November 2010 Archives

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today I'm posting the first column written by my new bride, Avalanche Lily.


I'm also presenting the final two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

Round 32 of the contest begins on November 1st, 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 been reading your Blog for a little over a year now and find it very interesting.  Not long ago there was an entry about trying to convince your family about the need to get prepared.  I to have the same issue when trying to get others on board.  They always seem to give me the "RCA dog look" -- like I’ve lost my mind.
However, I do have the advantage of some work experience that helps.  I’ve worked for a major grocer / big box retailer for the last 25 years.   In that time things have changed an unbelievable amount.  Twenty or even ten years ago we stored tons of merchandise in the back room and restocked throughout the day.  Now due to the wishes of Wall Street all retailers are required to very closely monitor their inventory levels.  If you want your share price to go up then you had to greatly reduce the amount of inventory you kept in the stores.  This resulted in the Just in Time (JIT) inventory craze.  Basically this means that instead of a store employee knowing what sold when and ordering each day/week to keep the store stocked with what was selling or what they knew would sell based on their experience it is now done by computers.  Now this “computer” knows how long it takes to get each item from the vendor to the store.  Then it takes information from the registers each day based on how much of an item is sold and/or sales trends and orders just enough as not to run out.  The goal is that as a customer is buying the last item off the shelf that a stocker is coming down the aisle with a new case to restock. 

Of course any of you who do any shopping understand this is not a perfect science.  As people go shopping now they take for granted that what they want will be on the shelf.  Most of the time this process does work as planned.  When you consider that most stores carry 70,000 plus items there is a very small percent that are actually out each day. 

The problem occurs when some outside factors come into play.  This can be as little as the weather man predicting a snow or ice store.  If that happens people go nuts buying everything they can get their hands on.  The system is not set up for this.  If the situation only affects a few locations then they can get back in stock within 2-3 days on most of the basic supplies.  However if it affects a large region such as half a state then the warehouses run out fast also.  They are on the JIT program as well and aren’t stocked in a way to restock 100 stores all at once.    Many areas of the country are primed to be affected by an earthquake.  If that were to happen the shelves would be cleaned out within hours and wouldn’t be restocked for who knows how long.  Even if the stores local area wasn’t affected, most likely the roads between the store and the warehouses would have bridges that if not destroyed would certainly be shut down for a time in order for inspectors to clear them as safe before trucks were allowed to cross.

The other factor I explain to folks is that when they shop day in and day out it looks like a ton of merchandise on the shelf.  For example a store may stock 60 propane bottles for camp stoves on a regular basis.  But in an emergency situation whether it has happened or only predicted the customers who get there first to buy some don’t just buy one or two.  They will buy at least 10 so then only the first six customers get any.    Many of the big box and grocery stores you shop in every day average between 3,000 and 6,000 customers a day.  Do the math.

As far as food most stores get 2-to-5 trucks a day of some type of food.   Thus the store you shop at each day/week really only has about 1-½ to 2 days worth of food on the shelf any given day during normal conditions.  If an emergency happens they will be cleaned out in a matter of hours.  Then the question becomes how they will restock.  Remember roads may be closed.  The warehouse workers who normally load the trucks may have situations where they don’t show up to work due to taking care of their own family.  The same would be true with the truck drivers who would bring it to the stores and the folks who stock and run the local store as well.

What I try to make people understand it that they need to have a stock of what they need at their own house or somewhere.  That they can’t just assume the local store will have what they want.  A lot of discussion goes on about food but you can’t just think about food.  Of course that is important for sure but also think about other things you would want.  Such items might be batteries, candles, matches, charcoal, lighter fluid, Coleman fuel, propane, lamp oil, water carriers, and toilet paper (very important), etc.  I also try to keep at least an extra 6-to-8  of such items such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, paper plates, paper towels, medicine, etc.  Think of things that you use every day but won’t be able to drive to the store and pick up if TSHTF .  

Assuming that you could buy gas or kerosene how many cans to you have to transport it in?  A couple of years ago there was a major ice storm where I live.  The stores were closed for 2-3 days in most cases.  When they did open you couldn’t find a gas can for days.  Due to the storm everyone needed to run chain saws to clear roads, yards, or trees off their house.  However like I said earlier the stores only replenish to rate of sale.  Since a store doesn’t normally sell 100 gas cans a day they don’t keep that many in stock.  Some items that became major needs but were not available that no one ever thinks about were two cycle oil and bar and chain oil for the chain saws, extra chains, files for sharpening, etc.

Another thing to consider is how you will pay of things if you can actually find them.  Many times I’ve seen where some construction company digging a trench 100 miles away cut a fiber optic line and totally shut down all credit / debit card transactions and many check purchases.  How much cash do you have on hand to buy things in an emergency?  Be sure you don’t keep $100 bills.  Keep small bills and maybe some quarters.  Even if the stores are able to stay open or reopen after a few days chances are they won’t be able to get their change orders from the bank as they normally do 5-6 days a week.  Thus if you walk in there with big bills they may not be able to make change.

The next time you go shopping take time to look around and think about what you would do if when you walked in the shelves were empty.  What would you feed your family when you got home if you couldn’t buy what you came to get.  Go home and look at your cabinets.  How long could you feed your family if you couldn’t get to the store?

Many of you go shopping the day after Thanksgiving for the challenge of getting what you want to give for Christmas presents.  Many of you won’t go anywhere near a store that day because of the chaos.  However, think about if you had to fight crowds like that who were fighting for food to feed their kids vs. just presents.  If you had a proper store of supplies that you needed already you would certainly rest better knowing you didn’t have to go and ‘fight’ in this dangerous environment.
I’ve said all this to simply say don’t take for granted that what you run to the store for will always be there in a crisis.  Make plans now and stock up on the basis as you see fit for your family.  Remember to watch the sale ads and take advantage when stores run the items you use on sale.  Also this holiday season is a great time to stock up on basic grocery items.  Many stores have marked down items to attract customers for their holiday cooking needs.  For example many stores have basic cans goods (beans, corn, etc) for 30-50% off their regular prices.

There are tons of list out there of what you need to have.  Be sure to think about what you already use all the time and stock up on that as well.  Life will be much more pleasant if live changes due to a major SHTF situation or even a temporary situation such as an earthquake if you don’t have to drastically modify your life.  Simple things like having your regular shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc will be appreciated.

As an avid reader of SurvivalBlog I know that most preppers like the .45 ACP round as their standard. That's a great choice and an excellent round. It has a long and solid history as a combat round. It falls short in the arena of woods carry and most don't consider it a hunting round. This report is not to compare the .45 to the .357 Magnum as it is an overdone conversation. Instead, I would like to outline the facts about the .357 Magnum and discuss some of the misconceptions as well as the viability of this classic as an all around survival round for everything from personal protection to hunting and woods defense. This round is very sensitive to barrel length and has many bullet options. I would like to show how using a longer barrel maximizes the round and makes it very devastating. I would also like to give a little pick-me-up to the old wheel gun guys like me who only see in cylinders.

Incapacitating power is where many discussions on the .357 go bad early. The power of the .357 is grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. The .357 is commonly over- and under-reported on power. There are a few factors that have to be considered when discussing power, they are: Bullet weight, Velocity, and Bullet diameter. One of my favorite tools to use when studying this subject is the Energy, Momentum, and Taylor KO (TKO) Calculator. This is a very cool tool to have bookmarked on your computer. Another tool that is very good is the charts made by four gentlemen who sat down with a couple of chronographs, 8,500 rounds of ammo, some Thompson Center single shot pistols. They began shooting, recording and progressively shortening their barrels by an inch at a time, and then compiling the data. Their data can be found at the Ballistics By The Inch web page. The power of the .357 is greatly affected by barrel length. The .357 seems to hit its prime at 6”. Any shorter and a lot of power is lost any longer and you are toting a gun unnecessarily to big. If you look at the charts made by the gentlemen at Ballistics by the Inch you will see that the difference between a 2” barrel and a 6” barrel is upward of 700 ft/sec of velocity. If you use this info and plug it into the calculator you will see that your values skyrocket as the barrel length increases. Using the data on a Corbon 125 grain JHP a 2” barrel yields an energy of 226 ft/lbs, momentum of 16, and a TKO of 5. Now you plug in the data from the same round out of a 6” barrel and you get an energy of 816 ft/lbs, momentum of 30, and a TKO of 10. This is huge in comparison. I have plugged in several of my favorite .357 woods carry loads and have gotten similar results each time.

To give a rough comparison most 240 grain .44 Magnum factory loads have an energy of approx. 800 ft/lbs. Now I am not comparing the two rounds in total, I am just saying that the energy reaches .44 magnum ranges when a 6” barrel is used. Now most guys who pack a .357 for woods carry opt for a 4” gun and most say “Ah, there isn't much difference between a 4” and 6” gun”, but I say nay. Using the same info here is the 4” plugged in to the calculator. Energy 621 ft/lbs, momentum is 26, and TKO is a 9. Now many say this isn't much but it really is. Another rough comparison would be like saying a full power 10mm isn't much different than a 40 S&W. Tell that to a car door with a bad guy on the other side. When developing a round most ammo manufacturers use a 6"-to-8” barrel to do their ballistics testing. There is a reason for this and it becomes very apparent in the numbers.

The .357 Magnum carries the honor of being #1 with one shot stops of two-legged threats. The bullet in this statistic is the 125 grain hollowpoint. That is a great choice for two-leggers but for those that live in areas dominated by four-legged threats a bigger bullet is better. In this example I am going to use the Double Tap 200 grain WFNGC load. Out of a 6” gun the load moves at 1,305 ft/sec. When plugged in to the calculator we get energy of 756 ft/lbs, momentum of 37, and a TKO of 13. This makes the .357 a good choice for hunting and woods carry in the lower 48 and some would argue Alaska as well but we wont have that argument here. Caliber arguments are long and never really get far, but, if you look at the data certain things fly off the page. The .357 shines in the data when you have a heavier bullet and a longer barrel. Other calibers do better when the barrel length is shorter, but for a one gun option, the .357 has great potential. As a good example the 10mm and .357 are compared quite often, when the bullet weight is 200 grain (for instance) and a standard Glock 20 is compared to a 6” .357 the .357 most often wins the numbers game hands down. As the .357 barrel length is shortened, the 10mm starts to shine. A 6” .357 blows the .45 ACP out of the water (using a M1911 with a 5" barrel), and quickly starts heading toward .44 Magnum numbers. (But it does not, however, get there).

So, here are my thoughts and advise for those who would like to make the .357 their primary gun. One of the most popular guns to purchase for self defense these days is a J-Frame .357 mag. The common barrel length is 1.87-2”, as seen with our calculator, this is a very short barrel for the .357 and a great deal of powder is burned after it leaves the barrel resulting in a large flash. When looking for a concealable carry gun a 3” barrel is much better. When the same Corbon load is used and calculated the difference in 1” amounts to a gain of 353 ft/sec. This is very significant when it comes to a self defense situation. S&W now makes several new 3” J-Frame guns and Rugers 3” SP101 has a great following.

There are many auto guys who go on and on about magazine capacity and firepower. The most common gun survivalists talk about is the M1911 .45. Without making the gun look silly, 8 rounds is the maximum capacity 9 if you keep one in the chamber. S&W makes a large frame wheel that has an 8 round capacity and even more medium frame options with 7rds. That is a fair capacity by any standard. The other gripe people have with a revolver is that reloads are slower. There are great custom shop options for moon clips and with a little practice (no more than training with autos) one can be very efficient if not lightning fast on reloads. There are several custom shops that do this machine work, one is TK Customs, he can be found online. What's great about a rimmed cartridge and moon clips is that if you don't have moon clips you don't have to use them you can just drop the cartridges in as usual and they work just fine. Another great thing about the .357 is you can shoot .38 Specials which gives you more options in a pinch as well as a cheaper training load.

Another great wheel gun characteristic is, if you run into bad ammo the next round is only a trigger pull away. Over the years I have seen very few failures with revolvers but with a little training one can learn to do repairs on their own. The wheel gun is far from washed up, it is a viable combat option that has many good survival characteristics. My personal favorites are the S&W R8 by the Performance Center guys, it holds 8 rounds, uses moon clips, has a light rail, and lightweight frame, the drawback to this option is it only has a 5” barrel (and you loose significant power in 1”) others include the 686+ in 6” or the new S&W 386 XL Hunter (only 30 ounces, 7rds, 6” barrel, & fiber optic sight) this is the one I currently own and carry. If you are a 6 shot guy and don't mind some extra bulk, the Ruger GP100 is a much less expensive and a very "bomb proof" gun. These guns maximize the capacity and power of the very relevant .357 Magnum they give you an added accuracy with the longer barrel and are very intimidating when you are on the wrong end of one.

Learning to understand the numbers is important for any survivalist. Play with the numbers yourself. Its fun and informative. This is a healthy practice when considering what works and what is hype. When considering buying any caliber or when picking a standard gun and stocking up on ammo it is worthwhile to run the numbers to see how it really stacks up.

This new column is where I will list--and sometimes include short reviews--the books, periodicals, web pages, and catalogs that I'm currently reading. There will also be occasional mentions of DVDs that we've watched. We don't own (or desire) a television, but we do have a Netflix subscription. (We watch DVDs on our laptops.) Our evenings here at the Rawles Ranch are very quiet, especially in the winter months. We're all voracious readers.

Here are the current top-most items on my perpetual bedside pile:

  • Or Perish in the Attempt: The Hardship and Medicine of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Dr. David Peck analyzes the medical details gleaned from the journals of the Lewis and Clark's little 7,700 mile, 2-1/2 year journey. I've just started this, but it looks fascinating.
  • I recently finished Glenn Beck' s novel "The Overton Window". It was an interesting read, a plausible scenario for the future, but the ending left me hanging. I'm a bit miffed about that. :-( Hey Glenn, if you're reading this: Are your going to write a sequel so we can know what happens to Noah and Molly?
  • The Timberdoodle catalog. One of my favorite homeschooling supply catalogs. We use a lot of their history (Story of the World series, both adult and elementary sets), science (Christian Kids Explore.....) and language: Latin and Greek (Song School...) items.
  • Jim and I recently watched the classic 1943 Jack Warner movie Watch on the Rhine on DVD. This one was a "pre-view", before letting the kids watch it. We found that it is not suitable for children under age 13, for a couple of reasons: One, it is an adaptation of a Lillian Hellman a stage play, so there is a lot of dialogue to follow, and two, there is a killing (off camera), but a gun shot from a Luger P.08 is heard. This was not your typical Bette Davis film. (Her role wasn't a venue for her usual dramatics.) Paul Lukas is definitely the show-stealer in this film. The movie is about a family that flees Germany just before World War II. I'd say this movie is a good primer to give teenagers an appreciation for the genuine liberty that we still (mostly) enjoy in the US.
  • We are currently working our way through the short-lived Firefly series. This is my first time watching it, and Jim's third time. It is kind of a cool Libertarian Space-Western show. But I could definitely do without the "The Companion" Inara's conversations with other folks in the show about her occupation. (Gag!!!)

A lot has been written warning us of what will happen when the City Dwellers find their homes are untenable and vacate [en masse as The Golden Horde] for "the country", but I haven't seen anything on what the make-up of these hordes will be. The generic term "city dwellers" encompasses a lot of territory. Who will they be,what kind of shape will they be in, how will they be armed...all of these need to be examined.

One category needs to be examined, I feel, more closely than others. Since I have seen posts on your site lately dealing with the nitty-gritty, unpleasant aspects of prepping, I think this is a needed look into what's out there. I've been a cop over 20 years, my last uniform assignment before moving to Investigator being a two year stretch of Anti-Crime patrols in the Section 8 Housing projects of my city. This put me into contact with some of the "Worst of the Worst" that will be fleeing the cities in time of trouble. Gang-bangers, common street thugs, dope dealers and users, all have a place in the hierarchy of the streets. And they will certainly be part of what preppers will be facing in times of troubles. Here's some of what I have learned:

The bottom rung is occupied by the drug addicts and users. They exist, not live as we understand the word. They have no assets, no goals, no drive. But they do have an almost animal instinct to continue living. They will be armed with anything they can steal or lay hands on. Most will have a knife of razor box cutter, and some sort of cheap pistol, or they will not live to get out of the city. Since they have no resources or assets, they will be on the edge of starvation and desperation almost within a day of an event. With no fixed residence or place to defend, they will be hitting the road and coming towards us. They will become violent without any provocation and there will be no negotiating or bargaining with them. They don't want to hear your story or excuses. All they want is what you have. And have no doubts: They will do anything to get what they want. And this does include catering to their most base instincts of rape, murder and mutilation. Letting someone like this even close to you and what you have is flirting with death.  

The next and most numerous will be the drones who make up the majority of the project dwellers. They live on Government Entitlement checks, have no assets and, on any given day will have no more than 3 or 4 days supply of food in their apartments,most of this being refrigerated. There will be a high percentage of females without male companions,will have a large number of children and will be absolutely vicious and violently inclined. Their day to day existence within the defined society they live in demands they be aggressive and violent.They fight more, and are arrested more,than the males they live around. The males will have more serious charges, but the females will have more of them. They too cannot be trusted. If they are drug users, they will, and have, traded their children for drugs, and, based on this proven behavior, will most certainly abandon them or trade them if the situation calls for it. Seeing that you are supplied, they will leave their children in your yard and walk away, counting on your liberal Good Samaritan instinct that has always bailed them out in the past to care for their offspring and justify that to themselves as "doing what they have to do". Knowing that they will do something as low as this,be assured they will do much worse. They habitually carry razor knives and small pistols such as .25 ACPs and .380 ACPs. They are very dangerous and unstable folks to be around. These females may or may not be accompanied by men. The males may be linked biologically to one or more of the children but will abandon them as easily as the females. These males come from the lower order of males (see next classification) and will be armed as described next.  

The next order of classification will be unattached or drone males. These males tend to be convicted of felonies before they are 21 and who hang around the other, more productive males who deal drugs and have money. They will also be the so-called "foot soldiers" of the drug and street gangs. They exhibit sociopathic behavior and have no allegiance to anyone except maybe a family member, usually referred to as a "cousin" or a gang. They live off the female drones by paying cash rent, gained by low level drug dealing and petty crimes, to a female who has Section 8 housing, for a room that they sleep in and usually have no other attachment such as taking meals there.They live off fast food,carry guns of dubious origin and consume massive amounts of drugs and alcohol, mostly beer and cheap brandy and marijuana. They will not have any assets to defend, may accompany the female who rents them a room and will hang around the cities and projects only as long as their cohorts do. They will leave in junky vehicles,steal what they need along the way and kill,rob,rape and pillage their way across the countryside. Their weapons tend to be of the pistol variety although they may have access to shortened, easily concealable shotguns or rifles. Their lifestyle doesn't give them a secure place to hide or keep long guns,but they will steal and use them if given a chance. They will also have some type of blade weapon and be proficient with the use of them. They are very dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with them. The last and highest order will be the moneyed drug dealer.He will have a flashy vehicle such as an Escalade or Lexus variety. He will have quality firearms, preferring Glock handguns and SKS or AK type rifles and will have ammunition for them in quanity.He will be arrogant and a definite killer. He will have assets to defend and may not leave his comfort zone until forced by authorities or circumstances. He will have "foot soldiers" and a woman traveling with him, but probably not children. He will travel well and be charming when trying to gain confidence or talk himself out of a jam. He will also be vicious and hateful, full of spite at those he sees as having taken away his lifestyle and means of making a living. He most probably will not have a lot in the way of supplies such as food and medical equipment, tending to live in the moment and not for the future. He will be one of the opportunistic "I'll just take what I need" types. He will be very cunning, having risen to the top of the street hierarchy,and all the more dangerous because of this.  

When dealing with all of the above types, caution is the word. Never let them get even a glimpse of what you have. Never let them get past your outer barrier, be that a fence, abatis or boundary line. Its best to keep verbal contact to the barest minimum. A terse: "We have nothing, go away or we will shoot" is a good example. I have seen them be charming and seemingly harmless while edging into a fence gate or otherwise getting closer until they are in range to strike. You must always remember the 20 foot rule (Never let anyone get closer than 20 feet from you at any time). It is important to remember also that the longer they have been roaming and stealing,the better armed they may be, having stolen others firearms and equipment. Seeing an obvious street thug carrying an expensive scoped rifle or an engraved shotgun should be a tip off as to what they are. These type people would never spend money on a gun that may be taken by the law at anytime in their day to day existence. They do worship Glocks and the glamour they see in them. A dealer told me once, when confessing to an assault "I just outs with my Glock .40 and let it holla" as if he had done something great.  

I know that most people who read your blogs are aware enough to keep strangers away from their refuge.But if someone has never lived around these types of people,they may not be aware of just how dangerous they really are. As I mentioned,they can be charming,cunning and decietful.They have lived their entire lives off the goodwill of others and The Government and are past masters at pretending to be needy,harmless and "safe". Guile is engrained in them.   I leave you with one short story. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, we were reinforced with officers from other agencies, many states away, who had volunteered to help. (I was not in New Orleans, but on the edge of the hurricane strike) I was partnered with a state SWAT officer from up North. This man was experienced and a "steady hand". As we walked through some of the power blacked-out , sweltering-in-the-heat projects, he turned to me and said: "This is worse than Mogadishu". He was scared and had good reason to be. And this was after only three days of no electricity and relief was just starting to arrive. Think about those same areas after a real failure of services and food deliveries.   Good Luck. Beware the Stobor. - Ed S.

Hi James,  
First and foremost thank you for all of your efforts and wonderful guidance in the art of survival.  I am currently about 70 pages into your novel Patriots and I love it!   I have a quick question that I can not seem to get great advice on with regards to food storage.  Is it better (cost effective, overall nutrition, and space saving) to purchase pre-packaged “kits” like eFoodsDirect's one-year or six-month supply of dehydrated foods, or build your own storage?  I know that most may say get all you can or do both…but if you had to do one or the other, what would you prefer?   Thank you in advance for your time.   Kind Regards, - M.S.

JWR Replies: In terms of Dollar per Pound of storage food, it is almost always best to pack it yourself. The nutritive value and the space required is comparable. The shelf life is slightly longer for CO2-packed steel cans, but the cost per serving is significantly higher.

All in all, best to pack it yourself, in 5 or 6 gallon HDPE plastic buckets, using mylar liners, and either O2 absorbing packets or the old standby dry ice sublimation method. There is just one exception to this rule: If you make more than $25 per hour, then your time might be better bringing in extra income, rather than in personally filling 6 gallon super pails. But if you are like me and have a modest income, then it makes sense to pack nearly everything yourself. In the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course I describe where to buy bulk foods, and how to pack then so that they will be safe from insects. The course also has some detailed tables that list the shelf lives for various foods.

OBTW, the one item that I recommend leaving up to "trained professionals" is powdered milk. In my experience, trying to re-pack that at home can be a huge mess. And since the shelf life of powdered milk is critical, the delay created by buying it in bags at a store (where it might have spent weeks or months on in transit or on the shelf before you buy it) could contribute to early rancidity. It is best to buy nonfat dry milk that commercially CO2-packed in #10 cans. Those are available from a number of SurvivalBlog advertisers like Safecastle, Emergency Essentials, and Ready Made Resources. These cans are typically packed six cans to a case.


The author mentioned odor control: Do not use deodorant or "foo foo" water. Use rubbing alcohol to deal with odor-causing bacteria. it evaporates leaving no scent. It can be used as an antiseptic and as a fire starter. My family carries a quart of isopropyl alcohol in each of our "git kits" Keep the Faith. - Bill in North Alabama

The writer has some great tips but I have to disagree with one thing he says. As for sleeping in old tractor trailers and old railroad cars, I say nay. These may be dry enclosed places, but they are just that, enclosed. You have no retreat options if discovered nor do you have a defendable position. Anyone with a rifle can walk alongside these and shoot them (and you) to pieces. A campsite must have the ability to be defended and at least one covered retreat route out of it.If someone is approaching, you need to be able to slip away before contact. Trailers and rail cars just don't offer this option.   - Ed S.

It will be years before the full implications are felt from the unauthorized release of 251,287 U.S. State Department cables. (Of these, 15,652 of the cables were classified Secret or Secret/NOFORN.) In the end, the Wikileaks fiasco might even destabilize a number of governments, including those in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, the U.A.E., Egypt, and Turkey. The most immediate effect may be seen in Saudi Arabia. Starting in the 1930s, a status quo developed there through tacit agreements between the House of Saud, its rival princes, and the Wahabbist clerics. In essence, King Abdulah ibn Abdul Aziz's ruling faction is still paying off its rivals--as they have done for decades--with countless billions in oil money largesse. The Saudi government has also allowed radical madrassahs (training schools) of the Wahabi sect to remain in operation, but only so long as they discourage any attempted coups or terrorist acts inside the borders of Saudi Arabia. The recent Wikileaks revelations may endanger the status quo in Saudi Arabia. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out, and how alliances shift in the months to come.

The bottom line is that the destabilization of pro-western Islamic governments could spark civil wars or even a regional war. This could be very bad for Israel and the United States. Further, if general war breaks out on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, then BHO will have to make some very tough decisions. We no longer have a 6,768 ship Navy (we're down to about 150 warships) or an 8 million man Army in 90 Divisions. (We now have just 10 active army Divisions--a total of only 48 combat brigades, at last report.) The most recent military cuts were courtesy of the Clinton Administration and the much-vaunted "Peace Dividend." The rebuilding since then has been slow.) We can't effectively fight a Third World War on three or four fronts. But that may be what is coming.

Thankfully, because of compartmentalization, the State Department is not privy to many military secrets or intelligence sources and methods--only a few sanitized intelligence products. Even still, the damage that these Wikileaks will do is tremendous. And just imagine what crazed megalomaniac dictators will do when they get hold of leaked documents about their own countries.

Kleptocracy in action: France seizes €36 billion of pension assets. We're told that this was done to pay off some of their welfare debt. I thought that the French had done away with pissoirs, but apparently they still have a very large one. But of course the French are tres brillant, so I shouldn't doubt their judgment.

Thanks to Pierre M. for this item: Hungary Follows Argentina in Pension-Fund Ultimatum, `Nightmare' for Some

Marc the former 91B mentioned Chris Martenson's commentary on Peak Oil: It's Official: The Economy Is Set To Starve

B.B. sent this news item from Oz: Millions cashless in bank glitch. (A preview of coming attractions?)

Euro Debt Crisis Bankruptcy Bailout Queue, Protect Savings & Deposits From Banks Going Bankrupt!  (Thanks to John R. for the link.)

Also from John R.: The Fiscal Trap: Quantitative easing won’t solve our deeper problem.

Why Ben Bernanke is Wrong

Siggy sent this: Is the Feds POMO really intended to help insiders sell shares before collapse?

J.D.D. sent this inaccurately titled article: U.S. Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' XM25 Rifle in Afghanistan. It is actually a 25mm grenade launcher, not a rifle. This seems to be sort of Niblick: The Next Generation.

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The odious S. 510 food bill looks like it may come up for a vote in the full Senate. Please contact your Senator and insist that this piece of bad legislation be stopped.

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Our friend Patrice over at the Rural Revolution blog suggested this article about EMP: Report warns Obama about 'new' Dark Ages. "Airplanes would fall from sky, cars would stop, networks fail." (OBTW, SurvivalBlog readers may find Patrice's posts on preparedness of interest.)

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Shop like a Man, Man! Driving own Armored Carrier to Mall. This appears to be a surplus BRDM (Boyevaya Razvedyvatelnaya Dozornaya Mashina). Thanks to Jason M. for the link.

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Our friend Tam posted this link: Hollywood publicist's killer used hollow-point bullet, report says. What hoplo-ignorance! Do they think that's a big news flash? Well, at least the investigators can rule out time travelers from the 1940s, or earlier, as suspects. For Tam's comments, see her post over at View From The Porch.

"I foresaw that, in time, it would please God to supply me with bread. And yet here I was perplexed again, for I neither knew how to grind or make meal of my corn, or indeed how to clean it and part it; nor, if made into meal, how to make bread of it; and if how to make it, yet I knew not how to bake it. These things being added to my desire of having a good quantity for store, and to secure a constant supply, I resolved not to taste any of this crop but to preserve it all for seed against the next season; and in the meantime to employ all my study and hours of working to accomplish this great work of providing myself with corn and bread. It might be truly said, that now I worked for my bread. I believe few people have thought much upon the strange multitude of little things necessary in the providing, producing, curing, dressing, making, and finishing this one article of bread." - Daniel Defoe (1661–1731), Robinson Crusoe

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course is only rarely offered at a discounted price. Until Monday December 13th, the publisher is running a special sale. Don't miss out on the chance to get a copy for yourself, or to give one as a Christmas gift.


Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

Staring at the “Arrival: Imminent” message flashing on the screen of my Garmin Etrex, I stumbled into the canyon below the Banister Ruins cliff dwellings in Grand Gulch Utah at about midnight. I couldn’t be sure where I was, because darkness obscured the familiar landmark of the ruins.
I dropped the 50-lb pack with 10 days of freeze-dried foods and other paraphernalia, marked the spot on the e-Trex GPS, and then tried to follow the shifting arrow to the spring that was supposed to be there.    

Instead, I would confront an 800-year-old secret for which my technology would be no match. The nemesis of an ancient people would confound my high-tech gadgets and leave me with a renewed sense of wonder and uncertainty.

I checked the coordinates with my nifty waterproof map of the Cedar Mesa Plateau and the lines looked pretty close.
But pretty close isn’t very comforting when it took four and a half hours to hike supposedly three miles through a desert in July; you want your water and you want it now. I had used a liter and a half of my three-liter stash. I had passed by areas where only three years ago there had been water holes—one I had even camped near at that time because it was so convenient. Granted, that had been in June of that year. Here, in July, three years into one of the worst droughts the southwest has seen recently, all those water holes were dust. It was disconcerting.
The little flashing arrow on the Etrex pointed in one direction in the dry, dusty underbrush, then another. I bushwhacked through the growth until I was in the 47-foot margin of error claimed by the GPS. The base of one of the 200-foot sandstone bluffs loomed before me. Of course! Springs occur at the base of such bluffs at the outside bend in a river. I was saved. But when I reached the cliff, under it was only sand and dried, dusty sagebrush.                 

The Anasazi were an ancient culture living in the Four Corners area of what are now Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, beginning approximately in A.D. 700. The Anasazi, often called the “Ancient Ones” or “Ancestral Puebloans” were a culture evolved from loose bands of wandering basket makers who found areas like Grand Gulch filled with water, flora and fauna. In those days, the canyon would be a great place to settle down. However, some time in A.D. 1200 or so, a severe drought hit the area—so the anthropologists say—and the culture was forced to migrate further south. Left behind were the ruins of their lives, preserved startlingly well by the dry desert air. Hand-fashioned wooden implements, adobe walls and ceilings, corncribs, the wooden railing on the “banister” of the Bannister ruins, all look like they were built yesterday. In the corncrib of one cliff ruin lie the remains of their corn—corncobs, some with grains intact.

A day’s drive away from Grand Gulch, the ancient cultural center of Chaco Canyon, with its sunken adobe sun-calendars still faithfully marking the seasons, stands as the grandest height this civilization achieved, rivaling and indeed surpassing most other archeological sites in the contiguous states.

The Grand Gulch civilization, though lacking in the scale of architecture found at Chaco, still has the power to awe on a personal level. Scattered throughout the canyon trail from Kane Gulch to Collins Spring are numerous sites, including cliff dwellings, kivas, cliff paintings and other signs that these ancient people once thrived in this lonely canyon. I say once thrived, because they sure aren’t there now.
I had hiked the Cedar Mesa Plateau three times prior to this trip, once through Grand Gulch by myself. That was an auspicious hike. The day I arrived the park rangers had just reopened the canyon after having it closed for a week—a sheriff's deputy had been shot and killed in a nearby town and the suspect was believed hiding in the canyon. A couple of sweeps by FBI agents and rangers turned up his caches but not the man. Thus, the authorities reopened the canyon. I saw two other hikers while on that visit—a ranger and a man I believed to be an agent. Both looked me up and down, asked me whom I was, where I was going and told me to carry plenty of water. I had the usual three liters.

That trip taught me an important lesson. On a solo hike, nobody can hear you scream. While hiking at a very good clip through the boulder-strewn dry creek bed I stepped into a hole and my ankle went pop!  I fell with my 50-lb pack in anguish. That is when I realized that I was down there, alone, for days, and if I had broken my leg, I was in big, big trouble. I might even die.

After I released the clips attaching me turtle-like to my pack, I crawled up into some shade with a Nalgene bottle of water in my hand and contemplated my situation. Okay, worse case scenario (before the book), what did I need to survive? Water. Could I walk enough to get to water?

I looked over to my right and voila; there was a long, cool pool of water in the shade of a cliff about a hundred yards away. It was within crawling distance. Regardless of what a doctor might say, I had just happened to bust my ankle in the right place. And after elevating the ankle for the day, wrapping around said ankle the only Ace bandage I’d brought, I determined that I’d just sprained it very badly. This meant I could walk out with my 50 lb pack, albeit in excruciating pain. Being I was halfway through the canyon, and I had paid a company to take my car around, finishing the hike through for the full 40 miles was actually the best option. So I did. Now I carry two Ace bandages.

This year’s July trip, however, was even more ambitious. I wanted to hike from one end of the canyon to the other, and then back again. Since hiking Grand Gulch one-way takes about five days, I packed enough for ten days. I had been so smart, too. I took a tarp instead of a tent. I measured my food according to a strict calorie-by-the-ounce method, which saves weight if not regularity when one is planning such a trip. I was going to cache some of the food two days in so it would be there for the return trip. That way I would need only have to carry that three pounds of rations at the end of the hike, when I’d be eating it. I had studiously entered the known springs of the canyon into my Garmin GPS so I would at least have those to rely upon for water.

Well, now that wasn’t working very well. My efforts at recording even the first spring had backfired. I found nothing but a sandy pit where the spring should be.
The night was dark. I was stumbling tired. The dust-covered brush showed whitely in my headlamp, reflecting the light back into my eyes, dazzling me. I tripped and cursed back to where I had left my pack, half-wondering if I would even find it. I did, and bedded down for the night after finishing off the half-liter. I wondered if the coordinates I had entered were even close. There were supposed to be ruins. Where were the ruins?

That morning I awoke. Staring beyond my feet, I saw the familiar crag of the Banister ruins on the far canyon wall. It lifted my spirits. I was in the right place after all. Nevertheless, I needed water. Badly. I would survive the hike out easily on just a liter of water, and the extra bottles of water and sport drink I had stored in the car would easily replenish me even if I used that water on the hike out.
That is, if I didn’t break my leg. Yes, more water would be a good idea.

I got up and explored a little. Within about thirty minutes, looking at the time-honored areas where water is supposed to be—the bend in the creek bed, beneath a bluff—I found a pool of water.

Such a pool was my pool of water! It lay about five feet long, two feet wide, and nine inches deep, filled with slime and bugs. Such joy! Such elation! I hurried back to my little camp and retrieved the water filter, my saucepan and lid, and all my water bottles, including the extra 2.5-liter collapsible water bottle I brought. I dipped the saucepan full of the murky gucky mess, let it settle a little, then wrapped my bandana around the end of the filter’s input hose and started pumping. I pumped a liter, and then filled my belly with the nectar. I pumped another liter, and drank that too. I cleaned the filter. On the third liter, the silt pre-filter clogged. I backwashed it. By the fourth liter, the pre-filter was irretrievably lost. I pulled it off and continued pumping. By dipping the water into the saucepan and filtering it, I filled all my bottles—five and half liters worth. Then, seining out the bigger bugs by stretching my bandanna over the mouth of the pan, I filled it straight out of the pool and hauled the extra potful back to camp. That was my cook water for breakfast. I made coffee and spent the rest of the morning languishing in the riches of the moisture I had just scored.

I considered my options now. With a working spring here, I could continue after all. I could push on to the next programmed spring, Big Pour Off, and then use that one as a staging point for the next spring, and so on through the whole canyon. Just like before.

However, the day was very hot. The little thermometer on my belly pouch hit 105, and I decided to sit out the day and just think about it. After all, wasn’t this a vacation? Just snoozing, writing in my journal, and moving my Therma-Rester camp chair to chase the shade around the big cottonwood underneath which I camped, I used two more liters of my new-found water. At the end of the day I went back to fill them.

The pool had shrunk. It was about half the size it had been—about one and half by three feet. The water was much more murky, and the bugs were certainly on a first-name basis by now. The ones still alive, that is. Their home, my water, was disappearing before our eyes.

In the end, I hiked out. My water filter was clogging at a record pace, my only spring nearly gone. That following morning, as I picked the poor boiled bugs out of my cup of camp coffee, I mused on those wise, ancient Anasazi. They knew that discretion is the better part of survival. Now I did too.

SurvivalBlog reader R.F.J. sent me a link to a recent news account about the would-be Portland, Oregon bomber, Mohamud Osman Mohamed. Reading that article confirmed something that has been very clear to me for more than 20 years: America's terrorism problem isn't domestic. As others have already pointed out, the purveyors of terrorism in America and elsewhere are mostly Islamic Middle Eastern Men, predominately ages 18 to 30. All the leftist hand-wringers whine on endlessly about "fairness", and decry that horrid "profiling." But the latest incident in Portland is just another in a long, long, string of Islamic Middle Eastern Men that have demonstrated that they want to set off bombs in America. The fact is that we need more profiling. Why is the TSA still bestowing extra scrutiny at random? Do you feel safer, knowing that the TSA flunkies are groping elderly Catholic American nuns instead of focusing their attention on young Middle Eastern men?

Oh, and to be specific, the problem is not vaguely "Middle Eastern Men". To clarify:

  • Lebanese Christian men are "Middle Eastern Men". They aren't a problem.
  • Israeli Jewish and Christian men are "Middle Eastern Men". They aren't a problem, either.
  • Bahá'í Men throughout the Middle East aren't a threat to anyone.

Again, the problem is primarily Islamic Middle Eastern Men.

Sadly, I don't think that the Executive Branch's continuing "anti-profiling" policies will change until after there has been another successful terrorist airliner hijacking or an Islamic terrorist use of a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon on a major American city. Perhaps after tens of thousands of Americans are dead, we'll take the (blue) gloves off and start profiling (and most likely deporting) the real source of the problem, in earnest.

Please don't misconstrue the foregoing. I'm not a racist. Rather, I'm just a realist.

I have worn many hats, but the one I wore the longest was as a 12-volt installer. You know, stereos, alarms, custom fabrication; think Unique Whips, but with less drama and more snow (I live in Canada). After working as a mechanic, it seemed a lot more interesting and enjoyable than getting filthy fixing other people’s problems.                 What I have learned during my years working on vehicles has led to a personal conviction: I will never rely on a newer vehicle. I have seen too many newer vehicles  brought in on a hook with no-start issues, no-shift issues, and have diagnosed my fair share of gremlins. In the end, almost all of the problems result from over-complexity and/or cost-saving shortcuts taken during the design and manufacturing process.

My goal here is to inform any who might not already know how this could affect them in the future. Did you know that if you remove the factory radio in almost any GM vehicle manufactured after the year 2000, you run the risk of throwing error codes,  and possibly preventing the air bag from deploying in an accident?  For some unknown reason, GM decided to incorporate body control module (BCM) code storage into the radio. While it isn’t likely that your radio acting up will affect how the vehicle runs, and regardless of how you feel about airbags, this is just the tip of the iceberg on modern vehicle over-complexity.                

One reason I would never trust any part of my survival to a modern (2000+) computer-controlled vehicle is the factory anti-theft (immobilizer) system. This is the system that only allows the vehicle to start if a sensor detects a code from your key, and is integrated with factory computers to kill the ignition, fuel, etc. This is a major issue that receives little attention, but could leave a lot of people stranded when they need it the least, as it is now standard in virtually every new vehicle manufactured. An important “What If” to keep in mind is that in the event of a powerful EMP, the more miniaturized (modern) a circuit is, the more likely it is to fail.                

In the last 12 years, I have watched these immobilizer systems transform from robust resistor-code systems into highly-integrated computer modules that operate with very little margin for error and fail on a regular basis. The issue isn’t so much how they perform now, when your vehicle computer can be reset after a quick tow to the dealership, but rather later, when you’re on your own to fix them                

Nobody wants to have their vehicle stolen, but if they knew the potential cost of having such a vulnerable immobilizer system, they might choose an older vehicle with an expertly-installed aftermarket alarm system with ignition and starter-cut relays that are normally closed (your vehicle will still start if the system fails). This is not true with the immobilizer systems in modern vehicles. They are effectively designed as normally open, meaning if the immobilizer fails, the starting and/or ignition circuit can not be energized or even bypassed without some major rewiring. Some vehicles are too complicated even for a automotive electrical specialist at a large car dealership to rewire; the experts are trained to find faulty parts and replace them, not bypass failed systems. Another serious issue involves modern engine management systems. In modern vehicles, every aspect of engine management relies on a network of electronic sensors and modules linked to an engine-control computer; to adjust fuel mixture and spark timing, communicate with the transmission-control computer and it’s electronic sensors, and even to control the throttle! Industry is praised for every new “improvement” of automotive design, but some things should remain mechanical.

Please, do not buy a vehicle with a fly-by-wire electronic gas pedal. What’s next, replacing electric-assist steering with fully electric steering, with no mechanical connection between the driver and the front wheels? Why not fully electric brakes too? It’s bad enough that a modern automatic transmission doesn’t shift without its computer. Never mind if a $4 part fails and your electronic throttle stops listening to your right foot.   Thanks to competitive cost-cutting and corporate pursuit of profit, the parts that make up these vehicles are of the lowest acceptable quality, can require special tools to service, and are not repairable. It used to be that when your engine or transmission started to wear out, you could pay a mechanic/specialist to rebuild it, and save a lot of money versus buying a new engine. Today’s engine and transmissions are “modular”. This is a tasteful way of calling them “disposable”; they can’t be rebuilt, only replaced. The reason you can buy a new vehicle for the same price you could 10+ years ago is because CEOs and engineers work night and day to wring profit out of every penny in car sales. Most parts-manufacturing is now outsourced to a foreign country with cheaper labor (thanks to free-trade agreements). Nothing is overbuilt anymore; engineers cut corners and reduce costs by designing vehicle components to be just good enough. These parts are usually manufactured in a different country. If there is a war that interferes with imported goods , or the American( and Canadian) dollar continues to be devalued, we may not be able to buy cheap parts from other countries anymore. It is likely that we will continue to slide for quite some time before the bottom falls out, so giving some thought to buying an older American vehicle is a good idea. We will still be driving while things around us keep getting worse, so you may as well be able to trust your vehicle, or at least be able to fix some things yourself with parts that are manufactured in your own country.                

For the record, I drive a 1985 Toyota 4Runner. It’s fuel-injected, with a computer, but it is a robust system (comparatively speaking), and I keep replacement electronic parts in an ammo can, just in case something/everything fails. I also have the parts to replace the fuel injection with a carburetor and an old points ignition system. It’s an import, but I have stored enough spare parts to replace almost everything, and most things twice. I’m not telling anyone what to drive; there are a lot of experts out there who know a lot more than me. This is just a subject I don’t see discussed often enough. Quality and simplicity are the keys to reliability and ease of maintenance, and these days newer isn’t better. Please excuse me if I am preaching to the choir. This is for those who don’t already know, and to give a gentle push to those who do but might still be relying  on a vehicle that could really leave them up schumer creek without a paddle, choosing which supplies to leave behind before they set out on foot. Happy motoring.

