premises (and no, the NAIS scheme is not yet dead. [JWR Adds: Yes, indeed it is "on the back burner" under different names.] If the government sent troops door-to-door, they’d pass you by. Owning “residential” property sets you up for all sorts of interference.  You can probably imagine a hundred other scenarios you’d “miss”, so I won’t go on.

Do take some care not to look like a business.  In this age of tax revenue shortfalls, everybody from the local fire marshal to town hall busybodies have been deputized to spot potential “businesses” for extra tax revenue.  You need to be totally non-profit.  If questioned, people are on the property only as volunteer workers.  They don’t live there.

In order to live in a non-residence, there are a few items you’ll need to attend to.  First, you’ll likely have some neighbors, somewhere.  Our advice is to be friendly, neighborly, and helpful, invite them over if you wish, but say nothing.  Another big item is making sure that from the outside, your non-residence does not end up looking like a residence.  In our case, our backdrop is woods, woods, and more woods.  We intend to paint the place in natural, earth tone colors: brown, forest green, dark tan – you get the picture.  There will be no white window or doorframes, no shutters, no pretty garden paths leading to the doorstep.  In fact, you’ll need to look closely to even find the doorstep.  We intend to keep the window area on the sidewalls minimal, with skylights in the roof for natural lighting.  There will be nothing to catch the curious eye.  We’d like to blend into the woods.

The next item is the address.  The property should not have any marked address, and certainly no roadside mailbox stuck out in plain sight, with a number on it!  Nobody lives there, remember?  Just some folks who volunteer to work there.  I can’t think of a better way to advertise “residence” than a mailbox! Any mail going to the land trust (say, for utility bills), would go to the trustee, not to the property.  Any mail addressed to you in your own name, is another issue entirely.  Let me count the ways…post office box, re-mailing service, local RV campground that will accept your mail for a small fee, relatives, whatever you can think of, as long as it’s reliable.  There will be issues with registering your vehicles (which can also be owned by a trust), buying insurance, dealing with your bank, etc, but all that can be worked out with a bit of thought.  I’m just trying to lay a foundation for you here, to consider.

I find the idea of living this way to be sort of a thrill!  If the same idea turns you totally cold, consider this: for probably the next 10 to 15 years, we are likely to be living in dangerous times. If you have a spouse, young kids, older parents, and others that you care about, you should consider doing whatever it takes to ensure their safety. There are those in government that, as you read this, are hatching new and sneaky schemes to invade your privacy.  There are those in the tax-collection system looking for nefarious ways to snatch more of your income.  There are low-lifes out there just waiting to prey upon you and yours.  There are snoops expecting you to just live in the conventional manner.

The idea of hiding in plain sight – and living comfortably while doing so – has a lot of appeal.  By not living in a “residence”, you exempt yourself from a lot of expense and bureaucracy.  Perhaps, in another 15 to 20 years, after whatever is going to happen has happened, when the country is rebuilding, when it is safe for civilized folks to come out in the open again, then you can paint that agricultural building white, put up blue shutters, add a bay window, plant some pretty flowers along the walkway, fly Old Glory, and put up a mailbox.   Life will go on, after all.  Better times will be coming, and I hope to meet some of you on the other side!

[JWR Adds: Some friends of our family in the Inland Northwest live in a well-insulated pole frame steel shop building. They call it their "Shouse." (Shop-House.) From a distance it looks a lot more like a shop building or a barn than it does a house. Their original plan was to temporarily live in the shop until they built their dream house. But the years went by and they got more and more comfortable in the shouse, as they added interior amenities. In the end they've settled into the shop very comfortably, and instead of being burdened by a mortgage, they live debt free.]

Mr. Rawles,
I had one more observation to add to B.B. in California’s letter about the 1992 Los Angeles riots. At the time, I was living in Bakersfield, a city a two hour drive from L.A., and I vividly recall watching the news coverage of the events. This was followed by stories of similar, albeit much smaller, incidents of ‘unrest’ in cities as far away from L.A. as Fresno, and Oakland, California. The most alarming thing was this: Each of these cities, indeed, even the city I lived in, had already sent some of the Police Officers (mostly California Highway Patrol) normally stationed there to assist in trying to restore order to L.A. In other words, the incidents of unrest had started to spread, even as the officers who were to stop it from spreading were sent someplace else.

Now obviously the incidents in other cities were very minor, and didn’t amount to much. However, the fact that [active component] U.S. Army troops were called in from Fort Ord (over 5 hours away) and even U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton shows how this one, relatively short, localized incident, stretched the abilities of the government to reestablish Law and Order. (As I recall the riots lasted for less than a week, and major rioting occurred in only one major U.S. city) Can you imagine what might happen if major nationwide civil unrest occurred today, when so many of our brave National Guard and active duty U.S. Military troops are stationed overseas?

In this day and age when people will riot over the whether or not their favorite sports team has lost or won a game, and the economy is teetering on the edge of deep, dark, depression, we are closer to edge of anarchy then we have been in a very long time. If you think that living far away from a major urban center means that you are safe from the effects of such things, or if you think that help is coming during an incident of rioting or civil unrest, then you are sorely mistaken. - Krys in Idaho

Hi Jim,
In response to the letters sent to you regarding my article, the FORTE version of the antibiotics described would be appropriate for full-grown men and all but the most petite women (less than, say, 100 pounds or so). Children would be best served with the 250mg fish antibiotic dose. Frequency of these medications is from 2-4 times a day, depending on the individual drug. The risk of under-dosage would be suboptimal progress in healing. Overdosage often manifests itself as diarrhea.. Treatment length is usually from 5-10 days.
A good internet drug index can be found at rxlist.com.

If you suspect that you have influenza (a viral illness), antibiotics will do you little good. Instead, you should get Tamiflu and take it 2 times a day for 5 days. It is most effective when taken very early in the onset of the illness.

I would recommend stockpiling as many antibiotics as you can afford. Over the course of time, I guarantee you will need it; if you don't need it, it will be an excellent barter item. Thanks again, - Dr. Bones

Hello Jim,
Here are a couple of resources for looking up drug information and recommended dosages:

At the NIH web site

At the FDA web site

Keep up the good work! - G.W. in Ohio

James Wesley;
Antibiotics, or any internally consumed medication for that matter, have a dosage range. To find the dosage range of a particular drug based on body weight, a drug information handbook will be needed. This will detail the appropriate milligrams of drug / Kilogram of body weight / per day (essentially the maximum dosage per day based on body weight) of the particular drug you need. All dosage amounts are in the metric system (mg) so you will need to convert it to the English pound system. Once you find the range, you can decide (based on the weight, age, medical status, virulence of infection and extent of infection) how much you would like to dispense.

A simple formula for converting the mg. of drug / Kg. of body weight / per day into mg. of drug / pounds of body weight / per day is:
(mg. of drug x weight in lbs. of person) / 2.2 lbs = maximum mg. of drug per day based on weight in lbs.

So, an example for the mathematically challenged using Amoxicillin:

The drug handbook lists Amoxicillin:
Child: 20-50 mg/kg/day in divided doses every 8 hours.
Adult: 250-500 mg every 8 hours.

If your child’s weight is 50 lbs. and he is in good general health (using the upper limit of the drug), multiple 50mg of Amoxicillin x 50 lbs. divided by 2.2 lbs = 1,136 mg/ lbs./ per day. So, 1,136 mg of Amoxicillin should not be exceeded per day.

Now, take the 1,136 mg and divide by 3 (because it is taken every 8 hours) = 379 mg every 8 hours (not to exceed ,1136 mg in a 24 hour period). The drug is only dispensed in capsule form as 250mg or 500mg capsules. So, based on the above child, I would prescribe a 250mg capsule every 8 hours for 7 days and monitor his response. If he starts to feel better, continue with the medication. If he gets worse, then up the dosage to 500mg every 8 hours and monitor or switch to a different antibiotic drug class.

The problem with under-dosage would be the bacterial infection is not eradicated from the body and the infection gets worse and possible resistant to the antibiotic. Over-dosage of an antibiotic when be difficult to do and the results even harder to estimate in my opinion. I would postulate that a prolonged over-dosage of an antibiotic (depending on the type of antibiotic) would alter the normal micro flora of an individual leading to gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea). I hope this helps, - Tennessee Dentist

Dear Jim,
I am board certified in family medicine. In general, I agree with the antibiotics recommended by Georgia Doc. Ten day courses of Levaquin and Bactrim are usually adequate for most infections. I have found Alldaychemist.com to be a reliable and reasonably priced source for most common antibiotics and other medications. It is based in India. Perhaps some of your pharmacist readers, can comment on if it is true the eighty percent of the world's generic medications are manufactured in India. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, - Dr. Jim


Dear Mr. Rawles,
Please let your readers know that there are three resources available to help determine the drug and dosage needed for specific illnesses. The first is The Merck Manual, which is a thick book with every known disease and syndrome. It's used by doctors and gives dosage recommendations for adults and children (including how to calculate dosage); it also provides alternative drugs should the patient be allergic to the first drug of choice.
The second resource is The Pill Book which is for sale at many pharmacies and most bookstores. It's a little less technical and is organized alphabetically rather than by disease, as The Merck Manual is.
Finally, everyone should be aware of what drugs they take for frequently occurring disorders such as tonsillitis, sinusitis, cystitis, etc. If your doctor regularly prescribes 500 mg Amoxicillin, you can be assured the drug and dosage are correct for you.
Thanks so much for your blog. - S.S. in Tennessee


Hello JWR,
First off, thank you for the site. My wife and I have just recently 'woke up' regarding preparedness (less than a month ago). It's really been a great bonding experience and also allows us to get back to basics. We are nowhere near 'ready', but we are working on it daily and have a plan of action. Hopefully we'll never really use any of this, but again, thank you for potentially saving our lives! We are very grateful, maybe I can give back a little with this e-mail.

I am writing regarding the recent pharmacy articles. Very well written and I agree with them completely. As a pharmacist and owner of an independent pharmacy myself, I can't stress enough that if SHTF, the pharmacies at CVS (I used to work there), Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and the like will be locked up. Count on it. I know if times became truly bad, I would take everything home with me and work from there while I had supplies left to prevent looting. I've stocked up on antibiotics, blood pressure meds, pain relievers, diuretics and other 'survival meds' (the cheap ones anyway) in bulk for the communities that I serve for awhile, but I doubt that most places have. I worry about my diabetic patients, along with those in the nursing home and homebound. I guess that the only thing that keeps me awake more than the Golden Horde is the image of those patients in the nursing homes that I serve, post SHTF, it really breaks my heart to think what could happen there.

I would just like to add a couple more products that I haven't really seemed mentioned anywhere that would be extremely beneficial, potentially lifesaving in my opinion.

Meclizine, brand names Bonine, some versions of Dramamine, (double check the active ingredient which are usually highlighted in yellow on the back of the box) can be used for multiple uses, but it's main function is preventing and treating nausea and dizziness. I imagine needing to gather firewood, hunting, or other outdoor activities while undergoing a dizzy spell. Not a good combination, although the job may need to be done You can get a generic bottle of 100 tablets with a long shelf life at my pharmacy (I'm assuming others as well) for around $5. The brand name is much much more expensive for the same amount. Be careful giving to children though, there is a Bonine for Kids that is a different ingredient that I use for my kids on car trips. Make sure that you're not confusing dizziness with dehydration.

Silver Sulfadiazine (brand names SSD and Silvadene). This is a prescription medication but if the opportunity presents itself, get hold of some. Treats burned skin to prevent secondary infections and it greatly increases healing time. Will work for cuts, burns, infected bug bites, etc. Similar product to Neosporin (triple antibiotic cream, without a prescription), except much more effective. My suggestion to get hold of some, next time you get a normal burn from the lawn mower muffler or curling iron, instead of treating it at home, go see your physician. Tell them a friend used SSD and you would like some. Shouldn't seem like a strange request. I've heard you may be able to get the same stuff from your Vet, but I'm not sure on that. This product is inexpensive, so ask for [a prescription for] a large quantity. Also, be careful if your have a sulfa allergy, since SSD has sulfadiazine in it, which is sulfa based.

Prednisone is another prescription that would be extremely beneficial post-SHTF. Can be used for strains and the like (although ibuprofen and naproxen are over the counter and much safer with far fewer side effects). However I envision it for near emergency situations with flu and breathing issues. Prednisone has a lot of side effects both short term and long term so be careful.

Sun Screen in bulk. You run the risk of dehydrating much much faster with a sunburn. At least wear a hat and loose lightweight long sleeve clothing. Dehydration will kill quickly and it is not a pleasant way to go.

Get a hardcopy of a medication book (I recommend The Pill Book by Harold Silverman, but there are others). Invaluable in my opinion. It will tell you side effects, common uses, common dosages, some interactions, etc.

I can't stress this one enough: Get healthy, now. Quit smoking/chewing, lose weight, get in shape. You may not even need that blood pressure, diabetic or cholesterol med if you loose the gut. It's hard work but it does work. You are going to have to become much more active post-SHTF, might as well get in shape before hand. Makes the whole civilization ending thing easier to handle. I'm working on my caffeine addiction now, I can't imagine these headaches after the Pepsi shelf is empty.

There are so many others to be addressed (diuretics, pain meds, anxiety meds, vitamins, etc.) but this would be a place to start along with Michael's advice. Just my two cents. - Dustin in Kansas


Mr. Editor:
Thanks to Dr. Bones for the tip on sourcing antibiotics from aquarium supply stores.

The main bacteria present these days in open trauma wounds is called methicillin (penicillin family) resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta) top recommended oral
antibiotic for MRSA is Bactrim DS, 3-4 tablets per day for 10 days. This is more than the classic Bactrim dose of two tablets a day that got used for female urinary tract infections and other less serious infections. Pharmacists sometimes challenge the higher dosage, but only because they are uneducated on this use for the drug. Other drugs that are often prescribed for for open trauma are Levaquin, and Augmentin. Levaquin cannot be given to kids. Augmentin syrup is the number one antibiotic for kids.

Here are the contents of the first-aid pack attached to our G.O.O.D. bags:

1- Trauma Pack; Tac-Pack Battle Pack, Option 2;
2- CELOX-A Hemostat syringe;
2- Betadine scrub, B-D Easy Scrub Brush
2- Sterile pairs of gloves
1- Sterile instrument set, tweezers, scissors, forceps, and needle driver, all in a sterile double peel pack
2 -1% Lidocaine 5ml syringes with capped needle
2 -No. 15 Sterile scalpel
1 - 5-0 Monofil suture
1 - 6-0 Chromic Gut suture
2- Steril gauze, Israeli 4" Field Dressing;
1- Coban, 2" Tan roll
1- Cheaper Than Dirt Universal Splint;
10 - Fever/Pain medicine, Tylenol travel packets-Extra Strength
Antibiotic tablets, Bactrim-DS: qty 30 (3/day x 10 days)
Antibiotic ointment, Bactroban cream, one tube

I am looking to add a transfusion kit, such as described in your novel, “Patriots”. Thanks, - Ragnar in Texas

Flagged by G.G.: Jim Rogers predicts a new recession in 2012

Also from G.G.: Drip after drip of deflation data

I was doing some web wandering, and found this over at Gold Eagle: The Coming Silver Supernova

Reader K.S.B. sent a link to a CBO report on the U.S. debt crisis that is a must read. The key word: unsustainable levels of debt. There are some articles discussing the CBO report in The American Spectator and in The New American.

John L. mentioned an article about counterfeit silver coins.

Frequent content contributor KAF sent this: North Dakota, Alaska lead US job creation, study says.

Another link from KAF: Home Vacancies Rise as U.S. Ownership Falls to Lowest in Decade

Remember what I wrote about cross-border threats in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation"? Well here it is, even before TEOTWAWKI, folks: Mexico Drug War Spills into U.S. (A hat tip to B.B., for the link.)

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Phil K. sent this item: Power grid upgrades could pose security risks, experts says. And meanwhile, we read: Power grid hacking fear grows as industrial-targeted virus emerges. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

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National Guard troops to head to border states August 1st. (A hat tip to John B. for the link.)

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KAF sent this troubling article: Seven People Have Been Entrusted With The Keys To The Internet. Oh, and five of the seven people, from all over world need to gather in the U.S. to re-start the Internet, in the aftermath of the disaster. This sounds like something out of a Michael Crichton novel.


"Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith." - Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 30. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Don’t plan on your pharmacy being open or not looted after Day 1 after the SHTF.  Just like most cops have reported on this site that they will leave their posts to protect their families, pharmacists will do the same.  Most chain pharmacists have no loyalty other than a paycheck, so unlike “One Second After” it would be unlikely that a chain pharmacist would show up to work and risk their life after the SHTF.  Independent pharmacists who own their own store, and have their fortune tied to it have a better chance of being there, armed, with a more controlled environment, but even those will only last for a few days, at most.  Once armed bands of thugs start roaming, they will be long gone.  All pharmacies get deliveries every business day. (I have worked as a pharmacist in both chain & independent stores as well as hospital pharmacy, so I am familiar with all three types of facilities).  Most pharmacies have to pay for their drug orders within seven days, and many drugs are so expensive that inventories are kept low, (typical inventories are about $200,000) since re-supply is almost daily it is not a problem until deliveries dry up.  Within one day, many drugs will be dispensed, especially if patients are given a larger than normal supply.

Insurance companies, Medicaid, and Medicare Part-D all try to stop patients from stockpiling drugs.  So, what can be done?  First of all, as mentioned here on this site; improve your health by diet & exercise.  Stock up on the vitamins & supplements your family uses.  Keep all over the counter (OTC) drugs in the sealed, original container, and rotate your stock.  Store all medicine according to the storage directions from the manufacturer; I’ve seen mentioned on this site or others where drugs should be stored in the refrigerator, but not all drugs should; so read the label or check with your pharmacist.  Have your Doctor write prescriptions for a year supply as a quantity and you should be able to purchase whatever quantity you can afford at the pharmacy.  Use the generic or ask your pharmacist if there is a generic available that is similar to the brand name in the same therapeutic drug class; he may be able to get the doctor to change your prescription for you.  Pharmacies typically carry much larger quantities of generics than the high priced brand names.  If you are on high priced brand names (like Insulin), try refilling your prescription every 23 days, a little known fact is that many insurances will allow an early refill as long as it is within 7 days.  Begin to stockpile your insulin or expensive brand name drugs by marking your calendar and getting a refill whether you need it or not; every 23 days.  Some insurance companies like Medco keep track and won’t allow any early refills, so ask your pharmacist and try.  Work with your doctor and pharmacist to increase the quantity of critical expensive medicine like insulin so you can increase the number of vials you can get, and get it refilled regularly until your stockpile grows. 

Ask your pharmacist if you can have your long term storage meds dispensed in the sealed original containers with the expiration dates visible and rotate your stock.  If not; ask that they include an “adsorbent” which is typically found in the original containers, and have the pharmacy staff write the expiration date of the drug on your label.  Having anti-virals like “Tamiflu” and antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin, a broad spectrum cephalosporin like Cephalexin, an antibiotic eye drop like Gentamycin, an antibiotic ear drop like generic Cortisporin at home is also a good idea.  Avoid Tetracycline; one of the few antibiotics that is toxic once it expires. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for Lyme disease, but is related to Tetracycline and should be discarded after the expiration date. Clearly mark your bottle with the expiration date, and rotate your stock.  Pain meds like Hydrocodone or Acetaminophen with Codeine will be useful too.  Don’t forget anti-fungal creams, topical steroids, and assemble a great first aid kit. 

In my years of being a Boy Scout leader and dealing with scouts at summer camp I have treated a large number of ‘usual cases’; so these are conditions that regularly occur while away from civilization: diarrhea: use Loperamide it’s OTC now and a good drug, prescription drugs like Diphenoxylate/atropine are better and Belladonna Alk with PB help with cramping if available. Stomach aches: have an antacid like Tums EX, plus a PPI like Omeprazole (now OTC). 

For cuts and scratches, have Hydrogen Peroxide and triple antibiotic ointment (and Band-Aids).  Knife cuts: use Steri-strips are a great product made by 3M. I have used many times to avoid an ER visit, works great except for hairy areas that are difficult to shave.  Head lacerations may require stitching or staples; so get a suture kit with 1% Lidocaine (to deaden the area before stitching).  How to suture a wound can be found in this US Army video.  Poison ivy: use Tecnu wash to cleanse the area after exposure and treat with topical steroids like Hydrocortisone or non-steroid Domeboro. Both of these are OTCs that work, but prescription steroid creams like Desoximetasone or Fluocinonide are better.  Topical fungus are common (ringworm, jock-itch); use Clotrimazole (OTC) or Ketoconazole (prescription).   Developing a relationship with your doctor and pharmacist is crucial in getting the supplies you need before TSHTF

Are your vaccinations up to date?  Recommended immunization schedules can be found at the CDC’s web site. If TEOTWAWKI does happen having your family up to date on vaccinations will improve your chances of staying healthy.  Many of the diseases that are found in third world countries are controlled here in the United States by vaccinations, proper hygiene, sanitation and working sewer infrastructure; when that disappears these diseases will reappear here.  The CDC has a very cool web site with travel information and vaccines for every part of the world. It is worth a look.

Is your training up to date?  We had not only our leaders, but all our scouts in the Venturing Crew take the Standard First Aid Course with CPR from the American Red Cross.  I have taken the Wilderness First Aid Course by them also, which is a ‘step up’ in training.  The National Outdoor Leadership Schools (NOLS) has some of the best training available for wilderness medicine; check out their web site.  Their web site is also useful in planning a good first aid kit.  Click on the WMI store tab, and search their first aid kits to get the list of items they recommend.

If you are planning on going to your pharmacy on the day TSHTF, remember; with no electricity your pharmacist is going to have to rely on knowing you and seeing your bottle before you are going to get any medication, since he cannot access any of his records.  Also, developing a relationship with an independent pharmacist if you are on life saving medication is critical, since he is going to be taking a lot of that inventory back to his home or retreat to use it for barter.  Walking into a pharmacy where the employees don’t recognize you (big box stores) and especially without your bottle is going to get you nothing.  Hopefully, by planning ahead you won’t have to be one of the hundreds of people trying to get a refill on life saving medicine with no electricity available and no deliveries coming. - M.V. in Missouri

Regarding the recent post on antibiotics, I would love to hear the good doctor or someone else with relevant knowledge describe how to determine dosage (I'm assuming based on weight), as well as any risks associated with over- or under-dosage. Thanks! - E.W.

I'm a relatively new reader of your excellent site and have learned an incredible amount of valuable information from you and my fellow readers. Thank you for such a wonderful service.
I read Dr. Bone's submission with great interest since the medical issues of a SHTF scenario are a great concern of mine. I'm knowledgeable in First Aid, and small trauma treatment, but major injury and illnesses are far beyond most untrained personnel such as myself.
Dr. Bone's listing of available antibiotics answered one big question, and the shelf life hint answered another, however I have one more that wasn't answered.
Could you, Dr. Bones, or even some other reader, tell me what is the usual length of an antibiotic regimen for an infection? Also, is there any difference in regimens for 'flu-like' infections and septic wounds?
The issue for me is the quantity needed to have a reasonable supply on hand when necessary. I'm in good health but always manage to catch 'cold' once a year and the 'flu' every third or so. I'm also wise enough to realize that since I'm such a city boy that I will probably get quite a few minor wounds,(many accidental and self inflicted most likely). I would hate to have a few thousand tablets stored and discover that it was sufficient for a few wound treatments and a handful of illnesses, especially in regard to contagion rate among family members. Thanks again for all you do, everyone of you, in helping us get ready. - WJN

JWR Replies: Antibiotic dosing, typical uses, and courses of treatment were covered thoroughly in the article Antibiotic Use in TEOTWAWKI, by Georgia Doc that was posted in December of 2009.

AmEx (American Expatriate) sent us this piece by Charles Hugh Smith: Six Reasons to Expect Slow Economic Growth Ahead

G.G. sent this: Hussman: Betting on a Bubble, Bracing for a Fall.

GIC (Singapore ) Says World May See Recession Sooner Than Expected. (A hat tip to M.W. for the link.)

Phip flagged this from Phil Stock: America is 234 Years Old, and Today it is Finished.

Reader Steve K. suggested this news piece: America Now: Friends and Neighbors. NBC's Ann Curry travels to Ohio to take a personal look inside the lives of families who have lost jobs, homes and dreams.

Paul W. liked this article by Marty Weiss: Four Shocking Bombshells Bernanke Did Not Tell Congress About Last Week

Reader R.F.J. recommended this article, over at Instructables: How to Freeze Blueberries. "High in antioxidants, blueberries are considered a 'super fruit'. In order to reap the health benefits of these tasty little berries all year, while taking advantage of seasonal prices, freezing is an easy way to preserve them.

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A short but vicious thunderstorm on Sunday evening left three dead in the Washington, D.C. region. Some residents won't have electricity restored until Friday. As of Tuesday, there were still 150,000 households without power, most in Montgomery County, Maryland. Montgomery County is one of the richest counties in the United States. Parts of Montgomery Co. were without power for a week after Hurricane Isabel in 2003. If one of the wealthiest places in America takes three days to recover from a localized storm, what might happen with a larger disaster in a less-affluent area? (Thanks to Bob M. and Steve H. for the links.)

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Signs of the times: Thousands Show Up at Tulsa Food Pantry. (A hat tip to KAF for the link.)

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Reader Patrick M. was at the Revolver Liberation Alliance web site and spotted a source for American-made gardening hoes.

"Life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party." - Jimmy Buffett

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 30. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am a commercial apple grower in New England and in this article I will explain why the prepper should consider growing apples and how they should do so.

Why Grow Apples?
As crops go, apple trees are relatively easy to maintain and can be grown almost anywhere. A properly selected apple tree can survive the cold of Canada to the desert heat of the American Southwest. After the first year, an apple tree in the Eastern United States can typically get all the water it needs from rainfall and requires little fertilizer. From planting to harvest, apple trees can be maintained with little other than a shovel, pruners, a small saw, a hand sprayer, and a ladder. (Commercial apple farmers still do much of the orchard work by hand including tree planting, pruning and picking.)

Most importantly for a survival situation, a large apple contains over 100 calories that can be stored and saved for months with the appropriate storage conditions. While one can not survive on apples (or any other fruit) alone, few plants can produce the quantity of versatile calories that the apple tree does. For example, apples can be eaten raw or made into applesauce, dried apples, boiled cider, hard cider, or cider jack. Apples contain dietary fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Site Selection
Apple trees need full sun. Like most crops, they will not do well below the forest canopy next to a hidden mountain retreat. Traditionally, farmers have planted orchards on marginal, hilly land. Save your prime, flat, rock-free land for growing vegetables and grains. Slopes promote airflow (which can reduce some tree diseases) and they give cold air a place to go to, reducing frost damage. Well-drained soil is best; swampy wet soils will rot the apple tree roots. Rocky soils are okay, as long as the initial planting hole has large stones removed from it. Some books will tell you to plant on the southern or eastern slope of a hill, but most of us are not going to have a lot of choice and just have to work with whatever land that we have at hand. If you are attempting to conceal your position, then plant your trees in a field or slope at random. From a distance, apple trees can appear like other trees. The easiest way to spot an orchard from a distance is the orderly spacing of trees in a grid.

Tree Selection
More than almost any factor, tree selection will determine your success or failure. There are several issues to consider.

1) Hardiness: Pick a tree that is appropriate for your USDA Zone. Any apple tree that is purchased is grafted, and it is important that both the rootstock (the roots) and the scion (the grafted part above the roots) be able to withstand your winters. The easiest way to insure this is to buy apple trees from a local nursery that grows their own trees. (Who knows where the fruit trees from the big box stores are originally grown? They also don't look very well cared for, they typically have a poor selection of varieties, and they aren't much cheaper than you would buy from a local nursery or farmer.)

2) Rootstock: You'll notice that a lot of apple trees are planted on dwarf rootstock. Commercial orchards traditionally liked dwarf rootstocks because they created dense orchards with short trees that were quick to produce and easy to spray and pick. The downside is that dwarf rootstock trees are not as vigorous, long-lived or tough. A dwarf rootstock tree can die after a few years of neglect or even after 20 years of excellent care. On the other hand, I have seen abandoned orchards planted on standard (full size) rootstock that still produce apples after decades of neglect. If you have ever seen an big, ancient apple tree, it was almost certainly planted on standard rootstock. I strongly suggest that the survivalist should try to select standard rootstock for his apple and fruit trees. The extra vigor and hardiness will serve you well in a world where you won't always have the best pesticides or the ability to replace trees easily. With careful pruning, a standard rootstock apple tree can easily be kept to a manageable size.

3) Variety Selection: You may love buying Fuji apples at the store, but that does not mean that you should try to grow Fuji apples at home. Apples vary greatly in terms of their vigor and disease-resistance. Many of the store varieties are disease-prone and require lots of pesticide and fungicide sprays. You probably don't want to be stock piling extra pesticides and fungicides in addition to everything else you will need in TEOTWAWKI. Many of the most popular apple varieties are bred to look pretty in grocery stores. (I have one variety in my commercial orchard that's only claim to fame is that it is redder than other similar varieties.) For the prepper looking to grow apples to survive or just the do-it-yourselfer looking to grow their own food, I strongly suggest that you consider one of the new vigorous disease-resistant cultivars like Liberty or Freedom (Freedom is more tolerant to warmer climates).

4) Crab Apple: Even better than one of the new disease-resistant cultivars are most crab apple trees. I find crab apple trees to be exceptionally hardy, vigorous, and to require very little spraying or maintenance. Now I don't mean ornamental flowering crab apples (which are primarily bred for their flowers and produce marble-sized fruit), but culinary crab apples like Chestnut Crabapple and Dolgo that produce fruit about 2" in diameter. They can be more time consuming topick, but they amaze me in their ability to thrive in most conditions and be unaffected by apple tree diseases and pests. I picked Dolgo crabapples from an unmanaged orchard that were nearly perfect. They often have a much more tart flavor (which is likely what makes them less appealing to pests, but also means they likely have more vitamins and antioxidants.) They can be eaten raw, but also are great for canning, cooking, and cider.

Tree Care
1) Planting: Planting trees is generally done while the trees are still dormant in the spring, although it can be done in the fall in milder southern climates. As my father used to say, you want to" dig a ten dollar hole for a two dollar plant". A large, 18-inch-deep, 3 foot-wide hole will ensure that your new tree's roots have plenty of good uncompacted soil to grow into. If your tree's roots are happy, the rest of the tree will probably be happy. If your soil is depleted, you may want to add organic material like compost and some very light fertilizer at planting, although most decent soils will work fine. You want to plant the tree at roughly the same height was planted in the nursery, making sure the graft line is off the ground. The most important practice is to water the tree the entire first growing season. I typically water each tree with 3 gallons of water twice a week, counting any significant rainfall event (~1") as one watering. Dumping 5 gallons of water once a week is also okay-- the goal is for the tree to develop deep roots. If your soils are sandy and drain quickly, you may need to water more frequently, conversely if your soils are soggy, then make sure you don't overwater. Healthy new trees can take a fair amount of wind, however if you have a very windswept site, you may need to stake the tree the first few years. If you can, mulch around the trees to keep weeds and grasses back for the first few years to make sure the tree is not competing for nutrients before its roots have fully established themselves.

2) Pruning: You can find lots of online and book guides to pruning apples trees, so I will touch on the most basic ideas here. Timing is important. You primarily just want to prune in the winter after the worst of the cold weather is over, but before the tree comes out of dormancy (about March in New England). The first step is to cut out any dead, diseased, or crossing branches. Then, you want to cut out wood to encourage the tree to spread out on strong branches. They say "you should be able to throw a cat through a well-pruned tree". This means there is good air circulation and sun. Burn all prunings to prevent them from becoming a disease host.

3) Spraying: Apples trees can be beset by a host of diseases and pests that tend to vary from region to region. Ask a local farmer or nursery what the typical diseases and pests tend to be. Growing organic apples in the Eastern US without significant crop losses can be very challenging. Organic apple growing in the arid West somewhat easier; however, you will have to ensure that you have a steady source of irrigation water in a survival situation. Sprays of a broadband insecticide and a fungicide (which can be done with a common backpack sprayer) early in the growing season (after petal fall to avoid killing bees and pollinators) will likely dramatically increase your yields. If you don't like the idea of being dependent on pesticides and fungicides, then I strongly recommend that you go with culinary crab apple trees.

4) General Orchard Care: If you can, rake up all the apple tree leaves in the fall and burn them, as they can harbor diseases (like apple scab) from year to year. Deer will eat off all the lower fruit buds on your trees, leaving you with no fruit below eye level. However, in TEOTWAWKI, if there are any deer left in your area, you will likely have no hesitation about hunting them out of your orchard.

Harvesting and Storage
1) Harvesting: Harvesting apples is not rocket science. When they taste ripe and easily come off the tree, then they are ready to harvest.

2) Storage: Commercial orchards store apples in refrigerated rooms without any oxygen. That's how you can eat a 10 months old apple in July in the US. At the personal scale, you can still store apples for months in a low temperature, high humidity root cellar or basement. Periodically check your stores and throw out rotting apples. The expression "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch" comes from somewhere. For longer term storage, you can dry apples or can them as applesauce or juice. I plan to discuss the basics of making hard cider and fruit wine in an upcoming article.

My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm by Manny Howard.

This book relates the story of a journalist who recently attempted to garden and raise chickens, ducks, and rabbits in his very small Brooklyn backyard. The stated goal and his contract with New York magazine was to raise enough food to eat out of his backyard for one month.

While the dysfunction of the marriage and lack of family support is disturbing, the book highlights the grave difficulty of trying to survive in an urban setting by raising livestock and gardening. The deeply polluted soil had to be replaced with many tons of topsoil. The dumb rabbits either died by fly-strike, a hideous death, or tore the heads off of their newborns. Predators and the pecking order constantly picked off his barnyard fowl. A tornado decimated the garden. An infinitesimal potato crop yielded a few spuds, most smaller than a quarter. Howard lived through food poisoning and lost 29 pounds in the year-long effort to sustain himself alone.

For urbanites who are mulling over whether they can "farm" in the city to survive, this book is a starting place. The smells, handling the animal wastes (blood from butchering and daily waste products), the extreme disappointments, and the grinding daily labor illustrates what might be faced.

Two years after the experiment, he settled for growing a few tomatoes and keeping a few chickens for the fresh eggs. Now, there is no talk of living off the land, just supplementing. - E.B.

Hello, James
That was an excellent article by H.H. (Situational Awareness, Instincts and “Wargaming”.) I would like to add to his points one additional. Many people who carry for protection don't get taught one of the golden rules of self defense tactics. That golden rule is this: Picture yourself having squared off with a would be assailant. You get to the point of having pulled your firearm out and aligned in the threat's direction. If the would-be assailant moves, you move. He takes 4 steps to your right, you take some steps in the opposite direction. By moving if he moves, you accomplish several things:

1. You maintain that safe gap / reaction time to do what is necessary;

2. You maintain equal footing by not letting it dictate the the terms. If he's trained in criminal ways, you just told him you know how to handle this situation. He might back off or seriously hesitate at this point. Consider the other article posted on SurvivalBlog re: criminal gang members getting free training from Uncle Sam's military, by the LEO in Chicago. Your assailant just might have some excellent training under his belt.

3. You don't allow the subject to gain an advantage by assaulting you from the direction he chooses. Imagine him circling to get the sun in your eyes, circling to get your back to his associates, moving in a way to put him in between you and your kids / wife / fill in the blank. A quick assessment of the situation will provide you with instant feedback of your planned route. If said subject moves in a direction of your kids and you move to that gap to block him and he chooses to get danger close, he made that decision, not you. Articulating in court that you feared for your kids' life is part of the justification to use that firearm.

4. You avoid falling prey to the Folsom roll. Get training on how to aim that firearm. Don't be so focused on that front sight so much that if he makes a quick duck down and sprint at you from an angle, you lose the subject momentarily. He is coming at you fast. How long does it take to get that front sight back on target? The answer to that depends on your level of training / ability. For the un-trained, 21 feet is all he needs and by then he's on top of you. Being tactically sound / aligning your sights properly for the situation takes training. You must look over the firearms' front sight to keep an eye out on what the target is doing. LEOs are trained in this, and so should you. For any nonbelievers, think about this: when I was younger, I could do a 40-yard sprint from a stand still position in about 4.8 seconds, and even faster going down hill. (That's not a joke, an assailant could attack from higher ground, see point #3). That's not fast by athletic standards but it is in this situation. How fast can a motivated physically capable assailant cover 21 feet? Pretty quickly. It'll seem even quicker if it's night time. This leads to teh question: Which self defense tool do you have? A handgun? this is not an easy shot. Shotgun? it's an easier shot but then again it depends on barrel length, semi auto / single shot, type ammo (00 buck, slugs, other) and your level of training. Rifle? There are too many rifles to cover. You get the idea.

H.H.'s scenario involved a small caliber handgun. If his scenario ended up with pulling the trigger with his first gun, it may not have stopped the guy. That 9mm may not have stopped him either. It would depend on shot placement and type of rounds used. The smaller the caliber the more critical shot placement becomes. But a miss with any caliber is still a miss. I don't know of any U.S. police departments that still issue 9 millimeter [chambered pistols]. There is a reason for this. They are not dependable man stoppers. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be shot by a 9mm or anything else, but I do intend to fight to win. Winning a gun fight means you don't get a scratch. Not tht other guy lost but that you still took some lumps and survived. Possibly serious lumps.

Good luck, I hope this helps. - Flhspete

S.J. sent us this link: The Scariest Unemployment Graph I've Seen Yet

Dave D. suggested this article: U.S. may face deflation, a problem Japan understands too well

Reader "AmEx" (American Expatriate) sent us this: Uncle Sam has worse woes than Greece

From reader RBS: U.S. Rescue May Reach $23.7 Trillion, Barofsky Says

Geithner: Let Tax Cuts Die. (Can you detect the desperate need for revenue?) A hat tip to B.G. for the link.

David R. relayed this article: Warren Pollock Warns Of Emergency Drug Shortage as EMTs Told to Go to "Alternate Protocols"

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If you like the Multicam camouflage pattern, then check out this home-based business, that makes Multicam clothing and packs, all reasonably priced: BadMoonRizing.com

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F.G. sent this: Desperate cities try giving away land, to get any taxes later. Here is a quote: "Around the nation, cities and towns facing grim budget circumstances are grasping at unlikely — some would say desperate — means to bolster their shrunken tax bases. Like Beatrice, places like Dayton, Ohio, and Grafton, Ill., are giving away land for nominal fees or for nothing in the hope that it will boost the tax rolls and cut the lawn-mowing bills."

   o o o

From B.G.: View is Bleaker than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan

"As Chief Executive of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, I hereby declare a state of unlimited national emergency until such time as new elections are held, and congress reconvenes. In the devastated areas and in those other areas where normal functions of government cannot be carried out, I hereby declare martial law, to be administered by the Army. I appoint Lieutenant General George Hunneker Army Chief of Staff, and Director of Martial Law in the Zone of the Interior, which means within the forty-nine states. There have been grave dislocations of communications, of industrial, economic, and financial functions. I declare, effective at this moment, a moratorium on the payment of all debts, rents, taxes, interest, mortgages, insurance claims and premiums, and all and any other financial obligations for the duration of the emergency. From time to time, God willing, I will use these facilities to bring you further information, as it is received, and to issue further decrees as they become necessary. I call upon you to obey the orders of your local Civil Defense directors, state and municipal authorities, and of the military. Do not panic." - The fictional character Mrs. Josephine Vanbruuker-Brown, President of the United States of America, in Pat Frank's novel Alas, Babylon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

We are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Maxpedition Hard Use Gear. They have a huge product line of very sturdy field gear. And, unlike many of their competitors, none of their products are made in mainland China. For a short time, they are offering a special 5% discount for SurvivalBlog readers. (Use coupon code 5SB810.)


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 30. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As a recently-retired physician who is married to a nurse-midwife, my preparedness group looks to us as the post-TEOTWAWKI hospital and medical staff. Medical progress has been exponential and even just the last decade of scientific breakthroughs can equal a century of improvement in medical treatments, surgical techniques and pharmaceuticals. However, in the years (months?) ahead, the crumbling of the infrastructure and devolution of society in general will very likely throw us back to a medical system that existed in the 19th Century.

Let’s take an example: When the U.S. was a young nation, the average woman could expect to be pregnant 10-12 times during her reproductive lifetime (no reliable means of birth control). One out of four women would not survive the pregnancy, either from issues relating to blood loss from miscarriage or childbirth or Infection (no antibiotics) following same. A myriad of other complications occurred which are treatable today but weren’t back then. I collect old medical books, and even relatively modern obstetric textbooks devoted entire chapters on how to crush a fetus’ skull in order to expedite its removal from a critically ill mother, with instruments that clearly had no other purpose. When childbirth was successful, she could expect perhaps 3-4 of her children to survive to become adults, on average, with many minor children succumbing to simple infections that had no known effective treatment at the time.

This is the grim reality that we, in modern times, will face when the inevitable happens and current medical technology and treatments are unavailable to us.

There is an interesting post-TEOTWAWKI series by History Channel called “After Armageddon” which can be viewed on YouTube. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t appear on History Channel’s list of shows). In it, a family seeks refuge in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event. The father of the family, who is a trained EMT, falls sick and dies from a simply cut on his hand because the antibiotics ran out. It shows that the lack of accumulated stores of antibiotics could mean a shortened life span for even the most prepared individual.

Given the new situation that we will have thrust upon us, it behooves every aware individual to begin to stockpile medications that will be needed in the future, and to become trained one way or another in basic and disaster first aid. Even if your group has a designated “medic”, you have an obligation to be able to handle medical issues in a catastrophic scenario for the sake of your group and your family. Just as the designated “medic” should be trained to handle security issues and should accumulate food and other supplies, so should you accumulate medications and medical supplies. Cross-training is essential for when the medic needs a medic!
Accumulating medications may be simple when it comes to procuring aspirin and other non-prescription drugs but may be problematic for those who cannot write their own prescriptions or don’t have a relationship with a physician who can. I would like to focus on the issue of procurement of antibiotics for the treatment of infection in this essay, as there are already a number of good essays on this site that discusses various aspects of medical care in the post-SHTF era. I heartily recommend that everyone read these in detail.

For all intents and purposes, it is highly unlikely that even basic antibiotics like Penicillin will be actively manufactured in an apocalyptic scenario due to the complexities in said manufacture. Those who say, “it’s just bread mold” are naïve if they think just making prepper bread and letting it sit will produce anything That would cure an infection (penicillin is actually made from liquid that the mold produces under certain man-made conditions. And, no, Ginger Root and other “home antibiotics” probably won’t either.

The reason that I consider this a major issue is that there will be a much larger incidence of infection when people start to fend for themselves, and injure themselves as a result. Simple cuts and scratches from chopping wood can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat and swelling, within a relatively short time. Treatment of infections at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely. However, many preppers, being the rugged folk that they are, are most likely to ignore the problem until it gets much worse and spreads to their entire body, causing fever and other systemic problems that could eventually be fatal. Have antibiotics already on hand in their retreat would allow them to deal with the issue until medical help (if available at all) arrives.

Now, what I am about to tell you is contrary to standard medical practice, and is a strategy that is best used in the event of societal collapse that causes the unavailability of conventional medical care for extended periods of time. This line of thought that I am presenting is that “sumpthin” is better than “nuttin” and is not meant to serve as official medical advice for any circumstance but a catastrophic breakdown of our infrastructure and ability of our country to provide medical care for its citizens. If there is modern medical care available to you, seek it out.

Small amounts of medications such as antibiotics could be procured by anyone who is willing to tell their physician that they are going out of the country and would like to avoid “Montezuma’s Revenge”. Ask them for Tamiflu for viral illness and Z-packs, Amoxicillin or Keflex for bacterial diarrhea. Stockpiling of these antibiotics is more of a problem. After searching far and wide, I have come across the best option for the prepper: Aquarium Fish antibiotics.

For evaluation purposes (and because I am an aquarium hobbyist), I decided to purchase online a variety of these products and found them to be identical (unlike some Dog and Cat medications) to those used to treat humans with a doctor’s prescription. I was able to purchase them without any demand for medical licensure, etc. The drugs are listed below and the bottles list the antibiotic as the sole ingredient. They are:

  • FISH-MOX (amoxicillin 250mg)
  • FISH_MOX FORTE (amoxicillin 500mg)
  • FISH-CILLIN (ampicillin 250mg)
  • FISH-FLEX Keflex 250mg)
  • FISH-FLEX FORTE (Keflex 500mg)
  • FISH-ZOLE (metronidazole 250mg)
  • FISH-PEN (penicillin 250mg)
  • FISH-PEN FORTE (penicillin 500mg)
  • FISH-CYCLINE (tetracycline 250mg)

These medications are available usually in plastic bottles of 100 tablets for much less than the same prescription medication at the pharmacy (some come in bottles of 30 tablets). The dosages are similar to that used in humans, and are taken two to four times a day, depending on the drug. The 500mg dosage is probably more effective in larger individuals. Of course, anyone could be allergic to one or another of these antibiotics, but not all of them. (Note that there is a 10% cross-reactivity between "-cillin" drugs and Keflex, meaning that, if you are allergic to Penicillin, you could also be allergic to Keflex). FISH-ZOLE is an antibiotic that also kills some protozoa that cause dysentery.

NOTE: It should be emphasized that FISH-CYCLINE [and other tetracycline antibiotics of various names] can become toxic after its expiration date, unlike most of the other medications listed. So consider acquiring the other ones listed, first.

Which brings me to a question that I am asked quite often and to which my answer is, again, contrary to standard medical recommendations but appropriate in a post-TEOTWAWKI environment where no medical care is otherwise available. The question is: What happens when the medications I stockpiled pass their expiration date?

Since 1979, pharmaceutical companies have been required to place expiration dates on all medications. Officially, this is the last day that the company will certify that their drug is at full potency. Some people take this to mean that the medicine in question is useless or in some way harmful after that date. With few exceptions (tetracycline being one previously mentioned), this is what I delicately term as “a bunch of hooey”!

Studies performed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that 90% of medications tested were perfectly fine to use 8-to-15 years after the expiration date. There was apparently no danger in the grand majority of cases. The FDA tested more than 100 medications, both prescription and non-prescription, and continues to study the issue today. The exceptions were mostly in liquid form (antibiotics included, but also insulin, nitroglycerine and some others). What is true is that the potency of an antibiotic could possibly decrease over time, so it is important that your medication cache is in a cool, dry place if at all possible. Refrigeration is an excellent method to maintain the full potency of many drugs.

Many people gauge their preparedness on the number of full ammo boxes in their closet. I’ve got them too. However, preparedness doesn’t mean going out in a blaze of glory; it means going on, in the best health and condition, to re-establish a peaceful and productive society. Every prepper should have antibiotics as part of their medical supplies. They’re available, they’re cheap and they could save your life.

Recent news articles about U.S. tax law changes have prompted dozens of SurvivalBlog readers to contact me with their concerns. Some of these e-mails asked me for advice on how to minimize the impact of these tax law changes.

First let's go over the changes in the tax law that have been announced:

1.) The Federal income tax rates are increasing starting with tax year 2010, with the top tax rate jumping to 39.6%. Meanwhile they are reinstituting the death tax, creating higher capital gains taxes, and the elimination of some exemptions for people that are married and for those that have children. For a summary of the changes, see a recent post at Investors.com.

2.) There is a new Federal income tax reporting requirement for all goods and services by small businesses and self-employed individuals. This will especially effect coin dealers. This provision was slipped into the massive Obamacare socialized medicine legislative package that was enacted this year.. This new law requires all purchases of in excess of $600 USD to be reported on a IRS Form 1099. This has sparked an uproar. The implications of this new law are huge, especially when you consider the sheer volume of private transactions in the so-called "underground economy." Perhaps worst of all is that this new is in effect turning private citizens into unpaid IRS agents by putting this new reporting requirement on small businesses. Not only will they have to do this paperwork, but they will have to do it all at their own expense. This will undoubtedly require the hiring of hundreds and hundreds of accountants to handle this mountain of paperwork--the countless thousands of Form 1099s that will need to be filed. This is just another example of Congress not only putting unfunded mandates on the states, but also on private business. I predict that this paperwork requirement might drive some small coin stores and small auction houses out of business. In my estimation it will also destroy the privacy advantage that heretofore has been provided by second-hand ("private party") and antique (pre-1899) guns. Since most used guns sell for at least $600, their sales will ostensibly have to be reported--perhaps not by serial number, but Big Brother will have a list of known "gun owners."

The new tax law also sets a dangerous precedent, in lowering the threshold of reportable transactions. For many years car dealers, postal clerks, and an bank tellers have been required to fill out Form 8300 cash transaction reports (CTRs) for the IRS for any cash transactions in amounts of $10,000 or more. Part of this is an onerous requirement to report transactions of less than $10,000 if so-called "structuring" of multiple transactions if they in aggregate exceed $10,000. This lowered reporting threshold has been institutionalized with training programs such as "Know Your Customer", that encouraged bank tellers to report structured transactions, even if there was just a hint of suspicion. Their training stressed: "If in doubt, report it." The new law will also necessitate hiring of thousands of new IRS agents to insure compliance on the accurate reporting of 1099s. I have no doubt of that the IRS will conduct undercover sting operations--just as the BATFE now does with Federally licensed gun dealers---to try to catch coin dealers buying more that $600 worth of coins without filling out the Form 1099. Just imagine private coin dealers having to wonder whether or not the "customer" across the counter for them is actually a private party or if it's an undercover IRS agent attempting to entrap him by asking them to "skip the paperwork."

Legal Tax Avoidance Strategies

I consulted with tax accountant Mara Helland, for her advice on ways that taxpayers can legally minimize the impact of the changes in the Federal tax law for 2011 and subsequent years. The following was her advice:

Although, in general, I know your position about retirement accounts [such as IRAs, 401(k)s], I still want to mention that retirement contributions are one of the biggest tax breaks the Federal and state governments allow us to have. For example, based on your self-employed income from 2009, you would have been allowed to contribute a maximum of $49,000 to a SEP or Individual 401(k), which would have saved more than $17,000 in combined Federal and state income taxes.

For shorter-term solutions, you might consider any of the following:

  • Requesting, wherever possible, income/advances be paid to you by December 31, 2010 rather than early or mid 2011.
  • Selling any kind of capital-gain assets in 2010 rather than 2011.
  • Deferring part of your charitable giving from 2010 to 2011 (e.g., giving in January 2011 instead of December 2010).
  • Looking into charitable trusts or gift annuities. With higher tax rates, charitable gifts will have more value.

Would it be possible to start a ranch or farming operation in the future? Farming losses can directly offset self-employed income.

Is there any other kind of business you’ve thought about starting that might take a few years before you see a profit?

If you need a place to park extra money, you might consider investing in rental real estate. Unfortunately, though, because of your income level, any rental losses incurred would be “unallowed” until you actually sold the property. You don’t lose the rental losses, per se, but you wouldn’t be able to deduct the losses in the year incurred. Accumulated, unallowed losses would reduce any future gain you had at the time of the sale. Rental real estate doesn’t help you with immediate tax savings for the near future, but a lot of my clients do have rental properties as a way to invest their available cash without putting everything into the stock market, bond market or banks.

In some states such as Montana, folks might benefit from paying only the required one-half of property taxes at the end of November, rather than paying for the full year at that time. That could give a taxpayer an extra property tax payment to write off in 2011. Some taxpayers might benefit more by holding off on paying certain itemized deductions until 2011, rather than 2010, where possible.

Also, for small business owners who provide health insurance coverage for employees, they need to make sure they are aware of any Federal and/or state tax credits for which they are eligible. Many states have health insurance tax-credit programs that have been in place for years and do not necessarily have the same qualifications as the Federal program.

Mara Helland's also had some comments on the new 1099 requirements:

"From what I've been reading, the IRS already has its hands full trying to figure out how to implement the sweeping changes to the 1099 reporting rules deemed necessary and appropriate by Congress. I have a lot of small business clients who are still able to use their Social Security numbers for reporting purposes. The idea of Social Security numbers being given out to just about anyone with whom business is transacted (it won't take much to reach that $600 threshold) seems like high risk to me for all sorts of identity theft schemes and scams. For you, personally (as well as all other sole proprietors), I recommend you obtain (or I can obtain for you) an Employer Identification Number (EIN), to use in place of your social security number for all future 1099 forms being issued to you or by you. Although you aren’t an “employer,” per se, I believe any business entity can obtain on EIN, whether or not the entity has employees."

While not all of these strategies will be applicable to all of the SurvivalBlog readers in the United States, I hope that many of you will find some utility in them.

Personally, in addition to taking Mara Helland's advice on income shifting and deferring charitable contributions, I made two key decisions to help minimize the impact of the 2011 tax law changes:

1.) Cashing Out of My IRA

It was a tough call, but I decided to cash out my Gold Coin Individual Retirement Account (IRA) before the end of 2010. This is an IRA that I set up many years ago, through Swiss America. It was established when I worked in the corporate world. Yes, I know that I will be penalized, but I thought it was important to take the IRA distribution income in tax year 2010 instead of tax year 2011, under the higher rates. Thankfully, the value of my gold IRA has gained substantially in recent years. (A large potion of the gold in my IRA was purchased back when gold was less than $375 per ounce.) So even with the withdrawal penalty I'm still coming out well ahead. And again I'd rather pay the tax on the "cash out" at the 2010 tax rate rather than the higher 2011 tax rate. By the way, I had already considered closing out my IRA because of persistent rumors of nationalization of IRAs and 401(k)s, but the recent news of the higher income tax rates for 2011 was the last straw.