Dear Sir,  
When you have some time, I’d like to hear your recommendations on the best sling option for L1A1 or FAL rifles (perhaps also for fixed stock and full length ARs). There seems to be a lot of ‘tacti-cool’ stuff out there, with a zillion buckles and straps to get in the way and strangle you. Single-point and 3-point are all the rage right now (as well as hip holsters and chest rigs), but it seems the old 2-point is still best for patrol and general carry. What do you use and/or recommend?   I’ve been leaning towards Specter’s 2-point FAL sling for its simplicity, but would like your thoughts on it first.   Thanks, - Isaac

JWR Replies: For my L1A1 rifles I'm fond of two point slings, but with the rear sling loop normally mounted on top, by use of a SpecOps brand buttstock magazine pouch. (These have a top-mounted sling loop stitched in.) See this post from 2007, for details. FWIW, I also use top-mounted two-point attached padded black nylon M60 slings (or their commercially-made equivalents) on the family AR and M4geries. (These Mouse Guns are primarily trainers for our children. The full-length AR is scoped, and does double duty as a coyote rifle.) I should mention that I usually give each sling a few blasts of brown and O.D. green spray paint, to help break up their outline.


I enjoy SurvivalBlog and have started preparing. Food storage and making some sort of preparations had been in the back of my mind since January. Then the power went out here for six hours. I treated that as a sign and got started buying food and silver.  

I do have to say though that while breaking costly addictions is a great plan, caffeine has more value than just the power to keep us awake and alert. I'm a Registerd Nurse, and in my research I read that Caffeine is related to theobromine, a bronchodilator used to treat asthma.  Caffeine the ability to relax constricted airways and can improve lung function temporarily. See the Cochrane article on Caffeine for Asthma.   Thanks, - Dave B.

Jim & Avalanche Lily:
Addiction to caffeine products is a problem for preppers. But, also damaging to the immune and lymphatic systems of the body.   Caffeine stimulates the excessive production of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Your adrenals can become exhausted and malnourished from over-stimulation causing the whole body to begin to malfunction. The thyroid gland is actually governed by the adrenals, and if that goes you'll have weight problems, energy problems, digestive problems, immune problems, propensity to cancer-you get the picture.   I would suggest folks who currently guzzle coffee and colas instead of water, start easing themselves off. Start supplementing a few of your beverage servings with water to help kidneys and liver flush toxic substances out of the body.   For improving energy: Get your hands on some ginseng tea. Ginseng has no caffeine and doesn't act upon the adrenals, but effects another gland inside the brain. Ginseng provides this gland with nutrients and strengthens it instead of exhausting, thus providing you with wakefulness.  This is one reason ginseng is so popular among Asian people. It's good for you and helps you accomplish your goals.  

Another helpful herb, though not a stimulant, is dandelion root. This delivers abundant essential minerals and vitamins to the adrenals and other glands of the body, including the liver and kidneys. If these systems are getting the nutrition they need the immune system does its job well. Dandelion combined with beet root and chicory root, herbs also high in minerals, dried and roasted will make for a tasty coffee substitute. There are affordable pre-made teas and instant beverage mixes with this combination available from various vendors.   White sugar, pasteurized honey from the grocery store, high-fructose corn syrup and bleached white flour deplete the body of minerals as they require the body to add its stored mineral supplies to digesting them. These are also, highly addictive substances. Weaning yourself from these would be an excellent idea.  

The adrenal glands are "mineral hogs" if your diet is deficient in minerals (as most Americans) you will get sick more often, have allergies and feel fatigued by about 3 p.m. every day. So, if you give your body what it needs, change your diet to include high mineral foods and herbs it will repair itself and stay healthy.   Making lifestyle changes takes effort, time and patience, especially in regard to improving health.  Best to make these changes now than in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Make changes one step at a time and that wonderful organic machine you live in (your body) will respond in amazing ways to thank you.  

On a personal note: Congratulations on your marriage! You have received blessing from the Lord.  No doubt God will be using your renewed family to impact our generation in significant ways. Hurray! God Bless you and yours. - K.M.  In Ohio

Lynn G. sent this: Seven Towns Where Land is Free

John R. flagged this news item: IMF's Dominique Strauss-Kahn wants fiscal and reform powers given to Europe

Reader B.B. suggested this article: Debt commission co-chairman predicts 'bloodbath'.

B.B. also mentioned a Zero Hedge piece, where Tyler Durden asks: Are Expert Networks About To Be Exposed As The Ringleader In The Biggest Insider Trading Bust In History?

Tam over at View From The Porch had some commentary about an article on modern day house squatters: Another step closer to Mad Max?

John R. sent this commentary by Lawrence A. Hunter: Save The Dollar, Not The Fed

Items from The Economatrix:

The Unemployed Need Help!  

Federal Unemployment Benefits Set To Expire  

US Military War Gaming for Large Scale Economic Breakdown and Civil Unrest

The latest official CPI figure: 0.2%. Yeah, right... (After some masterful hedonic adjustments and excluding "volatile" food and fuel--things that matter the most to consumers.)

Reader P.T.R. notes: "I noticed that I needed to re-stock some Tang [freeze-dried orange juice powder].  At the store, I noted that it's now sold in a larger container, so I thought 'they're trying to sell more product -- the Large Economy Size ploy'.  It wasn't until I got home and compared it to a canister That I had purchased a couple of years back that I saw the real differences.  The old container held 12.3 oz, and is labeled 'Makes 8 Quarts'.  The new Tang container, as I said, is larger: net weight is 20 oz, (60% larger) but it reads 'Makes 6 Quarts'.  In addition, the old product contained calcium and several vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin A, and three B vitamins), while the new product only lists the vitamin C and calcium ingredients.  Can you say 'Cheap Fill'?" 

German Inflation Accelerates More Than Economists Forecast

Long-time content contributor Chad S. sent this: People trampled at Target store as Black Friday mob rushes in. Chad's comment: "I just saw this story, Jim. Can you imagine how bad this would be in a Schumer-hits-the-fan scenario, when people actually need stuff?"

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I'm already a fan of Glock re-set dry practice training triggers (like those produced by Southwest Shooting Authority. As I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I prefer using these for dry fire, both for safety and so that you don't get into the bad training habits that are created when you constantly rack the slide on a pistol for dry practice. I just heard about a new product that takes this to the next level: The SIRT laser training dry fire pistol. They are much more expensive than the aforementioned re-set dry practice training triggers, but the results are amazing. Hotel Sierra!

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Some solid advice from Mas Ayoob: An economical battery of guns for the backwoods home.

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Vashon Island couple equipped for power failure. (M.P. in Seattle says: "That's "Old School" prepping.)

"A wayfarer should not walk unarmed,
But have his weapons to hand;
He knows not when he may need a spear,
Or what menace meet on the road." - The Hávamál, Ancient Gnomic Norse Poem

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

Would you like to learn a skill during these relatively quiet times that will assist you to obtain, or at least keep,  gasoline, diesel, food and every other commodity the a day after this society falls?   The SurvivalBlog posts regarding TEOTWAWKI may provide you with information regarding  what is the bare minimum you need to strive for in you preparation of the day after disaster strikes.  What if you want to be more prepared?  Do you want to possess a skill that everyone will have a need for the day after the disasters strike? Some people believe that a person’s skills will be more important than the commodities that they bring to an after disaster living situation so if you are not going back to medical school soon, you may want develop a bag full of desired skills. Every day that is like yesterday, the more likely tomorrow will be like today.  Every day that slides by, however, pushes us towards the edge of a cliff, and when we fall off that cliff as a society, our days will be forever changed, and you will then have to deal with a new normal.  There is no need to go through all the different possibilities of how and why this will happen, but many have suggested that we will be in a new Dark Age. How will this Dark Age be different than the last one?  More people will die during the upcoming series of disasters.  Many people died at the point of a sword in the last Dark Ages, but during the upcoming Dark Ages, many people will die from a bullet wound. 

All of these articles and blogs at times focus on different reasons how and why people die during these times of disaster and the authors attempt to jump start you along these roads of how and why to prepare yourself and your family.  Your needs will include fuel, fire, food, shelter, and water, but what happens when someone comes to take these precious commodities away from you, or worse yet, what happens when someone attempts to harm you or your family? Okay, so you have a gun, when was the last time you fired it?  If you and your family whole existence will ultimately going to depend on your ability to use your firearm, why aren’t you going through at least a box of practice ammo every month?  Is your family worthy that amount of time and money? What was your answer to the question … what good is your car if there is no fuel in the tank?  Similarly, what good is your firearm with no ammunition?  Hopefully, you are not in the group of people that mistakenly believe that the sight of a firearm or the sound of slide of a shotgun is enough to scare the bad guys away.

You have an ability to make something if you prepare now that could be more important than food, gasoline, and all the other commodities that you are stockpiling.  You can make your own ammunition because with a loaded firearm, many other things are possible.  Without a loaded firearm, you could lose everything including your life.  Back during the Clinton Administration, key players in the Executive branch realized that going directly against gun owners, the NRA, and the 2nd Amendment was probably not the smartest political move so they attempted to eliminate the precursor reloading supplies, and Clinton attempted to tax already loaded ammunition into oblivion.  The far left thinking is based upon the sound facts that guns are useless without ammunition, and  2nd Amendment does not mention anything about ammunition so the far left is able to reach their goal of a USA without workable firearms without going directly against the 2nd Amendment eliminating ammunition.  The current Democrat President could institute such a policy with a mere signature on an Executive Order.

So do you have enough ammunition for all possibilities that the future might hold, or would you like to have the ability to make your own ammunition regardless  of the situation?  Since the days of President Clinton when he attempted to place limits on ammunition, many people who handload or reload have been stockpiling the supplies necessary to essentially make their own ammunition.  This skill would be invaluable the day after the fall, but it also has benefits now of costing less per round to produce a useable round. The ability to reload or handload your own ammunition is extremely simple to learn.  Before deciding to purchase the equipment and supplies required to reload, you can purchase a DVD entitled RCBS Precisioneered Handloading.  There are many makers of the items listed below.  These items are listed as options that you may want to consider before purchasing these types of items. Many of these items may be purchased at your local sporting goods stores, but as an additional option, these items are listed by cost and item number at Midway. The DVD shows you the basic process of how to make your own ammunition and the necessary equipment and supplies you will need to purchase.  Making your own ammunition is a simple process. At Midway, the DVD item number is  #99910, and the cost of the DVD is $10.  After watching the DVD, you can decide you want to add this necessary skill to your repertoire of TEOTWAWKI skills.

Different manufacturers have most of the items you will need to make your own ammunition in Press Kits.  For example, RCBS has a Supreme Single Stage Press Master Kit which has over 90% of the equipment you will need to reload your own ammunition.  This RCBS Master Kit is approximately $300, but for the next couple of months, RCBS has a $50.00 rebate on RCBS items that total at least $300 so with this rebate the cost of the RCBS Kit would be approximately $250.  The Midway item number for this RCBS Master Kit is #646599.  Another reloading company Lee has a similar reloading kit.  This kit contains most of what is contained in RCBS’s Master kit and the Lee kit is on sale at Midway for $82.  Midway’s item number for this Lee Single Stage Press Kit is #423-081. So what will you do with these reloading kits?  After you fire a round in your modern firearm, what typically comes out of the weapon is a brass cartridge or casing.  When you look at that brass casing, you will notice that it has a flat bottom.  Usually on that flat bottom, there will be some words like the caliber of the weapon that casing is for, and name of the manufacturer of that casing.  In the center of the brass casing, you will see a primer.  If the round has been fired, the primer will have a  dent in it, and this primer is typically termed a spent primer once it has been fired.

What happens when you pull the trigger on a weapon is that the pulling of the trigger causes the firing pin to strike the primer in brass casing … that primer shoots a small, but powerful flash through a hole in the casing into that part of the casing where the powder is being housed … that flash ignites the powder in a semi-controlled explosion (the blast), and the mass of that powder is transformed into a gas… the energy … the gas then pushes the bullet out the barrel of the gun. What you are doing when you reload these brass casings is you first resize the brass casing to its original size… you pop out the spent primer … you place a new primer in the bottom of the casing … refill the brass casing with powder… and finally seat a new bullet in the mouth of the brass casing.  Once you watch the DVD, you will realize how easy this process is.  These tasks are primarily performed by merely moving the handle of the reloading press up and down, and it usually requires very little physical force to complete these tasks.  You will need a small area of counter space to set up the press or small reloading benches can be purchased from Cabela's and other suppliers to house your reloading supplies and equipment all in one place. The items that will not be contained in your press kits are the supplies of primers, powder, brass, bullets, and dies.

Each caliber of weapon will require different primers, powder, brass, bullets, and dies so you will have to make the determinations regarding these items once you have determined what weapon you will be using. For example, you decide that you also want to have .30-06 Springfield in your arsenal of weapons, and you want to be able to reload your own rounds for that .30-06 weapon.  You have chosen to possess a .30-06 because it is a well balanced cartridge, and there should at least be empty brass somewhere that you can obtain.  Initially, you will look in the reloading book that comes in your kit.  If you purchased the RCBS Master Kit, the reloading book contained in that kit will be the Speer Bullet Reloading book.  Turn to the pages in the Reloading book that discusses handloading for the .30-06.  In the current 14th Edition, that discussion takes place on pages  473 through 488 .  The book or manual will also discuss what you will need to purchase for primers, powder, and bullets for a given caliber of firearm.  All of these items will be discussed in greater detail in the reloading manuals, but it is important to follow the instructions in the manual very closely. 

If you still do not know if you want to add this to your bag of skills after watching the DVD, these reloading manuals discuss what to do and how to do it in much more detail so by purchasing one of these manuals, it will provide you will more information before purchasing a kit, or watch the process on YouTube.  These manuals typically cost around $20, but many times these manuals are contained in the kits if you purchase a kit.  The Midway cost on Hornady’s Handbook of Cartridge Reloading 6th Edition is $24 and the item number is #438424.  The Hornady’s Handbook is mentioned because it promotes different bullets than Speer’s bullets, but more importantly on page 38 it has a listing of all the manufactured powder currently for sale.  Hornady’s Reloading manual also lists in a separate book the drop for each bullet at a specific velocity so you can determine how your bullet will perform in the air before it reaches its target. You will have to match, with the assistance and direction of the manual,  the burning rate of your powder to your weapon or cartridge.  The list of powder on these pages is listed from fastest burning powder to slowest burning powder.  Generally, the fastest burning powders are used in shotguns or pistols, and the slowest burning powders are to be used in rifles.  This list is important if you cannot find a specific powder, but you can purchase or trade for another powder, how will this new unknown powder’s burning rate compares to what you need. The current cost for a pound of powder averages between $25-30 per can.  The day after disaster strikes the cost of powder will go off the charts and will you will probably not be able to purchase the items listed in this article anywhere at any price.  Powder has more than doubled in cost over the last several years, and there were times that you could not purchase the more popular powders. 

The more popular powders are those that can be used in several different weapons.  Some of these powders include 4895, 7828, 4831 (rifle powders) and 2400 pistol powder.  A person can usually obtain about 100 rifle rounds out of one can of rifle powder, and many hundreds of rounds from one can of pistol powder for a pistol.  You can purchase powder from your local sporting goods store or from Midway. There was a period of time when President Clinton was in power and he was attempting to shut off the flow of ammunition, or the items necessary to make your own loaded ammunition/ It was then that primers first became scarce and in some instances could not be purchased and any price.  Without proper primers, your weapon and its ammunition will not work.  Eventually, you could purchase primers, but at first, primers cost 3-5 times their normal cost when you could find someone to sell you some.  Currently, the best rifle primers made are Federal’s 215 Match large rifle primers, but there have not been any of these specific primers for sale for several years.  It is extremely important to use the proper primer listed in the reloading manuals so before you purchase any of these items, review your reloading manuals and following their instructions.  Primers can be purchased from your local sporting goods store or from Midway.

With these reloading systems, it makes your one weapon more versatile.  For example, with your  30-06 outlined above, you can have a specific bullet loaded for shooting primarily coyotes or other varmints with the Speer 125 grain "TNT" style bullet. Midway item number for this bullet is 712369 and costs $26 for a box of 100.   This bullet is light, fast, and will expand greatly on impact on small game.  Alternatively, you could handload Speer’s new Deep Curl 180 grain bonded core bullet.  A bonded core bullet is a bullet where the heavy lead core is bonded to the stiff copper jacket so it maintains approximately 90% of its original weight when striking an animal.   This retained weight will ensure deep penetration and a lethal wound channel, and those are the primary reasons most people fire a firearm. This Deep Curl bullet fired from a 30-06 is capable of bringing down any animal in North America. Midway's item number for this 180 grain Deep Curl Bullet is #973637 and the cost is $31  box of 100.  Finally, you can load this 30-06 cartridge so it is a semi-armour piercing round that could stop a vehicle by loading it with a 165 grain solid brass bullet made by Barnes Bullets.  The Midway item number for this Barnes brass bullet is #384406 and the cost is $30 for a box of 50.  So you can use the same weapon, same brass casing, same primer, same powder and with different bullets have total different impact on your varied targets.  You can purchase inexpensive bulk bullets or more custom bullets that have a specific function for specific targets.

Everyone that dabbles in this sort of ballistic analysis is asked… “What is the best bullet?”  In order to answer that question, you need to know what you are going to shoot, but the question has been mostly answered by   Gary Shciuchetti in an article in volume #193 of Handloader magazine.  Mr. Shciuchetti purchased all the 180 grain bullets made by all the manufacturers and custom bullet makers.  He shot them in speeds from 3,200 feet per second down to 1,700 feet per second.  He then measured the diameter and length of the wound cavity.   Mr. Shciuchetti weighed each bullet after it was fired to determine an average retained weight of the bullets. All the other variables being equal, and after hundreds of test shots, one bullet out performed all other bullets… almost by a factor of two, meaning that this bullet typically cut a wound channel twice as far as the next closest bullet… and that bullet was the Winchester Fail Safe.   The only problem is that they do not make that bullet any more, but Barnes MRX Bullet is made in the same manner and is as good, the problem is that this MRX bullet is comparatively expensive.  Winchester’s XP3 loaded ammunition is close, as is Barnes X bullet, in performance to the Fail Safe bullet.

The final item you will have to purchase separate from your kit is a set of dies in order to reload you own bullets.  There are many manufacturers of die sets.  Usually, there are 2 or 3 dies in each set of dies that screw into your press.  The dies are what actually make the changes in the brass casing when you work the handle of the press up or down.  With different dies you will be able to load different rifle or pistol calibers or shotgun shells by using the same press and often times the same primers and powders. For example, for your .30-06 rifle a good choice would be  a RCBS  .30-06 full length sizing die set.  Midway item number for this die set is #264330 and the cost is $29. So what would happen after to pick up your fired brass is you screw in your sizing die into your press.  Your brass is held in place by a shell holder in the top of the ram of your press.  You follow the instructions in your DVD reloading manual but the first die, sizes your brass, and pops out the spent primer.  You re-set a new primer in the casing.  Fill the case with new powder, and re-set a new bullet, using a different die.  The round is ready to be re-fired.

You can make your own ammunition, and with this skill so you can make rounds for others as long as you have the proper dies, brass, primers, and powders.   It is certainly worth the $10 DVD to better understand this reloading process, or go on YouTube and watch someone reload a centerfire brass cartridge.  Once you see all those folks reloading, you will see how easy it is to learn this vital new skill.

If you have children in your family, preparing for potential SHTF scenarios requires extra consideration. All children will need additional comfort and entertainment to adjust to a survival situation. Fortunately, if your kids are old enough to walk, talk and perform a few basic chores, your special preps for the young ones in your family do not need to be elaborate. Older children are capable of eating the same food as adults, they're usually potty-trained, and they can help themselves in many situations (e.g. getting dressed, feeding themselves, etc.).

However, if a very small infant will be in your responsibility and care during a survival scenario, there are some additional things you will need to consider. You won't be able to explain even the rudimentary aspects of your situation to your baby, who will only understand that life isn't as comfortable as it used to be. Infants require extra soothing, extra comfort and special dietary needs. They are unable to feed themselves and they will need to have diapers changed. Babies—particularly newborns—have difficulty regulating their own body temperatures, so proper clothing is a must, especially when the weather is cold. In addition, an adult will need to carry an infant most places, since babies aren't independently ambulatory until they grow older.

So if you're the parent of a small baby, or if you're planning to add more children to your family in the future, here are a few extra things to consider that an help make life more comfortable for everyone—especially your infant—during a survival situation:

Wear Your Baby In A Pack: Baby wearing is popular in many countries, although it tends to be practiced more in eastern civilizations than in western culture. Babies are “worn” in a variety of ways, depending on the culture and the preference of the parent. In some cases, the infant is wrapped in a long blanket-like piece of cloth and tied to the parent's body. In other cases, the infant is strapped into a carrier that resembles a backpack.

In modern America, the Baby Bjorn is a commonly known infant carrier. It can be used with very young babies, and typically parents use it to carry a baby on the front of their bodies so the baby is snuggled against the parent's chest. The infant is simply placed inside the carrier—and the parent wears the carrier on their body with shoulder straps similar to those of a backpack—and safely buckled in with straps and plastic buckles. For wearing a baby on the back (just like a backpack), the Ergo is a well-known manufacturer.

The benefits to baby wearing in a SHTF scenario are numerous. Wearing your baby close to your body provides your child with additional comfort. Many babies find this closeness to be soothing, and the comfort this gives your infant will be invaluable during a time of uncertainty and fear.

Baby wearing also allows you to hold your infant but still use both hands. In a survival situation, you may need to simultaneously comfort a baby while preparing a meal, purifying water, etc. Baby wearing lets you do both at the same time, so you'll be able to perform chores will still keeping your child close and safe.

If any type of hiking or walking on uneven ground becomes necessary, baby wearing will allow you to easily traverse the territory. Unlike a stroller, which has limited capabilities for travel, you can wear your baby on any terrain. Simply strap your infant to your chest or your back (depending on the age of the baby and the type of carrier you have), and you can walk on any path. In addition, many baby carriers can be used for kids up to two or three years old! So even parents with older children who have to walk on rocky terrain may find baby wearing useful.

I wore my child in a baby carrier from the age of three months until she was about two years old. She loved the closeness, and would often nap while I wore her. While she was in the carrier, I'd prepare meals, clean the house, do laundry or shop in stores. It is an extremely valuable tool for holding your baby while keeping your hands free.

Feed Your Baby Breast Milk: If at all possible, mothers should try to commit to breastfeeding their infants. This is not always easy. Indeed, it can be very daunting to new moms who are already dealing with sleep deprivation and the challenge of caring for a newborn. My first few months of breastfeeding my child were painful and difficult, but I managed to make it through with support from family and friends. Breastfeeding is ideal in a survival situation for many reasons.

One of the best advantages of breast milk is that it requires no storage of formula or milk. Because the mother is the supplier of the infant's meal, you won't have to worry about stockpiling formula for your child. You only have to ensure that you have enough food to supply the mother with an additional 300 calories per day.

In addition, breastfeeding is portable and requires no equipment. You won't have to carry (and clean) bottles, nipples and other assorted feeding equipment. This can save you precious space in your BOBs as well as precious water/disinfectant.

Moreover, breastfeeding has been proven to boost an infant's immune system. The mother passes along healthy antibodies to the baby through the breast milk, thus giving the child a little extra advantage when it comes to fighting off illnesses. If the SHTF, that extra advantage could mean the difference between a healthy or a sick baby.

One thing to note: Even if your baby is breast fed, it always makes sense to have a small stockpile of formula. It's possible the mother may be unavailable or unable to breastfeed in a survival situation, in which case the formula will be a necessity for your infant's health. If you plan to have electricity when the SHTF, you can stockpile frozen breast milk. I used a battery powered pump to pump and store breast milk in freezer bags, which lasts in a deep freeze for at least six months. When thawed, frozen breast milk maintains the same nutritional value as fresh breast milk.

Diaper Your Baby With Cloth Diapers: Before the days of disposable diapers, parents used cloth diapers on their babies. Most modern parents think of cloth diapers as dirty, smelly and hard work. But they're surprisingly simple to use and require very little extra effort when compared to disposables. I was an advocate of cloth diapers when my child was firstborn. My husband, however, was initially opposed to the idea. Then, after three weeks of using cloth diapers, he said, “Why doesn't everyone use cloth diapers? They're so easy!”

There are numerous styles of cloth diapers. Some are simply rectangles of absorbent cloth that can be folded into various diaper shapes and pinned to fit the baby. Others are shaped pieces of absorbent cloth and may include snaps or hook-and-loop closures, making them as easy to put on the infant as a disposable diaper. Cleaning cloth diapers—particularly for breast fed babies who produce very organic waste—is just a matter of tossing them into a washing machine with hot water and some detergent. Hanging them in the sunlight to dry helps sterilize them and sun-bleach stains.

Although it makes sense to have some disposable diapers on hand when the SHTF (because you may need the convenience), cloth diapers will serve you better in the long run, especially once you're in your BOL.

Since cloth diapers are reusable, you won't have to worry about stockpiling a ton of disposable diapers. You'll always have diapers on hand for your infant when you use cloth.

Studies have also found that cloth diapered babies tend to potty train sooner, possibly because they can feel the uncomfortable wetness against their skin (whereas disposable diapers wick the moisture away from the baby's bottom).

By using cloth diapers, you'll never have to worry about running out of diapers if the supermarkets get cleaned out or you're unable to get to a store. And after your baby is finished with the diapers, they can be reused as rags, towels, bedding for animals and other purposes.

Other Items That Are Useful for Babies When the SHTF: There are numerous other items that you may want to have on hand if you have an infant in a survival situation. Consider:

  • Babylegs: These garments are are essentially stretchy tubes of fabric—like leg warmers for babies, or thigh-high socks with the feet cut off. They're a flexible item of clothing because they can fit newborns up to young children. Babylegs or baby leg warmers are great for light cover on cool days, or as an extra layer of clothing beneath pants.
  • Hand-operated Baby Food Mill: Commercially jarred baby food probably won't be available in a survival situation. A hand-operated baby food mill can help you smash your survival rations (whether garden produce, freeze-dried meals or MREs) into manageable mush for an infant's meal.
  • Pacifier/Lovey: Every infant may need extra comfort in a stressful situation. Having a pacifier and/or a lovey on hand can help make your baby feel less distress in an unfamiliar setting or difficult scenario.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Because babies have not yet been exposed to a variety of germs, they have a tendency to get sick often during the early years of their life. It makes sense to have a stockpile of over-the-counter infant medications that can be used to relieve your baby's symptoms and reduce a fever.
  • Cloth wipes:  Like cloth diapers, cloth wipes are reusable and require no stockpiling to ensure you'll have enough if the stores are closed. You can make your own from pieces of flannel or terry cloth by cutting them into squares and hemming the raw edges. Simply moisten with water (a spray bottle works great) when you need to clean the baby's bottom.

If you're the parent of a small baby, or if you plan to add a baby to your family, remember that infants have special needs beyond that of toddlers and children. In a SHTF scenario, a few extra preparations can help make your infant feel more secure and comfortable, as well as reduce your stress and any fears of running out of stockpiled supplies.

JWR Adds: I discuss the importance of storing powdered infant formula in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Course. The course also mentions some bulk-packed formula suppliers where you can inexpensively stock up. Like most other vacuum-packed dry milk products, it has a roughly three year shelf life.   At the end of three years, it is best to donate any unopened containers to your local food bank or faith-based pregnancy crisis center.

Hi  JWR:          
Just a quick addition to the comments about changing a tire from an earlier blog article. In a real disaster, natural or military/terrorist, the roads will likely be covered with debris, much of which may cause your Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) tires (that's plural) to get punctured. I would certainly recommend several cans of some kind of Fix-A-Flat [or aerosol Slime] and a tire repair kit. But, even more important for us preppers who want to be ready for everything possible, we know that our vehicle's trunk will be filled with all kinds of  emergency supplies.  

Recognizing that a flat will probably occur at the worst possible time and in the worst possible place we cannot afford to be emptying half our gear out on the ground  just to reach the darn jack. Can you imagine how tempting that would be in a bad neighborhood? So let's consider making our spare, jack and lug wrench as easily accessible as possible. Store some of your supplies in the then empty spare tire well where you can access them at your later convenience.   

And, Mr. JWR, many times you have made the excellent suggestion to having some basic tools (axe, shovel & pick) with your BOV supplies. This suggestion has also mentioned including a set of bolt cutters. Could I also suggest carrying a length of chain and a couple big padlocks. In the event we choose to go went off-road to get away from the crowd that might be in the area, blocking that woods or fire road by chaining it off might keep a lot of folks behind you following up that same path. I even have carry a rake in my BOV to obscure any tire tracks I might leave.  

JWR Replies: As previously discussed in the blog, There are important legal and safety issues associated with either cutting gate lock chains or setting up locked chains. In many instances, cutting a landowner's gate lock chain and driving onto their property WTSHTF is good way to get yourself ventilated. But of course stringing a locked chain across your own property's entrance road is perfectly legal and justifiable.

Community Outraged Over Man's 3-6 Year Sentencing in Self-Defense Case. I share their sense of outrage! From what I've seen, there was no crime committed. The loonie plaintiff's history of over 60 convictions in three states was apparently kept from the jury. At this point, the New Hampshire Governor should be petitioned for a full pardon.

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Another Random Act of Culture: Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus

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Chris G. mentioned this article in Outdoor Life: Shoot the Breeze. "The simplest way to handle a crosswind is to relocate. Reposition directly upwind or downwind of your target, and you’ll neutralize the wind’s effect on your bullet. However, there are times, especially while hunting, when this can be impractical or impossible."

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Simon Black over at the Sovereign Man blog nails it, when he calls the TSA's new "We can irradiate you (and see you naked) or we can grope you" policy for what it is: a systematic desensitization to government intrusion. His post is titled: Tip of the Spear.

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Rio de Janeiro shaken by fresh gang violence. There were 15 deaths in one day. Notice that one of the photographs shows a policeman carrying a scoped FN-FAL. Things must be serious. Please pray for the city's residents.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." - Jeremiah 29:11-14

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Notes from JWR:

The Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course is only rarely offered at a discounted price. Until December 13th, the publisher is running a special sale. Don't miss out on the chance to get a copy for yourself, or to give one as a Christmas gift.


Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

One of the most inevitable situations that you will find yourself in a WTSHTF situation is moving across a landscape of some kind. In the Army we always move with a “battle buddy” and of course a weapon. As I suggest both, this is not always the case. Having someone to help you and watch your back is great, especially if they are military trained. In a WTSHTF scenario, a weapon (with ammo) is priceless. What else is priceless is the knowledge of how to keep yourself alive. We will explore each avenue and its risks.

The first part of no-foot movement is being prepared for movement beforehand. Things such as food, water, weapons, ammo and rest. Rest may seem not so important but when going the distance it’s best to be well rested. They give us a rest day the day before a physical training (PT) test in the Army, this is no different. Your life may depend on having a “full tank”. My sergeants may deprive me of sleep from time to time but allow us to be fully rested before a long movement. You should not even attempt a movement without the things listed above, especially water. Never scrimp on water. Dehydration is your worst enemy. When dehydrated you become lethargic and not at peak readiness. Remember that if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Food with a high calorie count and a good amount of protein is also a must. When in long distance movement you burn plenty of calories, especially if carrying a load on your back. In basic training they were easily marching us six miles a day in full battle rattle with IBA and a 40 pound loaded rucksack. Even eating calorie-packed MREs with thousands of calories I was losing weight rapidly. When on long movements you are asking a lot of your body, you must give it what it needs. Which are food, water and rest. Each adult per day will need a minimum of two quarts on a long haul. This is water you must take with you, not get from a stream you might find along the way. Also remember that parasites live in water sources. So filter it or boil it first before drinking. When planning for your movement remember to pack light. Unless you plan on a permanent move from place to place you’ll want to take just what you’ll need.

When preparing for movement you must also be prepared for Mother Nature. If the weather turns nasty you better have some wet weather gear for the downpour. Depending on your location weather can change rapidly. What was mild weather can turn freezing cold in a matter of a few hours. Items such as polypros or even long underwear can mean the difference between life and death by pneumonia. Trust me pneumonia is not fun even with good medical treatment. Imagine life after WTSHTF where antibiotics are not so easy to find. Save yourself some trouble and pack for preparedness sake. Along with your polypros you will need overnight shelter on multi-day trips. Do not assume you will just “rough it” under the stars. Unless you have a watertight Gore-Tex sleeping bag I suggest a pup tent, preferably something that doesn’t stick out like pink or orange. Olive drab green tents are readily available and priceless in a situation where keeping your head down is best. When having your little camp out make sure that an armed member of your group is always on watch. The best time to attack is when your prey is asleep. It is up to you whether you want to make alarms such as tin cans hung in a group attached to a tripwire made of 550 cord. But always have a guard on watch. If you group is quite large I would suggest two. Yes, battle buddies again. Keep your camp quiet and fire free. You can see a fire miles away. Keep flashlight usage to an absolute minimum.

So you need to move across some terrain alone? Don’t move alone. I need to affirm that into you. Battle buddies are best. Well according to this scenario, you have no choice but to go all Lone Ranger, no Tonto here. Moving alone is the easiest and quite dangerous. The bright side is you only have to worry about your actions and sounds produced by those actions. The bad side is it’s just you. If it goes bad it could go really bad. So while moving alone you need form an objective, then stick to it. Do not deviate from your objective. Doing so may end your journey badly. While moving watch your feet and their placement closely, but you must keep situational awareness high. Keep your weapon at the “near ready” position. Near ready position means keep it slung in front of you with the buttstock lightly pressed to the area between your shoulder and pectoral muscle. You then keep your weapon slightly elevated making it easier to put someone in your sights quickly. Keep your footsteps light and refrain from running or moving quickly. Taking your time will allow you to scan your environment for problems. Don’t forget there will be people in the WTSHTF time that are scum and won’t think twice about killing you all by yourself out there and then taking what they want. Be very careful.

Like I said moving with a battle buddy is preferable, but a small group can be a good thing. You may make more noise and be more easily seen but you may look like too big or dangerous to attack.  In moving from one location to another it is usually best to take the shortest route. Taking the shortest route can result in a very bad situation. If you have to make your journey longer, even over rougher terrain, it will be worth it. In the Army we never take the path of least resistance because the bad guys prey on the weak and easy targets. Try to go around questionable areas if able. When in movement your group will need a person at “point” to be the first to see any danger. The point man should have a reliable weapon with a scope or at least a pair of binoculars.  You will also need a person in the rear to watch for people stalking your group. Everyone after the point man should be staggered with 3 to 5 meter intervals. If it’s just you and a battle buddy keep 10 to 15 feet between you. Why, you may ask? Some people will shoot first and rob your dead body later. It is better to space yourselves out to reduce the risk of more causalities.

If you have an unusually large group, try to stagger yourselves in two lines with the same spacing, a column formation. Keeping your intervals is very important. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been corrected by my sergeants to “maintain proper intervals”. Keeping your intervals will space out your enemies’ targets and allows the unengaged rear part of your formation to swing around, move forward in a line and engage the enemy. Now I’m sure not everyone in your group will be as armed as a US soldier on a patrol in a hostile area. That means you need to space out the people with weapons into the group. Now I know you’d want to put all of the firepower in the front but please resist this urge. The spacing should be 40/20/40. Which means 40% of your firepower in front, 40% in the rear and 20% in the middle. Don’t have that much weaponry? Just make it 50/50 then.  Make sure that you have a good marksman in the front with a weapon that carries some distance, with accuracy.

When moving in a group and trying to evade detection, I do not recommend either Wedge or V formations as they are tactical formations used to cover a wider area to lay down fire. As survival may hinge on evading detection I suggest Line formation for groups of 3 to 4, and Column formation for 5 or more.

As the US Army does during movement through hostile terrain, Noise, Trash and Light discipline needs to be maintained. Noise discipline is basically staying quiet. No unnecessary talking, radio communication or other noises that rouse interest to your party. Again, watch your foot noise. Have the choice between dry brush and leaves or a rocky area it’s a no brainer which will cause less noise.

Trash discipline is important if you will be in movement for a long period and don’t want anyone to know that you’ve been there. Trash left behind will tell them how many people are in your party and other intel. Such intel can give ages and experience. For example: if the coffee from your MRE is not used this will tell them that the previous owner was probably a younger person, as younger people don’t consume field ration coffee. You can either take your trash with you or bury it well. Burning is not suggested as that would be breaking light and odor discipline.

Light discipline is very important at night. While I do suggest movement at night, light should only be used sparingly and under concealment. While in a hostile environment no fires. It may be tempting to start a fire, especially in a colder location. A fire will blind you from movement as your eyes will not be adjusted to the darkness. They have the perfect opportunity to sneak up on you and take what they want by force. If you want heat I suggest heating packs or heating pouches from an MRE. Be careful with the MRE heater, they can really burn you.

When you have a small group it is plausible to sleep during the day in shifts, in trees if available. During the Vietnam war, Army and Marine recon units, would sometimes sleep in the trees and move at night. These brave men, hopelessly outnumbered, would watch as massive numbers of NVA would walk under them. If you have to walk a long distance this might be optimal while in a wooded location. In an urban location you can bed down for the day taking shelter in a semi-truck trailer, rail cars or anything out of the way from people you’d rather not meet. When moving in a group it is massively important that you not split up. If engaged larger numbers will always help you. Onesies twosies are easier to be picked off. In a WTSHTF world people will do anything, lures and bait are not unheard of. The Taliban in Afghanistan use them all the time to get coalition forces where they want them. People use ingenious methods to attract prey, and never forget that’s what you are to them. A child all alone in a strange place may seem to be a horrible thing, but she could just be a lure to bring you in. As horrible as it seems you may have to ignore such things to keep your group alive. Following these simple steps will make the different between getting to where you are going and winding up murdered, stripped of valuables and left to the wild for predation.

What’s a great program that’s been around for 100 years and teaches self-reliance, outdoor skills and citizenship? The Boy Scouts of America of course!

I joined the Cub Scouts in the 2nd grade. In 5th grade I graduated to the Boy Scouts. I was no longer a “cubby”. I had joined the big boys. I then spent the next 7 years in the Scouting program before achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and turning 18 years old.

A little history into the Scouting program…

Founded in England in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting sprang from Baden-Powell’s time in the Boer Wars in Africa. Upon returning to England, Baden-Powell wrote several scouting guides for boys and took a collection of boys on a weeklong trip to Brownsea Island. In 1909 Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce was visiting London when he became lost in the fog. According to legend a local Boy Scout led Boyce to his destination. Upon arriving Boyce tried to pay the young man for his service. The boy answered that he was a Scout and that his service did not require payment for he was doing a good deed. W. D. Boyce returned to America and established the Boy Scouts of America. From these roots scouting has taken off around the world. The United States leads the world 9,500,000 registered scouts.

What are the ranks and how do they work?

Because I am long in the tooth (being 20 years old) I will only cover the Boy Scout ranks (not in depth) and not Cub Scout ranks (needless to say the methodology is similar).

First you start with the ‘Scout’ rank. You must recite, from memory, the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan and Motto along with several other rudimentary Scouting skills.

Next is the ‘Tenderfoot’ rank. Now we began to get into physical fitness, outdoor skills, first aid and citizenship. The Scout may also hold a leadership position possibly within the troop, but more likely within the patrol.

After that is the ‘Second Class’ rank. These requirements are more advanced than Tenderfoot and add to the Scout’s knowledge. They include knots, more first aid and hiking.

‘First Class’ rank. This is the first major milestone in a Scout’s career. The First Class rank requires a Scout to demonstrate leadership in the troop and cooking/nutrition come into play also. My former scoutmaster told me that this rank marks the beginning of turning a boy into a man. More leadership will be required of the Scout in the future and now the said Scout gets to help younger Scouts advance.

The ‘Star Scout’. The Star Scout now must focus his efforts on completing merit badges in order to advance. (NOTE: It has been my experience that this is the hardest rank to achieve as boys are now entering high school and find that Scouting isn’t “cool” anymore).

The ‘Life Scout’ rank. Now the Scout will have leadership duties in the Troop as well as the patrol. He must do community service as well as more merit badges.

Eagle Scout. The Scout has achieved the highest rank of Scouting. Only ~3% of boys who start the Scouting program achieve this rank. The Scout has planned and executed a service project that benefits his community. He has also earned at least 21 merit badges. He has set himself above his peers in dedication, perseverance, and citizenship. 

So what will my kid learn in Scouting?

The list of skills that are taught (and hopefully learned) is numerous.
Outdoor skills: Learn to identify plants and animals. Orienteering skills both at night and over distances. Lashing and structure making, that is making useful camp items out of rope and poles. Cooking skills! He will learn how to buy food on a budget, cook it on a gas stove or campfire, and how to clean up. He will learn hiking and swimming skills plus many more skills that are useful to a prepper! Without going into all the merit badges (there are 128), each one advances a Scout’s knowledge in each area. He can learn to shoot .22’s, archery skills, backpacking, horsemanship and citizenship to name a few! The Scout has quite the plethora of options. He will also develop a love for his community, country and God along the way to Eagle Scout.

Sounds great! How can I find a troop/pack in my area?

The easiest way is a simple Google search. Search for Boy Scout council (your city). From there click the ‘join’ tab! Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs meet in locations such as churches, schools, Moose/Elk Lodges and other places. Troops usually meet once a week and have camping trips once a month (yes, even in the winter). An example would be my former troop. We met once a week, on Mondays, in a Moose Lodge for an hour and a half. We would start by posting the colors and reciting the Scout Oath and Law. From there we would either plan for the coming camp out or work on advancement/merit badges.

So you’ve found a local troop. Okay now go with your son and visit them during a meeting. You can either do it unannounced or arranged, your choice. Have your son join in on the activities if the Scoutmaster allows it. Observe how the boys interact with each other. Are they acting like boys? These behaviors are fine, but observe how they take instructions. Do they stop when they are supposed to? Do they listen and follow directions? Do they respect their leaders? Next, ask about going on a camp out with the troop. This will allow your son to interact better with the troop and allow you to get to know the adults better. If, by the end of the weekend, you and your son feel comfortable about joining then do it!

But wait! The Lord blessed me with daughters!

Not fear, the Girl Scouts of America are here! Founded in 1912 the Girl Scouts have been following the Scouting method for 98 years. I can’t say to much more due to lack of experience with the Girl Scouts but a simple Google search will yield lots of results.

Tips, thoughts, myths and more…

  • Not all troops are created equal. Some are big (80+ boys), some are small (15+). Find which one bests suits you.
  • Some troops are more boy-led whereas others rely more on the adults. Again the preference is yours.
  • Boy Scouting is a religious organization. ‘Reverent’ is the final point in the scout oath. Some troops are more “churchy” than others. I will say that the only way to be denied as an Eagle Scout is to declare, publicly, that you do not believe in a higher power. (But your higher power can be anything from Jehovah God, to Allah, to Mother Nature or Buddha. ) 
  • While Boy Scout regulations don’t specifically deny the wearing of fatigues, my troop has banned them. They promote a “militia” type feel. Boy Scouting is not militarily affiliated. We are not a militia. In the context of Scouting, camouflage clothes are also unsafe in the woods. You do not want camouflaged 13 year olds running around in the woods. Trust me, the last thing you need is kids who decide to be funny and hide from you.
  • At some point your son will decide that Scouting isn’t cool. You will have to decide how hard to push him back to it or decide to sever the ties to the troop. Keep in mind that sports will also promote problems if not managed well.    
  • Myth #1. Boy Scouting is for white middle-rich kids. Wrong. Boy Scouting is for all colors and classes. There should never be a monetary reason to not join! There are scholarship opportunities to pay for many things and troops always have second hand camping supplies.
  • Myth #2. Scouting is dying. Not even close to accurate! The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100 anniversary this year. Also, the LDS Church is pouring vast amounts of resources into it. Scouting will be around for a long time to come!
  • Myth #3. All you do in Scouting is help old ladies across the street. False. Well okay we do help them cross the street but we also retire American Flags, help with civic activities, and do service projects. For me personally, I look forward every year to going to Willamette National Cemetery and planting American Flags on the graves of our fallen soldiers.

Some famous people who are Eagle Scouts or who were apart of Boy Scouting include: Norman Rockwell, painter. Neil Armstrong, astronaut. Clive Cussler, writer. Edgar Cunningham, earliest known African-American Eagle Scout. Gerald Ford, President. Robert McNamara, Sec. of Defense. John “Jack” Murtha, decorated Vietnam War veteran and Congressman. Steven Spielberg, director. Chuck Smith, President and CEO of AT&T. Ken Whisenhunt, Super Bowl winning coach. Jay Zeamer, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient. And there are many more!

The Boy Scouts have given me many useful skills and wonderful memories. I can start fires from scratch, traverse forests with nothing but a compass and map, and have learned to wear a uniform with pride. I have learned how to put on a skit, how to sing camp songs, and how to cook a beautiful meatloaf in a Dutch oven. The memories and friends I have made will be with me throughout my life. The most important thing I have taken from the Boy Scouts is this: Be Prepared. It’s the motto for good reason. And it’s something we need to take to heart in these tumultuous times. Godspeed.

David in Israel Re: Off The Grid Cooking

Since storage food for us is just our daily staples bought and stored in bulk we use pressure cookers for most stovetop cooking instead of a regular pot to save time and fuel. There is no reason to waste hours of fuel simmering or stewing and evaporating that heat into steam when you can keep that thermal energy in your pressure cooker and also be done in under an hour by raising the cooking temp to around 250F. I have had the chance to use a Fagor brand pressure cooker and they are nice and built to last for many years but heavy and expensive. I use an inexpensive but strong aluminum 1.5 liter Hawkins for camping, bike tours, and single servings; our Hawkins 5 liter is plenty for making quick food especially Indian curry dishes for the family from our storage supplies. We have several spare gaskets for the pressure cookers, also some spare overpressure fuses specific to the UL safety-rated Hawkins cookers. Only buy cookers that can handle 15 p.s.i. and are UL safety rated. (Most yard sale cookers made before the 1980s are potential steam bombs.)

We discontinued our propane gas service years ago and after we needed more heat for some Chinese wok cooking, I brought out my MSR XGK stove and we ended up running an experiment for nine months using our camping stoves exclusively for stove top type cooking. It worked quite well on white gas and gasoline but was touchy burning stored kerosene. After contacting MSR they replaced the flame plate on my older stove from the early 1990s, this turned the XGK into a hot clean blue flame kerosene burner. My only issue with the mostly bulletproof XGK is the learning curve for getting a good simmer flame, and that the fragile pump found on older XGK stoves should be replaced (MSR has a refurb special for $20) and the flame plate be replaced with the dished model which makes heavy fuels burn much better. I also recommend storing some denatured ethanol from the paint store to use as priming fuel, 1-2 ml is all that is needed for priming to provide a clean startup with heavy fuels. Shalom, - David in Israel

Dear Editor,
I know that some preppers are not all that excited about this concept but here goes anyway: Costco has a "deal" right now for a four year supply of food for one person - or one year for four people, divide it as you want - for $3,000 delivered. This is only $2.05 per day to feed each adult. The food itself is all sealed inside #10 (gallon sized) cans and has a shelf life of at least 10 years - maybe 20 years. The variety in the food package is good.  Shelf Reliance in Utah is the source.  

I would like to have this message sent to out to allow families to make personal decisions on this concept. Maybe a few of them will want to share in the big order.  I have a few friends already interested in doing just that. It would be great for families in the same geographical area to make an order together. Give yourselves a gift that may soon be worth more than gold...and that is saying something these days!   Regards, Marcus B.

JWR Replies: The per-serving cost of the Shelf Reliance package is definitely competitive. I do recommend it. With some additional shopping at Costco, their package can also easily be expanded and diversified to suit your personal tastes. For example, by adding some bulk rice and beans, you can greatly extend their one year supply, very inexpensively. It is also important to stock up on essential fats and oils. My favorite for this is buying plastic bottles of olive oil, and freezing them. Frozen, they won't go rancid and can be stored for up to six years with no discernable change in the oil's taste or color when thawed. I describe stocking up at "Big Box" stores like Costco and Sam's Club in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Course. (And by the way, the course is presently on sale, at a $50 discount.)

In regards to running a small “window” air conditioning unit off of a solar powered system, I can convey some of my experiences. I have a total of 3,160 watts of solar panel power on the roof; about 1,700 watts feeds my 24 volt DC “house” system (mostly lights, computer, entertainment system, ½ of the kitchen outlets, and the fridge) while the remaining panels are wired for a totally separate 48 volt DC water heater system. Two 2,500/5,000 (peak) watt inverters are used for each system, each “slaved” to the other of the same voltage to synchronize the alternating current frequencies and amp loads. Importantly, each inverter has “soft start” technology to “soften” the instant high amp draws from motors, compressors, etc.   I have run my small bedroom air conditioning unit (rated at 700 watts) successfully using only the solar powered system, but will only do so when the battery bank has been almost fully charged and the sun is still out. Once the sun starts going down and the air conditioning unit load gets transferred to the battery bank (capacity of about 2,100 amp-hours), I would guess that I’d have maybe 2-3 hours of operation before the inverters shut down from an undervolt condition (considering all of the other system loads; lights, fridge, etc still in use at this time).   If you wanted to run a similar sized air conditioning unit (and nothing else) continuously from only solar power/ battery banks, you’re looking at a whopping system- I’m guessing 3,500 to 4,000 watts worth of panels, and at least 5,000 amp-hours of battery bank capacity. Even at that, you’d better hope for at least 4 hour’s worth of sunlight every day.

I’m basing this “guesstimate” on my lessons learned from my 40-gallon water heater system- it draws about 4,000 watts and drains a fully charged 3,300 amp-hour battery bank (down to the 44 volt undervolt inverter alarm) after about 30 minutes of combined total usage (or about three normal showers’ worth of water heated).   The feel of a bit of freedom from the electric company makes it all worth it, but the most enlightening aspect of this whole “project” of mine towards electrical self-sufficiency has been the quantity of deep-cycle batteries needed for a system that can “get you through the night” (I have a total of 50 now, and need more!). If you are just getting started on planning your own solar project, don’t forget to add in the cost of all those batteries!  - Wayne E.

What separates humans from lemmings? Not much, evidently: Fear of bridge collapse set off Cambodia stampede. The death toll was more than 350. This, by the way, isn't an isolated incident. For example, see this article from 2006, and this one from 2004.

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John B. spotted this: Obama’s Jeffersonian Muslim Revisionist Lie.

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It is not preparedness related, but watching the Gray Eagles P-51 Mustang video put a lump in my throat. (Thanks to Steve S. for sending the link.) I would have loved to have seen some details on how the wrecked P-51 was restored. (On a related note, the Glacier Girl P-38 recovery and restoration project has fascinated me ever since I first read of it. Just recovering the damaged P-38 from beneath 260 feet of ice was a monumental project, all by itself. Warbird aficionados will enjoy the book: The Lost Squadron: A Fleet of Warplanes Locked in Ice for Fifty Years.)

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This recent news story sounds like something out of a survivalist novel: Residents not returning to town hit by Mexico drug war. It begins: "Shell casings carpet the road outside a bullet-riddled subdivision on the outskirts of this colonial town on the Rio Grande Valley, abandoned by most of the 6,000 inhabitants following a nine-month battle by warring drug cartels." Later in the article, we read: "Farther down the road, a restaurant owner pours his own collection on the counter: casings from an M-40 grenade launcher, and .50-caliber bullets. But that probably isn't what scares the army, which has M-40 launchers and .50-calibers of its own. It's what lies in the municipal impound lot that is truly frightening. The burned-out remains of five crudely armored pickup trucks and SUVs, with half-inch steel plate welded over most of the windows, leaving only a narrow slit for the drug gunmen's visibility and firing. It all looks like something out of a "Mad Max" movie. Farther outside of town lies a homemade tank that locals refer to in hushed tones as "The Monster." "The Monster" was a 10-wheel gravel truck with a 5-yard (meter) freight box, entirely covered in 1-1/4-inch steel plate welded into the box to cover firing positions for about 10 gunmen. In the cab, the thick steel plate covered the engine, the windshield and the doors, punctuated by hinged covers for gun ports, and massive steel rams welded onto the prow of the craft." (Our thanks to Jennifer H. for the link.) OBTW, to the best of my knowledge there is no such animal as an "M-40 grenade launcher". I think the journalist must mean a 40mm grenade launcher--perhaps a Mk 19.)

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success." - Alexander Graham Bell

Friday, November 26, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

A really tough Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) can be quite expensive, and possibly beyond most people's ability to acquire and prepare. One also needs to ask how "serious" of a BOV can he/she actually afford to buy, maintain, and insure ?

BOVs can be viewed as being on a scale of 1 to 10 .. a Yugo being perhaps a 1, and a specially designed "escape" vehicle being perhaps a 10.

It's probably true that situations most likely to happen, can be handled by a BOV in the 4 - 6 range on that scale.

These would be some things to consider about an "adequate BOV" ...

1. Can get over most debris in the roadway that presents an obstacle

2. Can get through 18" or so of standing water on the roadway

3. Not overly vulnerable to debris in the roadway that could puncture tires

4. Provides decent security from threat by persons in or near the roadway

5. Ability to travel at least 400 miles on one fueling.

6. Can pull a heavy trailer or other load

7. Can carry a lot of gear and/or persons inside the vehicle

8. Moderate cost to purchase

9. Common enough mechanicals that parts can be acquired easily

10. A durable, proven design that has been in production for many years

11. Enough "hi-tech" to make the vehicle useful, but not so much as to make it overly vulnerable

12. Heavy chassis that will take considerable punishment

13. An outward appearance that does not attract attention, and blends into the "crowd" easily

14. Mechanically as simple as possible, using technologies that are as basic as possible.

15. Can go off-road to some extent

Although not the perfect vehicle, and probably vulnerable to EMP, I chose a used 2004 Ford E-150 van, 2-wheel drive, standard length, white in color. This one has the 5.4 L V8 engine (many thousands have been produced), the XLT interior package, privacy window glass, and very little else in the way of extras.

I chose the "window" van because it looks like thousands of others, including Church vans. It presents an appearance that is as American as apple pie. In addition, the E-150 (rather than the E-250 or E-350) is often regarded as "almost a car" rather than a "truck", when it comes to licensing and insurance. This can save you money and make the vehicle less conspicuous. Be aware that the E-150 (even with the changes listed below) can't carry the massive load that an E-350 carries, so don't overload it.

This E-150 didn't cost much to purchase used with about 90,000 miles on it, is fairly inexpensive to insure, and has a great highway safety rating by insurance companies. In one of these vans, when you are in an collision type of accident, it's probably the other vehicle that will be seriously damaged and its occupants injured.

Other reasons I chose this vehicle .. it's a Ford, and that name is fairly well-regarded in America these days. Also, there are so many vans like it on the road that you can easily get lost in the crowd (often a very good thing). In addition, it's a design that goes back to 1975, with the more recent major upgrades in 1992, 1997, 2000, and 2003 (be aware that 2005 and newer Ford E-series vans have the "computerized throttle" rather than the earlier mechanical throttle setup). The fuel tank is located between the frame rails in the center of the vehicle (greatly reducing damage to the tank during a serious collision). The spare tire is located up under the van in the rear, and has a basic locking arrangement. If you've ever owned a van with the spare on the back door or stored inside the van, you will appreciate this feature. Also, the exhaust system is constructed of a type of steel that seems to last almost forever.

This van sits up high off the ground, has a lot of ground clearance, has a very beefy suspension, a fairly large fuel tank (36 gallons), four-wheel disc brakes (easy to service), a seriously good engine cooling system, and a large stout front bumper.

Although there is much that is "right" about the E-150 including a rear-gear ratio that promotes good fuel economy, the stock van needed beefing up. The Ford E-150 van does have its downsides, including: typical difficulty working on the engine, changing spark plugs is especially difficult, is affected by crosswinds out on the highway, marginal fuel economy, weak rear springs, so-so shocks, and a pitifully lightweight rear bumper.

These changes were made to the van, to "beef it up" some, and make it more of a BOV ...

1. 1" thick insulation panels have been placed over most of the windows, painted flat black on the outside of the insulation surface. These provide insulation against heat and cold, and make it impossible to see through that particular window. The privacy-tinted glass makes the insulation panels invisible.

2. Shelf-units were installed inside to store needed items.

3. Water is stored inside, using several 7-gallon plastic containers from Wal-Mart.

4. A "limited-slip differential" was installed, replacing the standard one. This is the best thing since sliced bread. It causes both rear wheels to drive the vehicle ahead in snow and mud conditions. A standard differential will leave you with one spinning rear wheel and the other doing nothing in these conditions. A limited-slip differential has been called "a poor man's four-wheel drive". It is really amazing what a difference this unit makes!

5. Replaced the standard "Load Range C" tires with mud/snow rated "Load Range E" tires. E-range tires are far more puncture-resistant, can carry much more weight, the sidewalls are much more resistant to damage, and the mud/snow tread will get you through some surprisingly rough situations.

6. Increased the load capacity of the rear leaf springs. Any E-150 needs this. Adding a leaf or two is plenty.

7. Added a couple of "spring spacers" to the front coil springs, to firm them up a bit. Replacing the front springs with heavier ones is ideal, but pricey; and an expensive front-end alignment with some modification would be needed.

8. Installed shock absorbers that actually work. In this case, Monroe truck shocks were installed. These keep the vehicle much more stable, especially improving the handling when carrying a lot of weight on board.

9. Dimmed the interior lights that come on when any door is opened. In this van the interior ceiling lights also come on when the engine is turned off ... and there you are in some dangerous place, with the interior so well-lit that you make a great target. Cover the ceiling light lens with aluminum foil tape (from a home supply store), leaving enough of the lens uncovered to provide dim light when the lights come on automatically. These ceiling light fixtures also have separate switch-operated lights that can be used to brightly light the interior.

10. Replaced the standard rear bumper with a "step" bumper. This is a heavy steel bumper that sticks out about 6" away from the rear of the van, and can fend off a fairly strong impact. It's also a great step up into the back door, provides a trailer hitch, and looks great.

All-totaled, I have about $9,000 invested in this BOV. Although it's not a Abrams Tank, it will probably get us through the situations that are most likely to happen.

The changes I've made so far are ones that seemed important .. making the van go through difficult places while carrying a load.

Other changes I'll make later, as finances permit .. include:

1. A battery/inverter system to provide 120 volt AC power.

2. A rudimentary kitchen

3. A simple way to heat the interior safely in cold weather

4. A way to carry at least 10 more gallons of gasoline

5. A bed that doubles as a 2-person seat behind the driver's seat

6. A Fantastic Fan (or its equivalent) in the roof.

JWR Adds: I agree that vans have considerable utility as bug out vehicles. If the van will be a "daily driver" where gas mileage is critical, then I'd recommend a two wheel drive model. But if it is only used occasionally for hauling and family vacations, then I recommend starting with a factory made four wheel drive model. (The transmission and drive shaft reliability of some 4WD conversions is suspect.) With 4WD you'll have much better mobility off road. Also, as previously discussed in SurvivalBlog, carrying a basic set of pioneer tools (axe, shovel and pick) as well as a pair of bolt cutters may make a critical difference in off-road mobility.

Mr. Rawles,  
I have been looking around and have found sites for procuring nitrogen packed foods as well as read your books on how to do the same.

One question keeps popping into mind is this: By using five gallon [HDPE plastic] buckets, once opened how long before the food stuffs go bad? Would it be wiser or more advantageous to pack in smaller containers to as not to risk spoilage?   I have searched your blog but have not been able to find the answer.   Thank you in advance, - James M.

JWR Replies: Your question is a valid one, and you aren't the first to ask it. The brief answer to you question could be sententiously answered with the phrase: "Shop like Catholic families: shop at Costco." Let me explain:

On the packaging ("producer") side, a food container size is determined primarily by material handling time and space efficiency. On the consumer side, package size preference is determined by the size of the family. You pay much more per pound with smaller packages. ("You pay for convenience", and "Its cheaper wholesale" are both valid expressions.)

Powdered milk, rice, beans, corn meal, wheat and other grains are less expensive to buy (per pound) in six gallon buckets for several reasons:

1.) It is generally less expensive to manufacture one 6 gallon container than it is to manufacture six one gallon containers. This is generally true, regardless of the container material, be it glass, heavy duty plastic, or steel. Consider: How much steel is there in five one-pound coffee cans, compared to one five-pound coffee cans? However, there are some containers such as plastic sacks and retort packaging foils, where the cost differential is minimal.

2.) The employee handling time required is nearly the same to fill a one-gallon container as it is to fill a six-gallon container.

3.) Labeling, handling, and inspection costs increase proportionately, as the number of containers increase.

4.) You will most likely buying your food in big plain buckets from some drab warehouse, rather than from a high overhead retail store in a prime shopping district.

5.) Most bulk-packed storage foods get to your hands with fewer middlemen worked into the pricing equation.

Also consider that it is more space efficient to ship and store foods in larger containers. (Fewer cardboard boxes, more tightly-filled trucks, and so forth.)

Now all the foregoing talk about the efficiency of large containers is well and good for large families. (Typically, Catholic and Mormon families.) But what about retired couples, widows, widowers, or young singles?

Even though most food items might cost more at the outset, someone living alone is probably better off buying food in smaller containers. That way, they are more assured that the product will be used before spoilage occurs. So, for example, instead of buying dehydrated and freeze dried foods in #10 cans (most common in the food service industry) you might instead buy them in smaller cans. (In the long term storage food industry, these smaller cans are usually the #2-1/2 size.)

For future reference, here are some of the standard American can sizes:

Can Designation Volume Liquid Content Weight
#1 Half Pint 8 Ounces
#2 Pint 16 Ounces
#2-1/2 3-1/2 Cups 30 Ounces
#3 Quart 32 Ounces
#5 7-1/3 Cups 58 Ounces
#10 13 Cups. Used for "food service" and storage food cans. 104 Ounces
#12 One Gallon 128 Ounces

Note: The #10 size cans are often mistakenly called "gallon cans" but they actually hold less than one gallon.

Other than buying smaller cans, there are various ways to get around the spoilage problem. After first breaking the seal on a large container, spoilage can be minimized via any combination of these techniques:

  • Refrigeration
  • Freezing
  • Cooking
  • Brining
  • Resealing the remaining contents in the original container. (Typically with a fresh 02 absorbing packet.)
  • Resealing the remaining contents in a Mason jar or in a smaller plastic package. (Such as with a Tillia FoodSaver, available from Safecastle and several other mail order vendors.)
  • Dehydrating. (We have got a lot of use out of our Excalibur dehydrator here at the ranch.)

As I describe in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Course, I recommend that most families stock up at "Big Box" stores like Costco and Sam's Club, or at restaurant supply companies. There you can buy items like 25 pound sacks of beans and 50 pound sacks of rice. When you re-package grains and legumes at home in HDPE plastic buckets (made in sizes between 2-1/2 gallons and 7 gallons), you can save a tremendous amount on your storage food buying. Using a sealed mylar liner is recommended, since HDPE is gradually gas permeable. What you will save by doing it yourself will equate to putting away enough additional food that can be measured in extra months of storage food for your family. So it is well worth the effort.

One other option is volunteering at your local LDS church's Bishop's Storehouse dry pack cannery. People who are not LDS church members are generally welcome. (They've only excluded non-members during unusually frantic peaks, like just before Y2K.) You buy the bulk foods and empty cans from them. You provide the labor, and they provide the workspace and the can sealing equipment.

Hello James,  
I have not tried to start a vegetable garden yet, but am planning to this coming spring.  I'm not known for having a green thumb.  So much to read and research. But winter has officially arrived, so it looks like I've got some time before things thaw out!    That said, I found an interesting article that explains the benefits of Square Foot Gardening.  Looks like a great way to maximize the usable space for growing, as well as making the plants  more accessible for care and harvesting.  Plus it looks easy; on the wallet and to build.    Stay warm! - Christopher S.

Hi Jim;

I stumbled onto the fascinating Low-Tech Magazine web site. With sections titled, "Ecotech myths," "Obsolete technology," and "Low-tech solutions," there's something for everyone!

Really interesting stuff for anyone who wonders how a civilization can be built and run without electricity.

Cheers! - Jason R.

Fierce Finance reports: Private-label MBS debt looms as huge risk

Ireland's unfolding crisis may be followed soon by Portugal, and then Spain and Italy. That many sovereign debt failures would spell the end of the Euro. If the Euro collapses it might cause a temporary jump in the value of the US Dollar, and a corresponding drop in precious metals (at least in Dollar terms.) That dip may be the last chance to buy silver before it vaults into $50+ territory.

Robert Rubin: "US In Terribly Dangerous Territory," Bond Market May Be Headed For "Implosion"

Meredith Whitney sees 5,000 bank branches closing

Dr. Gary North: How Max Keiser Was Betrayed by Ellen Brown

Items from The Economatrix:

Bob Chapman on Gold, Silver, Economy and More  

Pay Cuts Aren't Enough:  Time to Lay-off Federal Workers  

Gloom, Anger Spread as European Economics Teeter  

Consumers Spend and Earn More, Layoffs Slow  

Record-High Turkey Prices Are Just the Beginning. "Currently, wholesale prices are hovering around $1.09 per pound, the highest they've ever reached. This represents a 28% increase over 2009's prices and a 37% increase over 2008's.

The BHO Administration still claims that inflation is low. Yeah, right. The 2010 list price shows that a standard blue steel Colt M1911 .45 automatic is now $919. (Or $950 for stainless steel.) I can only wonder what the 2011 prices will be. Certainly not lower. For comparison, in the early 1960s a standard blue steel Colt M1911 sold for around $60. But by the early 1990s they had jumped to around $375. Here is a thought: If I just liquidate three of my 1/4-ounce American Eagle gold coins... Here is the math: They cost me $95 each in 2001. ($285 for the three coins.) I can now sell them for $337.50 each. Selling those three coins will put $1,012.50 cash (or a Colt .45) in my pocket. So I shouldn't so much be concerned that a Colt pistol that has gone up. Rather, it is the dollar that has gone down.

Dr. F.J.D. sent: Consumer Prices For Hospital Services Increased. Modern Healthcare reported, "Consumer prices for hospital services increased 0.7% in October after rising 1.8% the prior month, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Conversely, "consumer prices for physician services dropped 0.1% last month after a 0.4% increase in September."

Reader "Sam's Mom" notes: "For the past few years I’ve bought boxes of 24 StarterLogg fire starters for use in our wood stove. Over time the price has increased from about $7 to $10 at the end of last winter.  Yesterday I was surprised to see the price at Wal-Mart for the 24-count box is still $10, but when I picked up a box I realized it was smaller than before.  At home, I compared it with boxes from last year and found the older boxes were 9.75 pounds; the new box (with identical packaging) was 6.83 pounds.  I’m considering instead using Dollar bills to start fires.  Thank you for a life-changing blog."

JRH Enterprises is extending their annual Black Friday sale through Saturday, with sale prices on many items including new Third Generation AN/PVS-14 night vision units as low as $2,895. I can attest from my own experience that you will not be disappointed with these scopes, when used either hand-held or mounted on a rifle.

   o o o

Cheryl N. (a.k.a. The Economatrix) sent this: Survival, Evasion...Vacation?  

   o o o

Emergency Essentials has announced a big one-day "Black Friday" sale with bargain prices on storage foods, wheat grinders, and more.

   o o o

In The Daily Bell: Oath-Keeper Stewart Rhodes on the Rise of Authoritarianism and How US Law Enforcement Can Take a Stand for Freedom. (Near the end of the article Rhodes kindly recommended my writings.)

   o o o

In part because of the spike in cotton prices to all-time highs, retail clothing prices are expected to rise substantially in coming months. Even our own SurvivalBlog and Battle of Bennington Flag T-shirts are expected to jump at least 20% in January. Stock up on clothing now, especially non-durable items like socks and underwear. For more durable items like pants, sweaters and coats, check you local thrift store frequently. Watch especially for items made of Merino wool.

"Greece will certainly default on its debts, and it is an open question whether Greece will experience some form of revolution or coup – I'd put the likelihood of that over the next five years as around one in four." - Andrew Lilico, chief economist, Policy Exchange. (Quoted in June, 2010.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving day in the United States. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. (See the special announcement, below, titled: An Answer to Prayer--Introducing Avalanche Lily.)


Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

We're living in a country that's the equivalent of the Titanic and everywhere around me I see people dancing like nothing's happening...

In the worst of times and in the best of times, it's the attitude of your undertaking that matters most. No matter what we may imagine will come to be, most of us will be drastically unprepared when the SHTF. We can have all the basics covered, and we can have a solution to everything we might imagine, but like war and science, there's always the unexpected we can never account for.

Personally I think most of us won't actually know when the SHTF  More than likely it will be such a gradual digression that we'll be unsure if it's time to bug out or not. I don't think the major media will be alerting us to the fact the ship is sinking. It's already sinking and all we hear from them is don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. Don’t let it distract you from dancing to the music.

The biggest unknown is going to be knowing when it’s really time to G.O.O.D.  Am I going to wait until the Golden Horde is rioting in the streets?  It might be too late by then.  Do I continue to watch the news and read the blogs and evaluate all the available data and make the wisest determination I can based upon that?  I don’t know.

I’m not wealthy, so for the time being I need to keep working as long as possible. Do I just keep watching as my dollar is worth less and food harder to come by? Do I let my reserves begin dwindling because circumstances warrant I use them to maintain my current needs ?  In such circumstances the economy itself might just drain my resources before I ever get a chance to use them.  If it all happened tomorrow then I’d venture to say I’m pretty well prepared and my survival rating is pretty high.  If I suffer through a slow drain of my resources as things worsen over time will I be able to maintain my survivability?

I don’t know exactly what will happen. What I do know is I have a good attitude.  I don’t really worry about such things. I have made up my mind to go ahead and move to my retreat this Spring. Hopefully I have the luxury of that much time. I am writing this so others like me who may be contemplating these things, might also reach the same conclusion that I have.  I can’t afford to wait.  I can no longer cling to a lifestyle that I’d have to escape.

Sure, I’ve got my food and water storage going, I’ve got the weapons, survival gear, a retreat to go to, caches along the route in place and a small group of close friends willing to work together in the name of mutual sustainability. All the basics, and then some.  I have the knowledge and experience. I’ve lived off the grid for decades in the past, honing my acquired skills and learning new ones.  I can shoot, hunt, grow a garden, manufacture and improvise low-tech and high-tech. I know the joys and the sufferings.  It’s hard work but full of rewards.

I suggest that if you’re not living on your retreat then plan to do so soon.  Stop contributing to the very system that causes us to live believing  we have to escape to somewhere else from.  If you don’t have a retreat, then devise a plan to simplify and take the first step towards acquiring one or finding someone that does and can use your skills and/or knowledge. Don’t be dead weight.

 If you can’t afford a retreat sell that new vehicle you’re making the monthly payments on and buy used. Become mobile. Get a motor home or trailer or convert a bus or truck, whatever. Consider it your it your Long Term Survival Vehicle).  Whatever solution you come up with tailor it to your needs.

Don’t be owned by your possessions, free yourself and retain only the basics. Sell what you don’t need and get what you do. Make a list of what you can live without and what you can’t. For decades we’ve pampered ourselves with comforts we don’t need and softened ourselves in the process.  Simplify.

Surviving isn’t so much about the equipment you have or don’t have, it’s going to boil down to the attitude you possess. Not the possessions.  Preparedness is an attitude, not an inventory. If we are all to wait until the last moment to make the necessary changes in our lives, we’ll be grossly unprepared.  I no longer believe that it’s a matter of if, but when the SHTF. 

I don’t believe I’m just going to wake up one day and hear it on the radio, grab my BOB, my M1A and jump in my fully outfitted, fully fueled and prepped rig with a secured trailer full of equipment, call my survival squad buddies and make some Mad Max convoy run to our distant retreat  all fully armed and stocked with the necessities of the apocalypse, fending off the Golden Horde with superior firepower while at the same time hastily planting seeds and sending out missions to establish a perimeter. 

I’ve seen all the movies, read all the books and written a few short stories.  I have a very rich and graphic imagination. As fantastical as that is to imagine I don’t think it’s going to come down that way.

I thoroughly believe the beginning of the end will come more like a thief in the night, like some viral disease that cripples you over time.  You slowly become weaker and weaker until one day you can no longer get out of bed, sicken and die. In that final moment you come to the realization that in spite of your best laid plans, you didn’t see it coming. Not when it mattered most anyway. The Schumer isn’t going to hit the fan. It’s going to drip down on it slowly over time, smelling up the air and fouling our nests.

Being prepared is all fine and dandy, but if you are thinking of it like some apocalyptic insurance policy, that you’ll just activate when the moment is upon us, then the attitude is all wrong. The powers that be have always inflicted the ills of their master plan and fiscal folly upon us over an extended period of time, the frog in the hot water analogy.  This will be no different and don’t think it won’t. 

If you wait until the last moment to G.O.O.D., then chances are the authorities will have already outlawed weapons possession, stockpiling food, and owning an inordinate amount of survival equipment. They would have already come through and searched your home, confiscated your outlawed items and hauled you off to some camp for rehabilitation.

That or they’ll establish roadblocks long before they pull the trigger on the apocalypse. Are you really going to resist if they have a warrant and you’ve got your family there to think of?  It’s one thing to imagine yourself wading through the chaos, fighting your way out of the Horde to get where you need to go. It’s completely another when they come knocking on your door with badges, guns and mercenaries to back them up (research Hurricane Katrina). You’ll find yourself a refugee or incarcerated in a world that loathes anyone who thought to think ahead.

They’ll use the excuse that "We’re all in this together" and "All those things you’ve put together and planned for to assure your own survivability are better distributed for the benefit of all."  They’ll tell you they are much better suited to taking care of you than you are at taking care of yourself. After all, isn’t that the current mindset being employed against us?  Isn’t that the very creed by which we allowed Homeland Security and FEMA and a host of other organizations both visible and invisible to establish themselves as the protectors of our well-being?

We subjugate ourselves to body scanners, body searches, an inordinate amount of senseless laws and policies to protect ourselves from one another. After all, we’ve sheepishly accepted seatbelt laws, helmet laws, mandatory vehicle and health insurance policies, non smoking policies, food and agricultural legislation, consumer protection laws and a multitude of similar intrusions into our personal lives because we’ve been either too lazy or too negligent in taking personal responsibility for our actions. We’ve lost the concept of Common Sense. We’ve neglected the precedent of the Constitution, and allowed ourselves to fall to the level of a herd of sheep.

Our herders have divided and turned us against one another on the basis of race, creed, color and politics.  We’re Red States and Blue States, Conservatives and Liberals, we’re labeled and marketed and sold a bill of goods because we’re awash in comfort and luxury. We stopped making do and sold out for the ability to enjoy it now and pay for it later.

We got distracted keeping up with the Jones’s and connecting ourselves to our possessions.  We are what we drive, where we live, what we live in, how well we eat, what we do for a living. We allowed a corporate consumerist culture to blast us with advertising to the point we’ve forgotten to think for ourselves. That’s all got to change.  You can’t take that attitude with you when the SHTF.
The first step to preparedness and survivability is to lose the pre-programmed attitude of consumerism and selfishness, to become self-reliant in attitude as well as action.  It just might save your life.

By God's grace, there was a strong response to my late wife's July 2009 Bucket List post. One of the responses came from a lovely young widow. She is a committed Christian, a homeschooling mom, and very outdoorsy. (She is an avid gardener, target shooter, hiker and kayaker.) In SurvivalBlog posts, my new bride will be known as Avalanche Lily. She plans to chime in on various blog topics, and she has already started helping me edit articles and my book manuscripts.

It was abundantly clear that it was God's hand that put us together. We both stand amazed at the foresight and selflessness of my late wife ("The Memsahib") in writing the post that was instrumental in bringing us together.

Avalanche Lily is an amazingly energetic lady, and I'm thrilled to have her as my wife and joining me as co-editor of SurvivalBlog.  God is so wonderfully provident! I feel tremendously blessed.

Thanks for your prayers. My recent marriage is proof that prayers can be effectual!   

Mr. Rawles;
I see all the news of the economic chaos (bursting budgets, Ireland debt crisis, unemployment, QEII, etc.), just like you showed in your novel ["Patriots"]. (Was it prophetic?) This has me scared spitless, and I'm overwhelmed with all the preps that I have to make, yesterday. My budget is small, since I don't want to use my credit card for any of this. I really need to get started.

Where can I buy food cheaply, in bulk? The supermarket prices seem too high for rice and beans. There is a Sam's Club [membership] store nearby, and they have much better prices. At least I was able to find buckets and lids at my local bakery, for free, like you mentioned in your blog. They were very nice, even apologizing that the buckets hadn't been washed. I can get more in a couple of weeks. (They are saving them for me.)

The one bucket that I sealed was very hard to re-open. Is there some tool for that?

Can I stock up everything I need, right in town? How about [protecting my stored food from] insects? (Both already hatched bugs and eggs).

Last thing: Do you have a list of shelf lives for different kinds of foods?

Thanks for your wonderful blog. It is amazing. - Margaret I. in Colorado

JWR Replies: Good luck with embarking on your food storage program. You can source nearly everything you need at your local Sam's Club store.

Both square and round plastic buckets are easily opened with a bucket lid wrench. These are usually available in the paint departments of Lowe's and Home Depot stores, as well at some restaurant supply stores. They are also inexpensively sold via mail order. (Usually under $7.) Further, I recommend that any round buckets that you need to access very frequently should be retrofitted with a screw-top Gamma Seal Lid. Here at the ranch, we use these lids on the buckets for our wheat, sugar, rice, corn meal, pasta, and even our dog food.

Details on insect-proofing your food stored in buckets (including a method with dry ice) and some comprehensive food shelf life charts are including in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Course. It is currently offered at a discounted price. Coincidentally, the course is specifically geared toward stocking up at "Big Box" stores like Costco and Sam's Club.

I agree in principle with your response to C.Y. about getting rid of addictions and the things that feed them, but with regard to caffeine I think the necessity "on the ground," so to speak, can be a bit more nuanced. I've always been a "night owl" and function quite well in most instances when it's dark out, unlike probably a majority of people. I've been working second or third shift for more than 11 years and don't need caffeine to stay awake late at night because my body has adjusted to those hours. However, there are instances when, even though I may be fully rested, I just need that extra kick that coffee provides to maintain alertness--sometimes the body just feels like napping.

In a Schumer-hits-the-fan situation, as you have noted both on your site and in your novel "Patriots", having one or more people on lookout duty 24/7 may be a necessity, and in such cases alertness can't be compromised. Caffeine tablets might seem like the easiest way to go, but for some people the tablets might be overkill if they don't drink a lot of caffeine. One possibility is to get mylar "minipouches" (relatively easy to find online) and seal up a scoopful of whole-bean (not ground) coffee so that in a pinch when alertness is required, the individual could munch on a few coffee beans for as small or large a dose of caffeine as they need to stay alert. Is this ideal? Not at all. Would some people turn their noses up at the taste of straight, bitter coffee beans? Probably. But in one way or another each one of us has had to take "bitter medicine" at times to get through a situation, and when it's a matter of staying alert to survive, the bitter taste of coffee beans will go away after a few minutes. That unpleasant "medicine" is worth it if the end result is the resolution of a dangerous situation or completion of a vital task. - Chad S.

Dear Jim,  
I have some cell phone details to your readers. I used to work in the cell phone business as a repair tech. Phones made before 2003 are not legal for activation in the USA. Some people continue to use old legacy hardware on the network, grandfathered in, but once that phone dies, they have to upgrade, under law, to an Enhanced 911 compliant/compatible device. That's straight from the FCC, no ifs, ands, ors or buts. That means the Bag Phone, and even the StarTac aren't legal. This is not to say that you can't work around this with a modern phone. Several models allow for an analog/digital service and have plugs for an external antenna booster and some even allow for a full on mini-cell site (though the hardware is expensive). I'm not sure its worth it, but people decide the costs and should read reviews of other's experiences before spending any money. YMMV. Considering that a phone call to the carrier's signal engineers might just modify the cell coverage to cover your home if you're a big enough customer, or can represent sufficient customer dollar value, to solve the problem, there's often a better way.   Another option is to setup a phone system locally to dial into a 802.11g/n hub via Vonage or equivalent Internet phone service or even work with wireless broadband for phone service, for little real cost. There's a lot of options. You don't have to waste money on a obsolete legacy, illegal and won't be activated by any carrier, equipment whose analog signal is a party line for anyone with a receiver to pick up the frequency. Please remember that analog cell phones are just traditional radios, after all. Digital is where you get your voice security, through the Multiplexing (GSM, CDMA, TDMA). Smart options are best. Read the review, always.   Best, - InyoKern

Kia Introduces Soul Flex at Brazilian Motor Show. It will burn 100% ethanol, 100% gasoline, or any mixture in between. I hope this model also gets marketed in the United States. It should sell strongly in the Corn Belt states. OBTW, an ethanol-burning variant of the Kia Sportage is also planned.

   o o o

States' rights battles rage in Old Dominion. Here is a brief quote: "Del. John O'Bannon, R-Henrico, filed a bill at the request of his constituents that would create a "Don't Tread on Me" license plate. And Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, filed a bill that would allow goods produced or manufactured in the state and which remain in Virginia to be exempt from federal regulation or Congress' constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce." (Thanks to Brett G. for the link.)

   o o o

R.F.J. noticed this over at Popular Science: The Hutchinson Serenity Airless Bicycle Tire

   o o o

DHS & TSA: Making a list, checking it twice. Here is a quote: "The terminology contained within the reported memo is indeed troubling. It labels any person who “interferes” with TSA airport security screening procedure protocol and operations by actively objecting to the established screening process, “including but not limited to the anticipated national opt-out day” as a “domestic extremist.” The label is then broadened to include “any person, group or alternative media source” that actively objects to, causes others to object to, supports and/or elicits support for anyone who engages in such travel disruptions at U.S. airports in response to the enhanced security procedures." Hang on there Janet, I do object, and I encourage my readers to object, protest, and be civilly disobedient. So go ahead and put me on your stinkin' list. Oh, and I noticed that your department cleverly worded the memo to exempt anyone in the mainstream media. So Katie Couric can object without any worries, but if I do, then I will be labeled a “domestic extremist”? The statist bias of the DHS is so transparent that its pathetic!

"I began to suspect that Daddy had been right all along: the only hope I had of changing the world was to change myself first.  I thought of the many times that he and I had delivered fresh-picked farm produce to one of our elderly relatives. On such occasions he never failed to remind me that if we hadn’t worked so hard to grow it, we wouldn’t be able to give it to those who needed help. For the past few years, I’d been sneering at the simplemindedness of his philosophy of self-reliance, but now it was making sense to me again. If I was truly serious about helping other people, I’d have to start by helping myself..." - Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather's Son: A Memoir

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The war drums are beating on the Korean peninsula. There's nothing like war news to deflect public attention from the economy. Oh, and speaking of Korea, read this piece by Shane Connor: When an Ill Wind Blows From Afar! (Like from Iran or North Korea!)


Today we present a lengthy entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

Grain is a foundational item in food storage, because it is a cheap source of fair-to-good quality calories, and because it has good long-term storage life.  This article will discuss nutritional considerations, health aspects, and specific uses for each grain.
            What do we want out of food?  We want energy (calories), building materials (protein and fats & oils), and health-supplying nutrients (vitamins and minerals).  How much grain should we store to supply these needs, or, conversely, how long will our grain storage sustain our life?

            Most sources recommend that a basic year's supply for one person is 300 lbs. of grain, 60 lbs. beans, 10 quarts oil, and 8 lbs. salt.   This diet only provides about 1,500 calories per day.  This is only adequate to fuel a slim, sedentary female.  At least 30% more is needed for a 2,000 calorie diet.  Therefore, a more realistic storage goal for one year would be 400 lbs. grain, 100 lbs. beans, and 14 quarts of oil to meet caloric demands.

            As with calories, protein needs vary from person to person, depending upon size, gender, and activity, including child-carrying and lactating.  Protein does not give energy, so why would it depend upon activity?  Because protein is the basic building block of the body.  Muscles, antibodies, digestive enzymes, hormones - they're all made of thousands of specialized proteins.  When we're active, the muscles must be re-built.  When we eat for the purpose of supplying energy, it requires enzymes to break down the food and make it usable. 
            A low number would be 40 grams per day, while a high number would be 150.  Most of us need between 50 and 100 grams of protein per day.  However, not all protein is equal.
            The body is capable of making all the thousands of varied proteins, using less than a couple dozen building blocks, called amino acids.  The body can even make most of these amino acids, but there are nine of them it cannot make; we must eat them.  They're called essential amino acids, which is somewhat of a misnomer, because they are all "essential,"  just as every letter of the alphabet is "essential" in a dictionary. 
            It is possible to get all nine essential amino acids from any grain or bean, and many vegetables.  However, if one ate exclusively a certain grain, it would take several pounds per day to give an adequate amount of each essential amino acid, because grains are low in certain amino acids.  Eating that large amount of grain would supply more calories than needed, which is wasteful, particularly in a situation when we have limited food supplies.  Fortunately the nature of the creation of grains and legumes is such that legumes are also low in a couple of essential amino acids, but they just happen to be the ones in which grains abound.  Therefore, one can eat a moderate amount of grain and beans together and supply a good quality protein source for the body.
            You might think of it as a Scrabble game.  What if your tile source had a dozen vowels for every consonant?  You could make words, but it would take a lot of sifting through lots of excess vowels.  Then there is another box where there are a couple dozen consonants for every vowel.  Again, that wouldn't make for a good game.  But put them together, and you have a decent balance of what you need to make words.
            One can get technical about the amounts of each amino acid in each kind of bean or grain, but a basic rule of thumb is that a ratio of 1 part legume to 3 parts grain gives a well-balanced source of amino acids.  This is why it is recommended to store 100 lbs. beans for every 400 lbs. grain.  Rice and beans is a good protein meal, as is a peanut butter sandwich, or beans and bread.