2.) Minimizing My Interest Income

I am now more aggressively downsizing my interest-producing investments, and shifting even more heavily into tangibles than I had recommended back in 2007. Since tangibles will be taxed only when I liquidate them, this will reduce my taxable income for 2011 and subsequent years.


I anticipate that the tax situation in the United States will only get worse, as the currently unfolding depression continues. Federal, State, and and local "revenue enhancement" will be the order of the day. Do your best to protect yourself, legally, as the hard times get harder.

It may not be TEOTWAWKI, but the end of “your world” may be closer than you think. Mine came eight years ago with the end of my wife's battle with cancer. With the down turn of the economy and a mountain of medical bills, we had already leveraged every penny that we could. We took out a second mortgage, maxed our credit cards, sold the boat, the four wheeler, and travel trailer. Since then I've sold my pickup, her car, the tools of my trade (I'd been a carpenter), and anything else that could bring in a dollar. I've been told that I could have gone through a “financial reorganization” a.k.a. bankruptcy, to save the house... but at the time, I was devastated by the loss of my wife, and nothing really mattered. She had always been the one to keep me going. Her battle cry “There's work to be done” usually meant she, or we would soon be headed to help somebody, or a cause that “won't make it without a little hand.” When my world crashed down, I lost my ambition, my faith, my hope. My depression led to heavy drinking, and that put me into a spiral, which didn't end until I hit bottom. One night I had a dream, a very realistic dream. I was standing with a group of people, in the front yard of our old house. Everyone was milling around talking in low voices... It was a Wake following a funeral. Then I saw her... she broke away from the group and rounded the corner of the house. I followed her to the back yard, as I caught up, she turned and gave me a hug. She held me at arms length, looked me up and down, and said I looked like hell. I asked if she had come to take me, if it was my time? She told me “no, not yet, I just wanted to see you”. She told me that I had to start taking care of myself... for her. “There's work to be done!” That's when I woke up, both figuratively, and literally.

Now I survive day to day, with an eye to the future.

I'm homeless... I don't steal, I don't beg, or take “hand outs”, I don't trespass onto private property.

I do my best not to look homeless. I do day labor for a temp agency, but am limited due to telephone and transportation constraints. I take occasional odd jobs on the side, but prefer small household repairs. I'm told that most local contractors won't even stop by to give estimates on these small jobs, because it's just not worth their time. I get this work by word of mouth, and have quite a few repeat customers. I have a growing list (of mostly seniors), that can't do the winter weatherizing, or spring cleanup of their homes. I don't charge an arm and a leg, and am open to bartering. I'll never get rich doing this, but I've made new friends, helped others, have been able to replace many of my old "tools of the trade", and have even bought a few “necessities” that I now see as luxuries.

A friend lets me store a few tools, and things in an old truck tool box that I have stuck under his deck. (A wooden deck that I helped build). He also lets me use his address to receive mail. This has allowed me to obtain a library card, which includes Internet access. I can only sign up to reserve an hour block of time, but if there's nobody else waiting to use it, they let people stay on indefinitely. With access to such a goldmine of reference/research material (including SurvivalBlog), the possibilities seem endless. It is also a warm place to spend a cold winter day.

Winter is, of course, the most difficult time to live outdoors. I dress in layers, and carry at least one complete change of clothes. It rains a lot here, and you will get wet. Wool makes the best insulating layer (even when wet), and “Gore-Tex” type materials are a great shell. I've gotten most of my layers cheap at local thrift stores. Shelters have come in many forms, from lean-tos, to public restrooms, or empty shipping containers. I won't stay in a “homeless shelter”, there is just too much potential trouble there. There is less chance of confrontations when I stay out of town, but there are also fewer resources, and opportunities for employment. There is one huge benefit when I do stay out of town. I'm able to cook, and heat with one of my “Penny Wood Gas” stoves, and not alarm anyone. I've made several variations of these and usually keep two or three around for different uses. Using the original size can, with fewer/smaller holes, gives a longer burn, with lower temps. Which is better for warming/drying cold hands, feet, and clothes. I always keep one loaded, ready to light, and it still weighs less than a pound.

There are wild foods to be had year round here in the Pacific Northwest. My diet is primarily vegetarian these days. Though I picked up a wrist rocket for a dollar at a garage sale, that occasionally adds protein to my meals. Cattails grow everywhere around here, and in it's many stages, is a constant source of nutrients. I highly recommend searching for a site like this one to familiarize yourself with local edibles. If/when the Golden Horde marches through this area, I expect most city dwellers to pass by these “weeds”, without giving them a second glance. Of the 55 plants on this particular page, I had previously only tried a hand full that I knew. Now there are only a few that I don't use regularly, either because they don't grow in my area of operation, they have digestive “side affects” or I prefer the flavor of others. A short note on “flavor”... While wild greens, grubs, and ground squirrels, can get you through a survival situation, they aren't always the most palatable for consuming day after day. Spice it up... a few basic spices can make the worst tasting gruel edible. I get my spices from the bulk food section of a local store. For the price of one pre-packaged little bottle of spice, I can get a variety of flavor enhancers. A few spices don't take up much space, and weigh only a few ounces. I carry a little with me, and have the rest in a few half pint jars stashed away in a secure location. The Ball company makes plastic (aka. non rusting) screw on lids. While not suitable for heat processing, they are air/water tight, and work great for storing dry goods.

In 2006 I was lucky enough to locate a south facing ledge approximately 12' x 30', which sits about 80' above a major highway, but is still 30'- 40' below the crest. I call it my “Garden Retreat”. With a sheer rock face above and below, my garden is still readily accessible by any surefooted mountain goat that knows the right route (a.k.a. me). There is a small spring not far away that gives me fresh drinking water and I can carry enough for the plants I am growing during the (very short) dry season here. Anything close to the edge that grows over waist high could be visible from below, but only if you know where to look. It has between 6” and 18' of top soil. I've been adding compostable materials and other amendments for three years now, and can easily produce 3-4 times the quantity of veggies I can eat. I use successive plantings, combined with intensive companion planting/intercropping, to get the highest yield out of the least work, and water. I go heavy on the root crops, because they keep longer, and often can be left in the ground until the rains set in. I've managed to assemble a couple of “cold frames” out of scrounged materials and old windows, to help extend my growing season. I can now have fresh lettuce in all but the coldest part of the year. Until I come up with better preservation methods, I'm using excesses as gifts, or barter.

Early this spring, I picked up (and rebuilt), an old bicycle. It has greatly increased my mobility, and extended my range. Now I'm gathering parts to build a trailer, to carry my tools.

Things have turned around for me. They may get bad again, or even worse, but I know that I will survive.

I've been sober for five years so far. I still don't know what God, or my wife have in store for me, but I will be ready. I haven't completely forgiven God yet, but it seems that he's forgiven me. I'm doing well right now, and have enough “extra” saved to purchase a prepaid cell phone. Another “luxury”, that will allow me to be more easily reachable/available for employment. If all goes well, I may spend this winter (or the next) indoors.

My advice to you?

  • Never give up.
  • No matter how bad things get... they could be worse.
  • Don't waste time pitying yourself.
  • Try to think clearly, and constructively. “There's work to be done!”

Regards, - Trashcollector

JWR Adds: Trashcollector's article was remarkable. It has earned him a special editor's prize, that will be dug up from the depths of JASBORR. His narrative reminded me of the same enterprising spirit that was shown by Sylvan Hart (a.k.a. "Buckskin Bill"), who lived a solitary life for many years in the wilds of central Idaho. I highly recommend the book Last of the Mountain Men, that documents Sylvan Hart's amazing life.

There have recently been some really good posts on SurvivalBlog. I found B.J.H.'s Thoughts on Beginning Preparedness very interesting. Not just because of useful information, but because it highlighted the differences between each of us and our situations. My first survival/TEOTWAWKI book was When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency by Matthew Stein. It made sense to me, so I started with lots of extra house/car keys, hidden appropriately. Next was Bug Out Bags (BOBs) for the whole family, and emergency bags in the cars. Then I started stockpiling food and water for an extended bug-in situation. I've continued from there...

In contrast to B.J.H., being a long-time outdoorsman, I am heavy on firearms and I've also participated in IDPA and IPSC. So I already had guns staged around the house. Similarly, I am a long-time, avid gardener. I never thought of these things as "prepping", they were just the right thing to do. It is fascinating how each of us has different skills and tools, recognize the need for improvement in different areas, and prioritize different resources or threats.

Concerning B.J.H.'s future plans for a water filter, and J.E.'s Low Cost Preparedness article, I would highly recommend the Katadyn Siphon Water Filter. I have smaller filters in the BOBs, and a high end filter for the retreat. But at 40-some dollars, and a 5,800 gallon capacity, this a very affordable way to produce potable water without hand-pumping or electricity. I would use a sari filter first, then the Siphon, to extend the life of the Siphon.

Thanks for all your work updating your blog, daily. It is much appreciated. I try not to waste your bandwidth, but sometime I simply must reply. Thanks again and God bless, - Stew M.

SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate G.G. sent this: Nielson Probability of US Hyperinflation or Debt Implosion

Both G.G. and John G. suggested this article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: The Death of Paper Money

F.G. mentioned: The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it

K.A.F. sent this Fox news item: Treasury Plans to Sell 30% More of Citi Stake.

Reader R.F.G. recommended an Instructables piece on rain water collection barrels. R.F.G.'s comment: "Sometimes all you need is a few pictures to make something 'brain dead' simple."

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G. &K. suggested this news article from Kentucky: Growing number people growing their own groceries.

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Nancy Tappan very kindly sent me a review copy of her fledgling magazine, The New Pioneer. It is subtitled “The Complete Guide to Self-Reliant Living.” I am very impressed with the magazine. The articles are well-written and fit the back-to-the-land/prepper audience very well. The premier issue was a hefty 128 pages, with lots of great articles and very little advertising. It's published by Country Almanac, part of Harris Publications. Check it out at your local news stand or book store. Their editorial mailing address is: New Pioneer Magazine, P.O. Box 1050 Rogue River, Oregon 97537. Editorial e-mail: newpioneermag@hotmail.com. Subscriptions and single copy sales: (212) 462-9536. (Ask for the Single copy sales desk.)

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Johnny G. suggested this article on QRP radios: DIY: Cheap, ultra low-power radios that communicate over thousands of miles. Oh by the way, a QRP radio is featured in the storyline of my upcoming novel, "Veterans: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse." (The first sequel to my novel "Patriots".)In the new novel, I described the use of an Elecraft KX1 QRP shortwave transceiver.  This low power rig can be used to transmit Morse code in the 20, 30, 40 and 80 Meter ham radio bands. It is about the size of a paperback book. Powered by six AA batteries, the 10-ounce radio was capable of transmitting around the world when ionospheric conditions are right.  It puts out just 1-to-2 watts of power (or up to 4 watts if using an external 12 volt DC battery).

"When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 30. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Preparing for the end of the world as we know it is an understandably daunting task, especially for a beginning prepper. The path to securing yourself and your family should ultimately end in a self-sufficient rural retreat, but there are many steps down that path. It is easy in the beginning stages of your preparation to feel discouraged by the shear size of the task in front of you. The amount of information to be taken in, the sudden awareness s of your vulnerable present condition, the list of tools you never knew you needed, and the anticipated financial and sweat equity costs are enough to shock some beginners into abandoning the task all together. Understanding preparation in a more easily digestible form is a key toward creating a successful preparedness plan. This article will discuss the proper mindset as well as the initial steps necessary for the beginning prepper.

The social, political, and psychological themes encountered in TEOTWAWKI strike a chord with many individuals in a society which has become so technologically dependent, so economically interconnected, and so highly specialized. For the average suburbanite who can't fix his own car, doesn't grow his own food, and has never experience “hunger” greater than skipping lunch during a hectic day at the office the breakdown of civil society is hard to conceptualize in anything more than an abstract way. I've always been interested in end of the world scenarios, whether in movies, television, books or video games. However, like so many Americans actually moving toward self sufficiency was not a chief concern. After getting married and settling in to law school I started go give more serious thought to my own preparedness for a disaster situation. Maybe it was just a symptom of “growing up” or perhaps being married focused me more intently on the need to provided for and to defend my family, but in either case I began to take stock of my readiness level and make a plan for improving it. I went to web site after web site and read as many survival books as I could get my hands on. It became quickly apparent that my level of readiness was pathetic.

I had the food in my kitchen cabinets, a .22 rifle and a .22 pistol (each with only a box or so of ammunition), a hatchet that I used for yard work, an extra five gallon can of gasoline which was of course only half full, some flashlights, and some old boots. This was all the stood between my family's safety and disaster if a TEOTWAWKI scenario unfolded. Comparing my own pathetic state to the level of preparedness described in many of the books I read, I was even more discouraged. I couldn't help but feel like I needed to go from average guy to hardcore survivalist over night. I felt like I needed to do so many things to get ready, things that seemed impossible: move my family to a wilderness retreat, learn a lifetime of survival skills, buy thousands of dollars of new equipment. After the initial panic I marshaled myself and began to analyze the situation more clearly. Like any major effort, becoming prepared would be a process with both long term and short term goals. Rather than buying piece meal the items I needed to survive a long term disaster, it made more sense to me to start with a hierarchy of disaster scenarios and prepare for each in order.

First on my list was a break in or home invasion scenario. This seemed the most probable both because of the area in which I live, a few miles from a large city, the current economic climate, and the possibility of this scenario even outside any systemic breakdown. I began by inspecting and performing routine maintenance on the locks of both my doors and windows. My home has an alarm system, so I called the provided and ran a series of tests t o insure it was functioning properly. I also check into how the system actually functioned. Like most alarm systems it simply sends a signal along the phone line, making it easy enough for a burglar to either cut the phone line or knock out power and enter more easily. I decided to create a second level of low tech security. I purchased several sets of large sleigh bells at an after Christmas sale, these not hang from interior doorknobs to provide extra noise when doors are opened and close. I also purchase small wedge alarms that activate a battery operated siren when the door makes contact with them. These are also placed behind each door, acting not only as a door stop but an added alarm. I finished off my low tech system with some standard door bars; they rest underneath the door knob and prevent the door from being pushed open. I also added security lights on both sides and the back of my home. The lights are controlled from a panel in my bedroom for easy activation when something goes bump in the night. While the system isn't foolproof it is much more secure than it was before I started and all with relatively minimal effort.

In addition to preparing my house for the break-in or home invasion scenario I recognized the need to prepare myself. I purchased a new 9mm handgun and a shotgun. While I had been advised by many to get a .45 for stopping power, the Walther P99 I purchased fit well into my hand and for me was both easy and comfortable to shoot. The gun was placed in my dresser drawer and the shotgun in a closet opposite the bed. Given the layout of my bedroom it made sense to retreat into the closet if necessary and this made the shotgun placement seem sensible. I also purchased 500 rounds of ammunition for each of my guns, a sufficient stockpile which allowed me to go to the shooting range when I had free time while still keeping good quantity on hand in between replenishments.

I also recognized that having guns didn't mean I knew how to use them, and so I enrolled myself in an urban environment shooting class. I had basic guns skill, but the class taught me about moving and shooting, shooting indoors including tactical movement, and shooting from common positions like the driver's position in a vehicle. The cost of the course was a few hundred dollars, but provided me with a wealth of confidence in my ability to react to the break-in or home invasion scenario. With one scenario off the list I could already sleep better at night, and despite the distance still to go on my road to preparedness, the first step was done.

Next on my list was a natural disaster scenario with short term (one to two weeks) power loss. Having grown up in southern West Virginia, I recognize that in rural areas even a bad storm could knock out power for a couple weeks, suburban areas of large cities might get a faster response, but if the disaster were of sufficient size the delay in repairs could well drag into weeks just like it would in the hollers back home. My first step was to secure a one month supply of food and water for myself, my wife, and our puppy. These items constituted the beginning of our larder and were simple items purchase in bulk from Sam's Club. I dedicated a closet in the spare bedroom to the storage of these items. I felt the basement was too prone to dampness and the attic to prone to high temperatures. I started with flour, rice, pinto beans, canned tuna, sugar, salt, cooking oil, and powdered milk. Our water supply consisted of a large stockpile of liter water bottles. We also purchased extra food for our puppy and stored it in the same area. My wife and I made a decision to augment this one month supply with new items at each trip to the grocery store. Some of our first acquisitions included a stockpile of feminine products, toilet paper, and paper plates an d napkins. These items all promised to make sanitation easier in a disaster crunch. The purchase of a couple boxes of extra large contractor trash bags rounded out this effort.

Next I started on items which would be needed in the natural disaster scenario, I purchased a good radio. I wanted the most power options possible including a hand crank, solar, batteries, and DC power. I also wanted the radio to cover the greatest spectrum of bands including the weather alert band. After the radio I procured some extra flashlights and batteries. Following the advice of a one book I got some brightly colored duct tape and wrapped the handle of each flashlight for easy location. I also set aside an emergency stock of candles in a small bin with some lighters, matches, and empty coffee cans (to be used as candle holders). My next concern was for heat and fuel. I stocked up on gasoline in safety containers and stored this in the area of my basement at the farthest end from the bedrooms and away from any possible ignition sources. I also bought extra propane for my grill and extra oil for my Tiki Torch type lamps. We have a fire pit, and so I ordered two extra loads of wood and created tarp covered storage bins in my back yard to hold the stockpile. When acquiring new items I tired to focus on things that my family would use regardless of a disaster scenario. Stocking up just meant having extra on hand for when we needed it.

In finishing off my natural disaster efforts, I turned back to making my home secure. While my alarm system had carbon monoxide and smoke detectors built in, this wouldn' t do me any good with the power down. I obtained stand alone units. I also purchased several more fire extinguishers and place them at strategic locations. My intention was to be able to manage a fire on my own should emergency services be tied up with a large scale disaster situation. While there is certainly a lot more that could be done, with food, water, lighting, and heating secured I felt okay about my chances in a short to natural disaster scenario.

I was feeling a lot better about the security and sustainability of my home in a short term disaster scenario, but now I needed to make sure my wife and I could get back to the house in an emergency. I was ready to take on the task of creating bug out bags to keep in our cars and at work. The bags were surplus swat responder bags with plenty of extra pockets and heavy duty zippers. The initial contents included changes of clothes and boots as my wife and I both have to wear dress clothe s to work. I also got heavy duty leather gloves and a set of protective goggles for each back. Next came water and food, 4 liters of water and 8-10 protein bars. I then added items for fire creation, including standard matches and lighters and a magnesium strip sparker. I purchased a gas mask for each bag. While the gas masks might violate the normal rule for things my family will use anyway, it seemed like a better to be safe than sorry type item. Flashlight and extra batteries, a multi-tool, and a first aid kits were also included. Each kit also contained a tarp for shelter as well as parachute cord and tarp clips.

The final items considered the possibility of a shelter in place scenario with biological components to the threat. I got several layers of plastic sheeting, duct tape, and bright orange spray paint. The tape and plastic to block air flow in a shelter area and the spray paint to make the position on an office or car window to get emergency personnel's attention. These were the first version bug out bags we created, and they have since been augmented with items like extra ammo (we both got our concealed carry permits) and a small hatchet. We also make a concerted effort to keep the gas tanks for the car full, and this combined with the bag contents increases our changes of making it home if things go bad.

I am currently working on the next phase of preparedness, getting the home ready for a longer term survival situation. My wife and I have stocked up on seeds and have planted gardens for the la st two summers. We are increasing our food and water supplies to deepen our larder as it were. I purchased items necessary to seal off the house including plastic sheeting, plywood, nails and the like. Our next big purchase will hopefully be a water filter .

Many readers will probably look at our current level of preparedness and feel it is inadequate, I agree. Other might questions the preparedness decisions I have made or the order in which I put my priorities above, that's probably fair as well. The main point I hope to get across is not necessarily the specific plan for preparing, but the more general attitude necessary for a new prepper. With each new phase of preparation I am increasing my odds of survival and making my family safer. It's obviously a long road, and even seasoned veterans still have to maintain their training a preparation. My hope is that readers who are just getting into prepping or who have considered the scenarios but haven't taken action can appreciate this approach and implement it with success to overcome their initial anxiety. Good luck to you all and God bless in your efforts!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have enjoyed your books and SurvivalBlog for several years now. They have helped me prepare myself and my family for dark times we hope are not coming but look more and more certain each day. I wanted to attempt to share some of my knowledge with this community in hopes it can help prepare others.

After 9-11 I made a career change and became a police officer in Northern California. I have been blessed to receive a lot of specialized training since become an officer. Some of this training has included: firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor, chemical agent instructor, less-lethal munitions instructor, simunitions instructor, swat operator and sniper operator.

The focus of this writing will be on the body’s reaction to critical incidents, specifically, in firefights or gun fights. This information will apply to other critical incidents as well, such as major auto accidents, natural disasters, or other high stress calamities.

I have been present in critical incidents three times when shots have been fired. I hope my personal experience and education can be a help to other readers in preparing them for similar incidents, should they find themselves in one. As you know, a little preparation goes a long way.

In high stress situations where the body and mind perceive a grave threat is at hand the body produces an adrenal dump or chemical dump (lots of chemicals are put into the blood stream at this time, not just adrenalin). This is referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ reaction. A third reaction, or lack thereof, makes ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ a better name.

This chemical dump occurs automatically when someone faces a situation where the mind recognizes the body is in severe danger. The chemicals cause several automatic reactions in the body. Some of these are: blood is pulled away from the outer extremities and into the core (chest) of the body, higher respiratory rates, increased pulse, and an increase in blood sugar.

These simple changes allow vital organs enough blood to perform their essential functions, especially the heart and lungs. This also prevents a wound to the arms or legs from causing a major loss of blood and hampering the body’s ability to fight or flight. Increased breathing helps provide the muscles with enough oxygen while the quickened pulse helps deliver fuel throughout the body, again readying fight or flight.

Other reactions occur in the body as well as a result of the chemical dump. These include: distorted audio and visual perception, time distortion, intruding thoughts, increased heart rate, deterioration of fine motor skills, and increase in strength and pain tolerance.

In a brief summary of these, audio distortion is commonly reported as the loss of audio input. Incredibly loud sounds, such as gun shots, are heard as mere popping noises, like a cap gun. This makes communications between police officers in critical events difficult. It will also make it very difficult for you and yours to communicate if the SHTF and you are defending yourselves.

Time distortion is frequently reported as the perceived slow down of events – as if things were occurring in slow motion, even the involved reactions to the threat. Infrequently this was reported as things happening more quickly, i.e., in fast forward. Visual distortion is commonly called “tunnel vision” in high stress events. The mind realizes the life or death threat in front of it and it attempts to block out all other stimuli but this life or death threat. Imagine your natural field of vision being reduces from approximately 200 degrees down to 40 degrees.

One of the more interesting effects is intruding thoughts. Some individuals report strange details being at the fore front of their mind while a life or death situation unfolds. For example, even though a person may be seeking cover from a subject shooting at them, their mind is questioning whether or not they remembered to feed the dog before going to work.

The chemical dump also causes the loss of fine motor skills. The hands will shake and be unable to perform intricate detail with accuracy, if at all. A last area that should be mentioned is that many people lose control of their bowels and bladders as a result of a critical incident. These ‘code brown’ or ‘code yellow’ incidents can be embarrassing at a later time. They do not reflect a person is a coward or scared. The body is simply trying to get rid of things it does not need.

If you are not mentally and physically (physically conditioning and prior exposure to chemical dumps) prepared for the effects of the chemical dump it can make a difficult situation worse. I have seen individuals overloaded by the dire nature of a situation and they lose their ability to think or react with reason. This is obviously not a state of mind which increases ones chances for survival.

So, now that we know what happens to the body we can begin to prepare mentally for what may be coming. Understanding these effects also helps us heal mentally more quickly once we have survived. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur in any critical incident. PTSD is defined as a complex disorder where a person's memory, emotional responses, intellectual processes, and nervous system have all been disrupted by one or more traumatic experiences. Intruding and reoccurring thoughts of the event are still present approximately eight weeks after the traumatic event. Understanding that these reactions are normal and common ahead of time can be a great comfort to the individual who experiences them. These issues are not a sign of weakness or failure. Anyone who survives any gunfight is not a failure.

I would recommend anyone who is serious about surviving any type of armed encounter begin to rehearse mentally in their head as much detail as is possible of as many different scenarios as they can. For example, imagine three people coming to your home demanding food and threatening you with guns if you don’t provide it. Imagine being out after a successful hunt which will feed your family and two subjects order you to leave your game behind and go. Imagine every step of action you could take, from engaging in a firefight, moving to cover, having bad guys shoot at you, etc.

Practice four count breathing as a way to counter some of the less desirable effects of a chemical dump. This four count breathing is performed by breathing in for four seconds, holding the breath in for four seconds, breathing out for four seconds, holding the breath for four seconds and repeating.

When you practice shooting at the range practice as if you are in a gun fight. Whether you know it or not, you are developing habits your mind is going to follow if you go into an autopilot mode following a chemical dump. It would be much better to practice engaging your target and scanning around you and breaking your tunnel vision prior to mentally concluding your training exercise. Bad guys are like potato chips, they seldom are found one at a time. Be alert for the next bad guy(s) and be prepared to engage him before they get to you.

Without opening the topic up to much, and again, just scratching the surface, I want to digress onto firefights a bit. We have expressions that are valuable and should help the average reader. Two shots is a good start in a firefight. A slow hit is better than a fast miss. Put your shots on target (see below) and make them count. When you can’t get to the range as often as you would like, use mental imaging to help prepare you for the real thing. Practice dry fire (after ensuring your weapon is unloaded [, all ammunition has been removed from the room, and you have a safe backstop]), as often as you can. Live fire is just a demonstration of how well you dry fire.

Much has already been discussed here and elsewhere about the caliber of weapon one should use. I do not mean to beat a dead horse and cause days of reader responses for you sir, but I will stir the pot with the following: An FBI Firearms Training Unit Study cites previous studies that have calculated bullet velocities and impact power, concluding that the “stopping power” of a 9mm bullet at muzzle velocity is equal to a one-pound weight (e.g., baseball) being dropped from the height of six feet. A .45 ACP bullet impact would equal that same object dropped from 11.4 feet. That is a far cry from what Hollywood would have us believe, and actually flies in the face of what even many in law enforcement have come to mistakenly believe. I would suggest the best round for you to use is the round you can most accurately deliver on a consistent basis.

The FBI report also emphasizes that unless the bullet destroys or damages the central nervous system (i.e., brain or upper spinal cord), incapacitation of the subject can take a long time, particularly if one is engaged in a firefight and has experienced a chemical dump or if the subject is under the influence of drugs. There is sufficient oxygen within the brain to support full, voluntary action for 10-15 seconds after the heart has been destroyed. How many shots could you get off in 10-15 seconds?

Back to preparing to survive the gun fight. Develop now the will to live, survive, and win the fight. If you are shot, and you can get medical attention, you have a good chance of surviving. Don’t Panic! Visualize yourself getting hit and continuing to fight. Expect the body’s reaction to a chemical dump – dry mouth, sweaty palms, pounding heart. Know that if you are hit with gunfire that tissue wounds may not hurt, bone hits will hurt. Not all bullet wounds bleed extensively. I have witnessed wounds that left thumb sized holes in individuals with the smallest trickle of blood exiting the body. The body has a lot of blood in it – about 1.5 gallons of blood in body. You can lose 40% of this blood before you will lose consciousness (Imagine the mess on your hands if you spilled a half gallon of milk on the floor in the kitchen!).

My department has spent a great deal of money providing the officers here with Simunition firearms and safety equipment for training. I personally believe this is invaluable in preparing individuals for surviving and winning gun fights.

I recommend anyone serious about preparing for a gun fight include paintball training (due to its lower cost) or similar. This training must be taken seriously with proper safety equipment for all involved. The benefits are many.

For this training to work it must be done in the most serious manner possible. Participants will have to buy in mentally and will make the scenarios good or bad by their involved effort. Scenarios acted out will be the best way for the training to have a positive effect.

When taken seriously this training will induce a (small) chemical dump in participants. I have witnessed and experienced this training and know it will help inoculate participants into the effects of a chemical dump. Any familiarity one can obtain in a critical incident makes the likelihood of surviving the incident that much greater. The threat of pain from the paint ball will induce the chemical dump, the memory of pain will help prevent you from making any mistakes again. I would strongly suggest that each person who is receiving the training in the scenario be allowed to win each scenario. We do our best learning through positive interaction. We are also trying to show that even if we are hit we can still fight through and win. Anyone wanting more information of this training I would suggest the book “Training at the Speed of Life” by Kenneth Murray.

This is as good a place as any to touch on the perception/reaction delay as well. Studies have suggested it takes ¾ of a second for the average human to perceive an incident is occurring and another ¾ of a second for the body to react. If you are facing a situation where you believe a gun fight is imminent then you need to find a place of cover (something which will absorb bullets) or distance away from your enemy to help you overcome this delay. Try a paint ball scenario (with full safety equipment) where one subject is holding another at gun point with their gun extended and ready to shoot. The second subject can have their gun at their side. The first subject can’t shoot at the second subject until the second subject moves to shoot the first subject. You might be surprised at how difficult this is.

In closing, please consider this a scratch on the surface of the issue of surviving gun fights. Hopefully this has given the reader some food for thought which stimulates their appetite to learn more on their own. Remember, dirt bags survive being shot, so can you.

Good luck and stay safe. - H.J., A prepper brother in the thin blue line.

Reader S.A. came across a Tropical Plant Database. he described it as: "a well-laid out professional-looking web site that lists medicinal uses of herbs, shrubs, flowers, trees, etc. Easy to use and read including common plants such as mimosa, stevia, epazote, ageratum, artichoke, mango, nettles, passion flower, and so on."

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Alpha Innovations has introduced several new products: the Single Finger Nuck (an inconspicuous looking keychain decoration that doubles as an impact weapon ), the Alpha Scraper, and the Saf-T-Wrench another impact tool that doubles as a wrench ). Also, until August 15ht, they are selling our entire line of Kubotans at $6. That is $1 off their already low price. That includes both sizes of tapered Kubotans, pink Kubotan, dome ended, flat ended, rubber training baton, and stylus sized Kubotan. And the His & Hers Kubotan set is on sale for $11.50 (regularly $13.00 ).

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F.G. recommended this photo essay: Captured: A Look Back at the Vietnam War on the 35th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon

"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." - Rom 14:5-9 (KJV)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 30. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The recent SurvivalBlog article on a home invasion robbery reminded me of a situation I experienced a couple of months back. I attribute my successful evasion of a possibly harmful or even deadly situation to my preparations, long before the fact.

Part of my work involves the inspection of in-service bridges to ensure they are structurally sound. This is by far the most dangerous work that I do because many of these bridges are in bad neighborhoods and I am sometimes by myself. I have been in dangerous neighborhoods before and observed literal word of mouth travel up the block that an “outsider” is in the area. Within minutes foot traffic in the area increases dramatically and a general unease settles in on me.

A couple of months back I had to run out and take a quick measurement on a bridge that my partner and I had forgotten to measure when we were there the day before. I would be out of my truck for no more than two minutes. The bridge was in an area that would be considered relatively safe, so I will admit that my awareness was not what it should have been. However, I did have my [.32 ACP] Kel-Tec P32 pocket pistol that I carry religiously. I hopped out of my truck, climbed under the bridge, performed my task and was climbing back up when I noticed a shady-looking character on the bridge sidewalk above me. I remember a feeling inside me that simply said “… be careful ”. When he saw me, he made contact:

Stranger: “I’m in distress. Call 911.”

A quick assessment led me to believe that this guy was not in any “distress”. He was moving normal and showed no signs of pain.

Me: “I’m sorry man, I don’t have my phone,” I lied. (As I said this, I was backing up towards my truck (Approx. 50 feet off) “What is wrong with you?”

Stranger: “I said I’m in distress, call 911.” (He rounded the bridge guardrail, left the sidewalk, and was briskly approaching me.)

I felt that it would be more hazardous to myself to show weakness by apologizing or making any concessions to him. I decided to continue to escalate what was becoming a very tense situation by being very firm.

Me: “Look, I just told you I don’t have a (censored) phone. I will call as soon as I’m back at my office but there’s nothing I can do for you here.”

Stranger: (He pointed to Leatherman case on my hip and became extremely angry. His pace picks up and he begins swearing profusely at me.)

“I see your phone on your hip, call 911 now or I will take it and call myself.”

Me: (I’d finally reached my truck, but there is no way I will feel safe turning my back to open the door. He was by then only about 20 feet in front of me, visibly angry and moving closer. I decides I had no other options, so I drew my gun from my pocket with one hand and steadied it towards his chest. My other hand opened the door and I slid in, strong arm still outstretched between the open door and the truck frame. My free hand goes for the center console and [the more capable] 9mm pistol that is in it. I exchanged pistols, always keeping a barrel on him. I started the truck's engine, hit the auto window down, and finally I was able to shut the door, with the strong arm still outstretched. I dropped the truck into reverse and backed up about 100 feet. “Tell me what is wrong with you and I will call 911 right now.”

Stranger: (He made no response. I left and call the police to inform them that someone may need medical assistance, but was also acting extremely suspiciously. I do not mention anything else. I will never be convinced otherwise that this man had anything other than nefarious intentions, but I still felt the need to end the situation with a clear conscience.)

From the time that I drew my pistol until just before I left, there were no words exchanged. We were finally communicating on the same primal level. I responded to his threat of violence in kind and no words were needed. What did amaze me is that my mind was as clear as it had ever been; I heard no other sounds but his words and footsteps, I felt no other presence but him and my truck behind me. I am surely not the “high speed, low drag” type, but I believe I was able to perform under pressure because of mental preparation.

Situational Awareness (SA)

One area that I failed in was Situational Awareness (SA). Proper SA would have likely dictated that I circle the site and assess any threats. I did not do this; like I said before, I was in a “decent” part of town, traffic was not far from me, I’ll only be a minute, etc. I did take a moment before I got out of my truck to scan the area for perceived threats; I did not see anyone in the area.

I’ve heard LEO joke before about being able to pick a comrade out of a crowd simply by looking for “cop eyes”. “Cop eyes” are wide open and aware. They dart from car to car to check for occupants and take a quick glance to the rear as they walk in the parking lot. They scan the room as they enter, assessing the situation as a whole and then individuals that seem out of place. They look for primary and secondary points of egress. I’ve practiced this to a point where it usually comes naturally now, especially if I’m in strange surroundings. SA is only one tool in your chest, and often leads to:

Trust Your Gut

When I popped up from under the bridge and saw this guy mere feet from me (Almost side by side, but I was about 10’ below him so I was able to gain some standoff room before he rounded the bridge rail.), my instincts actually said: “You just scanned the area and no one was near, how did this guy get to you so quick – be careful .” My subconscious knew something did not equate in the situation. By listening to my gut, my alert was heightened and I was able to react accordingly. I’ve been in situations before where a general feeling of unease overtakes me. This may result in me hanging a left where I should have a right and taking the long route around, or stepping back in the store with my wife because I “forgot” something and wanted to browse a minute more. I don’t know if this has saved me from trouble or not. That’s the thing about your gut: when it works, you usually don’t know. Read the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker, and learn to trust your intuition. God gives us gifts so that we may use them.


Many of us cannot go off to some self defense boot camp for a weekend and expend several thousand rounds practicing the high art of the tactical pistol. Wargaming does not by any means replace proper training. It does however, help prepare your mind for situations beyond your control that seem to happen within the blink of an eye.

I’ve always done this, but didn’t always refer to it as “wargaming”. It was just something I did when I was about to face a stressful situation. In college, if I had a presentation the next day, I would take turns with buddies practicing the speech. If a Q&A was to follow (usually it would), we would try to throw the speaker with questions they may have not prepared for. By the end of our wargaming, each of us had thoroughly thought through our topic and could defend our position very well. I often do this for work as well, running possible scenarios through my head of what may happen in a meeting later in the day. I try to map out how I should react to varying positions and how to properly articulate my opinion so that I come across well prepared and knowledgeable.

I have wargamed many encounters in my head: being approached by someone in parking lots, while in my vehicle, while out on an inspection, coming home to a breached door, with or without my wife, phone, gun, and so forth. Wargaming works best when you have someone to offer counterpoints, so I’ll discuss this with someone that I trust. We’ll go through scenarios until we think we have planned for as many unknowns as we can. I believe this simple exercise helped me remain calm and collected during the above encounter. I feel I did not react too quickly, yet I did not allow my personal security zone to be compromised.

Muscle Memory and Training

Practice! Practice until the act is a natural extension of yourself. Whether it is typing blazing speeds or operating your handgun as if it is a big clunky metal/polymer extension of your hand, practice what you think you need to know, so that when you need it, you execute without even knowing it. I carry my gun in the same position as much as possible. I practice drawing my gun when I’m doing target shooting as well as drills. How do you know you’ve practiced enough? You don’t until you need those skills in a real time situation, so do not become complacent in your training.

My brother and I developed a [dry practice] drill [with an unloaded pistol] where he would approach me from the side (perpendicular to firing stance). I react as if someone is approaching head-on. This way he is never in the line of fire. He will run through different scenarios (visibly angry from the beginning, sudden hostile change in behavior once he is within close distance, etc.). My weapon stays holstered until I perceive a threat. We try to run through scenarios that include talking out of a situation, drawing and retreating and of course use of force. The purpose of the drill is not to “win” but to mimic your actions in real life. This drill requires both parties to operate on the honor system and stay "in-character". It is an eye opener when you, as the “victim”, read the “hostile” improperly and “lose” several times in a row. Several lessons learned include:

* The instant you perceive a threat is usually much later than the time in which the threat actually began.
* Distances can be cleared very quickly by a determined individual. Keep your weapon easily accessible. [JWR Adds: Any practice with the Tueller Drill will show you that seven yards is a scant minimum safe distance!]
* There is a time for racket and a time for silence. When your gun is out, you are wasting “brain RAM” by focusing on conveying a message. At this point it is only fight or flight. Shut off all other programs in your head, so that all of your “brain RAM” is being focused on those two options.

In writing this article, it forced me to think through my actions on that day. I don’t remember making decisions on how to react in my head, I just remember reacting. If I didn’t listen to my intuition, I may not have entered the situation on high alert. If I had not previously thought through what I would do, I may have frozen up. If I didn’t carry in the same position every day and practicing drawing and firing, I may have reached for the wrong carry position, only to find nothing. A failure in any one of these areas might have cost me dearly.

Thank you for this site and what you do. God Bless you.

Thank you for your great blog. I have learned a lot from it and it has been a motivator in getting friends to begin to prep. I just wanted to share this article with you: 'Scary' growth of gangs in war zones. It talks about Gangs in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. It specifically mentioned gang members being arrested recently that had military service and had brought back their manuals. If the stuff hits the fan we may not be faced with untrained, sideways shooting gangsters but with gang members who at least have some training and understanding of military tactics. - Matt U.

Several readers mentioned this: Report Blasts Military For Not Being Nuke-Proof.

   o o o

Tam over at the View From The Porch blog provided a link to an interesting news segment on Navy SEAL riverine training on the Pearl River in Mississippi. Tamara wryly notes: "We now know where NAVSPECWAR conducts the crucial 'Sunglasses Selection Phase' of training."

   o o o

Seed For Security is offering a promotion that will run through the end of August, 2010. They will be enclosing one free pint of Rye grain and a free packet of Bloomsdale spinach seeds with every order over $25. Both just in time for late Summer planting.

   o o o

M.O.B. sent this: Who in the world isn't on Facebook? 500 Million subscribers! Again, I must warn SurvivalBlog readers: Don 't get a Facebook account. Or, if you already have one, then don't use it to discuss anything controversial, and never mention you disaster preparations!

"In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any." - James Madison (Federalist No. 14, 30 November 1787)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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.

We, in the U.S.A., live on a knife edge.  Most of us take our life of ease (compared to the rest of the world) for granted, The ones who don’t are preppers and survivalists.  The television and radio give almost instant notification of the latest earthquake, hurricane, fire, or whatever and that makes many of us casual about disaster.  We get used to hearing about it so we ignore it beyond a “Gee that’s too bad!”  After all, disasters only happen to “the other guy.”

Prepping for the individual and the way we go about it is different in almost all cases.  Our geographic location and the natural disasters that follow from that location can be widely different.  Our ‘available/disposable’ income levels vary greatly.  The following is one man'slow cost approach using garage sales, estate sales, bargain hunting and scavenging.

- Much of your supply can be purchased bit by bit.  Bargains, sales, coupons,  Costco, canning, planning and acquisition over a period of time, not overnight, will get you where you need to be and at a reasonable price.  One of the most problematical long term storage items is fats.  Thanks to SurvivalBlog I found the recipe for canning butter.  Great addition. 

Done in this fashion, the neighbors will not notice the quantities you bring home.  Along with food items, I also include ‘bandages’ because quite often you can find huge clearances at grocery stores on first aid items.  No shelf life that I am aware of on bandages, gauze, cotton, povidone, and rubber gloves.  I have found clearances ($1.78 for a $17 antihistamine as an example) on OTC drugs with a "use by" date that is years down the road. 
When my office closed, I grabbed the large, full first aid kit as it hit the garbage can.  I have added to it and it is reasonably robust.

- Because weather can have such an impact, I have planted a small windbreak at my house, it really needs more, but what is there has already reduced the amount of wind that hits me.  It also increases privacy.

Before I started laying in supplies, the stick built house I am in needed some reinforcing to increase survivability from wind, weather, and earthquake.  It has 2x4 and 2x6 walls toe nailed onto sill plates and 2x12 floor joists.  I purchased metal framing brackets at Lowe’s and screwed them in everywhere I could reach, first in the basement and then in the attic.  When we had the roof done, I asked the foreman to screw the roof sheets to the trusses.  When we replaced the carpets, we screwed the underlayment to the joists.  All this adds strength and durability.
The walls in the basement were reinforced with the metal brackets and then plywood sheets screwed over the face.  The sills were either set in place with concrete screws or with nails from a power hammer.

The window wells were left stock but I fabricated 11/2  inch thick plywood plates (from shipping pallets) that easily slip in place back of the window glass inside the foundation.  They are painted a flat black and are held in place by a crossbar and brackets.  When installed, they are not noticeable from outside.

The hot water tank is attached to the wall with metal plumbers tape and between it and the floor drain is a water sensor alarm.  A side note here:  when we go out of town, the water for the house is shut off.  A cellar full of water can ruin your year. 
Hailstones are a randomly occurring disaster but they are enough of a fact of life that I have picked up a batch of new-in-the package heavy duty 10x20 plastic ripstop tarps at a garage sale for pennies on the dollar.  If needed, I can do a temporary roof patch with them.
 If there is structural damage to the house, there are a couple of canvas wall tents I picked up for next to nothing.  The people had some new high tech tents and the old canvas wall tents weren’t good enough anymore.  They are rather heavy, but they are in perfect condition; no mildew or rips and all the hardware is there.  I have visqueen and indoor/outdoor carpet for floors.

I picked up a nearly new kerosene heater at a garage sale and the kerosene at yet another sale.  Total cost $30.  Extra mantles will come from online selllers. The Coleman stove is nearly new and cost $5 with a $3 repair.  The five gallons of Coleman fuel cost $9 from garage and estate sales.  I have tested it for quality, no problems.  I don’t like the cold and I do like to eat hot food.

Because fire is a real concern, I am cutting back brush close to the house including the plantings of juniper.  In addition, I received six large fire extinguishers for free when the office I worked out of was closed.  They didn’t want the hassle of shipping them with a “HAZMAT” label. 
I went to the recycling center and found a ¼ inch thick circular metal plate that fits over the floor drain and slightly beyond.  With that and a pint of plumber’s putty, I can cap off the drain if it starts to back up on me.  I also have 4- 20 lb weights from a weight set to put on top of the cover.

My basement stays cool in the hot months and warm in the cold months so it is ideal for food storage.  The shelving lines one wall and there is nothing on the bottom shelves that water or sewage can harm.  This is for our day to day food, probably 3-4 months worth.  I am placing bi-fold doors (garage sale for $10) over them so it won’t be obvious to the plumber or other service personnel.  I also have a false wall in another room that has the really long term food stored behind it.  You have to unscrew the panels which are drywall covered with wood paneling.  It even has working electrical outlets in two places.

I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket, after all, this house could burn down. I therefore have a room at a local storage facility.  It is on the north side and has a concrete back wall and floor. It doesn’t get too hot.  My food stuffs are on the floor in the back in plastic and metal cans.  I picked up some patio lounge chairs with the big soft cushions at a garage sale.  The cushions go over the stuff in back as thermal insulation and the frames get stacked on top as camouflage.  I have a complete camp kitchen with a propane stove and sleeping bags in there that were purchased at a garage sale for fifty five dollars.  The sleeping bags are high quality, used once Cabela's and were professionally cleaned by a friend.  They are in mislabeled containers.  The kitchen is a plain wood box.  There are also items in front for camouflage that are just junky-a jumbled mess effect.
A fat tire wagon, also from a garage sale at $20, is left there just in case I need to move stuff.  Rat and mouse poisons on the floor complete the storage.

In case I become a refugee, I have a similar storage unit in my daughter’s house in another city.  It has much more food, and a batch of camping gear.  She thinks I am overly concerned about the state of our world and doesn’t buy into this “prepping nonsense” but she humors me.  I figure that if she and her daughter get to the point where she needs to use the stuff in her storage because the unthinkable has happened, that’s what it’s there for.  It’s also why there is a lot more there than she realizes.  Sometimes you have to try to take care of people that don’t think they need help.

- We have a well, not used for household, but it could be.  The "decorator" hand pump in the front yard planting still works very well.  I have treated it with anticorrosion grease inside the works.  I have extra leathers and several water filters laid by, if they are needed

Bug out
- I have a 1978 Ford 4x4 with foil and plastic wrapped spare electrical parts.  An electric fuel transfer pump was fabricated out of a generic electric gas pump, twelve feet of fuel hose and alligator clips (total cost $25).  I’ve used that twice.  It’s great.  I also have a couple of vans.  Not ideal, but adequate.  The BOBs in them are layered; a heavy duty one stashed out of site in the vehicles and a light duty kit that has its contents change with the seasons. 

The G.O.O.D. bags I have prepared are aluminum reinforced kydex equipment cases, also from the office closing.   Every SurvivalBlog reader’s contents will differ, but here are some points to consider.  A second set of eyes is great when setting these up.  My wife pointed out that I had mislaid the eating utensils-it is hard to eat soup with a knife.  I had small salt and pepper containers to which she added small containers of baking soda, sea salt, and sugar.  In addition to adding flavor, these allow you to make tooth paste, oral hydrating fluid, and many more things.
The small (cheap) sewing kit she tore apart and rebuilt.  It now has a metal thimble, standard needles, a triangular sacking needle, a curved quilting needle, a half dozen small reels of colored thread, a hank of waxed linen for leather, a small roll of nylon filament fishing line, olive drab mil-spec nylon thread, safety pins, and a small roll of duct tape.  We can repair just about anything. 
All contents are in waterproof Ziploc bags.

Perhaps more important, she had suitcase straps added to the kits.  These straps are 2” wide by 6 feet long and made of nylon.  Looped over your shoulder and through the carry handles on the equipment cases allows you to carry these cases a lot further with less effort.  No way can we ruck.
I can hear people wondering why I don’t use back packs.  You have to ask yourself some hard questions when planning.  Not what you would like to do but what you can do.  If you physically can’t carry a pack and there is no way to train up to it, make other plans.  I did, that’s why the equipment cases.

We also made it a point to not concentrate any one item in any one case.  As an example, there is food in all the cases, not just one.  If one of the G.O.O.D. bags gets lost, soaked, or stolen, we won’t be crippled by it.

In my estimation I am not well prepared for all eventualities.  I may never be.  I don’t have all the answers; I know I don’t know all the questions.  You do the best you can with existing resources and keep at it.  You keep reading, planning, and looking around for changing circumstances that may be a danger, a resource, or an opportunity.  I do my prepping in small steps, try to cover the obvious, and make sure it is cost effective.  If I have to pay full price on something, no problem; the savings in one area offsets the expenses in another.

I don’t scour the garage sales, but I have been fortunate in my gleanings.  Sometimes I buy an item needing repair and consider the fix "on the job training".  Sometimes I will sell it and get a better replacement.

Is my house a fort and secure against intruders?  No way.  With the windows and doors it has several weaknesses.  There are some nasty surprises available for us to use if needed.  Guns, bear spray, alarms and security lights to name a few.  This isn’t the Alamo; against a group, it’s bug out time.
I am a voracious reader and have a decent set of emergency related books.  I am increasing my skills in first aid as well as shooting.  Next is a light plant for power outages, square foot gardening for a small but intense food addition, and later, solar panels.  As I find bargains or opportunities, I add to my preparedness. 

I am sharing this information about my setup in the hopes it will give other people some ideas.  Because I am moving, I don’t feel nearly as uncomfortable sharing information as I normally would.  (Much will change very shortly so OPSEC isn’t a problem.)  Prepping doesn’t have to be a horribly expensive.  You do what you can and trust in the Lord and the future.

One note, in closing: Thank you so very much for a wonderfully informative web site.  I have been very impressed by the lack of flames and nastiness from the other people’s writings.  It is very refreshing to find a web site with intelligent and thoughtful posts and no rants.


Dear Jim,
First let me say that I really enjoy SurvivalBlog.com! I faithfully read it daily even if it is very late when I get the chance, I read it daily. I pastor a church and much of my day is spent running around, so sometimes I don't get the opportunity to "research" the news like I want to; SurvivalBlog readers do a good part of that for me. Thanks for all you do and for all they do.

About two months ago I stepped into my local archery shop and purchased a bow. I bought a recurve with 50 pound draw, a dozen arrows, a glove, two strings, string wax and a few small accompanying items, I also have extra arrows being made for me now and a few extra parts that I plan on ordering as soon as I can get the money together (rest, an Allen screw, etc...). I bought this particular recurve bow for several reasons and thought it may be beneficial for your readers to share my thoughts and experience.

I grew up in the piney woods of East Texas, running around with a pellet gun or a small Bear recurve and a pocket knife about as early as I can remember. It seems to me that I could shoot either as early as maybe 8 or 9. It may have been later than that but I honestly can't remember. In my youth/childhood days we were given all the pellets or BBs we wanted and most summers we were in the woods almost all day shooting anything that moved, or attempting to anyway. Of course many lessons were learned then through that. I lost a many an arrow due to my silliness and an aluminum arrow was something that was very difficult to come by where I lived. So after a couple summers of shooting "anything" I ended up with only one or two arrows. Thankfully by then I had graduated up to a Bear "Cub" (I think that was the name) compound bow that was amazingly nice. At 25 pound or 30 pound draw I could easily shoot most small game. Sadly in the 6th grade we moved out of the country and into the city. I did join the school archery class (I don't know if they still have those anymore - I sure hope they do) and really enjoyed shooting all through much of Junior High and some of High School when girls and trucks became the rage in my life.

Later, after I was married a few years, my dad, brother and I went back into an archery shop, purchased compound bows and again started to shoot. After a couple of years of shooting sporadically (I never got that deer) I had a problem with my compound bow, but much to my chagrin, couldn't find a bow shop in our area to repair it. The shop we bought our bows from went out of business and the only time I would remember to take my bow to service and repair I would not have the time or the money. You probably know that routine; time or money. Again, I was laid off and I moved to a major metropolitan city to find work. My bow sat in the house or under a bed for many years. Eventually it sat for so long I was scared to draw it back and it became an "Old Bow".

I recently realized my shortsightedness and decided to change my ways. This time: I purchased a recurve; It has hardly any moving parts, much less service required and much of that I can do myself. I also made sure that I purchased a "Take Down" bow; one that I could unstring myself, take the limbs off and throw into a case/bag. This will give me many many more years of a shootable bow. What I learned as a young man was that the compound bows should be shot often or serviced often and sometimes a combination of both. For a shooter like me (recreational and only periodically/sporadically) I was not assured that I would/could shoot it often or have it serviced as it should be. This bow I can put it together in about 2 minutes and be ready to shoot. In another two minutes or less I can have it taken down and in its bag ready to tuck under the seat, behind my seat, attached to a backpack, on my back riding a bike... You name it, the bow is ready to go. The arrows must have feather fletchings for a quicker recovery after release and traveling across the rest, but other than that, the bow is very basic. No sights, so "one less thing to worry about". I shoot it instinctively and so far have about a 6" group at 20 yards. I will continue to work on that.

The bow I purchased is a Hoyt Dorado that cost fully fitted out around $650, compared to a basic compound price I am very pleased with this price and with the bow as well. I do like to shoot, though I have lost some of my ability. I do plan on taking it deer hunting this fall and hope to finally bag a deer after all these years. A recurve bow is a true survival tool. It is almost silent, you can kill (with the right draw weight) anything in North America, it is almost (not totally) maintenance free, and most of what little maintenance that must be done can be done by the owner. It can be a defensive tool if in the right hands and in the right conditions. I don't have this problem but; it is not an "Assault Weapon" in the house so Mom and the Kids can live with it (good grief that makes me sick thinking about that). And lastly, my bow can be stowed away in the right environment for many years, brought out and shot.

I don't know how bad things could get out there in the future, but for someone wanting to cover as many of the bases as possible, I like the idea of having a bow around. Not only is a bow fun to shoot and able to provide meat on the table, but I personally like to shoot for purely therapeutic reasons. Hahaha - In other words, It makes me take my mind off all the other things I have going on and concentrate on shooting. I am sure since I have been out of the sport for so long that others could add much more depth to this letter, but in it's simplistic way, a takedown recurve bow is a thing of pure beauty. All for Jesus! - Pastor Keith C.

Hi Jim,
On Wednesday (July 21st) I drove 90 miles down I-17 to Phoenix to have a enclosed shell "cap" installed on the bed of my pickup. "No big deal; the cap arrived early, and I should be to town and back by mid-afternoon...." ...so I thought!

The trip to town was easy, and the installation went smoothly.

On the ride home I stopped for a gigantic Coca-Cola (one of my little habits).

As I left the north side of the Phoenix metro area, an electronic highway sign said "Car fire - ten miles, I-17 North closed." Okay ... since I didn't know how long it had been in effect, I drove on; and right into a 3-4 mile traffic backup. Dang. Caught in traffic, I had plenty of opportunity to listen to the radio, call friends on the cell phone, and think/rethink what I'd done. Several folks were using various cut-across roads to turn around (the one's we're not really 'supposed to use unless we're an "Authorized Vehicles"), but I poked along.

At New River (Arizona) the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS)--Arizona's version of a highway patrol--was shunting vehicles off the interstate. I figured they were routing car's through New River and back on to I-17 a couple miles North. Nope. The DPS officer advised that unless your were a "local" New River was clogged with car's an jammed-up, and the hazmat folks had just been summoned (details unknown). According to the officer the only alternative was to either return to Phoenix or drive over to Wickenburg, and north on 89 (the Yarnell Grade...) to Prescott, and back to I-17. Wow! I opted for the re-route through Wickenburg rather than an even longer route through Payson. (I hope some of your reader's have retrieved their atlases to see what this "reroute" really involved.)

Oh, I made it home okay - just a few hours later than I'd planned, but it got me to thinking. I've been a semi-prepper for quite a while and can usually cope with most situations, but this one caught me flat-footed.

Yes, I had a pistol in the car, a hat, a gallon of water, and good maps, my SPOT [satellite messaging] device, and a cell phone (with charger). What I realized, after thinking about it, was that I was casually driving to Phoenix on an Interstate (...no problems anticipated) in shorts and sandals. No sunscreen or other backup stuff. At least I'd stopped earlier to get a gigundo Coca-Cola, but I hadn't had any lunch; and I was starved. My toolbox was on my workbench at home, I had a flashlight (but no backup batteries). Fortunately the truck was reliable, and I had a credit card for gas (but only $6 cash in my wallet...).

Frankly, I felt rather foolish; and nothing serious had really gone wrong, it was just a traffic accident/fire; but I was caught flat-footed. I got to thinking about some of the scenario's that would have significantly changed the day ... and my wife and I discussed some of them at Happy Hour after I finally got home! She's not really a preparation-oriented person (she prefers to live in her color-coordinated World), but she got the 'gist of what I was saying. This is Arizona after all, and summer's are hot! I know better; but was caught off guard. But the amassed people, the jammed highways and small town (closed...) really got my attention.

The day's mistakes (on my part) probably won't happen again. I got "slapped up 'side my head" and learned.

Sorry for the too-long story, but hopefully some of your reader's can benefit from this example of innocent absentmindedness. - C. in Arizona

CPT Rawles:
One thing that was not mentioned by B.B .was that it was Federal [Active Duty] troops that had to come in and help put the rioting down. The 7th Infantry Division (Light), which I was with at that time, and Marines from Camp Pendleton. I can assure you that we had plenty of ammunition. We too were passing out ammo to both the police and the National Guard.

Our Rules of Engagement (ROEs) were very strict we could not fire unless fired upon, and we had to have a visual on the bad guy. Also were going out on patrols with the Los Angeles Police Department to "Assist" them in restoring order. We also helped the Fire Department and EMTs perform their duties, as well.

I think that the next set of riots will be deadlier for both First Responders and any troops that make there way to the scene, just because there really is no longer any fear or respect for the law.

Chris in Virginia sent a link to a site with information on oil presses. Chris notes: "The ability from seeds grown on your own property should be of interest to many who want independence. Based on the data provided on line, a patch of sunflowers could provide significant amounts of oil for both culinary and fuel usage."

   o o o

JRH Enterprises is sponsoring started a new survival message board/forum: SurvivalAndPreparedness.com. Check it out!

   o o o

Reader J.S. mentioned that even Yahoo now recommends stocking up. J.S. notes: "The comments following are even more enlightening."

   o o o

Chris O. this article: Severe Space Weather--Social and Economic Impacts. Chris notes that it includes state by state location data on vulnerable transformers. Chris also sent the link to this related article: Space Weather Turns into an International Problem.

"There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide." - Ayn Rand, “Foreign Policy Drains U.S. of Main Weapon,” The Los Angeles Times, Sept. 9, 1962

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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.

All preppers rely on lists to a greater or lesser degree and each person’s list will be different according to the length of time they have been prepping, their location, their climate, their family needs and their financial situation.
For those who are relatively new to prepping – better late than never – the amount of “stuff” needed to survive can be daunting and it can lead to purchases or acquisitions made on an ad hoc basis and without a great deal of thought.

One way of getting rid of the feeling of being overwhelmed is to start small.

  1. Make and take the time to sit down and do an honest financial budget so that you know what funds you have spare – if any. I prefer to do my budget on a spread sheet but a planner will do the same thing. I know the dates that income is due and I know the dates that expenditure (insurance, car registration, rates etc) will be due. By planning this way, I can (a) copy and paste it for next year’s use with a bit of tweaking (b) I won’t be tempted to have a big spend up because I can see that I have car registration to pay next month (c) I can see where money can be saved by seeking alternative suppliers or deleting un-necessary services and (d) I know that the bills are covered and any other items I want will have to be bought from other monetary sources.

But more importantly, I know what I have left over to spend (or save up for) on prepping.
If this is a first attempt, the spread sheet will need to be jiggled a bit in the beginning and you may need to subsidize a few items until everything settles into order.

  1. Now that your budget is sorted out, the next step is to go through the house, cupboards, shed and yard methodically room by room, bit by bit and list every single item that you own and their quantities right down to “tooth brush – 1 – in use”. This job will probably take longer than you think it will and you may be surprised at what long lost treasures turn up. Include the “junk” at this stage too. Don’t try to sort it out, just list it.
  2. Once that massive job has been completed you can start to make sense of your preparedness situation on your master list – but still on paper. At this stage you can group things so that you can see that in reality you have “tooth brush – 1 – in use” + “tooth brushes – 3 – unopened”.
  3. Next step is to start comparing your master list with JWR’s list. Don’t succumb to despair when you see what you haven’t got because again, everyone’s situation is different and The List is a guide not a prescription. For example I don’t have guns because of the laws in Australia (so I’ve upped my security in other ways) and I’m an older woman living alone so I don’t have baby gear (although I can knit and crochet and sew – useful bartering skills).
  4. I’m assuming that you don’t have access to unlimited funds as I make suggestions for this next section.

Go back to your master list and either highlight all of the unnecessary “stuff” that has accumulated over the years or highlight the goods you want/need to keep.  Compare the highlights with The List then make arrangements to dispose of the unnecessary items preferably for cash that can be used to buy more necessary prepping items. Garage sale? Ads in the local paper? Swap it for something that you do want/need? Can you sell things on eBay? Can you baby sit in return for a couple of jars of pickles?
Have another look at the items you listed under “junk” and start sorting through them.
If it is truly rubbish, get rid of it. But while you are getting rid if things, keep an open mind about alternative uses that items may have. For example I have sheets that are too thin to use on the beds and some of them are torn. But I’ve saved them because they could be used as bandages or cut up to make all sorts of things. Up the back of the yard I have heaps of salvaged red bricks, lengths of salvaged timber, pieces of corrugated sheet steel  - all of which can be used in future projects.

  1. Preparing your home or retreat is a larger exercise than making sure that there is an extra tin of beans available. There is a lot of excellent information available in the archives and on the internet that you can make use of.

But I suggest you go back to making up a list. Do a critical appraisal of your residence or get a knowledgeable friend to help. Once you have the list with the good and bad points written down you will be able to decide which to tackle first. Don’t try to do everything at once or things will become messy (and even more expensive). Try to think ahead too. For example: If I put the water tank ‘there’, is that going to obstruct my view of intruders when by moving it three feet I can see everything?   

  1. Salvaging. We used to call this “shopping at the tip” but unfortunately our local tip (rubbish dump) has closed because council is changing to Waste Management. But if you have access to a tip or a recycling centre or a salvage yard of some sort, they are great places to buy or get materials for very little cash outlay and that chicken run will end up costing practically nothing. One of a prepper’s maxims is: “Never pay full price for anything.”
  2. You’ll have to decide where to prioritize when spending money and again everyone’s priorities will be different. I prefer to save up if necessary and buy something that will last for years rather than have to replace the item more often. As a simple example – I was cross with having to replace tomato stakes every couple of years, so last year I bought lengths of steel, had them cut to length and had chisel points put on them. Now they should last!  
  3. Shopping and food supplies loom large on everyone’s lists – and probably consume most of your disposable cash. A lot has already been written on this subject so I won’t go over it. But do try to buy at least one or two extra items each shopping trip that can go in your stash. I’m at the stage where I can start thinking, “If the shops closed for six months, what items would I run out of?”  My current answer is butter, cream and veterinary cat food. I have instructions for canning butter so I’ll have to get busy, my hips can do without cream and I’ll have to start buying more cat food. Other than that I’ll continue to buy staples each month to add to my stash.
  4. Then take a critical look at the items that you live with every day and be prepared to be ruthless. Do you really need a giant television? What about all of the gadgets in the kitchen that advertising has convinced you that you can’t live without? How much good will they be if the grid goes down or you have to bug out and leave them behind? If you sell them now, they will be worth a few dollars but in a worst case scenario, they will be worth absolutely nothing.

I strongly suggest that you start to de-clutter and simplify your life.

  1. As a last suggestion – become more aware of how you live your life each day. What items do you use regularly and do you have at least one backup? It’s no use having a pantry full of tins and one broken can opener.

Some of that cash you made at your garage sale could be used to buy non-electrical items that you find at the op shop or other people’s garage sales. Those places are exciting and you never know what you’ll find and can cross off your list. And it doesn’t matter if it is blue and your kitchen is green; the bottom line is “Does it work and do I need it?”

I hope that this article has offered some helpful information for new preppers and that you are able to progress in leaps and bounds.

James Wesley:
BB in California was spot on with his assessment of the 1992 riots and I doubt that will be the last time we will see such an uprising. One thing B.B. didn't mention was the ripple affect to other parts of the LA area and around the nation. Don't be fooled into thinking that this will never happen in your area.

I worked 20 miles east of downtown and lived another 20 miles further east - 40 miles from downtown, in a nice neighborhood. Even though I was a prepper way back then, I felt after the first day of rioting that "thankfully it's not here." When I went to work on the second day, a 7-11 up the street was robbed by thugs that took the entire cash register. As I passed through Pomona on the way home from work, there was palpable tension in the streets but I decided to go on my regular grocery run that evening in my own neighborhood. Shortly after arriving, someone walked into the store and yelled (and I'll never forget this) "get your groceries now before they burn down this store too!"

I immediately left the store and decided that I didn't need to risk my life for groceries since I had a good supply of food at home. I called into work and took the next few days off as vacation. Needless to say, that event made me an all-events rather than just an "earthquake only" prepper .- C.A. (now living in Oregon)


B.B. in California's article was a good reminder of how quickly things can turn ugly. (Riots & Civil Unrest in America.) Although the only riot I've been close to was short-term, it created turmoil and danger for everyone around, whether we were there due to work or for curiosity. Speaking of curiosity - don't be that curious, it could kill you. Many who came to watch the riot were attacked, injured, mugged and left to fend for themselves because no one wanted to confront the thugs.

One thing that the small riot taught me: have some 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" exterior grade plywood on hand to board up your windows. Many people here who had lived in hurricane country knew that boarding up would decrease the odds of their shops being damaged. These visionaries had enough sheets of plywood stored away that they could grab their wood and install the sheets over windows, front doors, and other potential entry points -- no trip to the lumberyard necessary. They told me that storing the wood flat was important so it wouldn't warp. Warped plywood, they said, would provide a raised corner for the looters to grab and pull up. So, their plywood was flat and difficult to get a grip on when it was attached by screws as tightly to the facade of the buildings as possible. These folks also had food and water on hand at their shops - they were prepped for just about anything, and had been long before the riots started.

Riots usually start pretty quickly once some event occurs. It's not like you'll have a week to prepare, you have to have your supplies and weapons handy at all times. For those who don't have ham radios, I suggest getting a police scanner. As long as the power is still on, a scanner will keep you informed about the movements of the rioters and the size of the crowd. If the power is out, a 12 volt DC connection for your scanner will also work. When the power went out during our local riot, we were able to use the scanner in our car and kept track of how far away the looters and rioters were. A battery-powered handheld scanner works well, although you need a good supply of batteries during a long-term riot. It was comforting to know where the trouble was and that it was moving away, not closer.

Cities and counties in California are cutting their expenses, often cutting law enforcement in the process. As fewer men and women are available to work on the front line against civil unrest, more and more of the responsibility for protecting your loved ones and your property falls to the citizen. Prepare now, while you can. As B.B.'s article reminds us, unrest may be coming to a city near you. - Wry Catcher in California

Mr. Rawles:
Regarding B. B. in California's article "Riots and Civil Unrest in America", as an Army Reservist I can attest firsthand to the validity of his observation that National Guard troops would most likely be dispatched in an emergency with weapons but no ammo as our own Reserve Center has a nicely-stocked arms room but no ammunition is stored there at all. The act of obtaining ammo, even to go to the range, requires so much paperwork and bureaucracy that I can only imagine what a logistical nightmare it would be for any such local military force to try to obtain ammunition should it be needed for an emergency or to quell civil unrest. The military has such a phobia about soldiers having ammunition on their person that we were ammo-less during our two-week stay on base in Kuwait awaiting movement to Iraq, and this despite being welcomed into a war zone once we landed in Kuwait!

Godspeed and keep your powder dry! - Jon in New York

"The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded." - Charles-Louis De Secondat(1689-1755) Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, 1748

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 writing this article not to glorify what I have seen, but perhaps to make some of you think about some unknowns.  I am a U.S. Army veteran who served in the 1980s, and when I honorably discharged I was recruited into law enforcement at a termination of service briefing at Fort Irwin, California.  From there I went into law enforcement in Los Angeles for over 20 years and never looked back.  I am writing this article because many people are writing about living through and how to survive civil unrest (I am sorry, a riot is a riot no matter what you call it), but I don’t think many of the readers can comprehend what it is like.

The Los Angeles riots in 1992 were some of the craziest times I have ever lived through, and even my military background didn’t prepare me for what we saw.  I am not here to talk politics or why the riots kicked off; I am only here to write about what I witnessed and give the readers of SurvivalBlog.com a glimpse of what happened from the eyes of a young man.

Mob Mentality.  When dealing with people during the riots in Los Angeles, many of the people we were dealing with had no idea why they were rioting.  They were merely opportunists who were taking advantage of free stuff that was being looted from any store that was not guarded.  And when I say guarded, I mean seriously guarded (more on this later).  The mob mentality meant that if someone was looting a store, everyone with the mentality had to loot the same store before the shelves were empty and they didn’t get their share.  It was almost like a shark feeding frenzy with no real purpose.  But, in the middle of this, there were people pointing to different buildings saying, “Burn that one” or other orders.  Those people had a purpose, and loot wasn’t it.

I mention this because whenever if and when civil unrest hits again for whatever purpose, you can bet that this will probably be the case again.  During civil unrest, if you try to analyze the event with rational thought, you will not be able to figure out the smallest detail let alone the big picture.  There is no order or sense of order, and for most Americans that is a place that no one really thinks about.  Crime was happening all around us, but there really wasn’t a crime trend or purpose for it other than violence itself.  If you are reading this and are saying to yourself, “This idiot doesn’t know how to write and he is not making sense!”, then you are grasping what I am saying.  The most dangerous people in the riots were the opportunists.  They saw an opportunity and went for it.  Whether that opportunity was revenge on an enemy that could be blamed on some random act of violence, or that big screen TV that he had been wanting for a while down at the local electronics store. 

The opportunists seized the initiative for whatever their purpose was, and then blamed everything that followed suit on the violence of the day.  The thugs knew how to survive and knew what they wanted and how to get it through violence and crime.  The unfortunate good people really suffered from this as they turned out to be victims in many cases.  This is very short sighted thinking by the thugs, because over the next few weeks, there was nowhere to shop for necessities after the neighborhood was burned to the ground.  And yes, there were food lines shortly thereafter.  In a total collapse, this means these same thugs are coming to a neighborhood near you.

Looting.  When the looting began in 1992, there were several places and things that went first.  Booze, cigarettes, and diapers (yes diapers).  All three items are not available for purchase with food stamps, and other than the diapers, were for partying and having a good time.  As the violence spread pharmacies were raided and burned, not for diabetic or asthma medication, but for pain killers and other drugs that could be used for pharmaceutical recreation.  In the aftermath of the initial looting, if someone was caught in a pharmacy getting the necessary meds for asthma or diabetes, they were probably left alone since they were just trying to survive (I am not saying I witnessed this, but I heard rumors of such).    

I mention this because food stayed on the shelves for a fairly long time all things considered.  Eventually food began to get looted, but that was really only after the new pair of “hip shoes” or big screen televisions were already off the shelves.  Its like when a hurricane is coming and people are rushing out of their homes carrying the television.  The television has no real purpose for survival, but people cling to those possessions, and in the riots were the first things looted.  I have read many articles here on Survivalblog.com that continues to tell people to stock up on meds, and I cannot agree more.  It was my experience though that the initial meds that were looted from the pharmacies were for recreation, not health.  If that holds true again, the meds you need might still be there after the initial looting begins.   I am not advocating looting, hopefully there will be a worker that braved rioting to come and be a cashier at a store so you can buy what you failed to stock up on, but I doubt it.

Communications and 9-1-1.  During the riots, my squad of 12 people was issued only two radios because it soon became apparent that there was not enough equipment to go around.  Only the squad leader and assistant squad leader had any forms of communications with dispatch.  These problems have been addressed since then, but they were major concerns at the time.  As they continued to spilt us up on foot at first in order to “show a command presence” with two officers at a street corner. It was then that I made a stupid call against better judgment and called out 50+ looters in a moment of anger.  They accepted and the next thing I knew I was being chased down the street by a large crowd.  Just before we began to run, since neither me nor my partner had a police radio, we called 9-1-1 on a pay phone on the corner for help as we started running.  There was no help to be had for us, and we were on our own.  In hindsight, I was a stupid 24-year-old kid opening his big mouth in anger and getting his mouth’s debt called in. 

Luckily for me some lieutenant who’s name I never knew, was gathering a strike force to handle the looting in the strip mall I had been watching, was coming down the street with enough manpower that we were able to clear the mall after it was only half looted.  The point is, during civil unrest, 9-1-1 couldn’t even help us officers, let alone someone else on the street.  Communications and 9-1-1 were up and running, but they were paralyzed due to the sheer scope of the violence that was raging in the city.  If mass civil unrest happens in a total collapse, even the safeguards that have been thought of and put in place since those riots will not work as manpower dwindles.  Do not make your plans with any sort of help regarding 9-1-1.  If some comes, consider it a bonus.  I have small hand held radios that have a very short range and a CB radio or two to handle my comms in the event of civil unrest here.  Everyone in the group has one, and we will deal with whatever we need too if the unfortunate time comes. 

Defensible Positions.  If your plan is to stand and fight or go to a retreat and stand and fight, there are things I saw in the riots that worked short term but might not make it long term.  As we patrolled different neighborhoods on foot, we came across several non-burned out buildings in the midst of charred ruins that were once their neighbor’s businesses.  Most of these buildings were built in the slums that had barbed wire and bars on the buildings.  Now, let me continue by saying that I watched as crowds ripped security doors off the tracks and bent bars with sheer strength in numbers to get into a business that had what they wanted, so these security features alone did not stop the crowds.  On the surviving buildings, there had been [armed] men on top of them and I observed several fired shell casings around the buildings.  We chatted with those brave men and women inside their little fortresses and they were determined to keep their businesses and property from being looted and burned.  As the violence spread, we were pulled from two man teams standing on street corners to full squads and strike forces being sent in to stop the violence and looting.

When the fire departments (and I say departments plural because mutual aid was called in and we had fire departments from everywhere trying to help us) were putting the fires out around the city some of the rioters, I will be kind in my language here, began shooting at the fire trucks and injuring the firemen as they tried to prevent the city from burning.  This was a further drain on our resources as we now had to provide escorts for fire brigades in the city as the fire departments drove from fire to fire.  An interesting note is that on several locations the fire captain would pull up to a strip mall and make an on spot decision whether or not the buildings could be saved with the manpower that he had available right then--a sort of fire department triage if you will.  If he didn’t think he could save the building with what he had, they let the building burn and moved on.  Welcome to the realities of civil unrest.

Now I bring this all together for a reason.  If you remember the news clips of Korean business owners guarding the fire trucks and fire fighters as they risked their lives in the fires and rioters shooting at them, then you are probably as old as me.  Those brave business owners came out to help us as we tried to save their businesses and livelihoods, and restored my faith in humanity at the same time.  What the news reels didn’t show was that probably half of those former Republic of Korea soldiers were guarding the firemen with toy guns that they had pulled off the shelves and took the orange tips out of the barrels.  The other half were using real weapons. And with the amount of fired brass and blood that I saw around some of those buildings, they meant business.  Like I said earlier, for a short term solution where we were able to restore order in a few days this bluff worked great.  For a long term solution, this is suicide.  But if there is a softer nut to crack down the street, and they are not as determined to defend (as the brave Korean business men had been), then the looters will probably go elsewhere as long as order is restored quickly.  For a total collapse, if you are going to stand and defend, good luck and make sure you are well-stocked and don’t bluff.

Weapons and Ammo.  There are plenty of articles on this sight about weapons, so I will make this one fairly brief.  As I was shipped off to the hot zones in a transit bus (we had run out of police cars and yes, I went to combat as the passenger in a transit bus), I loaded a spare box of 9mm and some 12 gauge rounds wrapped in a rubber band in my radio holder since I wasn’t issued a radio.  My squad mates laughed at me until people who were already running around in the middle of the riot were begging for spare ammo.  I didn’t even have a shotgun when I went down there, but I knew there would be plenty lying around with no ammo if things went south, which it did. 

Now, I am not going to get into what round is better or which firearm you need to buy for your retreat.  That is a personal choice and one that you have to make for yourself.  I personally have a .45 for myself and 9mms for the rest of my family.  I have two small girls and my wife is only five feet tall on a good day and they cannot handle the .45 with any great accuracy, but there is another reason for the 9mms.  That is the round that the local Sheriff’s Dept uses where we live.  This means that they should, and I stress should, have extra rounds stockpiled in case of emergency.  Unless you want to wait out everything in a hole or retreat, and by the way that is not a bad idea, if you come out and support the local law enforcement officers be sure that you have weapons that are compatible with what they are carrying.  The best .45 in the world is nothing but an expensive club if you have nothing to run through it.  If order can be restored and you helped, you will have made friends for life (any vet will tell you that friends made in combat are friends for life, no matter what their political, religious or personal backgrounds are).  If things go to total feces storm, then that may be one last chance to resupply before heading to the hills, retreat or hole that you are planning to defend.  I know weapons and ammo are nothing new to the readers on this site, but maybe the last statement could be the deciding factor for a new reader on which weapon to buy.  Always keep your options open.  

Another interesting note on weapons and ammo was that when the National Guard was first called out the responded with empty weapons.  That’s right, no ammo!  We were giving guardsmen what we could spare from our own dwindling supplies, but we couldn’t believe the State sent them in with no cartridges (in hindsight and much more experience under my belt in dealing with the many idiots in government, I totally believe it now), but once again not many people would choose to charge a National Guard position to see if their rifles are empty.

First Aid Supplies.  Most small car first aid kits were gone in a day due to minor injuries from rocks, bottles and other small projectiles and fights.  Since then, every officer is issued a trauma kit to keep in his/her war bag (a police bug out bag that we carry in the trunk of the car).  Again, I am only talking civil unrest, not long term survival, but whatever first aid supplies that you think you will need, triple it.  Band-Aids and supplies for small cuts have to be changed frequently to prevent infection, and let me tell you, you will run out quickly. 

Hospitals.  Hospitals were not really affected other than the number of people that had to be treated due to the violence in the riot.  I figured the looters were try and storm hospitals for pain meds and other supplies, but that was not the case.  But like I said, this was a short term riot, and for long term riots or total collapse, I fear these places will be looted quickly. 

We learned many lessons in the riots in 1992, but the best lesson that was learned was humility.  We were humbled into facing that we could not handle any and everything that was thrown at us.  In civil unrest, you will have to rely on everything that you have and I am telling you now that it is not enough.  You will have to come together with people, and not just your close friends, but maybe that neighbor you hate just to survive.  Once the fires start, it will quickly get out of control.  In Los Angeles, we have one of the best if not the best fire dept in the world, and they were simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of fires that were set.  The whole city was burning and I can only imagine the hell that the people of Dresden and Tokyo went through in WWII.  If you are in an area with brush or fire hazards, just know that there probably won’t be much help coming your way. 

Have a plan, make sure everyone in your house has a bug-out bag, be sure you are supplied, have a weapon and be prepared to defend yourself and your family.  You need understand that when the mob mentality kicks in, the person who was singing in church last week may not be the same person in front of you this week.  I saw the worst brought out in good people, and while the Los Angeles riots were huge, they are nothing in contrast to a total collapse.  Look at what happened in Haiti when they were hit with a major earthquake or New Orleans when Katrina hit.  In combat, you know your enemy.  In civil unrest, everyone could be your enemy.  And not just for simple profit, but for survival unless order is restored.

Hopefully some of your readers will gain from this article a glimpse of what will hopefully never come again, but I fear is brewing.  Nothing is set in stone. Be prepared to be fluid with anything that is thrown your way.

I recommend that you and your readers look into Windlass Steelcrafts, a company with a wide range of hand-weaponry, armor, etc., from ancient to modern. Most swords, for example, on the market are soft stainless steel. This company provides swords made from a variety of steel, including layered, high carbon, Damascus steel. These people make real weapons: "Its founder, Mr. V. P. Windlass set up this manufacturing plant to supply the British Gurkha regiments with Kukris, their main sidearm weapon."

Here is information on how they manufacture swords.

Some examples of their weaponry:

A Damascus Viking Sword

Erbach Sword

Spearhead. (Notice the full socket.)

Butt cap.

JWR Replies: Edged weapons might be a reasonable option for folks who live in locales where private ownership of firearms is restricted. Buy ironically, many of these same countries are now banning edged weapons, as well! As discussed previously in SurvivalBlog, even there, walking sticks (with sufficient training) are an option.

Greg M. spotted an article that underlines the vulnerability of SCADA systems: New virus targets industrial secrets

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The folks at Ready Made Resources now have a special sale in progress on a very small quantity of full mil-spec AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ weapons sight monoculars. These are autogated and complete with military issue monocular head mounts, manuals, sacrificial lenses, mil-spec soft nylon carry cases, et cetera. The price is just $2,995, which is less than most dealers charge for a standard Gen 3 scope. (And again, these are the much more sought after Gen 3+ variety.) I have one here at the Rawles Ranch, and I love it. Don't miss out!

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EMPact America’s fourth show on EMPact Radio will be aired today (Wednesday, July 21st.) In this latest show, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry will have Dr. William Graham on the show. Dr. Graham chaired the EMP Commission for eight years and is widely considered to be the free world's foremost expert on electromagnetic pulse.

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Reader Ray B. alerted me that Wiggy's currently has sleeping bags on sale for 30% off with free shipping. I've used Wiggy's bags very heavily since 1990. (Our family has three FTRSS systems) I am a very satisfied with their quality. These bags are fantastically durable and well-made. Order yours, today. Please mention SurvivalBlog, when you do.

"He is able who thinks he is able." - Winston Churchill

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 two greatest tools that mankind has, the tools that pulled our species out of the wild and still separate us from base animals, are fire and the blade. A blacksmith crafts and uses both of these tools.  Whether you live in a frontier situation where you have to make do with what you’ve got and make it last or you’re planning ahead for a potential TEOTWAWKI situation, knowing how to shape iron and steel to suit your needs without the use of electricity is a good idea.  This article is intended as the most basic primer to give you, the reader, an idea of what’s involved.  My future articles may include the differences between various types of iron and steel or even video demonstrations of how to forge specific items and tools.

It’s important that you, the reader, understand that while blacksmithing is a frontier or survival trade, it’s not something that can be easily done “on the go” unless one has a vehicle to transport his equipment in.  More importantly, it should be understood that ‘functional’ doesn’t have to mean ‘pretty.’  If a tool or item will do the job it’s intended to do, it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty enough to be art or not.  Concentrate on learning to create functional tools and your hands will naturally learn how to make them into works of art along the way.

What You Need
When you strip away all the non-essential things, all a blacksmith needs to work metal is a hammer, an anvil and a ventilated heat source.  The first of these things is easy.  A hammer can be found laying around in any old barn in the world, or bought inexpensively from a hardware store.  A carpenter’s claw hammer will suffice in a pinch, but a heavier, more specialized hammer like a blacksmith’s cross-peen or an engineer’s hammer will generally produce results with less effort.  While it’s possible to fall down a rabbit hole of specialist tools for any metalworking occasion, I’d caution anyone new to the craft against getting a hammer that is too specialized or too fancy.  There are still many reports of blacksmiths in Africa and South America that still make do with smooth river stones as hammers, so there’s little reason to assume that one must have one of every shape of hammer in the world to work metal and besides… with a little practice, you’ll soon be making every tool you want or need.

An anvil of some type is a requirement.  Most people will have a mental picture of the English-style anvil from such sources as the Loony Toons cartoons of our childhood.  That makes for a good anvil, but all that’s really required of an anvil is that it be strong, hard and heavy, and having a flat surface will be a significant benefit to the smith.  The anvil is easily the most expensive tool a blacksmith will have and while one doesn’t want to skimp on this if at all possible, buying a new anvil is not always required (or even possible in the event of TEOTWAWKI).  A heavy piece of railroad track will make a suitable anvil for occasional use.  Your local scrap yard will undoubtedly have a plethora of potential makeshift anvils that will serve just fine.  In a pinch, the head of a sledgehammer can be sunk halfway into a bucket of concrete, leaving one of the striking surfaces exposed to act as a small but effective anvil face.

The last thing that’s required for smithing is a ventilated heat source (often called ‘the forge’).  A basic campfire generally does not produce enough heat to work iron, but a steady blast of air from the underside of the fire will increase its heat output.  While many modern designs can be used for a forge, the simplest by far is a length of metal pipe that is buried in the dirt so that it points straight up into the bottom of a campfire.  This pipe has air blown through it using an electric squirrel cage blower, a hand bellows or even the smith’s own lungs.  The airflow will consume more fuel, but the fire will burn much hotter… hot enough to make iron as pliable as clay.

Modern blacksmiths are fond of using propane as a fuel but in a pinch, most anything that burns relatively cleanly will get the job done.  Charcoal (carbonized wood, not the grill briquettes from the grocery store) is the easiest solid fuel for most people to obtain.  It can be made just by burning hard wood to a black, carbonized lump and then dousing it with water.  Coke is another old-time favorite, and is made by burning mined bituminous coal until it stops smoking and the sulfur and other impurities are burned out of it.  Wood may also be used if nothing else presents itself as an option, but it will take a lot more wood to produce a fire hot enough to work iron.

Some other items, while not strictly required, will be very useful for the smith.  Tongs are a blacksmithing staple.  They allow the smith to hold and handle small pieces of metal that would otherwise get too hot for him to hold.  They’re among the first tool that novice smiths make for themselves, but a pair of long-handled pliers or vice grips will suffice in the beginning.  Metal files and sandpaper are handy to have around, especially for precision work or bladesmithing.  Heavy welder’s gloves will also save the novice smith a certain amount of pain as he learns to feel his way around the fire.

Working Iron and Steel
Everyone has an iconic mental image of a blacksmith with rippling biceps pulling a glowing red bar from the fire and wailing on it with all his might, using a hammer that’s half a step away from being a sledge.  This image may be iconic, but it’s also thoroughly wrong and attempting to imitate it will produce very poor results.

Temperature control is something that many blacksmiths struggle with, and it’s one of the first things that any new smith is going to have to learn something about if he’s to succeed in his task.  Wherever the air feeds into the fire will be the hottest part of the forge, and while it might bring the metal to a workable temperature more quickly, the smith also runs a serious risk of melting his metal into unusable slag by applying too much heat.  Keep an eye on your material and rotate it often to ensure that it doesn’t overheat.  Remove your metal from the fire when it has a yellow glow to it and do not hammer on it once the color has faded, or you risk cracking your work.

Simply pulling a piece of metal out of the fire and hitting it aimlessly with a hammer is useful only if you’re trying to produce a flat, featureless sheet of metal.  Take some time to consider your work in advance and then plan for how to best go about shaping the metal to the design in your mind’s eye.  Think of the hot metal as though it were a piece of modeling clay.  If you were to smoosh the clay with your hammer in a specific way, how would that affect the shape of the overall piece?  Once this mentality, this way of thinking, sets in, you will begin to place your hammer blows so as to move the metal in predictable ways, rather than blindly hammering and hoping for a magical end result.

Quenching and Tempering
Another iconic image of the blacksmith that many seem to have in their mind is of the smith plunging a tool or weapon into a bucket of water or even a snow bank to make it hard and usable.  This is an iconic mage that is half right, actually.  Once a piece is finished, it is dunked into a liquid to cool it down quickly and make it hard by tightening the molecular structure of the material.  This is called ‘quenching,’ but there’s more to it than meets the eye.  To boil it down to the basics, you place your finished project in the fire until it just reaches a temperature where a magnet will not stick to it and then you plunge whatever section of your project you want to be hardened into a liquid.  This rapidly cools the metal down, causing it to compress itself at a molecular level and become super hard.  The speed at which your metal cools is important because while cooling faster will produce a harder end result, it has a greater chance of cracking your metal, thus rendering your hard-worked project useless.  Water quenches at a very fast temperature… some people say it’s too fast for most applications.  By far, more professionals use some manner of oil, as it has a slightly slower quenching speed.  Kitchen oils such as canola or peanut oils are fine for this application, as are most common industrial oils, such as brake fluid, automatic transmission fluid or motor oil. [JWR Adds: The usual fire prevention provisos of course apply!]

Testing whether or not your project successfully hardened should be your next step.  The most common way this is done is to rake an old metal file across the material.  If it doesn’t bite into the metal and instead slides across the surface with a sound like it was skating across glass, then you have achieved a suitable hardness from your quenching.

However, quenching is only half the battle.  At this point, you have a super hard metal project, but it’s also super brittle.  Were you to slap it against your anvil or drop it onto a concrete floor, it might well break into several pieces.  You need to reduce the brittleness of your work piece.  This is done by exposing it to relatively low levels of heat, which removes brittleness by sacrificing a small portion of your item’s new hardness, a process that’s known as ‘tempering.’  This is most easily done in a common household oven or toaster oven.  Just insert your work piece, set the temperature to 400 degrees and walk away for an hour.  If that’s not an option, the work piece can be tempered in the same fire it was forged in, so long as the smith is exceptionally careful.  First, clean off a section of your work with a file, sandpaper or some other method to expose a shiny metal surface.  Then place your piece back into the fire, being careful not to force any air into the flames, as was done during the forging.  Keep the piece moving and watch the shiny metal spot for a line of rainbow color that will begin to creep across it as heat moves in.  The color you want to look for will depend largely on the item’s intended use, but the colors most easily seen will be gold, straw, purple and blue, with each representing more of your item’s hardness removed.  If the item heats to the point where it begins to glow, even faintly, you’ve gotten it too hot and you must repeat the quenching and tempering process again, so keep your work moving!

Example Forging: A Simple Knife
A knife is perhaps the most useful tool one will ever need, especially in a TEOTWAWKI situation, and any blacksmith worth his salt can make at least a passable blade.  In this example, we will make a simple blade with a relatively shallow belly, a single edge, a straight tip and a simple handle… not unlike a Japanese tanto blade.  As of yet, I have not discussed the various types of steel, as I believe that subject is beyond the scope of this primer article (future articles may well focus on this subject), but finding a suitable bit of metal to forge a knife should be a piece of cake.  Find yourself a flat metal mill file (sometimes called a ‘bastard’ or ‘mill bastard’ file) in the 8-12 inch range.  They can be had very inexpensively from flea markets and pawn shops, but if worse comes to worst, you can always buy one new at a hardware store.

Please have a fire suppression device nearby before doing this.

Get your fire started and stoked and have more fuel standing by.  Place the end of the file in the hottest part of the fire.  Once it takes on a yellow glow, remove it from the flame and position it on the anvil so it’s standing up on what will be the spine of the blade.  Hammer the corner of the file, pushing it into the file and forming the end of the file into what will be your knife’s tip.  Lay the file flat and gently correct any warping you may have caused before it loses its glow.  Place the file back into the fire and keep repositioning it every so often so that the entire file heats up relatively evenly.  Once this occurs, take the file out of the fire and lay it flat on the anvil so that the side that is to become the cutting edge of the blade is positioned facing toward you.  Begin to hammer out the edge using a circular hammer stroke that draws the metal toward you.  Work quickly, but evenly and make certain to hammer along the entire edge, leaving enough of the file unhammered to act as a suitable handle.  Place the file back in the fire and heat it evenly as before.  This time, place the side you hammered last time face down on the anvil with the edge facing away from yourself.  Hammer the edge out on this second side, using a hammer stroke that pushes the metal away from you.  Repeat this process as many times as is needed, alternating which side you hammer on each time.  Once you have drawn the edge of your blade down to roughly the thickness of a dime (and no thinner), make certain your edge is straight.  Further, sight down the file at all angles to make certain everything is as straight as you can possibly make it.  Take some time and get this part right.  Once this is done, place the piece back in the fire and heat it evenly just until a magnet doesn’t stick to the metal anymore.  Once this occurs, dip the blade of the knife into a waiting container of oil.  Hold it there without shaking or stirring it until all the bubbling in the oil stops.

Please have a fire suppression device nearby before doing this.

Once the bubbling stops, remove the knife from the oil and wipe it down with a cloth to remove the oil.  Be careful, as the knife is still probably hot enough to burn bare skin if it touches you.  Use an old metal file and rake it across the knife’s edge.  If it bites easily, repeat the quenching process.  If it doesn’t bite easily and simply skates across the blade, your work has been successful.  Heat a toaster oven or your kitchen oven to 400 degrees and place the knife inside.  Leave it alone for an hour, and then turn off the oven.  To be certain this process is performed with 100% efficiency, you might want to let the oven cool, then turn it back on to 400 degrees and let it run for another hour.

Once your blade is tempered and cool enough to touch, wrap the handle with rope, paracord or whatever you have handy.  Sharpen the edge with a metal file and/or sandpaper and then move on to sharpening stones until the blade is as sharp as you want it.  Congratulations!  You just made the most useful tool you’ll ever own, out of a worn out old file!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I thought that the free food preservation course from the National Center for Home Food Preservation would be useful to your readers. Here are some details, from their web site:

Preserving food at home, a self-study course.

Announcing a free, self-paced, online course for those wanting to learn more about home canning and preservation.

* Introduction to Food Preservation
* General Canning
* Canning Acid Foods
* Canning Low-Acid Foods

This course is offered in the University of Georgia eLC system. The univefrsity requires registration for you to receive a login.

- David L.

Economics and Inve

Trent H. was the first of several readers to mention this: Second Act: Jay Shafer; Ten years ago, Jay Shafer downsized to an 89-square-foot house and reinvented both his lifestyle and career in the process. Not much room for storage food, but this illustrates that minimalism has its advantages.

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Paul B. sent us a link to some more Gibbonesque musings: Has civilization gone full circle?

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this piece about some implications of deferred maintenance, parts obsolescence, tight budgets, and lean "Just In Time" spare parts inventories: The U.S. Navy And Internal Rot. Mike asks: "What were these morons thinking? Or, more precisely punctuated: What, were these morons thinking?"

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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.

Although I live in a rural setting, my current employment depends on being able to reliably commute about 45 minutes each way to the state capital.

Watching the shutdown and gradual restoration of the Colonial pipeline serving the southeast US during Katrina was a sobering experience. Fuel prices spiked to record levels and many stations were not able to re-supply for weeks because of the lack of sufficient movement in the pipeline.

It was at that point several years ago that I began researching alternative methods of driving moderate distances of up to 100 miles a day in the event that conventional methods of fuel supply (i.e., the infrastructure of fill-up stations along with the pipeplines supplying them) should become unreliable.

I wanted to have an alternative method of propelling a vehicle down the road that did not depend so heavily on the oil companies and the conventional petroleum fuel distribution network.

From my educational background as an electrical engineer, electric vehicles were (and are) indeed intriguing. However, the primary issue then (and now) was battery technology. Today's batteries are still too heavy and expensive to match the energy density of a 5-gallon can of gasoline. That's not to say that electric vehicles may not be a viable option in the future. Perhaps the Tesla Model S will really live up to its hype someday. But there was no such thing as even a Tesla Roadster at the time I began my research, so I looked elsewhere.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) has been further developed and marketed and commercially available vehicles such as the Honda Civic GX have been sold that can run a couple hundred miles on a tank. However, the tanks are very high pressure, and lacking my own NG well, I would still be beholden to an even scantier distribution network.

Distilling my own ethanol for a flex fuel vehicle was another possibility, but that seemed to require large amounts of feedstock such as sugar. Producing ethanol at the required purity appeared to be a complex task requiring significant amounts of energy.

Finally, I stumbled upon the topic of running diesel vehicles on fuel derived from used cooking oil. There are two broad categories here:

(1) Making BioDiesel which has characteristics similar to the #2 diesel sold at the pump. This requires a chemical transformation of the oil. The procedures for accomplishing this reaction involve fairly toxic and explosive substances. Methanol (or racing fuel, itself a petroleum product) is required as part of the reaction. However, the final biodiesel product is relatively non-toxic and non-explosive. It can be burned in many diesel vehicles with varying degrees of success. The main advantage to making biodiesel is that no vehicular modification is normally needed. The disadvantage for me was the need to purchase toxic reagants and dispose of the significant amounts of waste glycerin which is left over at the end.

(2) Modifying a diesel vehicle so that it can burn waste vegetable oil (WVO) directly. WVO has a much higher viscosity than #2 Diesel. It must be heated to somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 degrees before it will spray properly through the nozzles of a diesel motor injector. It is possible to run WVO through a diesel engine at lower temperatures, but the lower the temperature, the more damage is done to the motor. One big advantage to burning WVO is that no additional chemical ingredients must be purchased and there is not any waste product left over from chemical processing. Nearly 100% of the feedstock is used up.

I decided to pursue option #2, burning WVO. Further research showed that the best method for all-climate operation was to install a second tank in the vehicle exclusively for WVO. To heat the WVO, a system of heat exchangers is fed coolant from the vehicle's radiator, which coincidentally has just about the right amount of heat once the vehicle is warmed up to operating temperature.

The next decision: which vehicle to purchase? I did not want to experiment on a new, expensive car or truck. From reading on the web, I decided on a 1985 Mercedes 300D with about 135,000 miles that I found in the local
paper for $3,000. It ran well and seemed to have good compression. The 1985 300D engine was the last of the Mercedes diesel engine to use a cast iron head. The later aluminum heads were prone to cracking in some
cases. All in all, the consensus on the web considered it a good candidate for a WVO conversion.

After that: should I purchase a kit or try to assemble something myself? Since I wanted to get going relatively quickly, I decided to purchase a kit marketed by Frybrid, a Seattle-based company with a reputation for quality products. The kit contained a second tank with a heated oil pickup, to be mounted in the trunk. Aluminum tube inside 5/8" heater hose carries the oil up to the engine compartment where it passes through a coolant-heated filter and final heat exchanger. A set of valves controls the switching of supply and return lines between the two fuel systems.

The system operation has manual or auto modes. In auto mode, a temperature sensor closes when the coolant is up to temperature. This switches the supply and return valves and the monitor light changes from red to green,
indicating transition from #2 diesel to WVO power. It was quite a thrill to see that green light go on for the first time! Almost as much fun as the first water pumped from my well with non-grid power!

Over the last couple years, I've put well over 2,000 gallons of WVO through the system. There is a small Chinese restaurant near my work which provides me 15 gallons of WVO a week - just about enough for my commuting
needs. The fuel does need to be carefully filtered and any water removed. I use a plastic 55-gal barrel with a couple of holes in the top for blue-jeans filters. A stock tank heater and hand pump complete my fuel processing. This has worked well for me so far. The heater causes water and other impurities to settle to the bottom of the barrel. The pump pickup is above this layer.

Even during the winter, my old 300D is up to 80C in about 3-4 miles of 55mph driving and I can switch over to WVO. What were the costs involved? About $1,800 for the kit, plus I paid a buddy of mine $500 to help install
it. With the amount of driving I do, it paid for itself in about 15 months. When full, my WVO tank is good for over 500 miles in normal conditions. I pay my federal road tax quarterly and my state road tax monthly, so using
WVO costs me about 40 cents/gallon. The Chinese place won't let me pay for it. The vegoil filter element lasts from 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Am I still dependent on the oil companies? Yes, but to a much lesser degree. I only need to run on diesel fuel when starting up (while the engine is warming up) and just before shutting down. I can store a couple of 55-gal
drums of diesel fuel which will now take me much further than they would have previously.

Is running WVO for everyone? No. There's not enough WVO to supply more than a few percent of America's diesel fuel needs. Even if you do have a reliable WVO source, if your commute is too short for the vehicle to warm up, you won't really benefit. If you don't have space or time to devote to properly filtering your WVO, it would be hard.But for those of us with significant commutes, a WVO source and a desire to become less dependent on big oil, it certainly is an option

Recently, I had the opportunity to perform a long term test of goods improperly stored. A friend of mine placed his possessions in storage in a hurry in 1999, left the state, and did not arrange for anyone to
maintain them. He returned last year, and we recently opened his storage locker and removed the items.
Items stored in the Midwest, in an outside, sheet metal storage facility with no heat or AC, placed on minimal dunnage and piled in without neat packing or stacking. The interior was dark. Duration was 11 years—1999-2010. The lows near 0 Fahrenheit, highs near 100 Fahrenheit, humidity from 35-100%. The storage facility had a basic sheet metal door and roof with gypsum board walls. Here is how the various items fared:

  • Clothes: a bit musty, undamaged.
  • Books and magazines: Bent unless packed properly. Mostly intact. Pages still glued and turned freely, perfectly readable. Some by the
    door damaged by humidity.
  • Stick matches: Fine after one day of drying.
  • Strike anywhere matches: nonfunctional first day. Fizzled on second day. Fizzled then burned on third day, but would only strike on box. After two weeks, their true "strike-anywhere" function returned.
  • Clear packing tape: Functional.
  • Brown packing tape: some peeling and loss of adhesive, but functional and plenty strong.
  • Fireworks: Functional, but a little weak.
  • VCR tapes: 95% were playable, both factory and home-recorded.
  • Spam Lite: Can still sealed, contents crumbly, but edible. Taste probably normal (I don’t eat this stuff normally). Note: We conducted tests for bacteria and spoilage before attempting to eat.Do not conduct your own experiments without professional assistance. Use at your own risk.)
  • Canned sweet peas: A bit pale, but surprisingly tasty.
  • Vinegar: Stale and tasteless.
  • Cooking wine: moldy.
  • Bottled sauces (Sealed): Edible, not very tasty.
  • Bottled and canned acidic foodstuffs: Eaten through can, evaporated.
  • Aerosol cans: depressurized.
  • Bic brand lighters: Functional.
  • Cardboard boxes: Mostly intact, some un-glued or re-glued due to humidity and pressure.
  • Particle board furniture: Failed. Crumbly and bent.
  • Inexpensive couch and mattress: Intact, slightly musty, springs and foam returned to shape after several hours, despite being weighted down for eleven years. Textiles sturdy, color bright.

Obviously, varying climates and conditions will yield different results, however, minimal protection from the elements seems to be adequate for a great many items. Nutritional value of foodstuffs lacks quite quickly, but protein and calories remain good. Better dunnage and packing, a sealed environment and some careful planning should yield excellent storage of cached supplies. - Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog Editor at Large

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I would first like to thank you for all the work you do, your ever informative blog, and for opening up my blind eyes to the world or prepping. I've made leaps and bounds in the last 2 years, however my preparations are not the topic of this letter. I recently found a youtube channel online called WildernesOutfitters by Mr. Dave Canterbury, who some of you may be familiar with from the Discovery Channel show "Dual Survival". Mr. Canterbury is located in my back yard of south eastern Ohio and i would recommend everyone to search out his youtube channel. It is filled with a wealth of "how to" videos for survival situations or being out in the bush. One video that caught my eye was his "Sling Bow". It is a very simple design that takes an ordinary sling shot and turns it into a powerful hunting alternative.

It all begins with acquiring any "wrist rocket" style sling shot which can be purchased at a Wal-Mart or any hunting/sports store for normally around $10. You will also need to have on hand 2 zip-ties, a replacement whisker biscuit insert for a compound bow, and a replacement band for the slingshot (a heavier duty band that is normally black). You begin by placing the whisker biscuit in the center of the forks of the slingshot at the base of the handle and zip-tieing them on. Make sure the type of whisker biscuit you get a hold of has two holes on a base at the bottom of it so you can easily zip-tie it on. From here all you need to do is replace the stock rubber band that comes on it with the stronger one, but before you swap bands cut approximately 2 inches off of each end to provide an even stronger pull on the ling shot.

T he last modification you will need to do is with your arrows. Take any inexpensive carbon fiber arrow (normally no more than $6-7 each) and pull the tapered notch out from the rear of the arrow where you would slip it on to your bow string. Now take any ordinary golf tee and and glue it into the arrow with a strong epoxy (like gorilla glue) to allow you to grip the arrow while pulling it back to shoot. And that's it! It sounds too simple and ridiculous to actually work, but I assure you that it has enough power to take down big game with and is extremely accurate with practice and within a certain range. Case in point, Mr. Canterbury took his Sling Bow on a big game hunt and took down a ram with it. So if it can take down a ram then it can take down a deer, or dispatch a two legged critter if need be! If any of your readers are interested in making their own sling bow, I would suggest checking out the video before doing so. I tried my best to clearly explain the process, but to see it makes it so much easier. Also, I almost forgot, due to the whisker biscuit being zip-tied on you can push it down and out of the way so you can still utilize the sling shot to shoot traditional ammunition like your ball bearings or anything you have at hand. Again, I strongly urge anyone to check out the WildernesOutfitters YouTube channel for all other "how to" videos...such as making your own arrows and broadhead tips....and making them cheaply too! I would also like to state that I am in no way affiliated with Mr. Canterbury or his survival school and am not trying to endorse him and his endeavors. Thanks and God bless you and all my fellow SurvivalBlog readers! - Tank in Ohio (A Prepper Apprentice)

When it comes to strong native fencing it hard to beat the Osage Orange [aka Bois D'Arc, Horse-apple, or (Latin) Maclura pomifera]. It was used as cattle fencing in its native east Texas and Oklahoma long before the devil wire was invented. It grows quickly, forms a dense hedge, and has long thorns that no one will try to force through. Its wood is hard and it burns for a long time so it can be harvested for fuel too.

For protecting windows I use the beautiful Knockout Rose. I love its flowers but I hate it when its time to trim it back. Its hard sharp thorns cover every inch of its stems. Trying to climb over it to get into the window will be an exercise in pain. - Ken O.

T.R. flagged this item: Russian drought sends wheat prices soaring. If you haven't already done so, stock up, immediately!

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Temporary cap in place — now what for the Gulf? (A hat tip to Barney O. for the link.)

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A reminder that Everlasting Seeds has a 15% off special in progress, just for SurvivalBlog readers. This special offer ends on July 22nd, so get your order in soon!

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Reader Eric H. spotted this: Competing currency being accepted across Mid-Michigan

"Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." - Frederic Bastiat

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 a very average suburban life similar to many people across the country. Commute to work, office job, suburban home with wife and kids. It’s easy to forget how fragile this lifestyle is and how little it takes to remove all the things you come to depend on. Recently I had an afternoon that showed me just how easy these conveniences can go away and the difference a little preparedness can make.

After picking up my daughter from day care I drove home to find myself locked out of the house. We were having new keys made and I intended to go in through the garage. Just hit the automatic garage door opener hanging from the visor and I would be fine just like countless other times. However, when I tried the door opener nothing happened. I fiddled with the button for a while and tried to open it manually from the outside but had no luck.

No big deal, I used my cell phone to call my father-in-law on the other side of town to come over with the spare key and let me in. My 15 month old with a rapidly growing hunger was losing patience in the back but still its not the end of the world. When my father-in-law arrived a half hour later he was in a hurry to get back to cooking and couldn’t stay. After handing me the key I thanked him for his trouble and he was on his way.

When I got into the house I discovered why garage door wouldn’t open. The power was out and it being early afternoon I didn’t notice from outside. It was also about 98 degrees outside that day with humidity that made the climate resemble the inside of a dogs mouth. The air conditioning must have failed some time in the morning so the house felt no better. I opened the windows to let the nonexistent breeze in and went to work on finding something to feed the now very hungry and very uncomfortable toddler.