Whole grains vs. "polished" grains
            A typical kernel of grain consists of a tiny part called the germ, which is where the new life is stored.  The germ is rich in vitamins and oils.  Wheat germ is a popular topping for health food types.  I remember the first time I heard of it, as a teenager:  "No, thanks!  I don't want any germs on my food!" 
            Most of the kernel is composed of the endosperm, which is a chunk of carbohydrate designed to feed the growing plant until it can begin photosynthesis.  This is the part that feeds us, too, being full of calories. 
            And the coating of the seed is called the bran.  This is rich in minerals and fiber, important for the digestive system. 
            To make white rice or white flour, the grain is stripped of both its bran and its germ.  This leaves the calorie and protein contents basically the same, but removes most of the vitamins, minerals, and oils.  It is therefore generally better to consume the whole grain.  However, brown rice, which is the whole grain, will go rancid, and should not be stored long-term.  I have kept it in my cool basement for 2 years, but that's stretching it.  This is why preppers store white rice, which has lower nutritional value, but will not go rancid.

Fats and Oils
            All grains have a small oil content, which provides some of the calories of the grain.  The oils themselves are important for various body processes, such as cell wall formation, hormone production, and appetite regulation.  Wheat germ oil is the richest natural source of vitamin E.  In general (except in the case of rice), these oils are stable in the whole grain. 

Preparing Grains for Maximum Health
            We have considered some of the nutrients that grains can provide for our bodies.  Now we will address the issue of how to prepare the grains so that our bodies can properly assimilate all these nutrients.  This is not something that people of our generation give much thought to; after all, most of us have an excess of nutrients, and conserving them isn't on the radar.  But in TEOTWAWKI we will want to absorb all the nutrition we can from what we eat.
            We must respect the fact that a grain is a seed.  Its intended purpose is to grow a whole new plant.  It's just bursting with potential life, always ready to sprout forth.  Then why doesn't it just sprout as it sits in your cupboard?  A little thought will lead to the idea that it is caused to sprout by the presence of water.  That's somewhat true, but in a backward sort of way.  The actual mechanism is that it has powerful enzyme inhibitors throughout its substance, which prevent it from sprouting.  It's always being held in check.  When the seed is soaked, this disables the enzyme inhibitors, so the seed can follow its natural course.
            This mechanism is non-trivial to the one who circumvents the sprouting process and takes the grain for food, rather than to plant.  Without the soaking, the enzyme inhibitors are still active.  They're still active even after cooking.  So when they get in your stomach, they will still do their job.  Only, since you've chewed up the seed and dispersed it throughout your stomach, they'll be inhibiting the enzymes they find there - namely, your digestive enzymes.  Young people won't notice this, because they have plenty of enzymes to spare - tummies of steel.  But as we age, beginning at about 40, our enzyme production diminishes.  This results in various ailments such as indigestion, food sensitivities, candida albicans overgrowth, Crohn's disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  The results of these ailments range from mild discomfort to acute malnourishment and pain.  And in TEOTWAWKI, there won't be a medical establishment standing by to alleviate the problem.  Furthermore, all of these ailments share the characteristic that the sufferer eats food that doesn't do him any good - doesn't get digested - doesn't fuel his body and sustain his life, doubtless very frustrating in a time of shortage.
            (The bran of most grains also contains phytic acid, which inhibits mineral absorption by those who eat the grain.  This, too, is a serious digestive problem.)
            Fortunately, there's a simple solution to both problems, which was practiced by our ancestors:  soak your grain before you cook it.  Soak it 7 - 24 hours, preferably in water to which acid (yogurt or fruit juice) has been added.  This disables the enzyme inhibitors, and also neutralizes the phytic acid, so that the grain is safe to eat.  You may use the soaking water as cooking water. 
            See the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for more information on soaking grains.
            It is no coincidence that many women who faithfully made whole wheat bread for their families for many years, believing they were serving the most nutritious food, end up with gluten intolerance.  This has been my observation, and my personal experience.
            I believed in "eat what you store."  Accustom your body to your storage foods, so it won't cause undue stress when you have to live on your storage.  But the theory is flawed:  How about: eat lots of sugar, so your body will be used to eating lots of sugar.  Your mouth might be "used to" it, but you'll ruin your pancreas and inhibit your mineral absorption, leading to malnutrition.  Smoke lots of cigarettes, because they will be a good relaxation when you're living in times of stress.  Again, you might be "used to" smoking, not coughing and gagging like someone newly-introduced to it, but you're also ruining your respiratory system.  Of course whole wheat can't possibly be as bad as sugar and tobacco.  No, but it does have the potential to ruin your digestive system if consumed un-soaked over a period of many years.  So, eat what you store, but only eat the kinds of foods that will build your body, prepared in a way that will not cause damage. 
             If you have already worn out your digestive system by eating too many improperly-prepared carbohydrates (this includes beans as well), you may believe that you are "allergic" to the various grains.  After giving your system a hiatus from grains for a few months, you may find that you are better able to tolerate them when they have been well-soaked.  And if you are having any digestive issues, they may be easier to resolve now, when you have easy access to the vegetables and meat that you'll need to eat while your system is recovering.  It might be very difficult to avoid grains when you're living off your supply.
            Later in this paper I mention a number of ways grains can be used.  Some of them use un-soaked grains.  These should only be used by people with no digestive issues, and only sparingly.

Vitamins and Sprouting
            The endosperm of grains has a negligible amount of vitamins.  The bran has some, and the germ has the most.  However, when the grain actually begins to sprout, an abundant array of vitamins and enzymes bursts forth from the carbohydrate.  The calorie content of the grain is traded for these vitamins and enzymes.  Sprouting your grain is a wonderful way to get vitamins. 
            An unfortunate fact that many are unaware of is that when you store foods in cans or buckets with oxygen absorbing packets, the seed is killed.  It will not germinate - it will not sprout.  So if you plan to sprout any of your stored food, you will have to find some other way to store it.  My mother-in-law stored lots of kinds of food using bay leaves.  This old wives tale may be pooh-poohed by some, but we are still eating her stored food fifty years later, and it has no bugs.  I have heard that you can also prevent infestation using diatomaceous earth, but I have not yet tried this.
            When you sprout your grain, do not think of alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts, with their long, thick stems.  Sprout grain for only 3 or 4 days, and use when they're only about 1/4 inch long.  Any longer, and they are grass, and humans can't digest grass.
            Awhile back there was a wheat grass fad.  Wheat was sprouted and was allowed to grow several inches, developing leaves with chlorophyll.  The sprouts were not eaten, but juiced.  Of course, a special juicer was needed.
            Your sprouted grains should be cooked before you eat them, because the raw sprouts have some irritating chemicals in them which discourage animals from eating the young sprouts.  They will have a crunchy, chewy texture, and can be added to anything - breads, soups, salads, casseroles - kind of like a mix between a grain and a vegetable. 

Grains and Their Uses

            So, you're all hunkered down, scrounging meat and wild plants as you can find them, and eating your stored grain:  Soaked oatmeal for breakfast, soaked and cooked wheat for lunch, and soaked and cooked rice and beans for dinner.  No?  You're sick of it already?  Your stored grains can provide a much better variety of interesting and tasty food than that.
            At this time in our history, we have access to an amazing array of grains from around the world.  They vary in their nutritional profiles, flavor, and texture.  Every grain has something it does better than any other grain. 

            Amaranth is one of the "new" super small "grains."  An old crop of the Aztecs and Maya, it is new to our culture.  It is super because its nutritional profile boasts abundant and complete protein, and lots of vitamins and minerals.  Actually, the "super" is associated with "small."  The ratio of germ/bran to endosperm is greater in a smaller seed, thus there are more nutrients per seed, and per pound, than for larger grains.  It is not a true grain, but a member of the same family as tumbleweed.  And not being a grain, it isn't a grass, and the leaves are edible and nutritious, as well, though, because of their oxalic acid content they should be eaten in moderation.  The roots are also edible.   Amaranth is gluten-free.  It has no outer layer to remove, so all amaranth is a whole seed product.
            You can use it in any recipe calling for rice.  Alternately, if your family does not care for the flavor (as my kids have decided they don't), you can replace just a little rice in a rice recipe.  Just sneak a tablespoon or two in with every cup of rice.
            In Mexico they sell a tasty candy called "alegría," ("happiness") made of amaranth in a solid sugary base, kind of like peanut brittle, but softer.  I don't know how to make it, but an alternative is simply to add as much amaranth to a small amount of honey as it can hold.

[JWR Adds: One word of warning on Amaranth: It grows so well that it can become a widely-propagating pernicious weed that chokes out other crops. The seeds are so small that they can be carried on the wind. ]


Most barley sold is "pearl" barley, which has had its bran and germ removed, and is therefore, like white flour, a nutrient-deficient, processed product, and should be eaten sparingly.  For the bulk of your storage, buy whole barley.

            Casseroles.  Barley can be used in any recipe calling for rice.  It will be chewier and more solid.
            Drink.  Barley water, made from cooking the soaked grain in excess water, is a traditional meal for people who are ill, or recovering from illness, and do not have the energy to expend in digesting more substantial food.
            Bring 3 cups water to a boil.  Add 1 tbsp. barley and continue to simmer until it is done (about an hour).  Strain out the grains (use for dinner) for a thin drink, or blend in blender for something more substantial (you won't want to drink the dregs).  GSI Outdoors makes the excellent hand operated Vortex Blender. Flavor with salt or broth (especially for convalescents), or honey or molasses for a satisfying drink on a cold day.
            Soups.  Barley swells considerably when soaked and cooked, thereby becoming less dense than other grains.  It is a pleasant and filling addition to soups.  Your blackbird stew will feel like a feast when you add barley!  A little goes a long way.  Specifically, a tablespoon of raw barley will expand to 1/2 cup when cooked.

            Buckwheat is not related to wheat; it isn't even a grain.  It offers several nutritional advantages, including manganese, tryptophan, and magnesium.  Most buckwheat sold is hulled, and will appear white.  It's called buckwheat groats or kasha.  You can use it just like rice for dinner, or oatmeal for breakfast, as they do in Russia. 
            The unhulled buckwheat makes very good sprouts, easy to grow.  Don't think you can cook up these unhulled seeds; the hulls are about as edible as sunflower seed shells. The un-hulled seeds are ground into flour, and it's the hulls in this flour that give buckwheat pancakes their distinctive flavor.


            Corn is a unique grain in many ways.  Its flavor is unsurpassed, it is the only grain also eaten as a fresh vegetable, most gardeners are familiar with growing it, its male and female parts are separated in the plant, and several delicious corn dishes are quite labor-intensive.
            Corn, unlike other grains, needs to be soaked not in plain acidified water, but in lime water.  This is because the niacinamide in corn is bound up in an indigestible form, but the soaking releases it.  Occasionally eating un-soaked corn won't cause much harm, assuming there is an adequate diet otherwise, but if you frequently eat corn, or make it your primary carbohydrate, you will end up deficient in this B vitamin, and suffer from pelagra.  While we may not store corn as our principle grain, during TEOTWAWKI we may find that corn is the grain we are most likely to grow ourselves.  Therefore we need to know how to use it to maximize its nutrition, even if we only have the information and do not develop the skill until it is needed.
            There are three ways to make lime water for soaking:  lye, builders lime, or wood ashes.   
            1.  Add 2 tbsp. lye to 1 quart dry corn.   or
            2.  Add 3/8 cup builders lime to 1 quart dry corn.  or
            3.  Add 1 quart wet wood ashes to 1 quart dry corn.
            Using whichever lime you choose, cover with water and soak the corn at least 7 hours.
            Cornmeal:  You may take your soaked grain, dry it again, and grind it into meal.  However, this is not recommended, because it is difficult to be sure it is dry inside, and you don't want to gum up your machine.
            You may grind the dry corn first, and then soak it in lime water (2:1 corn:liquid).  This will require that you modify whatever recipe you are using to account for the extra liquid.
            Hominy.  This can make a good base for any sort of meat or vegetable soup.  After the soaking period, boil your corn in its lime water about 45 minutes, until water is thick and hulls slip off.  Remove from heat, drain in colander, and rinse repeatedly to remove hulls.  Return to pot, add water, and bring to a boil.  If you used builders lime, continue cooking 2 or 3 hours until corn is soft.  If you used lye or wood ashes, return to pot, cover with water, bring to boil, then pour off water.  Repeat this four times.  Then cook another 2 or 3 hours until corn is soft.
            Corn tortillas.  First make a dough, called "masa," from your soaked, boiled corn.  Follow the same steps for hominy:  soak in lime water, boil, rinse and remove hulls.  Then grind in something that will grind wet. 
            Add a little water to form a dough that holds together well and is pliable.  Shape into walnut-sized balls.  Roll out with rolling pin or tortilla press between waxed paper or cloths.  Cook tortillas on a hot cast-iron skillet or griddle.  Do not grease.  If they stick, wipe with a cloth moistened in oil.  Brown on both sides.
            Atole.  This is a traditional Mexican hot drink often served for breakfast.  Mix 1/2 cup masa, 5 cups milk or water, 1/4 cup honey or sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 2 tsp. vanilla extract.  Blend thoroughly and enjoy a steaming cupful.  Atole can be as thin as hot chocolate, or as thick as porridge.  Make it as you like.
            Tamales.  Add about 1 part fat to 5 parts masa.  Use any animal fat which you've skimmed off the surface of your soups, or shortening or lard that you may have stored. Add salt.  Spread the masa on soaked corn husks, fill with a seasoned meat mixture, fold up, and steam for an hour or so.  In Mexico tamales are not only made of meat; they make delicious raisin/cinnamon tamales, as well as potato/cheese tamales.  You can be creative, and be well within the tamale tradition.

            Millet is another very nutritious small grain, which can be substituted for the less-nutritious rice in any recipe.  Saute it before you cook it to enrich the flavor.  Soak it first to enhance digestibility.  Use 3 cups water per cup of millet.  Cook with less water for a firmer, rice-like consistency.  Cook with more water for a creamier, mashed-potato effect.
            Curiously, there are several different varieties of what we call "millet," falling into different biological genuses.  Some varieties take only 65 days from planting to harvest!  Store millet.  And if the Schumer never hits the fan, at least you'll have plenty of bird seed!
            Oats are available in various stages of refinement.  All oats have been hulled, and all forms are considered whole grain products.  The difference is whether they are still whole (groats), how much they have been smashed (rolled), cut (steel-cut or Irish or Scotch), and steamed (quick or instant).  The more processed they are, the faster they cook. 
            All forms make a good breakfast cereal, soaked overnight and then either cooked or eaten raw.
            Granola:  Add about 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup sweetener of choice, and cinnamon and/or ground cloves,  chopped almonds, sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds  to about 4 cups oatmeal.  Spread on cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes at 350.  Remove from oven, add any of the following:  1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 cup raisins or chopped, dried fruit, chopped pecans or walnuts.  Stir in.  Replace in oven.  Bake another 15 minutes.
            Treats:  Oatmeal cookies, of course.  Also, no-bake quick treats:  mix oatmeal with something moist - like honey or peanut butter.  Add dried fruit, chopped nuts, or powdered milk.  

            Do not soak pasta!  Maybe that's a no-brainer.  You'll end up with pasta mush, the same as you will if you add your pasta to water that isn't boiling.

            Quinoa is another "new" super "grain,"  in fact botanically related to Amaranth.  The nutritional profile is similar, as are the growing conditions.  However, the flavors are quite different, and in our family we like the quinoa much better.  Quinoa cooks very quickly, so doesn't use a lot of fuel.
            Quinoa has a layer of saponins on the outside, which are soapy substances designed to keep it from being eaten by animals.  When you buy quinoa, the saponins have already been removed.  If you grow your own, however, you will have to remove this nasty-tasting chemical yourself.  Put it in a blender with cool water, on low speed.  Blend for about 5 minutes, changing water frequently, until water is no longer soapy.

            Everyone is familiar with rice, and how to cook it:  casserole, fried, pilaf, and soup.  And don't forget rice pudding - cooked with extra water, and then lots of cinnamon and some dried fruit - like raisins - added.  Rice does not need to be soaked as long as other grains.
            Horchata.  Here's a popular Mexican cold drink:  Combine 1 cup uncooked rice and 5 cups water in the blender.  Blend about a minute.  Let this mixture stand at room temperature for a minimum of 3 hours.  Strain the rice water into a pitcher and use the rice for something else (dinner).  Stir in 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup sugar.  Serve cold. 
            You can experiment and find out any adjustments you would like; some people like it creamier (less water), or more or less sweet.  Also, if you have it, you can add 1/2 cup milk.  You can also add almonds with the rice.  And some people even cook the rice mixture first. 
            The most important step, which you cannot skip, is the straining.   Strain it through cheesecloth.  Even so it will be a little gritty, especially at the bottom.  Don't drain your pitcher!  You can even strain it through fabric.

            Rye is very similar nutritionally to wheat, but doesn't have as much gluten.  So a bread made of 100% rye flour will be very heavy.  That was the original black bread in Russia, but most modern tastes prefer to just add a little rye flour to a bread recipe.
            Some people believe rye flour makes a better sour dough starter than wheat.

            Teff is another super grain.  It's a true grain, originating in the African grasslands.  It's the tiniest of all the grains.  It is in fact an appropriate grain for preppers to be aware of.  "Teff" means lost.  It has reference to the unsettled nature of tribal life.  When the people had to flee, a handful of teff represented a years supply of seed.  While there are 230,000 alfalfa seed per pound, it takes 1.3 million teff seeds to make a pound!  Teff has the most complete protein of any grain, comparing favorably with egg protein.
            The grains are so tiny that when you cook teff alone, it ends up a very gelatinous mass, where the individual kernels are undistinguishable.  After you cook it, you can let it sit awhile to stiffen up, then slice and fry.  Serve with sauce - vegie/meat for dinner, fruit/sweet for breakfast.
            Africans use teff flour to make ingira bread, a sour dough product.

            Wheat is by far the most popular storage grain, as well as the most useful grain in our everyday lives.  Any cookbook will have recipes for muffins and biscuits, cookies and cakes. 
            You can also find plenty of bread recipes.  A basic bread recipe has flour (white or whole wheat), yeast, sweetener, oil, salt, and water.  From that lots of different things can be added.

Sourdough bread
            That's fine, except for two considerations:  1.  Yeast needs to be stored under refrigeration, and of course won't last forever.  2.  Yeast bread does not provide the soaking wheat needs to make it digestive-system friendly.
            You can also find lots of "sourdough" recipes in cookbooks and online.  However, the vast majority of these recipes require the addition of yeast, and usually sugar, and the sourdough is just there to give flavor.               
            Our ancestors in every culture made sourdough bread with a "start," and they kept their cultures going by replenishing them day by day.  Instant yeast is a newfangled invention, designed to save time at the expense of nutrition, leaving the bread-maker dependent upon a supply of instant yeast.
            To make a start, mix 2 cups flour (rye or wheat) with 2 cups water.  Cover with a cloth and leave un-refrigerated.  Every day, add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, and stir.  In a few days it will get bubbly.  After a week, your start is ready.
            To make sourdough bread, combine 1 quart start with 4 or 5 cups flour.  Add 1 tbsp. salt.  Add enough water to make a dough of good texture.  Knead.  Form into loaves and place in 2 greased bread pans.  Let rise.  It will not double, as yeast bread will, and it will rise slowly, depending upon the temperature.  Give it time - maybe 12 hours.  Then bake it at 325 for about an hour.  This is a very dense bread, with a pronounced sourdough taste.  It goes excellently with nut butter, though many people find it too solid for sandwiches.
            The above start "recipe" is just an idea.  If you're alone, cooking for yourself, you will find that you have more start than you can use.  So just add 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup flour per day.  Or perhaps you're feeding a couple dozen people in your compound.  Then add 4 cups every day.  The object is to strike a balance, so that at every bread-making you end up with a supply of start that will grow into the amount you need at the next bread-making.
            No oven?  No problem!  Bake your bread on top of your non-cook wood stove!  Put your big army-feeding pot, with the lid on, on the stove and pre-heat your "oven."  I put an inch of water in the bottom, because I was afraid it would warp the metal otherwise.  Put something metal on the bottom to hold your bread pan up in the middle of your "oven." Put your raised bread in.  I didn't bother with a thermometer.  It took awhile to bake - maybe a couple of hours.  But maybe that's because people kept peeking in to see how it was doing, and in this kind of oven, you really lose heat that way!  We finally decided it was done by the poke method.  The kids declared it an unqualified success.  In fact, they liked the strange texture of the crust, caused by the high humidity.  This might be a good thing to do when butter is scarce or non-obtainable.
            I have heard that you can also do this with a Dutch oven on top of your stove.
            No fire?  Limited fuel?  Summertime?  No problem!  Use your solar cooker!  You can solar cook even on cold days, as long as you have sol. 
            No solar cooker?  No problem!  Make one!  Copy the plans now.  I think a commercially-made solar oven is an essential for preppers who live in sunny states.  But even if you have your own cooker, you may want to know how to make one for your less-prepared neighbors.  Stock up on the supplies needed, especially  black paint and aluminum foil.  The weakness of the solar cookers recommended at is that they rely on oven bags, which obviously won't be available.  Glass will work better.
            If you bake on your wood stove top, or solar bake, you'll have to adjust your daily schedule.  For solar, you'll want to bake around noon, so prepare your dough at the crack of dawn, or just before going to bed at night.  For stove top, except in the coldest times, you'll probably just have a fire morning and night.  So make your dough to be ready at one of those times.

Gravy or Sauce
            Many casseroles are made by adding a can of cream of something soup to a cooked carbohydrate, with some vegetables mixed in.  So you are probably storing a good supply of cream of mushroom (or celery or chicken or whatever) soup to make these quick and easy and tasty casseroles.  You will eventually run out of your cream soups.  You can make something just as tasty and more nutritious with wheat.  The starch in wheat is a good thickener.  Here's the procedure:

Heat (or melt) oil or fat in a pan on the stove.  Add an equal amount of flour.  Stir a couple of minutes to toast the grain.  Then add liquid.  You may add milk for cream sauces.  You may add stock for gravy.  You may add water because that's what you have.  Hopefully you have some seasoning - bouillon seasoning, salt, celery seed, curry, etc.  If you want a thin sauce or gravy, add 1 cup liquid per tablespoon of flour/oil.  A medium sauce is made with 2 tbsp. flour/oil in 1 cup liquid, and a thick sauce uses 3 tbsp. flour/oil per cup of liquid.  A thick sauce makes a good cream soup for your casserole.  A thick sauce also makes a good addition to cooked potatoes in their water.  Add some meat (bacon, clams) and corn, and you have a filling and nourishing chowder.  Actually, you may use any flour, not just wheat, to thicken your sauce.  They all have starch.

            Pasta.  Mix 1 1/2 cups flour with 2 eggs and 1 tbsp oil.  If needed, add up to 2 tbsp water.  Make a stiff dough.  Knead, cover to keep moist, and set aside for 10 minutes.  Roll out dough and cut as desired.
            You can substitute other flours as part of the flour.  You can add herbs or spices.  You can add pureed vegetables as part of the moisture.
            You can make pasta without eggs, if your chickens aren't laying:  2 cups flour, 1/2 cup hot water, and 1 tbsp. oil.
            Drop into boiling salted water and cook for about 10 minutes. 

            Postum.  This was a tasty hot drink made of wheat by the Post company, and discontinued several years ago.  Postum aficionados really miss this product, and have come up with a homemade version:
            4 cups wheat flour
            2 cups coarse ground corn meal
            1/2 cup molasses
Mix the wheat, corn meal, & molasses with hands until well-mixed.  Put into shallow baking pans and brown in slow oven until it is a rich dark brown.  Stir often to prevent burning.  This takes several hours.  Cool. 
            To use:  add 2 tbsp. mix for 1 cup water.  This is not an instant drink.  You must brew it awhile.
            You can also add bran (from making wheat meat) for a richer, more authentic flavor.

Wheat Meat
            So you're all settled in your chosen place, but there's no meat to eat.  The chickens aren't setting, so you're not ready for chicken stew, and the cow isn't even pregnant.  Or maybe you forgot to put the chickens and the cow in your G.O.O.D. bag.   Dear husband comes home every evening empty-handed, after slogging over the frozen landscape from which the game have mysteriously disappeared.  And the cat has stopped sharing.  No meat.  Everyone is lusting after meat. 
If you have seasonings, you can make a passable substitute for meat out of wheat.  It will, of course, have the nutritional profile of wheat (somewhat less, actually), and not of meat.  It is "meat" strictly to satisfy the palate.  It's a process involving several steps:  1.  Soak, 2.  Develop gluten, 3.  Rinse, 4.  Flavor, 5.  Bake (for texture), and 6.  Use.
            1.  Soak.  Mix 7 cups flour (whole wheat or white) with 3 cups cool water to form dough.  Cover with cold water and let rest for 2 - 3 hours.
            2.  Develop gluten.  (This step is why you can only make this with wheat, not any other grain.)  Place dough or portion of dough in a colander, which is then placed in a larger bowl filled with warm water.  Wash with in and out. You are developing the gluten into long strands, as in bread-kneading, and at the same time washing out the starch and bran.  Continue until it becomes the consistency of bubble gum.  You will not wash out all the bran.  That's okay.
            (Note:  Do not throw out the washing water - it's full of nutrients.  After it all settles, the top clear layer is water; the lower, thick liquid is starch, useful for thickening or adding to baked goods, and the bottom sediment is bran, to put in your muffins or use to make "Postum.")
            3.  Rinse.  Hold dough under a small stream of water and rinse until water is clear and dough is elastic and rubbery.  Or rinse in another bowl of clean water.
            4.  Flavor.  Make a broth of about 1 tbsp. stock per quart of water (including any flavoring or soy sauce, etc. that you want to try).  Bring to boil.  Roll your raw wheat meat thin, and add to simmering water.  Simmer for several hours.  This is most economically done in a crock pot or on your wood stove in the winter, when it's burning anyway.
            Alternatively, you can manually mix your flavorings into your raw wheat meat.
            Or you can skip this step entirely if you're making wheat meat "hamburger," where your wheat meat will be surrounded by a dish with strong flavors of its own, and the "meat" is in small pieces."
            5.  Bake.  Either make balls for meat balls or to grind into hamburger, or stretch out to make steaks.  Bake at about 350 for about 30 - 45 minutes.
            6.  Use.  For hamburger, grind with an onion and use like hamburger meat.
            For steak, bread with eggs, milk, seasoned flour, and fry.  Smother with a nice sauce.
Important:  After having gone through these steps, do not boil wheat meat in its recipe.  All that flavor that diffused in will just as readily diffuse out.  Furthermore, it will lose its texture and become a blob of dough.  Yuck.  So put your "meat" in at the last minute.  (If you make a mistake and it ends up a blob of dough, just bake it again.)
            For more information on wheat meat, including alternative methods and quite a few recipes, see the books Feed a Family of Four for As Low As $10 Per Week, by Marlynn Phipps et al, and Recipes For Self-Sufficient Living, by Kay Martineau, et al.
            Types of wheat.  There are several broad categories of wheat - winter or spring, hard or soft, red or white.  There are also hybrids, like triticale.  In general, the hard, winter wheats will have more protein, more gluten, and are better suited to making breads, while the soft, spring wheats have less protein, less gluten, and perform better with baking powder.  Hard wheat stores better.  In practice, who's going to be a connoisseur during TEOTWAWKI?  

Growing Grains

            An essential in growing grains is good seed.  And I repeat what I said in the sprouting section:  Grain that has been stored using oxygen absorbing packets will not sprout. 
            Most of us are only familiar with growing corn.  It will be more nutritious to try to maintain a variety of grains on the table.  In planning your own grain planting, it may be useful to know the original growing conditions of the various grains, including their native climate, and find those which match your own.






Further Information



Light, after hog pasture

Widely adapted, drought tolerant, warm

300 - 1,500 lbs / acre

From Purdue


Egypt?  Middle East?

Needs nitrogen

Varieties adapted to all climates

2,000 lbs / acre

From University of Idaho



Hardy "will grow on anything" (usually grown chemical free)

Cool, moist

1,200 - 1,600 lbs / acre

From North Dakota State University




Loam, high nitrogen


8,000 /acre



Africa, Asia

Poorly fertilized, dry


Must be hulled; 2,500 - 2,800 lbs / acre

From Chet Day's site


Asia Minor?


Cool, wet okay

2,400 & up / acre

From Purdue



Any soil; salt tolerant

Drought tolerant, cool nights, not over 90 degrees





Irrigated paddies





SW Asia?

Infertile, sandy, acid, poorly prepared okay.  Light best

Most winter-hardy grain, but not wet cold

800 up

From Purdue



Marginal, water-logged, drought

Short growing season; warm


From Forage First


Fertile Crescent



3,000 up

From The Mother Earth News

Action to take:
1.  Store a variety of grains.
2.  Store legumes to balance the protein.
3.  Prepare to cook bread.
4.  Soak your grains for your health.
5.  Consider growing grains, and storing seed.
6.  Experiment with the new small grains, and store what you like, for nutrition and variety.
7.  Print and save this report.             

JWR Adds: Further details on grains, long term storage techniques, and shelf lives can be found in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Course. (It is presently offered for a limited time at a discounted price). Some of these details are also included in my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".

Thanks for the invaluable resource - knowledge - as provided by SurvivalBlog.  I was wanting to get some feedback on long range phones, particularly the Motorola M800 Bag Phone.  From what I can gather, this phone is dual digital and analog and it is described as used "for workers in the Oil and Gas, Agriculture and Forestry industries. Now you can stay connected in the field, on rural or urban highways, when traveling, at the cottage or even camping". 

I travel into Appalachia in Eastern Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky and also have a houseboat (on a mooring line, so a fixed phone would be excellent) that is situated in a fairly inaccessible area.  In these areas, I receive very poor and unreliable cellular phone reception.  As I have found, changing carriers can help, only marginally, but does not eliminate the problem.  From what I can tell, very few people own this type of phone after the widespread conversion to digital cellular systems January 1, 2008.  It is my understanding that some carriers like Verizon still offer analog service and that this would be viable option for someone like myself to fill in the gaps.  If there is anyone within the readership, who owns or has owned one and can offer me some practical advice that would be appreciated - very little information exists on this product other than what is provided by the manufacturer. - Jorge L.

JWR Adds: One other advantage of using "legacy" analog cell phone systems is that in some locales the carriers never implemented the automatic caller location features that are standard by law with digital cell phones. (Digital phones are automatically located by process called pinging. Analog phones are located via triangulation.) This can provide a bit of privacy, but be sure to check with your local carrier to see if they implemented automatic analog signal triangulation. Many of them did not. For those providers, triangulation is a slow and cumbersome process.

Mr. Rawles,
I enjoyed the referenced article, and wanted to piggyback a point about triage in combat. Combat medicine is different than a mass casualty incident in a non combat scenario. Good medicine may be bad tactics. In combat, treat those in the yellow category (such as having a finger shot off) first- to get more guns back into the fight. Otherwise you may all die, and that's bad juju. Don't waste time on an expectant casualty (i.e. a gunshot wound to the head with brain matter showing). Move instead to the casualty with extremity bleeding where they may be bandaged or tourniqueted and put back into the fight.

In TEOTWAWKI, combat may be a hard fact of life and the subtle differences in emergency medicine could make or break a good group's survival. - Jeremiah Johnson in Florida

Roberta X provided a link to the USA National Gas Price Heat Map. You will note that some divisions in price ranges follow state lines. These are created by differences in state gas taxes, rather than production and transportation costs. California is mostly mapped in red and Wyoming is mostly green because of what goes on inside state capitols rather than what goes on in oil fields and refineries. And it is no coincidence that the states with the big, pretentious, and intrusive governments are in the midst of budget crises. (California, for example is nearing default.) These same states have high taxes, annual vehicle inspections, civilian disarmament ("gun control") laws, restrictive zoning, expensive building permits, and on and on. Vote with your feet, folks. Move away from bureaucratic tyranny and toward freedom.

Brett G. sent us this item: Economists worried about U.S. inflation: survey

FBI Raids Three Hedge Funds. From what I've heard, discussion of basic market research has been labeled "collusion" and "insider trading". Unfortunately, public officials in the U.S. are presently out for blood, and logic is being ignored. This situation will likely get worse before its gets better. Some have argued that the insider trading laws are fundamentally flawed.

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Mixed as Ireland Bailout, FBI Probe Weigh  

Treasurys Rally After Government Raises $35Billion  

Dying With Debt: A Dirty Little Retirement Secret  

Silver Sales to Surge as Investors Seek Protection, Perth Mint Forecasts  

Dollar to Become World's Weakest Currency, JP Morgan Says 

Although the "No Code" Technician license is often suggested for novice ham radio operators in the U.S., it is important to go ahead and learn Morse Code. It takes very little power to enable good communication over long distances. There are many propagation situations where voice is unintelligible, but Morse can still get through. The folks at Code Quick have one of the best teaching methods. They've had great success in teaching most folks in just two weeks.

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R.F.J. sent this gem: IKEA Hack: MALM with Storage Boxspring. This is great way to create a hidden storage space, even for someone with no carpentry skills.

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I noticed that Makai's has added several outdoor survival products to their line.

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L.C. in Montrose mentioned: Missionary's son invents 'Maverick' flying car.

"The twenty-first century is already making the twentieth seem like the Age of Reason." - Joe Sobran

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm scheduled for a two hour interview with call-in questions from listeners tomorrow (Wednesday, November 24, 2010) on EMPact Radio. Please feel free to call if you have any preparedness questions that would be of interest to the majority of listeners. If you miss hearing the show, it will be available as a downloadable podcast.


Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

First , to tell you a little about myself.  I was a prepper in anticipation of Y2K, had the property, cabin, most of the works and of course nothing happened. (my family thought I was nuts) We all went back to our living.  Unfortunately sold our property, because of an illness.   I never thought of continuing on for future problems.  I was awakened by talking with my brother earlier this year when he told me about SurvivalBlog.  So needless to say I am a prepper once again, but this time my whole family is. 

I am preparing my parents home to "shelter in place" because they are too old to move now or when the SHTF.  It’s a concrete block home, my dad built plywood covers (I know, he needs metal) to fit over all windows when a hurricane comes through.  The property is only one acre but in a very rural area.  We have started a garden and trying to talk him into chickens. He grew up on a farm so he has an idea of what to do. 

My father is a builder of furniture, homes, or anything you can think of.  I knew that because of the humidity and area we needed a safe place to put our food storage, we called it an "above ground root cellar". But it is really just a controlled temperature pantry room--a heavily-insulated shed.

So last summer dad drew up the plans and got it built.  We have a barn/shop with a lean-to. It is a a two car garage type building. We built "above ground root cellar" adjoining the barn under the lean-to but didn’t go all the way up to the roof, so that we could double insulate it.  Inside, it measures approximately 6’x10’. It is insulated on all the walls, including the roof.  Two of the walls already existed from the barn which were constructed of 2x4s. We also used the same 2x4 construction for the other 2 walls.  We used R-13 batting on everything because 2 - 2" solid poly foam pieces would not fit between the 2x4s.  For the outside walls - we put 15 pound roofing felt on the 2x4s, then 7/16" oriented strand board (OSB) on top of the felt.   All the inside walls were sheathed in 1/2" plywood. On the ceiling we used 1/4" plywood and with a double layer of R-13 insulation -- that ended up being 6-to-8 inches deep.  The insulation inside the door is 3" and again we used R-13. 

Just a note:  Because my dad is a carpenter, we used what he had on hand, without buying much of anything, so you could substitute here and there.)  My father used to build freezers back in the 1940s (when they had wooden doors) so he knew how to build a freezer door out of wood with rubber around it with insulation.  The walls are lined ceiling to floor with storage shelves. We were originally going to leave the floor dirt but decided to lay down a floor of concrete patio steps. 

We placed a small room size air conditioner near the floor. We leave it running, set to 62 degrees at all times.  Initially, we had problems with dampness, then we placed some charcoal on tin plates, that cured our dampness.  If we have more problems we thought of a dehumidifier; not sure if that would work.  We place everything in there right now but will have to divide it up later as we get more items.  At present we place our potatoes, apples, and onions on the floor in crates. These last us two months or more.  So we are extending our fresh food shelf life, so we can buy in quantity or harvest large quantities from our garden.

You can’t easily see the cellar door in the barn/shop; but we are planning to build shelves in front so it will be hidden.
We are also looking for a solar backup for the cellar because we don’t want to depend upon the air conditioning if and when grid goes down.  There was only about a $20 difference in our light bill, so not bad. 

We only have a six month supply of stored food, but we are buying a little more each month, gradually building our stocks.  I know it’s not enough but it is more than most people have stored. 

If anyone could help us out with some information on a solar system to run small room size air conditioner, we’d appreciate it.  I’ve read some books on it, but I'm confused on what we need, besides panels.

JWR Adds: Air conditioners draw a lot of current and are hence some of the biggest power hogs of any alternative energy system. The key specification for a refrigerator, air conditioner or other device that includes a compressor pump is is the locked rotor amps (LRA) rating. The LRA rating is the peak load (expressed in Amps) that the air conditioning unit will draw from your inverter, right when the compressor starts up. Even a small air conditioner can have a high LRA. A typical air conditioner might draw only 30 or 40 amps in the middle of a cycle. But on start-up it may have a LRA of 70 amps. Multiplying this by 117 volts, this means that the inverter must be able to supply a peak load of 8,190 watts. Yikes!

Unless you have a strong background in math and electronics, the process of "sizing" and specifying the components of an alternative power system is best left to professionals. Your key part of the sizing process is adding up all of the loads. Each electrical or electronic device should have a rating expressed in either Watts or Amps. You will provide an aggregate Amp figure, a brief description of your daily routine (how many hours per day each device is used, and seasonal differences) and an estimate on the number of direct sunlight hours available for your solar array's location. A system designer can then determine your system requirements, namely: how many PV panels, what size and type of inverter, and how large a battery bank is needed. In the hopes that you will buy system components from them, the folks at Ready Made Resources offer free consulting on alternative energy system design. You can reach them at: 1(800) 627-3809.

Chino's article on "Off Grid Cooking" is an excellent article, however what I have found that cuts cooking time way down especially cooking dried beans is using a small pressure cooker. I have used my cooker many times to cook dried beans or even a roast with good results in a matter of about an hour or less of cooking time.  I even tried it over an open campfire with the same results, although that did smoke up the bottom of the pressure cooker. 

In the same context I have cooked dried beans in my Dutch Oven by digging a fire pit, starting a fire, letting the wood burn down to coals, putting the Dutch Oven in the coals and covering the oven with more coals and dirt and let them cook all day. The results were okay, but not as well as using the pressure cooker.   Randy H. in Asheville, North Carolina

A more affordable commercial rocket stove is offered by StoveTec. I own the StoveTec Wood Stove which is currently offered at $72.95 with free shipping. It burns very clean and hot with very little smoke. It does produce some smoke initially, until the heat builds up.  While heavy and not as portable as a backpacking stove or even a Coleman camp stove, it only needs a small armload of sticks for fuel. - Bjorn B.

Hi Jim,
I wanted to point out that pinto beans cook in under an hour with the help of a pressure cooker. I've also found that they are easier to digest when they've been cooked at the high temperature of the pressure cooker, I intend to use mine to cook all of the beans I've stored for long periods.

Chino mentions at the beginning that we're all used to the microwave oven, I've thought a few times about how practical a small DC powered microwave oven would be to use along with renewable power, beans will cook in 30 minutes using a microwave, a 200 watt solar panel and battery may be a large enough power source to accomplish this and supply the 0.5 kwh per day required to operate a 1,000 watt microwave for 30 minutes. There are also microwavable pressure cookers, for what that's worth. I haven't reached a point where I would stop buying propane because of the low price of propane right now, I'm pretty well convinced that a propane camp-stove and pressure cooker will cook anything in my stockpile most inexpensively. - Jeff M.

JWR Replies: As I mentioned in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Course, it is important to store only about an eight year supply of beans. Beyond that, they get so hard that not amount of soaking or boiling will soften them. Beyond eight years of storage, the only practicable method of cooking them is to use a pressure cooker, or to grind them into meal ("bean flour") before cooking them.

Dear James,
It seems that life can test you in many different ways on how prepared you are for the unexpected.  I recently experienced an unexpected  flat tire while out purchasing some ammo.  The tire went flat just as I was getting onto the freeway, fortunately there was an exit close by which I took and ended up stopping at a nearby convenience store.  When I looked to see if I had all the tools for putting on my spare I did not see my jack as it was hidden behind a plastic panel.  I went into the convenience store to see if I could find someone who would lend me their car jack.  I asked a dozen people in the store, but everyone I asked said they did not have a jack or did not have the time to loan it to me.  Furthermore their reactions were rather fearful and distrusting.  I found out later I was in a bad neighborhood.  It is also a different world today and folks just don't seem as willing to help out a stranger nowadays, at least where I was stuck.  I dug around in my car some more and eventually found the car jack hidden behind a plastic panel and was able to put on my spare.  The moral of this story is that even something mundane as getting a flat tire can put you into a difficult position. 

I was fortunate in this situation that I was able to stop at a convenience store that had an air station, I also have a brother that was willing to bring me the necessary tools if need be, and it was also during the daytime.  Things worked out ok, but it made me realize that I was rather lucky.

I could have easily had the flat tire in the middle of nowhere, perhaps traveling in between cities.  It could have been at night, and I could have been in a location where there was no cell phone coverage.  It was also raining quite heavily at the time and I did end up getting soaked while changing the tire. 

Having a bug out bag (BOB) in the car is great and definitely helps me feel prepared for the unexpected WTSHTF, but I think we take our cars reliability for granted and don't prepare ourselves for something simple such as a flat tire.  I got lucky that my flat happened where and when it did, but I realize I may not be as lucky with the next one.  Therefore I have put together a list of tools I think it would be prudent to have in the car at all times.  It is nice to be able to call the AAA or a friend or family member to help us but we may not always have that luxury.

So here is a list of tools I have come up with in case you have a flat tire and have to change it yourself.

Breaker bar (in case lug nuts are rusted stuck or you are not strong enough to break them loose with the regular tire iron) Kneepads (in case it is pouring rain, is muddy, or gravelly and you will be kneeling while changing out the tire) Rubber gloves (to keep your hands from getting dirty with brake dust and other contaminants and keeping your hand clean) Poncho or lightweight waterproof jacket and pants (very handy in the northwest but you never know if you have to change a tire in the rain) Extra shirt and pants (in case you get wet) Towel (in case you get wet) Portable air compressor (see below) Air pressure gauge (if you don't check the air pressure in your spare regularly, I can almost guarantee it will be low and you don't want to be driving around or at freeway speed in a spare that in underinflated or overinflated, especially the donut sized ones) Spare tire, Car jack, Socket for the lugs nuts (use with breaker bar and or impact wrench) Work light (in case you get a flat at night) Reflective Hazard sign(to warn oncoming drivers of your location so you don't get run over since people get regularly hit by drivers not paying attention to where their car is going when moving along a 60-80 mph, just watch "Worlds wildest police videos" to see what I mean) Road flares(same as above) Wheel chock(to prevent the car from inadvertently moving in case you are not on a flat surface) Earplugs(Very important if you have to change your tire on the shoulder of a freeway where it is incredibly loud. If you don't already know how, then watch a YouTube video on how to change a flat tire.