This was the day before grocery day so my options in the pantry were limited, add in the fact that the microwave and electric stove were inoperative and dinner for the baby became a balanced diet of Cheerios, a banana and luke warm milk.  Doing the best to satisfy the kid with what we had I went about calling the power company to figure out what happened to the power. I quickly realized I dumped the phone book in the recycling bin a long time ago and without the internet I was forced to call information on my cell phone to find the number.

Apparently ‘information’ is a very loosely given title where I live because it took an excruciatingly long time to find the number of the largest power company in the state. I had been on my phone a lot that day with work and the battery was almost dead by that point. By the time I got through to someone at the power company and discovered that they were aware the power was off and were working on the problem my phone had run out of juice.

It was that that point that my hot, cranky and only partially fed toddler fell while running through the kitchen. Instead of springing back up like one of the 100 others times she fell that day she landed on her wrist with a nasty pop and started screaming her head off. Now I’m terrified trying to comfort her and examine her wrist. She is inconsolable, we’re both sweating bullets, and I have no phone to call my wife at work or anyone else for help. Not seeing any bones sticking out of her arm or other clear sings of impending death I ended up loading her in the car rushing across town to the in-laws. About a half hour later we were backing the loving embrace of modern civilization, enjoying air conditioning, cooked food and the comforting advice of her pediatrician.

My daughter was fine after some baby Tylenol and a good nights' sleep. The power was back by on dusk after a wire that was damaged by some tree trimmers was repaired. We went to the store the next day to get groceries for the next week and all was well. This was by no means a real emergency or crisis, the rest of the city and even most of my neighborhood had a normal night. But what if it wasn’t? What if the rest of the city had lost power also, or what if we weren’t able to drive all over the city to get the help we needed? This experience was very illustrative for me, and I hope it will be for you, as to how fragile our needs are and how much we come to depend on our modern conveniences.

In retrospect I did many things wrong that night. I was counting on having a working garage door to get into my home instead of a key or some other way. Not having an adequate amount of food in the cupboard to get through a night without power was idiotic. A lack of knowledge for basic first aid is the most embarrassing realization I had that night. Without a phone to call a doctor or 911 I was on my own and if it had been a real emergency it could have been a disaster.

So what am I doing to correct this? First, knowledge. I’ve gone to work reading as much as I can about what skills I’ll need should a real disaster situation arise. Resources like this web site and others are a handy place to start getting your head around what a family really needs to be prepared. For the uninitiated this is not as easy as you think. Not everyone grew up on a farm or backpacking in Montana so knowing what to do for food, water, medical aid, personal defense or whatever is not as easy as it sounds.

I’ve put together a list of skills for myself to learn in preparation of disaster so that next time I’ll be ready.

  •  Basic and Advanced First Aid. – The Red Cross or many community centers offer classes and training
  •  Food Storage and Perpetration – Many good books out there, even community center classes.
  •  Water Storage and Purifying – Many good books out there and often stores that sell serious camping equipment will have good information.
  •  Home and Personal Defense – Concealed carry classes and your local shooting range are good places to start.

Learning these introductory skills to the basics of survival will put me on a strong footing the next time I’m in a difficult situation.

Second, supplies. Had I been in a real emergency I could have been stuck with only what was in the house. A two week supply of both nonperishable food and drinking water is the minimum a home needs and ideally I would like to have more. This is not counting things like first aid supplies and other essentials. I realize now that I don’t want to be in need of anything outside my home should a disaster arise. Transportation is another big issue. In a disaster the help that was once a short drive across town could become worlds away. Local means local to you on foot or bike not local by car. 

Think of your situation when making these preparations. Kids, pets, your physical condition and health needs, the climate of your area and likely disasters you’ll face should all be factored in. Make preparations for you and what your family needs not what others have done. There is no one size fits all plan!

Third, have a game plan. Being unable to contact the outside world or my wife or family during my mini-crisis made it that much harder. Have a back up plan in order so if things really do hit the fan you know where to meet and what to do. The help of your community can play a role in this also. When I later told a good neighbor this story he offered to help if I ever find myself in this situation again. I offered the same and it became the start of a larger discussion about what to do if something serious happens.

A plan will put you at ease and give you something productive to do. If you’re loved ones are on the same page you will have less to fear when they are out in the world. Even from my very mild experience I can understand how panic can take hold or how fear of the unknown can make a situation worse. Don’t let that helpless feeling get you, a little knowledge and a plan will make everything better.

I was recently bothered by a power outage. It had the bad luck to happen at a time when I was the most unprepared for the event and it coincided with child’s simple accident. However, I saw a glimpse of how much worse it could have been and how my lack of preparation and knowledge put me at a disadvantage. We all see hurricanes and floods on television and say maybe I should start planning ahead. If your like me you got distracted or put it off. I’m thankful for this little scare because I got a glimpse into a bad situation and it’s prompted me to do something about it. If you’re new to preparedness I hope you will do the same.

I am a new prepper.  Luckily I live on a five-acre piece of land on the outskirts of a small town.  I have an irrigation well, and have been looking at deep well hand pumps as a way to get water under TEOTWAWKI.  Any advice that someone could give me on that would be much appreciated.  At approximately $1,500, the hand pump would be a major purchase.

I have been using the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, the free LDS Preparedness Manual, and SurvivalBlog as my main guides so far.  As I read SurvivalBlog, I wonder what I could contribute, since I rely so much on what others have generously offered up.

The only somewhat unique thing that I have to offer is my perspective after having attended Front Sight Firearms Training Institute about 20 times.  Just type “Front Sight” in the Blog search box and you will find rave reviews about Front Sight from other members that have attended.  I also think Front Sight is awesome.  If someone would have told me a few years ago that I could put five shots in the same ragged hole with a handgun or consistently make hits on a man=sized target out to 900 yards with a scoped rifle and ammunition that I handloaded, I would have laughed at them.  Front Sight training has made that and more a reality for me.

I do not work for Front Sight and I will not profit in any way by endorsing them.  What I would like to do is explain what I have learned that will help you attend Front Sight as inexpensively as possible.  For anyone planning to attend Front Sight for the first time, look for certificates on eBay.  If you paid more than $200 tuition for your first class, then you paid more than you needed to.  Front Sight operates by selling lifetime memberships.  For those of you that have been to Front Sight, you know that during lunch on the second day of the course, they try and sell you a lifetime membership.  In the 3-½ years that I have been attending, they have offered the Legacy Membership for $2.500 to $3.000.  For those who have not attended Front Sight, do not worry about getting and "high pressure" sales tactics.  They offer the memberships during a lunch break, and if you do not eat your lunch in the classroom that day, then you do not even have to listen to the presentation.  The whole thing is very low key.

What Front Sight does not explain well is that once you are a lifetime member, then they send you membership offers at extreme discounts.  One example is Front Sight offered the 9/12 Membership, which is essentially the same as the Legacy Membership mentioned above, for $912.  If you purchase an upgraded membership from Front Sight, then you can give your old membership to a friend or family member.  What happens is people buy the upgraded memberships at discounted prices, and then they try to sell their old memberships if they do not have anyone to give it to.  Front Sight does not allow you to advertise these extra lifetime memberships in any public media (Internet, newspaper, etc.).  That is why you never see them offered for sale.  There is a private forum for lifetime members where you can ask for these “extra” memberships from other members that have them.  At the advice of a friend, this is how I became a lifetime member.  I bought a Self Reliance Membership for $600 from another member, then I got an insider offer for an all inclusive Diamond Membership for $2,000.  I bought the Diamond membership and gave the Self Reliance membership to my wife.  As an aside, I about had to drag my wife to her first class.  She decided that since we have guns in the home, she should get some training on their safe use.  Now she loves Front Sight, has been there several times, and even plans our trips there.

It is my personal belief that Front Sight will not be in business for too many more years.  (Though this past Spring, they have added several new ranges that are impressive.)  The reason I say that is because they have made commitments to train thousands of people for life, and those people will not be bringing any new money into the place.  My brother is a lawyer, and did a bunch of research, but still bought a “used” membership for under $500.  The advice I give people is to buy a membership that you think you can get the value out of within the next year.  That way if Front Sight goes out of business, you will really not lose anything.  For the least expensive firearms training out there, you will pay about $100 per day tuition.  For places like Gunsite and Thunder Ranch, you will pay $300 - $500 per day in tuition.  It does not take long to get your money's worth at Front Sight.

Front Sight is a great place to train.  The staff is excellent.  My favorite instructor is a retired Special Forces master sergeant.  Another of my favorites was a Marine Corps. force recon scout/sniper.  Most of the instructors have a military and/or law enforcement background and bring a lot of real world experience to the table.  I would encourage everyone that owns a gun to get trained.  You do not even know what you do not know until you get some professional training. - S.T.

The guys over at TSLRF just mentioned: " There is a free service on Off-grid.net called LandBuddy that connects you with people who are looking to live off grid, people who are currently living off grid and people who want to help others live off grid." That sounds useful, for J.S.L.'s situation. Here is a link to the full post. - Hector R.


I'm here in your home of Pennsylvania, and wish you well. Although I wish I had some Arizona property as well, I do not. I have some property away from my home location that gives me some hope, should things become unsuitable for normal living.

I also am involved in alternative energy for a living, and would recommend that you do a full calculation of getting a standard hookup before putting any money down on the alternatives. We have not become fully de-regulated here yet, but if you follow Maryland's de-reg, you will understand the 100% jump that may occur. At the current time, the payback is still 20 years on the equipment, based on my kwh costs and extrapolating the cost expansion. As this develops, I'm looking at the same alternatives as you.

If I were in your situation, I would be looking at all non required costs, for example television, phone, heat (if you have firewood), cooling, etc.
As always, any spousal input is sometimes a holdback on putting the tv (dish) on the not required list. I'm quite familiar with this situation.

On the garden, keep the chin up, read as much as possible online, and pray for rain. We had about two months of no rain up here, but had public water backup to keep the garden alive. The last week has drowned us in make-up rain. (I'm not overly religious, but I did pray for some rain to bring us back from the bad situation, and it appears to be provided.)

If things get too frail, come back to Pennsylvania, and give it another try. We are making it here, even with the Associated Press's daily bad news. Take care, - W.H.


Unless you have money to burn, one should not expect to set up an off the grid home and have all the conveniences of a on the grid home.

First off, for one person a 300 to 500 square foot structure is more than adequate. 2,100 square foot home is too big for even a six person family. For initial cost savings, use a generator for surge electricity needs, otherwise use a small solar system to supply power for LED lighting and solid state electronics. Also use natural lighting (skylights) and oil lamps to keep set up costs down. You can always expand the solar and wind system as funds are available. Use a solar clothes dryer (clothes line) and a manuals washing machine (tub and ringer) and dishwasher (sink, scrub brush and hands).

I think starting off with an old motor home is a good idea and I would suggest reading Thoreau’s book “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” to get a perspective on a personal declaration of independence, simple living in natural surroundings and for self reliance.


Mr.. Rawles:
J.S.L. should be able to sell his house to other preppers stuck in New York City and its’ suburbs. His site is a lot less populated than ours. I would love a piece of property in Pennsylvania. It is all about perspective. His grass is a lot greener than our concrete jungle. He needs to place an ad in New York City area Craigslist or something similar. Also the people with money in this area have plenty to burn. Hard to believe but true. Although his home may not be an ideal site it is still a better bug out site for someone living in an apartment in New York City. Peace, - Celia

Gun Sales Expected to "Shoot Up"

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Things are looking Gibbonesque these days: Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement Asphalt Is Replaced By Cheaper Gravel; 'Back to Stone Age'

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K. in Montana recommended a recent essay by Patrice Lewis: Gun Control Takes Two Hands.

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It's not the pirate flag but that Evil Tea-Party Gadsen Flag that was the issue, dontcha know: U.S. Authorities Shut Down Wordpress Host With 73,000 Blog. One solution to this sort of jackboot stomping is Osiris.

"And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed [are] the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Luke 23:27-31 (KJV)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 endeavored to set my own off-grid plan into place. This is easier said than done. A machinist by trade, unemployed by government design, it is becoming more difficult to find the capital to go off-grid. Since late 2007 the job market in my area has collapsed. The only way to find employment is through a "temp" agency and the two jobs I have been lucky enough to get only lasted a few months each. What is worse is the fact that many employers are now engaging in discrimination against those of us that are unemployed, i.e. “unemployed need not apply”.

 As of May 2010 I am embarrassed to admit that I must now use food stamps in order to be able to continue paying the mortgage. As a single 45-yea- old owner of a home that I can’t sell now due to the housing market collapse, almost all of my finances go to trying to simply hold on to my home. Unfortunately this  trend is not sustainable for much longer since my unemployment has completely dried up. The time is upon me to exercise a motto from my childhood, “be prepared”. I never hunted before, but as of 2009 I have started to learn hunting as both a survival skill and a sustainable off-grid skill in both archery and rifle. Having had success in my first deer season I have gained some confidence that I can feed myself when the grocery stores disappear.  I have also begun gardening with non-GMO seeds. I have been very fortunate to put back a few months of storable food from Ready Reserve and e-Foods direct. I have also found some inexpensive tree covered property (5 acres) that is remote, about 23 miles to the nearest town (in Arizona) which is about 2,100 miles away from my home in Pennsylvania. Access to water will be a major issue (about $10,000 to drill a well with no guarantee of hitting water, or put a storage tank on the property and either haul or delivery.)
T here is also the issue of a permanent shelter. The best option I found in my research would be an insulated steel building kit. These kits can be assembled over a week-end with simple hand tools, but they are about $4,000 for one 20 x 30 x 12 kit from American Outback Buildings. This kit is the most complete of all I have researched. With four of these kits and a 25 x 25 gazebo you end up with about 2,100 sq. ft. cross shaped, open floor plan structure. After all that you still need to think about the interior--partitioning rooms, the inside plumbing, septic system, wiring for electric and a power source.

I feel a combination of wind, solar and a back-up propane generator would be the best system. Solar is expensive though, $6,000 to $12,000 for a strong system that would include a hybrid inverter (pure sine wave is not cheap) that will accommodate both solar and wind. Wind turbines are a bit easier on the wallet. From my research the turbine price tag will be around $3,000. Don’t forget that both systems will require batteries,. This brings into focus the voltage and total amp hours you will need. Alternative power systems are typically built with 12 volt, 24 volt, 36 volt, or 48 volt battery banks. I feel a 24v system would work out fine for my needs as long as I use propane for the stove. As you can see none of these steps are cheap, (you get what you pay for) but in order to be truly off the grid you must continue to move forward every chance you get.
Baby steps are all I can muster at present so I have also picked up an old, (1981) cheap motor home (code name “plan B”). Just in case my plan doesn’t reach completion before my home in Pennsylvania is taken away from me. Although I continue to hope for the best  (a new job at the hourly rate to thrive) I must be prepared for the worst (foreclosure), but the more baby steps taken now makes “the worst” less of an impact and easier to accumulate to further down the road.
I realize this off-grid topic is scary for anyone that seriously considers escape, but “we the people” have been under constant assault since 9-11. Now there is something new almost daily designed to instill fear into the populace of America such as 2012, extremists, Russian spies, the Gulf oil spill, Iran, North Korea, the list is endless. The question before each citizen is “how much are you willing to take before you act?" Remember… the level of tyranny you will live under is exactly the amount you are willing to accept.

I believe that getting off-grid, though scary can be achieved as long as you take a small piece at a time (baby steps). That has been my philosophy these past three years, I may not have achieved my dream yet, I may never see it complete but I endeavor daily and have reached a plateau. If everything else fails right now and I must vacate I have a piece of property, a way to get there and the survival skills to make a go of it. Not that life would get easier should this scenario transpire. Point of fact, life would get much rougher. I can only hope the world will step back from the brink. This criminal government will relent from killing our “God given” rights, corruption will stop and all the people of this world will join hands and sing “we are the world”. I can hope. I do not believe that to be the case though. It seems the situation is only getting worse and the bottom is nowhere in sight.

Survival preparation seems to be the only prudent move even if all that threatens us dissolves.   This is simply a compilation of my plans. I am sure that curve balls will be thrown that I have not thought of in my wildest dreams. But I am also sure that I will not allow myself to end up in some “tent city”. At an early age I was homeless, I have been that far down that my next meal came from a dumpster, and I carried all my worldly possessions in my backpack. I will not allow a repetition of that at this juncture in my life. I am not an expert in any field, I know a lot about a little, a little about a lot, but I don’t know everything about anything. I have not thought of every obstacle I will encounter, though I have tried to account for every contingency. I am prepared to address new challenges as they present themselves. Put together what you can, while you can.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was very surprised to that there was no mention of fish hooks and other fishing tackle in the recent posts regarding trade items post-TEOTWAWKI. As with ammunition and seeds these highly compact items belong to a top tier of survival items, food procurement.

When looking for the essentials, think about what the native Americans were willing to give up their land rights for, knives, guns, blankets etc. Yes luxuries are nice, but the tobacco smoking population will quickly get their priorities straight when Schumer hits the fan. - Grant in Michigan

SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate ("G.G.") sent this: Jim Grant Is Confident QE 2.0 Is Just Around The Corner. Grant's thoughts on new Fed additions: "I think the first order of business will be to try once more to print
enough dollars to make something happen in the U.S. economy.”

Democrats and AARP want to make IRA enrollment automatic

Items from The Economatrix:

Eurozone: Portugal Debts Spark Panics

Goldman Sachs Lifts Gold Forecast to $1,355

Dollar Slides After Greek Debt Auction Bolsters Confidence in Europe

Stocks Sink On Weak Consumer Sentiments, Bank Earns

Consumer Prices Dip for Third Straight Month

China Reduces US Debt Holdings in May Talk about positioning yourself before the fall!

Fed's Volte Face Sends Dollar Tumbling "Rarely before have a few coded words in the minutes of the US Federal Reserve caused such an upheaval in the global currency system, or such a sudden flight from the dollar."

Richard S. sent us links to three videos of battlefield robotics developments: Petman, BigDog, and RHex.

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Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) flagged this:Alex Jones: Road Warrior Level Collapse is Imminent

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Whooping Cough Kills Five in California. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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G.G. sent this: Homes lost to foreclosure on track for one million in 2010

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Robert M. recomended this New York Observer article (with a foul language warning): The New Doom. In it, a billionaaire confided: "We have a retreat that’s right on the Quebec border. We own 18 miles on the border, so we can cross. Anytime we want to we can get away."

"The duty of government is to leave commerce to its own capital and credit as well as all other branches of business, protecting all in their legal pursuits, granting exclusive privileges to none." - Andrew Jackson

Friday, July 16, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 are a newbie prepper or a veteran gardener this article may raise a number of different questions.

Are you counting on growing a garden to supplement your food storage program?  Good!

Okay, you have your Survival Seed Bank heirloom seeds in storage.  Now what?

Are you thinking that you have a large back yard that when the time comes you will sacrifice to turn it into a garden?
Good use of your backyard, but let’s get it ready before you are desperate for the food.

Are you going to rent or buy a tiller when the time comes?
Will there be any for sale or rent at that time?

What if you cannot get gas for the roto-tiller or garden tractor?

Are you going to break up all that sod by hand?  Do you have the tools to do it by hand?
Okay, probably not.

Prepare your garden soil now, when you are not desperate. While you still have the resources, break up the sod and till it in deeply.   Some types of lawn grass may need to be repeatedly tilled until it no longer sends out new grass starts.  Or you may elect to scalp the sod now and add in humus as an amendment.

Amend your soil so that you can spade the whole area by hand or use a hand powered garden cultivator when the time comes.  And I firmly believe it will.

You may not think much if anything about the soil that will become your garden.  How dull!  But soil is the very foundation to a superior garden.  To have good soil, you need to know the kind of soil you now have, and what that soil needs, to become superior soil; one that can be cared for by hand, if need be.

Many of the eastern US soils tend to be acidic.  Some are mostly sand and won’t hold the water you put on it.  Southwestern soils may be alkaline.  Northwestern mountain soils may be quite acidic or heavy with clay that holds too much water in the spring and are difficult to work up at all.

When discussing soil, we need to focus on five things: structure, texture, organic matter, fertility and pH. These can all be influenced by the amendments you add to your soil. 


How do you determine the structure of your soil?  Soil structure refers to the way your soil sticks together when you squeeze a handful of it.  Grab a handful of your damp soil.  Squeeze it firmly and then poke it lightly with your finger.  Did it fall apart?  It is likely sand.  Did it require a bit more pressure when you poked it?  Then you probably have silt.  If you can squeeze it and then poke it and see your fingerprints in it, you undoubtedly have pure clay!  A good soil structure is crumbly.  Plant roots work their way easily through it.  The soil is well aerated yet holds water so the plants can access it without holding the water so long as to cause root rot.


Soil texture refers to the size of the soil particles. Sand has the largest particles and they are irregularly shaped. This is why sand feels gritty and also why it drains so well. Sand doesn’t compact easily. Silt particles are much smaller than sand, but still irregularly shaped and does not compact very easily either. Clay has microscopic sized particles that are almost flat so it packs very easily, leaving little or no room for air or water to move about. Clay soils often contain iron and aluminum hydroxides, which affect the retention and availability of fertilizer.

Sandy loam is considered the ideal garden soil and consists of a mix of the three basic textures. However, don’t run out to buy sand to add to your clay.  It will just make an aggregate suitable for concrete!  However, let’s see how to make your soil better!

Most if not all soils need to be amended to become great soils that reliably produce abundantly with minimal effort. 

Amending Your Soil
So what does soil amendment mean?  Amend means to change or modify for the better.  That is exactly what you want to do.  The last thing you want, is for YOU to be struggling to survive as you watch your new plants struggling for survival, demanding ever more food and water.
Amendments are soil additives that make your soil easier to cultivate and which modify soil texture and structure. Organic matter holds the moisture in dry or sandy soils and helps prevent clay soils from retaining too much moisture or providing too little aeration. Fertility amendments provide “time release” nutrients for your plants. Amending your soil with the right organic matter and fertilizers will feed the beneficial soil microbes.  These will help you to first feed the soil so it can then feed your plants. Finally amendments modify pH to suit the plants.
Organic Matter
Typical yard soils are composed of about 90 percent mineral residues and only about ten percent organic material.  Additional organic matter added to your soil provides food for the village of organisms below your garden surface.  These beneficial microorganisms living in the soil release nutrients into the soil as they live off of the organic matter.

Earthworms and other insects that live in the soil further aerate the soil and contribute still more nutritive matter with their castings. This entire eco-village makes a healthful environment in which your growing garden produce will thrive.

Compost is gold for your garden.  It is the decomposed, cured form of organic matter.  Compost, worked into new beds or top dressed and watered into established beds, increases microbial activity improving soil character and moisture retention.  There is some nutrient value as well.  Although the best source for good compost is homemade, if you need a large amount, many land grant universities and recycling organizations make compost and sell it by the truckload.  Fermented compost tea also provides a great boost of microbes for the soil, which in turn convert nutrients into a usable form available to plants.

Peat moss is a long lasting, humus source helping to slowly acidify the soil.  It holds moisture ten to fifteen times its own weight when fully moistened and still allows 40 percent aeration.  It does not have much nutrient value itself, but is excellent at holding the nutrients you add to the soil preventing them from leaching out.  Do not apply to the surface since it will repel water when dry.

Green manure is not animal manure at all, but rather, is a cover crop that is grown in your garden and tilled into the garden soil to build fertility and add humus.  Annual rye, barley, buckwheat, clover, legumes and alfalfa are good green manure crops.
Pelletized alfalfa is another form of green manure, commercially harvested and pelletized for your ease of use.  It contains small amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which feed the plants.  But the greatest benefit to your garden is the hormone, Triacontanol, a plant growth regulator.  The pellets can be top-dressed as mulch and watered in. 

You can achieve faster results by steeping the alfalfa as a tea, and allowing it to ferment.  Using the millions of microbes in the fermented liquid makes all the nutrients in the soil more quickly available to your plants. Pesticides typically used on gardens and lawns kill the beneficial microbes and other fauna in the soil that help deliver these nutrients to your plants. 

Only apply alfalfa to the surface of the soil around plants.  If applied in the root zone of the soil, the heat of the rapidly composting alfalfa would destroy the roots.  However, if you were building your soil the year prior to planting your garden, this would be fine.


Plants need nutrition just like people do, to grow strong and bolster their disease resistance.  Amendments, that provide the “time release” nutrition for your plants, allow them to feed gently and continuously.  These amendments include fish meal, rock phosphate, potash, manure, cottonseed meal, kelp meal and bone meal.  These are fertilizers from animal, vegetable and mineral sources, which release their nutrition to the microbes in the soil that in turn make the nutrients available to the plants.  Organic gardening nutrients are not as instantaneous as commercial fertilizer which can give the plants a “high” but are not sustainable over several seasons. in desperate times, you may not be able to get more commercial fertilizer each time the plant “high” diminishes.  Synthetic fertilizers add nothing to the soil's long-term fertility.

Bone meal is a long-lasting source of phosphorous containing slowly available phosphorous as well as low levels of nitrogen, potassium and calcium.  The slow availability of the nutrients makes it very safe for transplanting young plants.

Manures are a good source of nutrients and organic matter.  When purchasing composted horse manure, however, make sure that it is actually pure manure and not predominantly the wood chips used for bedding the horses.  The further decomposition of the chips in the garden can actually use up the available nitrogen in the garden.  Often the commercially composted manure will say that it is heat treated to kill seeds.  This also kills the beneficial bacteria in naturally composted manure.  Dehydrated cow manure dried and pulverized, comes in fifty-pound bags.  It too, has been heat treated to kill weed seeds and is convenient and easy to apply.  It is long lasting. About half of the nutrients remaining will be available each year.

Cottonseed meal is a good fertilizer with a high amount of organic nitrogen, perhaps the second best source of organic nitrogen after blood meal.  Cottonseed meal is easily obtained at your local feed store or garden nursery.  The nitrogen is broken down slowly by microbial action and is made available in “time release” format.  Cottonseed meal also acidifies the soil.

Kelp meal is a fertilizer made from ocean kelp and is very high in potassium and trace elements and an excellent source of plant hormones that stimulate plant and root growth.  Kelp meal provides a quick boost for greening up the plant foliage.  When mixed with fish meal or fish emulsion it makes a fantastic booster for the entire garden.

Fish meal is a superior natural fertilizer, high in phosphorous and nitrogen, which stimulates both bloom and green growth.  Some folks object to the strong fish odor and recommend plugging it into the soil about ten inches deep covered with four inches of soil.  However, when the fish meal is tilled in, the odor is not apparent and will not be an open invitation to your neighbor’s cats or the spring bears!

Rock phosphate contains 20-30 percent phosphate but supplies phosphorus very slowly with only about 3 percent available at a time. However, it has other trace minerals and is a good amendment to add as part of a well-rounded soil mix.

Next you will need to test your soil to determine the pH, acid (below 7.0) neutral (7.0) or alkaline (above 7.0) You can test the pH of your soil by using an inexpensive pH testing kit.   A small sample of your soil is mixed with water, which changes color according to acidity or alkalinity. 

Most plants prefer pH neutral soil.  Some plants, however, prefer more acidic soil, such as potatoes and strawberries or alkaline such as yams, and the cabbage family of plants.  A good site to visit that covers the pH needs of fruits and vegetables is http://www.thegardenhelper.com/soilPH.htm

Diseases affecting plants also tend to thrive in soil with a particular pH range.  The pH range affects the availability of nutrients in the soil.

pH Buffering Amendments
Soil amendments providing pH buffering include elemental sulfur, glauconite (greensand) and chemical free wood ashes. 

Elemental sulfur helps acidify alkaline soil.  Sulfur reaction in the soil is slow.  It may take a few months or longer to change soil pH to the desired level because the process of conversion of elemental sulfur to sulfate is the result of the microbes in your soil.  Sulfur should be added to the soil in the spring, since the oxidation results from microbial activity, which is not active in winter.  It can be added in the winter, but the acidification will not begin until the microbial activity returns in the warmer months.

Greensand (glauconite) is another way to acidify the soil.  It is called greensand for the gritty texture and green color.  Greensand has many different elements mixed into it.  However, the end result of the microbial activity on the greensand is that the soil becomes more acid.  Greensand also helps loosen heavy clay soils.

Wood ashes from trees or lumber free of paint, preservatives, and other chemical contaminants can safely be used to increase the pH of an acid soil (make it more alkaline).   Wood ash is also a great source of potash.

Building your garden’s soil is an ongoing process. By making healthy soil a focus at the start of making a garden, you will have a head start on providing food for your family when the grocery stores are empty.

Greetings and my Compliments. I have just returned from a training meeting my employer, USDA-Rural Development. It was presented by the American Bankers Association. Bottom line, the ABA is projecting the economy not to bottom out until late in 2014. With over 90 banks already closed (in 2010) and some 775 on the the "Troubled" list, things do not look good. The troubled list has a projected 70 percent failure rate.

Keep up the good work. We have a long way to go. May God Bless and keep you and your family. - Lame Wolf

Take a look at a one-minute a video of a routine nighttime DUI stop in Hamilton, Montana that turned ugly. Listen for the first “click” as the suspect attempts to fire his .41 Magnum revolver about two inches from the officer’s nose. The “click” is the hammer dropping on an expended round in the cylinder. The second round was live, but Officer Jessop had by then recovered and made a strategic move to the rear of the vehicle, buying more time and a much more advantageous position for a firefight. He tossed his flashlight so he could use both hands for better gun control, and opened fire on the suspect as he sped away. His aim looked very controlled, and was obviously very much in the ballpark. The suspect was hit at least once, crashed into a power pole, and was declared dead at the scene. Don’t know what the officer was carrying, but he fired 14 rounds in return and they were bigger than a 9mm. Probably Glock .40s. And then he casually picked his flashlight up as he was returning to his car and notifying dispatch. While you can always Monday morning quarterback someone’s technique, how many of us would have done this well under these circumstances? All things considered, this officer did the basics, did them fast, and did them well. I’d ride with him anytime.

Final score: Officer Ross Jessop, 1; Raymond Thane Davis, 0

A jury ruled on April 13, 2010 that Hamilton Police Officer Ross Jessop was justified in shooting Raymond Thane Davis.

The oft-quoted Sun Tzu recognized the value of training centuries ago when he wrote: "Victorious warriors win first, and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first, and then seek to win."

Learning to win occurs in training.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sharing that video link. I have just one observation. Did you see the officer reload? From what I saw, he re-holstered a pistol that had been shot dry. But, all in all, I'd say that he did well, given the extremely stressful circumstances.

Sean recommended an interesting piece about how to gain privacy while flying: fly with a gun. That is a very clever approach. Note that he mentioned that you can simply carry a stripped AR-15 lower receiver in your airline-approved locking case. That is brilliant. Also note that he recommended the Abloy "Puck" padlock, that was previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog.

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M.O.B. suggested this item: In Pictures: Shots fired at police in third night of violence in Belfast.

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Everlasting Seeds has a 15% off special in progress, just for SurvivalBlog readers. This special offer ends on July 22nd, so get your order in soon!

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The Former 91B provided a link to a PDFed article about our day to day dependence on the trucking industry. It is clear that any interruption could spell chaos in short order.

"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable, when using our forces we must seem inactive, when we are near, we must make the enemy believe that we are away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is superior in strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

If he is inactive, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War - Translation by Lionel Giles, 1910

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 Life Altering Moment
There are times in one’s life when everything changes.  For me it was it was in early May, just two months ago.   My wife and I were visiting my parents in Florida, and taking the opportunity to check out places where we thought we would like to retire in a few years.  We have been traveling to the west coast of Florida from Wisconsin for over 20 years and were trying to finalize the community we would choose.  As I am still employed, life is basically good.

After another round of exploring we chose to escape the midday heat by visiting a large bookstore.  On one display table were several copies of JWR’s "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It", Cody Lundin's ’When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes, and a several other related titles.  I sat down with both books, and “armed” with some coffee (yeah, I drink hot coffee is all weather conditions) decided to look at these books more closely.  I was immediately hooked.  Holy Cow! Talk about opening a new door and finding something completely unexpected.

From “How to Survive TEOTWAWKI” I found SurvivalBlog, and from there discovered the previously (to us) unknown universe of preparedness, survival, and everything else.  I showed my wife the material, and she was “hooked” as well.  I think our conversions were “easy” because of our ongoing domestic conversations related to the shifts in the economic and political climates of the past few years.  In one day we were both in sync on our beginning to understand what preparedness means and how unprepared we actually were.

Getting Lost
The Internet is a journey of 1,000 clicks.  For me, every new term needed to be looked up.  From there I would find a site that had a whole bunch of new information, new terms, and new searches: rinse, repeat.  Night after night, even stealing a long lunch at work, I would read a new blog or forum entry with an unfamiliar term or concept,  and from there look up “Ka-Bar” or “Dakota Fire Pit” or the shelf life of Butane lighters and find myself on another blog site being introduced to even more new concepts, lists, ideas, problems.....arghh!

This education process was enlightening and at the same time frightening.  I feel like we have come late to the party.  The sheer volume is overwhelming, and the clock is ticking.  We are not millionaires, and at our stage of life (late 50s/early 60s) we have finite energy plus a few preexisting conditions that limit our “bugout” options. Let’s see, we have both read “Alas, Babylon”, “One Second After”, “Patriots”, and “The Road”.  Our library now includes “Boston's Gun Bible”, “SAS Survival Handbook”, “The Encyclopedia of Country Living”, "Where There Is No Doctor", "Where There Is No Dentist" and several other titles. We read as much as we can when we can. 

I downloaded JWR’s “List of Lists” and on first read said to myself “this is cool”, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the detail.  I ordered and read the “Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course”.  There are more details on what needs to be consider, but I am still feeling overwhelmed.

I was lost.  I know that the journey of one thousand miles starts with a single step, but I didn’t want to head off in the wrong direction.  I am not in a position to waste any time, effort, or money.

But then I remembered something that I had come across a week or so earlier.  Where was it?  As I use www.delicious.com to save my bookmarks on the net, any sites that I want to revisit are bookmarked, tagged, and readily searchable.  I found it in a few minutes.

It was a post on another survival web site.  The author provided an easy acronym for a person to remember when they get lost.  “S.T.O.P.”:  Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan.  For all the survival old-timers this is grade school stuff, but to the newly initiated it is fresh material.  After some thought it does make perfect sense.  I was lost in the jungle of preparedness and needed to STOP.

Getting Un-lost
My subconscious must have been working on this for some time, because I immediately knew what I had to do for myself.  I also realized that my work might be useful to others in a similar position, those others coming late to the preparedness party.  I asked and received JWR's permission to modify his List of Lists.  I reformatted the spreadsheet to meet my needs, and the remainder of the article explains my modifications.

“Stop” I did, literally.  The web site recommendation was to try to relax for 30 minutes.  After reading “One Second After” I allowed myself to stop for 30 seconds.  

“T” usually means think, but for me it means “Take Inventory”.  I am not just counting boxes of ammunition or crackers or air filters, I am also taking inventory of my skills.  What skills do I already have, and which ones do I need to learn, or which ones am I willing to outsource to others or go without if I have to.  The admonition is repeated time and again in books and magazines and here at SurvivalBlog and others, that it is your skills and your attitude that will be your primary tools for short and long term survival and sustenance.  One can have all the hardware, but if it stays in the wrapper and you don’t know how to put it together or use it, then it will not help you when you need it.  I know I am preaching to the choir here, today I quickly found http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/02/letter_re_gaining_situational.html and http://www.survivalblog.com/2008/06/after_10_yearssome_observation.html for example. 

I am now in the “Take Inventory” phase of my becoming un-lost.   Tools, skills, books...there are 34 pages of checklists (including additions I have made), a lot of detail because that is what is required.  Several of the lists are generic and need further development by each person to meet their individual requirements. When this phase is completed, I will know what I have, and I will know what I know.  The last part sounds silly, but seeing it on paper makes prioritizing future actions a whole lot easier.  If others find my work useful, they too will build their own lists.

“O” is for observe.  I am going to bend the definition a bit and say that observe means to understand the market for each item you decide to purchase.  My dollars are finite, so I cannot be spending them foolishly.  My Dad always said “never buy anything the first time you see it”.  To help me in my purchase decisions, I created a worksheet that can be used to help evaluate the best option available.  I will explain this in more detail a bit later as I describe the modifications I have made to the JWR's List of Lists .

“P” means plan, but for my purposes it has the double meaning of Prioritizing and Planning.  No sense in worrying about a year’s supply of food when I don’t have 30 days yet.  Back to the basics, first things first, second things second.  My priorities will be different from yours, but I need to identify my requirements before I start sending dollars out the door.

With my resource and skills inventory in place, I now can prioritize our acquisitions of material and skills.  I will be using savings to front load the absolute priorities.  Then I will enter a phase of long term budgeting and procurement.  Wishful thinking will not put three years food supply up for two people.  I need to develop the discipline of buying appropriately, getting what I can when I can.  When I refer to priority development, I have several competing needs that need to be addressed at the same time.  I might have the money to buy three years food supply, but I can’t neglect first aid supplies, getting a proper BoV, finding a retreat location, etc. 
If TSHTF today I would not be in the best place.  But I would certainly not be in the worst either.  I have resolved that every single day I will make progress on at least one of my unfulfilled items.

My Changes to the JWR's List of Lists
I made one major change to the JWR List of Lists, as well as several small ones, and one set of additions:

The most noticeable change is the addition of five columns in each list: “Own”, “Qty”, “Buy”, “Priority”, and “Notes”.  I realized that I needed to know what I had before I went of acquiring what I needed.  How many times have I gone to the grocery store and bought something I thought we needed, and came home to find three other packages waiting.  I suppose in the new paradigm that is a good thing.  But I really don’t need to spend any more money on screwdrivers when I know that I don’t have a water filter.  That’s an easy enough call, but for many other items I cannot with certainty say yes or no. There are more than enough new things to get without purchasing items that I already have.  I added the “Priority” column so that I could highlight the items that should be targeted for the next round of purchases.  The “Notes” column is for just that, though some may be pre-filled with some of JWR’s comments from his original list.

Other changes were more cosmetic.  I developed the modifications in Google Documents.  I did this to allow non-Microsoft Office users access to the material.  I eliminated some blank columns at the end of each sheet, and added the name of the sheet to the top row of each.  The large comments that JWR placed at the top of some lists have been moved to the bottom.  I added very few additional rows to the lists that JWR prepared, but they are there so I hope I don’t confuse anyone with their insertion.

The current version of the Google software does not allow internal linking.  Navigation to the sheets is done by using the tabs and arrows at the bottom of the screen.  Another feature of Google Docs is that when you print a document, it creates a PDF file which you can either print or save.  An individual sheet or the whole workbook can be printed.

The Appendices

These were created for my own purposes.  At this time I am solely responsible for their structure and content.  I am hoping that others may find them useful in their quest for more complete preparedness.
Appendix A is the Acquisition Worksheet.  I developed this for formalizing a comparison of non-standard product offerings.  I wanted to end my “back of the envelope” notations when trying to determine what to buy.  This is important stuff and I didn’t want the notes thrown out accidentally or confusing when read later.  What do I mean by non-standard products?  Here are two examples.  Up until two months ago I didn’t even know paracord existed.  Not only does it exist, it has a multitude of uses.  I started searching for a reliable place to buy it from, and then discovered that it comes in all sorts of types (civilian, military), strands (4,5,7, are there more?), and of course lengths and colors.  I thought I found an inexpensive source selling 50’ lengths for less than $3 each.  It seemed a “reasonable” price, I could put one each into our BOBs.  Reasonable, until I discovered that their shipping cost was almost $7 each.  I have to go back and do more research for paracord.  Another example is bulk winter wheat.  There seem to be several viable sources, some ship in 5 gallon buckets, some in 6 gallon buckets.  I need to find out the unit costs and the freight costs to determine which offering is better. 

Appendix B is really a placeholder for me to develop my personal bag inventories.  It has been not stressed enough that outside of key basics, it is better for each person to build their own list of BoB, vehicle BoB, Everyday Carry and Get Home Bag contents.  I also found an excellent reference for a medical supply bag and have noted that source.  If I need to do this, I am guessing others need to do this as well.  There are plenty of examples out there.  I am already getting started on my BoBs.

Appendix S is the area where I hope I can get some help from the SurvivalBlog community.  What I did was create a set of categories and lists “off the top of my head” on what skills might be needed in different SHTF scenarios.  I am guessing I left a few holes, and comments are welcome.  I will gladly update this appendix with solid input.  This is an area where I (for myself, and you, well, for yourself) need to be hypercritical of your knowledge and experience.  Your self-assessment can be as glib as Sully’s response “I read a manual” in ‘Avatar’, but reading is not doing.  Recent articles on notes from a first hunting trip  http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/07/lessons_learned_from_a_novice.html, desert gardening http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/07/starting_your_desert_backyard.html,  developing a G.O.O.D. vehicle  http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/07/my_good_vehicle_by_matt_m.html all provide examples that for every skill there is at minimum an article’s worth of experience derived for each example.  [LOL, article’s worth? How about several books or college degrees worth of experience?]   But even reading this expertise is not doing.  Quoting Sully again, “It’s like field stripping a weapon: just repetition, repetition”.
Do you own and want to keep a dog?  Do you clip your pet’s nails or take the dog to a groomer?  That’s a new skill you will need.  It sounds easy, but you don’t want to injure the animal.  How heavy is your BoB?  How far have you carried it?  Are you fit enough to get home with your GHB?  There are general skills, and specific skills.  Which ones do I (and you) need to know?  That is for each to decide.

Even though I would consider myself a suburban creature (10 miles from a large enough city that I want bugout from if necessary), I grew up next to and was literally raised on a farm.  I have tended chickens and cows and pigs.  I have raked and scythed hay manually and with machines.  It is very hard work. That’s why I now work in IT.  I listed the basic farm animals as a starting point for skill requirement definition.  As there are many articles, books, and web sites discussing these animals for homestead living, there are plenty of resources for those that are new to self-sufficiency.  These again are noted for people to think about which animals they may want to raise, and then for each my next section covers the basics (I think) for the care of those animals.  Read this at Grandpappy's site for a non-sugarcoated summary.  As I skim the skills list “one more time” I see that I am missing things already.  I could spend weeks polishing this off, but I am sending it in now.  Additions will have to wait for V1.2.  Your input is welcome.
Appendix W contains two sets of web sites.  The first part consists of web sites that I have come across in my first 60 days of preparedness education and enlightenment.  As I have found these sites useful, I am hoping that others will get value from them as well.  The second list of web sites are taken from JWR’s original list and summarized here for completeness.  The Tools List is the only page that has kept JWR’s original site references intact.

Access to the Updated List of Lists

As stated earlier, I decided to develop this in Google Docs spreadsheet format to give as wide exposure as I could.  The one caveat is that if you do not have any kind of Google account, you will be asked to create one when trying to directly access the file.

I have created a public folder that can be accessed here.  The spreadsheet JWRLoLv1.1 is found there.  Click on the link, and you will be asked to login to your Google account.  Once logged in you will be able to use the File menu to copy the spreadsheet into your own documents folder, or export the file to a file type of your choice. [JWR Adds: Some readers have had difficulty opening the file. I will post a copy directly to the SurvivalBlog server sometime in the next few days, and will post a link.]

Utilizing the List of Lists

My version of the “List of Lists” will be a living document.  I will keep a current “master” in a three ring notebook.  As I update my inventories the updates will be hand written.  As needed other notes will be added as well.  I will keep my working acquisition sheets in another section, moving the completed sheets out to a permanent file.  I will update the computer version once or twice a month so that the hand notations don’t become confusing or forgotten.  A new “master” will be printed which will replace the old version.  I can easily determine how much I have of what, how much I want to target, and how much to buy, setting new priorities for the current period. 
For those familiar with spreadsheets, navigating the Google versions is not that difficult.  Most of my customizing of the sheets will be adding or deleting rows.  Click into the row “header” just left of the first cell, then right-click to get a context menu.  Of the several options, two will be to add a row either above or below the selected row.  If you want to insert multiple rows, select that number of row headers (for example 5) and then you will be asked to insert 5 rows above or below the selection.  There is also a shortcut after the last row for easy addition of rows at the end.  For those that want to customize the columns, follow a similar sequence.

Feedback Welcome

If there is enough feedback on the structure of any of the lists themselves I will update the existing version.  As I said previously, the Skills List is open to all suggestions.  The Firefighting List had no items from JWR’s original.  Perhaps some professional firefighters can make some suggestions.  I think that there could be some specific “grid up” and “grid down” checklists for fire safety.  It is a universal requirement (ever practice a family fire drill?).  This will get added into a newer version.  Any suggestions can be sent to me at taodnt@gmail.com (“teaching an old dog new tricks”).  I am never too old to learn.  I will post the changes, and anyone knowing the link to the folder can get the new version any time.  I will also pass a note to JWR so that he can announce the updates as they are made.  Thanks for listening and I hope you can benefit from my efforts. 

Great blog and great books! I just finished "Patriots" and enjoyed it.

I wanted to add a suggestion, FWIW, re: botanical perimeter fencing. I've seen stretches of "trifoliate orange" (Poncirus trifoliata) that are truly impressive in their effect of being -but not looking at all like- the botanical equivalent of razor wire. It is well adorned with a most ferocious array of thorns. It produces smallish bitter-tasting fruits that, if of no other use, are good as an anti-scorbutic. It is not native to the US, but in my opinion, bogeymen aren't usually well-versed in the finer points of native lansdscaping. Best - Shan


A thought on the fencing of property. Before the fall happens, local laws still must be met. Here in Ohio we have a Partition Fence Law.
Fencing must meet a standard and it is very specific. It tells what type of posts, the spacing, the wire, and the upkeep of the fence. Living fences are generally not allowed with two exceptions. Also the fence line must be kept clean three feet each side of the line and both property owners are liable for the expense of the fence and it's upkeep. If a violation occurs with the fence, the township trustees get involved and it can end up in court. All this will happen before there is no law enforcement. Here Ohio, we are saddled with some very restrictive laws, maybe other place can secure the perimeter in advance but we can't.
Thanks for the blog and may God Bless. - An Old River Rat in Ohio

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for the time and resource you provide with Survival Blog. I am a newly awakened soul who saw the specter of economic disaster late last year. I have a
long way to go, but the process is underway.

It is with some interest that I read the essay on Perimeter Fencing with Plant Life. I have recently begun to consider ways in which to conceal my home from the nearest roadway, and bamboo is the method I selected.

I have researched a number of different species and selected those that will provide dense screening as well as food (human and animal), fiber, and building material. My home will slowly disappear from sight over the next five years. If I elect to stop maintaining the perimeter of my groves, the property will take on an abandoned, unmaintained look. A livestock gate at the driveway will complete the illusion.

I was surprised to see the author of the essay select clumping bamboo as part of his perimeter plan. In my research, clumpers will not move far beyond their original planting site for many years, and they do not do well in the US beyond zone 9. His other plant selections are excellent, and I will incorporate blackberries into my property as well.

I would not want to rely on any static defense alone, no matter how painful the plant material might be to move through. I would want livestock guardians as a secondary defense to sound the alarm against intruders. Sincerely, - Jason T.


Good day, sir.
Of the aforementioned plants, bamboo can be used to create the following (and much more).

Baskets, bird cages, blinds, boats, bridges, buckets, charcoal, chopsticks, armor (hand to hand), cooking utensils, fans, fences, firewood, fishing rods, food steamer, furniture, garden tools, hats, incense, musical instruments, pens, pipes, roofing, scaffold, tableware, toilets, toothpicks, toys, umbrellas and walking sticks.
Having watched the BBC series "Victorian farm" I've seen the trouble Victorian era Europeans had to go to in order to craft or repair even small fences. Bamboo (to me) stands out for that very use alone.

In a stitch you could also de-thorn some of the blackberry reeds and use them for weaving or a basic twine (while they're still supple).

Kind regards, as always. - The South Aussteyralian

Several readers have mentioned a new magazine, called The New Pioneer, now available at news stands, and by subscription. It's premiere issue was just released. Reader G.S,. described it as "Kind of a combination of Pioneer Living, Mother Earth News and Backwoods Home." The magazine is edited by Nancy Mack Tappan, the widow of Mel Tappan. It's published by Country Almanac, part of Harris Publications. When I recently spoke with Nancy, she mentioned that Harris does not yet have a promotional web page for the magazine. Check it out at your local news stand. Editorial mailing address: New Pioneer Magazine, P.O. Box 1050 Rogue River, OR 97537. Editorial e-mail: newpioneermag@hotmail.com. Subscriptions and single copy sales: (212) 462-9536. Ask for single copy sales.

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More than 1,000 Exposed to Dengue in Florida: CDC. (A hat tip to frequent content contributor KAF for the link.)

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Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) sent us this: More And More Americans Preparing For Social Unrest

"How complacent we become when we sit secure, hedged round by laws and protections a government may provide! How soon we forget that but for these governments and laws there would be naught but savagery, brutality and starvation. For our age-old enemies await us always, just beyond our thin walls. Hunger, thirst and cold lie waiting there, and forever among us are those who would loot, rape and maim rather than behave as civilized men.
If we sit secure this hour, this day, it is because the thin walls of law stand between us and evil. A jolt of the earth, a revolution, and invasion or even a violent upset in our own government can reduce all to chaos, leaving civilized man naked and exposed." - Louis L’Amour, Fair Blows the Wind

Wednesday, July 14, 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 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 read enough about the Golden Horde, mutant zombie biker gangs, and the occasional parent who will do anything to feed their family to know that in a TEOTWAWKI situation not only do I not want anyone breaking into my house, I don’t want anyone to be able to get past the perimeter of my property. I live in a very rural area of the South, surrounded by a few neighbors that would do anything to help someone out, cotton farms, and cows. I’m as far out in the hinterboonies as is possible in this part of the US. Yet, if I were to construct a perimeter fence that would properly keep people out, everyone in the general area would be talking about “that strange anti-social family” since most properties in this area have only decorative fencing, simple electric fencing, or none at all. Neither my husband nor I really want to spend the 11th hour adding more barbed wire around the livestock pens, gardens, orchards, or the house. Because of this we’ve decided to take a slightly more natural approach to our perimeter fencing. In our area it’s not uncommon to see wooded areas with vast overgrowth so we’ve decided to create a perimeter fence that’s impenetrable and looks like an abandoned wooded area.

When creating a plant based perimeter fence there are three main criteria you need to consider:

1. Is the plant native or common to your specific area? (For example, at a retreat in the southwest various species of cacti would be perfectly appropriate whereas in my area that would be a dead giveaway that someone lives beyond the overgrowth)

2. Will it grow rapidly without much intervention? (This is very important; you don’t want to waste water that could be used for drinking, household duties, or your garden on your perimeter fence)

3. Will it be difficult to get through? (You want to be sure to use plants that are thorny and grow in extremely dense)
Another criterion that you can look at is will your perimeter plants provide you with additional resources. Because my retreat is in an area that allows for such a diversity of plant life to grow without human intervention I added on that final criterion to narrow down the choices. The plants my husband and I chose are Bamboo, Pyracantha, Blackberries, and Spanish Bayonet. So, the reasons why we chose these plants

Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant on earth, and an invasive plant at that. Some species can grow as fast as 48” in a 24 hour period. It is also an extraordinarily diverse plant that can be used in construction, cooking, even as medicine. For perimeter fencing having an invasive plant is a good thing because it means it will grow without much human intervention and it will become very dense, which is better for keeping people out. For my fence I went with a clumping variety instead of a running variety because it’s easier to contain clumping varieties. One great thing about bamboo is there are varieties that will grow from climate zone 4 to zone 11; you’ll just have to do a little bit of research to see which specific species of bamboo will work in your region. Also be sure to look around your area to see what sort of bamboo appears to be growing wild, remember, you want your perimeter to blend in. We’ve managed to make sure we get bamboo common to our area by scouting craigslist, freecycle, and various local classifieds for people offering up free bamboo plants. Because it is such an invasive species of plant, man people will give bamboo away as long as you’re willing to uproot it for them because they can no longer contain it.

Pyracantha (sometimes called Firethorn) can grow to be about 20 feet high, produce edible berries, and they are covered in thorns. I’ve read a few articles that suggest cultivating Pyracantha around windows for home defense because of how densely the thorns grow. Where I live, beyond extra watering when first planting a Pyracantha tree they need no human intervention to grow. Another benefit is the berries, they attract deer and birds which make for excellent hunting and you can pick the berries to feed to chickens who don’t mind the bitter flavor. For human consumption you just need to boil down the berries to create a tasty jelly with about 40 calories per tbsp; 4 ½ cups of berries will produce approximately 2 cups of jelly. Pyracantha does best and is fully evergreen in zones 7 through 9 though with some research you can find strains that have been bred for hardiness in colder climates.

We chose blackberries for a few reasons; one being that they are my absolute favorite berry and providing food is always a good idea when preparing for TEOTWAWKI, especially a food as healthy and diverse as blackberries. Blackberries are notable for their high nutritional contents of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid - a B vitamin, and the essential mineral, manganese and they rank highly among fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their dense contents of polyphenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins and cyanidins. Blackberry root and leaves are also common in herbal medicines to help with ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, and more. But the security reasons being that they are everywhere where we live, to the point where during blackberry season all you have to do is walk along any road in the area and you’ll be likely to pick enough blackberries in one day to feed your family blackberry cobbler for a year. They are extraordinarily invasive and require no human intervention to thrive. And they are extremely dense, thorny plants, since Pyracantha grow so tall their thorns only affect the upper half of a person, blackberries will take care of the lower half. Blackberries do best in zones 7 through 9; though you can grow blackberry bushes in slightly colder climates they’re unlikely to produce any fruit.

Spanish Bayonet
The final plant we decided to add to our perimeter is the Spanish Bayonet, named so because it’s leaves will puncture someone even through thick layers of clothing. The Spanish Bayonet becomes top heavy between 5 to 20 feet when the it topples over, then the tip curves upwards and continues growing. Meanwhile it readily sends out shoots around the base rapidly becoming a thick, impenetrable clump of bayonet like leaves. Though these provide no additional purposes beyond security, these are the sharpest and easiest plants to take care of in our specific area and therefore a very worthy plant to add into our plant perimeter fence. The Spanish Bayonet grows best in zones 8 through 11.

I always think getting your plants from a local nursery is best because then you know for sure the plant will survive in your specific climate and the conditions in your particular area, not to mention most local nursery owners are willing to help you and they’re a lot more knowledgeable than your average big box employee when it comes to the plants they sell you. Depending on how big of a perimeter you need to create and how much time, and money you have could make it difficult to get all of your plants from the same local nursery. If there are only 1 or 2 local nurseries and you’re unable to get all the plants you need for your perimeter from them I would suggest seeing if you can find a somewhat local nursery that you can order from online. For those on a budget, of which I am one, build up your perimeter fence over time. Simply find the weakest points of your property and start there. You can find plants for free or cheap on craigslist, freecycle, even by searching for garden club plant exchanges. Remember, you don’t have to use the same exact plants around the entire perimeter, just make sure whatever plants you use match the criteria you need. In fact, the more diverse your plant perimeter is, the more likely it is to resemble overgrown woods.

When creating your perimeter fence you’ll want to layer your plants in a way that provides the most protection. We’ve chosen to plant the Spanish Bayonet on the outside, then Pyracantha, Bamboo, another row of Pyracantha, and then let the blackberries run crazy throughout. Behind the plant perimeter we’ve constructed a sturdy barbed wire reinforced fence that will help keep our livestock in and provide an extra layer of security if someone manages to make it through the dense, thorny perimeter we’ve created. The major weak point to this is of course the point of entry through our driveway, after all, someone may not be able to fight their way through the plant life but who needs to when you can walk up a driveway and find the home easily? We’ve handled that problem by putting in a livestock grate and standard livestock gate that is chained shut and kept locked. By not maintaining the entry point into the property from the road it appears to be merely an entry to a livestock pasture that’s become overgrown from years of disuse. In case of TEOTWAWKI we can remove the grate, fill in the hole with barbed wire, tangle foot wire, or even create a punji pit using some of the bamboo from our perimeter fence.

While they certainly have disadvantages, I think that motorcycles might be helpful in certain survival situations. Two-wheeled vehicles are small, maneuverable, and are very fuel efficient. They're able to navigate highways and roads that are impassible to cars due to traffic jams and broken down vehicles. Given two or three feet of clearance, a motorcycle can get through and around a lot of obstacles. A single motorcycle can carry two people (a driver and an armed passenger?) and hold a significant amount of detachable luggage (think B.O.B. on steroids). My Suzuki gets 60-70 miles per gallon. Strap a full gas can on the back, and the possible range would expand considerably.

Obviously, disadvantages would be increased exposure (to the elements and to gunfire/violence) and reduced cargo capacity compared to a car or a sport utility vehicle (SUV). It's not the ideal travel solution, but it would have its advantages. The two-wheeled method, I think, would be of most benefit to college students or single people living in heavily populated urban environments. These are folks who likely rely on public transportation and may not even own a car a all. Their best bet for survival, as discussed elsewhere on the forum, is probably to get as far away from the city as quickly as possible. Roads are likely to rapidly become clogged with traffic, and those in a car run a real risk of getting stuck in place and running out of supplies and/or gas.

A rider on a motorcycle, however, would be able to keep moving past wrecks, through congestion, and over clogged bridges while folks in cars would remain trapped in traffic. Ideally, our motorcyclist would move quickly (before things became utterly lawless), would have a pre-planned route or routes, and would be going somewhere specific (to friends, family, a retreat, or even to a well-stocked storage unit some distance form the city). I think that staying alert and on the move would be key to avoiding trouble.

Another possible use of motorcycles as G.O.O.D. vehicles is as a "lifeboat". Say you lived in southern Florida and you planned to get to your "safe haven" in your truck, RV, or SUV. You know that I-95 (the major route north) may become impassable at some point on your journey. A motorcycle could serve as a backup method that would enable you to keep moving towards safety, even if you were forced to abandon your primary vehicle. A ramp into a truck bed or a single-motorcycle mount to the back bumper of an RV or SUV would be all it would take to bring a light motorcycle with you. If you became irreparably trapped in traffic, with dwindling supplies and no way out, you'd be able to travel farther faster and with more "stuff" via motorcycle than you would on foot. Take care, - J. Smith

Wednesday at noon Eastern Time will be EMPact America’s third show on EMPact Radio. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry will be joined by Professor Cindy Ayers. She is an expert on Islamic terrorism. Please consider listening to the show live and participating via their call-in line (917-388-4499) or live chat. (See the link on blogtalk radio). The chat feature is available during live show only)

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F.J. suggested acquiring some coin-sized pocket screwdrivers.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this sign of the times article, from Oakland, California: Suffer These Crimes in Oakland? Don't Call the Cops

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G.S. in the State of Jefferson recommended the latest National Inflation Association video on empty store shelves. It has some good advice, except for the bit about storing a six month supply of drinking water in bottles. The space requirements and cash outlay would be tremedndous! Instead, buy just a one week suply of water and a water filter to treat subsequently gathered water.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help [cometh] from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD [is] thy keeper: the LORD [is] thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." - Psalm 121 (KJV)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

To those who have asked, the anticipated release date for the first sequel to my novel "Patriots" is September of 2011. The manuscript has been submitted, and the editors at Atria (a division of Simon & Schuster) are now working on it. It will be It is tentatively titled: Veterans: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse. Unlike most novel sequels, the storyline of “Veterans” is contemporaneous with the events described in my previously-published novel. Most of this first sequel takes place in Arizona and New Mexico. There is also major sub-plot about a U.S. Army officer who is released from active duty and must find his way home 11,000 miles from Afghanistan, right in the midst of The Crunch. OBTW, I'm already drafting the second sequel, which should be released in September of 2012. Watch for further announcements in the blog, closer to the publication date.


Today we present a guest article by Steve Collins, a staff instructor for Suarez International, Inc.

Carry the gun you want to fight with if you have to! What ever happened to carrying actual fighting guns? If I never see another article touting a ‘lightweight, easy to carry all day’ such and such, I’ll be ecstatic. When a fight comes, I want a chunk of gun in my hand, not some featherweight Mattel toy.

I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, or what you need to carry. Some people simply can’t carry a bigger gun by virtue of the fact of where they work or they live in an Non-Permissive Environment (NPE) where the discovery of a handgun would be disastrous. But to purposely carry something small, because you don’t want to be inconvenienced by it, is just foolish.

Decades ago, mens’ fashions were such that one could carry a full size revolver or semi-automatic pistol in complete concealment without much fuss. Men wore full cut suits with large pockets. It was much easier to carry guns such as a Colt New Service, an N-frame Smith & Wesson, or a Colt Government Model [1911]. J.H. Fitzgerald, legendary professional shooter for Colt, used to carry a pair of cut down Colt New Service .45 Colt revolvers in each of his front trouser pockets. These were called ‘Fitz Specials,’ and were the precursors to today's short barreled concealment revolvers.

If you knew you were going to be in a fight, and couldn’t take a long gun, what would you want to have with you? I should think the biggest pistol you could control well and shoot accurately. That leaves out the keychain guns like the Beretta .25s, the Kel-Tec .32 and .380, the Seecamp .32 and the like. It also leaves out the 5 shot snubby revolvers. There are very few people, even gun people, who can shoot them well enough on demand to be effective with them. Yes, I have small guns, too. My Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special has traveled many places with me, along with my NAA Guardian .32ACP. But they are not, in my mind, true fighting handguns. Please, please, spare me the “beware the man with one gun…” blah, blah, blah. The ones that spout that are trying to justify their unwillingness to look at armed conflicts as they really are. You don’t get to choose what kind of fight it will be; it’ll be a fight. You had better be prepared to handle it.

When folks go to the range, what do they normally shoot? The gun they like to shoot, which is normally a full sized pistol! They have no problem shooting a couple hundred rounds through them, but when they’re done, the big gun gets put away, and the little gun, which hasn’t been shot in six months or more, is the one chosen to protect life and limb. Do you see the problem here?

So, the answer is, carry the big pistol. By big, I’m talking about guns like a Glock 17/19 9mm, Glock 21 .45 ACP, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum, the 1911 .45ACP, the 4” K and L frame Smith & Wesson revolvers, etc. It’s not hard to carry or conceal them, as long as you put a little thought into it. This is not the place to cut corners; if you do, the whole process will fail miserably.

First, dress around the gun. Stop trying to look like the 17 year olds with skin tight jeans if you’re 40 and for cryin' out loud, pull up your pants, Snoop Droopy Drawers! It isn’t attractive and it severely limits what you can carry concealed. Pick the gun and holster setup you are going to use, then shop for your clothes with them in mind. If you are using an inside the waistband holster, buy your pants a couple inches bigger in the waist to accommodate the holster. Get your shirts a size or two bigger to cover the gun and extra ammo on your belt, along with your jackets. If you wear a suit, find a tailor who isn’t afraid of guns, or who deals with police officers on a regular basis. Take the gun, holster and belt, and whatever accessories you are going to use to the tailor, they will cut the suit around it.

Next, having a quality holster and belt is critical. You spent a bunch of money on your pistol, why are you buying cheap holsters? There are many good holster makers out there; you don’t have to look really far to find one. Be ready to spend $100-to-$200 on a quality holster, belt and ammo pouches. Kydex is all the rage these days, and you can usually get these holsters at a lower price, simply because it’s less expensive and time consuming than leather to work with. It is also more water and weather resistant, especially if you are carrying inside the waistband. On the downside, they aren’t that attractive, they are hard on the finish of your gun, and if the holster is inside your pants, it can be hard to get accustomed to their rigidness. Leather holsters are easier on the gun and the body, and can be made as plain or as attractive as you want, but suffer from getting weather beaten, soaked in sweat and generally require more maintenance. Many of the leather craftsmen out there are backlogged, so you may have to wait some time to get their merchandise, also. Kydex makers can usually get their goods to you in a couple of weeks, or less.

If you don’t have a good belt, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I normally wear a 1-¾” nylon or leather belt, since I’m in jeans most days. If your belt loops won’t accommodate that big a belt, it’s an easy thing to find narrower belts that are designed to carry a gun. The cheap belts you find at the local super store out there won’t cut it. I know it’s a pain for gun shops to stock a bunch of belts in different sizes, but they are really doing the public a disservice by not having them there for people to try out. At the very least, it’d be good if the guys behind the gun counter had some knowledge about what is out on the market, instead of just what’s in the store and you will be lucky if they even know that.

Spare ammo carriers are given short shrift all the time, and I really don’t understand why. Probably because there is a segment of the gun carriers out there that doesn’t carry spare ammo! If you fall into that category, you need to go back to school, ‘cause you still haven’t figured it out yet. Carrying spare ammo is easy, whether it be on a six round loop carrier for revolver ammo, or a magazine pouch or two on your off hand side. The same holster makers will make ammo carriers to go with them, and you should buy everything at one time to make sure it all fits together.

Tell you what, next time you go to the range, do all your shooting, all your drills, with the little gun. Shoot at point blank range all the way out to 100 yards. See how difficult it really is. If you want to fall in with the ranks of the gun shop and keyboard commandos who have never been in a fight, who always rattle off the “all you need is a two-inch J-frame, ‘cause all fights happen at close range,” mantra, go right ahead. However, if you are willing to look at things objectively, and really think it through, you’ll see it’s better to have the bigger gun with you.

Stephen J. Collins
Suarez International, Inc. Staff Instructor
NRA Certified Firearms Instructor
Cellular: (706) 593-0783

Mr. Rawles;
I thought I'd share this little bit of excitement from my corner of the world, that can serve as a reminder on the importance of scavenging yard and garage sales.

So, I've wanted a grain mill for about a year and a half. Because they're dead useful and I'm growing corn and amaranth in the garden this year. I was really lusting over the Country Living Grain Mill, because it seemed, well, awesome. But $395 plus shipping, plus extra parts was a little out of my reach. I'm a single girl tied by employment to the suburbs, so I pinch every penny I can. [Yes, actually, I do go through my change and fish out the old ones made with copper. I've a nice little collection, and it gives me something to do while watching Mythbusters]. So I waited, and every now and then checked Craigslist and eBay. But everyone who was selling one knew what they were selling, and nothing was selling for less than $395.

So I waited.

Then Friday, pondering the recent offer I'd put in on a house, had a sudden whim to check craigslist. I found two listings for a grain mill-- one turned out to be a Country Living Grain mill with motor and cart, and the lady was asking $550 for it. That was disappointing. But, there was another listing, for a family yard sale on the other end of the county, and it only listed "Grain mill".

I figured it was one of those small mills. I shrugged to myself, thinking that if the economy collapses before I collect 40,000 pennies, a small mill is better than no mill, so I might as well get whatever they were selling, as long as it still worked.

Well, I was wrong.It was a huge, cast iron, fire-hydrant-red grain mill, with a motor that the lady included. I turned the flyweel with my hand, and it turned easily. When I asked the price, she said "Oh, five bucks . . . "

Five? Shoot, I've got that. I came home, cleaned it up, inspected the really nice lookin' burrs, found the maker -- C.S. Bell Co-- and then looked up on the Internet how much it was worth: $399 plus freight, without a motor. I was ecstatic.

If we round up to $400, and I paid $5, then I purchased this mill for 1.25% of retail. (A discount of 98.75%.) This is, again, not counting the motor, or what freight would have cost. (Some options I saw with a motor and a cart ran into the thousands).

Mind you, I'll be taking the motor to a local servicing station to make sure it's in good condition and not a danger to operate (I know the power cord needs replacing), and I'll need a belt (or a few so I've some backups). So those will increase the ultimate price. But, whatever I pay for making sure the motor is good, it'll still be a huge bargain since the motor was free and the mill almost free. And, having a flywheel, there's always the option post- TEOTWAWKI to connect a bike to the mill to give my arms a rest.

My roommate also obtained $150-$200 worth of candle and soap making supplies for $15.

I always thought that the stories of people getting major deals at yard sales were just stories, exaggerated by re-telling. Well, I don't think that anymore.

Thank you, Mr. Rawles, for your blog site and for "Patriots". (I bought a copy of your novel and gave to the roommate for Christmas!)

May God Bless You. Sincerely, - Christine C.

JWR Replies: I concur that local garage sales, yard sales, farm auctions, and estate sales are great sources for preparedness gear such as tools, shelving, and canning jars. Also, don't overlook you local Freecycle and Craigslist web pages. Watch them like a hawk!

Hello Jim,

I just wanted to comment on the article, Pseudo-Currency: Items You Can Trade Like Cash Or Use Yourself if the Balloon Goes Up. I have been stocking up on most of the items Scott mentioned for my own use, but had not considered them for barter. I'll be looking at them differently, now. One which I have given thought to bartering is tobacco.

Your readers can forget stockpiling commercial cigarettes, they will go stale, shortly. As Scott mentioned, you'll need to know how to roll your own, or purchase an inexpensive rolling machine. Cigarette tobacco can be bought in sealed cans and one-pound bags, though I can not attest to their shelf life.

My suggestion, should one want to stock tobacco for barter, is pipe tobacco. Like some wine and cheese, it improves with age. I have a friend who smokes pipes, and frequents high-end tobacco shops for good tobacco. But he is tickled pink when he can find a 3 or 5 year old bag of cheap tobacco at Wal-Mart. He says it is as good as the more expensive brands (which you are probably paying the manufacturer to age for you).

Pipe smokers are also picky about their pipes. The type of wood apparently makes a big difference. But they have a secret: The lowly corn-cob pipe smokes as well as the high-end pipes. Its only drawback is that it does not last as long. Corn-cob pipes could be stockpiled, also. And, if there is a market after TSHTF (i.e. someone in the area is producing tobacco), learning to make the pipes could be a small business.

Thanks for a great web site, - Stew in Missouri

Mr. Rawles,
With regard to the article, “Pseudo-Currency: Items You Can Trade Like Cash Or Use Yourself if the Balloon Goes Up, by Scott in Wisconsin” from July 11, I have some suggestions:

1) Standard coffee filters. These can be used to pre-filter water that is full of sediment or other debris, so as to lengthen the life of one’s primary water filter. Even if one doesn’t have a primary filter (like a Berkey-type ceramic filter), it will help with whatever other method is being used in a SHTF scenario to purify water. These are available for far less than $0.01 per filter, especially at dollar-type stores.

2) Mason jars – cheap at roughly $1 a bottle in case quantities, these will always be of use for canning or for storage of dehydrated food (and, yes, there will be canning and dehydrating post-SHTF).

3) Mason jar lids and rings – self explanatory; no lids means no canning, and the lids are single-use items. Boxes of one dozen are usually price from $1.75-$2.50, but you can almost always find these on sale somewhere.

4) Steel wool – to use with salt to help preserve food. Take a small quantity of steel wool (maybe 1 cubic inch or so) and an ounce or so of salt, put them together in a napkin or coffee filter that’s tied together with string or a rubber band (string will last longer, as it won’t dry out), and you have a quick-and-dirty oxygen and moisture absorber when sealed inside of a good barrier (like a 5 gallon bucket). Steel wool absorbs oxygen, salt absorbs moisture. Lesser quantities are needed for smaller containers (like Mason Jars). Steel wool is very cheap at most grocery and big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target.

5) Salt – for use in food directly (for flavor and nutrition – Mayor Bloomberg notwithstanding), and also for food preservation (by direct salting or with steel wool, as described above). Available in the blue cylinders for less than $0.50 in many stores (certainly for the store brands) for 26 ounces (cheaper at the big warehouse stores). An alternative is the little salt packets that you get at fast-food stores – these can be purchased for about $6 per 3,000 (yes, you read that correctly) at a warehouse store. Yet another alternative is to put salt purchased in large quantities (e.g. 25-pound bags, available for under $5 at a warehouse store) into cleaned ½ pint plastic water bottles. Post-SHTF, I’m quite sure that no one will care much that the little bottle may have had some germs before, and in any case those germs won’t survive contact with all of that salt. Regards, - Paul from Texas

I absolutely concur with Cory M.'s article extolling the benefits of the .22 RF cartridge. If you are limited in the number of firearms you can own or can afford to own, there are two options using the .22 of which everyone should be aware. A multi-barrel long gun (sometimes called a drilling) was one of my first firearms. The Savage .22 RF in combination with a .410 shotgun (aka 22/410 over under), makes a great hunting firearm, and when using a rifled slug in the .410 shotgun, a pretty effective defensive tool. The other is the ubiquitous Black Rifle (the AR-15 or the M4 carbine) chambered in .223 / 5.56mm). [Several brands of] .22 RF conversion kit are available with 30 round magazines for around $150 new. (Perhaps less if you can find a used one.) Add a few more magazines and you're sitting at just about $200 total. With .223 ammunition running around $300 per 1,000 rounds and .22 RF running around $40 for the same quantity, the first 1,000 rounds you shoot pretty much pays for the entire setup. Switching between the conversion and the original bolt takes less than 60 seconds. This allows you to practice a lot with your Black Rifle, which is how you become proficient in it's operation, something that could be essential in a TEOTWAWKI situation. - LVZ in Ohio


Dear Jim,
One minor point on Peter Hathaway Capstick, .22s, and elephants. I have all of his books, and highly recommend them. I recall him mentioning .22 Magnums being used for Springbok, and calibers as small as .303 British for elephant, on a rear quartering brain shot through the open back of the skull, behind the ears. I doubt a .22 would even penetrate a couple of inches of jumbo, much less reach a critical organ or brain.- Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog Editor at Large)

G.G. was the first of several readers to mention this New York Times article: Crisis Awaits World’s Banks as Trillions Come Due. Be ready folks. We could be on the precipice of a global debt implosion that will make the current crisis seem small, by comparison. I've warned you before, folks: be ready for bank runs. Here is a quote: "Banks worldwide owe nearly $5 trillion to bondholders and other creditors that will come due through 2012, according to estimates by the Bank for International Settlements. About $2.6 trillion of the liabilities are in Europe."

From David W.: Historian warns of sudden collapse of American ‘empire’

Jesse spotted this piece by Paul Krugman:Trending Toward Deflation

Brett G. suggested this article: How the Economy Will Look On Election Day

KAF recommended this: G20 looks to Beijing to drive global growth.

Also from KAF: European banks mull 20 billion Euro private bailout fund: report

Kevin S. liked this PDF: Guide to Sustainable Utility Free Living

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After eight months of R&D with military contractor, KI4U is exclusively releasing a new product, The RADSticker™. This is an inexpensive, peel & stick postage stamped sized, instantly color changing radiation dosimeter.

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Mike H. mentioned a Daily Oklahoman newspaper editorial: Americans are petrified about their future.

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Kelly D. flagegd this: Top 10 Public Health Disasters of the 20th Century.

"The next amendment is,'A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offence to keep arms, and by substituting a regular army in the stead of a resort to the militia. The friends of a free government cannot be too watchful, to overcome the dangerous tendency of the public mind to sacrifice, for the sake of mere private convenience, this powerful check upon the designs of ambitious men.

The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms had justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpations and arbitrary power of rulers; and it will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well-regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burdens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our National Bill of Rights." - Joseph Story, "A Familiar Exposition of The Constitution of the United States", paragraphs 450 and 451 (1840)

Monday, July 12, 2010

The recent Agence France-Presse article "Apocalypse now? In US and abroad many are prepared" was a bit of mixed bag. To begin, I must mention that I hardly deserve to be called "the patron saint of survivalism". Only one man deserves that title: Mel Tappan. The article included a biting subtext that I've seen before from statist journalists. It sounded condescendingly anti-survivalist and anti-Christian. (One data point: The journalist's name is Sara Hussein. That is one of the reasons that I declined to do an interview for the article. I suspected that it might be a hatchet job.) I should also mention that for some reason Sara Hussein also described me as being "anti-tax". I don't recall ever articulating that view per se in any of my writings. But I'm happy to go on record as being opposed to unequal or unfair taxation schemes. I could handle flat, reasonable taxes. I'll also go on record that the planned Federal tax increases that go into effect in the U.S. in 2011 are likely to delay any economic recovery.


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 least one firearm chambered in .22 Long Rifle (LR) rimfire should be part of every survival plan.  If you do not currently own a firearm or if a .22 is not part of your current arsenal it should be high on your “next to buy” list, if not at the top.  The .22 is essential to your TEOTWAWKI preparation.  From providing food for the family to [marginal] self defense, the .22 will work for you.  Here are a few reasons the .22 LR is so important to your preparation and survival.

Whether or not you are currently familiar with firearms practice is vitally important.  Practice now can mean the difference between life and death later.  Any great musician or sports star doesn’t wake up one day with great abilities, they have practiced and practiced.  When all of a sudden the world ends as we know it you are not going to magically be proficient with a gun, you must practice now.  There is no caliber better suited to practice with than the .22.

It is inexpensive to shoot.  With ammo prices sky rocketing the last few years many gun owners are unable to afford the price of ammo to practice with their larger caliber firearms.  The .22 on the other hand is still very affordable to practice with.  Where I live you can buy a box of 550 .22 LR cartridges for around nineteen dollars.  I keep several thousand rounds, and when I shoot one box up I go get another.
The .22 is also ideal to practice with since there is virtually no recoil.  If you are an inexperienced shooter it is easy to pick up the habit of flinching.  Flinching happens just before the trigger is pulled in anticipation of the recoil. This will cause your shooting to be very inaccurate.  With the .22 having no recoil shooters are less likely to pick up this habit.  Since the .22 has no recoil you can shoot hundreds of rounds without your hand or shoulder getting sore. 

The .22 also comes in about every firearm style imaginable.  It can be found in bolt actions, single shots, semi auto rifles, pump actions, lever actions, revolvers, and semi auto pistols.  By practicing with the .22 the fundamentals of shooting can be obtained with your favorite style of gun.  Once you get the basics down of breathing, trigger control, and sight with the .22, switching to a larger caliber gun of the same style you practiced with will be much easier.

Every member of your family that is mentally capable of shooting a gun should be taught the basics.  The ideal cartridge for this is the .22.  While some women may be scared of guns, the .22 is quieter, and as mentioned before their shoulder won’t get sore when learning now to shoot it.  For kids the .22 is also ideal, a father and their child can spend great time together shooting tin cans and also get valuable practice time in.
One last thing about practicing, I would rather own a .22 that I can hit a rabbit running with than a .50 BMG that I could not hit the broad side of a barn with.  Or what good are thousands of rounds of ammo but you can’t place the one round on target that will save your life?  If you are planning on using a firearm when the world goes into chaos make sure you practice weekly with it, because if you don’t the gun you are counting on will let you down due to operator error when you need it the most.


You all know when things start to collapse there may be times when your G.O.O.D. plan with have to be put to use.  More than likely it will not be practical to take a whole arsenal of weaponry along.  So which gun will go, and how much ammo can you pack because what good is gun without bullets.  The .22 LR is the ideal caliber of gun to factor into your G.O.O.D. plan.

Ammo takes up less space with the .22.  Compared to 12 gauge shotgun shells you can pack 550 .22 rounds for every 25 shotgun shells.  That is a big difference, you could pack 2,200 rounds of .22 LR in the same space only 100 12 gage shotgun shells would take.  What good will that shotgun do you when it is out of shells? 

There are also several models chambered in .22 that are ideal for packing away in case of an emergency.  Henry makes a [AR-7] survival rifle that breaks down and all of the components fit in the stock, which floats in case it is dropped in water.  Marlin makes the Papoose which breaks down and fits in a small case.  With the Ruger 10/22 folding stocks are available in order to make them more packable.  Don’t forget about the pistols, all of which can easily fit in a holster on your side or in a backpack compartment. The .22 LR is also one of the most popular firearms in the world, so wherever you go there is a lot better chance that you could come across ammo for it than cartridges for other firearms.  The same thing goes for the gun itself, what if your gun breaks beyond repair and you still have thousands of rounds of ammo.  Finding a firearm chambered in .22 LR will be easier than almost any other caliber.

Many Applications

The .22 LR has many applications, in fact it is probably one of the most versatile rounds in the world.  Many guns have specific uses they are intended for.  Take for instance the 9mm, it is a good self defense round but it is impractical in many hunting situations.  Shoot a squirrel in the chest cavity and it will probably blow it apart.  The .22 on the other hand can be useful to take squirrels all the way up to whitetail deer if the shot placement is correct. [However, the hunting regulations in most states prohibit its use for taking big game.] A book by Peter Hathaway Capstick even claims elephants have been taken with the .22 LR.  While there are not many that would try such a feat, the .22 LR is capable of killing any animal in North America.

The .22 can also be used [marginally] for self defense.  There are some that may scoff at this statement, but they wouldn’t volunteer to take two rounds the chest with a .22.  If you have practiced, and you can place your shots correctly then the .22 can [under ideal circumstances] stop an intruder.  Anyone taking two rounds to the chest and one in the head won’t shake that off.  I would rather defend myself with a .22 than a snub nose pistol that I couldn’t hit anything with.


Who wants to put their lives and their family’s lives in the hands of a piece of equipment that has not stood the test of time?  The .22 LR has stood the test of time, in fact it has been around since 1887.  This cartridge is used in competition, training courses, hunting, and everything in between.  It has proved itself time and time again.  There are more powerful guns out there than the .22, but there are none that are more suited to survival than the .22.
I am lucky to have the gun my great grandfather used when he was a boy during the Great Depression.  My great grandfather’s dad died in an accident 1929, just before things got really hard for people all across the country.  Unable to make enough money my great great grandmother lost her house and was raising her children all on her own.  It was up to her boys to put meat on the table, the only gun they had was a single shot Stevens .22.  The gun is worn out today, it still shoots, but not as well as it did 80 years ago.  Every time I shoot the gun I think of how my great grandfather kept his brothers and sisters alive.  How he killed everything from birds to deer, and how things could be very different for me if they hadn't owned that gun to provide for them.  While I am not planning on using this same gun to keep my family and I alive when it’s TEOTWAWKI, I am planning on using the same caliber of gun.  It has proven itself.

I hope this has shed some light as to why the .22 is so important to your survival.  I know there are calibers out there that are more powerful, will shoot farther, and are better adapted to specific situations, but there is no caliber that is more universal than the .22 LR.  I can stock more ammo, practice more, transport it easier, [marginally] protect my family, provide food for my kids, and perform more tasks with this caliber than any other.  So head down to your favorite firearm dealer or gun show, buy a .22 and lots of ammo.  Start practicing today, because as I said before, practice now can mean the difference between life and death later.

Good Afternoon, Jim,
What can Christian people do if they have lost their income when the economy crashed in October 2008 and they still have limited funds? I am a professional and the market I serve is in decline. Suggestions? I have applied to hundreds of jobs with no reply. Thanks, - Paul S.

At this point, the prospects for economic "recovery" seem remote, especially with the planned tax increases (January 1, 2011) and the inevitability of higher interest rates.

I recommend that you start your own business, in something recession/depression proof.

Look through the 75+ SurvivalBlog articles in the "Self-Employment & Home-Based Businesses" category, starting with the oldest ones first.

And for some hourly and salaried job possibilities, see my discussion of "Three K" jobs.

Pray hard, and start digging a market niche!

Economics and Investing:

Frequent content contributor KAF flagged this: IRS starts mopping up Congress's tax-reporting mess. KAF's comments: "It's becoming more and more apparent and important for preppers to make all purchase transactions of multiples of items in cash only. Read on...these new laws and IRS regulations are aimed at squelching any competitive incentives for trading with the small businesses of America. As a result, they'll be thousands of small businesses closing in the next two years. And, this is what the Feds call building employment opportunities?"

Larry T. sent us this: Bank Fix for Unpaid Commercial Property Loans: 'Extend and Pretend'

N.I.M. spotted another piece in The New York Times claiming that there has been a recovery. N.I.M. facetiously suggested: "I think that it's safe for you to shut down the blog."

Tom in Georgia pointed me to a great piece over at Zero Hedge on bank financing of the Federal Reserve. Tom's comment: "This article has a good explanation of how the Fed may be continuing Quantitative Easing 2.0 while publicly proclaiming that it isn't. The banks are using their cash reserves received from the Fed to now buy 10 and 30-year T-bills rather than the Fed purchasing them outright. This plausibly explains how the US bond market and equities can rally, while funds experience massive outflows all at the same time. The government Ponzi scheme continues."

Thanks to S.M. annd J.D.D. for this one: Debt Commission Chiefs Give Gloomy Fiscal Outlook

The latest over at Dr. Housing Bubble: The rich do it too – Los Angeles County and million dollar distressed properties. 1,947 homes in L.A. County valued at $1 million or more are three payments behind or in foreclosure.

Reader E.B. was the first of several readers to mention this article that has some TEOTWAWKI implications: Baghdad kills 58,000 stray dogs in three-month span.

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F.J. spotted a useful piece on emergency kits for cars.

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B.B. sent this article that shows that the First Amendment and the Second Amendment go hand-in-hand: Federal judge orders Osceola County sheriff to issue gun permit. (And to attend a course on the First Amendment.)

"The concept most fundamental to long term disaster preparedness, in retreating, is having a safe place to go to avoid the concentrated violence destined to erupt in the cities. When you have a growing apprehensive awareness that the time grows short for you to relocate away from areas of greatest danger, then choose [where you will live] carefully." - Mel Tappan

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 the power grid fails for a weekend, dollar bills will always be accepted.  And I think it's a good idea to keep at least $500 on hand in your home, in $5 and $10 denominations.  If the stores are open, but their credit card machines are not working, you'll still be fine.

But what happens if things really fall apart?  It's easy to imagine a time when cash will no longer be king.

What if an EMP knocks out all our electronic infrastructure?  If you've read “One Second After,” you get a feel for how quickly all our technology can go away.  And how useless cash would become almost immediately.

What if hyper-inflation destroys the value of those dollar bills you've tucked away?  If we see the kind of inflation that they have today in Mozambique, or that they had in Weimar Germany, that $500 in cash won't even buy you a breath mint.

What if a virus sweeps the country, and kills millions?  Those who survive may have no interest in your paper dollars, preferring instead to have something they can use.

Suddenly, you may have no choice but to barter for what you need.  But barter is terribly inefficient as a substitute for currency.

How often will the guy with goat you want, need the generator you have to trade?  And how, exactly, will he make “change?”  Most of the time, even when two people each have something the other needs, the two trades won't be equal in value.  That may well kill a deal.

And how will you buy small items, like a dozen eggs, or a pail of milk, without a good substitute for currency?  You can't trade a cow for some cheese.

Silver  and gold may step in and function as a true replacement currency.  Historically, people have looked to the precious metals when currencies or governments fail.  So it makes sense to have plenty of Junk Silver coins tucked away.

But you can't eat silver, or drink silver.  And when you're hungry or thirsty, it just may turn out that silver will be shunned just like dollars bills, with traders demanding something they can actually use.

I believe that, when dollars stop working, some new, useful items will begin to function as currency – a pseudo-currency, like cigarettes do in prison movies!

And if other items are going to become pseudo-currencies, it would make a great deal of sense to stock up on them now, while they are cheap and readily available.

So how can we determine what people may turn to as a substitute for currency, when the balloon goes up?

First, we need to consider just what makes a good item for trading, so that it can act effectively like a pseudo-currency.  Simply put, it should be like money, but also useful itself.

So it should be small, compact, lightweight, durable, long-lasting, and fairly divisible, like currency.  It can't be fragile, or need care and upkeep.

It should also be so obviously useful, that someone will take it in trade even if they don't need it immediately themselves, knowing they can use it, or easily trade it in the future.

And the genuine nature of the item must not be in doubt. (That's one reason I favor junk silver over small bars.  No one is faking 1958 quarters.)  Such coins need to obviously be “the real thing.”

After looking over what I use regularly, what I have put away for a rainy day, and what I think others will also want and need, I've identified the following items as potential pseudo-currency:

32 count Strike-anywhere matchbooks.  I bought 120 boxes for $20. on eBay.  Just $.17 per box.  Fire is life.  The boxes themselves fit nicely in the pocket, and are lightweight.  So handy and useful.  It's clear at first glance that they are genuine.  For small trades, 2 or 3 individual matches may even be traded, if they are strike-anywhere matches.  Otherwise, you'll need the box for striking.

Cartridges.  .22 LR is very inexpensive now, but eventually may be hard to get.  I just bought a bunch of 50 round boxes, for $1.65 each, at Dunham Sports.  That's just 3.4 cents per cartridge.  They should be highly sought after TSHTF for shooting small game, etc.  Like matches, individual rounds may trade for small things, and whole boxes for larger items.  Stock up on the size ammo you use yourself, as well as very common sizes.  I expect shotgun shells will also be very popular, and there are just a few common sizes to choose from.  Even if the worst never comes, you'll have lots of ammo at 2010 prices, which may seem cheap a few years from now.

Candles.  I bought 144 of the 15-hour unscented white Votive candles for $48, or just $.33 each, at Candledepot.com.   I've seen 500 of the 6 hour candles for 20 cents each on eBay.  In either case, these are much smaller and cheaper than the Nuwick 120 hour candles.  (2 cents per hours versus 8 cents per hour).   They fit nicely in your pocket, and are lightweight and durable.  You get light, and can cook with them using several candles under a pan.  Others will want them, when the grid goes down.  If you're looking for a business after TSHTF, I saw a Votive candle maker on eBay for $1,500.

Calcium Hypochlorite (granular chlorinating powder / pool shock)  1 lb bags cost just $3.50 at inyopools.com and will make roughly 12,000 gallons safe for drinking.   I've put away 4 bags.  
1/8 oz of the powder will make a gallon of Chlorine Bleach.  So each 1 pound bag makes about 1,000 pints of Bleach.  Each pint of Bleach will then disinfect 12+ gallons of water.
Pint-size plastic bottles should be very common, and part of your own water storage stash.  As a business, you could sell or trade pints of Chlorine Bleach that you have made with your powder.   A quick whiff of the bleach should convince your customers that it's genuine.  Your customers can then disinfect 12 gallons of water that they acquire on their own.  You can have a business, and maybe save lives at the same time.

Seeds.  Once things shake out, many people will be anxious to get a garden started.  Seed packets are useful for you to have tucked away, and the perfect size and weight for trading.  And they have a long shelf life if kept cool and dry.  Sealed commercial packets will have instant credibility as being genuine. Plus, they'll have instructions on the back. Watch for close-out sales after the planting season winds down and stock up on the most popular seeds.  Again, your trade items will make life better for others.

2 cycle motor oil in pre-sized bottles.  When trouble comes, people will have lots of 2 stroke items like Chainsaws that they need to keep running.  They'll probably be able to find gasoline in small quantities, but a little bottle of oil, just right for 2 gallons of gas, could be very hot for trading.

Rechargeable AA and D batteries.  When the grid fails, people will turn to batteries for lights and small appliances.  And they will quickly go thru the few regular ones they have lying in the drawer.  IF you have a supply of rechargeable batteries, and the solar set-up to re-charge them, and offer to swap Charged batteries for their Discharged batteries, you'll have a sustainable business.  You charge a high price for their first rechargeable batteries, but then swap charged batteries for discharged batteries at a discount.  Stock up now, and you can keep the neighborhood happy and electrified.

Nails.   When things are unsettled, people will need to work on their shelter and Jerry-rig various contraptions.  Nails will be vital.  Individual nails may trade like individual cartridges or matches.  Wood screws should be stocked as well.  Watch for sales, and buy lots of boxes.  Hit the garage and estate sales too.   While there, pick up non-power tools for your own use.

Thread, straight pins, needles and safety pins.  When Wal-Mart isn't open to sell you new clothes, sewing will be important.  And that will mean repairing what you've got, as well as making new items.  Who will still be making safety pins, when the balloon goes up?  Better to stock up now, and fill that need when it arises. Shop at Dollar stores or Wholesale clubs for bulk pins and thread.  Also watch the garage sales and estate sales.

Cable ties.  Lightweight, and so handy.   When people have to fend more for themselves, cable ties will be very handy.  You can buy a big tube of various size ties, for less than a penny each.  I see them at bargain prices at flea markets, but test a few out, to be sure they actually work!

Candy Bars and Cigarettes.  This one is tricky, since they have a shorter shelf-life than the aforementioned items, and are a more fragile.  Still, they are so desirable, that they will be traded, I believe.  If you have the skills and supplies to produce candies from raw ingredients, or can roll cigarettes, you should have an ongoing business.

These are just the things that come immediately to mind when I try to think of items that would work as currency, when dollars no longer work.

Look over what you use regularly, identify the small reusable ones,  and see if they meet the requirements of a Pseudo-currency.  Then stock up on them while they are available, and inexpensive.  If the worst never comes, you can always use them yourself.

I would like to commend the author of "Lessons Learned From A Novice Hunting Trip". Being a hunter and avid backpacker, I can attest to the validity of each of his points. I can add a couple of lessons I have learned over the years as well:

1. To get from point A to point B in terms of weight; you need more water than food, more food than junk. Long duration movement is physically taxing and every ounce must be worth carrying and purposeful. Don't skimp on quality when your life may depend upon it, whether it be a pack, a knife, or a pair of boots. Be selective and do your homework. What's your rear worth to you? Everything you carry is your life support system.

2. The forest or the desert is not your backyard. You are a potential food source for a myriad number of biting, stinging and sucking insects. They will find you. So you must protect yourself with the proper clothing or repellent and potential treatment.

And finally, his point on the abundance of game within the suburbs versus that in a natural setting should be noted lest any preppers lull themselves to thinking that the taking of game is easy where the competition for life is already a day to day struggle. The most experienced hunters I know don't always come back from a hunt successful.

I know it's been said ad nauseam, but what I cannot emphasize enough is that the most important tool you possess is what's between your ears. You must use it in preparation, action, and contingency.

Always a pleasure to read these articles for perspective! - JWB, Jr.

I read your comments on The San Juan’s and Canadian Gulf Islands with interest. We have lived in the islands for 17 years now and have a fair amount of experience with the pro and con’s involved in being separated from the mainland. I liken it to being off grid in many ways. From the residents point of view we are dependent on the Washington State Ferry System for almost all of our consumer needs. This is fine as long as they are running, which during normal times is not a problem. However from the prepper/survivalists point of view, it’s a mixed blessing. In a SHTF scenario there will be no food, fuel, medical supplies etc. available in the quantities needed to support our population, however there will also be no transportation for the “Golden Horde” either, unless they have a boat, assuming they can obtain fuel. Islanders are a self reliant and self sufficient lot. Most of us have gardens and fruit trees. Many raise chickens and small farm animals and produce food products for sale at our local Farmers Market. The surrounding waters contain Salmon, Crab, Oysters and Clams. Bottom fish are available but are endangered. Our part of the world is a wet one so there is ample water most of the time. There is a strong sense of community here and the Island credo is one of helping thy neighbor. Our shores are readily defendable and we have an air strip for emergency evacuation if it is necessary. Assuming one has laid away the necessary supply of food and other long term survival gear, I can’t think of a better place to survive whatever problems might be coming our way.

And in the event that there are no problems, it’s a great place to live either way. - Farmer Frank, The San Juan Islands, Washington

Mr. Editor:
The first part of the Kathy S. article was well done in describing potential scenarios and the medical problems with triage.  I would take issue with her triage system and her method for establishing the categories.  The standard civilian approach is that of Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS).  It has been used and taught in the military. In a mass casualty situation, it requires establishing who has the best chance of survival within the constraints of time, manpower and materials.  I am a retired Army physician (non-surgeon) who has been an ATLS instructor for many years prior to retirement.  The military system uses ATLS but has the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook as the gold standard for survival medicine.  The 2001 edition was written by a friend who insisted that all of the specialist contributions use a common terminology so that the electronic version could be searchable.  It has some exceptions to the ATLS model in special situations.  It also has interesting information about how to do an appendectomy or to make jerky.
The first part of triage is the Primary Survey that establishes the basic medical points about a patient.  These are the ABCDE’s as follows:

A—Airway (including cervical injury)—can the person talk or breathe?  This is always priority one and sometimes is readily correctable and life-saving.  Severe face injuries may obstruct the airway and be easily corrected.  Sometimes tilting the neck back can open up the airway if no cervical injury is apparent (otherwise lethal).  An emergency tracheotomy might be possible with little skill.

B—Breathing—is the chest moving and air being exchanged.  Certain chest wounds could lead to a tension pneumothorax  that identified could be readily corrected with a needle.  It and cardiac tamponade might be difficult to distinguish without more advanced medical knowledge.  Cheyne-Stokes respiration would indeed be a pre-terminal event.

C—Circulation—includes bleeding that may or may not be easily controlled.  ATLS discourages tourniquets on the assumption of low velocity bullet wounds and access to advanced trauma care.  The SOFMH allows for
tourniquets when those assumptions are not met.  They should be loosened periodically to spare a limb.  Abdominal bleeds require much more intensive time, manpower and supplies than might be available.  IVs are needed to prevent shock if possible.  Some use of oral water may help if it can be consumed without choking, vomiting or aspiration.

D—Disability (Neurological evaluation)—assessing level of consciousness would be difficult for most with little medical knowledge to assess but clearly deterioration could be noted.  More advanced facilities would be required to treat, even acute epidural hematomas.

E—Exposure—covers environmental issues such as temperature, toxins, radiation, etc.

The triage system that I would favor would be a simpler one of I, D, and E.  It would be a situational determination in part and can shift with changes in circumstances.

I—Immediate is the highest category within the resources available.  An airway might be simple, quick and life saving. 

D—Delayed is the category of salvageable people to be treated  as time and resources permit.  It would also include the walking wounded, those with minor injuries who should wait on others with more serious injuries.  These should not be the top priority as Kathy S. suggested.

E—Expectant is a euphemism for those who cannot be helped in the given situation.  They should be cared for humanely by people available who can comfort and be a human presence to those not likely to survive.  This helps keep bystanders busy who want to help but keeps them out of way.

Obviously a lot of medical knowledge can quickly be required along with supplies.  One needs this training and the supplies to deal with it.  There is no easy way to cover all of these issues or all of the field expedients that might be helpful.  The first key is the Primary Survey and the triage designation to be able to proceed. - Steve T., M.D.

Reader RBS recommended this piece over at the Alpha Rubicon site: Introducing the Prepping & Survival Mindset to Others

   o o o

Chris F. mentioned that Bardin & Marsee Publishing produces a Waterproof Bible. They are printed on plastic, they are tear resistant and 100% waterproof.

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El Jefe Jeff E. sent this: USDA Reports Food Shortages: Wall Street 'Caught Off Guard' by Severity.

"What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"- Micah 6:8 (Carved in stone at the entrance to Baylor Law School)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 I have been searching the web for preparedness information I have yet to see much mentioned of the most emotionally and physically draining process of triaging the casualties produced during a crisis event.  While we are busy with our stockpiling of food and materials, weapons, and seeds, we seem to have left out some of the really horrific tasks we may be called upon to perform. Even if we are fully engaged as “preppers” we don’t take time to understand the implications that illness and injuries will have upon our lives in drastic times. Most of the general population has never been placed in a situation that requires triage, nor have been placed in a situation where they personally may need to make decisions quickly and efficiently. Those decisions may mean refusing medical assistance to victims. There may come a time when there are no emergency rooms, emergency response teams or 911 at our beckon call. Who will call the shots in a disaster?  Who decides who lives and who dies?  Could you manage a triage event within your own family?

In the general population, there are but a handful of trained medical personnel.  These are doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, police and fire personnel and even veterinarians.  In large scale events, such as earthquake, flood, and severe storms, these persons are usually at the forefront of helping others.  Remember too, that in any given scenario, some of these people will have been killed or are injured and will not be available to perform their duties. Others will be totally focused on their own families and will simply not respond to the calls for help.  In times of disaster, there are really very few heroes.
The act of triage will vary greatly depending on the type of incident and the scale of the disaster.  The larger the scale of the incident the smaller the circle of care the responder can provide. The assessment of the victims also becomes shorter and the criteria you use for estimating survival must become much more precise. You, as the responder, may have no more than a few seconds to view the casualty, make a determination of survival chances, and move on. The most important issue to remember is that in triage the victims are prioritized from the least to most sick or injured. This is exactly opposite of all of our usual thinking in respect to medical care, but is the only way to assure the survival of the largest number of victims.  This rule applies to a mass casualty event or dealing with your own family members.
At first glance, this may seem very cruel.  However, in a major disaster our thinking must turn to the fact that if we assist the extremely injured we will likely prolong their suffering while using medicine and supplies in an effort that is doomed from the beginning.
The type of event will determine the magnitude of the triage. There is a big difference in how you need to respond depending upon the circumstances you are facing. Most of the time, we are likely to find ourselves in a limited field of action such as a traffic accident, a localized fire or flood, or weather related event.  In a first responder situation you can make your initial reactions removing people from any immediate danger.  This you can apply to all the victims you encounter.  If you know that additional help is on the way then continue to provide comfort and emotional support but refrain from anything else but life saving techniques such as CPR or putting pressure on a major bleed. When help arrives, relinquish your role immediately. That, by the way, is not always easy to do as we can emotionally take ownership of a situation very quickly.
If you find yourself in a larger scale event you must switch your mind set to who can you help that will ensure the greatest return  (largest number of survivors helped) for your efforts. This is the area that requires you to do some advance mental planning. If you have never seen a casualty producing event, know that your senses will be assaulted at every turn. The cries for help will be in your ears constantly.  You may encounter violence from others as they demand you attend to their victims.  You must remain calm as self detached as you organize your mind.  
There will be very specific issues that will help you prioritize your care.  First identify any others with any medical expertise.  If they are more prepared, relinquish authority to them and follow their orders.  If you are the one making the call, ask for help from any of the ambulatory persons in your immediate area. Assign them the task of separating the people into groups as you assign the victims a number beginning with the least injured and most responsive, as you categorize the victims. You will use the numbers one through five to determine level of survivability. If you have something to mark the victims like a ball point pen or marker of some kind take it with you.  If you must, you can mark the victim in their own blood. Make sure you have the victims out of any other harms way. As you encounter each person, visually scan for the following.  Are they breathing? Are the conscious?  Are there any large arterial bleeds going on?  You can tell if bleeding is arterial if the blood comes out in spurts instead of a constant flow. Are there large open or gaping wounds or extremities missing?  Can they move their extremities? A person is usually moribund (dying) is they are not breathing well, have weak irregular pulses, have mottled skin starting at the feet and legs, are cooling rapidly, and are not conscious or are losing consciousness, and or are bleeding out. These unfortunate folks receive the category five designations.  In all but extraordinary situations these folks are the least likely to survive for long. Place the designation number somewhere on their skin where it can be readily seen by others, usually the forehead. Move on.  The process continues for each victim.  Those assigned to move persons into the groups one through five should continue to do so.
 There will be a set of rules you can follow to help make decisions.  If breathing or cardiac function is severely compromised, there are obvious severe head injuries with loss of consciousness, brain tissue or spinal fluid coming from a wound, ears, or nose, or the inability to move body parts from the neck down, if there are chest wounds that make a sucking sound with each breath, or abdominal organs can been seen you must assume that these persons need more care than you can provide.
The next category four, the person will display some consciousness, is breathing on their own with some distress, have a irregular heartbeat, have bleeding that is likely to respond to direct pressure over a long period of time, have no organs visible but they complain of severe abdominal pain or have abdominal swelling and great tenderness, they can respond to you at least a little, can move at least some of their extremities upon command, or have broken bones protruding from the skin.  These people have a poor long term survival probability, but if advanced care should become available might survive.
 Category three will appear injured and may have multiple wounds, but they are conscious and can move upon command.  Breathing and heartbeat are not compromised, they may have broken bones, but they are closed fractures that help limit infection. If wounds are covered they will stop bleeding with pressure.  They do not complain of chest or abdominal pain. They may appear confused or combative.
The category two victims are alert and responsive, may have significant number of smaller wounds that respond to pressure dressings or splinting, but have no major compromise to breathing or circulation and can in most circumstances move by themselves.  They may be more physically and emotionally reactive due to their heighten adrenaline levels and may pose more danger to you or themselves because they really don’t understand they are significantly injured.

The highest survivability group, category one, will appear banged up or a little hyperactive due to adrenaline, but has no compromise in mobility or thought processes.  These folks may just need a little time to physically and mentally regroup before being able to move on their way.

Once the victims have been categorized, the process of treatment can begin.  The least injured are cared for, starting with category one and moving forward.  Patch folks up and move them to a more secured location if possible.  Try to keep them from the dead and dying, especially if they are agitated.  If family members are kept together they may be able to comfort one another, but if faced with a dying family member may pose a real problem with demands for care you can not provide.  They might have to be forcibly removed from the area. As you balance the care you give with the supplies you have, it may become necessary to re-score patients. People with significant internal injuries will deteriorate as their adrenalin levels become depleted. If water and food are not readily available even the moderately injured may fail more quickly. Always use your supplies working from least injured or sick to the worst.  It will not be easy and you will make mistakes.  Do your best and move on.

In the event of a medical disaster such as a pandemic, most of us will become more and more isolated as the contagion progresses.  The basic triage rules still apply.  Use what you have for the least sick, isolated the sick people from those who are not yet showing signs of illness.  Allow a limited number of caregivers to the ill. Remove the dead quickly and dispose of bodies rapidly.
Most of us will never face the prospect of a large regional disaster, but we should all have worked out plans in advance.  This includes care of the dead and dying.  Not all victims die quickly or easily.  If you have never seen a death, you may be horrified at what you experience.  As a registered nurse, I’ve witness many deaths and though there are similar physical traits that can be recognized as landmarks, the time it takes a person to actually expire varies greatly.  It will depend on the nature of the injury or illness, the physical strength of the individual, and the will to live.

For the most part, when we are mortally ill or wounded we separate from life in various stages.  Violent injuries and severe contagion may accelerate the process.  Severe loss of blood, injuries to the brain, lungs, or heart normally cascade through the death process more quickly.  A person who is dying will gradually begin to lose contact with people and surrounds through loss of consciousness. They may babble, groan, experience restlessness associated with air hunger.  They may sigh frequently or gasp.  The body begins to shut down vascular flow to the extremities in order to preserve the brain and core organs.  This will produce a blue or blue-black mottling of the skin on the arms and legs. A person may, for a while, go in and out of consciousness and question what is happening to them.  Be honest. Tell them that they are dying but that you are with them and will continue to be with them. Ask them if they want spiritual care.  Pray with them. As death approaches most people if told become more inward and self-oriented. Even if lied to about their status, most people know they are dying.  If lied to they become distrustful and fearful. Even if not easily roused, keep talking to the person, as hearing is the last physical sense to cease functioning and you can provide great comfort.
Once comatose, a person may display distressed breathing patterns.  The pattern called Cheyne-Stokes may occur.  It is a pattern of repeating periods of rapid breathing that slows and then stops momentarily then proceeds with a gasp for air. As this pattern worsens, the person may have a throaty rattle when they breathe.  During this time, it can be very distressing for the viewer, but remember the person is not aware in any way.  When death occurs, there may be some spasmodic movement of the extremities, the chest, or the throat. These are reflexive in nature and the person is not in distress.  When the heart stops, the person will likely have a bluish gray cast to the skin.  If the eyes are open, the pupils will dilate and become unresponsive to light and become cloudy.
The last important items to think about are the care of the dead body.  As we have seen in photos from Haiti, that in a regional event, the number of dead may preclude the normal death rituals a society performs.  As we saw bodies flung onto trucks and then unceremoniously dumped into mass graves, our spirits were assaulted. These sights will be all too common if mass disaster occurs.
The way to dispose of the dead in an attempt to prevent the spread of disease and those are cremation and mass burial.  In a SHTF situation we must understand that it takes energy to do either task.  If confronted with the responsibility what should you do?  How will you choose the method?  How much energy will you be able to expend?
If it is only one body, say of a family member or neighbor, a traditional ground burial is probably the most energy efficient and emotionally suitable. The body should be buried a minimum of four feet below ground, not within 150 feet of your ground water source.  The time it takes to dig a place big enough is measured in hours.  If in the winter it could be days depending on the weather and ground conditions. The more help you have the better and faster the job will go.  If you plan a cremation, you must have a large supply of wood.  But in a TEOTWAWKI event there might not be enough fuel to spare. [So cold storage, followed by burial after the ground thaws would be logical.]
We must be able to face the responsibilities of making hard choice of life and death. Our family’s survival may rely on our abilities to function in the most distressing situations with a calm head and prepared spirit. If you are called upon to triage an event remain calm, put your plan into work, and don’t look back. 