Optional: Torque wrench (doesn't hurt to be able to tighten your lug nuts to the correct tightness while you are at it) Cordless impact wrench (just makes it easier and quicker to the change the tire which is nice when you have to change the tire in a driving rain storm like I had to)

I imagine some of you may think I am overreacting to a simple flat tire.  Even for me, prior to this, it would seem over the top, after all I had never had a flat tire in 22 years, but it only takes one to put you into a difficult or bad situation if you are not prepared and have no one to turn to readily or easily.

Well I hope that everyone who reads this will see the wisdom in the preparation.  We never think flat tires are going to happen to us, I certainly didn't think so for the last 22 years, but it did.  I got lucky and was able to take care of it, but it could have easily been much worse.  Please take precautions and be prepared. - J.B.


Dear Editor:
When was the last time you removed your spare tire from under your van, SUV, or truck?  Can you get it out, if you need it?  For any vehicle, what shape is your spare in?  Can you get the flat tire off the vehicle with the tools you carry?  

Recently I had to call road service twice for this problem.  The first time, I had a rear tire blow out on a road trip, and the clip that holds the spare in place would not release when the cable was lowered.  We had to be towed.  When the worn tire was replaced, I asked the service man to try to get the spare out, which he did, with some effort.  He explained the problem, and I wrongly assumed that because the clip was now saturated with WD-40, I could put the spare back in the normal storage area.  The thought did cross my mind to leave it in the back of the van.  

Less than two weeks later, I picked up a screw with a front tire.   I thought I’d just drop the spare and we could soon be on our way.  As before, the spare would not drop down, and I needed help to get it out.  But I was still stuck.  The handy-dandy “lug wrench” that is stored with the jack, started to bend when I tried to loosen the lug nuts.  My good lug wrench was safely at home in my garage.  Another road service call.  

A few lessons learned:

1. The spare now rides in the back of the van, until I can repair the clip so that it will “always” work, or maybe forever.
2. The good lug wrench is also in the van.
3. Check to see that you can loosen all your lug nuts manually, and snug them up again.  If not, take your vehicle to a tire shop or service station to get them loosened, and then manually tighten them.  (Check again after about 20 miles to make sure they are still snug.)
4. When a “thought crosses your mind,” trust your gut feeling, and act on that thought.  

Regards, - R.F. in Michigan

Deborah B. mentioned that the awesome collection of charts at the National Inflation Association site have been updated.

John H. mentioned a newsletter PDF: The Rising Frustration With The Debt Crisis by the imprisoned economist Martin A. Armstrong. His newsletters are produced in his prison cell. Here is a quote from his latest newsletter: "We are rapidly crossing the point of no return....So, either we face the reality of a completely new economic model or we hang up everything now."

Items from The Economatrix:

Ireland Denies "Surrendering Sovereignty" Over Bail-out  

Economic Implosion Sets the Blame Game in Motion  

Knight Research' Stunning Call:  The Game Is Over  

The Fear Factor In The Muni Bond Markets  

Eric Cantona Appeals For Peaceful Revolution Against Banks:  Pull Your Money Out  

Anyone considering buying any British or NATO military surplus uniforms, hats, or boots will find these charts useful.

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JRH Enterprises is having their annual Black Friday sale beginning now, with sale prices on many items including new Third Generation AN/PVS-14 night vision units as low as $2,895. We have one of these at the Rawles Ranch (a Gen3+) and we absolutely love it.

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For the "Why Am I Not Surprised?" Department: Obama Taps Chicago ATF Official to Lead Agency. Of course he's from Chicago. Of course Chicago is hardly a Lily White town. Inevitably, we saw this announced: NRA Strongly Opposes Gun Grabber Andrew Traver to Head BATFE.

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The folks at have announced reduced shipping just for the holiday season. Check out their products!

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Hong Kong Confirms Human H5N1 Bird Flu Case. (A hat tip to KAF for the link.)

"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course is only rarely offered at a discounted price. For the next three weeks, the publisher is running a special sale. Don't miss out on the chance to get a copy for yourself, or to give one as a Christmas gift.


Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

Perhaps you are a civilian EMT, paramedic or RN that has found interest in preparedness, or you are an established prepper who has taken an EMT class or a Wilderness EMT class, but are having some difficulty with bridge to the world that has no power grid, no Internet and lacks a certain social cohesion. Even military medics will be challenged in this situation, as they are currently accustomed to having modern equipment, restock and a means of patient evacuation (in most cases). Either way you bring essential experience and knowledge to your preparedness group as the medical specialist, but lack in certain areas.  This article will help to begin the adaptation of your knowledge and skill set to the world without modern medicine.

The austere environment is one in which evacuation to definitive care is extremely delayed or non-existent. Without power modern electronic diagnostic and treatment options will be very limited or not possible. Many medicines will be unusable and re-supply of medical equipment will not occur. In addition, running (and potable water) and modern sanitation will not be available, nor will the assistance of law enforcement. Think post-Katrina or Haiti and extend that indefinitely.

If you are a current practitioner, ask yourself how much of your EMS or nursing education covered care in this environment. Maybe it was alluded to in the MCI chapters if you were lucky. The mental context that you currently practice in will be a hindrance in the austere environment. Or, if you are a prepper whose chosen profession was not medicine, having a collection of disparate skills and knowledge has limited usefulness without knowing how to triage and prioritize your care.

Now before you run off scared and think that this is impossible and that you will be stuck in a Civil War- era medical setting, stop and reflect. Regardless of what event caused the modern tools of medicine to be limited, it did not drain away your knowledge base, experience and common sense that got you this far in your career or preparedness. Your ability to assess, diagnose and adapt were the foundation of your practice and abilities before the event, and will be afterwards.

I have been a paramedic, supervisor and educator in various capacities in public safety for over 20 yrs. I have also done some wilderness medicine and participated in several long- term disaster responses. My wife (who is an RN and worked in the same capacities) and I have been actively prepping for awhile now and have a good grasp on preparedness thanks in large part to Rawlesian philosophy and other selected experts. I firmly believe that preparedness must be embraced by the medical community and that their contributions to society must be extended into whatever challenging environments that we may face as society.

There are four main differences in your practice that will be very different in the austere environment that must be understood. First, you may need to defer treatment and walk away from patients that you would currently treat aggressively. Second, you will need to get out of the mindset of transport or referral to definitive care. Third, will be the need for improvisation in supplies. Finally, you will need to develop or expand your knowledge of preventative medicine. The overall goal will be to treat what you can, given what you have, and keep minor to moderate medical/trauma conditions from worsening, or better yet, not occurring. It will truly be a mix of modern medicine, public health, wilderness medicine and elements of combat medicine.

Your triage, initial assessment and ABCs will be the same as they are now. In a MASCAL setting patients are triaged into the Red category for life threats; Yellow for moderate and delayed; and Green for minor conditions. The difference will come when you encounter a life threatening condition. Whether it is a patient triaged as a red tag patient; or a single, critical medical or trauma patient; a determination will need to be made on, “Can we definitively fix this”, and/or how many people will be needed. Secondarily, you must ask, “Do we have the supplies to do this”, and/or will others suffer from a lack of supplies if expended on this potentially mortal patient.

If you cannot definitively treat the patient’s life threat and/or, others with less severe conditions will become emergent without the supplies at hand, then the patient must be secondarily triaged as Expectant. These are patients that are critical but will die despite all interventions. This category is rarely used outside of large MASCAL incidents. The idea is to treat those with the best chance of survival and do the most good for the most people.

Major trauma such as head injuries with increasing intracranial pressure; internal hemorrhage; spinal injuries; and chest trauma will all likely be placed in the expectant category. Yes, you can perform needle decompression for a GSW to the chest, but then what? Jerry-rig a Pleura-Vac with a chest tube? What about surgical intervention and the dedicated personnel for continuing care of this patient? Even if the first 1-2 hours of care can be accomplished, the definitive and continuing advanced care will not be possible.
On the other hand, if your assessment revealed an obstructed airway (foreign body or positional) or an external hemorrhage’ then these conditions could be corrected, and definitively cared for in an austere environment and should be given the needed attention.

Obviously medical patients that would receive critical care as definitive care, such as heart attacks, strokes and those in need of resuscitation, would be unable to receive it without functioning hospitals so their triage category would also be expectant. Some very limited cardiac care could be done for those not needing invasive procedures but it would depend on the availability of specific medicine and electric power.

However, some chronic medical conditions, that can be life threatening in specific circumstances, could be successfully treated even in the austere environment. Allergic reactions and anaphylaxis; asthma; hypoglycemic diabetics; seizures (from epilepsy); and dehydration could all be treated with the judicious use of medicine and IV fluids. Long term management of these conditions could prove the most challenging due to the inability to maintain a supply of needed medications (i.e. insulin, antihistamines or adrenalin).

We currently live in an area of medical specialization and few providers care for a patient from beginning to end. In the austere environment the complete opposite will be true. If you are a willing medical provider you will be the initial and definitive care. This will be similar to rural primary care without the capability of consults, transport or referral. This fact will also impact many other aspects of life in a post-collapse world.

Except for selected life threats as described above, your main focus will be on minor to moderate conditions, such as lacerations, extremity fractures, minor infections, heat exposure/dehydration and pain management. Your scope of practice will necessarily change out of circumstance. Remember, good treatment of minor conditions will prevent a deterioration of them into a condition that is untreatable.

If you are an RN that does not currently perform wound debridement and closure; if you are a paramedic that does not commonly participate in long term care (bed sore prevention, long term pain management, etc); or you are a physician that does not commonly handle fracture realignment, you will need to get the training to achieve a baseline competency in these procedures at a minimum.

Although no complete course in austere care currently exists, there are some courses that can be adapted to the austere environment. Wilderness medicine courses are good for expanding a provider’s knowledge of improvisation. These courses also put you in an austere setting for realism. AMEDD combat medic (68W) or Special Operations Combat Medic (18D) certified medics are superior resources for trauma care and preventative medicine. (Most who have this background are willing to teach and show what they know to other professionals). Doctors Without Borders also is an excellent organization that can provide experience that could approximate the conditions that you could face if society implodes. SurvivalBlog also has published articles, and references to other resources for elements of this type of training.

No matter how well you prepare and stockpile medical supplies, eventually you will run out, need replacements and reach expiration dates. Some preplanning for this eventuality will avoid having to ask the infamous question, “Now what?” Care outside of a hospital has always had a degree of improvisation to it, especially in the wilderness. Every Wilderness medicine text will have no less than three ways to create a traction splint, but few providers have had the need to find alternative supplies and methods to practice definitive care. What follows is a sampling of some possibilities. It will take ingenuity in order to be safe and successful. Several archived articles on Survivalblog address this issue as well.

Wound Closure
Silk thread that has not been dyed and unwaxed dental floss, as well as the thinnest gauge fishing line, could be used to suture lacerations. Scalp lacerations can be temporarily closed by twisting the hairs on each edge of the wound into braids; tying off the distal end of each braid; and then tying the braids into a small knot cinching the laceration closed (Auerbach).

Oral Rehydration
A simple electrolyte solution can be made from everyday cooking supplies. Crushed multivitamins can also be added to the solution. To 1 liter of fresh, potable water add: ½ tsp salt (3.5 G); ¼ tsp salt substitute (KCl- 1.5 G); ½ tsp baking soda (bicarbonate-2.5 G); and 2-3 Tbsp of sugar or honey (sucrose- 20G). Pedialyte can be roughly approximated by cutting the additive amounts in half.

A turkey fryer outfit (unused for cooking) can be used to boil water to a sufficient temperature to kill anything but some bacterial spores. Aluminum is a perfect material and many fryers come with baskets that can hold smaller instruments and needles. The long ladles are also practical for removing sterilized supplies. Time should be for 30 minutes and a smaller stock pot will work faster. Adding 2% sodium carbonate solution will increase effectiveness in a 10:1 ratio to water

Urine Sample Assessment
Litmus paper used for pool water can give a rough estimation of the pH of urine. Other non-medical chemical test strips could be used in a similar manner. A urine sample left outdoors for 24 hours which is covered in ants can accurately diagnose high blood sugar and diabetes.

Physical Examination Techniques
Without x-rays, CAT scans and MRIs, providers will need to re-discover the older techniques of actually touching their patients for assessment. The use of percussion to assess for air-filled or fluid-filled body cavities can be used to diagnose various pathologies. Palpation of the left lower abdominal quadrant eliciting rebound pain on the right lower quadrant can help diagnose appendicitis (McBurney’s sign). Kernig’s sign (touching the patient’s chin to chest eliciting neck pain) can help diagnose meningitis if present with fever, malaise and aseptic meningitis syndrome (AMS).

Many take modern medical care for granted and as a result prevention is disregarded, or at best, an afterthought. In the medical literature and texts it is a topic that gets limited emphasis and the least time devoted to it.  In the austere environment, due to the limited supplies and lack of definitive care, prevention will be essential. There are three main areas of prevention that will be your focus: injury prevention, infection control and nutrition.

Injury prevention is a topic that is glossed over in medical curriculums at any level of training. Although important in modern society, it will take on a much higher importance when the ability to treat trauma is limited. This area may not be directly supervised by medical personnel, but ensuring that some prevention controls are in place will be important. Training in the proper use of tools (especially farm equipment) and firearms will be key to preventing unnecessary injuries. Likewise, the use of protective equipment (from ballistic vests to work gloves) will be another focus.

Infection control will need to be a watchword due to the limited supply of antibiotics in the austere environment. Proper wound debridement, cleansing and closure will be essential skills for all medical personnel. Medical specialists will also likely be responsible for disinfection of medical treatment areas; bleach preparation; and overseeing food and water preparation/storage.

Nutrition will be challenging for several reasons in post-collapse world. Although our dependence on fast food will come to end, and improve our diet, the selection of healthy foods that are available in the modern world will greatly decline. Without a balanced diet of carbs, fats and protein people will develop deficiencies and be more prone to infectious disease. The average male, working at the laborious tasks of survival for 8 hours a day, needs approximately 3,500 calories per day to avoid weight loss and general health decline. Accordingly, the medical specialist may be called on for advice on meal plans, crop selection and supplementation depending on the expertise in the group.

As you prepare to be the medical specialist for your retreat group, or for your family, keep these concepts in mind and let them guide you as you stockpile supplies; recruit new members and get more medical assistance; and continue your training. Many of the older methods of assessment and treatment will have to be re-discovered if the conveniences of modern medicine are no longer available. But the difference between us and our predecessors will be that we have that body of knowledge to fall back on, and as society reorders itself, we will be able to re-establish modern medicine.

Reference: Auerbach, Paul. Wilderness Medicine. Mosby: 2008.

I have seen numerous articles dealing with the type and quantity of food that one should have for long term survival, but I have yet to see anyone address survival cooking.

I have been prepping for a few years and I have a pretty good supply of "stuff" including a Svea backpacking stove, a Coleman stove & fuel, camping grill & 1 lb. propane bottles, a butane stove with butane canisters and a wood stove that could double for a cook stove for cooking beans in the winter time.  I thought I was pretty well set to go it alone for an extended period if Schumer came calling.

Recently I decided to cook a pot of pinto beans.  It took all day to cook them to the point where they were edible (not perfect, but edible...  They were perfect the next day after being in the frig over night and then another hour of cooking)  It occurred to me that the fuel that I have stored might not last very long if I have to burn fuel all day just to cook one pot of beans (about 7 cups dry).

Stop and think about your store of food and your store of cooking fuel.  Do you have enough fuel to cook all of the food you have stored?  Some items like canned food just require heating up where others like beans, rice, lentils and pasta require time to cook properly.  And what about tea, coffee and hot chocolate?

We have become so accustomed to popping something into the microwave for a couple of minutes or in a pan on the stove or in the coffee maker, that we don't give any thought to the amount of energy required to prepare our food.

If the infrastructure goes down for a couple of years or more and you are not fortunate enough to have a propane stove and a full tank of propane when it happens, you may find that you are out of cooking fuel after a few weeks.

With that in mind, I began researching other means of emergency cooking.  This is what I've found:


There are a number of commercial alcohol stoves on the market, but I found a homemade version that is easy to make and works just like the commercial models.  The concept of a pressurized alcohol stove is fairly simple.  One can be made in a few minutes from two soda or beer cans.  It is a matter of cutting the bottom out of two aluminum cans of the same type, pressing them together to form a container, punching or drilling small holes around the top edge of one can to form the jets and drilling a larger hole in the center of the top can for a fuel hole.

The alcohol used in these stoves is available at Lowe's or Home Depot.  The brand is KLEAN STRIP SLX Denatured Alcohol and it is designed for use in stoves/ You can also use HEET Gas-Line Antifreeze which comes in a yellow plastic bottle containing 12 oz.  Do not use the HEET in the red bottle.  HEET is more expensive per ounce than SLX but the small bottle is handier to use than a gallon can.  HEET can be found at hardware stores, auto parts stores and Wal-Mart (lowest price).

The design that I like the best is  called a "Penny Stove" because a penny is used to cover the filler hole after the alcohol is poured into the stove.  Information on the construction and use of these stoves can be found on the internet.  Search for "Penny Alcohol Backpacking Stove" of see this site. I have made several versions of these stoves and they all work well.  They will boil 2 cups of water in about 10 minutes on one ounce of alcohol.  A gallon of alcohol at Lowe's  is about $16.  These stoves do require a pot stand to hold the pot above the stove and a fire/heat proof base to set them on.  Like most backpacking stoves, these require a few seconds of pre-heating before they pressurize.  

One solution I found for both a pot stand and fire proof base is to use a large food can such as a 29 oz. can of Yams, use tin snips or Dremel tool to cut the can off about an inch taller than the height of the stove and drill or punch holes around the base to allow air to feed the stove and a similar row of holes just below the top of the can to allow the heat to flow up around the pot.  The holes should be about 1/2" in diameter to allow the air to flow easily.   Place the stove in the center of the base/pot holder and pour alcohol into the filler hole.  Do not fill the stove completely or it will not pressurize until some of the fuel burns off.  Pour a little alcohol on the base around the stove and put the penny over the filler hole.  When the alcohol is lit it will heat the stove causing it to pressurize.  The jets will then begin to burn.  The alcohol burns with a blue flame like a gas range and is difficult to see in bright light.  When the jets light, put the pot on the pot stand.  Be sure to use a copper penny (pre-1982) to cover the filler hole.  A zinc penny will deteriorate over time and the fumes given off from it being heated could be a health hazard to breathe. 

Alcohol stoves are so cheap and easy to make that you can have several on hand for back-ups or to trade or give away.  Also, it is likely that you may need several stoves going at one time to prepare a meal and have it all ready at the same time.

If you prefer to buy an alcohol stove rather than make one, you might want to check out the web site.  They have what appears to be a good design for $20. plus S&H.  A review of this stove can be seen on YouTube.


Since the alcohol stoves still require commercially make fuel and you still have to guess how much alcohol you are going to need, I began researching wood stoves. 

I found that there are some really neat designs for wood stoves.  There are various designs of what are referred to as wood gas stoves or wood gasification stoves.  The stove consists of an inner shell (can) and an outer shell (can).  The inner shell, which contains the fire, has holes in the bottom and around the side of the bottom to allow air flow to the bottom of the wood and another row of holes about 1/2" below the top of the can which are the gas jet holes.  The outer shell has large holes around the bottom to allow air flow to the inner shell.  There is an air space between the inner and the outer shell.  When the fire begins to burn, it heats up the wood which releases gas.  The gas is partially burned by the flame on the wood.  It also heats up the air between the two shells.  As the hot air flows up and through the gas jets holes, it facilitates a re-burning of the wood gas (smoke) which maximizes the efficiency and also reduces the smoke for a nearly smoke-free fire.

One commercially made wood gas stove that is sold for backpacking/camping is called the "Bush Buddy."  Videos of it in operation can be seen on Youtube. Since the Bush Buddy is rather pricey, I pursued the possibility of making one.  I soon found that numerous other people had already done that and some of the designs were quite good.  The designs that I like the best can be seen on Youtube.  Here he describes four models that he has made and the tools and techniques that he uses.  The one design that I like best is the last (and largest) one that he describes.  To see one of his stoves in action see this video.

I made my stove in the same configuration as his but I used a large juice can (about 49-50 oz.) for the outer can, a 26 oz. pasta sauce can for the inner can and a 28 oz. crushed tomato or 29 oz. yam can (cut down to about 2 3/4" tall) for the pot stand.  (Both ends of the pot stand should be removed)  He recommends using a step-bit to drill the holes and I concur completely.  It is much easier and cleaner to drill holes with a step-bit than a regular bit.  [I bought a set of three from Amazon for about $15.]  Be sure to use a side-cutting can opener since you will re-use the lid of the large can to hold the inner can.

After I finished all of the drilling, cutting and sanding the sharp edges, I used a propane torch to burn the lacquer off the cans before testing the stove.  Otherwise, it will gradually burn off while you are cooking.  The fumes from the lacquer are not pleasant and could be harmful.

The beauty of these stoves is the design.  Because of the air flow up through the bottom, they are very easy to start.  You fill the stove with small chunks of wood up to just below the jet holes at the top of the inner can and start the fire on the top of the pile using small twigs or some type of fire starter.

Because of the design of the wood gas stove, you can cook a meal on nothing more than a handful of twigs, small branches or even chips and chunks typically found around a wood pile.  The stove is so efficient that it can be loaded with sticks of wood about 3 1/2" long and 1/2" in diameter standing up lengthwise in the stove and it will burn them completely.

If you cut an opening in the side of the pot stand can about 1 1/8"x 2 1/8" this will enable you to continue to feed the fire periodically to keep it burning as long as you need it.

Cooking over an open fire is a tremendous waste of fuel.  These stoves will do the job with a fraction of the wood and with much less smoke too.  These stoves were designed primarily for backpacking since they are light weight and compact.  The smaller versions work well for that since backpackers primarily use a stove to heat water for tea, coffee or Ramen.  But for serious cooking, the larger stoves are a better option.


Rocket stoves were designed for use in developing countries where they have no electricity or gas to cook with.  They burn wood and they were designed to be as energy efficient as possible since many places around the world are rapidly using up their supply of wood.  These stoves are generally larger than the wood gas stoves and therefore they may produce more heat.  

The design is basically a flu or stove pipe with a 90 degree elbow and a short section of pipe that serves as the fire chamber.  The "L" shaped pipe is enclosed in another container that is considerably larger than the pipe.  Insulation is placed between the pipe and the outer container to hold the heat of the fire in the pipe and therefore increase the combustion and facilitate a cleaner, more efficient burn.  Many rocket stoves are built in-place using fire bricks and are permanent cooking fixtures.  Others can be made using 5 gallon buckets or barrels  and are more portable.  Because of the size and design of the rocket stove, they are probably more suitable for cooking for a greater number of people than the wood gas stoves are since they will accommodate a larger pot or even a griddle.

The rocket stoves utilize longer sticks and small diameter branches that are fed into the short pipe.  A piece of metal separates the pipe into an upper chamber and a lower chamber.  The wood is fed into the upper chamber and the lower chamber allows the air to flow under the wood.  Only the ends of the sticks burn so the sticks have to be fed into the chamber as they burn.  An advantage to these stoves is that they are easy to keep burning until the cooking is done by simply continuing to feed sticks into them.  When you are finished cooking, pull the sticks out and the fire will immediately begin to go out, although it will continue to give off heat for simmering.  Once the stove gets hot, it burns efficiently and with very little smoke.  As with the wood gas stove, the rocket stove uses very little fuel.  Another advantage of the portable rocket stove is that they can be rotated so that any breeze or air movement will blow into the feed pipe giving the rocket a super charge.

The advantage of wood stoves is that wood is available almost everywhere.  You may not have access to actual firewood, but almost everybody has access to dry tree limbs or other sources of scrap wood with which to fuel a wood cook stove.  And if you do have firewood for heating your house, you can use the debris for cooking and save the larger wood for heating.

A commercial rocket stove is available a for $135.

Numerous homemade designs of rocket stoves can be found on Youtube.  One word of caution: If you make you own rocket stove, be cautions about using a galvanized stove pipe since the galvanization is zinc and it could contaminate you food and the fumes could be harmful to breathe.


As usual, if we want to find out how to do things efficiently we have to learn from our elders.  In the "old days" people had "hay boxes" or cooking boxes sitting in their kitchen.  These boxes contained hay or blankest or other material to assist in cooking things such as my pot of beans.  This method is also used in Africa where they have limited fuel for cooking.

The concept of retained heat cooking is that you bring a pot of food to a boil and keep it boiling for about 15-20 minutes until the pot and the contents are at a boiling temperature.  The pot and contents are then placed in a container and covered with anything that will insulate the pot from the surrounding air.  If properly insulated, the pot and contents will retain enough heat to continue cooking for several hours.  The length of time required depends upon the type of food you are cooking.   Obviously, beans will require the most time to cook.

Any container can be used as long as it's considerably larger than the pot being used i.e. laundry basket, cardboard box, wooden box, foot locker, large wicker basket etc.  A blanket or sleeping bag is laid over the container and pushed down into the container.  A trivet is placed on the bottom to protect the blanket from the heat of the pot.  Set the pot on the trivet and cover it with the blanket.  Then pack other blankets around and over the pot so that it is well insulated.

I have only tried this method one time so far.  I used four turkey size cooking bags and filled each about half full of vermiculite (a nonflammable material used in gardening).  I folded the end of the bags over twice and stapled the bag shut.  I then taped the fold to the bag for a tight seal so that none of the vermiculite could get out.  I used a laundry hamper and a wool army blanket over the hamper.  I put a trivet in the bottom of the hamper and a mylar space blanket over the trivet.  I put the pot on the space blanket and wrapped the space blanket around the pot.  I then packed the bags of vermiculite around and over the pot and wrapped the army blanket around everything.

I was cooking pinto beans (again) so I let the pot set in the basket for about 4 hours.  When I took them out, the pot was still too hot to handle without pot holders. The beans were still not done, but they had definitely cooked.  Another 2-3 hours might have finished them.  I think it is a viable method of cooking.  Even if you had to leave them in the hamper for 8 hours, bring them back to a boil for 10 minutes and put them back in the hamper for another few hours it's still better than using a quart of fuel to cook them.

For a visual on retained heat cooking, see the video on Youtube.

A side note:  when I cook beans on the kitchen stove, I invariably have to add water before they get fully cooked.  When I used the retained heat method, I didn't.

And that brings up another point worth mentioning...


Everybody talks about how much water to have for each person per day.  Stop and think about how much water it takes to cook with, not to mention food preparation and washing dishes and utensils.  When I cooked my beans, I sorted them for rocks and dirt clods and then I used about two gallons of water to wash them.  Then I used about a gallon to soak them overnight (which reduces cooking time).  Then I used another gallon to cook them. In all, four gallons of water for one pot of beans...  Of course, you could soak them in the same water you washed them in and save a little water usage.  But that gives you an idea of how much water we use just in cooking, not to mention food preparation and dish washing.  Something to be aware of...

Since we have no way of knowing how long we might be without electricity, it's a good idea to have numerous methods for cooking and a good supply of the various types of fuel on hand.  It's also a good idea to make several stoves now.  They would be much harder to make without electricity for drills and Dremel tools, even if you have the necessary cans.  [Dremel tools are perfect for cutting cans off and for cutting windows in the cans for fuel feed holes.  Be sure to wear eye protection.] You will have more important things to do when TSHTF than to make cook stoves

Good Afternoon,
Having purchased the The "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, you asked for some feedback. I think the most concise way to put it is that I started out with a list of around 95 questions about preparedness. And that list was growing at the rate of about one question a day. After reading the binder and listening to the audio CD, I am left with precisely one question. The "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is worth every dime as far as I’m concerned. There is one more “preppie” (no pun intended) spending about $10 a week getting ready. I live only about 7,000 ft. west of the nuke labs in Livermore, California. I’d buy the course again in a heartbeat, and have pointed a couple of friends to SurvivalBlog as they are just beginning to think about being ready if their jobs evaporate courtesy of Barack Hussein Obama’s ego and ignorance, (personal editorial opinion intended!). And the Freeze Dry Guy and I will be talking soon.

The one question left is: Once my drinking water goes through the reverse osmosis water machine (a Culligan AC 30) and into containers for storage, how long can I leave that water in storage (in my garage) before I replace it? I’m currently using no bleach or other “stabilizers” in the water. If you'd like to see the Scepter storage containers that I use, see the Brigade Quartermasters web site.

Grace to you and yours from the Lion of Judah, - Ron H.

JWR Replies: Water without chlorine added water stored in bottles can have a very short shelf life--sometimes as little as a few weeks. Because diffuse sunlight can encourage algae growth, translucent containers (such as 2 liter bottles) are inferior to opaque containers. Often, if you fill a large batch of containers, one will have a slight contaminant and the water will go "off" much more quickly than the others. If you store water in Scepter cans or bottles, I recommend that you simply run it back through your reverse osmosis machine just before consuming it. For any of it that will be used for drinking, if the water still tastes flat after processing you can restore it to a more natural taste by aerating it with a wire whisk or an egg beater for a minute.

One item not often considered for emergency supplies: Caffeine pills. Many non-Mormons are heavy coffee drinkers. What happens when you're on bug out, and drinking filtered stream water, instead of your morning Cup O' Joe? Well, the splitting killer caffeine withdrawal headache, that's what. Open the package, and gulp down a Vivarin, or No-Doz, and you are back to your cheerful self. With My Regards, - C.Y.

JWR Replies: It is a far better thing to break away from coffee, soda pop, cigarette, alcohol, candy, junk food, and drug addictions now, in normal times. Get rid of them one at a time. Proceed with plenty of prayer, hydration, and exercise. Trying to go "Cold Turkey"--especially for multiple addictions--during a disaster could be, well, disastrous!

Yes, perhaps you could store some No-Doz, but keep that on hand to wean your less-provident friends and neighbors, not yourself. You need to be free of addictions before the Schumer hits the fan! If you are fit and sober, you will be healthier and far better able to handle the rigors of life without electricity and running water. Furthermore, eliminating the expense of addictive behaviors will also free up a lot of money that can then be spent for your preparations. So kicking your habits will turn out be a huge "win-win" for your overall preparedness.

I hope this e-mail finds you and yours well. I just wanted you to be aware that Wiggy's here in Grand Junction, Colorado is offering almost 50% off sleeping bags and clothing if picked up in store. I just bought the Lamilite jacket and wow, it is too warm so far. Everyone knows the quality and comfort a Wiggy's bag can provide in all conditions. I would hope everyone locally takes advantage of this offer. When I was there yesterday they said it would go to the end of the year or until the economy got better..... Please pass this on to help Wiggy's as well as those of us that find a bargain everywhere we can.   Sincerely, - Rob H. in Grand Junction, Colorado

JWR Adds: The company is also presently offering 30% off all sleeping bags and free shipping, for mail order customers. I own several of their FTRSS bags and Lamilite ground pads, and I highly recommend them!

Brace yourself for more high inflation, Mervyn King tells George Osborne.

$4.00 Gasoline By The End Of 2010?  

Our friend Fred C. sent this: "Riceland brand rice in 50 pound bags at my local Sam's Club in Arkansas was $13.95 in July. Then it jumped to $14.60 in late September. Last night I noticed that the pallet with Riceland rice bags on it had 25 pound bags instead of 50 pound bags, and they were priced at $8.95 each. (The equivalent of $17.90 per 50 pounds.)

Gap, Wal-Mart Clothing Costs Rise on `Terrifying' Cotton Prices

China to subsidize food after price spike

India's Food price index jumps 10.30%

I'm scheduled for a two hour interview on the EMPact Radio podcast on Wednesday. That should be interesting.

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Something tells me that there will be some bargain prices soon: Solar Panel Makers Face Supply-Glut `Armageddon': Chart of Day. Thanks to reader Chris S. for the link.

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Seen over at Paratus Familia: A novel concealment holster for women.

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J. in the Great White North recommended this five minute video: You Can Eat Dandelion

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I just finished reading Jerry and Sharon Ahern's new sci-fi novel, Written in Time. I was disappointed that there was some crude language, but overall it was a good read. It certainly stood out for originality amongst time travel novels.

"It could unfold very, very quickly. Because deflation is a swing of poverty feedback, it can take awhile to build up. If you try to explain to people what's coming, because it doesn't happen instantly, they tend to go back to sleep. The thing they need to understand, however, is that when it does hit a tipping point, a kind of critical mass, then it can unfold exceptionally quickly. Then it's very much like having the rug pulled out from under your feet. So I tell people all the time, prepare now because it's better to be two years too early than five minutes too late. You can't play with this sort of thing. In September, 2008, we came within a few hours of the banking system seizing up, and that could easily happen again. People wouldn't get a lot of notice. For anyone who's not in the meeting room-it will be too late by the time they find out. My worry is that if there are an enormous number of people who just had the rug pulled out from under their feet, they're going to run around like headless chickens, and the human over-reaction to events will be really responsible for a large percentage of the impact." - Nicole Foss, Senior Editor of The Automatic Earth blog site

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

So much has been written on preparing solely for survival of TEOTWAWKI. What about after? What about five years after? Granted, if something minor happens and we could overcome it within a month or so, I truly see precious metals quite viable. However, should the whole world fall to its knees and we would be looking at years before any sort of progress could be made, I think material goods would be much more important.

This list is not meant to be a final checklist, but rather a starting point that you could adjust, add, or take away from. These are some items that you could stock, to start your own General Merchandise store:

Glasses: With so many people running around with contact lenses, lots of eyesight would be lost after the first few months of TEOTWAWKI. Try talking to friends and family that have old pairs of glasses lying around and ask if you may have them. If possible, keep the frames as similar as possible. This would allow you to change out one lens for another if need be. Go to your local pharmacy and purchase a few types of reading glasses as well.

Hearing Aids with Batteries: These are a bit more pricey, but if you can come across some save them for someone that may be willing to pay for them with a side of beef in post-SHTF situation.

Boots and Shoes: It seems all we hear about is the best type of clothes for when the SHTF, but what about footwear? People will be walking all day, everyday thus making shoes wear out faster. I’d recommend going to garage sales and second hand stores to stock up on various sizes and types of footwear for adults and children. Twelve months after TEOTWAWKI and people are going to want to ditch their sandals and oversized sneakers for a more durable and appropriate shoe.

Can Openers: You would be astonished as to the number of people I know that have stocked up on canned goods but only have an electric can opener. Buy a few dozen good quality hand can openers. These will likely sell fast.

Female Products: Per my wife’s instructions. Women will need time until they can make their own pads. Nuff said!

Herbs: Whether or not you know how to make herbal remedies, someone will. Possibly through a collection of people, enough remedies may become apparent as medicines. You could trade these herbs for some of the medicines that people would make.

Medical Supplies: Medical personnel close to you will probably have a small stock of supplies in their own home. This extra supply is so if they are unable to get to their work site to retrieve more. You could trade these supplies for some medical treatments.

Writing Supplies: Pencils, pens, markers, and paper. Most likely electricity will go out fairly quickly. Being able to write notes, signs, or for pleasure will become more commonplace.

Reloading Equipment: This isn’t necessarily for you to sell, but rather to make sellable products. Bullets will in a sense become a type of currency. It will be used daily for hunting and for protection. Carry sufficient equipment to reload common sizes such as .357, .40, .45, .223, .30-06, .308, 12 gauge, and others . Check out local tire shops. Some will give you the old lead weights for free.

Archery Supplies: This one is not really talked about in the prepper circuit, but is becoming slightly more popular. At some point and time, there will be no more cartridges [because there will be no more primers]. Period. That is until someone starts producing gun powder and cartridges. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you live in an area where guns and shooting are frowned upon, this will happen. A large number of hunters are becoming more involved with bow hunting. Carrying some extra arrows, heads, and strings will make you quite popular among these hunters.

Antiques: So when you inherited grandpa’s farm you got to looking around. You found old lanterns, a horse drawn plow, old hand tools, an antique sheller, etc. You understand the importance of these types of tools in a SHTF situation, so you bought new replicas that you know will last. Don’t chuck these antique originals in the junk pile. These can be sold to farmers who have not prepared, for a hefty price.

Fire Starters: Lots of people have matches and lighters in their house. Do you think they have sufficient to last five years? Stock up on strike anywhere matches, butane lighters, and magnesium fire starters. Once people realize there gas stove doesn’t light up without their electric starter, they’ll be calling you to trade.

Lubricants: Whether we experience an EMP or not, the lights will go out at some time. People will have generators and vehicles that are still going to run for awhile. I constantly read feuds between preppers over how many “trillions” of gallons of fuel they should have along with a stabilizer. What about oil for your motor? If you have enough fuel to last for three generations, how long will that motor last with nasty oil? Buy some common types of oils for two-strokes, gas vehicles, diesel vehicles, and tractors. Don’t forget to buy grease and penetrating lubricants as well.

Dental Care: There have been a few articles on the care of your teeth and gums, which means that people understand the importance of good dental hygiene. Stock up on toothbrushes and dental floss. People that understand the importance of these products will trade with high values.

Soap: Many people will start making their own soap, but many people will not know how. At fifty cents a bar, stock up on a pallet of this stuff. Even for certain people that are in love with their hair will use good old bar soap for shampoo. It sure beats using soap made from animal lard, or worse yet, no soap at all.

Kids Stuff: Children will be living in a far different place a year after TEOTWAWKI. No more Xbox, DVDs, iPods, and the list goes on. Most kids will be working to help the family survive by helping in the fields, homes, or learning a trade. However, we don’t want to completely throw away our children’s’ future. Stock up on some old fashion board games. These will not be solely for children, but for the whole family. When things calm down some, we will need to take some time to decompress everything that has happened. Stock up on story books along with textbooks. These children will someday be rebuilding the world we destroyed. Don’t let them lose their intelligence.

Adult Stuff: Kids aren’t going to be the only ones that will need to decompress. Our days will be long and difficult and at some point in we will have some down time to relax. As stated above, board and card games will help. Pick up some novels to sell that people could cozy up with next to a fire. Keep some bottles of perfume for women and some old car magazines for guys.

Tools: Most people have a socket wrench set and a hammer. If you live in the country, you probably have a mini hardware store in your shop. On the other hand, some people have a screwdriver and not much else. Keep a few extra tools around not only for yourself, but to trade as well. Sockets break, screwdriver tips wear down, and handles break.

Seeds: The starter prepper knows that they need "X amount" of food stored away. What about after it’s all gone? Seeds will become very important once people realize that TEOTWAWKI is here to stay and their supply of canned goods will not suffice until the lights come back on.

Canning Supplies: When harvest time comes around, people (hopefully) will have a bountiful crop of food. They will need a way to store this to get them through winter and into the next year.

Coffee and filters: The filters can be used for people that do not have percolators. They set their coffee pot up as normal and slowly pour hot water over the grounds. The filters can also be used to filter water for big chunks of stuff that we shouldn’t be drinking. As far as the coffee…we’re Americans. Coffee will be like gold!

Bibles: I stress that for this one, you use it not for trade, but as a gift. Help spread the word of God in a crucial time.

Baby Formula: Some children may not drink breast milk due to either a lack of lactation or an allergy to something in the milk. I do not think I would be able to use this as a trade or sellable item. Best leave this for a charity item.

Hand Pumps for Wells: I know of people that live in the country that are preparing to have the SHTF. They are storing food, fuel, water, and bullets. A number of these same people have yet to realize that when the lights go out, so does their well. Having a few of these around could be worth a huge amount in the barter world.

Solar Panels: For this, I would recommend putting them away in a faraday cage. Should an EMP blast occur, these could be trade to someone that is in great need of electricity such as a doctor, dentist, fire department, or the local Ham Radio operator to keep us up on the news. Don’t forget to also keep on hand batteries, charge controllers, cabling, connectors, and all the other goodies needed [to make small PV systems.]

Last, and certainly not least…. Books and Manuals:
Not everyone’s situation will be the same. You may live in an area without any medical personnel around. I may live in a climate that never gets below eighty degrees. Pick up books that people could use and the entire community could benefit from over time. Pick up a copy of Where There Is No Doctor or Seed Sowing and Saving. Find technical manuals and do-it-yourself (DIY) books. Purchase five copies of each one. Should you live in an area that is so desolate that your community is less than one hundred families; skills may not be readily present and must be learned. Knowledge is power.

The preceding list is just a guide. What I really hope to get out of this is for people’s minds to shift from preparing and trying to survive to looking past the final hour and realize that if you do survive, we will have to restart everything. If you are thirty years old, have all of you food, water, crops, and fuel squared away, start thinking about the next thirty to forty years you may live after the SHTF. We’ve focused long enough on getting ready for the big day, but what about the years and years after? As in the novel "Patriots" we will have bartering going on. We may even have some kind of barter stand that turns into a store. No matter how much you prepare and store, there will always be at least one thing that you forgot. That is why it will be important to have extra stuff, so that you may trade for that item that you forgot. Be Blessed in the difficult road ahead!

Using the theory of competence awareness that you can apply to any skill, or knowledge based discipline i.e. cooking, auto repair, etc. I am taking a writers license to make a revision to Dr. Abraham Maslow's conscious competence theory, and apply the theory to Disaster Preparedness.

Unconsciously Incompetent: The UI represents approximately 90% of the population of the nation. Using Hurricane Katrina as an example, hundreds of thousands of people felt it was the role of the government to make sure that individual citizens would have food, water, clothing and shelter. These same people believe under no circumstance, the individual (UI) was responsible for ones lack of preparation. In fact, some people even blamed the President of the United States for the UI’s unwillingness to become ready for a disaster.

In a study commissioned by the San Diego Department of Emergency Services in 2006 a year prior to the largest fire storm in California’s history, showed that out of those that did not have a plan 50% stated that they have just not taken the time. The UI will most likely react to an event instead of planning. Then the UI will need assistance from government and NGOs such as the American Red Cross. The UI places tremendous strain on the response system. People that otherwise are not a “victim”, will still expect heroic measures to be taken by the community, to “save” and help them, and recover from the event. The UI does not know where to start or get services.  The UI will demand that those that are prepared for the event help them, the classic “crab in the bucket” reaction pulling down individuals who were ready for a disaster.

The “crab in a bucket” syndrome is:  When a single crab is put into a lidless bucket, they surely can and will escape, however, when more than one share a bucket, none can get out. If one crab elevates them self above all, the others will grab this crab and drag 'em back down to share the mutual fate of the rest of the group. Crab bucket syndrome is often used to describe social situations where one person is trying to better them self and others in the community attempt to pull them back down

Consciously Incompetent: If the UI is the “crab in the bucket” the CI is the provable “grasshopper” from the fable of the “Grasshopper and the Ant.”

The fable concerns a grasshopper that has spent the warm months singing away while the ant (or ants in some editions) worked to store up food for winter. When winter arrives, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger, and upon asking the ant for food is only rebuked for its idleness.

The CI knows that they need to get ready. The CI may even have some gear and supplies. The supplies that the CI does have are not located in any order or state of readiness. They still believe that if the “big one” hits that the government or someone will come for them, or that things will be back to normal soon. They are the people that say to the Consciously Competent “I am coming to your house if anything happens.” The CI also thinks that they have time to get ready later. This is supported by the San Diego study. Around 20% of those that were not ready stated the “nothing serious is going to happen.” The CI will have excuses for not being ready; they “live in an apartment,”  “it is too expensive,”  “they are going to a family member’s home if it gets bad here” and so on.

Consciously Competent: Of the 10% of the population that are ready most fall into this level. The CC has the 72 hour bag that FEMA recommends; they have some extra water and food. Their items and tools are located in one spot in the home and ready to go. The CC will go through their supplies once in a while making sure that tools are in working order and the food fresh. Their papers are in order for the most part. They have a family plan and everyone in the family knows how to respond incase of an event. For the CC this is a laborious undertaking but completed with care. The CC is always looking for items to make their family and themselves better prepared at the super market, online, hardware stores and alike. Being ready is almost a hobby to the CC.

Unconsciously Competent: The UC falls into a special category, they are sometimes called a survivalist.  The UC has programmed their mind and body to being ready. However the UC is not always a militia, gun toting anti-government far on the right person, some UC’s fall far on the left of the political spectrum.

Subsistence farmers for example are UC’s. They know how to grow and harvest their own food. Making butter, jelly and canning food is not a conscious effort like it is for the CC, it is a part of their daily lives. The idea of having food to last the winter is not foreign to them. The UC knows how to work the land, fish, and hunt, repair anything for the most part and need little from anyone else. The UC life style is the way people lived until the 1950s. Today the UC maybe looked down upon by some and even demonized by others however when it comes to being Disaster Resilient the UC is king. UI and the CI may try to take things from the UC and the CC; however unwanted guest may be greeted with a barrel of a gun when approaching the UC’s home.

I have taken the opportunity to share with you the different attitudes toward Disaster Preparedness today in this article. I hope your eyes are open toward being ready and will take it seriously. Don’t be a crab or a grasshopper, be the Ant!

I was doing some web wandering and found this: British national builds a ‘tsunami-resistant house,’ powered by solar energy

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Reading this synopsis, I would surmise that the script writer for the upcoming "modest budget" guerilla film Remnants must read SurvivalBlog. Watch the latest trailer. Oh, and their clip of "Merle's Basement" may strike a chord. (Thanks to C.H. for the link.)

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Scott F. recommended this web page for some details on suturing: Operational Medicine 2001 Field Medical Service School Student Handbook.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: Flashlight plunges Swedish village into darkness.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28 (KJV)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I was tickled to see that Glenn Beck interviewed Lisa Bedford "The Survival Mom" on his television show. (Nov. 18, 2010.) Hopefully this will encourage a broader cross-section of America build a food storage program.


Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

A Christian homeschooling wife and mother of three, I find that the subject of children isn’t often addressed by survivalists.  Perhaps it goes without saying that we will teach our children the skills they would need to survive in any given situation, but I know how easy it can be to overlook this vital task in the busyness of raising a family. At the other end of the spectrum, I do not want to raise children who are crippled by fear of the world they live in, nor do I want irresponsible sissies dependent on electronic entertainment and happy meals to make it through the day.

As a solution I have interwoven survival skills with daily life.  American history has come to life with a hands-on approach to the “old fashioned” way of doing things.  From dipping beeswax candles and learning how to build a fire with a flint and striker at a local rendezvous festival to a full year study of botany (think gardening) for science, our homeschool education has taken on a no nonsense approach to learning valuable life skills. 

How about hobbies? My son is an active cub scout learning camping, hiking, woodworking, team building and leadership skills as well as, perhaps most importantly, service to others (as Biblically mandated, not in the lemur-like mindless way the government seems to prefer).  He can be trusted at age eight with a BB gun under very limited supervision because he is responsible and educated in gun safety.  He is a great fisherman thanks to my Hubby.  My oldest daughter, an aspiring chef at age ten, can out-cook many adult women.  I suppose that would have been a less impressive feat a generation or two ago when more women used their kitchens as more than granite and stainless steel showpieces.  However, my little gem is up to her elbows in bread dough or at worst watching Food Network and reading cookbooks while the other little girls are playing video games or talking on cell phones and Facebook.  Not only are the kids practicing important life skills from a young age, they are stirring up cookies and planting herbs with our youngest daughter, age two.

For Christmas gifts this year both of the older kids will find Swiss Army knives under the tree.  My oldest will be delighted to find a vintage campfire cookbook, and my son a wrist rocket with a supply of paint balls to target practice with.  The baby wants only one thing: a kitten.  I need one to keep the mice at bay anyhow.

Whatever the future may look like, I want my kids to enjoy a time of innocence as children.  They are learning the skills they may someday need without worrying about what that day looks like. So, while we are raising chickens and rabbits, learning how to chop kindling with a hatchet, making soap from lye and the herbs we grew in science class, and organizing the food storage into our own little “store”, the world can keep their Happy Meals and X-boxes.  My kids aren’t missing a thing. The neighbors’ children who are always in our yard building “log cabins” out of the firewood and collecting eggs with my kids attest to that fact. They are having a blast!

The children of today are our hope for tomorrow.  What difference does it make how many supplies we’ve socked away or how much knowledge we have acquired if all of the skills die with us?   I urge you to teach your kids, your neighbor’s kids, your grandkids… any kid who will listen or has an interest.  We have to do something to combat the modern culture of entitlement and helplessness.  Battle the apathy and laziness one child at a time.

I've had several readers ask me about the status of my upcoming novels. Here is the news, in brief: I submitted the manuscript for the first sequel to "Patriots" in July. Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) plans to release it around October of 2011. It is currently being edited. OBTW, I had the chance to meet my editor, Emily Bestler, in person for the first time last month. She is a very skillful editor. After seeing how wonderfully she edited Glenn Beck's new novel "The Overton Window", I am convinced that she will do a great job with my novels.

I am meanwhile busily writing the second sequel, which is scheduled for release around October of 2012. I should mention that both of the sequels are contemporaneous with the action in "Patriots", but set in different locales. There is just minor overlap of characters that fill in some of the missing pieces in "Patriots". For example, in the second sequel there are more details about Ian and Blanca Doyle, and in the second sequel there are more details about Ken and Terry Layton.

My thanks to the many folks who volunteered to be subject matter experts on my latest novel. They provide a wealth of information that adds texture and authenticity. I will be corresponding with them in the coming weeks, as the new chapters take shape. Thank you!

Following some very expensive lobbying, S.510 passed a cloture vote in the U.S. Senate earlier this week. What a huge disappointment to see this bad legislation will probably be passed. The big question is: How will that bill and the considerably different H.R. 2749 (the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009) from over in the House be reconciled? Please contact your congresscritters and ask them to do their best to get this legislation stopped.

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Reader Ron L. noted: "What happens when you have a displaced populace? Disease. Then unrest. It’s happening now in Haiti."

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Rourke mentioned: Emergency Broadcast System Coming to Cell Phones

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Tam mentioned that some of our returning veterans are getting infuriatingly idiotic treatment from the TSA. That was almost incomprehensible. Oh well, at least there is some good news: The Medal of Honor for Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta. (Even though non-Veteran Barack Hussein Obama was officiating, it was still a moving presentation.) And speaking of the Medal of Honor, see: Passed and Pending Coin Legislation.

"...his father always said this was why he'd escaped from Iran--to be free. Free to think. Free to work. Free to play. Free to travel. Free to do whatever he pleased, without a tyrant controlling his every move. Amen, David thought." - Joel C. Rosenberg, from the novel The Twelfth Imam (p. 66.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm scheduled for a two hour interview with call-in questions from listeners on Wednesday, November 24th on EMPact Radio.


Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

I am almost 60 years old.  I have a neurological disease which has forced my early retirement.  I am single, never been married, and have no children.  My parents are both deceased and my sister is deceased.  My brother is retired and lives in Florida.  [Some deleted, for brevity.] I also do not have any friends.  My best friend decided that since she couldn't see the effects of my neurological disease then I must be faking it and being lazy to retire early.  She doesn't see me writhing in pain most evenings even though I take a lot of pain medication.  So, I am old, alone, poor and on a fixed income and disabled.  My only companions are my three dogs, all collies.  But, I am preparing and planning for TEOTWAWKI.  For all those who aren't preparing I can only shrug and wonder why they are so blind and/or lazy.

Neither of my parents were well educated but they were both intelligent people.  They were married in 1933, the depth of the Depression, but my dad would do any work he could find and they never went hungry.  My mother was always prepared for unexpected company so we always had extra food around the house.  She would take advantage of coupons and sales to stock up on things we would eventually use.  I grew up to be totally independent.  I worked from the time I was 10 years old, babysitting and taking in ironing, etc.  I worked my way through college with a degree in laboratory science.  That is a good field, and I was never out of work, but you don't get rich doing it.  I could go anywhere in the country and get a job.  I've lived in nine different states, from Indiana to Hawaii.  The last two years I worked I could see the writing on the wall, my forced early retirement due to disability.  So, I began socking away as much money as possible and paid off my bills.   I was living in Denver, Colorado, at the time and I knew when I retired I would have to move because it would be too expensive to live in Colorado on a fixed income.  I could see the housing bubble coming, so I sold my house, moved into a friend's basement and saved more money.  Thank God I sold it when I did or I'd still be sitting there, in a house worth far less than I'd paid for it and probably unable to sell it.  I would've lost it because my house payments would've eaten up my entire disability income.

My parents and their parents were all from the Ozarks, and I had spent a lot of my time there as a child, so it seemed like home to me.  Since I had also lived many places and travelled a lot, I knew there were few places to compare to it, especially to the relatively low cost of living and relatively mild four-season weather.  Although I considered many places, I knew it would have to be somewhere west of the Mississippi.  I know there are alot of nice places in the eastern part of the country, but it's just too crowded for me.  The place I live now is far from a freeway or interstate, far from any major airport and the nearest town of about 1,100 people is five miles away.  I was able to purchase my home for the cash I got out of my house in Denver, so I have no house payment.  I have two acres of heavily wooded land and rocks.  Not good for gardening, but very good for being inconspicuous.  My health prevents me from gardening on a large scale at any rate.  I am gathering tools and equipment for container gardening. 

In my food storage plans, I am including my dogs, since they are my family.  I always keep as much dog food on hand as we can use before it goes bad, and I am purchasing enough rice and beans and wheat to feed all of us for at least a year.  If whatever TEOTWAWKI scenario  disrupts society for longer than a year, it is doubtful that I will survive much longer than that, anyway.  I hope to supplement our food by shooting or trapping squirrels and birds, mainly for the dogs.

I am also reading and learning about chickens and rabbits.  Next spring I expect to get my first chickens.  After that, if my health holds and the end doesn't come too soon, I hope to add the rabbits and maybe a goat or two.  I plan on getting Angora rabbits and will raise them primarily for their fur as Angora fur is in demand with fibre artists and I can sell it, but they will be available for meat if TSHTF.

Although I was born and raised in the city, I have always been a country girl at heart.  For several years I owned a house and 5 acres on the outskirts of the city in which I worked and commuted.  I had two horses and several dogs and cats.  I eventually gave up the country life because I found the commuting too draining.  But, I  always knew that when I retired I would return to the country.  I spent about 20 years, on and off, living in Denver, so I taught myself to camp in the mountains.  None of my friends liked to camp and only one of my dogs liked it.  I've travelled and camped all over Colorado but one year I discovered a valley that was just the most beautiful and perfect I had ever seen and I bought five acres there.  I tent camped there for many years, but by the time I was in my 50s I was ready for a better bed.  I bought a "vintage" travel trailer. It is 13 feet long and is not self-contained.   With no water and no electricity it was good experience for TEOTWAWKI .  I gave serious thought to building a cabin on that land and making it my retirement home, but it is at 8,000 feet altitude and the snow and thin air would quickly be hard on a retired, disabled single woman. 

The first year of my retirement to the Ozarks, we had a major ice storm.  I was without power for nine days in sub-freezing weather.  This was also good experience for TEOTWAWKI and I discovered several problems with my 'retreat.'  The major one is water.  I have a well and the pump is powered by electricity.  No power, no water.  I think that is the major weakness that this country will face, whether in the city or the country.  Fortunately, since my dogs can drink a gallon of water a day, I had already built up a fairly large stock of water.  I had gallon jugs in my storage/porch and 200 gallons in barrels in the barn.  I never had to open the barrels.  I also had a major advantage over some folks in that my house has been equipped with ventless propane heaters in the living room and one bedroom and I had, with a certain amount of foresight, filled up my 500 gallon propane tank that Fall.  Between those two heaters the house stayed liveable.  I had all my camping gear for cooking and a healthy supply of extra propane bottles.  I also had one propane catalytic heater from my camping supplies that I used in the bathroom to heat that room up for when I took my sponge-baths.  I also have a large collection of oil lamps.  My two favorite ones are from each of my grandmothers and are still in perfect working condition even though they must be over 100 years old.  They got me started collecting, so I had plenty of lamp light and didn't have to use flashlights all the time.

For the first several days, I was trapped in my house by downed trees in the driveway.  I could barely even get out of the house, so many branches were down on the house.  So, even if I had desired to go to one of the shelters that were established, I could not have gotten there.  But, as people with animals know, dogs are not allowed at most emergency shelters and I would never go off and leave my dogs behind.  Eventually, my closest neighbor came by and he and his brother used their chain saws and opened a path through my driveway.  I was deeply appreciative and tried to at least pay them for the gas, but they wouldn't accept anything in payment.  I was somewhat surprised, since they hadn't been overly friendly before (or since).   After they opened the path in my driveway, I drove to town in my four wheel drive vehicle and bought a chain saw and some oil.  They were just about out, I got there just in time.  I went to the camping supplies area and thought I would just buy a couple more cans of propane, but the camping area had been stripped.  There was a man standing there in the aisle, with his arms at his sides and his head drooping.  I feared he had a family at home without any preparations.  The grocery shelves had also been stripped.  The local radio programs I listened to were full of stories about families who had no water or food or heat, or even diapers for their babies.  What is wrong with people like them?  Don't they feel any responsibility to adequately provide for their familes?

My father had taught me how to use a chain saw, but I don't like them.  I found, however, that the vibration from the chain saw made my neurological condition worse and soon was unable to continue the work.   But, I was at least able to get the doorways cleared and get an area cleared for the dogs to do their duty.   I wished I had a fireplace or wood-stove and that is on my list of need-to-buy.

My house is old and it needed a new roof when I bought it.  It took me two years to save up enough money for the roof and even though it was much more expensive, I had a metal roof installed.  I also had some gutters installed and I am in the process of planning a gutter and rain-barrel system to collect water.  That, by the way, is another problem with Colorado.  Catching the rain that falls on your own roof is illegal there, thanks to water treaties with neighboring states.  I mean, talk about Big Brother!   I am also hoping to have a cistern installed for my well and an above-ground tank installed on the slope above my house, for fire prevention and storage.  Of course, those are expensive projects and since I am unable to do the work myself it becomes even more expensive since I have to hire it done.  So those projects may have to wait until I win the lottery.  And, it will be a long time until I win the lottery, since I never buy tickets.

When I lived on my house and five acres in the country, back when I was still young and working, my dad gave me a .410.  I thought he was crazy.  I don't hunt and would never kill an animal.  But, he didn't feel comfortable with his youngest daughter living 40 miles outside of town all alone.  As it turns out, I actually used it once or twice.  In the winter, a pack of coyotes that lived in the woods behind my barn would creep up close to the barn, looking for food no doubt.  I don't think they'd ever have hurt the horses, but they scared them and I if I heard the horses getting anxious, I'd go outside and scare the coyotes away by firing that .410 over their heads.  Since then I have added two 9mm handguns to my 'arsenal' and my next purchase will be a [larger bore] shotgun.  I discovered that my two closest neighbors have been burglarized, so I'm prepared.  I've also had a fence installed around my house.  There are only two gates and both are padlocked.  Next I'm having a gate installed at the road end of the driveway.  Far too many people seem to drive up my driveway, look around and then turn around and leave.  One night, we heard someone fall over some leftover metal from the roofing project that is still laying at the side of the driveway.  The dogs went running down the fenceline barking their heads off.  As I got to the door with a flashlight, I heard a big diesel engine start up down by the road, and could hear them as they powered up our dead-end road towards the county road.  Next time, instead of running to the door with a flashlight in my hand, I'm running to the door with a loaded gun.  Just so ya'll know...I don't have much, but I intend to keep what's mine.

My sister's son lives about 250 miles away from me.  He and his extended family have come to visit me a couple of times, until I let them know I wasn't able to cook for his mob and wasn't going to give them a bunch of money or anything.  He spends all his money on Harleys and tattoos.  He was kind enough to let me know that if TSHTF he plans on coming down here.  I told him fine, but bring your own food, and it might be a good idea for him to start stocking some here now.  He kind of looked at me funny.  He told me seven months ago that he would come down in a couple of weeks to help me with a project I have going, but I haven't received as much as an email since, so please don't think I'm being hard on family!

I am in the process of learning some new skills that might be useful.  I figure with my background in chemistry that candle-making might be a perfect match.  So far, I have only bought a few books but I need to get going on those plans.  I also hope to learn to can and dry food.  I have also bought a large bucket of sprouting seeds and have some seed growers that I plan on using this winter.  I have a large collection of sewing supplies as sewing has been a life-long hobby.  I would like to find a treadle sewing machine, but since they are antiques, now, the prices have been unrealistic for me.  I do have two machines, however, so if necessary, it would be possible to jury-rig a treadle system.  My dad was always in the garage, building or doing something, and if I wanted to spend time with him, I was in the garage, too.  Consequently, I'm fairly handy with tools and have  a pretty good collection, and I even know how to weld.  The main limitation for those types of activities is my health. 

So, even though I've retired I haven't completely given up to the rocking chair yet.  I'm still learning and planning and just about every spare dime I can scrape up goes to cover another component on the survival lists.  I still have lots to do and don't plan on giving up and letting the Golden Horde get what's mine without a fight.  I've fought to survive my whole one's helped me.  So, what else would I do?  And my nephew?  If he plays his cards right, when I'm gone, he'll be left a fully-stocked, paid-for retreat.  Not that it will do him any good, he'll probably just sell it and buy another motorcycle.  But, ya can't eat Harleys, can ya?

It’s always a good idea to have a camera along.  They serve many purposes, from documenting accidents and incidents, insurance documenation, recording activities, tracking disassembly and reassembly of things like cars, guns or even tents, research photos of things to study later, and even recreational shots. 

While modern phones can take images, the quality is certainly lacking due to iris size, and I prefer to leave the phone to its task of communicating.

The Canon PowerShot A580 is another device that served me well in the World’s Largest Sandbox.  The camera I had with me was old and inadequate, and noted firearms photographer Oleg Volk recommended this one as a replacement.

It’s rated for 8 megapixel, but mathematical resolution is not the only criteria.  Lenses and processors also matter.  The images from this camera are exceptionally clear and bright, with good, undistorted depth of field for most shots, and a great LCD screen.  This last is especially useful for framing shots at an extreme angle where the viewfinder isn’t usable.

It zooms to 4X optical, 16X total and still maintains excellent resolution.  Its settings include a timed shutter, various settings for daylight, nighttime, portrait.  It shoots quite excellent video, with decent sound quality.  The autofocus works well, generally picking the subject with ease.  If shooting hard to see objects, such as a spider in a web, illumination with a flashlight will cause the system to recognize the lit subject.  The viewfinder window shows a somewhat larger image than the LCD screen or image file, so be sure to center the subject well if using it.

It has sufficient resolution to even photograph text pages clearly, if the text is not too fine for screen resolution on enlargement.  Colors generally are very clear and focus crisp.

The size is compact enough to fit in a pocket, but large enough to make handling it easy.  It runs off two standard AA batteries, so is easy to keep charged.  It downloads with a standard A to B USB cable.  I’m not sure of the total capacity, but I’ve stored hundreds of images and several 30 second video clips without exhausting the 32 meg card.  You can also carry spare cards.

Settings allow you to shut off flash, chimes, shutter noise and other features to save power or for light discipline, though the illuminating range finder could still be a problem. 

There is a momentary lag on the shutter when the flash is engaged, which can be aggravating, and it’s a good idea to carry extra batteries. You can reduce power consumption by turning the screen off, but it still uses power within a few hundred shots at most.  It’s definitely not an armored case.  It will survive some bumps and dings, but a serious drop will probably break it.  In direct sunlight, colors can be a bit washed out—Olive Drab and Flat Dark Earth will look somewhat similar in hue due to similarity of reflectivity and saturation.

We have better cameras here for dedicated professional use, but this is the one that’s in my backpack or jacket whenever I leave the house, and what I use for most of the photos for these reviews and my online sales.  It was well worth the investment for the two years and thousands of images I’ve captured with it, and it’s still functioning flawlessly.

The ever-cheery Amrose Evans-Pritchard reports: The horrible truth starts to dawn on Europe's leaders. JWR Adds: They may have to Punt on this one! (Ireland may be ejected from the Euro confab, shortly, and revert to independently issuing the Punt Éireannach. Major financial and currency chaos to follow, no doubt.)

Brian B. was the first of several readers to mention this: Max Keiser tells the world to Crash JP Morgan, buy silver. Even if doesn't squeeze the short sellers, every family should acquire some silver.

$53,957 in Circulation for Every Ounce of Gold

Why the Irish Crisis is Going Global.

Dr. Ron Paul: The World Shorts the Dollar

B.B. highlighted this one: Euro Zone Anger at Germany Boils Over

Let them eat cheese: Irish government hands out block of cheddar to every family. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Fed's Second Round of QE Draws New Fire in Open Letter from Economists

Ireland Has Lost Sovereignty - Now Owed By EU  

Ireland Told:  Take EU Bailout or Trigger Crisis  

Contagion Hits Portugal as Ireland Dithers on Rescue  

Foreclosure Class Actions Pile Up Against Banks  

Report:  Foreclosure Mess Could Threaten Banks

Reader P.D. notes: "Emergency Essentials appears to be temporarily out of stock most of their super pails. Meanwhile, Walton Feed just went from one week wait to a two-to-three week wait on food orders. Shortages seem to be progressing." JWR Adds: The long term storage food industry is small and easily overwhelmed by macro level events. It is wise to stock up now. If you wait until after the next crisis, then you may be out of luck. If you are asking: "What crisis?", then you haven't been paying attention. The chance of a big financial meltdown in the near future is very high.

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Pierre M. mentioned this 2008 article: Medical Honey for Wound Care—Still the ‘Latest Resort’?

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The TSA's new groin-groping-with-blue-gloves standard procedure for nudie scanner "opt outs" is causing plenty of righteous indignation. Gee, "Two By Two, Hands of Blue." Where did I first hear that?

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E.M.B. sent this: First Health Care, Next the Food Supply. E.M.B.'s comment: "Caches will be most timely..."

"The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable." - President James Garfield

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Glenn Beck is going to be covering "food storage for hard times" on his television show on Fox today. (Thursday, November 18, 2010). Don't miss it.


Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

As we near to the end of the days of the dollar as reserve currency for the world, feeding our families becomes much more important. Most gardens go in over a late spring weekend with little thought given to trying to keep a family fed during the winter. My focus is on growing food year round with an emphasis on nutritional content. There are ways to keep tomatoes growing later in the season, or trying to keep greens growing year round. What can we grow that can be stored without electricity or canning. What can we save seed from in order to become more self reliant. Gardening can save you a lot of money while improving your health. Talk about a win-win situation! We use small raised bed garden areas for winter gardening 4' wide with almost a foot of elevation. We live in Oregon and the winters constant rains can flood everything drowning your dinner. I use ½” PVC sections cut 10' long and hooked onto short rebar sections beat into the dirt and covered with clear plastic to keep off the produce rotting rains and help keep it a few degrees warmer inside the hoop house. The ground stays a bit warmer anyway so low to the ground hoops work well. I also save gallon jugs filled with water to use to hold the plastic down and act as a heat sink to help keep things from freezing. So fold the plastic in and put the jugs inside the hoop. Spinach, lettuces, cabbage, carrots etc will all take some light freezes. This gives you some fresh foods coming in all winter long.

For winter focus on spinach, mustards, dandelions and other nutritious greens. Many started mid-summer can be kept growing slowly under a cloche in the winter. Low levels of light drastically limit plant growth rates. So pre planning and spacing become vital. I start planting for winter harvest in July. when the heat is on, few of us think about starting seeds. July is a good time to start carrots, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and potatoes for overwintering. I also like to start Walla Walla onions and garlic in September. If you have never had fresh, home grown garlic you are in for a treat.  It is up there with home grown tomatoes and corn for taste improvement over the store bought veggies. It is important to keep the winter garden seeds moist while germinating, which can be a little tricky when it is hot.  I bought a new timer from Bi-mart that has a 6- hour setting.  It worked quite well keeping my seeds moist. This works on batteries so put away several or set up a battery charger you can crank by pedaling a bicycle, or get a small solar charger. I try to automate as much as I can. You will want to get most vegetables planted by the beginning of August, depending on the maturity dates of the varieties you select. Varieties that have around a 60 day expected maturity can go in as late as mid August. I like to try to plant spinach and lettuces every two weeks almost year round.

Potatoes and carrots can be kept out in the garden and harvested as needed all winter long. I grow a lot of garlic and onions to store in a cool dry area, One of the best things to grow are winter squashes. Acorn squashes are high in vitamins and minerals and are easy to store for the winter, there are many winter squashes our grandparents used to grow to have food for the winter. Sweet meat, pink banana delicata the list goes on. All are nutritious, easy to grow, easy to store and easy to save seeds from. Cabbages can be grown for winter use and kept in the garden under a plastic cover for quite some time and get sweeter with frosts. Or they can be piled in a card board box in a cool garage or basement. When one starts to go bad you can slice it up for sauerkraut or kimchi fermented food have additional health benefits.

I have a shelves in my garage and pantry about 18” apart. I get card board boxes and use an X-acto knife to cut holes for ventilation and fill them with onions, squashes, apples, beets, pears and other food that stores in a cool dry place. Carrots, potatoes and other root crops can be stored in damp sand in a plastic barrel or tub if you need the space open for your winter garden. The winter garden needs more space than a summer garden because sunshine is at a premium. Space is also needed in order to allow ventilation to avoid mildews. A spray of baking soda and water can be used to treat mold and mildew. I use a table spoon of baking soda in a quart spray bottle. My secret weapon for amazing plant growth is manure tea I use a cheap aquarium pump with air stones in a barrel with a bit of manure (I use horse manure, since we have loads of it,) and water. Using this I would have orchids bloom for months on end. Things got too hectic to continue with my normal garden activities and I started using a store bought fertilizer and my orchids quit blooming.

The planning is most important and often not done. How much of what do you need to feed a family for a year? How much space will it take to grow it? How much space will be needed to store it? What conditions are needed for the best storage cool/dry? Cool moist? Say for instance you want to have cabbage every week so you need to grow 52 cabbages. Do you need to plant them all at once? A long season cabbage? Or do you grow a 60 day variety? Do you plant out 6 every month and then plant enough to get you through the winter July 15? Will you cover them with a plastic hoop house and store them in the garden or put them in card board boxes and create a type of root cellar storage area? How many winter squashes and of what kind? I plant acorn squashes in the middle of a section of field fencing formed into a circle, the vines climb the wire and keep the squash off the ground and save a lot of space. If you want to have squash every week you will need to grow 52 of them! Maybe 10 acorn and 10 pink banana 10 sweet meat 10 pumpkins 10 Butter nuts and 10 sweet potato squash. I grow most of my squashes even pumpkins on fence rounds I grow cucumbers on them and tomatoes in them. The holes are big enough I can get my hands in for picking, they hold the fruit up off the ground and save space. I will get 10 acorns off 2 fence sections depending on the growth style if the plant is a vining type I can grow three plants in one fence section. You must stake them down I use regular T posts beat into the ground.

I cover my garden area with black plastic to warm the soil and cut down on weeding. I have drip tubes on a timer under the plastic to help block them from the UV rays so they last longer. These go on automatically. I have the same set up for my orchard. I have a gravity fed spring with a holding tank and high water usage mid summer when water production is lower. My timers go on in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping and water usage is low. The tubing is black so I worry if the water went on mid afternoon the water would come out to hot it would harm my plants. I have built a test solar heater out of black 1 ½ “ abs pipes glued together and laid on the ground with a small tank on a chair to see if we could heat water that way, how long it would take etc. It heated water surprisingly quickly. So I started worrying about the black drip tubing scalding my plants after that! So for acorn squash I can plan on two fence sections for growing area and 1 card board box on the wooden shelf will hold 10 squashes and they generally will last till they are eaten. Pink banana squash are delicious and easy to grow. The label says not for the space conscious it should say when planted in Oregon some vines may reach Kentucky! Plant them on the edge and watch them go they are very productive. They are also quite large so 1 squash would feed many people or have leftovers that could need to be canned or? If there is no electricity and we were having to make due without refrigeration. So with every pro; big feeds a lot. There is a con; may need to can up leftovers. If the SHTF and the refrigerator is kaput! In the winter we could use a plywood box in the back of the house (north side under the firewood storage area) as a refrigerator. I don't know how far along you are in your long term survival planning. Try to think of as many things to be ready now.

If you want the most bang for your buck plant fruit trees. A few fruit trees can be placed quite close together and provide a lot of food every year with little work. I surrounded my fruit trees with a fence to keep deer out and my chickens in! My coop is located on the edge of my orchard so my chickens act as pest management and dropped fruit clean up system. Many fruit tree pests will go into a larval stage and be in the dirt at the base of the tree where the chickens can scratch them up or climb up the trunk where the chickens can pick them off. I use a heavy oil to help smother other bugs and avoid most poison sprays. Also berries, I have blueberries and grapes and as many other foods as I can incorporate into my landscaping. I also have planted nut trees a good protein source once they start producing. Also consider medicinal herb plants. Witch hazel and cramp bark are two good ones to have witch hazel helps clean wounds and kill germs, and cramp bark is good for menstrual cramps or cramps from wounds or back strain. A preppers knowledge should incorporate medicinal herbs in plant form. God makes better medicines than men. It is high time we learned how to use them, before we really have to.

A myth has developed that you can not grow food from vegetables grown from saved hybrid seeds. That is not quite accurate. The fact is a seed taken from a hybrid tomato will grow a tomato just not necessarily a tomato the same as the one it came from. When you are hungry even a lousy tasting tomato is food. If you plant several seeds you can get several different tomato plants growing. Save one of the best tomatoes from a plant that grows and plant seeds from it. In three generations it will grow true. You can plant garlic or potatoes from the store and get starts that way. They are often treated with an anti-sprout chemical but at some point nature will over ride the chemical and if that is all you have use it. I have done this with sweet potatoes as well. Not great sprouting results but once you get some growing you can save starts from them. The most important thing is to get going! The sooner you start the more prepared you will be.

Vegetable Seeds
I agree with an earlier SurvivalBlog posting on the hybrid seed issue they do grow well. I have a friend that has grown his own seeds now for five years and his garden is amazing all the plants now have been bred specifically for his micro climate so if you have some hybrid seeds save them for when you can not get food and must grow some to survive. Practice now growing your own seeds!

Some good seed suppliers:

I am attempting to grow my own varieties of seeds so we will see how that works out this spring, I also have other seeds saved just in case. I store my seeds in a gallon jar in the pantry cool dry and I put baked drywall cubes in as a desiccant. You can store beans rice etc in trash cans lined with plastic bags with a bowl of baked drywall cubes in it secure the plastic with a metal twisty after sucking out excess air. To make baked drywall cut drywall into 1” cubes and bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350. Beans stored this way last for decades. If you read any of the survival blogs from Argentina when Goldman Sachs and Citibank looted their country privatizing the profits and publicizing the debts (sound familiar?) They all say I wish I had more food! Buy food think beans and wheat, since gold and silver are worthless when you are starving. 

You can't make this stuff up.  Seriously.  Ben Bernanke claims that the $600 billion QE2 will create 700,000 jobs.  Even if he's right, that's $857,142.86 per job created.  Even if you believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, more appropriately called the "BBS") thei figure of 14.8 million currently unemployed Americans, that means that the U.S. would need to have just over 20 more infusions of $600 billion to employ all of our unemployed.  20 x $600,000,000,000... (drumroll, please)... $12 Trillion!   I think that it's doable.  Let's get QE3-to-QE22 underway.  Maybe SurvivalBlog readers could start a grassroots movement to get this thing rolling...   Somewhere, a very fat lady is singing.  - N.I.M. 

The folks at Everlasting Seeds have added a new product. They call it their "EverGreens" assortment, specifically prepared for sprouting, although they could be used for planting just as easily. The "EverGreens" assortment two pounds of Organic Alfalfa seed, a half pound of Organic Waltham Broccoli seed, and a half pound of Organic Radish seed. They are running a special just for SurvivalBlog readers for only the next week: A 10% discount for the new "EverGreens" product, and a 5% discount on all their other products. This EverGreens assortment is not yet described at their web site, so either e-mail or phone (530) 389-2595 for details.

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T. mentioned a one day online Nullification Seminar. I consider nullification measures (especially jury nullification) just as vitally important as both passive resistance and the exercise of the Second Amendment, in maintaining our liberty.

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Dan T. sent this: Brian Aitken's Mistake A New Jersey man gets seven years for being a responsible gun owner. Don't move to New Jersey. And if you already live there, then vote with your feet!

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Steve Quayle kindly hosted this key document: Nuclear Detonation Preparedness Communicating in the Immediate Aftermath. If nothing else, this will let you know when you are hearing a "canned" message. The steps outlined are rudimentary, and show a reliance on "official" post-attack or post-accident pronouncements. Thus, you can see the importance of having properly calibrated dosimeters and rate meters, and knowing how to use them. A calibrated Geiger counter for checking spot sources is also important. With those tools you can draw your own conclusions, rather than waiting for Uncle Sugar's pronouncements that may or may not come!

"The history of government management of money has, except for a few short happy periods, been one of incessant fraud and deception." - Friedrich Hayek

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

I am sure many of you have planned for the possibility of a wide scale disaster, but you cannot carry all of your equipment when you get out of dodge. So caching is the best option however your cache cannot just go anywhere. Obviously certain locations experience heavier traffic, so in time of natural disaster, large scale riots, or terrorist attacks, it is good to choose locations away from this traffic. These caches also need to be on your bug out route, so if you have not prepared an escape route, do not plan your cache locations yet. These locations should be marked with things that most people would overlook. For example you can mark your cache site with a cross, giving it a resemblance to a grave, or a memorial. Depending on the location most people might overlook this. But in certain areas this may draw attention to the site. So work with what is in the area and use your best judgment.

Next is the actual location of the cache. When choosing it, as mentioned above, remember to choose a site on your bug out route or a place you will visit long after you bug out. As a hunter I have come in contacts with hundreds of private and state forests where the area is perfect. One example is Rock Rimmon State Park, only 400 acres; the park is heavily wooded and located near a pond. On top of this consider the land elevation; is there a hill that you could observe from? The site you cache needs to be secure without showing how secure it is. Other areas that can work are the back wooded edges of cemeteries, while this is consecrated land I believe God will understand the situation at hand. Your first cache should be within a five to ten day hike of your home or current location. This should equal out to somewhere between fifty to a hundred miles. What seems like a long distance, but in the events previously mentioned all you want is distance. While I recommend this it is also possible to place your first cache in your backyard, however if you keep a well stocked G.O.O.D. Kit this shouldn’t be necessary.

Preparation of the storage container
First and foremost your container needs to be large enough to carry all of the supplies you have selected for the cache, a .50 caliber ammo can might be enough to fill your needs, but a twenty-five gallon tote may be more your  size. Either way you need to properly prepare the canister. With the ammo can you can simply use a tar sealant, or similar waterproof sealant along the outside because it is made of metal, but the tote is much more challenging. First everything you put inside the tote should be in either ammo cans sealed against water, or double bagged in heavy duty black trash bags. Then you should fill the empty space in the tote with some kind of insulation, whether you just fill it up with paper scraps or pink panther, it is up to you. Then take the tote seal the edges with duct tape or spray foam. Finally end by double bagging the tote and insulating the inside bag. The insulation should prevent freezing of the supplies inside the newly made cache container.


Supplies need for preparation:
1 Tote (25 gallons or up)
2 Fifty Gallon trash bags
10-20 Five to Ten gallon trash bags
1 small insulation roll
1 small spray foam tube, with applicator
1 container tar or water sealant
# any number of fifty caliber ammo cans (as you deem necessary)

Supplies for your Cache
The supplies you place in your caches are very important, especially your first cache, they can easily determine if you live or die. Now you can have different caches that specialize in certain supplies so you can visit reload and rebury, but I suggest that you stay away from that because chances are the one item you will need the most just won’t be there. Everyone you talk to will have a different list for you so I settled down to give you just a couple examples. The following includes comments from one of my writing collaborators.







Combo .22/410 (Allows greater variance then a straight .22)



.22 rounds

(1) I think since this is a buried cached, I would tend to up the ammo a few rounds. .22 is not large, and a few more boxes may fit in when it is all said and done.


.410 Shells #4 Shot

(1)Here is your 'bulk' in ammo, but I think you have the .410 ammo dialed in there. Maybe a few more slugs would fit later on. Definitely would work for emergency defense against most Earth creatures. The slugs would be really nice to have a few more of.


.410 Shells Slug



.410 Shells 000 Buckshot



Leatherman type tool (Gerber Multi-Tool)



Bowie Type Knife (K-Bar)



Sharpening Stone



Flexible Saw

(1)Try a 'Sven' saw as they pack small and do not easily break, but they will still allow you to cut large trees. Wire saws simply break after 5 minutes of use.


Bottle multi-purpose (3 in 1) oil



Flashlight, AA (Mini-MagLite)



Batteries, AA

(1) Ok I think I would do the same with the batteries. Add a few more to the cache.


Bulbs, Flashlight, Mini-MagLite

(1)I noticed you have two extra bulbs and I know the bulbs are small, but you don't have enough batteries to really be worried about burnt out bulbs.


Candles (plumber type)



Small Radio (AA)

(2)On the subject of radios. I have a very small one that uses little headphones that plug into the ears. I wear a single earphone and have an ear open to hear the environment. A radio speaker can be heard quite a ways off in a quiet woods. If you need the magnet, you can snip off one of the ear plugs and still have one that works.


Spare Flints for Zippo type lighter



Bottle Lighter Fluid



10' Duct tape (wrapped around water bottle)



25' Para Cord

(1) I might up the length of the para cord as well. I know cause I just ran out yesterday, and had to get more. Definitely had what I thought was enough, but its incredible what you can do with that stuff. Make sure you get the type with 7 to 10 individual fibers in the center of the core.





Local Area Map (Waterproofed)

(1)You might want to throw in a few common highway maps or State or USA map.


Generic Dark Colored Nylon Shoulder Bag (waterproofed)


2Large, lawn type Trash Bags (Black or green)
1Sheet of plastic 10' x 10'
1Emergency Blanket
1Bar Soap
1Bottle Bug Repellent
1Bottle Foot Powder
1Roll Toilet Paper






Pair boots/Spare Socks

(1) Triple up on the socks. No feet, no move. I suggest natural wool actually, even in the summer. Good place to throw in some moleskin or mole foam too. Small and fits anywhere. Spenco second skin is small too and great to have for emergency hot spots on your feet.


Set of clothes (Dark colored [not camo])



Hat (Bush type)



Mess Kit



Water Bottles (1 Quart)



Metal Cup (Sierra)



Spoon (Large)

(1)Trust me on this one, throw in several extra disposable spoons.


Roll Aluminum Foil



Bottle Water Purification Tablets



Rice small bag (in mess kit)



Dried Split Peas small bag (in mess kit)



Packages Raman noodles



Salt (in mess kit)



Sugar (in mess kit)



Bottle Multi-Vitamins



Tobacco Can with Tobacco

(1) Definitely think before you light up. I can smell tobacco a long way in the wilderness. I agree in packing smokes though. We don't need a nicotine fit now do we? I think stress should be combated with familiar practices.


Spare pack Rolling Papers






Bag of Hard Candy

  • Ahh, here is the sugar for that long walk. Its amazing how much longer you can travel while eating a peppermint or a butterscotch.






First Aid Kit



Fishing Kit



Snare Kit



Fire Starting Kit



Sewing Kit


First Aid Kit


Military Trauma Bandage



Triangular Bandage



Roll Gauze 1 1/2"



Band Aids



Tube Neosporin



Bottle Iodine






Razor Blade's



Female Hygiene Pad (Great Trauma dressing)



Roll Medical Tape



4x4 Gauze Pads






Bottle Aspirin



Ace wrap 3"



Safety Pins


(1) Few suggestions, throw in some butterfly bandages or cat gut. Also see above about moleskin or second skin. One last suggestion would be some antibacterial soap like Phisoderm or similar and a wash cloth or two. Then you could ditch the bar of soap from above.
(2)In your med kit, pack a tube of Ora-gel. Not just for a toothache. The stuff works on any wound or blister. If you ever have a gash that needs stitches, the Ora-gel can be used to numb the area while you sew yourself up.

Fire Starting Kit (Film Canister)


Small Lighter (Bic)

(1)Once again, I would get several of these for the Cache. It will set you back a big $3.00, but its nice to have several lighters in your equipment.


Set of Matches (waterproofed) and Striker



Small Piece of Sandpaper

(1) Waterproof the sandpaper as well or use wet/dry paper Automotive sanding paper)


Small Magnifying Glass



Cotton balls



Piece of Steel Wool




(1) How about a few trioxane bars? Or Hexamine tablets? Wet rotten wood that you will find is not easy to get going with cotton, or a candle. The lighter fluid or Everclear would help, but you really need a prolonged heat source.


Snare Kit


Small cable Snares with lock tabs



Large cable Snares with lock tabs



Spare Lock Tabs



Length Piano Wire


(1)I like this idea. Snares make a lot of sense. Piano wire can be bent right? Or is it like spring steel? If it can be bent, I could find a lot of uses for it.
(1)Maybe you could drop in a length of surgical tubing, for both a solar still drinking straw and an emergency slingshot.


Fishing Kit (Film Canister)


Hooks varying Sizes



100' fishing line 15lb



Small Bobbers



Plastic Worms (no time to dig for them)



Sewing Kit (Film Canister)


Needles varying sizes (Leather Needle)



Roll heavy thread



Roll light thread (Sutures)

(1)I see you have though this through. ;) Cat gut or Ethilon comes with the Curved needle attached and in small foil packets as well as being sterile.


Razor blades






Piece of Silk (to magnetize needles)


The List shown above is a perfect example of a large and extensive cache that will supply you for a small time until you can get longer lasting supplies. Now obviously when it comes to ammo if you are packing a .45 and a larger caliber rifle or shotgun (.308, 12 gauge, .30-06) then pack that ammo and other specific needs you may have, adjust and overcome. Good luck on the making of your caches.

JWR Adds: I do not recommend using plastic tote bins for cache containers. They are very difficult to seal and they are not rodent proof. If you want something that holds nearly the same volume, then buy 20mm ammo cans. These have a time-proven seal design. Paint the exterior of the can with either two coats of Rust-Oleum or one coat of asphalt emulsion. But first attach a sacrificial zinc anode, to minimize corrosion. (Be sure to leave the zinc unpainted)

Dear Jim,
Having discussed with my doctor (seldom seen in 12 years - since I'm mostly healthy) a "blizzard cupboard" of useful medicines to have on hand - he said "great idea". I live in a rural area - about a 5 hour drive round-trip to doctors and drug stores, and we have been snowed in for as long as 4 days. I took several "wilderness medicine" courses, then returned to him two years later with a list of prescriptions I wanted. He said "no way" - that he was the doc and I was not. He is moving to New Zealand soon - so I'll have to find another.