The most important aspect of arid farming is water preservation. Israel has developed and taught the world techniques to make even the most dry areas bloom without wasting water. There is plenty of information available from US university agriculture outreach services on the Israeli system.

The technique is simple but there is variation on the theme. Cheap perforated irrigation tube is buried along the rows. plastic sheet is laid down and the seeds are planted through a hole poked in the plastic sheet. Between raised planting rows sand, gravel, or dirt is laid onto the plastic to hold it down, these valleys have perforations to allow absorption of any rain. Plastic undersheeting might be required if the underlying soil is something like sand which will quickly drain your irrigation water away. The soil layer must be thick enough to both hold moisture and not overheat your seeds in the longest days of summer. Best growth in most plants happens around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21C). Use of an electronic moisture probe will help you know how much water to use without tearing up the plastic and adjust the valves to get even irrigation. If you are using sand to essentially hydroponic garden you will need to add liquefied nutrients or compost to the soil through the irrigation system or add it to the sand before the plastic goes down at planting time. The equipment to do this is cheap here in Israel, not sure about in the US although improvisation using blown garden hoses or cheap pipe seem reasonable.

It is important to cistern any water runoff on your property during rainy times, adding a collection ditch downhill from parking areas and collecting from gutters is important considering that a long term public water system failure or depletion in an area is a real local TEOTWAWKI scenario. In some parts of the US collecting rain water is illegal so check the laws before you get a visit from a state bureaucrat and possibly a heavy fine. - David in Israel

Dear CPT Rawles:
The article "How Long Can You Tread Water?" was indeed a scary analysis of the advent of either an EMP attack, or a natural sun storm which would create the same series of events. There is no doubt that our society would
come unglued in many parts of the nation. There is also no doubt that eventually, urban gangs will fan out across the countryside in search of food, women, drugs, liquor, weapons and gold. If your farmhouse is in their
avenue of advance, it will be taken.

As in all military activities and survival of TEOTWAWKI will be very military, good OPSEC is a force multiplier beyond the realm of most anyone's imagination. It is essential that preppers keep the lowest profile possible
as you have advised on numerous occasions.

Having worked in Europe for a number of years, I can tell you that there are no plans to protect, provide for or evacuate either military or DOD civilian employees in the event of anything like a EMP attack. We would more or less be on our own and would from necessity, be forced to abandon our jobs in order to see to our families. All of the highly vaunted programs designed to protect and evacuate family members are nothing more than words and empty promises. Think of it as Senator Schumer himself, making promises to provide for your welfare back home in Kansas in the event of a disaster! It ain't going to happen!

I currently live in Kosovo and have had the opportunity to speak with many different Kosovars concerning their experiences in the 1999 Balkans War. You readers will remember that this war was, as Bill Clinton so aptly
stated, "To prove that Americans are willing to die, to protect Muslims."

TEOTWAWKI was the rule of the day in 1999 Kosovo Province. Many of the events depicted in "How Long Can You Tread Water," happened again and again. Many rural Kosovars had laid-in supplies of food, remembering Communist Yugoslavia days, when shortages of everything were the norm. They are also some very tough, weathered and experienced survivors. Yet, when TSHTF it got very violent for nearly everyone in Kosovo. Roaming gangs took what they wanted, killed whom they wanted, raped whom they wanted, on and on. It wasn't just the Serbs creating all the trouble either. The Albanian Kosovars perpetrated the most heinous of crimes imaginable, but they are our "allies" today, so we don't talk about that so much! Bill Clinton is a national hero in Kosovo.

Both Albanian Kosovars and Serbian Kosovars agree on one thing. The only thing that ended the reign of terror and destruction, was the entry of the United States and NATO into the fray. We brought an end to the ethnic
killings between Muslims and Christians, with our armed presence. We brought tons of food, medicine, building materials etc. Without outside help, this country would have continued to self-destruct.

Who will come to our aid, in the United States, when the Schumer hits? What is most likely to happen, is an intervention by European and Asian nations in efforts to gain resources, and recover some losses they will experience
as a result of our collapse. Efforts to "save" Americans from the debacle will most likely not be too extensive. The United States is hated and despised by most of those whom we have done so much to free and elevate to
our standard of living. If our population dies off, so much the better for the new colonial powers that will be only too happy to exploit our resources with no environmental whacko interference.

When the Schumer hits, I have no doubt as to the extent of death and destruction that will ensue. "Patriots" spells this out fairly well and the imaginations of many SurvivalBlog readers have provided good insight as to
what we can expect. One aspect that must not be forgotten in our preparations is our Spiritual Lives. The old saying, "Get right with God," has new meaning to me. All the provisions you can assemble, all the plans
you make for the survival of you and your loved ones is moot, if you fail to seek and obtain God's protection.

The Bible tells us not to "Tempt God." So continue to prepare, get your beans, band-aids and bullets ready for the day we all shudder to see arriving. But don't forget your Creator either. He will protect whomever
He chooses to protect anywhere, anytime. Make sure that you are one He chooses to protect. - Michael in The Balkans


Mr. Rawles,

In response to Andrew B's posted reply, I regretfully must disagree with all seven of his points. My recent time in the Army and contacts at State, Justice and numerous other Department, plus a stint in logistics provide the following rebuttal:

1. If fuel production is halted, no one is going to get further than one tank of gas outside the city limits.

This assertion turns a blind eye to a basic tenet of warfare: In a "me-or-you" situation, those who have firepower and the will to use it can and will seize the assets of those without. Given the constant reports of gas station robberies, the gas station clerk would be well-advised to fill their own vehicle and get the heck out of Dodge ASAP. Given their glass windows, high visibility and easy access, gas stations are not a defensible position. The halt of fuel production would not stop the seizure of fuel from the deposit areas where supply trucks stop, nor from fuel depots. An enterprising crew of only a few criminal members can seize a full fuel truck, and at that point, their vehicles are now enabled well beyond "one-tankful" range. Even a 12-year-old who's seen "Fast & Furious" could come up with that idea.

2. If fuel is still being produced then law enforcement will operate and food production will not be halted and the point is moot.

The mere availability of fuel does not mean law enforcement can continue to operate. Even now, while fuel is freely available to them, law enforcement officials are unable to prevent (or even respond to) most crimes. In the event of an EMP-type disaster, the tiny amount of ammunition carried by most law enforcement would be expended within hours or days at best. After that, they're nothing more than guys with a shiny target attached to them, and in a vehicle which makes them a prime target for any and all criminals wanting to make a quick name for themselves.

3. There is a reason the US Army moves its [tracked] vehicles by rail. They can’t drive more than a few miles without the things breaking down.

This statement demonstrates an unwillingness to deal with the reality of the abilities of American military vehicles. Here's a hint: If we blitzed through Saddam's Iraqi National Guard tankers without breaking stride over miles of desert, driving on streets is a lot easier on the vehicles. The streets are not made to take that much weight on a constant, daily grind basis, but if you ever watch a military parade, you discover that tanks, APCs and other military vehicles can drive on them all day long without breaking a sweat. The Abrams can average 65 mph, and military tankers are trained to drive at the fastest speed possible when going from place to place for safety's sake. Military truckers drive 100 mph through the Iraqi highway system to lessen the chances of being hit by a preplanned ambush. If US tracked vehicles needed to be repaired every few miles as Mr. B asserts, every tanker in the US Army would already be dead.

4. Existing gangs are mostly composed of ignorant teenagers who, while fiercely loyal and ruthlessly violent, do not possess the foresight or the organizational capability to run a sustained campaign based on

This comment was well-fielded by Andrew S., although I would add that the current number two threat (after Al-Qaeda) listed by the FBI is...motorcycle gangs. Not organized crime, not cartels. Motorcycle gangs. A large number of gang members- motorcycle or otherwise- are indeed former military. The only difference between them and the military is the total lack of restraint on the part of the gang members. They are trained in tactics, and unlike most police officers, are usually veterans of numerous violent engagements. Those who lead gangs are ruthless, amoral, and require complete loyalty from their subordinates. Gang members can usually run circles around law enforcement because (1) they lack any restraint; (2) they will happily shoot you before you can think about shooting them, and (3) they enjoy it. I don't know where Mr. B's been living, but the gangs of today are well-organized, battle-hardened, and spend more time learning how to avoid being shot and win battles than 99% of the population.

5. In the event of a power outage, jail cells will be locked shut, not open.

This assumes the outage happens at a convenient time when release hasn't just occurred, or convicts aren't in general release for exercise/meals. Prison riots are no joke, and are frequently planned in advance for months, waiting for the possibility of a power outage or other momentary vulnerability on the part of the prison staff. In the event of a power outage, electricity stops. Not "slams the doors shut" and then stops, but just plain halts. A realistic response would be for the guards to start shooting prisoners, and then get swarmed under when they ran out of ammo. This happens NOW in riots, let alone if all power went out.

6. In order to run a successful raid on even an isolated farm house takes meticulous planning, thorough preparation, lots of supplies, and the ability to perform small unit infantry tactics. If you’ve ever done it, you know that even in the best of circumstances, it is extraordinarily difficult, because it is physically demanding and takes real discipline.

Again, this was well-addressed with the "one guy, one match, one gas can" response. It also ignores the element of surprise, through which many settlements/houses/villages have been overrun by small armed groups. "Extraordinarily difficult"? By definition, this would be an extraordinary time. Shooting up a farmhouse (one constructed not for survival, but for light, visibility, visual appeal, and other peace-time oriented factors) requires very little of the requirements mentioned. If it were that difficult, we'd all be safe moving in with Dorothy in Kansas

7. The idea that the neighborhood gang is suddenly going to turn into a disciplined force, operating with military precision out to get Tom S. is simply delusional

The "neighborhood gang" in places as far-reaching as Wyoming, Iowa, and Montana has the local police living in fear. Why? Because the gangs are now moving (or already moved) up from California and other high-population areas to spread their influence and take more territory. They do so in a disturbingly organized, well-planned and diabolically methodical way. Establishing supply lines and other logistic requirements, they move from town to town, first establishing beachheads, then moving reinforcements into the area and quickly eliminating local competition. While they probably aren't looking for Tom S., they certainly do operate with military precision. Ask any cop about the actions, tactics and movement plans of present-day gangs. You'll get an earful on their deadly and successful abilities. I am no hysterical wild-eyeball. But it would be nearly criminal not to admit the reality of the situation with modern gang warfare. "I've got the pistol, so I'll keep the pesos" is effective even in best-case scenarios. To attempt to write off the both the raw power and paramilitary ability of most gangs is to ensure an early demise. Why do we train? So that we are better-trained than the other guy. In this case, it's your squad against a battle-hardened bunch of sadistic nihilists.

In other words, the other guy is training, too. Hope that your training is better. Telling yourself "he's not trained" will only get you dead. - J.B .

KAF flagged this: Venezuela nabs two for trying to 'Twitter' a run on banks. Consider this fair warning on a new threat: "flash mobs" that could trigger crises including bank runs, and runs on key commodities. Do you remember how Johnny Carson made one offhand remark that sparked "The Toilet Paper Crisis of 1973"? The burgeoning social networks could be used to spread a panic far and wide, whether it is justified or not.

SurvivalBlog reader Tony B. sent us this: Dollar weakness reflects optimism. Tony's comments: "How upside-down is people's thinking when the value of the dollar falling is seen as a good thing, because people will pull out of gold and silver to hold counter-inflationary real money? Are people so obsessed with the numbers 'Hey, I have 10% more dollars now!' - that they don't think about what these changes mean? 'Why did the price of everything go up 15%?'"

S.M. spotted this: U.S. marks 3rd-largest, single-day debt increase, $166 billion jump spurs concerns over policy.

Two more items courtesy of S.M.: Deficit hits $1 trillion in June for second year, and IMF presses US to cut debt,

Items from The Economatrix:

Mortgage Applications Rise 7% as Rates Fall

The US: A Long Economic Winter Ahead

UK: 70 Top Graduates for Every Job Opening

Europe's "Toothless" Bank Tests Making Matters Worse

Makow: Use World Currency to Renounce the Debt

New Loan Delinquencies on the Rise Again

Office Vacancy Rate Keeps Climbing

The editor of the Rural Revolution blog mentioned a company that makes nifty fixtures that turn Mason jars into kerosene lamps. The editor wrote: "Specifically I purchased item # 10BR3273, which is a bulk purchase of ten fixtures. They come with wicks. (Here is a photo.) A package of 10 of them costs $22 plus shipping. I'm also buying glass globes every time I see them at thrift stores. These usually don't cost more than $2 each. I'm also buying extra wicks." For stability, the larger the jar, the better. With a two quart jar and a long wick, one jar of kerosene should last for weeks of daily lighting!

   o o o

Australian police probe poisoning of seven million veggie plants; tomato shortage could double prices. (A hat tip to Chris L. for the link.)

   o o o

KAF was the first of several readers to send this: U.S. Tomahawk Missiles Deployed Near China Send Message.

"It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I'm readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I'll, in turn, do my best for the Cause by writing editorials - after the fact." - Robert E. Lee, 1863

Friday, July 9, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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.

Last fall I was lucky enough to join a friend and his father on a hunting trip. It was their umpteenth trip into the woods, but my first. They had been going to the same place since my friend’s father had started hunting, almost 45 years ago.

We were hunting deer, and my friend and his father and both won in the lottery to hunt Does as well as Bucks.

(Note: they don’t use deer stands. It is more, “you cover this area and I’ll cover that area.” And while my friend and his father often just pick a spot and sit there all day long, I knew that I would be allowed to wander a fairly large area if I felt like, which I certainly intended to do).

I had asked for advice on what to bring and received plenty, so I was fairly well prepared. But like any survival situation, no kind of preparation compares to real experience. Though I’d grown up in a very rural area and had plenty of childhood experience roaming around the bush behind my parent’s house, I was ill-prepared for reality.

When you’re sitting in your cozy home, exercising on your treadmill, filling your bug-out bag in preparation for a volatile future, keep in my mind experiences as I list them here. Based on my very first hunting excursion, here we go:

  1. The forest is not your neighborhood park – Walking 100 yards through the park might take you 30 to 60 seconds. Walking 100 yards through the wilderness could take you 30 to 60 minutes. This is not a joke and I’m not exaggerating. Every step is negotiated; every branch on every bush or tree is tugging at your clothes. Every pound in your backpack is pulling you backward and downward. You’ve got a gun in your hands but you’re constantly grabbing branches to push them out of your way, or for balance. Not to mention that you’re constantly watching for movement around you, whether it’s for dangers or for food. You stop, listen, muscles aching. Trudge forward a few steps, stop again.
  2. You’re carrying too much – No, don’t argue with me. You’ve got too much in your backpack, in your pockets, in your hands, on your head. 40lbs on your back feels like 100lbs when you’re in the wilderness (See point #1 above). I know because I’ve trained in my local park with 60lbs on my back. That was easy. The wilderness is not. Pare down your backpack until you’ve got what you really need. There have been umpteen articles on backpack prep, so I won’t cover it here. Suffice to say that the 2 pellet guns I was carrying were left at base after day one.
  3. You have to be in shape – Every day of our hunting trip started with a 2km hike up a big hill with a net ascension of 120 meters. Then the real work started. If your bugout plan involves “heading to the hills”, and there’s a chance it might involve foot power, you better be ready for it. If you think you are ready, try this: grab your bugout bag and go to the nearest set of stairs that is at least 1 story high. Now go up and down 30 times. Did you make it? If you didn’t, you’re not ready. If you did, are you flat on your face trying to catch your breath? Because that’s still not good enough. Because now you have to do it another 30. Remember, just because it might be a nice straight, flat walk to your destination, doesn’t mean you will be able to take that preferred route during TEOTWAWKI. Be ready.
  4. The wilderness is not teaming with food – The neighborhood where I live is rife with wildlife. Every morning when I take my 4km walk, I see 5-6 rabbits, a dozen squirrels, umpteen birds. I often see raccoon or other small game remains on the roads. After 5 days in the wilderness, I saw perhaps 2 squirrels in all that time (and one deer). I know there are more about, especially nocturnal animals, but don’t expect to bag a dozen squirrels and rabbits a day with your .22 while you’re wandering along to your hidey hole.
  5. Getting lost is easy – I know, you’ve heard it before. It’s so easy to get turned around, you’ll do it in about 10 steps. That’s why, every 10 steps, look behind you and see where you’ve come from. Identify your land marks. Oddly, one of the easiest things to identify are animal trails. I began marking off my territory based on deer trails that crisscrossed the area. Which leads to my next point:
  6. Know your geography – I knew that if I traveled east far enough, or west far enough, I would hit water in either direction. I knew what it meant if I traveled south by either of those water ways. I knew where the highest point in the area was, and I knew what I would see if I traveled too far north. When in doubt, go up - There’s less chance of getting turned around; you’ll have a better view of your surroundings; you’ll stay out of wet areas; it’s a lot easier coming down.
  7. Be prepared for inclement weather – I have a Columbia winter coat that I’ve used for about 12 years. It was about $300 when I bought it, which seemed pretty steep at the time, but I splurged because I thought it would last, and it has. It’s also water resistant, and I’ve never had to worry about being caught in wet conditions with it.


On the first day of our hunting trip, though it had snowed heavily the night before, the weather report was for a clear sunny day, and clear sunny days for several days beyond. Temperatures were around freezing (0C/32F), so I wore my coat anyway as I wanted to be prepared for anything. About mid-morning, as the sun was rising, and I was enjoying one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve ever witnessed, with the light shining through snow-laden trees, I was beginning to think I should have left my coat at home. Because heck, my pack was heavy, what with extra pellet guns and all. But then the snow started melting. And it started raining. Yes, raining. It started slowly, just a drip-drip at a time, then it came down heavy. All that snow melted and rained on me for a solid 2 hours. Thank God I had my coat, because I would have been drenched in no time in very cold temperatures.

  1. Use quality gear – Back to the coat. Branches, bushes, sticks, all tugged on my poor coat every where I went. I even fell down a couple times, slid across the ground, scraped across rocks. I expected my coat to be in tatters by the end, but it held up great, in fact it doesn’t have a scratch on it now. The wilderness is not a forgiving environment, on you or your clothes. Don’t use garbage that won’t last the first day. I’ll mention a few other quality items I carry:

The knife – I know, I know. Another item talked about ad nauseam. But it’s just so important. I carry a Fallkniven S1, which I also used to gut my first deer. It is easily the best, sharpest knife I have ever used. After about 20 seconds of gutting, my friend said, “Holy cr** that’s a sharp knife.” (He has been hunting for 20 years).  These knives aren’t for looks (though it looks great too, imo), but it’s a quality survival knife if there ever was one.

A compass – I don’t carry a great compass. I carry 3 lesser ones. They all do a good job, or more importantly, they agree with each other. I will buy a quality compass to compliment my collection when funds permit.  When I was hiking around getting a feel for the land, I was checking a compass about every 30 seconds - way more often than I anticipated.

7-strand paracord – So many uses it’s ridiculous. I carried about 30 feet of it. Next time I will up that to 50’, maybe 100.

Boots – Wolverine Impala 600 Thinsulate.  Another item I won’t skimp on. My feet run hot, so 600 is more than enough. Waterproof, tough as tough, but nice and comfortable.  Keep your toes moving.

Leatherman Juice X – Not only is this a great survival tool, but I keep it on my hip for everyday use. And I use it, every day. My friends are so used to seeing it, they always ask to borrow it too.

And, of course, the garbage:

Backpack – I had a cheap backpack that carried a bunch of stuff. It was uncomfortable to wear, especially with a lot of weight in it. It was hard to adjust the straps, in fact a couple of them broke on day one, and threads were coming out all over.

As soon as I got back home, I ran out and purchased a Redhead Hybrid Illuminator Pack. It’s very functional, versatile, and comfortable. My shoulders thank me.

Thermos – On the first day, my two companions carried thermoses with coffee, and I was annoyed I hadn’t thought to bring my own. Mid-morning on that day, I really wished I had a couple cups of coffee to lift my spirits, because, as I mentioned above, it was raining on me pretty hard.

At the end of the 1st day I drove to the local Wal-Mart and picked up a thermos of my own. As we trudged through the woods on day 2 and I was thinking happily how much I was going to enjoy a nice cup of coffee, I accidentally bumped my pack against a tree. The sound of broken glass inside my thermos was unmistakable. As was the smell of coffee that leaked out of the thermos and drenched everything in my (cheap and non-water resistant) backpack.

Did I really need the extra weight of a thermos full of coffee, when I was already carrying a water bottle? Well, if you can put up with the extra weight, it sure is a spirit lifter. I think next time I will carry some coffee grounds and a filter and make it on the spot. Best of both worlds.

  1. Always carry a medical kit and keep your medical training up to date – I used several band-aids during my 5 days in the wilderness, which isn’t much really. But a week back from hunting, I came across a bad car accident that had happened only a couple minutes before. When I got on the scene there was an elderly lady lying in a deep ditch and a bunch of by-standers were running around clueless as to what to do. So I went and helped the lady. There wasn’t anything seriously wrong with her. Her chest and back were both sore. So after primary and secondary survey, I made sure she was warm, held her hand, and talked to her for 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived. The point of this should be obvious: not all medical emergencies happen where you expect them to. Always be ready.
  2. Plan your meeting points with specific times – Our day always started with, “I’ll see you at spot A at this such-and-such time. If I don’t see you there, I’ll see you at spot B at such-and-such-later time. If I don’t see you there, I’ll see you at  Spot C at such-and-such-later time. If I don’t see you there at that time, then stay right where you are because I’m coming to find you.” This was usually aimed at me, the new guy, but it was for the whole group. It would have reversed if I had made all the meeting times but my friend or his father didn’t. Not only is this good procedure to follow, it’s a great peace of mind for someone like myself out in an unknown wilderness for my first time.
  3. Electronic Communication – Don’t count on it. Our radios and cell phones were constantly in and out because of rugged terrain and distance. Have a backup plan for when you can’t communicate with your group. Always carry a whistle. When I had shot my first deer and was trying to guide my friend to me over the radio, for an aggravating 10 minutes, I eventually gave up and just started blowing my whistle. He found me less than a minute later. And marveled about how far he had been traveling off course based on my guidance.

I have some tips and ideas to add to Colleen's wonderful article on desert gardening. I have successfully cultivated summer & winter gardens throughout the southwest desert regions of Arizona & New Mexico for the past 7 years. My methods are not necessarily in support of OPSEC in WTSHTF scenarios, but just desert gardening in general.

* Try to set up raised beds along the west or south facing side of the house or block wall - the walls retain heat all day and provide some radiated warmth during cold evenings.
* A very simple winter "greenhouse" method is to run two long PVC pipes crisscross over your raised bed into supports screwed into the sides of the bed, cover with heavy plastic sheeting (white or clear), and hold down with rocks or boards. Take it off during the day, put on at night to block frost. It does get cold here in the desert at night and sometimes even snows! But the 60-70 degree sunny days make up for it and allow for year-round growing.
* Check salvage yards, rebuilding centers, craigslist, etc for scrap wood cheap or free. I recently responded to a craigslist ad from a mobile home business that routinely offers tons of used boards & wood frames for free - perfect for building raised beds.
* I don't use wood boards less than 2" thick because they tend to bow & warp and are flimsy. If the wood is in good condition, I recommend coating it with linseed oil as this will help repel water and keep the wood in good shape.
* Don't use railroad ties, as perfect as they may seem. These are generally heavily treated with chemicals & oils you don't want leaching into your garden soil.
* I stick with bed sizes of 3' x 3', 4' x 4', or 4' x 8'. You don't want to build anything wider than 4' in one dimension as it becomes hard to reach into the center of your garden. I now only build beds that are 12" high - anything less and you will have plants that struggle. With a bed that's 12" high you can accommodate any type of plant, even root vegetables like carrots & potatoes.
* I always line the bottom of my beds with black, woven "weed blocker" material, two layers of it stapled to the bottom of the bed. I have learned the hard way when I fail to do this, as this nasty desert grass always manages to shoot up through a foot of soil and overtake my garden.
* I tend to cover most of my raised beds with some type of cage or screen to keep out birds, cats, and also provide a base for shade when needed. Making a cage out of chicken wire, PVC pipe, and zip strips is easy; they are light & can be moved from bed to bed. Make your cages at least 2 feet tall, anything shorter isn't enough for most plants.
* I also use used, framed window screens (found a bunch at a rebuilding center for $1 each). They tend to be 3' or 4' long and 18" tall. These make great sides for a wood framed cage or bed topper. I also lay them across the top of newly seeded beds for shade and to hold in moisture as plants start sprouting.
* With cages over the beds, you can also cover the entire thing with shade material during the most brutal periods in the summer: I found gauzy/woven drapery fabric spread over the entire cage provides nice shade while still letting sunlight in. You can find old drapes of this material at almost any thrift shop, usually for a buck or two.
* Many of the commercial black plastic composters are expensive. They are a good investment, but I've been equally successful composting with just a pit in the ground covered with cardboard and a simple box made out of scrap wood & chicken wire. With weekly turning & watering, you will have rich compost soil in a matter of weeks. I call it "brown gold".
* Seek out local nurseries or other sources who sell compost or soil by the cubic yard (aka "a truckload"). I found a source in southern New Mexico who would load the back of my small pickup truck for $30 and that was enough to fill a 4' x 4' raised bed. Reserve your homemade compost for the top layer to give seedlings an extra boost.
* If you have roof gutters or a spot on the roof where water gushes down during a rain storm, get some rain barrels. I've had 55-gallon barrels completely fill with water in under 15 minutes during summer monsoons. Barrels can be as simple as just cutting holes in the top, wide enough to dip a watering can or bucket into, if you don't want to install a spigot near the bottom. Make sure to cover the tops with a screen or lid when not in use so animals don't fall in and to not attract mosquitoes. I have found clean, used barrels at flea markets for as little as $7 each. While I don't know what they used to hold, after a few flushes I think they're OK to use for irrigation water (but I would not use them for drinking water unless they were brand new).
* I do my main watering in the evening after the sun has gone down. With new plantings, I'll do another watering in the morning so the soil stays moist all day. Once plants are substantial, I water carefully every 2-3 days and use shade covers during the hottest times.
* I keep all my seeds in their original packets, sealed in a Ziploc bag, in my freezer. I have seeds from two years ago that are still sprouting with this storage method.
* Most importantly, don't try to grow plants that don't belong here. I tend to focus on growing plants the natives have grown here for centuries: squash, beans, corn, peppers, etc. I have also had success with leafy greens (in the winter), tomatoes, dill, cilantro, and broccoli (winter).
* On squash: I either have one bed reserved just for squash or else I grow it in rows or mounds on the ground away from everything else. Squash growing with other plants will quickly invade the entire garden - it really needs a lot of room to spread out or grow up (if you have vertical supports set up).
* Unripe butternut squash (very pale or white) growing late in the season can be harvested and placed on a sunny window sill (or out in the sun during the day) and they will ripen. One winter I had 30+ good sized (but unripe) butternuts that I kept out in the sun during the day and they did ripen in about a month. And when properly stored, squash lasts "forever". I've stored butternuts in a dark cupboard for over a year and they were still edible, - V. in New Mexico

Mr Rawles,
Colleen M.'s advice on starting a kitchen garden in a low rainfall area is sound advice and I agree with the 'challenge' to avoid becoming technology dependant. I am fortunate to have a small Plan-B retreat which is amongst a community of small-holders in South Africa, but one challenge we have here is water. The irony is that there is a small seasonal stream the runs along our common land, but our government has passed laws that prevent us from using the water unless we pay a substantial fee per kilo-litre; well substantial for a resource that some of us have had a right to use since 1863! We have adequate rainfall for household needs, but many kitchen gardens in our community use recycled grey water. These systems vary from a buckets used by poorer families in our community, to more sophisticated systems relying on gravity (most of the homes are off-grid). The system I am installing is a shallow grey water soak-away beneath the planting beds to increase the moisture level in the soil. Regards, - Saffer

Dear Mr. Rawles,
As a native Arizonan and a resident of the city of Tucson for the past 32 years, I just had to send in a response to Colleen’s article about gardening in the desert.

1. Colleen didn't mention that we have a year around growing season in the desert. Plant cool weather crops such as dill, tomatoes, lettuce, and other greens in September for harvest in October through March. In March plant warm weather crops such as peppers, corn, beans and squash for harvest in May through October.
2. The three sisters method of planting works especially well in the desert. The three sisters method is native corn, pole beans, and native squash. The beans replenish the nitrogen pulled from the soil by the corn, the corn provides a stalk for the pole beans to grow upon, and the squash shades the roots to retain moisture.
3. Do not use seeds purchased from Burpee, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. These seeds are hybrids that have been developed to grow back east and will not tolerate the desert climate. Instead go to Native Seed Search, They have spent the past thirty years collecting and propagating heirloom seeds from plants native to the Southwest. They are happy to share their expertise. Another local resource is the Tucson Botanical Garden. Every year they plant a demonstration garden showing the crops and farming methods of the local tribes.
4. Yes, shade is important but planting fruit trees is not the best method. The few orchards located in southern Arizona , such as the apple orchards near Wilcox and the former orange groves in northwest Tucson all depend on a specialized microclimate and heavy ground water irrigation. Instead, plant mesquite trees. They are native, drought resistant, fast growing, and the beans can be harvested and ground into flour.
5. It is better to use brick or cement block instead of lumber to build your raised bed. Most commercially available lumber has been chemically treated to be insect resistant. You do not want those chemicals leaching out of the wood and into the soil. Also, we have termites in the ground in Tucson and they love the lumber.
6. Do not get discouraged if your first attempt at a garden fails. Gardening is a hands on learning experience and even master gardeners are always discovering new things. Now is the time to get started; do not wait until the S has HTF.

Thank you for all your hard work, Mr. Rawles. God bless you and your family. - Julie in Tucson

I got this from an newspaper editor in Alaska: Bear Attack: A Firsthand Account. The editor's comments: "We had one of our readers submit this article today about a mama grizzly bear and her two cubs. It is a great story about man’s best friend helping as well as the importance of having a deterrent like Bear mace.

   o o o

KAF flagged this: Louisiana's New Law Allowing Churchgoers to Pack Heat

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There was an excellent 21-page article in the July issue of National Geographic about the current state of the power grids in the US.

"Prepared is good. Unprepared is for losers. Know it." - American musician and philosopher Ted Nugent, in a July 2010 essay, Self Evident Nuge.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 first things many preppers begin with is starting a backyard garden.  Those of us living in desert regions have additional challenges when beginning this task as water conservation and soil quality are serious issues in desert regions.  It’s tempting and easy to become overly dependent on technology when reclaiming the landscape around you, but with patience, trial and error and a little bit of skill you can use low tech strategies to build good soil and have a productive, water friendly garden.  The first two seasons of backyard gardening in the desert can be frustrating but are crucial.

Your first steps should be picking the location of your garden.  If possible, have some areas in sun and other in at least partial shade.  Even plants listed as preferring full sun may have trouble with the harsh glaring sun in the desert.  If it isn’t possible to have partial shade, this is all right; strategic planting can help to create a partial shade environment in later seasons.  You may also want to keep your garden in a part of your property where it isn’t immediately obvious.  This will help with privacy and operational security (OPSEC), should your garden expand to a level that may attract attention.  Our garden is between the house and the garage and only parts of it are visible from the sides where are neighbors are, but OPSEC is not our primary concern since having a garden is not unusual where we live.

Be open minded about what you will grow in your garden, particularly the first two seasons.  As you improve your soil quality and modify the amount of shade available, you’ll be able to produce a wider variety food as time goes on. 

Begin with raised beds.  These are very easy to make, using logs or lumber, create a square or rectangle of the length you like.  Frame height is a matter of preference, but from my experience, at least six inches is necessary.  My frames are a foot high now, and I’m very pleased with that height.  The raised bed will help to keep your precious topsoil in place and are a huge, inexpensive asset.  Some people recommend lining the ground with plastic or cardboard to separate the soil you are adding from the sand beneath.  From my experience, this is not necessary and, if you use plastic, may limit what you plant later on.  For this reason, I simply put the frames where I want them without lining the ground beneath.  It’s best to run the raised beds horizontally along any slope, rather than vertically, since this will prevent water from pooling at the base. 

Once you’ve laid the frame, it’s time to look at soil.  In desert environments, the soil is obviously sandy and lacks organic material.  The obvious place to begin is with a compost bin or pile.  Commercially available composts are often made to last, but homemade compost piles are also very easy to make.  The critical issue with composting in general is that there is a mix of carbon and nitrate based material.  In the desert, you may have to water your compost to keep it moist depending on your location and how you are composting.  Regardless of this, home made compost will take time and most likely will not impact your soil quality the first season, but this is an excellent resource for future years and will be essential WTSHTF.  I would recommend starting your compost immediately, but keep in mind that it will be a learning process. 

Compost from the store is probably your best option for adding organics if you don’t want to wait for your compost to finish.  Look for options that are inexpensive and organic heavy.  Some commercial products contain a high amount of wood chips.  In sandy soils wood chips do not break down as quickly as would happen in moister, organic rich environments, for this reason, the products that are heavy in wood chips may not be the best choice for your soil.

Once you have your compost or soil from the store, the temptation is to dump it in the raised bed with out mixing in some of the sand.  Sand still does provide nutrition to plants and should be mixed in to the soil so that the soil your first season does contain these minerals.  It is most practical to grow plants that have some tolerance to the region you live in and should you want to expand your garden after TEOTWAWKI you’ll need to be able to do so with minimal time spent waiting for composting to finish.  This will impact the type of plants that are initially grown this first season and in new beds, but that’s fine.  Many usable plants can be grown in this mixed soil.

Grow plants from seed, starting appropriate plants indoors.  Growing from seed is important for practice, it is cheaper and allows you to ensure that the plants are appropriately hardened before you plant them in the garden.  Plants started in the store are in a more artificial and protected environment than you will likely have in your garden and are less likely to survive.

 Pick a variety of plants but focus on high quality foods and medicinal herbs.  A few herbs for seasoning are nice, but you are going to spend your precious resource, water, on this garden so planting food that will nourish your family and keep your stomachs full should be the focus of your garden.  Looking for plants that seem to grow well locally can be a good place to start.  Tubers, tomatoes and peppers often grow well in the particular environment where my family lives, so I made sure to include these plants in my garden, but every year I try to introduce a new type of plant. 

Being aware of water needs extends to the type of plants you select.  To get a balanced variety of food, you’ll probably need to include plants with moderate water requirements, but plants that need constantly moist soil may not be the best choice.

A week or so before you move your plants outside to the garden, you should begin to harden the plants.  In areas with harsh sun or high winds, hardening the plants will make them much more likely to survive.  All that is entailed in hardening plants is leaving them outside for increasingly long amounts of time.  This strengthens the stalk and leaves. 

Once you’ve planted, it’s time to see what is working and what isn’t.  At this point, many gardeners run soil tests to see what is needed to improve the quality of their soil.  This is fine and commercial additives are available, but most likely will not be WTSHTF.  For this reason, I don’t use commercial additives; I rotate what I am growing in different years, a microscopic version of traditional crop rotations.  We’ve also gotten used to eating what grows well in our garden.  My family believes that if we adapt to our environment now, this will pay off later.

A problem that we have is lack of shade.  The first season is a great time to look at long-term strategies for shade.  There are products you can buy or make to create shade, but my favorite method is to plant fruit trees or bushes to create future areas of shade in the garden.  The leaves can also be used in the compost to help create better soil in the future.  This way, we are getting as much benefit as possible.  These trees may also help prevent topsoil loss, but in our backyard garden, the raised beds are far more effective.  Once you have established areas of partial sun, the variety of plants that will grow well in your garden will be expanded.

When picking fruit trees, it’s important to look at whether or not the tree is self-germinating.  In general apple and plum trees tend to require a germination partner.  Look at the specific type you are planting though, because this is a general rule, not a hard and fast rule.  This is not a problem, it’s just very important to ensure that you provide more than one plant if that is what you choose to use. 

Water is a major issue in your garden.  It might not seem like one now, but even if you have a well, it’s best to look at ways to conserve and utilize the water resources you have available.  The easiest way to start is with a rainwater-collecting barrel.  If you have gutters, it’s very easy to install a commercially available rain barrel or make your own.  This is not a sufficient water supply for your family should there be a crunch and you can’t consider this water to be potable without filtration or treatment, but it is a good step for your first season.  Eventually, especially if you have the space and are living at your retreat, you may want to look at creating a more expansive system.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to supplement with foods that grow outside your garden.  We have a small acreage where cacti flourish.  Prickly pear cacti actually produce quite a bit of usable food.  The pads, called nopales, can be harvested and the spines stripped with a knife.  Harvest the youngest pads, particularly in springtime or early summer and cut them up after stripping the spines.  Boil the chunks (called nopalitos) for about ten minutes and drain the water.  Grocery stores in parts of the southwest sell nopales, so you can try it already de-spined before you go through the effort of harvesting them yourself.  Nopales are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and may help regulate blood sugar.  Some people eat nopales raw, but I find the sticky texture very unappealing, which is why I recommend boiling them first.  After boiling and draining the water, they taste a little bit like green beans.  Though we aren’t from this region originally they’ve become a mainstay in my family’s diet.  Prickly pear also produce an edible fruit that is high in vitamin C and tastes a little bit like kiwi.  It’s always easiest to use what is readily available and requires no sweat equity or additional watering on your part. 

Mr. Rawles:
I have been reading your site for over two years now and have two of your books. I have a growing concern on what is going on in the world and working to prepare myself and my family for what the future may or may not bring us. I eagerly await the next day postings of SurvivalBlog each and everyday and look forward to what your other readers bring to the table. I took great interest in "How Long Can You Tread Water?" by Tom S. but more in the initial response. I am sure there will be more responses such as Andrew B. and I want to write about what I see as a growing trend from the readers on your site. A lot of readers, regardless of preparedness level, seem to disregard the greatest of battlefield multipliers, Murphy’s Law. Readers need to be careful that they are not planning for just for the optimal situation. You could have a three year food supply and the one hundred year flood could wipe out your crop and flood your stores forcing you to become a refugee. Would you loot to stay alive then or watch your family starve?

I read this site and people responses to controversial letters such as the current one and the one a while back about the guy planning on being a potential ‘good guy looter’. It seems to me, from people responses, that a lot of readers are not planning for contingencies. I want to talk about Tom’s article. I agree with most of what was said except the use of cars after an EMP attack. However what he said about gangs is dead on.

Gangs are experts with a capital E in stealth, deception, human manipulation and brutality. They are very organized and are lead by some of the smartest and most charismatic people around. As a former military man I can tell you the military has a huge gang problem. From the infantry barracks to the Los Angeles class nuclear submarine. Currently with the two wars going on the Crips and Bloods, Latin Kings and every other gang has been signing its members up for the military so in two years they can bring back combat and medical experience and infantry tactics to the gangs. This was covered in depth on the History channels Gangland. Gangs are not to mess with despite what some readers may think. Plus they have been empowered over the years by our week justice system that actually enables these vermin. I spent six weeks in New Orleans after Katrina. Any one of these punks would not have hesitated to walk up to one of my soldiers and shoot him in the face. They have no regard for human life.

After the SHTF gangs or some other body (rogue police perhaps) may or may not take over the cities. After they use all the resources up they will expand out but they will start to weigh effort versus resources versus payoff. How many losses can they take to rival gangs survivalists, army units, functioning police etc before they lose power or influence. Eventually they will expand out until their supplies collapse, they can’t loot anymore or start taking casualties due to starvation or lead poisoning.

As for attacking a Homestead or a retreat your best defense is to go undetected. What will it take to go undetected? At what price? You may think your farm house in the middle of nowhere is safe and defensible. Is it defensible against a man sneaking around at night with a can of gas and a match? A man who is willing to sift through the burnt embers to find a few cans of Spam that survived the blaze. That’s all it would take to destroy a retreat. A match and a can of gas. Maybe a distraction or two. Why take the structure intact when I can destroy it and search the rubble. I don’t need a platoon or a company of thugs. Maybe the thugs will just light the field on fire or the barn with the livestock. You got a rifle and 30 cartridges? The thugs will take your retreat with 31 guys with knives.

The world will be very brutal and you will be asking yourself to do things unfathomable. Will you be willing to kill to not be discovered? Killing men, women and children? Is your family worth more? Raiders or government military might question the family you let go during a recon patrol next thing you know you have a battalion at your door step. That may be the reality we would be living in. Neighbors killing neighbors just for OPSEC alone. Who knows? It will be hell on earth. As we have seen in the past it doesn't take much to turn decent people into monsters.

BTW you railhead tracked vehicles to save on fuel and keeping the tracked vehicles from tearing up the roads. If a Bradley or Abrams turned out on a highway, the pavement would be ruined. Those stationed in Germany in the 1980s and 1090s will remember REFORGER exercises. We took tanks hundreds of miles cross country with only minimal break downs. Usually we still had 95% of our firepower by the end of the exercise. If we didn’t there was hell to pay. They are American made and the best. Regards, - Andrew S.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to respond to Andrew B.'s recent post about the excellent EMP article (How long can you tread water?) Andrew stated "If fuel is still being produced then law enforcement will operate and food production will not be halted and the point is moot." I am a police officer in a very large department in the northeast. I know for a fact that our elaborate communications system and our fleet of emergency vehicle's are not protected from an EMP attack. We would no longer be an effective service to our citizens in the event that we lost these crucial assets. Many of my co workers visit this site on a daily basis. We have had several casual conversations at work on how we would respond to a large scale/long term catastrophic event such as an EMP attack. We have all come to the conclusion that we would eventually have to return home to our families in order to protect them from the violence that would exist during the aftermath. I highly doubt that many U.S. law enforcement agencies have any plans in place to handle a large scale event of this magnitude. My advice to you all is to pray for the best and prepare for the worst. - M.A.

A couple of points bothered me about Doug W.'s plan to G.O.O.D. with his boat. First, his idea about using logs to keep out intruders in his retreat anchorage has one possible flaw. According to Murphy's Laws of Combat, anyplace too difficult to get into will be too difficult to get out of! Next, I am no sailor, but I've been around the ocean and I've seen some horrific storms. I saw no plan for riding out bad weather, unless these bays are very sheltered. Next is that unless tied up close to shore, sitting at anchor in the middle of a bay puts you in sight of anyone who stumbles upon that same stretch of water, whether on land or by sea. Also, is that especially during calm water periods, water is a notorious reflector of sound, so sound discipline and light discipline is an absolute must. I saw no mention of camouflage or concealment.

The biggest drawback to his plan I see is that the limited number of people in his group would put a tremendous strain on all to keep watch, do necessary daily chores, plus any emergency is best handled with more eyes/hands available.

A couple of suggestions too - one would be to put some caches of food/ammo/fuel/medical supplies in these areas he plans to retreat to. If his bays are as remote as he thinks they are, then any cache should remain available and undisturbed. Another would be a small library on some of the natural resources that could be harvested to increase/supplement diet, such as kelp, shellfish, and land-based flora/fauna in that region. Plus the tools to harvest those resources.

All in all though, I am sure that Doug has a huge step up on most of the web fingered/toed northwesterners.

Sincerely, - Greg in Arizona

"These are times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." - Thomas Paine, from his essay “The Crisis”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 on a 42 foot boat and have no access to a land-based defensible position here in the northern part of Puget Sound. In order to prepare my wife and me for the coming collapse we have had to adapt and innovate our thinking a little bit. Because we live on the water between two major population centers we believe that when the stuff hits the fan people will not be viewing an escape by water as a viable alternative they will be looking for land with house and food so we may be under the radar for awhile which will allow us to sneak away quietly and find a quiet little bay up coast to hunker down in and prepare a defensive positions. With some sustainability via the ocean and the game that we will be able to shoot in those isolated bays and coves.

Most people that we talk to have no idea how to run a boat let alone know how to handle all the mechanical and marine functions. The areas we are looking to retreat are only accessible by water or plane and the bays we will be in you could not land a plane in. So our only real threats will be pirates or other boaters. Up and down the coast are various small villages that will be abandoned because they are not sustainable without food and fuel brought in on regular basis some of these villages may be a place of refuge for us if we need to but I envision us in an uninhabited bay or cove. Once we get to the bay we fell a bunch of trees and drag them to mouth of the bays to act as a barrier for any boats that try to come. If we do have to abandon the boat, the bays that I am thinking of have trails and old abandoned cabins in them so we can make our final escape to there. Failing that, I can launch my 12’ hard bottom inflatable with outboard engine and do some hit and run tactics or use it as another escape platform.

My main concern will be the ongoing procurement of diesel fuel if we need to move a lot. It would be ideal to find some other like-minded boaters and set up a defensive community there. We have set the boat up with 3 redundant electrical sources 1) wind generator for our 8-6 volt golf cart bats with an 8 d for start, 2) on one the main diesel engines we have a 150 amp Zena alternator that can double as a welder and charging system for the boat on the other 120 hp Ford Lehman we have a 65 amp heavy duty for running the boat and keeping the 8 [six- volt] golf cart batteries charged up 3) We also have a small 3,500watt diesel generator that can back up any of the electrical system. All of these systems are tied to our Heart 2500 watt inverter system.

We have stored on the boat 180 day supply of food including various buckets of rice, wheat, flour and MRes. I have a good supply of fishing, crabbing and prawn equipment being an ex-fishing guide I envision bartering local seafood for various other needs. On board I have a set of diving gear in case in need to do some under water boat disabling, or do repairs on our own boat. The boat has the ability to carry 250 gals of fresh water and with the number creeks and rivers that dump into the west coast water will not be a problem. Septic will not be a problem. We will have a small desalination unit that will feed into the main tank at about 2-3 gal an hour which give us the water we need to sustain ourselves. For showering and hot water we have a passive sun heat hot water system as well as a heat exchanger on the main engines that will give all the hot water we need when the mains are running. The boat also has four sources of heat 1) the main engines have the heat exchanger tied into a hot water hydronic s system throughout the boat with 12 volt pumps that transfer the hot water heat trough out the boat. 2) A Hurricane hot water diesel furnace system that is tied into the 12 pumps and fan system through red dot heater exchanges. 3) In all of the rooms we have 1,500 watt cadet style wall mount heaters that can run off the 8-6 volt batteries. 4) We have a portable Little Buddy propane heater for back up in the event of failure with 3-20 lb propane bottles. We also carry 450 gallons of diesel with a burn rate of 1.5/gal hr per engine that we will use for G.O.O.D. time having lived on the coast my whole life and explored most of it there are number bays that one could hide in for a long time until things blows over.

For defense of the boat I have a 12 gauge riotgun with 200 rounds of slugs and 00 buck shot. A Mini-14 with folding stock .223(with 2,000 rounds), 18 shot Remington .22 with 30 boxes of high velocity long rifle, Jennings .22 pistol and stainless .38 with 150 rounds. I am planning to buy a dummy .50 caliber to (covered up while at port of course so as not freak out the locals) mounted on the front of the boat to give that "don't mess with me" look. The final on board defense with be quart size canisters of military grade OC, and of course our whacked out pit-bull terrier.

Our electronics package include the various things you need for maritime navigation 24 mile radar that can be set to provide a defensive perimeter alarm out to 1 mile, 2 Raymarine depth sounders in both the upper fully enclosed station as well as the lower station, a loud hailer for the broadcast of "don't mess with me" warnings, One fully rotational 2 million power spot flood light, 2 heavy duty anchors with lots of chain and floating line for the defensive perimeter around the boat good for prop fouling plus we have redundancy in our VHF radios as well as a short wave system, 4 - 12 gauge flare guns for signaling [and perhaps some fear inducing], auto pilot, video camera system with four outside video cameras that can monitor the boat at all times , paper charts of the West Coast as well as 3 GPS systems (two hand held and one mounted), two FRS radios, I hand held VHF radio, 2 portable 1 million candle power spot lights, a yagi 16 db directional antenna that allows me to dial into any broadcasters that are still operating along the west coast.

On the boat I have a full complement of spare parts and a large tool chest I can do almost all repairs short of rebuilding the engines. I took a diesel engine course at the local community college just to give me a little more info on the mechanics of diesel engines. My wife works at the hospital and has a good working knowledge the medical techniques and supplies. My son is in law enforcement and has assured me when the time comes with his SWAT training and equipment we will be well protected. The thing that I am concerned about the most is how will I know when to make the break and move on what will be the signs that say that is time to go and what do I do with those who don’t believe and hence have to leave behind that will be very difficult. God has assured us he will be us guiding us and directing us until he comes again. That is my only comfort.

JWR Replies: There are a few weaknesses in your plan, but you will certainly be light years ahead of the average urbanites and suburbanites of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan region who will be geographically isolated in the event of a major disaster. The weaknesses that immediately come to mind are:

1.) Limited food storage. You should pre-position as much storage food as possible onboard your boat. Once your food runs out, your options will be very limited. Although they are illegal in most jurisdictions for private fishing in fresh water, I suggest that you lay in a supply of gill nets, for the event of a true "worst case" where fishing regulations become meaningless.

2.) Limited fuel storage. Once your fuel runs out, your options will be very limited. Within the weight and balance constraints of your boat, increase your diesel fuel storage as much as possible.

3.) Limited water storage. You need to get some dedicated equipment for collecting, hauling, and filtering fresh water from shore. You should buy at least 8 heavy duty five-gallon plastic water cans or alternatively some five-gallon HDPE plastic buckets with spout lids. (See what fits best in your inflatable.) It is also important to procure a water filter to treat that water. In the long term, as your budget allows, you should also get a backup manually-pumped reverse osmosis Water Maker, to provide redundancy in turning sea water into fresh water.

4.) No photovoltaic power generation capacity. Once you are out of diesel to make power, your wind generator will be insufficient to keep your battery bank charged.

5.) The 1,500 watt electric wall heaters that you mentioned are designed for use on shore power, or when you have your engine running. Without your engine alternator or your auxiliary generator charging the system, running one of those heaters will drain your battery bank in just a couple of hours. Here again, once you are out of diesel fuel to make power, those electric heaters will be useless.

6.) The "abandoned cabins" that you mentioned are undoubtedly located on land that already has an owner, and odds are that someone will be there, in hard times. In the event of a total collapse, you might have the chance to build a cabin on public land out on an island. So bring a barrel of timber spikes and nails, several axes, several saws, a shingle froe, a hardwood mallet ("maul"), an adze, a draw knife, and assorted carpentry tools. And of course bring a good book on building wilderness cabins, such as Beard's classic book: "Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties".

7.) You should thoroughly scout out primary, secondary, and tertiary harbor locations, preferably in the American San Juan islands. Since you own guns that are "no-nos" in Canada, that rules out the Canadian San Juan islands. That is unfortunate, since there is a much larger selection of great little uninhabited islands up there. (I visited several, when I spent a summer on and around Cortes Island.)

8.) You will probably be safer at night anchored "out in the channel" than you would be in the confined waters of a small bay or river inlet. I'd recommend adding a .308 or .30-06 stainless steel bolt action rifle to give you better range in keeping pirates at a safe stand-off distance. (As they say, "Keep your friends close and your enemies at 9X distance.") Buy several hundred rounds of ball or AP ammo, and at least 60 rounds of tracer ammo, for putting the fear of God into nocturnal pirates.

9.) In the event of a long term disaster, a diesel engine coastal cruiser carrying a gas-engine inflatable won't be tenable. A true blue water sailboat with lots of PV panels and carrying a couple of sea kayaks would be more appropriate.

Mr. Rawles:
Regarding the recently-posted article on EMP, while some of what Tom S. says is true, some of it is just plain silly. The results of a nation-wide EMP pulse would be catastrophic to be sure. Banking, communications, even food supply
would in fact be disrupted. But to suggest that well organized gangs with armored vehicles would be systematically destroying farm homes and lake cabins is simply preposterous. Please consider:

1. If fuel production is halted, no one is going to get further than one tank of gas outside the city limits.

2. If fuel is still being produced then law enforcement will operate and food production will not be halted and the point is moot.

3. There is a reason the US Army moves its [tracked] vehicles by rail. They can’t drive more than a few miles without the things breaking down.

4. Existing gangs are mostly composed of ignorant teenagers who, while fiercely loyal and ruthlessly violent, do not possess the foresight or the organizational capability to run a sustained campaign based on
foraging. While the older, more structural gangs (such as the Hell’s Angels) might be able to pull it off, once the gas runs out they, like the inner-city Crips and Bloods, will be on foot.

5. In the event of a power outage, jail cells will be locked shut, not open.

6. In order to run a successful raid on even an isolated farm house takes meticulous planning, thorough preparation, lots of supplies, and the ability to perform small unit infantry tactics. If you’ve ever done it, you know that even in the best of circumstances, it is extraordinarily difficult, because it is physically demanding and takes real discipline.

7. The idea that the neighborhood gang is suddenly going to turn into a disciplined force, operating with military precision out to get Tom S. is simply delusional

A fundamental tenet of preparedness is cool headed planning. We can not afford wide-eyed optimistic sentimentalism. However we do not need wild-eyed hysteria, either.

Respectfully, - Andrew B.

Hello James Wesley,
I have a couple of questions for Matt M. My knowledge of diesel engines is limited. However, I am researching for my own G.O.O.D. vehicle as well, and following your advice on having vehicles with different fuel systems I am concentrating diesel light trucks for my requirement. Matt describes taking an "expedition" route instead of regular roads under certain conditions. He also states that with his extra fuel tank that he has a "2,000 mile range".

My questions to Matt are:

Is the fuel range based on "expedition" conditions, or road conditions?

Does diesel mileage vary with the season? In a past life (living in a northern state) I owned a gasoline engine 1977 GMC 4x4 Suburban that got 14 mpg summer and 7 mpg winter. I am wondering if diesel engines are affected by the cold as well.

Thanks, - Chris G. in Wisconsin


I just wanted to mention a couple practical points in consideration of Matt M’s excellent G.O.O.D. Vehicle article.

He mentions a 98 gallon auxiliary tank, and then a 2,000 mile range for his 99 Ford F350. 2,000 miles / 98 gallons is assuming a 20 mpg average for those miles and I believe that is overly optimistic for “off-road” expedition type travel. If most of the travel is 45 mph, dirt road type driving I think he could easily make that type of mpg. But for true off-road, fields, tight mountain trails, power and gas line right-of-ways, I am guessing he will see speeds of 5-10 mph at best.

In my experience, your mpg drops off considerably at those speeds and it is quite possible he will see single digit mph on his 400 mile trek. The best thing to confirm your actual off-road mileage is to take a trip and measure your actual mileage in those conditions!

Another couple of tools that he should consider, is bolt cutters, chainsaw(s), or better yet, old fashioned 1-2 man bow saws for a more stealthy solution to downed trees, etc blocking the path. Another valuable off-road tool is the Hi-Lift jack, mine is cast iron, 60” model that can also serve as a “winch” and many other uses!

If you look at Google Earth, you can actually print out some excellent maps of your own personal off-road G.O.O.D. egress! Look for power lines, gas lines, etc that cut through property that is not normally traveled by vehicles!! HOWEVER, it is highly illegal to actually scout ahead and drive down those trails as they are mostly private property that the utility companies have access to.

Yes, you will see many off-road type vehicles illegally traveling down them now, but I can assure you a hefty fine / and unwanted attention from the local PD is a possibility!! Not to mention irate land owners. But, if the SHTF, well I suspect this will be a GOOD backup plan.

I mention bolt/wire cutters for crossing fences, et cetera off-road in the above situation. You may want to consider a “good neighbor” system where you actually repair the damage you are doing. They will be even more upset with you if their livestock wanders out your new G.O.O.D. hole that you cut in their fence.

Matt needs to be sure that he had identified every sensor in the vehicle and that he knows how to replace them and can do it himself with the tools he is likely to have on hand. There are a lot of sensors in vehicles today and
some are very difficult to get to. I am not familiar with his Fords, but I have seen Chevies where you need to lift the engine to reach a crankshaft sensor and the vehicle was DOA without it operational. - Thomas G.

Mr. Editor:
I believe the 1999 Ford F350 is protected by Ford's "Securi-lock" or PATS (Passive Anti-Theft System). The key is interrogated by a transponder in the column when the ignition switch is turned to the "Start" position. If that key's code is not programmed in to one of 8 or more slots (2 master, 6+ authorized users), the vehicle will turn over, but won't start. This will cause the "Theft" light on the dash to flash as the only indication as to why there is a "no-start". To compound the issue, the PATS module can be part of the PCM, the dash cluster or a separate box.

Ideally, the PCM, IDM, etc. will be installed and tested BEFORE they are packed away, but I expect the PCM could be a major issue. If the PCM has built in PATS, only the keys that the vehicle was purchased with (or programmed for, more on that later) will work.

If the PATS is in the dash or a separate module, you will be able to swap out the PCM with little or no issue, but now you have a bigger problem - EMP and the PATS module - secure a replacement (wherever it may be) and follow the remaining steps.

If the vehicle has the PATS built in to the PCM, hopefully it is a version that allows for user programming needing only one or more master keys. If this is the case, the Ford Service Manual (or any Internet Search Engine) will produce the procedures to program new keys for the original PCM.

Should you be lucky enough to have the original keys that came WITH the PCM, you can purchase keys that can be cut to match your column WITHOUT the transponder, and attach the old key head to the new key with a small ring or zip-tie. This will keep the "chip" close enough to the sensor "halo" to read during programming. You can use these make-shift master keys to program the PROPER keys for daily use. While not ideal, it is cheap!

If you do not have the original keys for the PCM, it will need to be reflashed by a Ford Service Center for the new keys (2 masters).
Have the technician erase all keys and start from scratch, this will eliminate the possibility that someone (previous owner, other dealer) has a back up or "cloned" key. If you do the "self-service" procedures in the Service Manual, it will force the "Theft" light to flash once for each key programmed - if there are more flashes than you have keys, someone has programmed a spare key! There is no way to delete additional keys without the specific dealer tools.

I recommend testing all keys to ensure they unlock all doors/compartments, and unlock the steering column BEFORE flashing. Any local locksmith can cut the keys, but you need to follow the manufacturers instructions for programming.

For each vehicle/PCM combination, I recommend 4 keys.
- Two Master keys: which get zip-tied together and stored in a safe place, marked with the PCM and vehicle info (for uses a 4 digit code to ID the PCM, like BAE2, XBT1, etc). This way, if either of the regular use keys are lost, the masters can be used to program additional keys.
- Two additional keys become the everyday keys and these can be replaced as needed for little cost.

If you do not have the "Master" keys for a vehicle (or spare PCM), this is a "dealer only" procedure that is bound to cost hundreds of dollars.
Remember, never use the master keys for everyday use, not only can someone use them to add a key to your vehicle, but if the key is lost, stolen or broken, it will make the repair dealer only instead of DITY.
Hope this helps.
Thanks, - DZF

R.J. in Idaho told me that he had an excellent germination rate with his Medicinal Herb Garden Collection from Everlasting Seeds, despite what he termed a "difficult" gardening season with "never-ending" Spring rains. I can't think of a more important thing to keep on hand (and to practice using) that non-hybrid seeds. Stock up!

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M.O.B. sent this: Seized Drug Submarine is Huge Leap for Smugglers

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I heard about a new blog with an emphasis on personal security: Security Whip. Check it out.

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Jason H. flagged this from Popular Mechanics: Can Your Padlock Withstand a Bullet?

"All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago. " - Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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.

In considering my Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), plans, I decided to focus on determining the proper vehicle to acquire. My first and biggest concern is the fact that I have a large family. While our retreat is little more than a camp site at this time, I have decided to focus this article on the trip there rather than the buildup of the actual retreat. I am not a trained mechanic but I have worked on cars throughout my 22 years of car ownership. I am by no means an expert at anything survival related. I am a student of survival and this is what I have learned in the last year in my search for the best way to get my family from here to there. I trust the survival blog readers to grade me appropriately and correct my lack of knowledge.

My vehicle requirements are the following:

Seating Capacity for Nine

Counting my wife, myself, my two boys and my five girls we have nine people to plan for. The youngest is seven and the oldest is 17. Obviously, this makes things both expensive and complicated. With a family of nine bugging out on foot or on bicycles is much less likely to succeed than it would be for two adults.

Expedition Capable

Our retreat is over 400 miles from our home. I think it will be very likely that the highways between these locations will become parking lots, or worse, they will have barricades and roadblocks used for stealing from travelers. I began to look at alternative routes from the standard highway paths that I normally use. I explored frontage roads, city streets, service roads and back roads. I also asked the question, “Why not go off road?” In my search, I have learned that the off-road community has been doing this for years. They call it going on an “Expedition”. Not the Ford SUV of the same name but a combination of camping by night and driving off road trails by day. They travel without roads and this is exactly what I wanted to learn. My local off-road club has scheduled expeditions. These created the perfect experimental environment for me to figure out off-road routes to our retreat and the tools I need to execute my plan. This means that I must have a proper 4-wheel drive vehicle modified to drive off road. I will also need many good paper topographical maps of the areas that I may have to drive through.

It is important to understand that the off road community has categorized dirt trails. They range in difficulty by class from one to nine; with one being a well cared for dirt road nine being cliffs and ridiculously difficult terrain to cross. I think it is reasonable to target my vehicle with a class two/three as a requirement.

EMP Resistance

As I searched for the correct vehicle, I made sure I was ready for one or more Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) events that could affect my initial trip and any traveling I may need to do afterwards. This survival blog has helped me understand just how real this threat is. The main concerns along this line of thinking are threefold.

The Carrington event of 1859 – Activity on the sun caused an EMP-like event here on earth. The current solar activity is expected to last the next few years and could produce another similar event. Now that our society is much more reliant on unshielded electronics, it would be far more catastrophic.

The EMP effect of a nuclear weapon – If a nuclear blast occurs miles in the sky it will have a similar affect upon our unshielded electronics.

A bad guy makes an EMP weapon – If a terrorist type or some other bad guy builds an EMP bomb and sets it off from a balloon or a plane over my relative part of the planet, then I will have to deal with the same consequences as the two items above.

This requirement places a difficult task in my path. I must obtain sufficient vehicles for my family and supplies and it must be either a hardened newer model or one that predates electronics. Therefore, if possible, it must be pre-1980 to be sure it does not rely on electronics to function.

To add further complication it is also worth noting that depending upon the strength of an EMP any magnetic sensor or solenoid may also be damaged should such an event happen. This means that even if I had selected an older model I would have to keep a spare solenoid in a shielded container and the right tools and knowledge to replace it in any location.

Fuel Storage Solution

My retreat is over 400 miles away from my house. This means that I need extra fuel or a fuel depot along the route cached some place safe. I am assuming that buying fuel along the way will not be possible.

Bullet Resistance

I do not know if things will be bad enough for people to start shooting at us but if they are, I need to be ready for that as well. Protection for the family, the fuel and the engine would be ideal.


I cannot have my vehicle stick out like a sore thumb while in the wilderness. The vehicle should be an appropriate color for the terrain I expect to drive through. I also do not want to stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of suburbia or in the city either so I need a solution for both.

My Solutions are as follows:

For my solution, I did not find any pre 1980 four-wheel drive vehicles for sale so I selected two identical 1999 Ford F-350 crew cab diesel one-ton pickup trucks that have been modified to address the requirements listed above. This will allow a maximum of six people plus their gear per vehicle and since I have nine people this allows me to have room for more gear in the cab since I only need four or five in each cab. I am also not thrilled with the turning radius of this truck but it appears I will have to make due. Having two identical vehicles allows for interchangeable parts. If one of the vehicles tips over or gets stuck, the other can assist with the recovery.

1. Transfer flow 98-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. This allows me to travel more than 2,000 miles without stopping for fuel.

2. Four inch lift with enhanced shocks. This lift and shocks allow for bigger tires and a reasonably low center of gravity for optimal off road capability. Keeping the truck lower than four inches would provide a lower center of gravity but does not allow for off road clearances. Lifting the truck further displaces the center of gravity and provides little real gains in ground clearance.

3. Fender cutout and flares for the oversized tires.

4. Six 37 inch tires, Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar. Two of the tires are left as spares. These are very tough tires for off road and are very resistant to puncture.

5. Six Rock monster bead lock rims. These are military grade rims. With these rims the tires can be inflated as little as 8psi and will hold the tires onto the rims. This is great for getting enhanced traction on dirt, rocks and sand.

6. Portable tool kit and JWR's standard list of items for the G.O.O.D. vehicle.

7. Backup IDM – injector drive module wrapped in anti-static bags and aluminum foil for EMP hardening.

8. Backup PCM – Power train control module wrapped in anti-static bags and aluminum foil for EMP hardening.

9. Backup Camshaft sensor wrapped in anti-static bags and aluminum foil for EMP hardening.

10. Backup turbine shaft speed sensor wrapped in anti-static bags and aluminum foil for EMP hardening.

11. Two bed spare tire mounts to hold the tires on their side and minimize bed space used

12. Camouflage vinyl wrap – This allows for removable camouflage so that I can keep the typical civilian look in the city and become as invisible as possible in the wilderness.

13. Ten rolls of electrical tape – This allows me to cover all of my reflective trim on the vehicle that the vinyl wrap does not cover. From bumpers to rims the reflective metals become black.

14. Bullet resistant boxes – These are mounted to protect the original and auxiliary fuel tanks. I have used 3/16 steel plates welded together. Although I do not think they are bulletproof they still provide some protection without adding to much weight to the truck.

15. Bullet resistant helmets and plate carriers for each family member - With so many kids it seems I am constantly trying to balance fitting this gear on the kids while trying not to torture them to much with it. This solution is not really strictly vehicle related, but it is the vehicle solution that happens to work when you are outside the vehicle as well.

16. A Warn winch with 20,000 lb. capacity - If the truck is tipped over then it should be able to self-recover with a little luck. The rule for winches is to get one that is rated with at least twice the capacity as the weight of the vehicle.

17. A 40mm ammo can - to store all of my aluminum-foil wrapped [Faraday-protected electronic] backup parts.

18. Stock tools upgrade - upgrading the stock tire changing tools by replacing them with a tire iron and hydraulic jack gives me a lot more confidence. Adding a torque wrench is also required with the proper size socket for your lug nuts.

I believe this solution satisfies most of the requirements. Now the plan will be for me to determine how many different off-road routes I can map out on my topographical map. I will do this by going on expeditions between my home and retreat before I actually need to. I have to work on training all of the driving age family members to drive off the road including knowing appropriate tire pressures and maneuvering. I still have not come up with a good solution for bullet resistance on the engine and I am not sure to what extent I should plate the under carriage. Is the threat of an IED a realistic one in our country?

Ford has made it very easy to buy the dealer shop manuals, both in electronic and hard copy. I have purchased the three volumes in hard copy. I think they are a great investment.

My opinion is that this is the quickest most cost effective solution to my requirements. I look forward to hearing what the readers have to say.

Good luck everyone and may God be with us all.

I logged a computer help desk report today after the auto update system deleted my sound card. I was annoyed with my computer and irritated when the India based call-taker misheard what I was saying. He apologised saying he had been on at work very early today.

We continued the call and I casually asked what time he had started in the morning. He went on to tell me they had stayed overnight in the office due to a national strike in India. He had started at 5am, it was now 1pm and although he was due to finish at 6pm they didn’t know who was going to cover the night shift (they support our company 24/7) so may have to continue past the 13 hours he was already due to work.

Whilst I was waiting for my PC to reboot I asked more about the strike. It turns out that the government has increased fuel prices by a further 3.5 rupees ($0.07) per litre for the third time this year. There is a national strike in protest as the cost of food and public transport will also increase.

Our colleagues in India did not go home last night and have limited food today since there is no vehicle movement (even private cars are not allowed to travel), therefore there is no food being transported into the city. They do not know whether they have to save what food they do have for tomorrow as well.

There are two offices in India supporting our company, the second one is closed today, therefore our colleagues in Bangalore are covering the work of two offices whilst tired and probably pretty concerned .

Just as we were finishing up he heard an announcement internally to ask that anyone with the car in front of the office should move it around the back so the rioters did not know that the office was still functioning.

Whilst you may be annoyed that your computer is not working please give your best consideration to the men and women who are doing their best to support you in very trying circumstances. I would not have even known the pressure he was under if I had not asked.

So, a rise of 30 cents a gallon causes food shortages and rioting..... My thoughts and prayers are with my company colleagues that this problem may pass peacefully.

Kind regards, - Ian in Nanny State Britannia

David in Israel wrote to say that he liked a podcast on NPR about the Starfish Prime nuclear tests.

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R.P.B. mentioned a brief video about the new "Fortified" home building standard.

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F.J. suggested this piece over at Lifehacker: Convert a Regular Bicycle into a Cargo Bike for Gas-Free Grocery Hauling

Smokin' my pipe on the mountings, sniffin' the mornin' cool,
I climbs in my old brown gaiters along o' my old brown mule.
The monkey can say what our road was -- the wild-goat 'e knows where we passed.
Stand easy, you long-eared old darlin's! Out drag-ropes! With shrapnel! Hold fast -- 'Tss! 'Tss!
For you all love the screw-guns -- the screw-guns they all love you!
So when we take tea with a few guns, o' course you will know what to do -- hoo! hoo!
Jest send in your Chief an' surrender -- it's worse if you fights or you runs:
You may hide in the caves, they'll be only your graves, but you can't get away from the guns! - Rudyard Kipling, The Screw Guns

Monday, July 5, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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.

Noah may have questioned God about why he should build such a big boat.  To quote the comedian Bill Cosby, God might have asked: “How long can you tread water?”

In the event of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) burst 250 miles above Kansas or a super solar flare, the loss of the electrical grid would stop almost all food production and importation in the USA.  Some estimate there is, at any given time, more than 1,000 pounds per capita of food in consumable form available in the USA.  Unfortunately, it is very poorly distributed and will not be available to the populace in a “Grid Down” scenario.  So the question is then, if you personally have not stored at least a three years supply of food per person (and, no, a one year supply just won’t due), “How long can you live on a zero calorie diet”?   

Iran, as this is written, has a small satellite circling the earth 250 miles high.  They are building a satellite launching facility for larger rockets.  They have launched missiles from a barge in the Caspian Sea and detonated them at high altitude.  They have tested a sophisticated two point detonation method which allows a much smaller nuclear bomb (reduced payload on a rocket).  They have enough material right now, if further enriched, to build at least 2 nuclear bombs (although too heavy for missiles).  North Korea has enough plutonium for at least 10 bombs, they are making more every day, and they successfully detonated a small nuclear bomb (Hiroshima size) in 2009.  As well, they are developing missile and space technology.  Chavez just met with Putin to obtain nuclear energy and space technology.  Pakistan’s nuclear guru A.Q. Khan is known to have shared nuclear bomb technology throughout the Middle East.  According to Times Now, “Already Pakistan has 60 nuclear warheads, and now with two new plutonium reactors nearing completion in Khusab, its weapons grade plutonium production will jump seven-fold, according to latest figures released by Swedish institute SIPRI.”

North Korea needs money, a lot of money.  Plutonium is one of the most precious commodities on the planet.  Will Pakistan or Korea sell their plutonium or complete nukes?  It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.  Syria has transferred Scud [SS-1] missiles to the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah (Jihadi terrorists).  North Korea is suspected of transferring nuclear technology to Syria, Iran and Myanmar (Burma).  In short, the nuclear genie is out of the bottle and it is all over the globe.  We have simply lost control and now it is only a matter of when, not if.

A super solar storm can do the same thing as an EMP and would have done so in 1859 and 1921 if our electronics had the sensitivity that they do today.  As reported by NASA Science  in May, 2010, “The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms….”  Such an event just recently took place.  On April 19, 2010, Science Daily Online observed one of the most massive solar eruptions in years. Earth was not in the line of fire ... this time.”    Again, it is only a matter of time.

A massive cyber attack to the Grid:  "The severity of what we're seeing is off the charts," said Tom Kellermann, vice president of security awareness for Core Security Technologies and a member of the Commission on Cyber Security that is advising President Obama. "Most of the critical infrastructure in the U.S. has been penetrated to the root by state actors." Joe Weiss, a security expert and managing partner of Applied Control Solutions, who has testified before Congress about such threats, said “The industry has failed to address these vulnerabilities.” He said “The long-term ramifications of such an attack would be severe: If electrical equipment were destroyed, power could be lost for six to nine months, because the replacement gear would take so long to manufacture.”   Note:  As you read the following, consider what that six to nine months without electricity and what the power grid really means to our society.

EMP is optimized by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at 25 to 250 miles above the Earth's surface.  An electromagnetic field radiates down to the earth, creating electrical currents.  These instantaneous currents accumulate and migrate on long electrical lines and overheat transformers, large and small.  Breakers are of no use due to the speed of the pulse which is 1,000 times faster than lightning. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear burst.  A 40 mile high detonation over Virginia would black out the entire East Coast.  A 250 mile high detonation over Kansas would take out most, if not all, of the continental USA.  

The lead time for obtaining a single replacement of the very large “step-up or step down” type transformer is two to three years from overseas (Total worldwide production of these huge transformers is less than 100 per year); there are about 2,000 in the USA that would need to be replaced plus the millions of small transformers (frequently mounted on utility poles) in the distribution system.  There is a huge and perhaps insurmountable problem with almost all electrical power generation plants.  They must be shut down gradually according to carefully designed procedures.  A sudden shutdown from an EMP or super solar flare would cause the destruction of major components of most power plants and, in a grid down scenario, it would not be possible to repair them.  Further,most that survive must have outside power for start up and that outside power won’t exist.  

The point is Noah only had to contend with a boat ride and live off of stored food with no one coming to his door asking for a handout.  We, on the other hand, will be without electricity for many years, able to create very little new food, and will have to defend against a continuous onslaught of attackers.

Even a small nuclear weapon at 250 miles high would permanently take down the electrical grid by shorting out transformers, large and small, because they are all tied into long distribution lines which would pickup, magnify and transmit the surge.  Although cars, computers, televisions, generators, etc. may or may not continue to be operational, a regional or national grid failure would cause a cascade of failures throughout the broader infrastructure due to our highly interdependent systems and “just in time” delivery systems. Even if cars and trucks still ran there would be no new fuel supplies.  The disruption would include communications (radio, television, phones, GPS), banking (including ATM machines and credit cards), cash registers at stores, medical, police (911 dispatching), fire fighting support, fuel and energy (including gas stations), transportation, food production, processing and delivery systems (including farm equipment, fertilizer and insecticides), water for consumption and irrigation, emergency services, satellites and the Internet. The fundamental force behind any and all modern industrial societies is electricity.

A small nuclear weapon specifically designed to produce a very powerful EMP would take out virtually every electrical device that was not protected.  In either case, effectively, the U.S. would be thrown back to the pre-electrical age and 99% of US food production and processing would cease.  Such an event is frequently referred to as “The end of the world as we know it” (TEOTWAWKI) or “When the Schumer hits the fan” (WTSHTF).

There would be immediate loss of access to our money.  Under Martial Law, if communications existed to transmit the orders, there would be extreme limits on access to our money, they would allow maybe a maximum of 5% of funds on deposit to be withdrawn per month, but banks would run out of currency almost immediately, if they were open at all, and would not have access to more.  Currency itself would only have value as long as people believed the government could restore the electrical grid and get things back to normal.  Within a few weeks, when people realize the power will not be coming back on, currency would have no value.  Further, the rest of the world, seeing our hopeless condition, would realize we would have no ability to generate revenue and they would deem the US dollar worthless.  Investments in US stocks and bonds would be worthless.  The value of real estate would be at or near zero.  There would be no access to funds held off shore.  The loss of wealth as we know it today would be nearly total.  Wealth after TEOTWAWKI would have its basis in clean water (and the means to make it), food (and the means to grow and preserve it), fuel, tools and arms and in the knowledge and skills useful in a world without electricity.  Gold and silver may have their place, but “you can’t eat gold” e.g.  If I only have enough food for me and my family to survive, I won’t be trading it for gold or silver.

After an EMP or super solar flare, except for those on life support systems or perhaps in airplanes, there would be no immediate loss of life due to the burst(s). There would be no shock wave or radiation.  For awhile it would seem to be just an ordinary power outage, but gradually, hour by hour, the seriousness of the problem would be realized. Water from the tap would stop very soon if not immediately. Most emergency generators, if they worked, would run out of fuel within 72 hours.  Food in freezers would last a few days then spoil.   Grocery stores would be looted within a couple of days.  Most food in the USA is stored in regional warehouses, and some of it requires refrigeration.  Most people, probably 80%, would choose to stay in their homes for as long as the food in their pantry lasted and they had access to clean or treatable water.  They would be hoping, day by day, that the power would come back on and they could resume their everyday lives again.  When the water and/or food ran out or they were overrun by looters, they would have no choice but to hit the road in hopes of finding food somewhere.  Ninety percent of the US population will run out of food in their homes in less than two months, many in a week or two. They would become refugees.  A refugee is a person who is carrying with them all of their means for survival and cannot survive more than a few weeks without help since they cannot produce new food.  Many would loot, burn and destroy the cities and suburbs while most would hope to find survival in the country believing that farmers have an abundance of food.  Eventually virtually all must leave the cities because there will be nothing left to eat and the means to produce new food there will not exist. (Often referred to as the “Golden Horde” which would follow “Refugee Lines of Drift”. See: SurvivalBlog.com)

Vladimir Lenin is often quoted as saying, "Where there is hunger, there is no law."  In their struggle to survive refugees would first be beggars, but very quickly, with the increase in hunger, they would become looters and spread out like locusts stripping the land of everything edible.  Remember, these people would not be on a simple weekend camping trip. Rather, they and their children would be starving, desperate and probably sick.  They would have lost everything.  They would face a horrific and uncertain future and they would pretty much do anything to survive.  A few may indeed maintain their moral integrity and quietly watch their children starve to death, but the vast majority of refugees will become looters, most of them violent?  Many would be in loosely formed bands for the purpose of overwhelming homes or retreats.  They will resent and hate those who have stored food in advance and feel it is not fair that preppers should “hoard” food while their families starve.  From the preppers point of view they may only have enough food for their own family to survive and to give it away would doom their own family. 

Some “Preppers” will have stored food, fuel and arms for themselves and their loved ones, but unfortunately most will have chosen to do so in their suburban or country home, hobby farm or cabin on the lake.  First, when WTSHTF, the neighbors that knew of your prepping will come to your door when they run low on food, first asking then demanding your food; see the Twilight Zone episode “The Shelter” by Rod Serling who understood human nature.   Second, looting attacks (violent home invasions) will take place again and again and again on every house, occupied or not, as the locust like hoard spreads across the land looking for that last morsel of food.  Remote homes/retreats will be least susceptible but eventually every home/retreat that can be found will be looted.  It may take some time for them to reach the mountain lake cabins, but they will reach them, and overwhelm them all.  The defenders of homes and retreats will be forced to repeatedly kill and dispose of the bodies of the attackers and deal with the heartbreak of their own dead and wounded until they themselves are eventually overwhelmed by a superior force.  No matter how well prepared, the retreat will be overrun.  Why?  There will be a great many attacks from random groups large and small, day and night, day after day, week after week for months.  Also, well organized and well armed groups may note your solid resistance and plan your demise over time since they know you are not going anywhere.  Eventually they will use tear gas, explosives, armored vehicles, etc.  When they want you, they will take you.  The other contingency is that the “attackers” may be the U.S. Military or a local government enforcing Martial Law for the confiscation of food and arms.  Frankly, I do not foresee long term survival unless the retreat remains unknown to all.

Typical homes and cabins cannot be defended well.  A high velocity .308 projectile will pass through the entire house unless it hits a wall stud or appliance and wall studs are typically spaced 16” apart.  Eventually a large enough group or gang will take the house, kill/rape/plunder, transport the goods to their lair and then move on to other targets.  They would systematically attack every home/retreat they can find.  Any surviving defenders will become refugees.  Even with a remote food/equipment cache, the defenders will still be refugees with insufficient food to survive until food could be grown and without the means to preserve it if they could grow it.   Almost everyone who becomes a refugee will surely die quickly from exposure, violent mobs, physical attack, starvation, disease, infection or dysentery (which would be epidemic due to fouled water). 

You may think this is an exaggeration about the vulnerability of your home and our society, but just take a minute here to step out of your house, walk to the street and study your home for a minute.  Imagine you, your brother, and your friend from down the street trying to defend your house at night with two deer rifles and a 12 gauge shotgun against 20 guys with semi-automatic assault rifles, night vision goggles and maybe tear gas and an armored vehicle.  You would be surrounded.  There would be no help from anywhere and you would not have a “snowball’s chance".   They will tell you that if you just give up your supplies they will leave you unharmed.  When you surrender they will have you haul your goods to their vehicles with smiling gratitude then they will tie you up and torture your wife or children in front of you until you tell them where your “secret supply caches” of food and gold are located, even if you do not have one. (For an example in fiction, see the movie Nevada Smith with Steve McQueen.)  The thing is they already know that many retreats have such caches so, until dead from torture, they will not believe that you do not.  They will kill the men, children and older women and take any young women with them.  Yes, in many cases it will be that horrific.  Throughout history it has always been such.

Your home was built completely dependent on services, including sewer, water, electricity, heating fuel and the fuel for your car to get you to and from work and stores.  Without electricity you have no heat, no air conditioning, inability to cook (a large propane tank is an exception), no lights, no water, no sewer (requires water for the toilet).  Without these services your home is a poorly located weatherproof shell that was built the way it was and where it was only because of the “absolute certainty” that there would always be electrical service.  Here is an eye opening weekend experiment:  Turn off all the electricity to your house (except the refrigerator and freezer which would be taped shut), turn off the gas and water and prohibit the use of your vehicles.  You will find out in a hurry about life without electricity.  Now look at your neighbor’s house, think about the houses across town, think of your parents or brother’s house across the country.  All across the nation homes are about the same (about 99%), they all depend upon services that will not be available after the loss of electricity.  And almost all will only have a few weeks to a few months of food on their kitchen shelves, pantry and refrigerator.  Translation, almost all of their occupants will become refugees when the food runs out or when they are overwhelmed by attackers and will die soon thereafter.  All of them.  Again, the fundamental force behind any and all industrial society is electricity.

Think about it:   When you are forced out of your home or run out of food and there is no new food to be had anywhere, what are you going to do, where are you going to go?  This won’t be like in the movies or books, there will be no cavalry, no supplies parachuted in, and no relief trucks arriving just in time.  There will be no help at all.  Over 310 million people in the U.S. will be on their own just like you with almost no new food being produced or imported.  Think of the total USA food supply like a giant hour glass being filled with food production and imports just as fast as it is being consumed.  After an EMP or super solar flare the consumption will continue at the same rate while food production and importation will essentially stop completely.  That means no more new food added to the hour glass!  Perhaps one third of total US food supply will rot due to the lack of refrigeration and 80% of the balance is somewhere in the production, storage or distribution system, none of which still function.  The balance available to the masses will be consumed as it is looted.  The hour glass will be essentially empty for the masses.  For anyone to survive they must have enough to eat until new food could be grown, perhaps the second summer after TEOTWAWKI, assuming you have the means and know how.

Hansel and Gretel were dumped in the forest to die or fend for themselves, probably so their parents could try to feed the then smaller family.  During severe famine in the middle ages this forced reduction in the size of families was not unheard of.  Most of us have no concept of real famine.  If we did, each and every one of us would have at least three years supply of food while obtaining it was so simple, so easy. The representation of the Witch as a cannibal is not a coincidence.  Cannibalism was widespread in the past among humans throughout the world; in many cultures it was an everyday thing even without famine.  Severe famine and cannibalism, however, go hand and hand, for example the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 57, the Donner Party, Siege of Leningrad, etc.  So, when the masses are starving, be careful, they may not look on you as either friend or foe; they may think of you as dinner.
New food cannot be grown until after the violent gangs are gone and those with seeds and know how are no longer afraid of having their gardens discovered.  The first new food probably could not be safely grown until the second summer.  The first crop by inexperienced gardeners without insecticides, fertilizer, equipment or pumped water will be a disaster.  You had better have enough food to get your family through at least until the third year and way more (non-hybrid) seeds than you think you need.  My mother was a teenager in the Great Depression.  She said they would plant one seed for the birds, one for the bugs and one for themselves, but since they could buy seeds, you should add one more category, production of the seeds for next year’s crops.  By the way, do you know how to avoid cross pollination and loss of the usefulness of the seeds?  Do you know how to collect and store the seeds? If you are not doing it now, you probably won’t be able to do it later when your lives depend on it.

After the burst, widespread looting would begin within a day or two in larger cities without containment due to limited communications and totally inadequate law enforcement.  Within a week there would be near total anarchy except in some small towns and military bases.  Well armed gangs and escaped prisoners, with the most brutal and ruthless taking leadership, would essentially take over and loot, rape, kill and plunder every house and food source within their territory no matter how well defended.  In only a couple of weeks these well armed gangs would become very proficient at taking homes and farms and all they could find would be overrun.  Over time, every farm animal of every description would be consumed.  Wildlife and fisheries would be wiped out.  The seed grains needed for next year’s crop would be consumed. Unspeakable atrocities, cannibalism, and torture would be rampant.   The desperate conditions will unleash the darkest side of human nature.  Throughout history, such atrocities consistently take place when there are no consequences in desperate times.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

As we go about our day to day lives it is very difficult to comprehend that any of the people we know or those that live down the street would do such things, but studies such as the “Stanford Prison Experiment” and others have shown perhaps one third of a random selection of emotionally stable individuals will, within a matter of a few days, show brutal tendencies.  Think of that!  One third of the “problem free, mentally stable” people!  Further, these guys were not trying to survive, they were merely placed in a position of near absolute power over others. In the anarchy after “Grid Down”, if the above is any indication, one third of the population (or much more considering the survival circumstances) would become violent predators plus virtually all of the neighborhood nut cases, criminals, perverts and those in prison.  It would be the worst nightmare of the zombie horror films.   The [Los Angeles] Lakers [basketball team] recently won their umpteenth season and there were riots, even with a huge law enforcement presence.  One news report read: “Despite a massive Los Angeles police presence Thursday night, sporadic violence broke out near Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.  Crowds hurled bottles and other objects at police, smashed marquees, jumped on vehicles, broke windows, and set rubbish dumpsters and vehicles on fire…”  But, what if there had been no police presence?   This was a happy mob.

Eventually, over a year or so, these gangs would be killed off by a variety of means such as losses taking retreats, heavily armed organized communities, occasional army units, rival gangs trying to survive, fighting amongst themselves or, when there were no more places to loot or stored food to eat, they would starve to death.

In six months to a year 90% of the US population would be dead.   The higher the current population density of an area the higher percentage death rate since the density of looters and gangs would wipe out almost every prepper, farmer, or retreat no matter how well defended leaving nothing to survive on until food could be grown and leaving very few who have the supplies and know how to grow it.  A much higher percentage will survive in rural Kansas while almost no one would survive in densely populated areas.

What about help from overseas? The USA currently exports a great deal of food to feed a hungry world.  Without those exports the rest of the world will have food shortages.  Some countries may send aid over the short term of a month or two, but over the long term of a year or two, it would be very doubtful since what country is going to starve its own people so that food can be shipped to the USA?  Even if ships are sent, what captain will dock his ship amongst a mob of looters. Even if they docked, how do you unload a container ship with no operable cranes?  Even if you could unload ships, how could you move goods inland with no fuel for trucks or trains?  Even if food could be moved inland, what coastal community would export food when they need it desperately for their own survival?   

It would be far far worse for us now than it was in 1890 because then they had systems in place that worked without electricity such as steam locomotives, horse drawn wagons and plows and lots and lots of work horses and mules.  Most important, they had era farming tools and the knowledge of how to live their lives and store food without electricity.  Just as vital, they had a functioning society with on-going production capacity and supply lines for basic staples. Even the Amish buy staples, they do not produce everything themselves.  After TEOTWAWKI almost no one will have those tools, supplies, sources for staples or that knowledge.  Realistically, the USA could not even begin to support the 1890 population of about 64 million people.  Unfortunately our existence might be more like the Jamestown colony, circa 1609-10 or so with hostiles at the gate, starvation, disease, and massive die offs so severe they called it the “Starving Time”.  It could be like that for us without adequate food storage.

What about the military?  The nation’s military is largely unprotected from an EMP.   Since the early 1990s, “Essentially all our new weapon systems have been built with a waiver for EMP hardening,” says Bartlett, a scientist and inventor who is the ranking member of the House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces according to a NewsMax article.

The Military would be pretty much immobilized although they would have more stored fuel and supplies than most.  The good news is that if the soldiers who remained with their units could maintain order in the immediate area of their base, food could be grown the first summer.  Therefore, if you cannot afford to have a hidden retreat, relocating to be close to a military base in a farming area with good rainfall may save you.  The bad news is that while the military won’t rape and plunder, they will take your food, fuel and guns “for the common good”.  Since they could defeat gangs that had taken over regional food storage warehouses they may be able to accumulate a very large supply of food.  They would balance out the food supply and your only hope then is that enough food could be produced for everyone or else everyone would starve together.  Still, it is better than being a refugee with no future at all.

The consequences of an EMP burst are consistently understated. Writers of reports or articles don’t tell the whole story because they either worry about being accused of “Fear mongering” or they are in denial themselves, being unwilling to let their mind take them to the inevitable consequences of a modern society suddenly finding itself permanently without electricity.  Frequently there are articles about the possibility of an EMP and they state that the consequences would be “catastrophic” or “disastrous” or “devastating” without going into detail about what that really means.   What they don’t say is this:  Considering our limited ability to create, process and transport new food without electricity and doing so in a state of near total anarchy, the survival rate would be maybe 10%.  Even Dr. William R. Graham who is Chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack and who is intimately familiar will all aspects of EMP and the vulnerability of our infrastructure and the EMP effect on transformers, etc. has concluded that a 250 mile high burst over Kansas would cause the death of about 80% of the 310,000,000 US population.  The actual report to Congress, however, just says “Catastrophic”.

Who will survive?  Primarily those who use the "The Art of War" tactics of avoiding a direct conflict with superior forces by using deception and concealment  “The general who is skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth”.  Without electricity the majority of the population will either kill each other off or die from disease, exposure or starvation.  The survivors, for the most part, will be those who do not fight at all.  The Golden Hoard or a Government entity cannot fight you or take your supplies if they do not know you exist.  The key is to be well hidden during the six months to a year or so after TEOTWAWKI, then keep hidden as much as possible while you grow food but maintain a high level of surveillance and defense.  This tactic is completely contrary to the Rambo survivalist types with an arsenal at their disposal and an attitude of “Bring it on” for the Golden Horde and gangs.

“There are a few possible survival scenarios presented here in no particular order since each individual must adapt their skills, knowledge and resources to their situation. 
1.  Very remote, well hidden, well armed, well trained and well stocked retreats with enough people to guard and defend the retreat and the equipment and other resources to produce food. Food production could begin by the second summer but if it is far away from where you live, you might not be able to get to it.   ("Patriots"). 

2.  Very small towns that are cohesive enough to band together, consolidate resources and defend against gangs or refugee throngs (as in the novels One Second After and Lights Out).  This is a tactic that would allow food production to begin ASAP.  A defendable town on the coast or a large river would be best to allow fish to supplement the diet.  However, because it will be ruled by a government, they may also confiscate your supplies for the common good.  The Alaska panhandle would be ideal but you “gotta like the rain”. 

3.  Areas in the immediate proximity of military bases where good gardens could be grown.  You would still have to survive some home invasions and looting early on but the military presence could provide the security, technical knowledge, tools, equipment and fuel for food production to begin ASAP following TEOTWAWKI.  You will be under their “anal” direction and have few freedoms, but you and your family may survive.

4.  Those who have stored food and fuel, have access to good water and can stay completely out of sight for up to a year (undetectable fully serviced basement or bomb type shelter).  This would allow a family to live in quiet comfort while the rest of the world kills itself off.  It is much more doable than one might think, see the references section about “Basements”.

5.  Those very rare few who could survive in the wilderness well off any trails and undetectable by smoke, smell or sight for a year or more by placing a large cache of food and survival equipment at a wilderness hide.  While I could survive year around in the Alaska wilderness if I did not get sick or hurt and if properly prepared (having done so), here in Georgia, the forests would just be too “crowded” to keep hidden; the survivor in the woods here would simply be “The Last Man Standing”.

6.  Those who had a well stocked sailboat that could be sailed to the tropics (Watch out for Pirates).  This is a situation where having gold and silver would pay big dividends.

7.  The Amish are wonderfully equipped with tools and knowledge to survive and thrive in the long term without electricity, however, they will be wiped out and their food stocks taken since they do not have guns or knowledge of defensive tactics.  They do not have the ability to survive in the short term against armed gangs.  This is a classic example of the skill sets necessary to survive early in TEOTWAWKI are much different that those required much later in TEOTWAKI but that for anyone to survive in the long term, they must have both sets.  Since the Amish farms function without electricity, when they and the gangs are dead and gone, the tools and systems will still be in place if you know how to utilize them.  Of course, all of the animals will have been consumed.

Others who may survive are refugees with skills useful in a post TEOTWAWKI world who may find refuge in one of the above.  What skills?  Read books about life in 1890 (Lawyers, politicians and stock brokers need not apply but those who could fix a tooth or build a steam engine would be in high demand… a steam engine fired by wood or coal could power a generator to create electricity).  Travel tip:  have a map showing the nearest military base and be there very soon because even the military will have its limits of how many people they can handle.
WTSHTF, at some point each and every one of us must decide if we actually want to survive to a life that would be harder than any we have ever imagined.  But more than that we must decide if we are willing to kill other human beings to defend our food cache and loved ones?  Are we willing to kill others to take food so our loved ones could survive?  What about witnessing the killings, rapes, torture of our friends, neighbors and loved ones and enduring the smell of rotting bodies that goes on without end.  Are we strong enough to mentally go through all of that and keep our sanity and our will to live?  Will we survive the guilt of our own survival when the vast majority has died?  Further, the mental stress after an EMP burst would be monumental.  People would have to instantly transition from the availability of vast amounts of information at their fingertips and information overload to a near total information vacuum.  A great many will not be able to handle all or even part of it.  Even highly trained military personnel do not handle such events well, how can ordinary citizens hope to live through it and stay sane.

What about Mutual Assured Destruction that kept USA and USSR from war?  Maybe but MAD might not work.  There are some fanatics in Iran.  Ahmadinejad has said that he wants to bring about the coming of the 12th Imam: "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi" – Ahmadinejad. (So what then are the conditions for the Mahdi's arrival? The destruction of Israel and world conflagration).  The threat of our retaliation and the destruction of Iran and the Middle East may not be much of a deterrent in Ahmadinejad’s belief system.  If Ahmadinejad could simultaneously detonate a bomb in Tel Aviv and 6 to 10 nuclear satellites around the globe at 250 miles high to cause the eventual death of the majority of the world’s infidel population and significantly level the playing field, do you think he would?  Are you kidding?  In a New York minute.  He can’t do it yet, but, even though it may take years, Iran is working feverishly on the satellite delivery system and in making bombs themselves.

Of course, our own Sun could beat Ahmadinejad to the punch.  Severe space weather events that we know about originating from the Sun with the Earth in the “line of fire” have occurred in 1989, 1921 and 1859 (geomagnetic solar super storms).  In 1989 only one of the very large difficult to replace step up/step down transformer was destroyed.  The 1921 event was 10 times stronger and if it happened today it would probably destroy all of the large transformers.  The 1859 event was much stronger than the one in 1921.  Such an event could easily destroy the huge transformers that would take years to replace (If the capacity to produce them still existed) which means years without electricity for most of the population.  The problem is, we can’t survive that long.  Scientists consider the recurrence of such a solar super storm as not just a possibility but as inevitable.  Indeed, if the Earth had been in the line of fire on April 19, 2010 we quite probably would be living “Grid Down” in TEOTWAWKI right now.  How prepared were you and your family on April 19? 

Can an EMP burst be prevented?  The Heritage Foundation has written extensively on the subject and it is well worth the read.  At present defensive missiles are in place in Alaska and California to take out intercontinental missiles in the atmosphere from N. Korea.  We must have defensive missiles around the entire USA that are capable of taking out long and short range missiles (such as a Scud  or Iran’s new 1,200 mile missile launched from a freighter like Iran did in the Caspian Sea).  When the “Star Wars” defense was proposed in the 1980’s there were those who said such a defense was not possible because “you can’t hit a bullet with another bullet”, but now the experts say “We can hit a spot on a bullet with another bullet”.  We have the technology to do this.

We should protect our transformers by requiring all new ones to be EMP and solar flare protected (it adds about 5% to the cost).  We could use that stimulus money to retrofit existing transformers, if possible and protect our railroad engines and systems, fuel production, transportation, and electrical generation systems. 

If we prepare now, quickly, two things will be accomplished:  First, there would be a good chance that the civilized world we know today would survive an EMP burst or super solar storm and, two, there would be far less incentive for an EMP strike.  But, as it stands now, if you wanted to destroy the USA whom you perceive to be the devil, you would be salivating at the prospect of launching a few missiles off a freighter in the Gulf of Mexico and causing the death of 90% of the US population.  For those who wish to destroy us it has to be positively orgasmic and we should absolutely not underestimate their resourcefulness.  Remember, they have access to all of the EMP information you and I do and probably much more.  They also have the ability to coordinate a massive cyber attack on the electrical grid which is extremely vulnerable.

That said, the nuclear genie is indeed out of the bottle.  Al-Qaeda is said to control 80 freighter ships.  It is only a matter of time before organized terrorist groups obtain a bomb that they can sail into one of our port cities.  A crude bomb from Iran’s uranium would weigh a few thousand pounds.   The fact is, we will have to accept the horrific reality that, from time to time, a major coastal city will be nuked from a freighter or small submarine, terrorists have both.  Such is the reality of the failure to contain the nuclear genie.  They have the desire to kill every man, woman and child in the USA and they have the means to deliver a nuke to our coastal cities; they just need the nuke.

What would be so difficult about having someone like “Jihad Jane” purchase a good sized boat with a dock slip at Gangplank Marina on the Potomac River in Wash. D.C., motor out through Chesapeake Bay to the ocean to pick up a nuke from a freighter at night then arrive at Gangplank Marina on a weekday afternoon and detonate it ?   

If one of our cities is nuked, the nation will be under martial law.  If your retreat is very far away, the police or military may prevent you from getting there.  If you live anywhere on either coast they will probably not let you exit inland.  Both politicians and the military have shown their propensity to confiscate guns at such times and most certainly will do so again.  Further, the “temporary” martial law may well become permanent.  Your stored food may be deemed “Hoarding” and be confiscated in an unconstitutional but nonetheless real house to house search performed by guys who are looking for secret hiding places.  You do not want these people to be able to find either your beans or your bullets because, even under permanent martial law, we may still be hit by an EMP burst or solar storm or another coastal nuke.   

The world is different today than ever before.  The basic problem in our psyche is that we have the “white hat” cowboy mentality; we never throw the first punch, we never draw the gun first; we wait for the bad guy to shoot or draw and only then do we react.  This time, if we wait for them to strike first with an EMP without being well prepared, this country, as we know it, will cease to exist.  Our military may well destroy their country in retaliation, if they knew where the nuke(s) came from, but the above EMP scenario will still take place here regardless of what happens to the other guy later.

During the cold war we lived with the fear in the back of our minds that one day there may be Global Thermonuclear War that would destroy the world.  However, while Global Thermonuclear War is still a possibility, a super solar storm, EMP burst and/or nuked coastal cities are eventual certainties.   Nuking a coastal city is easiest and most likely, of course, but our unconscionable lack of preparation makes an EMP burst so appealing they will do everything in their power to make it happen.

Noah knew he could not tread water for long and built the Ark.  Since people cannot live on a zero calorie diet for long and the Federal Government, who’s primary duty is to protect us, is doing nothing to prevent or prepare for an EMP, super solar flare or cyber attack, we all had better store at least three years of beans, band aids, bullets and benzin.  In other words, become a “Prepper”, but do so wisely, very well hidden and very very secretly.

“If you think the unthinkable and devise plans to survive, then when the unthinkable occurs, you are prepared and will make the correct choices automatically.” (SurvivalBlog.com)   A basic rule of thumb in survival situations is that 10% will do the absolute wrong thing, 80% will do nothing and wait to be led, while 10% do the right thing. 

An EMP, a massive cyber attack, and a nuked coastal city are all possible but a super solar flare is inevitable.  Just a word of caution here, once you let yourself think about such threats and project the inevitable outcomes of life here in the USA without electricity, it is very difficult to get your mind back inside that “denial” box."- Tom  S.

About wood stoves:  Having lived in an Alaskan cabin with only wood heat for four years I know that the smoke makes it very difficult to keep your presence a secret.  Even a year or two after TEOTWAWKI you still will want to keep your existence as secret as possible, therefore do not use just any wood stove; use the 95% efficient and virtually smokeless wood stoves available that, with very dry wood, produce almost no smoke.  Further, use wood fuel that does not have a strong odor such as birch and avoid those that do such as cedar or some hardwoods.  For wilderness survival there is nothing better than a small fan forced wood stove such as the Sierra stove or similar.  I have used these on extended Alaska camp-outs with the Boy Scouts with great success and always unlimited fuel.  Because they are fan forced they are very good at burning any wood and producing almost no smoke.  This type of fan forced fire is very useful for surviving in the wilderness or, with larger versions and side feed, using outside your retreat to process food.

Basements:  Undetectable fully serviced basements/retreats:  A family or group in an undetectable basement or bomb shelter can survive in quiet comfort while the rest of the world kills itself off without the tear jerking confrontations from starving beggars, violent confrontations with gangs, looters or the military.  And yes, it is very possible. 

I once saw an article about a family who bought a house and after living there for two years discovered there was a full basement under the house.  The previous owner had sealed up the stairs going down and filled in the small windows that had previously been visible.  Why did he do that?  He was hiding a flooded basement.  So, if a basement can be invisible to someone who actually lives in a house for over two years, what would it take to make a basement invisible to looters and gangs who would be there for less than 30 minutes?   That will be the subject of a separate article.

Selected References:

SurvivalBlog.com, numerous writings

Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons: Congress Must Understand the Risk” by Baker Spring, Heritage Foundation WebMemo #2822

"Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack," Volume 1: Executive Report, 2004

"Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: Critical National Infrastructures," April 2008
Executive Report (See the EMP Commission web site.)

From the Executive Report Summary:  “However, now even a single, low-yield nuclear explosion high above the United States… can produce a large-scale EMP effect that could result in a widespread loss of electronics, but no direct fatalities, and may not necessarily evoke a large nuclear retaliatory strike by the U.S. military. This, coupled with published articles discussing the vulnerability of U.S. critical infrastructure control systems, and some U.S. military battlefield systems to the effects of EMP, may create a new incentive for other countries to rapidly develop or acquire a nuclear capability.”

“The electrical power system has become virtually fully dependent upon electronic systems working nearly flawlessly. The overall system reliability is testimony to the skill and effectiveness of the control systems. However, the lack of margin (combination of generation and transmission margins) results in making catastrophic cascading outages far more likely, and should the electronics be disrupted, the system is highly likely to fail on a broad scale. Thus, the small margin and reliance on electronics give rise to EMP vulnerability.”

“All production for these large transformers used in the United States is currently offshore.  Delivery time for these items under benign circumstances is typically one to two years.  There are about 2,000 such transformers rated at or above 345 kV in the United States with about 1 percent per year being replaced due to failure or by the addition of new ones. Worldwide production capacity is less than 100 units per year and serves a world market, one that is growing at a rapid rate in such countries as China and India. Delivery of a new large transformer ordered today is nearly 3 years, including both manufacturing and transportation. An event damaging several of these transformers at once means it may extend the delivery times to well beyond current time frames as production is taxed. The resulting impact on timing for restoration can be devastating. Lack of high voltage equipment manufacturing capacity represents a glaring weakness in our survival and recovery to the extent these transformers are vulnerable….”

“Many electric generating plants would be severely damaged by uncontrolled shut down.  Almost none, even if not damaged, would be able to restart without external power.”

“EMP is one event that may couple ultimately unmanageable currents and voltages into an electrical system routinely operated with little margin and cause the collapse of large portions of the electrical system. In fact, the Commission is deeply concerned that such impacts are certain in an EMP event unless practical steps are taken to provide protection for critical elements of the electric system and to provide for rapid restoration of service, particularly to essential loads.”

“The current strategy for recovering from such failures is based on the assumption of sporadic failures of small numbers of components, and for larger failures, drawing on resources from outside the affected area. This strategy leaves us ill-prepared to respond effectively to an EMP attack that would potentially result in damage to vast numbers of components nearly simultaneously over an unprecedented geographic scale.”

“The Commission has concluded that the electrical system within the NERC region so disrupted will collapse with near certainty. Thus one or more of the three integrated, frequency-independent NERC regions will be without electrical service. This loss is very large geographically and restoration is very likely to be beyond short-term emergency backup generators and batteries. Any reasonable EMP event would be much larger than the Texas region so basically the concern is the Eastern and Western regions with Texas either included or not depending upon the location of the weapon. The basic threat to U.S. society that moves an EMP event from a local or short-term adverse impact to a more prolonged and injurious event is the time it takes to restore electrical and other infrastructure service.

North American Electric Reliability Corporation three regions, Texas, West and East.  All of these collapse mechanisms acting simultaneously provide the unambiguous conclusion that electrical power system collapse for the NERC region largely impacted by the EMP weapon is inevitable in the event of attack using even a relatively low-yield device of particular characteristics.

EMP attack on the electrical power system is an extraordinarily serious problem but one that can be reduced below the level of a catastrophic national consequence through focused effort coordinated between industry and government.”