Alternative source - if you happen to have a friend who has a ship captain's license. There are marine medical suppliers that will sell prescription drugs to captains "for use only on shipboard with the direction of a physician or a captain".

One source of a kit is Marine Medical International - contains a small quantity (typically 1 course) of a variety of over-the-counter and prescription drugs in a kit which costs $1,000. I do not recommend this one - since there were seven discrepancies in the quantity listed and actually received (3 less, 4 more). There were two prescription drugs that were short: antibiotic Keflex 500mg (supposed to  have 40, actually had 30 per the inside label) and a pain medication Toradol (or Ketorolac 10 mg - supposed to have 20, actual bottle label said 10).

Other negatives: -  web description says "over two dozen prescription medicines" - actual was 14, the rest are over the counter (OTC) drugs. -  Many misspellings of drug names - indicating poor attention to important details. - High price -  No organization (hint - alphabetical - or by disease - or something?) - the list was somewhat alphabetical depending on which name you use, but this did not match the order in the kit, nor the order of the drug information sheets in the book.

The book contains a printed copy (inserted in a plastic sleeve) of information about each drug from a web site (which you can access for free.  (This particular one has information on Amoxicillin)

The kit looked great - except there were six plastic boxes squashed inside the kit - so squashed that half of them were broken.

I assume there are other choices - some of which might be better. Just thought my experience might be of some help to those who have captain friends.

Sincerely, - S.J. 

F.G. spotted this video clip: An overview of the deFNder™ Medium Station -- a remote-controlled .50 Browning Machinegun. Makes me wish I was wealthy...

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A reader sent a link to a farmer that has an interesting approach to home-made biofuels: Farm Grown Diesel Fuel. This gent has a lot of do-it-yourself ingenuity, but he desperately needs a spell checker...

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Pegging the Absurdity Meter: Taurus Tactical Operator. Are they serious? Methinks this is the ideal gun for someone who is totally ignorant about .410 shotshell ballistics. Crud, when I have to lug around 6-1/2 pounds, it will always be a proper carbine. Better yet, I would three pounds and carry an L1A1. Now that's a practical, versatile weapon. (Well, if concealment were a must, in a non gun-friendly locale, perhaps I'd tote a Glock 21 and a small pile of loaded magazines.)

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On Wednesday: EMPact Welcomes Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer and Michael Del Rosso  to EMPact Radio - Two 45-Minute Shows in One.

"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes… Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

Regardless of what you may or may not believe about evolution, it’s hard to argue that the organisms best able to adapt to changes in their environment are generally the ones that survive.  While organisms with less intelligence do this over generations, we humans were gifted with the ability to think and adapt on the fly.  Sometimes this is not a good thing when we are manipulating currency on the fly or making decisions that can adversely affect our survival.  But dealing with those circumstances with adaptive ability is the other edge of said sword.

After TSHTF neither I, nor anyone really can make any educated guess as to how long it would take to adapt to the new circumstances.  Some of us will do better than others.  Some will refuse to even try, giving up on the spot.  The psychological side of adaptation is speculative at best.  Some of us will, some wont and trying to ferret out how or why is a job best left to someone other than me.

The more physical side of adaptation such as adapting skills and physical objects to the circumstances is easier to talk about and outline.  But the first task is trying to determine what we take for granted that simply won’t be there in the case of TEOTWAWKI.


In a good deal of North America water is pretty easy to find.  But finding potable water may be a different matter altogether.  The usual sources are easy to get to.  Rivers, lakes and streams may provide better water after a collapse due to less pollution.  However the opposite could very well be true as proper sanitation and care is taken during this period. 

The truth is that for many days, weeks, months or even years, fresh drinking water will not be out of hand as long as human habitation occurred where you frequent. 

I don’t advocate looting but positively identified abandoned houses or industrial buildings may have water stored in the pipes in the walls and in hot water heaters.  The bad news is that you will need tools to get to the water. 

In houses the copper pipes can easily be beaten through with a hatchet, axe or even a hammer.  You would just want to be ready for the deluge once the pipe is breached.  A better idea would be a well-placed nail into a pipe, creating a small hole.  Industrial building sprinkler systems are usually iron pipes so you will need a few good wrenches in the appropriate sizes.

None of the water from these sources should be assumed to be clean.  It should be chemically treated or boiled before drinking. 


The second concern and one I think will be immensely more difficult to secure in most of the country will be food. 

There are several schools of thought as to the game population once TSHTF.  Some people think that due to lower human populations there will be more game.  Some people believe that more hunting will wipe out the forests quickly.  I’m not sure what to believe in this regard. 

Small game will provide a one or two meal situation but killing a whitetail deer, elk or other big animal will provide a good deal of meat for a while but only if you know how to properly preserve the meat. 

The same goes for a garden.  Usually certain crops ripen all at once even with good succession planting.  So again, the key is preservation.

When TSHTF many people will be prepared to can.  However, with unstable supplies of fossil fuels and very few wood cookstoves around these days, can we be sure we can do this effectively?  I submit that the answer to vegetables is drying and that the answer to meat is salting, jerking, drying and smoking.

It will be quite easy for someone to adapt a small amount of materials into a dryer or smoker quite easily.  A small box can be built easily out of scrap wood and screen material from windows can be used to keep the drying vegetables well drained.  Then a small window itself can be used to cover the box and keep the heat in.  Paint the sides black or make a reflector out of any shiny metal such as ductwork from your house (you might not be using your central air at that point anyway).

For meat you will want to use the simplest methods first and build from there.  Jerking meat is pretty simple if you have salt.  Simply slice it very thin, salt it well and put it in the solar dehydrator I described above.  In the absence of a solar dehydrator you can make biltong. 

I learned about biltong from The Survival Podcast.  Its been made in South Africa for decades.  You simply douse thick-slicked strips of meat with vinegar then salt, coriander and black pepper.  Hang the meat where it is protected from insects, moisture and light.  In a few days the meat will turn hard and essentially mummify.  Done properly and tested by consuming small amounts, there is no real limit to how long this can last. 

A smoker can be adapted very easily as well.  I think cold smoking is the best method for preservation, especially for fish.  You’d simply need to have a metal barrel half or other metal box or container open at one end and closed at the other.  Dig a hole that the container will fit in.  Remember the ductwork I talked about earlier.  Run ductwork from a hole in that container to a box at an elevation higher than the first container.  The second box can be made of wood.  Take care to close and seal any gaps or cracks in any container or the duct.  Build a fire and toss on a lot of wet deciduous wood like hickory, apple, pecan, etc.  Put the metal container over it.  Use the ducting to connect the metal container to the wooden box.  Hang thin strips of meat in the box and allow the smoke to work its magic. 

Another method of preserving fruits and even some vegetables is to make them into wine.  Alcohol is often thought of in terms of the detrimental effect that it has on our society.  However, it has so many more uses than as a mental impairment. 

Making alcohol is pretty simple.  All you really need is some sugar or honey and a fruit or vegetable and water.  If you have yeast, its better to use it, but many fruits such as grapes have yeast that grows naturally on the ripe skins.  The key to making wine is keeping the air away from it as it ferments.  If you fail to do that you may get vinegar which, when pasteurized afterward can be almost as good as wine.  After all, where are you going to get vinegar to make biltong?

You could also adapt a pressure cooker, some salt and a length of small copper pipe and create a still for stronger alcohol to use for strictly non-internal uses.

Hunting and Fishing 

I spoke above about preserving food once you get it.  Adapting certain items to obtain food to begin with will present its own challenges-none of which are insurmountable.  Many of these techniques are not legal and should only be practiced when lives depend on them.

Of course firearms will be around for a while and even a modest stock of ammunition should last for some time.  However I believe we will find more primitive ways less likely to draw attention and good ways to save ammunition.

Longbows can be built surprisingly easily out of simple board lumber or of course split wood from fell trees.  I recommend for information on how to do this step by step.  Arrows can be made from bamboo or cane or small straight saplings.  Making arrow points can be done with a glass bottle and a small nail.  Dave Canterbury’s YouTube page illustrates how. 

For those who don’t want to take the time to build a longbow or don’t have string or the aptitude an atlatl might be a better choice.  The atlatl is simply a wooden handle with a knuckle at one end and a handle at the opposite.  The dart-which is a long arrow-sets into the knuckle and the throwing action acts as a lever to propel the dart at near arrow speeds in some cases. 

While normal fishing will yield decent catches sometimes adapting an old liquid detergent or clean bleach jug into a jug line makes a lot of sense and will allow you to catch fish passively while you work on other methods of getting food or water. [JWR Adds: Of course consult you state laws before using a set line or any sort of multi-hook line.]

Though highly illegal, old crank telephones or car batteries can be used to shock fish up. 

There are also several wild plants in North America that can be adapted into a poison that will stun fish into submission where they can easily be scooped up.  If you’ve watched the show Beyond Survival with Les Stroud this should not come as any shock.  The natives he spends time with as well as the ones on our own continent had ways to use these poisons to get food.  The good news about the poisons on our continent is that many times they are not as dangerous to humans.  I do not recommend using any poison you don’t know the origin of.  Chemicals that are not safe to humans can ruin a body of water or leave you severely sick if you eat the fish that result. 

While most people think of fishing as an activity only for catching fish, there are many more edible creatures in water besides fish.  In many lakes, mussels cling to underwater rocks or wood.  When the water levels go down you can swim down and harvest.  Or if you have a boat and a good spot, simply sink a log and pull it up at timed intervals, break off the mussels and sink it again.

You can also adapt a 2-liter bottle into a crayfish trap.  Simply punch some small holes in the bottom end and sides toward the end.  Cut the top ¼ off and reverse it and wire it into place so the funnel points in.  Place a small but heavy rock in the bottom and a piece of bacon or entrails from a recent kill (might want to tie it into place).  Then sink it in a muddy flat.  The crayfish will come inside, eat the meat and when you pull it up the crayfish will be trapped. 


After TSHTF many of us will be doing activities we don’t normally do.  The desk jockey may be pounding nails and the housewife may be butchering game.  Anytime you bring untrained labor into new activities injuries will occur. 

For a while after TSHTF medical supplies such as medicine and sterile dressings may be somewhat accessible.  What to do when they run out though? 

I mentioned an antiseptic above that was used from Roman times until the 13th century.  Wine and vinegar both are not stellar antiseptics but in the absence of everything else, they could save lives.  The alcohol obviously kills germs and other nasty things that could grow on a wound. 

Finding sterile dressings will be hard but you can always boil fabric or soak it in wine or alcohol in the absence of fire to sterilize it. 


There was a line from the movie The Book of Eli that stuck with me. The protagonist said: "We threw away things people kill each other for now."  I thought that was very insightful.  After TSHTF we will have to learn that nothing is disposable.  Pants that get torn and ripped will be cut off into shorts.  When the electric grids fail we will use the wires from extension cords as rope or snare wire. 

It’s hard to do it with our modern conveniences but we have to look at everything as if it is not what it seems.  Sometimes the sum of the parts really is greater than the whole.

In response to the current discussion on moving away from Windows, I'd suggest that SurvivalBlog readers take a look at Puppy Linux as well. It is a free bare bones OS that does most of the basic Windows functions and uses very few resources on your computer. The minimal requirements are as follows:

• CPU : Pentium 166MMX
• RAM : 128 MB physical RAM for releases since version 1.0.2 or, failing that, a Linux swap file and/or swap partition is required for all included applications to run; 64 MB for releases before v.1.0.2
• Hard Drive: Optional
• CD-ROM: 20x and up

These small requirements may allow people to dust off some obsolete or malware-infested PCs and put them back to work.

Since it runs completely in a tiny amount of your PC's RAM, you can carry the extremely fast OS and all of your work on a thumb drive. This also allows you to easily dual boot it with Windows for those "must" applications.  Just reboot or shutdown the PC and your last session is wiped clean, only saving what was put on the thumb drive and leaving a small partition file. It is a wonderful choice for those who are concerned about privacy.

Boston T. Party has an excellent section on Puppy Linux and other privacy measures in his book One Nation, Under Surveillance.

Regards, - Bill Z. in Wyoming

I just read the article on the use of acid free paper with interest and noted that Hammermill makes printer paper that is acid free. Some of it isn't much more than regular paper, so it might make a good choice for [long term archiving of] those manuals we print off the Internet. Amazon sells several varieties.

God Bless! - Mack G.

JWR Replies: That same paper can be used to make bound journals or hardback books from downloaded PDFs. If you are handy with tools, you can do your own stitched bookbinding. This way you can create your own Tome of TEOTWAWKI to pass down to your grandchildren. To me, this sounds reminiscent of Earth Abides or Dies the Fire. Just think of it as a truly appropriate technology. ("Wow! Look at this: Great-grandpa's annotated copy of FM 5-103".)

"Straycat" sent us this: What Is The Best U.S. State To Move To If You Want To Insulate Yourself From The Coming Economic Meltdown?

James Grant: How to Make the Dollar Sound Again. (Thanks to Siggy for the link.)

John R. suggested a piece by Mike Whitney at Zero Hedge, titled QE2: Last Rites for the World’s “Reserve Currency”

Our friend Tam over at the View From the Porch blog pointed to one of her favorite TFL threads: Reasons to Own a Buncha Guns. This hilarious thread dates back to 1999. Oh, that mention of time travel reminds me: I'm presently just 81 pages into reading Jerry and Sharon Ahern's new novel Written in Time, and I'm hooked!

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I recently received a sample of Choate's newest telescoping AR-15/M16 stock with battery storage tubes at the cheek positions. This is a cleverly designed five-position telescoping stock that has two storage compartments with O-ring seal threaded caps. The storage compartments hold two AA or three CR-123 Lithium batteries in each tube. I recommend this stock for anyone that has had trouble getting a consistent "cheek weld" with a standard CAR-15/M4 style stock. The spare battery holders built in to this stock give the top a semi-triangular profile that is very comfortable and provides a wide, flat surface that allows a very consistent cheek weld for both left and right-handed shooters. It also provides a "you can't lose it" storage space for spare batteries for night vision gear, lasers, and lights.

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Aid Workers Fear Cholera Epidemic May Overwhelm Haitian Hospitals. More than 900 deaths, so far. (A tip of the hat to Mrs. K.A.F. for the link.)

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R.F.J. mentioned this over at Instructables: Making a Motorized Secret Entrance

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The owner of The Survival Bunker--an alternative energy and preparedness products retail store in Kalama, Washington--wrote to mention that he has expanded the store's product line. They now sell home security, safety, and personal defense items to supplement their original line of generators and photovoltaics.

"Our advice: don’t grow old. Don’t retire. Don’t get sick. Don’t trust the feds. And don’t sell your gold." - Bill Bonner

Monday, November 15, 2010

I've been warning SurvivalBlog readers for more than four years about derivatives trading. And now there are now some troubling indicators that there could be a derivatives implosion and/or a credit collapse in the near future:

1.) SurvivalBlog reader Steve K. mentioned this article: Bond insurer Ambac files for bankruptcy. Steve commented: "This is a very, very big problem for the global financial system as Ambac was a huge player in Credit Default Swaps, Mortgage Backed Securities and all other derivatives. It's all about counter party risk!"

2.) Zero Hedge recently summed up the almost inconceivably enormous overhang of derivatives: According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities for the Second Quarter 2010 (most recent), the notional value of derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks is around $223.4 TRILLION. It is estimated that 95% of these contracts are held by just five banks.

3.) Michael Snyder recently wrote a piece for Business Insider wherein he listed 11 signs we're on the verge of a global currency crisis.

4.) Our friend Chris Martenson just posted this: Alert: QE II Has Lit the Fuse

With those predictions in mind, to quote a song...."Hope you have got your things together!"


Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

In a true breakdown scenario, one of the most crucial survival advantages, if not the most, has to be mobility. Pandemics or violent gangs that overwhelm congested populations can be escaped. More fertile land — wilderness with wild edible plants, big fish in the lakes, and game in the woods — can be reached. And if you can carry your shell on your back, along with an independent source of energy, you’ve got the ultimate survival advantage.

An RV qualifies if you have at least $60,000 to toss around in this economy, but a more affordable, challenging (and fun) solution is to build your own from a used school bus. Older models can be had for a little as $1,000, in various states of health and appearance, and customized to your plan, from bare bones to quasi-luxurious.

For the past seven years I have lived off the grid in my solar bus, converted mostly by a previous owner from a 1974 Ford on its second V8 engine. He raised the roof in a Monster Garage job (necessary if you're over 5 feet tall and plan to spend time in it), fitted the interior with insulation, pine planks and lap-and-gap on the ceiling, and installed the kitchen. (Photos and supplementary information here). I bought it for $4500 and finished it out with shelves, bed, tables, tile floor, power system and decoration, and set up my camp on private land in a Colorado River canyon four miles from the small town of Moab, Utah. I hauled all my water in, my wastes out, harvested firewood, and endured the occasional flood and temperatures from below 0 to 100+ in what could be called a virtual bugout. Herewith, some advice from my experience, on converting a school bus and living in it:


The solar system includes three 80-watt panels mounted on tilting frames on the forward roof, connected via a charge controller to a bank of eight 6-volt Trojan (golf cart) batteries in parallel, mounted in a frame welded below the chassis. The charge controller should have the essential MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) feature that gives the batteries an extra boost in cold dim light weather, when it’s really needed. Solar panels and batteries behave inversely in cold weather -- panels conduct higher voltage, while batteries lose capacity. The MPPT feature effectively regulates the system for seasonal variation. Mine is the Solar Boost 2000E made by Blue Sky products.  If you install your battery bank inside, be sure to build an airtight container and vent it properly to the outside. So-called "angle iron" from hardware stores is useful for constructing frames and mounts to hold solar panels and batteries. To replenish water in the batteries, I use an extendable swivel mirror, flashlight and a turkey baster.

The kitchen has a sink, 12-volt water pump connected to a 30-gallon plastic tank under the rear bed frame, and propane oven and fridge. A 3000-watt inverter, mounted inside above the battery bank, powers most appliances: lights, TV/DVD, stereo, and power tools, including an air compressor  -- essential if you’re not heading anywhere near a gas station soon. Forget the small, cheap battery-clamp units: even the best ones will struggle and overheat, or take hours, to fill the six large 95-psi tires on a school bus. I got a refurbished 4-gallon compressor for a little over $100 on eBay, and it does the job without too much tedium.

Heat is provided by a small but highly efficient steel wood stove with glass door made in Canada. If you’re near an Ace Hardware, they can be had for $400 without delivery charges.  Be sure to stand off and insulate from nearest wall — I have steel panels between the stove and wall, and shields on the chimney flue. On the wall next to the stove hang my wood-working tools: large and medium splitting axes and a hatchet for kindling. It's tempting to stretch your survival budget and buy the cheapo tools, thinking "Ah, I'll probably never really use this." I advise against this. My first axe, made in Mexico and purchased at a hardware store, got a broken neck on the first pile I tried to split. I think it was Balsa wood. Then I spent the money for the superb Swedish Gransfors-Bruks axes with hickory handles. They’ve split many small pyramids of wood over the years. The synthetic handle axes may be more durable, but I haven't tried them. Likewise, forget the cheap Poulan chainsaws — I could never keep the chain tensioned on mine, and eventually stripped one of the tensioning screw housings, preventing the chain from being adjusted or replaced. That could be cold comfort in a prolonged survival situation. I tossed the Poulan and got a more reliable Husqvarna. You will be processing a lot of wood if you live in a cold climate. In 7 years, I never paid a dime for firewood — there is a "transfer station" in Moab where I've gathered discarded lumber from construction sites for free. Lumber is dry and makes excellent kindling. And there are always sites around town where trees have been downed, or deadfall on BLM land, ready to be hauled away.

Even thoroughly insulated, a school bus is still a metal shell sitting high off the ground — not the ideal configuration for heat retention. A friend on his private land stacked hay bales around his bus and covered them with discarded J-rig skins (big pontoon rafts) —a good long-term solution if you plan to hunker down in the same spot awhile. To insulate windows, I bought several 4x8 sheets of white 1" T-Lam packing material, which serves as passable insulation, and cut them up into panels to fit in the all the window frames (they should fit snugly).

In the very severe winter last year (2009–2010), my outdoor thermometer registered temperatures below 0 on several mornings. You discover that Canola oil stays liquid, but olive oil gels up solid. Your water tank, pipes, and 6-gallon jugs (filled at a nearby well) are going to freeze inevitably, and you cannot extract the ice from narrow-mouth containers. The best solution is to use large-mouth containers, like aluminum buckets, so the ice can be easily chipped out and melted on the stove. An aluminum garbage can would work (it can also be used as a Faraday cage to protect electronics in the event of a large solar storm). And you are not going to be able to keep the interior a warm and cozy 75 degrees unless you have an entire forest of wood stacked and cured. I could raise the interior temperature to around 50 degrees after a couple of hours of stoking the wood stove — comfortable enough with good warm clothes. A good pair of loosely fitting wool pants is essential — the Swedish army surplus wool pants are excellent values at $20 – $30. And you're going to be miserable in damp cotton socks — get wool, several pairs. I also invested in a used bomber jacket that winter. It's harder to rip, and if it does, you're not going to be chasing your Polyfil or goose down insulation like tufts of weed pollen drifting in the wind. Moreover, unlike most synthetics, wool and shearling leather do not burn like torches, as British sailors discovered during the Falklands war.

Summers can be harsh — July temperatures in Moab are consistently over 100 degrees, and my small portable swamp cooler only worked if I squatted directly in front of it. A larger unit, or air conditioner, is probably going to draw too much power from a small solar system. I spent most of those days in my air-conditioned office downtown, but when I did hang around on the weekends I took frequent dips in the nearby river or used a "redneck" air conditioner — a mister bottle spraying water on my naked face and torso. The propane refrigerator really struggles in such heat. Whereas a 10-gallon tank would last nearly 4 months in cooler months, in summer it was being sucked dry after one month, as there was only a passive vent to the outside. I mounted a $20 electronics fan from Radio Shack (about 5" square) over the exterior vent hole to aid exhaust, and fashioned a half-circle cowling from a chimney pipe to shield it from rain, along with plastic window screening to keep out debris and wasps. Wired to the DC circuit, the fan runs continuously in summer and, surprisingly for a unit designed for indoor use, it has lasted several years, at least doubling the endurance of my propane tank in hot months.

Many bus converters build permanent fixtures in their buses — sofa frames, cabinets, tables, etc. This is fine for the typical RV camping, but I recommend not overdoing it for bugout purposes. Removable furniture is more flexible, and my tables fold down against the wall, allowing plenty of free space in the "living room" — you might need that space for transporting a lot of provisions, sleeping additional people, or as a makeshift hospital. With the living room cleared, my bus can sleep 5: two in the rear bed, and three on floor sleeping pads. The large, 4" thick inflatable pads sold by Cabela's are very comfy.

If you're going to be parked in the outback for any duration, a small solar panel trickle charger for the engine battery, had for around $30, is advisable. My engine battery was dying prematurely because I rarely drove the bus. Now the engine starts at a moment's notice. (Solar chargers for small batteries, solar flashlights and night lights are also a good investment.) How much gas to store in your tank? That's a tricky question, depending on how often and how far you plan on driving the bus, and the perceived imminence of a bugout situation. Gasoline degrades with time and can gum up your carburetor and fuel lines. The preservative Sta-Bil should be added to any stored volume of gas. I kept my tank filled low, ran the engine for about 45 minutes every two months to keep things lubricated and burn up the old gas, while adding fresh gas and Sta-Bil periodically.

Some may be wondering about those other essentials: hot water, showers, and waste disposal. I once considered installing a gas-powered on-demand (tankless) hot water heater under the sink, but found that simply filling a big pot and heating it on the propane stove, or wood stove in winter, worked satisfactorily for washing dishes or filling my solar shower bag when the sun wasn't cooperating. I take a solar shower with barely one gallon of water, and don't leave the faucet running while rinsing dishes.

For waste, I use the same device I take on rafting trips: a "groover" — large ammo can fitted with a plastic lining and toilet seat, then sealed and flushed with a water hose at an RV dump once every few months. They can be purchased from most river running outfitters.


The bus is stocked with: dozens of large canning jars filled with grains, beans and hummus and tabouli mix (my large poly buckets are kept at an in-town storage shed); a Grundig AM/FM/Shortwave radio fed by a longwire antenna tethered to trees; Sirius satellite radio; grain grinder; a fishing rod and long guns hanging from the ceiling. I experimented with many firearms before finally deciding on the essential arsenal, heavyweight and lightweight. The heavies are a 12 ga. Mossberg pump with 20" barrel (there is no ballistic advantage to longer barrels in shotguns), fitted with a red-dot scope and flashlight (in post-TEOTWAWKI times, geese could be stalked at night along river banks), and a .357 Magnum revolver. The lightweights (for bike or foot travel) are a Marlin Papoose takedown .22 semi-auto rifle (3.25 lbs) and a NAA Mini-Master .22LR/.22 magnum revolver with 4" barrel (10.5 oz). I prefer the rock-solid reliability of a revolver over the trendy semi-auto fetish. And I consider a shotgun to be the one absolutely indispensable weapon; the big deer-rifle game are going to be spooked or quickly exterminated by more experienced hunters in a serious survival scenario (especially here in the sparse high desert), whereas the 12 ga. can take any small game, on foot or wing. And larger game can be taken with slugs. For self-defense against human predators, there is no equal: The Russian Saiga AK-47 action shotguns would be excellent.

Mule deer, raccoon and wild turkey were frequent visitors at my camp, and many times I could easily have taken one (illegally) at 20 yards with the .357 or shotgun. Two other essential but less sexy pieces of food-gathering gear: a book on edible wild plants native to your region — it must be well-illustrated in color, otherwise it's worse than useless (you could end up like Christopher McCandless); mine is entitled Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West — and a multi-hook catfish line. On rafting trips, I have never failed to pull in a couple of cats in the morning after placing the line in eddies below a rapid overnight. And nobody that bugs out should be without the one mandatory book: the profusely illustrated and comprehensive Camping & Wilderness Survival.

For disinfecting the air, a small electric essential oils nebulizer ($25) does the trick with cassia bark (cinnamon) oil, or the "4-Robbers" blend. Antibiotic-resistant pathogens are on the rise, and it's been said that cinnamon factory workers in New York survived the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic unscathed. I also stock turmeric — an amazing spice with antibiotic properties that has reputedly killed leukemia cells and stimulates neurogenesis (growth of new brain neurons). You're going to need rewired wits in a protracted survival situation.

Mice will find their way into a bus no matter what you do; I was disposing of at least one per day in my electronic traps until a house cat cured that problem. I've also come home to find a raccoon and a skunk camping indoors; pepper spray and an Airsoft gun are great to repel critters that you don't want to kill.


Other bus-dwellers I know have added roof decks, rear platforms for hauling motor or pedal bikes, and in one case an ingenious swivel mount for a wind generator — the pole could be lowered flat on the roof for travel, or swiveled up to stand in a base on the hood in front of windshield. (Though the noisy vibration drove his girlfriend crazy).

One caveat: there is a definite stigma about school buses as homemade RVs, probably deriving from the "hippy bus" of 1960s fame. Many RV parks don't allow them (to h*ll with those cramped refugee camps — you don't need hook-ups with your solar system. Find BLM land), and many insurance companies will not insure them, worried about the risk of something that is not 100% prefabricated in Detroit.  Many are rather unsightly, smacking of gypsy camps and the Third World. (Please, paint your buses well!)

But if comes to TEOTWAWKI, God forbid, all those petty rules and pretensions will quickly fall away. My Solar Bus has a bomber frame (to protect a cargo of children) and the big tires and high clearance will take you off road where the luxury RVs fear to tread (the rear skirt was beveled back to help [improve the departure angle]). You can also actually move around under the spacious hood and work on those "primitive" engines. And with a roof deck, a bus can transport literally tons of supplies. I suspect that many urban dwellers, bugging out in their trucks or tents, will quickly tire of the situation and be tempted to risk returning to the conveniences and dangers of the city. But with a solar bus, you have all the amenities of a real home, albeit more arduously maintained. You can cook with a roof over your head and watch movies in a warm cabin. For bugging out, it certainly beats a tent or mini-van. If, or when, the elephant dung hits the rotor blades, I expect many who sneered at "bus bums" may be making generous offers for my mobile base camp — the ultimate survival rig.


Here's a follow-up to David from Israel's article on Linux. I encourage your readers to heed David's advice and wean themselves off the MicroSoft Windows operating system ASAP.

Linux Mint Debian is a good OS option. See the Linux Mint Debian tutorial. Here is a description: "This tutorial shows how you can set up a Linux Mint Debian 201009 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops"

According to this article, the the Chinese military have already removed Windows from their computers for security reasons:

Another potential replacement for Windows is PC-BSD.

These Windows replacements are free as in freedom and free as in zero cost.

Enjoy! - Rick H.

Mr. Rawles,
M.E.R. makes good points for the practice of journaling. I, too, encourage the activity. I would add a related activity - logging. No, not cutting trees, but recording activities, events, and details. I do my journaling within my log. I am not big on "my feelings". I am more about doing what is needed and savoring the feelings later. Better? No. Different perhaps. I have found logging to be extremely valuable. My log has been computerized for decades, but lends itself to the same manual media as presented by M.E.R.

I have recorded diverse events for years. I have records of when things have been serviced or repaired and the cost. I have found this useful for repair/replace decisions. It is helpful to plan for anticipated cost of servicing a piece of equipment. I know the price will be higher but I know by order of magnitude an estimate for the need. I have recorded my planting and harvest for decades. It allows me further planning in what our production will be and what changes may be needed. I have recorded weather events for many years. I have discovered a link between weather patterns and food production in our area. Again, planning is assisted. I have a record of service on equipment. I can quickly find part numbers, contact information for the vendor, etc. This all saves me time, and gets me to a solution much faster.

In the very same log are a wide variety of topics, including ones related to feelings, reactions, and responses. It helps to recall family gatherings and who attended and what was going on at the time. I have included anecdotal memories of significant events, like sitting on my sea bag, awaiting deployment during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It contributes to continuity in the family. We have a record of trips and details to augment the pictures taken. It has been helpful to have a source that is less changeable than my memory.

I am sure there are concerns about whether the computer will be around after everything falls apart. Possibly not. But, doing on paper provides the same benefits as if it were a computerized process. First, it centralizes the recorded information, which is no trivial thing. Second, marginal notes or symbols allow finding particular kinds of entries quickly. (For example: if you recall an event in the early part of a particular year, you can go to that time frame and look for the particular type of entry you are trying to recall.) Third, it is far more reliable than memory. And, it is a self reminder that you have lived and done something in your life. It doesn't matter if it isn't important to anyone else. It is important to you. - Jim D.

JWR Replies: I wholeheartedly concur that it is important to journal--or at least record in a calendar--events such as the first frost of each year, late frosts, livestock breeding dates, planting dates, oil changes, bearing re-packings, brake pad replacements, battery servicings, chimney cleanings, and personal loans of cash, books, DVDs, or tools. (The latter is important for maintaining good relations with neighbors, relatives, and fellow church goers!) To some, this sort of minutiae might seem trivial. But if and when we revert to YOYO time, these details may become crucial. And even in the present day, they are helpful in maintaining equipment properly, and keeping track of tax records.

CPT Rawles:
I realize that you aren't an advocate of fully-mobile retreating. Yes, I can see the wisdom of having a well-stocked fixed retreat. But since I'm still in college (due to graduate in 2011), my situation is different. Until a get a job, I can't afford a retreat, and I'm not in any sort of a group. So I'm approaching the whole preparedness thing coming from the viewpoint of "just what I can fit in my car", with the back-up plan of "just what I can carry on my pack", or perhaps pushing/pulling a small deer cart, like you've mentioned.

My question is: What sort of solar panels can I buy that will charge a goodly-sized base camp battery, for [charging] trays for all my AA, C, D, CR-123, and 9-volt batteries. (These are for my radios, flashlights, and the combination laser/light for my SIG P250 pistol.) I'm a kinda power hog, so I need at least 20 Watts of charging power. I need something that is lightweight, sturdy, compact non-breakable, weatherproof, and affordable. (Like, under $350.) Am I dreaming? Oh, FYI, I'm good with a soldering iron. (I'm a E.E. major.)

Thx, - H.L.G. in Texas

JWR Replies: The panel that I recommend is the Brunton 26 watt foldable solar array. These use amorphous solar cells, so the panels are flexible. These are much less prone to breakage than glazed monocrystalline panels. Add a small charge controller, a 3-to-5-pound gel cell, some Anderson Power Pole modular DC connectors and a couple of battery charging trays, and you will be all set.

This was a great article, but I have one technical question that I'm sure others do as well: the author advises using pool shock to create bleach, and then to use that bleach to disinfect water. But what amount of pool shock creates a standard gallon of bleach?

Thanks, Dan.

JWR Replies: This letter in the SurvivalBlog archives describes how one 50 pound bucket of hydrated Sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione "Pool Shock" can be used to treat up to four million gallons of pre-filtered water.

Jason M. forwarded this collection of photos shows what a combination of resourcefulness, desperation, and stupidity can do: Are you getting the maximum use out of your vehicle? BTW, this sort of vehicular improvisation is not solely a Third World practice.

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Rick H. mentioned: In an exclusive interview with CNN, Dr. August Hanning, a former head of Germany's foreign intelligence service, said intelligence indicated that al Qaeda had already started planning to launch Mumbai-style attacks in the United States. Any bets on whether American gun grabbers like Chuck Schumer will start shouting for "more gun control" if and when this happens?

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: Heavy lubrication shown to improve M16, M4 effectiveness.

"We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life -- physical, intellectual, and moral life. But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we can convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course. "Life, faculties, production -- in other words, individuality, liberty, property -- this is man. And in spite of the cunning and artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. 'Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." - Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850. p 1, 2

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Today's lengthy and scholarly main post might offend some readers who are not Christians, but so be it. This is another entry for Round 31 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. I disagree with the author, as I feel that his conclusions are too restrictive on what situations constitute Biblically-justifiable use of lethal force in self defense, but he is entitled to his opinion.

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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

In an attempt both to think through the issue and to stimulate other to do likewise, I present my personal analysis of our family's current and future electric power usage. First some background: We live in a 2,400 square foot two-story home the suburbs of a southeastern city. Currently there are 3 of us, with one child away at school. Our summer temps are as high as 95F and winters can drop to the 20s. Currently is is between 50 and 80, which is great - windows often left open.  

We have grid power, for which we pay $150-300/month. Additionally, I have recently installed 720 Watts of solar photovoltaic on a south-facing roof which gets 6-8 hours/day of direct sunlight. This is tied through a charge controller to a bank of eight L-16 6 volt lead-acid batteries set up in a 24V configuration (4 in series, paralleled with 4 more in series). This system drives a Xantrex inverter and serves mostly as an emergency standby for absolute essentials. The batteries can also be recharged from the grid or from a generator. The generator (5 kilowatt diesel), when running, operates more systems, as well as charging the batteries in the solar system (if needed).  

So, we currently have three layers of electrical power:  

1) Solar running a few lights, television, radio, and the central heat blower motor (we have gas heat) and, most important, the controller for the on-demand gas hot water heater,

2) Generator (perhaps an hour a day) running more lights, computers, router/modem, one window heat/AC unit, refrigerator, freezer and microwave, and

3) Grid - running everything else (washer, dryer, range, central AC compressors).  

A separate system (three 12 Volt deep-cycle car batteries with float charger) powers the CB/ham communication gear.   

Although not nearly approaching off-grid, this arrangement lets us have essentials during a grid failure, with additional luxuries during brief generator runs. During the day, when we require little power, the solar system can run the house with energy to spare, leaving the batteries fully charged for evening use.  

We are overly dependant on piped natural gas; and, although we have reserves of propane for cooking, we would need to provide for heat and warm water in other ways if gas pumping stations were off-line.  Also of interest, our potable water drums are arranged to backfeed into the house's plumbing after the water main is turned off.  We use a 24 volt DC water pump designed for boating (fed by the battery bank) with a built-in pressure sensor that actuates the pump when water pressure falls (from opening a spigot).  

I would welcome any readers' comments on better optimizing our power use and prioritizing our demands during emergencies.   In closing, please get you final preparations ready soon - things are deteriorating faster than you think!   - J.B. in Tennessee

Dear Editor:
That was an excellent article of journaling, but I would like to emphasize the importance of using a notebook made with quality paper. After my father passed away last year at the age of 95, we found his journal that he kept during World War II. He wrote down his thoughts as the plans for the invasion of Japan drew near, as they entered Tokyo Harbor for the surrender, his visits to his Japanese counterparts and their families, the worry about whether they would be attacked as they went ashore, and countless other glimpses into that time. Much of the rest of it concerned his duties as an officer, including details for the ship's crew voting in an election and who was on what watch.

As we opened the notebook and turned the pages, his journal went from a nicely bound notebook to a collection of loose pages as each page cracked at the binding. It was so brittle with age that we can only scan it in order for others to read it. Had he used (or been able to afford) a journal made with quality acid-free paper, this family treasure would have been enjoyed first hand by future generations. I consider my small stack of acid-free journal notebooks to be an important part of my long-term preparedness. I use a fountain pen with archival-quality ink (made by Noodler's Ink) to make sure that whatever I may scribble in my journal, it will survive the effects of time for future generations to perhaps learn something from. - Stephen in Florida

JWR Replies. That is sound advice. My only reservation is that fountain pens can develop mechanical problems and leaks. I recommend simply getting a small supply of Micron pens charged with archival ink.

Nick in Indy mentioned Pastor Ken Blanchard's recent podcast #186 "Christianity and Guns."

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The Prepper Podcast show has some archived discussions of interest to SurvivalBlog readers.

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Kevin S. sent a link to a handy Reference Index for Biblical and Hebrew Terms.

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Five minutes of culture in the City of Brotherly Love: The Opera Company of Philadelphia breaks into "Hallelujah!" at a department store. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

"O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." - 2 Chronicles 20:12 (ESV)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

One little-known technique which can be used to survive tough times, even TEOTWAWKI, is not necessarily an all-important or crucial one; but the optional activity might nevertheless prove to be invaluable to both ourselves and others.   It is also a great distraction from our problems of the day, helps combat boredom, and can serve as a stress management tool.   The technique?  Journaling!  

Journaling is simply the act of writing personal thoughts in a diary.  Although seemingly simplistic, keeping a personal journal is often encouraged by spiritual mentors, health care professionals, and even some employers (truck drivers keep logs of their time on the road).  Online blogging is little more than a diary in electronic form.   Much of our history as we know it today is based on the recorded words of common men.  From the Bible to the Federalist Papers, private and public written words can have a powerful and long-lasting impact. 

One need not be a skilled writer to maintain a journal, for some of our most interesting records of history are found in personal letters.  For example, soldiers throughout history wrote home to their wives and we have learned much through their personal accounts of specific battles, people, and events of their time period.  Undoubtedly, writing (and receiving) letters helped the soldiers maintain hope and relieve stress during discouraging times. Keeping emotions bottled-up for prolonged periods of time can lead to physical problems such as depression and high blood pressure, as well as lead to angry outbursts of irrational behavior which can put survival goals at risk.  Journaling can provide a means of releasing negative emotions which is good for overall psychological and physical health.  During tough times people will need to utilize every available option to cope with their difficult circumstances and journaling can be a part of that coping mechanism.    Recording the peaks and valleys in our lives can also help identify patterns in life which can then be anticipated in future days.  Documenting past failures and successes can help us to remember and learn from our past experiences.   

Knowing we have faced and survived specific difficulties in the past, as recorded in our journal, we can be inspired and empowered to survive them again in the future.    Our personal writings can also serve as an instruction manual for others.  In looking at my own family history, one of my late ancestors often made dandelion soup during a time of hardship.  However, she never documented the recipe so her version of the dish has been lost forever.  In a different time and place, such knowledge could have meant the difference between life and death for another person.   

Journaling also can keep us alive forever, even if only in the memory of another person.  Few would have remembered little girls by the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder or Anne Frank had it not been for their personal writings.  Their names are still remembered by millions as a result of their stories being published.  Oftentimes readers can learn a thing or two from such personal writings which can be applied to our lives today, if not only enable the reader to appreciate the hardships endured by others.    A journal can help provide perspective.  Oftentimes we cannot readily sort through or solve an issue while we are in the midst of it, but better understanding of our situation can come upon later reflection.  In this way, a journal can help us develop of deeper understanding of ourselves and the problems we face.    

Many U.S. Presidents and leaders of foreign countries have written diaries and maintained journals, but their perspectives on life are not typical of the common man.  A diary written by Chairman Mao, for example, would provide a very different view of the Cultural Revolution than a diary written by the average Chinese person who also lived during that time.  Through our own pens we can inform future generations, even if only our children and grand-children, about what we did as well as how and why we did those things.  As a family heirloom of sorts, our journals can be something to be cherished for generations.   

My own family history includes a woman who kept a daily diary for fifty years.  She came to America by ship after selling her home in Germany, but she used all the proceeds of that home sale to purchase a shawl for warmth.  Her journal entries are packed full of similar interesting details which will keep her memory alive forever.  Yet, another family member left home to purchase a loaf of bread for his wife and didn’t return for three years.  Had he kept a journal I might now know what he was thinking, where he went, what he did, and why.  Few appreciate mysteries which can never be solved.  

For a number of reasons journaling can offer many positive benefits and results.  However, as a word of caution, a journal can also be used as evidence against the author in some legal situations.  Be cautious and wise when putting personal thoughts on paper.  Although not a perfect solution, an author could choose to begin a journal by stating it is entirely a work of fiction (even though it is not).  This could help create an aura of reasonable doubt for enemies while keeping the truth within family circles.   

The supplies needed for journaling are a simple as a good supply of ball-point ink pens and notebook paper.  Three-ring and spiral-bound notebooks are acceptable, but a professionally-bound and more durable “blank book” can also be purchased at most book stores today.   

Manual typewriters can be used, but they require maintenance and ribbons of ink.  Electronic blogs can be maintained as well, but archiving them amidst ever-changing technology could pose a bit of a problem.  For example, my father recorded himself using audio tapes while in the jungles of Vietnam and sent them to my mother.  I still have those audiotapes, but the equipment needed to play them hasn’t been commercially available for decades.  Thus, a good piece of family history is essentially lost forever.  All things considered, using simple ink and paper is perhaps the best way to go when keeping a journal.   

A few suggestions to include in your writings are:    What caused us to begin thinking about preparing for tough times?  What event caused you to put your thoughts into action?  How did you prepare?  What were your difficulties and successes in making preparations?  What were your expectations for the future?    What event made it clear it was time to begin using your emergency preparations?  What was life like for you before and after that life-changing event?  Be sure to include before-and-after mentions concerning laws in force, customs, traditions, habits, routines, etc.     What were other people in society doing on a daily basis to survive and cope during the crisis?  Did they also prepare in advance for tough times?  In what ways do we interact with, or avoid contact with, other people?    Future readers will want to know about our most joyous and exciting occasions as well as the most depressing and boring ones.  Give them all the details about how a holiday was celebrated, for example, including clothes worn, decorations used, foods eaten, gifts exchanged, songs sung, etc.   Also include personal struggles and how you resolved them.  These kinds of topics are the common and essential elements which have made the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne Frank so popular.   