Independent Working Group, "Missile Defense, the Space Relationship, and the Twenty-First Century," 2009 Report, p. 130, at

Rawles, James Wesley, "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse", Ulysses Press, 2009           

Forstchen, William R., One Second After, Tom Doherty Assoc., 2009

Lights Out, by Half Fast (formerly an Internet e-novel, now being published)

CBS Twilight Zone episode The Shelter

Brieitbart.com  “Spies compromised US electric grid”, Associated Press

Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts Workshop Report Committee on the Societal and Economic Impacts of Severe Space Weather Events: A Workshop, National Research Council

“EMP Attack Would Send America into a Dark Age”  “EMP Attack Would Wipe Out U.S. Military”, NewsMax, Monday, 28 Sep 200

Some key quotes:

“An estimated 80 percent of the population would die within a year of an EMP strike from starvation or disease or would freeze to death, according to William Graham, who was chairman of the congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack.”

“The nation’s military is largely unprotected in the event an enemy launches a nuclear bomb that would fry microchips and the power grid with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., tells Newsmax.”

“Since the early 1990s, “Essentially all our new weapon systems have been built with a waiver for EMP hardening,” says Bartlett, a scientist and inventor who is the ranking member of the House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces.
“If an enemy used an EMP enhanced weapon — and Russian generals told our EMP commission that they had developed weapons which emit 200 kilovolts per meter weapon — I’ve been assured by experts in the area that everything would be down,” says Bartlett, who has been the leading member of Congress fighting to recognize EMP as a threat.”

In fact, “One of the first things [an enemy] would do is an EMP laydown to deny you the use of all your equipment which is not EMP hardened, which is essentially all our equipment,” Bartlett says. “They don’t harden against EMP any more.”

The Stanford Prison Experiment:

The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70 to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Those selected were chosen for their lack of psychological issues, crime history, and medical disabilities, in order to obtain a representative sample. Roles were assigned based on a coin toss.

Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited “genuine” sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early. After a graduate student (prisoner #819) broke down from the inhumane conditions in the prison, and realizing that he had been passively allowing unethical acts to be performed under his direct supervision, Zimbardo concluded that both prisoners and guards had become too grossly absorbed in their roles and terminated the experiment after six days.

Milgram, Stanley, 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.  Milgram described experiments conducted at Yale University in 1961after the start of the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the question: "Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?" In other words, "Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?" Milgram's testing suggested that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs.  He set up an experiment and showed that most ordinary people can become accomplices in killing totally innocent individuals. 
Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr wrote in 1981 that the Milgram experiment and the Stanford prison experiment were frightening in their implications about the danger which lurks in the darker side of human nature.

33 Minutes   Protecting America in the New Missile Age (2008) by The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002 Ph. (202) 546-4400

Food production and life styles in the USA in 1900 compared to life today:

In 1900, 39 percent of the U.S. population (about 30 million people) lived on farms; today that percentage has plummeted to less than 2 percent (only about 4.5 million people).  The transformation of the United States from a nation of farmers to a nation in which less than 2 percent of the population is able to feed the other 98 percent is made possible only by technology.

Human survival without food:

Physical condition, age, amount of fat, and air temperature are major factors but an absolute deprivation of food, on average, will greatly diminish a person’s capacity for physical work within a few days. After 4 to 5 days without food, the average person will suffer from impaired judgment and have difficulty performing simple intellectual tasks. After two weeks without food, the average person will be virtually incapacitated. Death typically results between 30 to 60 days with a few being able to last up to 70 days.  This is without any physical activity and plenty of good water.

Irish Hunger Strike of 1981

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I am intrigued by the fact that almost all the responses to the recent post on surviving a home invasion robbery focused on material issues such as doors or the proper firearms for home defense. All of these were intelligent, well-reasoned -- but off target.
Napoleon said, "The moral is to the physical as three to one." Susan and Mike had the most important survival factor: courage. As soon as Susan realized what was happening, she decided to fight, rather than submit and hope for the best. She ran for Mike and attempted to close the bedroom door. In the process she was shot through the chest. Her husband was also shot, but grappled the intruders, giving her time to call 911. Then she picked up the .22 and returned to the fight.

Susan fired warning shots because she was afraid of hitting Mike. One man turned and ran toward her. She retreated into the bedroom, found he was waiting to ambush her if she came back the same way, and used a second door to approach him from behind. She shot him twice in the back. These may have been the two rounds that decided the encounter.
Susan ran out of ammunition. She and Mike were both shot again, and at this point they gave the intruder what he wanted. With his partner dying in the driveway, he took their money and keys and fled.
We could pick apart the details of Susan and Mike's preparation (or lack thereof), their tactics and so on. Susan herself has learned important lessons from her experience. One that she fails to emphasize is that she and Mike did not panic. They did not simply lie down when shot. They fought on. She, at least, was thinking clearly when she turned the tables on the attacker that was positioned by the refrigerator. - Randy in Maine

I recently received several review copies of EMPact America’s 'America in the Dark' three-disc DVD/CD-ROM Set. This is an awesome documentary. I highly recommend it! Parenthetically, it is apparent that the mass media has largely overlooked the full implications of the EMP threat. It is mostly folks in the blogosphere that are paying substantial attention to it. Stock up! And be sure to protect your redundant electronics by storing them in galvanized trash cans or holiday popcorn tins with tight-fitting lids.

   o o o

The Rural Revolution blog had a great piece about reusable canning lids.

   o o o

EMB suggested a piece over at ARF on backup water systems.

   o o o

I was recently contacted by TLC, a distributor of chia seeds, which are very useful for sprouting, in the event of any disaster. Unlike traditional gardening, sprouting can be done even in a dark basement

"For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thank God for our Independence and Liberty!

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 member of the architectural profession, I am acutely aware of the multitude of sustainable issues emerging within our own society and the civilized world in general.  Urban homesteading is beginning to emerge because many people are beginning to come to the realization that there could be a major economic crash, Natural disaster, etc that could result in a disruption or failure in our food distribution chain emerging as directly applicable to many concerns facing many preppers regarding any failure or crises resulting in a disruption or collapse of the food distribution chain. But, urban homesteading is not the same as preparing for a crash or fall of civilized society.  Urban homesteaders openly farm and garden with marginal concern for crop or property security, but their approach rivals that of some intensive commercial operations and so do their results and unless you’re truly going to be happy living off an immensely deep larder, you better have another plan. 

Homesteading has proven to offer that and it also provides ample opportunity and direct experience at farm life skills, and the rewards of self confidence and self reliance associated with taking control of part of one’s life by being responsible for putting high quality food directly on one’s table, which is something you reap the benefits of almost immediately.

The biggest security concern for the homesteader is the open manner (and inevitably so) in which they often practice these skills amidst a large population surrounding them.  A successful homestead will make itself a beacon to those that are unprepared, and make them highly vulnerable to those that loot and raid, regardless of their reasons why. 

Beyond direct criminal activity, the largest threat to civil suburban social fabric is the failure of municipal utilities and the breakdown of food and water supply, both of which can be implemented locally, but only in so far as localized security permits.  The context of the over-all situation will be the determining factor in assessing when and if to implement those projects and is the key to being able to homestead openly in suburbia. 

For homesteading to be an effective strategy in suburbia, local and regional security will have to be addressed, which is out of this purview of this article.   Until that has been established, alternative methods of survival must be implemented, which will be the focus of this article- what to do in the meantime.     

The Suburban Homestead- Homesteading in insecure times
The ultimate goal of the homestead is that it be self sufficient, meaning that you’re able to grow or raise all the food you and your family need on your own plot.  Clearly in a highly hostile environment only marginal homesteading should be taking place openly, as in these times security is the primary focus, consequently you should be living off of stored supplies, but that doesn’t mean that aspects of homesteading cannot be done covertly and securely.  The more out of sight and less labor intensive the better.  In fact, consolidating your homestead efforts to within the home itself must be considered an absolute prudent security measure, especially that of livestock production. 

Something to Cluck About
In basic terms it is unlikely that anyone will be able to grow vegetable crops indoors to fulfill all their nutritional needs, as raising livestock can.  Therefore covert livestock farming inside of your residence should be your primary focus in planning and developing.   

From a nutritional perspective in a homestead environment little surpasses the nutritional value per square foot and time to raise of that of a chicken.  First it’s a food source people are familiar with and like.   It is also relatively small, easily managed, simply housed, has a short growth cycle (about 4 months) and provides a dual source of food; eggs and meat, whose feed can be readily stored in bulk.  A typical laying hen can produce over 200 eggs per year, with each egg providing about 155 calories each, with 12g protein and 10g fat.  That’s real world protein and fat, not third world protein and fat found in corn and beans.  And unlike vegetable crops do not need a tremendous amount of sunlight, space nor water to reach its nutritional potential. 

To understand my emphatic emphasis on chicken, review two studies done on nutrition; the 1944 Ancel Keys Starvation Diet Study in comparison to 1970 Yudkin Low-carbohydrate diet.  In each, the test subjects ate about the same nutritional level, 1,500-1,600 kcal per day, but with differing levels of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) combinations, which were almost polar opposite of each other, but both were calorically at levels normally considered semi-starvational.  The major difference between them was that in Keys study (high carb, low fat diet) the subjects showed clear signs of being starved, obsessed on food constantly, were excessively lethargic and some developed dangerous psychological disorders to the point of self injury.  In Yudkin’s study (low-carb, high-fat diet) the subjects ate unweighed, unmeasured, unrestricted meals and suffered none of the ill-effects prevalent in Key’s subjects and were considered to be in good health.  The difference was in the volume of fat consumed.  Finding a replenish able source of high quality fat will be essential in a survival situation, as you just can’t get enough from a vegetable sources on a calorie restricted diet. 

In simple terms, moving from a standard American diet, to a strict calorie restricted vegetarian diet is going to make some people crazy and suffer the debilitating effects of a vastly modified diet.  I know I would be one of them- you may be too; just ask yourself does becoming a vegetarian on a calorie restricted diet ‘seem’ appealing to you?  I’m planning accordingly and that means chicken is going on the dinner plate and on the homestead in a significant way, to the point that the gardening efforts are in support of this primary food source, in the terms of chicken feed and then to my supplemental nutritional needs.

Bathtub Chicken
One of the most accommodating spaces to immediately transform into a covert farming space is any spare bathroom, which has a bathtub or shower.  These spaces by their original nature are designed to provide protection against moisture, provide natural light and ventilation, have surface materials designed to be washed down and are fairly durable, which sounds awfully like good (small) livestock farm space to me.  They are also rooms that hold the least amount of personal clutter and storage. 

An ideal application for this space is that of a battery chicken coop (a series of stacked cages) over the bathtub.  Within this volume it is possible to design a variety of coops for meat, egg and chick production in a highly intensive and sanitary manner.   A combination of 10 laying hens (eggs production), coop space for a cock, a trio of hens (chick production), hatchery for the chicks and broiler grow out space for 16 broilers (meat production), would produce approximately 5 eggs a day and a broiler chicken in a pot each week. 

While the family garage may ultimately serve as a better location for this operation, I doubt most garages are in a state of current use that would allow for immediate transformation into chicken production and the fact that most operational homesteads only operate with a single cock and a trio of hens and thus would be putting the coop before the chickens. This though, should be your ambition, as at that point you will be able to produce all the caloric nutrient needs of your family right in the garage.  It is unlikely though that you will need the volume of a two car garage to do so, and it is for this reason that I recommend that the chicken coop be isolated (finished and self enclosed) to the rest of the garage, leaving the free space for storage or other uses.

In all likelihood, if you live in a suburb that zoning does not allow livestock to be housed there, you can locate a nearby live poultry merchant and purchase the chicken and ‘temporarily’ house them at your residence- ‘for consumption’, if you feel times are getting shaky.  For those that are less risk adverse, have been known to openly violate zoning ordinances and to farm poultry until they are directly warned by authorities not to.  In most cases, they do so in the open will little consideration at doing so covertly, often with little or no hassle from neighbors or authorities.  The key to this is to be low-key about your activities, dutiful in maintaining sanitation practices, and respectful of your neighbors regarding positioning of the chicken coops and the scale and size of the operation.                  

The Achilles Heel of Chicken   
Chicken feed is inexpensive and can be stored in bulk, but the Achilles heel to this is you’ll eventually run out of stored feed and you’ll have to grow it or specifically find adequate substitutes and ideally those that don’t appear like a food source for people.  One of my favorite is a maggotry (a form of carcass composting) because it’s almost unheard of in the western hemisphere and solves multiple issues of waste disposal and pest eradication, while contributing greatly to feed supplementation.    

Maggotry in particular will be a benefit as it is a direct protein food source and  consists of little more than a bait bucket of rotting meat (spoiled vegetables, dead animals, chicken entrails- that’s you’ve butchered, etc ) that entices the neighboring fly population to spray their eggs on.  By stacking one bucket with a large screened bottom and containing the bait inside, onto another you’ve created the basic system.  When the eggs hatch and the maggots have fully fed and desire to pupate they tend to burrow into the ground, and in this case, will travel to the bucket below. 

A nice addition to this system is including a fly trap.  By cutting the top 1/3 of a 5-gallon water bottle off and inverting it back into the remaining bottle and duct taping it in place, you then can place this whole contraption on top of the maggot bucket.  After the parent flies have sprayed the bait with their eggs, they have a tendency to always go from a dark space (the bait bucket) towards light (the water bottle).  Once inside the water bottle they will not normally go back into the bait bin (due to the inverted funnel) and thus end up dying in the water bottle, awaiting collection.  In essence it’s a form of fly population control and breeding restriction combined.                 

The maggotry can be as open or covert an operation as you wish (clearly an outdoor operation).  The beauty of it is that it doesn’t have to be a continuous operation though.  In fact, limiting it, I’ve found to have many benefits, the first is that the general foul smell is limited to a brief period and limited area and second that my ‘supply’ of rot is able to accumulate to a sizable portion prior to utilization for a larger maggot harvest.  A production run may only last a little over a  week, as that is typically the length of time for flies to find the rot, mate, lay eggs and for the maggots to grow to nearly full sized larvae.  The maggots can be fed immediately to the chickens or the surplus maggots can then be stored by blanching and drying until needed.  No refrigeration is required.

As a side note, the same smell of decay that attracted the flies will attract other animals and rodents as well.  Capturing them and integrating them into the rot bait rotation is relatively self sustaining process.  Keep in mind that rodent populations boom normally in the wake of catastrophic events.  Reducing their population is always a wise task, and integrating them into your food supply system even better one.  While I’m sure that I could consume the occasional raccoon, possum, rat or mouse I’d rather utilize them as rot bait, so that isn’t a delicacy I ever have to try.

[JWR Adds: Needless to say, consult your local ordinances before considering establishing a maggotry. If cycled properly, no flies will hatch and fly out of your maggotry. The life cycle is interrupted and a "full kill" (typically by incineration) is done before each fly hatch, and a new maggot batch is started. I must preemptively state that before you write to complain about this gentleman's maggotry suggestion keep in mind that this advice is given with the assumption that proper cycling and properly-timed full kills are accomplished.]

Container Gardening
One of the fastest ways to transform your home into a homestead is by containerized gardening.  Stocking up on several bags of peat, top soil, manure, potting mix etc, takes up surprising little room in a storage shed, is rather inexpensive and will be on hand and ready when you are, as are a large number of commercial nursery pots, their associative carrying trays and watering pans. 

The benefits of container gardening are multi-fold from a growing stand point; a strong measure of control over soil conditions (pre-purchased potting soil), vastly reduces the risk of plant diseases, pests, weed control, water usage, plant management ability, tight space utilization, transportability of the plants, extendibility of the grow out season (move them indoors) and requires a minimal amount of specialized tools and equipment, typically only a few hand tools.   As importantly, almost all ages and sexes can participate, not just strong bodied farm hands (think delegation). 

The most important benefit is that they can be started, indoors and away from prying eyes and moved about as needed, indoors or out.  This will be critical until regional security stabilizes.  

Nursery trays stacked up vertically on racks, in book case fashion, or in nursery bleachers takes up little room and the majority of your starter crops can get all the sunlight they need from a few windows.  Utilizing the same principals seedling grow pots will take up more volume, but by selecting crops that would minimize grow out volume, will produce more plants per window space.  In this regard small root vegetable crops like garlic, carrots and onions are an excellent choice, as are leafy greens. 

It will be important to divide window allocation between plant nursery operations, seedling grow out space, and high value plant grow out space (plants that would attract attention outdoors, like tomatoes.   One of the major benefits of having a plant nursery and seedling grow out system established is that new seedlings can immediately replace harvested outdoor vegetables and a system of rapid successive planting can be enacted, but also by having crops in succession you don’t noticeably transform a given area, by leaving freshly turned soil or by having a mass planting, thus calling attention to it.

Into the Open
 The majority of the outdoor crops should be small, low profile and lacking readily identifiable silhouettes and are nutritionally dense; root vegetables, such as potatoes, garlic, onions and carrots, are ideal which also can be readily grown in quantities throughout a suburban yard without drawing attention, and when harvested can be combined to make nourishing soups, stews and stocks or dried for storage.  The planting of these crops should avoid neat rows, regular patterns or formal concentrations.  They should be grown in the same manner and spaces that weeds would emerge from; along the side of the house, fence lines, shrub lines, former flower beds, pots etc…  basically anywhere they would be concealed and not looking like a crop.

In this regard, potatoes should make up the bulk of your root crop as it will be the largest producer and nutritionally dense food source and can be started indoors and transported outdoors after the seedlings have grown to about a foot in size.  Medium trash cans and open top barrels work well as containers for potatoes, but various methods should be employed so as not to call attention to the uniformity of cultivation, and hide the fact that it is a crop.    

For the most part, the large open expanses of lawn will have to go fallow, until localized security measures are reasonably in place, and is why I would stay away from planting grain crops, as they take up a tremendous amount of space, are difficult to conceal and are immediately recognizable as acts of cultivation, which will draw further scrutiny and unwanted attention.  I would also refrain from utilizing any portion of the front or side yards that are visible from the street.  Even if the plants are well camouflaged and positioned, you can still tip off their location or more importantly your efforts by showcasing your labor efforts- people with no food, don’t normally carry watering cans about.   

The Value of Good Herbs
A shadowing relationship to any garden crop is the inclusion of culinary herbs and spices that will enhance the flavors and seasoning of the staple foods.  Planning for, and doing so in appreciable volume will make the difference between choking down a meal and actually enjoying the nutritional value, especially if it’s a frequently reoccurring element.

Most people would not recognize growing herbs, as a valued food source, so in a time of crisis these can be grown rather openly and in volume, as long as they are situated to appear as weed over growth, to which many readily appear.  By mix planting root vegetables and herbs together it is possible to break up the massing of any single crop and effectively camouflage the overall activity.  Furthermore having large single groupings of Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, Sage, Oregano, Cilantro and Parsley, clustered in recesses, nooks, corners etc, will appear as major weed outcroppings and will likely go undetected. 

it sounds sad, but you can really learn something of value by observing the worst kept yard in your neighborhood, where at the fringes of maintenance weeds encroach and start to work at the seams of what’s being ignored.  The key is to learn and to apply those elements intentionally with food sources.    

Minimizing the Transition
The emphasis of the Homestead Movement is adopting a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle and by combining that with some of the best elements of the Survivalist movement you have an integrated life style that you can enjoy the benefits today and live a very similar one in times of deep drama.  Planning a homestead for survival is vastly more complicated than just growing food or setting up a garden, it requires a real understanding of the context in which you may have to survive.  Anticipating what that context is to be like, evaluating what you have at your disposal and understanding how those elements could work for you, will leave you in a vastly better position to not only survive, but thrive.

Mr. Rawles, I've had chickens for about three years now, but in doing some research before I got mine I stumbled on the best source for chicken info: BackyardChickens.com.

Now, I hear things all the time about chickens that people will discuss with me that I already knew because I read an in-depth discussion on the subject already on the forum. Also the moderation is very good so the site is kept very family friendly. For instance did you know Apple Cider Vinegar is good for their health? If so did you know you shouldn't provide it in galvanized containers? Plus if you have a question you can ask on the forum and usually get a super fast answer (due to the high membership at any given time there are hundreds of members online, although the forum is the most active in the spring as it's rearing season).

Though I did learn from Sheila, I didn't know that about the Roosters, but I don't have any rooster as mine are not in compliance with local ordinance I maintain a stealth flock. Addressing one of her concerns; you can buy/sell/trade on the site, vastly improving access to heritage breeds with broodiness and the like still in their bloodline. Plus you can get birds outside of the short window the stores keeps chicks in stock. - M.E.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
King World News featured an interview with James Rickards, Senior Managing Director at Omnis, Inc. and Co-Head of the firm’s practice in Threat Finance & Market Intelligence. The audio is linked within, as is the Jim Rickards article it stems from. Here are some excerpts:

"There are legitimate concerns over the safety of citizens in the event of a financial collapse in the United States where confidence is lost and the dollar plunges. We are mired in a depression, and the central planners continue to look for solutions to keep the monetary system from completely buckling. In his latest interview, Jim Rickards warned of a coming financial catastrophe and civil unrest."

Also within it is Rickards' presentation to the "2009 Unrestricted Warfare Symposium".

“National Security has never been more captive to economic security than it is today... [Through] global capital flows and the capital and commodities markets that accommodate those flows, . . . currencies can be destroyed,

inflation can be transmitted, reserves can be depleted, and financial institutions can be destabilized.”

Additional, more direct links:

Rickards' interview with King World News can be heard here.

The PDF of Rickards' presentation to the 2009 Unrestricted Warfare Symposium can be found here

For me, both the Broadcast and the PDF Document are "Keepers." Safely be... Blessings, - G2

"With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves." - Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, July 6, 1775

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 you make your plans to beat feet to a pre-selected retreat site or evacuate your area of operations for a short-term emergency, food has to be part of that planning effort.  As I read through SurvivalBlog site, I see folks posting their ideas.  These ideas fall into some general categories – freeze dried / dehydrated and MRE style meals, with the remainder looking at commercially wet-pack canned or other prepared food.  All have much to offer to a person or family looking ahead and seeing the possibility bad times.  They all have some drawbacks, as does any set of foods, when you travel.

Food and water are major constraints to any movement cross country, the longer you plan to be on the move or the greater the distance you must travel – the greater the burden you face to supply yourself.  Add in the need to have food that is nutritious, needs little if any preparation, and that can be eaten cold – you really have something of a planning problem. 

I would like to suggest you can look to the history of this Nation and draw on the successes of past long distance travelers – from the fur trader to the civil war soldier.  I have identified a set of four basic foods that I believe will meet the need for portable food, are lightweight, flexible and offer the basic nutrition you require while traveling. 

This I call the Frontier diet – four high-speed, low drag foods that can get where you are going without weighing you down.  I’ll cover each of the four in some detail, explain why they were picked, link to recipes and why I think they are worth your consideration.

The four foods are: Coffee (or tea), hardtack, parched corn, and pemmican.  All are easy to make at home, with the exception of the coffee and all offer excellent storage lives, ease of preparation, and all may be eaten cold if necessary.  Each offers a specific set of advantages and they all can be used together to provide a bit of variety in your meals.

The coffee I am talking about is the commercial, freeze dried product found in small, one-cup packets.  I would not consider any other type of packaging – the packets are air-tight, waterproof and frankly, I find the flavor to be superior.  I suffered through many years with the “coffee product” found in C rations, Long Range Patrol Rations, and more recently in MREs.  All were pretty nasty, at least in my opinion.

The value of coffee in the Frontier diet is in its use as an appetite suppressant.  Strong tea (green, black or other non-herbal teas) will also provide the same effect.  Tea normally requires hot water to provide a satisfactory product – though cold soaking tea bags for several hours will provide a drinkable product.  Freeze dried coffee will quickly mix with water at any temperature.  Either will provide a way to knock down hunger pains until you can reach a suitable or protected rest position for a better opportunity to feed yourself or your crew.  The coffee can also be used to soak your hardtack (hard bread) to make it somewhat easier to eat.  Which brings us to hardtack.

Hardtack or hard bread has been part of a soldiers ration since Roman times.  Often reviled, always hated, hardtack (or sailor/pilot bread) serves to provide a long lasting, lightweight food that offers needed calories for travel.  Commercially baked hardtack or hard bread is a staple in both Alaska and Hawaii.  Modern commercial hardtack is seen as “Saloon Pilot” crackers in Hawaii and in Alaska as my favorite “Sailor Boy” pilot bread.  Very long lasting when stored properly and eatable by itself cold, hardtack is improved with anything you might have, from peanut butter to apple sauce.

You can make your own hard bread, SurvivalBlog has several recipes already posted or you can use this one.  Remember, if you add salt to your home made hardtack, it will reduce the storage life as the salt attracts moisture.  Store in a cool, dry location and physically protect the product, lest weevils become part of your travel diet.  Should the product become infested, use the old Union Army method of preparation – break up the hardtack into your coffee, skim off the larvae and enjoy!

Actually, hardtack can be crushed and added to your coffee or to hot water for making a kind of porridge.  Not the world’s best perhaps, but at least different.  Crushed hardtack can be used in dumplings and other related foods.

Next, parched corn.  Corn has been a staple of frontier ‘dining’ since before the United States was an independent nation.  Made from dried corn, parched corn offers a very long term storage item, a useful addition to your diet and adds both calories and variety to the food you eat.  You can make your own or purchase a commercial product.  I will have to say parched corn is an acquired taste but offers many options as a food.

I make my parched corn in a cast iron skillet with just a bit of olive oil.  Start with dried corn, heat the skillet and add the corn one layer (or kernel) deep.  Keep the corn moving in the pan until it plumps and turns brown.  If the corn starts to pop, reduce the heat slightly.  Dump the parched corn in a bowl to cool.  It is ready to eat.  Add any spices or salt after the corn is cooked. The corn should be browned, plump and soft when you bite into it.  If not try again.  Start with small batches until you are happy with the results.

I pack mine in a wide-mouth water bottle (airtight container), and store in the cool location.  I also grind some of the parched corn in the wheat grinder with the stones set in an 'open' position to give a course meal.

Most people find the taste of sweet corn most palatable.  I use dried field corn as the fiber content is much greater and serves to keep constipation at bay while in the field.  While diarrhea is killer while in the field (I carry some Imodium tabs as a precaution) I have found that constipation is the bigger issue with most troops on cross-country movements, especially while eating MREs.  Hence my choice of the field corn as a basis for the parched corn.
The dried corn is available in many stores - use only corn sold for food.  Feed corn in 50# sacks runs under $15 here in Alaska, so it should be less expensive in your area.

Parched corn can be eaten cold (dry), it can be added to hot water with or without hardtack or pemmican to make a soup.  You can even carry some parched corn that you have ground in advance as pinole.  Add 6 to 8 tablespoons to cold (or hot) water and some sugar, either brown or white and enjoy a popular drink.  Pinole may be added to milk if available.  Pinole is suitable to be eaten dry as well.  Store pinole in an air tight container such as a dry water bottle.  This dry, ground corn product was also called “Rockihominy”.

Your parched corn can be soaked overnight to make a kind of Nixtamal.  Normally the corn is soaked with lime, but on the trail, this is normally not possible.  The corn can be soaked with ashes from your campfire and the resulting mixture washed thoroughly before use.  Do not use your aluminum cookware for this, as lye and the metal do not mix.  Use only a steel container if you wish to try this.

The corn, once soaked, should have swollen and the hull separated.  This corn may be used in soups, fried with any leftover grease you may have or simply eaten cold.  This product does not have all the nutrition advantages as lime (lye) soaked corn, but it is easier to chew.

The last item in our travel food bag is pemmican, food of trappers, fur traders and Antarctic exploration teams.  A mixture of tallow and dried meat. It is a staple that has a long storage life. It may be eaten cold and contains nutrients needed to keep you going in tough times.  The famed explorer Amundsen used pemmican made with dried peas, a key reason his party survived with the Scott expedition did not.  Made from tallow and dried meat, pemmican is an energy dense food with excellent keeping properties.

Several folks have posted their recipes on the site, so use the keyword search as "Pemmican".  If the thought of eating fat leaves you a bit queasy, you can try pemmican made with peanut butter.
This version of pemmican uses peanut butter rather than melted suet or lard as the binding agent, which is likely more palatable with the younger members of your family.  Grind [or pound] the dried meat to a mealy powder. Add any dried berries, seeds or nuts if peas are not to your taste. Heat the peanut butter until softened. Blend all ingredients.  When cooled, store in a plastic bag or sausage casing in a cool dry place. It will keep for months if stored properly.  Some pemmican recipes call for honey, cayenne pepper and other spices.  Experiment now, while you can.

If you purchase a commercial product, check the ingredients closely.  Classic pemmican is about 50% fat and 50% dried meat.

So now you have four high-speed, low drag foods for the G.O.O.D. bag - all which can be eaten cold, dry or as part of mix using all the foods listed - just add water for a better tasting meal.  You can roll your own, except for the coffee, and adjust the taste to suit you - not some mythical 'public'.  You should now see the advantages for tactical travel, the added value of making these food items for your self and tailor them to your tastes.  All have long term storage potential, and do well in most climates.

Including all or some of these foods into your planning can give you a better outcome.  Adding some simple items like sugar, condensed milk, salt and spices can expand on your meal choices.

Related Links for Further Research
http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/science/food2.htm (mentions scurvy)
http://www.wellsphere.com/healthy-living-article/4-reasons-you-think-you-are-hungry-when-you-aren-8217-t/923338  (hunger issues)
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/natbltn/200-299/nb257.htm  (this also mentions scurvy)

Good Day James Wesley,
I've been learning from your site for years and today became a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber.. Thank You!

I too was struck how easily a standard residential entry doors can be opened either by lock "bumping" and even more easily with a stout "kick".

When I retired last June, one of my first projects suggested by my darling wife was to replace all entry doors to our 1959 brick veneer ranch style house with attached garage.

We wanted at minimum insulated, solid core, steel doors but also spent quite quite a bit of time looking/considering the various fiberglass alternatives. We wanted robust and were less concerned with appearance and were surprised that in virtually all instances, "Big Box" and Contractor Supply "Residential" replacement doors feature "minimalist" wooden frames, or pricey 20 gauge steel [frames], which as pointed out in a prior post, need heavy reinforcement to survive any determined assault.

We therefore chose heavy duty commercial steel doors from Steelcraft. The ones that we bought have 16 gauge galvanized frames and 18 gauge galvanized doors with 90 minute fire ratings.

The Steelcraft choice was due to it's Ohio operation (freight cost economies, for us) as well as the familiarity we had with local Contractor Supply companies. Regionally, there are a number of similar manufacturers and suppliers for these commercial standard products.

Once we determined the basic specifications we did "shop" the order to three supply houses and one "Big Box" retailer with whom we had positive experience with in sourcing a replacement patio door.

Unfortunately with the Big Box experience we found that their wholesale supplier could provide the doors we wanted but had a "policy" of charging 40% above Contractor pricing!

Needless to say that made for a very simple decision and we ordered from the selected Contractor Supply company three doors [ 2-30x80, 1-36x80 with 4"x24" tempered glass "lights"] for $1,800 with tax and delivered and an estimated two week lead time due to the three "special" frames needed, as they are made in 1/8" increments.

We estimated that we could install each door in two days and were almost on target after the first one. (The first one took four days.)

The biggest effort was removal of the old doors/frames and reinforcing the channels in the metal frames to permit their being further secured with 5/8" x 3'' lag screws into the house joists/framing.

Final paint/trims completed the re-dooring and we installed aluminum wood core "storm doors" with exterior openings, Commercial #2 lock sets and reinforced jam openings completed the project to "buy time" in the event an unauthorized entry attempt.

The installation directions from the door manufacturer were right on and I'll point out that I haven't done any construction in over 30 years.

Am pleased with the results and would encourage your readers to consider similar action if events continue to evolve since my first read of "Patriots" in 1999. Warmest Regards - Bob F.


Mr. Editor:
To all of those recommending spending money on major door reinforcements, consider that unless the rest of your house is a steel box, this is largely just window dressing. Literally that. The strongest door in the world isn't going to keep someone out of a house that has man-sized glass-covered holes in it on every wall. We call those windows. Unless you're on a high floor of an apartment building, or unless you've added security grates to all your windows, the best lock in the world might give you peace of mind, but does little more in the way of true security. You might only ever come in through the door, but criminals don't. - Troy


This is a follow up to the Surviving a Home Invasion Robbery article. If any of your readers have exterior doors that swing outward, they probably have exposed hinge pins. If so, removing the hinge pins can allow an adversary to somewhat quietly and easily remove a door.

A possible solution is to use a couple of specially designed hinge security screws on each hinge. Here is an example of this type of screw. This is not an endorsement for any particular brand of hinge security screw, but just to show your readers what to look for.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson found this item: Only a Government Bureaucrat...

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The folks at ModernSurvivalOnline.com now have more than 7 gigabytes of articles and manuals available for free download. Check it out. (But as usual for such sites, beware of any documents with unresolved copyright issues.)

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M.T,. sent this: U.S. is Unprepared for New Generation of Terror Bombs, Experts Say

"In every government there necessarily exists a power from which there is no appeal, and which, for that reason, may be formed absolute and uncontrollable. The person or assembly in whom this power resides is called the sovereign or supreme power of the state. With us, the sovereignty of the Union is in the people." - Charles Pinckney, 1788

Friday, July 2, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. This one is too short to qualify for consideration in the judging, but had enough merit to justify posting. (I encourage writers to include greater depth of detail and references.) 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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 raising chickens for eggs during the past several years, and I would like to share some of the secrets I have learned for long term food production. I like free range eggs, but have found that chickens pose certain conflicts with other necessities that can be quite frustrating. And reproducing chickens can be quite a trick these days. Chickens are a very good source of sustainable food from eggs and meat and also have side benefits, but it’s good to know some of the tricks. I hope this article can help preppers get ready and give a couple good chuckles along the way.

First of all, I found that most varieties of chicks sold at a local feed store have been genetically selected for egg production and the “broodiness” has been intentionally bred out of them. In other words, they do not set on their eggs and hatch them. I grew up on a farm, and I just assumed that chickens would naturally have babies like they did on the farm. For several years I waited for my hens to set, eagerly looking forward to the familiar chirp of little voices following a clucking hen around. I finally visited with a woman I consider a “chicken expert” about my dilemma and she enlightened me. I am now raising reproductive chickens and encouraging broodiness in my little hens.

The secret [of reliable broodiness] is using bantam chickens. There are several breeds of full-size chickens that will set, but infrequently and unreliably. I have purchased some banties that run around with my full-size chickens. I try to cross breed as much as possible. I have some half-size chickens now that set on eggs and cluck around with babies. My reproducible chickens have become somewhat of an obsession for me, as I try to perfect the kind of chicken that we had back on the farm.

The next problem I noticed with the chicks I bought at the local feed store was the roosters. They are just plain mean. I’d never encountered such mean roosters before and I was baffled. I noticed that the second-generation roosters who were raised by a mama hen were gentler with the hens and less aggressive with everybody else. I have one little rooster from last year that is quite a romantic and the hens love him. I have established a no violence policy with my roosters and have been known to get the shotgun out and settle the problem a couple of times after watching the roosters beat up some poor hen.

I have tripled the size of my garden this year and the chickens were determined to make sure they had a taste of everything first. They dig up the seeds, they eat the seedlings and they generally wreak havoc. I love to have free range chickens, so this was a dilemma for me. I finally built a small fence out of a dog kennel outside of their chicken house and I “ground” my chickens when they start getting into things they shouldn’t. I know it sounds funny, but they seem to behave better after spending a good part of the day cooped up and they seem to understand that they should stay away from the garden now. When one of the hens strays into the garden, I notice the rooster tries to lure her out before she gets caught.

I have had several boxes added to the outside of my chicken coop with hinged doors. I really began feeling a sense of dread for walking through the poop to get the eggs. The hens seem to love the boxes, and the eggs are clean and easy to gather. I also found that adding perches up high encouraged to the chickens to stay out of the boxes for taking a nap and hanging out. Before I had the extra-high perches, I had chickens leaving a mess in the nesting boxes because they liked hanging out in them.

I have been using the chicken manure for garden fertilizer this year. People have told me that it is too “hot” to use like you would horse manure or cow manure. So I added a small amount when I tilled and then I have been scooping dried manure onto the ground around the base of the plants. My garden loves it. I have also found that the chickens are a wonderful bug brigade. I have almost no insect troubles. Even though the garden is off limits and fenced, the chickens have cut the bug population down and for the most part the bugs are gone.

I love chickens, and I believe that in a survival situation they will be a good source of wholesome food. I hope my pointers can help others.

James Wesley:

I watched the [R-rated] 2006 movie Right at Your Door on a cable movie channel this weekend. [It is also available as a "Watch Instantly" streaming video from Netflix.] The scenario was that there were multiple dirty bombs in Los Angeles-- initially thought to be chemical, later revealed to be viral agents. [The film follows the protagonists's reactions to] real-time self-defense (duct tape and plastic), the chaos of getting to the "retreat" of one's home, reveals some poor thinking and planning and its consequences, and shows the deadly nature of likely governmental "help" for some victims in such a scenario.

Great for getting simple preparedness motivation going, and a good one I'd say for acclimatizing the skeptical spouse. My wife and I found ourselves discussing what we'd do differently in similar circumstances. - E.C.B. in Illinois

Here in Michigan Food Stamps are paid electronically to each person's account. The recipients are then issued a card to pay for their purchases. The card has a picture of the Mackinac Bridge on the front so they are referred to as "Bridge Cards."

The Mogambo Guru's Stamp of Idiocy article states that over 40 million people receive Food Stamps. This is scary to think about. But a few of my observations makes one wonder how many people actually deserve the benefits.

When I picked my daughter up from school last month both my wife and I were appalled at the amount of food that was being thrown out. The dumpster was full of frozen food. When I asked my daughter about this she said many of the girls are very wasteful with food because they purchase the food with their "Bridge Card." Our daughter said she was one of the few girls there who did not receive Food Stamps.

When I went to a local supermarket last week I noticed many people paying for their purchases with their "Bridge Cards" They were buying expensive processed food and even cases of bottled water. I have also seen people pay with their "Bridge Card" then pull out cash to pay for alcohol and cigarettes since these items cannot be purchased with the card. I was [in the queue] behind one person who paid with a "Bridge Card" and when I went to the parking lot I could not help but notice that they were driving a newer sport utility vehicle.

I also know friends whose children are receiving Food Stamp benefits, many of these children have not worked for years and are doing nothing to look for employment or acquire additional training or education. My cousin's son has a "Bridge Card". He dropped out of high school, is 35 years old, lives at [his parent's] home, does not work, and has had two children with two different girlfriends.

Yes, the economy in Michigan is bad, but there sure is a lot of waste in the Food Stamp program and in my opinion many people are receiving the benefits that are not even making the slightest effort to take care of themselves. - Mark G.

First thank you for your site; helping others and spreading the word of Jesus Christ. A few years ago I came across a company called Armor Concepts and their product Door Jamb Armor. After watching video on their site, I decided to purchase three sets for every entry door to my home. I'm 100% positive that no one will kick in my door - in fact, one of their videos shows how hard it is to bust the door in even with a police battering ram. I'll admit it's not the most decorative, but I can almost guarantee very effective. (I've never had anyone try to break in).

I should also note that we got into the habit of always locking the doors behind us as well. You never know when someone may just try to walk in and take you by surprise.

Thank you again, and God bless. - Kurt W.


I am a Vet and retired policeman and I would like to add a couple of my thoughts to Susan's recent blog post about her home invasion experience. First of all, I admire Susan's decision to fight for her and her husband's life. Most of these type of events occur very rapidly which leaves the homeowner very little time to respond. Therefore, having a plan to deal with an event like this is critical. Just thinking about what you would do in the case of a home invasion puts you way ahead of most people. Develop a plan that is suitable to your family's situation and practice it. If you don't have small children in the home it gives you more options for placing weapons in strategic locations. If you have children in the home maybe you can fortify one room in the house to act as a safe room to allow time to call the police and retrieve a gun from a safe or lock box. Most home owners have no clue how easy it is for a normal size person to kick in a front door to a home that hasn't been reinforced properly. I have read many articles regarding home invasions and the vast majority of these cases involve the criminal kicking in the front door allowing him instant access to anyone in the home.

In addition to Susan's conclusions she learned from her experience, I would like to add two additional items. First, install quality security screen doors made out of heavy agriculture aluminum or steel and make sure they have a least one heavy duty dead bolt. Two deadbolts are even better. These doors are installed in their own metal frame and attached to the house using one-way screws. These type of doors prevents a person from gaining rapid entry to your home because they can't just kick these doors in since they are made of strong material and close inward towards the door jam. An invader would have to virtually pull the door away from the house to gain access. If the invaders were still serious about going through a security door, at least it would buy the homeowner time to arm themselves and call the police. When these doors are properly installed and locked, a home invader would most likely try entry through a window which takes longer and can buy you time. So, you must also lock your windows as well.

Secondly, I strongly recommend anyone planning to defend themselves in their home from any criminal, to choose the caliber and type of weapon they intend to use carefully. I have no problem with .22 [rimfire] caliber, but I
would never choose it for a defense weapon. I'm not writing this to recommend any specific type of weapon or caliber since that has been discussed many times on this and other blogs. However, I am saying to choose a weapon that is capable of doing the job with as few shots as possible. And last, don't place the weapon in a drawer or safe and never practice with it. The more you practice, the more efficient you will be in the event you ever experience anything like Susan did.

It is amazing how proper training kicks in during stressful situations. I don't believe Americans should be paranoid about being a victim of these types of situations. By arming yourself and with the proper
practice you can have the confidence to fight for your life and perhaps save your family from harm. Regards, - Steve P.


I wanted to reply to the "Home Invasion Robbery" article that was recently posted.

I noticed that the "front" door gave way (IMO) very easily. Most doors are framed by 1 inch board so that they can be dropped right into the joist arch. This also means that even a steel door would only have a little wood to hold on to. I would address that problem (weakness) as I have with my own doors.

First, the lock latches - I would screw a steel 1/8 inch thick 2 inch wide strip stock 3 to 4 foot long onto the door frame with 3 inch screws. Use a chisel to remove some of the wood (1/8 inch) so that the steel strip is level with the wood frame. Center the steel strip to the door latch and deadbolt. Drill holes for the door latch and deadbolt to go thru. Use at least 5 screws positioned along the strip stock, try to put one between the door latch and deadbolt. Screws are cheap, use 6 or more if you want. This will "distribute" the brunt force over a much greater area and into the home framing as well.

Second, the hinges probably only have 1 inch screws for both door and frame. Replace all screws with the 3 inch length to go thru the door frame to the joists. Steel doors may have tapped holes and short screws - I would still put longer screws in (2 inch) because screws can strip. I would put in a 3rd hinge if I didn't have that now.

I will not say that your door won't be broken but, you will have added valuable seconds (at least) to your defense time for the cost of screws and a 4 foot long piece of steel. Mike C

James C. sent this: Army begins shipping improved 5.56mm cartridge.

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Some interesting insights on wilderness living can be gained from this--especially the article's last few lines: Cambodian 'jungle woman' flees back to wild
Cambodia's "jungle woman", who spent 18 years living in a dense forest, has fled back to the wild after struggling to adapt to society

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Chris M. sent this: Terrafugia Transition 'flying car' gets go-ahead from US air authorities. Simply amazing. Like a lot a lot of "dual use" devices, I suspect that it isn't particularly good at either one, but it might have some utility. It certainly has some captivating possibilities for "Get Out of Dodge" situations.

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Be Prepared Now has a kit of 27 varieties of Non-Hybrid Vegetable Seeds packed in a heat sealed Mylar Bag available for $38.25, with free shipping. To get this price, use the coupon code SurvivalBlog (one word). This coupon code will give you 15% off all their merchandise.

“This is the darkest hour before dawn and we should never underestimate monetary authorities' ability to deal with the adversity.” - Gideon Gono (Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who helped orchestrate the world's highest currency inflation rate of 89.7 sextillion percent per year.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

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 CampingSurvival.com (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 29 ends on July 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.

On August 2nd, 1997 I had the hardest choice in my life to make, that was to survive.  Masked men wearing camouflage and carrying guns kicked my front door in at 12:40 am.  I was sitting about five feet from the front door waiting for my son to arrive home for the evening.  I heard my doorknob jiggle.  I thought it was my son trying to get his key in the door.  I made it within two feet of the door and stopped because I had not heard him set his car alarm.  With one kick from a 299 pound man took my door off the hinges.  The deadbolt and regular lock did not help.  I heard someone say: "Lay down ma’am" or "Get down ma’am."  I had to make a split second decision whether I was going to lie down or fight.  I decided that I had to fight or we might die. 

I took off running to where my husband was sleeping, screaming for him to help me.  One intruder tried to jump over the couch to stop me and he fell, the other one chased me but did not catch me.  I made it to the bedroom and tried to hold the door shut.  The door did not close all the way but I had my body against it trying to keep them out.  My husband Mike had woken up and did not know what was going on.  He made it to [join] me at the bedroom door about the time the door was busted into two pieces, over my body.  Then I felt a burning sensation go through my chest.  A 9mm bullet had hit me near my heart.  We think Mike was shot once at this time but he does not remember the first bullet hitting him in the shoulder and coming out his back near his spine.  Mike grabbed the intruders and would not let them go.  He tried taking them back out of our home and was fighting them through the kitchen and into the living room.  This gave me enough time to call 911, give our address and tell them we were being shot. 

I then thought about everything my husband had taught me about self defense.  It was now or never.  I went for his .22 [rimfire] that he had sitting on the headboard.  All I could think was cock the hammer back and take the safety off.  This is what he showed me every time he would work a night shift.  He would tell me that this is for you to protect you and the children.  I never really thought that I had listened to him but I had.  I now had to decide how to shoot at the intruders that were fighting Mike.  I might shoot Mike by accident.  I ran out of the bedroom and into the living room and shot warning shots over their heads.  I thought they would run away.  They did not.  One intruder got away from Mike.  He was running towards me.  I ran back to the bedroom and turned to fire on him.  He was not there.  I waited about a second or two and he did not come to the door. 

I had to do something.  I went to the bedroom door and peeked out to look for the intruder.  He was squatted down by my refrigerator waiting for me to come out with the pistol pointing in my direction.  I knew I still had to help Mike.  Next to my bedroom door is an 8 inch wall and then an opening that leads to the dining room.  The dining room also has another doorway that leads into the living room.  I knew they would not have known this.  While he waited for me to run out, all I could see was his arm and gun around the refrigerator.  The refrigerator also blocked him from seeing me slide against the wall to go into the dining room.  I made it into the dining room and came out the other doorway with my gun drawn and prepared to fire on the intruder.  He never knew what was coming because this put his back to me.  I opened fired and shot him in the back two times.  He said: "The F….. Bitch shot me, kill her."  That brought me back to reality that Mike was still fighting one of the intruders.  When I turned to help Mike, I watched the intruder put the gun to Mike’s side and fire.  Mike dropped to the floor from the gun shot and this gave me the opportunity to fire on this intruder.  There was just one problem.  I had no more cartridges.  I turned to run and as I turned he opened fire with eight bullets.  One round hit me in the shoulder and came out my back.  I ran back to the bedroom and prayed that the police would arrive [in time] to catch them before they made it up my long driveway.  They did not. 

I thought Mike was dead and the house had gotten very quiet.  I thought they had left because 911 kept calling back on the phone and hanging up when the answering machine would come on.  I knew they wanted out of this situation because things had gone very wrong for them.  Then all the sudden I heard someone scream at Mike: “Where is the f…… keys to that truck?”  He said, in my hat, on the gun cabinet, in the bedroom.  I was still in the bedroom but I now knew Mike was still alive.  I knew the intruder was coming back in the bedroom where I was.  The door was busted and the light was off where Mike had been sleeping.  I was about 2 feet from the door when he appeared and screamed “where are you”?  I did not answer hoping he would leave or the police would arrive.  He didn’t, he turned the light on and there I was.  He put a sawed off type shotgun to my temple.  He screamed, “Where are the f…… keys to that truck?”  I had heard what Mike had said about the keys but my purse was right there and I had a set of keys.  He screamed: “Did you call 911?” and I lied, and said “No but you have already shot us just leave”.  Just take our truck and go.  About that time my hand came out of my purse with the keys and he grabbed them and ran. 

I thought to myself: "Please wake up from this horrible nightmare." I looked down at my chest to see that I was bleeding very badly.  I knew then it was not a nightmare.  I thought of the ringing phone.  That is the help that I need for Mike and I.  I got to the phone and talked to the 911 dispatch.  I really don’t remember much about what the dispatch operator was saying because I was thinking of my family.  I put my mom on three-way calling to tell her what had happened and tell her I love her before I died.  I then thought of my son that was due home any minute.  I then put my sister on three-way calling to tell her to get here for my son.  He would need family there in case I died.  From the time I made the original phone call it took the police about 14 minutes to arrive on the scene. 

Tips to Survive a home invasion robbery:

  1. You must make you own choices of what to do to survive.  Do not depend on the police or your neighbors to protect you.  You must protect your family and yourself.  They may take what they want and leave you unharmed.  You may give them everything that they want and they may want to rape your wife just so you can watch.  You may not have enough money or valuables so they'll kill you anyway. Or they'll kill you because you might be able to [later] identify them.  You have to decide what your life is worth.  I made the choice that I did out of fear of the unknown and the will to survive.

  2. Get a Concealed Carry Permit.  Take courses to teach you how to correctly use your weapon.  Classes on self defense.  Training in self defense strategies practiced in role playing scenarios.  Practice with your weapon on the firing range.  Practice can make perfect and you want to be comfortable with your weapon.  If you have children don’t hide your weapon, teach them the right and wrong use of the weapon.  Most children once they have seen and heard what a weapon can do would never touch one without you. But keep your weapons out of the reach of children and have gun locks and all weapons except your personal weapon and that should be on you at all times.  (That should be backed by our Constitutional Rights but in many cases has been taken from us).  Children are curious of the unknown.  Do role playing scenarios with your children of different scenarios of events that can happen.  This is not limited to home invasions but can be done with stranger danger, fires and many other dangers in our children’s lives that could happen to them.

  3. Be alert of your home and surroundings.  Don’t think it can’t happen to you or your family.  Think again, home invasions happen everyday.  Home invasions don’t make the news unless someone dies, or if there is no other news stories for the news that day.  I never would have thought it could happen to us but it did.  We did not know the intruders, this was a random act.  It doesn’t matter where you live it can happen to you.

  4. Use your instinct to get you through, because your instincts are usually right.  Never second guess yourself.  Make a plan and stick to it.  If plan A does not work, then go to Plan B or Plan C.  You must play the hand you are dealt.  If you confuse the intruders or their plan fails, then they usually don’t have a Plan B or Plan C.

  5. Be prepared to use your weapon to protect your family and home.  "Your home is your castle" laws should apply in most states. [In those states] the law gives you legal right to use deadly force and if it results in death can be defended as justifiable homicide under the castle doctrine.  Each state is responsible for its own castle laws.  It is your responsibly to know that laws of your state.  Some states have a stand your ground rule while other states have a [responsibility to] retreat law.  Make sure you follow the laws of your state so you are fully protected [legally].  Some states have added legislation that also gives you this protection in your vehicle and your place of employment.

  6. For you women, there are purses designed to hold your weapon.  I can have my purse on my shoulder and my hand on the grip of my gun for my outside activities or walking to my car alone.  This is a great self confidence builder when you are all alone and scared.  There are thugs everywhere and the split second it may take for you to get to your weapon can be the difference between life and death.    

Mike and I both survived this home invasion.  We worked together as a team.  I will admit that I was not prepared for what happened to us.  Mike always was worried about protecting his family.  I never thought this would happen to us.  Now I am more prepared and I watch my back everywhere I go.  Mike and I are survivors not victims. 

The intruders did not get what they came for.  But what they did get is what they deserved.  The [third man, their] driver left the intruders at our home after the shooting started.  He received a five year sentence and served about 3-1/2 years.  The intruder that shot us received five life terms in the Florida Prison System.  He was charged with the death of the intruder that I shot, under Florida law.  (Florida law states that if anyone dies in the commission of a crime then that it is [deemed] Felony Murder.  So this intruder was found guilty of the murder of his accomplice. ) He was also found guilty of two attempted murders, armed robbery and armed burglary.  He will never be eligible for parole.  The other intruder got something he probably never bargained for. He was shot by me and died in my yard.  The autopsy stated he lived 5 to 10 minutes after being shot.  He was also run over by the other intruder as he was leaving in our truck.  We don’t know if this was so he would not talk or if his friend ran over him by accident.  I hope he made piece with God before he died.  I live with the fact that I took a human life.  I know that is was self defense but I still have the emotional scars to carry with me.

Mr. Rawles:
In his book The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses, Eliot Coleman has written about his lifelong experience and experimentation with year round commercial farming in snowy Maine. His methods entail no extra heating or lighting, and all produce is grown outdoors during the Maine winter. Specifications include planting schedules.

I have not yet tried Coleman's winter gardening techniques, but I plan to. His research and experience have convinced me to give it a go this coming winter. My small plastic greenhouse, homemade [planting] boxes, and floating cover are ready to go. Regards, - Deb D.

Neil G. sent a link to the USDA's June acreage report: "All wheat planted area is estimated at 54.3 million acres, down 8 percent from 2009. This is the lowest United States total since 1971."

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us some further evidence that Chinese-made merchandise should be shunned: Dallas store sells U.S. flag with 61 stars

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There hasn't even been a trailer released yet, but the forthcoming remake of Red Dawn looks like it will be quite a film. With a web search, I found an interesting fan page.

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Tamara's commentary on the recent hippie beach gathering: And joining hands, they made a metaphor...

"'Character' may be defined as obedience to one's sense of ought." - Colonel Jeff Cooper

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