Be specific!  Future readers may be very interested in modern-day prices of various goods or the fuel economy of our motor vehicles.  They may be shocked to learn we paid so little (or so much) for gasoline and water.  Also list your total income and monthly expenses or what items were traded with others. We don’t know what the future holds, but they may find it fascinating we wore time pieces on our wrists or powered electrical appliances through a wire plugged into a wall outlet.  There may come a time when SPAM, a popular canned meat product, is no longer available; so describe how it is packaged as well as its appearance and taste.   

Be descriptive, for future generations may not have access to some of the items we commonly use today.  Just as hoop skirts, bonnets, pocket watches, and cuff links have gone out of style; something as common as a pencil or waterproof match could be a strange concept to future generations.  Likewise, future generations may have access to inventions we have not yet even imagined.  Just as affordable wireless cell phones didn’t exist thirty years ago, the devices which are so common today may not exist thirty years from now.  Windows-based computers didn’t become widely popular until 1995, but who can know if the Microsoft company will still be around in 2025?  Common GPS devices were not-so-common only five years ago, but they could be obsolete only five years from now.     

How did we do the things we did, such as repairing shoes or cooking a certain dish?  How did we make bullets for our modern firearms long after bullets could no longer be found on store shelves?  How did we make gunpowder or wine?  How did we manage to enjoy a hot shower every day despite not having electricity or running water in our homes?  Each of these topics could become mysteries unless you provide answers in your journal.  When it comes to details, the reader should be given enough to exactly duplicate your actions to achieve similar results.     Be personal, for our writing will one day be the only means of speaking to our descendents.  What do we want them to learn from us?  What values do we hope they will inherit from us?  Speak to them, for they just might heed our words.  

In conclusion, while making preparations which include food stocks, tools, and the like; include a good supply of ink pens and paper.  Both are things which would be incredibly difficult to make on your own during a time of crisis.  They are most affordable when acquired from retailers during “Back to School” sales.  Not only can journaling be as entertaining as playing cards, but it can serve multiple useful purposes now and in the future.

My family and I signed up to be foster parents in Arizona and went through the initial home review, interview and application.  The social worker made some recommendations about adding a door to our loft.  I did not feel that her walk-through was invasive at all but we never made it to the official state inspection.  We had to enter a lot of data into the State's foster care web site and that bothered me a little.  I have actually thought about logging back in to erase everything.  What we found was that as the economy was changing more and more people were volunteering for foster care as a supplemental income stream and we fell off the radar.  When I called to ask when we could join the next class, they were booked six months out.  Since then we have completely reconsidered this as an option. If things do go significantly wrong there will be plenty of children needing our assistance and care. - Janelle


I would like to first thank Robert for even considering adding to their family by adoption or foster parenting. There are so many children in the U.S. and in foreign countries who would benefit greatly from being part of a loving family! This is not something to be taken lightly, but rather with much prayer and self searching. I read stories about some of these "movie stars" adopting, and so many times it seems like adoption is only a trendy accessory for some of these people. Parenting is tough in the best of times, and in many instances adopted children come with plenty of baggage in tow. I'm not trying to scare anyone off, just be prepared. Our daughter was adopted from a horrible Siberian orphanage. A 4.5 years old she was the size of a one year old, and was not walking nor talking. By God's incredible grace, she is now a senior in high school and doing fantastic! A few days ago she voted in her first election!!

Adoption is intrusive. The degree to which your life will be scrutinized depends on different factors. What are the general rules regarding adoption where you live? What all is the adoption agency looking for in the prospective parents? If it's a foreign adoption you're considering, are there certain requirements from the foreign end of the adoption that need to be met? Our local adoption case worker really looked us over, but when all that was finished and sent up to the people handling the overseas end of things they said most of it was unnecessary!! What I'm getting at that the degree you're put under the microscope can vary very widely from place to place; organization to organization; social worker to social worker. So, what do you do? Check around through local organizations and just get some general information. Do you have any friends, or connections through church, who have adopted? Talk to them and get a feel for what they had to go through and the general attitude of the people you'll have to deal with. I believe Robert's concerns are very valid, and you do not want to entangle yourself with a person or organization who is anti-homeschooling or who has 'issues' with people owning firearms or being self sufficient. Keep in mind: an adoption doesn't entail a one-time visit with a social worker. There will be home visits while the paperwork is being completed and then it will continue periodically for years after the adoption is completed. In our case we finally finished with all that 5 years after returning home with our daughter! For us, the issue of firearms and emergency prepping never came up. Everything was/is out of sight; the social worker didn't ask; and I didn't bring it up. Our children are in a private Christian school, so we've never had the issue of home schooling.

Have I scared everyone off? I truly hope not. As I said before, there are multitudes of children who need the love, support, and discipline of a loving family. You don't have to be a perfect family, just willing to give of yourself and open your hearts and your home to these wonderful children. They need you. Many of them will not have a chance if they stay where they are. Our daughter had never walked before coming home with us. We had her a prosthetic leg built, and three days after getting it she was walking on her own. That is a moment we will never forget. Over the years she's not missed out on a moment of life. She's run cross country, plays basketball, has worn a beautiful dress on the homecoming court, and walked down the aisle to give her heart to Jesus. We've faced a lot of challenges over the years, but we faced them together as a family. Love, God's love, has truly conquered all. - J.B.


Hi Jim,
We fostered, and adopted both our boys many years ago in Missouri.  Division of Family Services for the most part is very thorough with their inspections, particularly in the home.  They will know a lot about you when you are done.  Just keep your mouth closed on what you don't want them to know about.  I have been a prepper since way back, and a competitive shooter with a large gun collection.  All guns must be kept in a safe (or locked gun box).  They never looked in my shop (where my reloading supplies, etc are located, and never questioned us about our food).  I do not see an issue with the food.  If questioned I would say; "I took the government's advice on being prepared, I see it as my civic duty".  Or if you're LDS so much the better.  Homeland security has sent out plenty of info since Katrina about being prepared, so the 'civic duty' should fly.  They are pretty intrusive, probably much more than the typical prepper would want, but the focus is on child safety, and providing a nurturing environment for the child.  Since they live in a small rural area, I do not see an issue.  Now a social worker from the big city could be an entirely different scenario. With some common sense (about what is laying around the house, as far as books, magazines, etc), how you dress, how you speak, what you discuss, and have a positive attitude and a smile, it should not be a problem. They might be questioned about home schooling, but if they provide a balanced approved curriculum (and bite their tongue when it comes to government bashing), it might be approved.  They need to check with Ohio regulations and make sure that foster kids can be home schooled.  Transportation to school (if not home schooled), doctor's appointments, counseling, visits to DFS are also an issue, and they should have a plan for that.  Some foster records are "Public Record" so if you want to stay under the radar (which is probably impossible these days), it's not for you.  Of course if you pass the inspection for DFS, you definitely won't be on the 'possible enemy list' from the government, as you have already been inspected up close.   Wish there were more people like them! - Mike


I have a lot of experience dealing with social workers in the foster care and adoption systems.  I'm the mother of four adopted children, all now grown, who all started off as my foster children.  I also am raising some grandchildren (belonging to my bum daughter).  They are legally my foster kids.  I'm adopting them as well - it'll be final next week.  

Weapons:  First off, I live in California which is not really a gun friendly state.  I had to list weapons on the paperwork but I only listed the ones that the state knows that I own.  In this state, when you buy a gun you have to fill out a bunch of paperwork so they already have all that info.  I do have a handgun that was given to me by a friend.  This one is not in the foster care paperwork inventory.  I also bought a handgun since the initial paperwork.  That one isn't listed because they never asked me to update the paperwork.  I'd only document what the state already knows about.  I wouldn't not list any if I did have some, even if the state didn't have the records because one of the kids will say something about guns.   My older children, now in their late 20s and early 30s, were allowed to shoot weapons while still foster children.  There isn't any law now that says they can't, it all depends on the attitude of the individual social worker. The main worker the kids have now is what I would call a pie in the sky person who thinks if we all walk around with a smile on our face then there would be no conflict or danger.  She sees no need for weapons.  I told her that I needed some because we live on a farm. Saying you like to hunt or target shoot works.  During the initial house inspection and the once a year inspection I locked a closet and told her they were in the locked closet and each individual gun was locked.  She didn't want to see and didn't ask me to unlock the closet because she was afraid of the guns.  Oops, did I forget to mention the handgun next to my bed or the handgun in the garage?  The social worker does not open drawers and really would be happy if every closet and drawer was locked.     Needless to say, with her attitude the children are not allowed to shoot.  I did buy airsoft guns and a daisy bb gun for them to use.  We just haven't mentioned this to the social worker.  After all, they aren't weapons.  The eight year old told the social worker last week that he can't wait to get adopted so he can shoot guns.  I just smiled.    We did have a second social worker who was responsible for the final paperwork.  She read through the papers and saw that I noted we owned weapons.  She didn't ask to see where they were located.  She asked if I "packed".  I liked her.  

Food: You are required to have food in the house.  They want to know where you keep it.  But really they want to know that you have a cabinet of food in the kitchen and not a bare refrigerator.  Some of our food is in the pantry, some in the garage, and some in a hidden space closet, and we have a large garden.  Since I can, the social worker saw the home canned foods.  She was impressed by our "quaintness".  I also told her that I like stocking up on sales from the store and that I save up food all year and give to the food pantry a couple times per year.  I do, but not in those quantities.  Again, a little white lie, but no harm.  I don't explain to the kids why we have so much food on hand, they just know it's there.  I do tell them that I don't like to go shopping and I don't like to run out of food.  That is true.    Supplies: This is one that the social worker sort of overlooked when doing the inspection of the house and garage (and she never really looked at the barns).  I'd have more trouble with this if the kids were younger.  After all, you are supposed to lock up all your cleaning items, medications, and anything harmful.  This doesn't make sense having to padlock cabinets when the kids are required to use the cleanser and other cleaners as part of their chores.  But that's what the social workers are looking for - padlocked cabinets and locked closets.  They don't go into each cabinet to see what's in them; they just want to see the locks.   

Shelter: This is a big issue.  The rules in our state are that you can only have two people per bedroom and each bedroom has to have a regular door and a closet.  You are not allowed to have adult guests spend the night when you have kids in foster care.  You couldn't have more than two kids per room, even if it's cousins or school friends spending the night for a slumber party.  I tell the kids that if they tell the social worker that people spend the night that their friends will never be allowed to spend the night again.  Ever.  We lied about this all the time.  We still do.   Fortunately at Thanksgiving this year when we stuff 20+ people into the house we won't have to tell the social worker that they all are at hotels.   

Survivalist Attitude:  You do not discuss this attitude with the social worker!  Just sympathize with them about how budget cuts have overwhelmed them.  I don't ever talk personal thoughts or feelings.  They don't know my political choices.  They don't know if I'm pro or con anything.  Talk around the dinner table stays the same, always age appropriate.  You are teaching the kids to be self sufficient whether they are with you or are on their own.   

Medical: The kids will have required doctor and dentist appointments that you have to keep and they seem to be assigned to worst of the worst for medical professionals.  Those professionals write the strangest things down in their notes.  For example, the kids needed their yearly checkup right before school.  They play in the woodpile and always get little no-seeum bites.  I told that to the doctor who insisted it was bedbugs and that I needed to provide better mattresses.  Whatever...  They also want a list of medications that are in your household.  That's none of their business. I always write down aspirin, tylenol, advil, and benedril.  They seem happy with that.  I show them that in a "locked" cabinet in the bathroom.   

Social Worker Visits: In California the social worker has to see the kids monthly.  They don't always have the same person seeing them each month.  Because of this, the person who sees them may have no idea about their background or even anything about you.  They don't have time to go through the files to find out about you.  Those files are just that, files.  Social workers are also so overworked that they won't really remember everything that they've seen in your house that relates to prepping.  But the kids will reveal your secrets.  They always do, because the social workers seem to ask leading questions.    We have a gate at the end of the driveway.  There are no surprise visits. When the social worker does come it's planned and I can prepare.  Have a neat house, don't yell at the kids, and don't show up to the door with a beer in your hand or on your breath.  Last time the worker came it was a substitute who didn't know anything about us.  It was a nice afternoon so we sat out on the porch.  She never did go inside.  You really can not trust the social workers, especially those who work for the government.  Private social workers are a bit better but you can not confide your survivalist thoughts with them.    Sincerely, Leah

I too am a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber and would like to give my $0.02 worth:

Having had a small brush with the inappropriately named Child Protective Services (CPS) I have a few insights that may help. First a little background, a family we slightly knew from church were having issues. One night when their home devolved into a fist fight between the parents the police were called and the children were going to be taken into CPS custody. The case worker asked if there were any family nearby where the children (Boy 13, girl 9) could go, there wasn't, but we know this nice family from church (My family) They decided that our family was better than the "home". That started a three month odyssey that has changed my family forever.

A couple days after the children arrived we were visited by a CPS worker that started to dictate to us how things would be. First off they wanted to have a full background check and fingerprinting of both my wife and I, then they conducted a private interview with each of my children and a check of their school records. It was a nightmare from the beginning. We agreed to this for the sake of "the children" whom we didn't even know that well. Then there was the "Inspections" (note that was in the plural)...and it just got worse.

On the initial inspection we were given a list of things that were to make our home "Child Safe". We were given a list of things we could not have on our premises unless they were locked in a "State approved" gun safe. And that safe had to be bolted in place. • Fire arms of any kind • Ammunition of any kind • Reloading supplies including primers, cases, powder, or projectiles • Knives (They had to be controlled including kitchen knives, although we could have them for cooking, but not at the table) Since we didn't own a large gun safe we had to take all of those provisions to a friends house for safe keeping.

The inspections continued: All chemicals had to be locked up or housed above the reach of the children (Although the boy was 5'9" they said above the frig would be OK). Any thing that might be an issue was addressed. I was amazed! We had lived as a family for more than 15 years and I didn't realize how dangerous my house was, it's a miracle that we were still alive.

When the inspector saw our larder, there was a huge Q&A about why we had so much food and stuff. Needless to say we had a long chat about why we thought the world was coming to an end. Take every conversation you've ever had justifying your prep life with those who think you are nuts and multiply it by 100! Now the fact that I run a business that sells these kind of materials put us in a whole new universe!

CPS Worker: "So you think that the world is going end?" Me: "No, we don't think it's going to end, we just like to be prepared"

"Prepared for what? "Natural and man made disasters"

"By man made you mean, you think some one is out to get you?" "No, I mean terrorist event or civil unrest?"

"Have you always felt this way?" "What way?"

" paranoid" "You know we live in earthquake territory, don't you?"

"You think we're going to have a huge earthquake and you'll have to survive on your own? "Uh, it's not me it's the USGS!"

"Okay well why do you need so much food? "Well my Church leaders have counseled us to have a food storage"

"So your religion is expecting the end of the world?" "Okay, unless your going to throw the children in the street, I'm done with this line of questions"

Each month when the CPS worker came to inspect, she would question each of the children (mine included) if they had observed any thing that bothered them or made them feel, angry, sad, hurt, afraid, scared, embarrassed. With each "confession" my wife and I would be questioned as to why this or that happened and how we might better handle the situation. The "Foster kids" quickly learned that they could do anything they wanted and feign being effected negatively and we would get a tongue lashing from the CPS worker.

Then there was the endless appointments....Court, doctors (not ours or convenient to our location), therapists, councilors, visitations with parents, and after most of them came the distraught child, that we had to deal with, and all the while being unable to deal with the problems as we saw fit.

That lasted for three months, we discovered that the boy was taking his aggression out on my children. With all the c**p, hassle and abuse of our children, we said enough! That was six years ago....I'm a lot smarter now. More aware of my, my responsibilities and my rights.  give up my

My first duty is to my family, not others children. I shouldn't have to give up my rights to help others.

I would never take in a ward of the State again.....Because you then become a ward of the State.

Frustrating, invasive and futile. - K. in California


This is in reference to the posting “Re: Preppers as Foster Parents.” We adopted two newborns here in Georgia. The process was very difficult, and very intrusive. It took me forty hours to do all of the paperwork to the state’s satisfaction. That did not include all of the meetings, interviews and home inspection. Or the monthly follow-up visits. A couple years ago we considered adopting an older sibling group. We went to an informational meeting about the foster-to-adoption process, and were alarmed by the amount of state intrusion. Nothing would be a secret to the state. Nothing. Let me repeat that: nothing. We may as well have said, “Here are the keys to our house. Just make yourself at home --and post a chore chart for me, please.”

A foster child is not your child--he or she is the state’s (until final adoption), and they make that quite clear. We had gone through that process with our newborns, but that wasn't with children who could say anything to the snoops. Going through a good Christian agency, instead of directly through the state, makes it a little easier. They can help guide you through the process, and try to make it as painless as possible. Most people, when told of the flaming hoops that must be jumped through, say, “It’s good the state is protecting the children that way.” I then ask them if they went through that scrutiny when they had their children (biologically). They look at me like I’m crazy (I’m not advocating that. It’s just fun to see people’s expression when I suggest that perhaps they should have been thoroughly investigated before being allowed to take their baby home).

Many people believe the state has a disincentive to foster or adopt children out of the system, since they get money for each child in the system. Perhaps that’s true, but what I do know is that the state works very hard at not getting children into loving homes. I saw a statistic that said something like: if just one family out of every five hundred would adopt a foster child, the foster system would be completely emptied. Fostering/adoption is not for the feint-of-heart, on many levels, but if you’re up to it, please do it. Just be aware that, at least until final adoption, you’ll have to be careful.

It isn’t impossible. We did it. Jim, your beloved late wife The Memsahib fostered in her own way--by supporting the Anchor of Hope Charities. - Dean

Frequent content contributor F.G. sent us a priceless OK Go music video clip demonstrating effective camouflage. The Ghillie suit band members start to join in at 51 seconds into the video.

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Yorie sent this: Meet the Israeli Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle - AvantGuard

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Alan sent me a link to a Dmitry Orlov lecture at UC Berkeley.

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Steve K. liked this video: Why Can't Chuck Get His Business Off the Ground?

"The Great Depression was caused by Federal Reserve expansion of the money supply in the 1920s that led to an unsustainable credit-driven boom. When the Federal Reserve belatedly tightened in 1928, it was too late to avoid financial collapse. According to Murray Rothbard, in his book America's Great Depression, the artificial interference in the economy was a disaster prior to the depression, and government efforts to prop up the economy after the crash of 1929 only made things worse. Government intervention delayed the market's adjustment and made the road to complete recovery more difficult. The parallels with today are uncanny." - James Quinn

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

I have watched with some concern as the survival seed business has exploded these past few years. Advertisements abound for survival garden seed buckets that cost upwards of $100 and promise a years supply of food for a family. Since most Americans have never grown more than a few tomato plants they are unaware that many of these claims are overblown. Anyone who has tried to produce most of their own food will tell you that things never go perfectly. There is always some blight, freak weather, or insect invasion that knocks out at least one of your main crops. And in a survival situation that could be deadly.

Choosing your survival seeds is just as important as researching what guns to buy or stocking your year’s supply of food. It requires even more thought because there are so many variables that effect your choices. That’s why I caution people to really take some time and consider what they need before buying a survival seed package. This could be the difference between survival and starvation for your family so don’t just go out and buy the easy thing. I have been doing large-scale gardening and food preservation for over 13 years now so I have had lots of experience with different mail order catalogs as well as store bought seeds. I have tried both hybrid and heirlooms and now own a small business selling heirloom and standard seeds.

First lets look at some of the problems with survival seed setups:

Not designed for your particular climate: While studying various survival seed packages I noticed that at least 25% of all the seed were not varieties that would do well in our area. So that means 25% less food than advertised. This is not inherently the companies’ fault. America is a big place so designing a package that would cater to everyone’s needs is impossible. Still that will be cold comfort if you are living off what you can produce on your land.

Not designed for personal tastes: Many of the vegetables were not things my family will eat, although when starving who knows. And some I have never tried to grow. Experimentation is not good in a life or death situation so I am wary of trying something new when my life depends on it.

Not designed for crops that store well: Remember that if you are actually using these seeds you are probably living in a very different world. The main seeds that will be useful are seeds producing foods for long winter storage such as beans, corn, root vegetables, and winter squash. These are easy to plant, grow, harvest, and preserve for future use. All of which are very important considerations. You do not want seeds that require specialized tools to plant or harvest and that take lots of equipment to preserve for eating later.

So yes, you may be getting lots of seeds in your survival seed bucket but will it really be enough to feed your family? Wouldn’t it be better (and probably cheaper) to choose seeds you know you will use and also will provide large harvests of long storable food? Here are considerations to ponder when choosing seeds for survival.

What you should look for

The number one consideration in choosing seeds is this. You must realize that the world will be a very different place if you have to use your seeds. You will be facing hunger and perhaps starvation for the first time. You will be doing most of the work by hand and may have to cut up and remove the sod from your yard. This is all very hard work and takes weeks to do. Every square inch of your property should be turned to some kind of food production. The more you tailor your seeds to ease of planting, care, and harvest the better off your will be. Remember that your goal is surviving, not producing the biggest tomato. The magic words to look for on any variety are- Drought resistant, prolific harvests, heavy bearer, disease resistant, early maturity, excellent winter storage, good keeper.

Quality of the seeds: Absolutely essential! If your seeds come from a shoddy operation they will have a poor germination rate and that will translate into less food. I have bought seeds from Gurneys that germinated after 7 years and produced strong plants and abundant food. While a notable heirloom Seed Company shipped me seeds in clear plastic packages (major no!) and I had very poor germination rates. Try to avoid seeds from stores as these have been sitting in the bright lights and fluctuating temperatures that cut down on germinations rates.

Ease of planting, harvest, and processing: If you have no experience gardening you want plants that require little effort to thrive. You also want something that is easy to harvest and process for storing and also something that produces a large harvest and tons of calories.

The Five Main Crops to Stock Up On

Beans and Peas: Both string and shelling kind are easy to plant, grow like the dickens, produce a lot of food and can be left on the plant to dry for shelling. They produce high protein, high calorie food. Baked beans anyone?

Corn: Easy to plant, harvest, and process for cornmeal which will be your main grain. You can dry the cobs on the plant or hang them in the house and even a child of five can help with planting and harvest. It is a high quality food staple that has a multitude of uses. Look for varieties used for cornmeal. Another bonus is the fact that every part of the plant is edible to cows, horses, pigs, and goats. Research the safe way to feed this crop to your animals.

Root Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips, beets, etc. These are all high quality foods that are easy to plant care for and store over winter. You can keep them in a basement or even a garbage can for most of the winter. Look for varieties known for long storage.

Winter Squash: Excellent for long storage, high in nutrition and vitamins and a very easy care plant. There are literally hundreds of varieties out there so look for those renowned for storage and taste. Always check to see if they will do well in your area, especially in the north.

Tomatoes: Produces tons of fruits and is easy to grow. There are hundreds of varieties so check for those that are noted producers of large harvests and are drought tolerant and that will do well in your area. If you have not stockpiled jars and lids you can still dry them for winter use.

Note that the beans, corn, and squash form the “Three Sisters” of the Native American food crops. They create an almost perfect food when combined. All of the above plants produce high yields of food that is very easy to store and harvest. Remember that you will be relying on the food you grown from fall until spring so the longer it will store the better. Lettuce is great and has its place but it stores for about 3 days un-refrigerated and won't grow in freezing winter conditions.  What are you going to do for food when the garden freezes?

Heirloom vs. Hybrid

I am about to make some peoples' heads explode but I have to say that heirlooms are not all they are cracked up to be. Yes they are open pollinated, yes in some cases they produce better tasting food, but does that mean they are a better choice in a survival situation? I hear advertisement after advertisement crowing about open pollinated seeds like they are some kind of super seed. Most people who know anything about seed propagation can tell you this is way overblown. Here’s the truth about heirloom seeds vs. hybrid.

1. Almost all heirlooms are actually “hybrids”: Ahhrrggghhh! Someone’s head just exploded! Okay take a deep breath and read on. Crossing two varieties of a plant to get a certain type of fruit or veggie created almost all of our “heirlooms”. This is done all the time in nature by cross pollination or intentionally by farmers. Lets look at how most fruit or vegetables are created. First the plant puts out a flower with it genetic material in the pollen. Mr. Bee comes along and sips some nectar from your slicing cucumber and gets the pollen on his legs. Then he goes to the next cucumber plant, which is a pickling variety and sips some nectar there. When he does that he fertilized that flower with the genetic material from the slicing cucumber plant. A cucumber is formed from that union and if you let it go past ripeness and harvest the seeds from that cucumber what will you get? A “hybrid” between the two varieties! The seeds formed in that cucumber has both the genetic material from a slicing and the pickling varieties.

That’s right a “hybrid” is just a cross between two different varieties. This happens naturally in the wild all the time. Farmers have been doing this for thousands of years to increase yields, produce a certain trait in a fruit, or promote resistance to disease. Lets say a farmer loves the flavor from one tomato but wants it to be bigger. So the farmer cross pollinates it from a large tomato variety and then harvests the resulting seeds. Next year he plants those seeds and chooses the plants that produce both larger fruit and fruit that tastes better for future seed saving. To get a pure seed that will grow true to the parent plant you would have to put little bags over the flowers to prevent fertilization from outside sources and then hand fertilize the flower with a paint brush. Or only grow one variety of that plant on your land and hope that Mr. Bee has not been visiting any other gardens.

Many seeds you see in the store or in the non-heirloom catalogs are actually heirlooms: That’s right you will find some of the same varieties in the heirloom catalogs. Varieties like Connecticut field pumpkins, Little Marvel sweet peas, Black Beauty eggplant. The list is quite long. Why are these heirlooms in standard seed catalogs? Well they are just varieties that have proven over the test of time to be excellent and so it are still popular.

3. Hybrids require more water and fertilizer: When you selectively breed for higher yields and bigger or sweeter fruit it naturally causes the plant to use more nutrients and water. After all the more fruit a plant produces increases its need for water and nutrients. This is true in any plant, hybrid or heirloom. An heirloom that is a known producer for high yields will need more nutrients than one that does not. It is just that hybrids generally produce even more than the best producing heirloom thus needing more nutrients and water. In a survival situation you may need that extra food to survive so think seriously of using hybrids for the first few years.

4. Hybrids are weaker: When you push for one trait in a plant or animal you often loose from another. So while you many get huge yields, that demand takes away from aspects of the plant. Many varieties of veggies are bred for disease resistance. Do not confuse this with Genetically Modified Plants. Those are plants that actually have pesticides in their genetic makeup through mad scientist tinkering. And these freaks of nature should be banned!

Hybrids that are disease resistant are just those that have been chosen from plants that showed a superior resistance to certain blight. (This would be like me going out to my corn and finding all my plants infected with blight except one. I would be wise to harvest the seeds from that one plant and use them to plant next years corn patch) this is a very useful trait in a survival situation because while other people may loose an entire crop from some fungus (we had this happen) your plants will still be thriving. The food from these plants may not taste as good as the heirlooms you could have grown but at least you have food.

5. Hybrids will not breed true: This is absolutely right! Hybrids will spit out a variety that is different from the one you got the seed out of. But then again unless you are careful and knowledgeable about your seed propagation, many of the seeds that you will be saving from your heirloom seeds will be natural hybrids from cross-pollination.

6. Heirlooms taste better: Absolutely. I love my heirloom tomatoes, melons, and winter squash. I know I’ve been a little hard on the heirlooms thus far, but it’s mainly because of all the smug comments that are bandied about willy-nilly regarding the superiority of heirlooms. I believe both have their place in our survival seeds preps.

7. Heirlooms breed true: This is only if you know a lot about seed production and know how to keep your plant from being cross pollinated with a different variety. Most people do not have this knowledge. However there are many types of plants that are “self pollinators” meaning they create seeds without outside pollination. These would be good selections for the survival seeds. These include peas, beans, lettuces, and tomatoes. So don’t loose hope!

The Two Pronged Survival Seed Plan

So are heirlooms better than hybrids? I guess it all depends on what you’re using them for. I suggest a two pronged approach for survival seed storage that I think will increase the odds for most newbies to succeed at producing better harvests and thus better chances of surviving the first critical years after a total collapse.

Why hybrids for the first two years?

Hybrids have noted traits that will be valuable in a survival situation. So you may not be able to get true seeds from the parent plants but as seeds are relatively cheap - 35 cents to $1.99 per packet - stocking two years worth is not that big of an investment. Here is a list of qualities that make hybrids a good choice.

Early Harvest - this means you will get your peas, lettuce, melons, or corn sooner than anyone else. Also consider that you may have people stealing your crops so getting them to harvest faster may help you because thieves will be expecting the harvesting to not start for weeks.

Disease Resistant - many varieties are noted for disease resistance. This is very important because you could loose your entire tomato crop to one blight. One year our area was affected by tomato blight and only those people with resistant varieties had tomatoes.

Drought Tolerant - You may not have running water anymore
and be relying on rain or on hauled water so the less you need the better

High Yields - This is a sword that cuts both ways. The more the plant produces the better for your family, but it will also mean more water and nutrients demanded. If you live in a drought prone area or an area that you must always irrigate I would go more to the drought tolerant plants. But if you have adequate water go for the high yields. Also take into consideration loss due to theft and animal and insect damage.

All of these are very important if you are really relying on your garden to survive.

For the First Two Years After a Total Collapse

Buy enough seeds for two years worth of planting in Hybrids or Notably High Producing Heirlooms.  You will be new to this and as a newbie many of your ventures will not pan out the way the book says. Gardening takes practice! Also you may be using soil that is of poor quality, is from just broken sod, or has little nutrients. The more you stack the deck in your favor the more likely you are to get a decent harvest. Get seeds for plants that mature early, have high crop yields, and are disease resistant and drought tolerant. Remember that you may experience crop loss or destruction from those searching for food. The more you can produce with quicker harvest times the better.

Make sure your seeds are suited towards your climate. Call your local extension office and they can give you a list of varieties that are known to do well in your area.

Buy seeds in paper packets not plastic bags. The more light the seed is exposed to the more likely it is to not germinate or be weak.

Get seeds that produce food that is good for storage and easy to grow. Concentrate on the Three Sisters (Beans, Corn, Squash) and round out with lots of root vegetables. Then add extras that will make the diet more varied. Look especially for varieties that can be grown into late fall like cabbage, leeks, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuces, beets, carrots, turnips etc. There are some fall crops that can be grown under cover deep into winter. Try to get more than one variety of the same group so that if one gets knocked out from disease the other might escape. Sow several different winter squash varieties. That way you aren’t in a fix if one variety ends up tanking in your area.

As always make sure the varieties are suited to your climate! Many long season crops will not mature in time for early fall frosts, but almost all have varieties that have been developed for short season areas.

After Two Years:

If things are still bad after two years its time to shift to all heirloom varieties. You will now have enough experience under your belt to start seed saving. Take into consideration all of the above and apply it to your heirloom seed purchases. Get twice as much as you’ll think you’ll need and get even more corn because you will be using it for flour, meal, whole, and for animal feed. Also buy enough been and pea seed to plant large plots. A half-acre of beans could supply a family all winter. Dried beans are an excellent winter food in soups and for baked beans. The left over vines can be cured and used as winter fodder for pigs, goats, horses, cows, rabbits, and sheep.

Animal Feed

If you are raising all your own produce chances are your going to really want some farm animals for milk, eggs, and meat. But how do you feed those bottomless pits without commercial feed stores? Planning ahead for growing animal feed is a good idea. Some seed varieties for high quality animal feed that is easy to grow is:

Sunflowers: Every part of the plant is edible to pigs, horses, goats, and cows. Rabbits love the leaves and chickens love the seed heads. Some farmers in poor areas grow this in place of grain for animal feed.

Pumpkins: This has been used for years as winter animal fodder. It’s high in protein, easy to grow/harvest/store and most animals seem to love it. Especially goats, pigs, and cows.

Mangle Beets: Good pig fodder

Corn: Excellent grain for fattening animals. Can be cracked for all animals and fed as grain ration or to fatten for butcher. The stalks can be fed to horses, cattle, pigs, and goats but care must be taken to prevent mold.

Potatoes: Easy to grow/store and high in nutrition but must be cooked before feeding to animals

Peas: Most animals will eat the vines as well as the pods. Think about planting a late fall field and turning pig out in it all winter. Do not use the cut flower variety, as these are poisonous!

Turnips: Good pig feed

Carrots: Most animals love them

How to store seeds

Your seeds should always be in a cool/dark/dry place. Also a big consideration is temperature variations. The more the temps fluctuate the more your seeds loose viability. A basement works best because it stays cool and dark and the temperature stays steady. The freezer is not a good choice because of temperature/humidity fluctuations and the chance of a power outage that causes water to get into the seed packets.

Heat sealing your seeds in the original packages would be a good idea so that you have the planting instructions and varieties readily available. [JWR Adds: Seeds are living things, so they need some oxygen. It is fine to heat seal their bags, but do not vacuum seal them.] Seeds won't do you much good if you plant them incorrectly. Then putting them in some sort of air tight and waterproof container with a few oxygen and moisture absorbers would be smart. Putting the packages in an unused paint can would ensure no water would be able to get in them and new paint cans can be picked up relatively cheaply at auto paint supply stores. Paint cans are tough and sealable but also open easy enough with a flat head screwdriver.

Books that are helpful for seed saving knowledge and basic gardening:

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon: This is absolutely essential; it specifically focuses on survival gardening and seed saving.

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew: Very good on intensive gardening but remember that the more intensive you get the higher the water and nutrient needs there will be.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery: This book has sections on every type of garden crop production as well as how to preserve it, save seed from it, and cook it.

Recommended Seeds Companies

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - Good selection of tomatoes, winter squash, and heirloom corn. These are quality seeds and are shipped quickly. I’ve been using them for years and have always had excellent germination and good harvests. Great customer service and a free illustrated catalog.

Gurneys - Very good quality seeds with some heirloom varieties

American Seed Company - I found out through research that the brand name seeds are sold in the cheaper packs just like brand name cereals are the same as the generics. Your paying for the label. If you have a business you can order seed packages at cost with no shipping charges (as long as you order a kiosk). I was able to order over 1,500 packages for $180. That worked out to 12 cents per pack. I have been using these seeds for years and have always had great germination, vigorous plants, and good yields.

Your survival seed plan is something to really think about. This pre-planning may save your families life and should not be taken lightly. Do your research and when in doubt buy more than you’ll think you’ll need.

Dear Mr. Rawles:  
Thank you for your dedication to the survivalist movement.  As a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber, I appreciate being able to read many of the posts and comments on your web site.  I am hoping to pose a question to you and your readers about becoming foster parents as survivalists.   

First, I little about us:We live in a small suburban community in Ohio.  Because of several issues, we have decided to retreat in place.  With a little land, we have created a suburban homestead with a large garden and a small chicken flock.  We have also begun laying up food staples and have a good source for water and the ability to filter it.  We will soon be converting the house to heat with a wood burner.  Also, we have an ever growing supply of firearms (handguns and long guns) for hunting and self defense.  We are also blessed to be able to home school our two grade school children and are trying to instill our Christian beliefs in their lives.   My wife and I have always considered expanding our family by adopting or being foster parents.  In light of the potential for hard times around the corner, we feel that this may truly be a way to reach out to a child and offer support where there may not be other options.   

That being said, keeping OPSEC in mind, I am concerned about inviting the social services network into our home for the inspections to which we would be subjected.  Primary issues are:  Firearms (in a locked safe), food storage, and home schooling. Whether we are or are not approved as a foster home, I feel as though we would be "on record" - which of course concerns me.  While some of the items could be concealed or temporarily moved, I am sure that what we are doing would be noticed and documented.  

I am sure that you have a least a few readers who have adopted or are currently foster parents, maybe some in Ohio, who could give us some advice in relation to these questions.  Thanks - Robert in Ohio          

JWR Replies: By God's grace, I've never had any run-ins with snooping officials. Part of this may simply be because I live in such a remote area, and I lead a very quiet life, locally. Because of this, I don't feel qualified to comment on that topic. Perhaps some readers can e-mail me to comment on their experiences, and I'll post their comments, anonymously.

G.G. forwarded this link: The rest of the world goes West when America prints more money. Here is a key quote: "This crazy money-printing is going to be seen as the primary cause of Western inflation, food riots and a commodity price spike."

Reader J.B.G. sent this: Is Soros Betting on U.S. Financial Collapse?

Also from J.B.G.: Two Million People About to Be Denied Unemployment Benefits

Frequent content contributor B.B. sent this: Chinese Credit Rater Downgrades U.S.

Jon in New York flagged this: Centro, facing money problems, plans to combine, eliminate routes north and west of Syracuse. Jon noted: "Comments following the story can be very enlightening about how ignorant people truly are about how such services are funded and just how few people actually use those services."

Items from The Economatrix:

Coming Inflation To Not Only Make Dollar Worth Less, But Worthless!

Packagers and Supermarkets Pressured to Pass Along Rising Costs

Credit Suisse:  QE2 Just Made China's Inflation Threat Much, Much Worse

The Price of Oil is Going Up, The Price of Food is Going Up, and Now Here Comes Quantitative Easing

Le emperor sans culottes: Texas Governor Rick Perry correctly opined "...Social Security is bankrupt and is a Ponzi scheme, and if you've got a young 20-something-year-old, they know for a fact that they're not ever going to see that."

   o o o

Joshua S. pointed us to a good reason why you should be prepared everywhere you go -- even on vacation: Hungry Ship Passengers Told to Eat Tic-Tacs

   o o o

Yet another member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns is facing criminal charges, this one for wife beating: Mayor's wife takes stand to accuse Bradley of domestic abuse. Has anyone analyzed the felony conviction rate of their member roster of this "crime fighting" organization. Talk about a Rogue's Gallery...

"Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty." - President John Adams, June 21, 1776

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On November 11th of each year we honor to our nation's military veterans. We sincerely thank you for your sacrifices. And for the families of those who made the supreme sacrifice, you are in our prayers.


Today we present a guest article as well as another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I reviewed the available information regarding expiration dates of specific medications, primarily antibiotics and antiviral drugs, as tested in the FDA’s Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP).  Although antimicrobial medications are important, what about other common drugs used on a daily basis?  If you or someone you know suffers from diabetes, chronic pain, arthritis, asthma, hypertension, heart disease, or other serious condition, will medications be safe and effective beyond their expiration dates? 

The following is excerpted from my upcoming book, Armageddon Medicine:

Published data has documented the safety of many medications beyond their expirations dates.  The Medical Letter (Vol. 44, Issue 1142, October 28, 2002) states: “84% of 1,122 lots of 96 different drug products stored in military facilities in their unopened original containers would be expected to remain stable for an average of 57 months after their original expiration date.” However, the products tested were primarily antibiotics and other drugs used for emergency purposes. 

What information is available regarding common medications for other acute conditions, or chronic conditions?   Only scattered reports are available.  Per the same issue of The Medical Letter, captopril and TheoDur tablets remained chemically and physically stable for 1.5-to-9 years beyond their expiration dates; amantadine and rimantidine remained stable after storage for 25 years; another theophylline preparation retained 90% potency for about 30 years.  The Medical Letter concludes, “Many drugs stored under reasonable conditions retain 90% of their potency for at least 5 years after the expiration date on the label, and sometimes much longer.”  They also mention that there has only been one reported case of dangerous degradation of expired medication, and that was of a type of tetracycline product that is no longer in human use. [JWR Adds: As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, the issue with tetracycline tablets of that vintage was a degradation of the tablet binder, and that binder is no longer in use.] (I do not know if veterinary antibiotics might use the old preparation, however.)  Overall then, the concern is not regarding safety, but rather effectiveness. 

Additional concerns exist regarding liquid preparations, which may be much less stable, and degrade more quickly if frozen or heated.  The Medical Letter advises that “Drugs in solution, particularly injectables, that have become cloudy or discolored or show signs of precipitation should not be used.”  For oral liquid medications, color changes may be related to the dyes rather than the active drugs, however.  Epinephrine in EpiPens was noted to contain less than 90% potency at 10 months after the expiration date.  A significant problem with eye drops is microbial contamination once the preservative becomes ineffective. In short, medications for chronic illnesses have not been tested. 

Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to extrapolate from the known data on drugs that were included in the Shelf Life Extension Program, and conclude that most tablets and capsules would be both safe and effective for several years past their expiration date, when stored in the original packaging at the recommended temperatures. 

However, there are a few additional questions that deserve attention:  extended-release medications, generics, and drugs which require blood testing.    Of the medications tested in the SLEP program, few if any were of the extended-release variety.  Because Americans like the convenience of once-daily dosing, many drugs have been developed with delayed-release technology.  This includes any medicine with the following in the name: XR or XL (extended release), SR (sustained or slow release), CR (controlled release), “slo,” “dur,” or “contin”.  The methods by which the medications are slowly released in the stomach or intestine may not be as stable as the active drug itself, and have the potential to be effected by extremes of temperature or humidity.  The release may be via a semi-permeable membrane of the entire tablet, or on each individual granule within a capsule, or by a layered tablet designed to dissolve at different pH (acidity) levels.  Under adverse conditions, the active drug may be released more quickly or more slowly than intended, yielding unpredictable clinical results.  For example, an extended-release blood pressure medication that enters the blood stream too quickly may lower your blood pressure too much or too rapidly.  If released too slowly, it may not reduce your blood pressure adequately or at all.  The dose of medication in a delayed release narcotic may be lethal if absorbed all at once. 

Although I could find no specific data regarding stability of delayed-release or extended-release medications, I question whether they would be as stable or reliably absorbed as the regular versions of the drugs.  Having your doctor change your medication now to a non-delayed-release preparation is a consideration.  Of course, these rapid-release medications often must be taken more than once a day.  Examples include Toprol XL, Wellbutrin SR and XL, Biaxin XL, Diltiazem SR and XL, Xanax XR, Effexor XR, and many others.  Fortunately, the older, immediate-release versions are usually less expensive.

Another question is the stability of generic versus name brand drugs.  Although I expect brand-name drugs would exhibit greater stability, cost is significantly more for most (but not all) preparations.  Also, brand-name drugs are allowed a 5% leeway in bioavailability, whereas generic drugs are permitted 20%.  That said, according to the FDA’s web site, recent studies showed “The average difference in absorption into the body between the generic and the brand name was only 3.5 percent [Davit et al. Comparing generic and innovator drugs: a review of 12 years of bioequivalence data from the United States Food and Drug Administration. Ann Pharmacother. 2009;43(10):1583-97].”

Whereas I believe the quality of most generic medications is excellent, I have, however, encountered some generic drugs that are difficult to swallow, or crumble easily, or stick together, or become discolored.  Some of my patients swear by one generic and claim another is ineffective.  If possible, investigate the country of origin of your generic prescriptions.  In this case, “Made in the USA” is a good sign. 

Yet another concern lies with medications where blood levels are usually monitored.  Of course, at TEOTWAWKI it’s unlikely that blood testing will be performed.  Drugs with “narrow therapeutic windows” pose a special concern.  These drugs are ineffective at low dose but toxic at higher doses, with a small window between where the drug is therapeutic.  Such drugs include digoxin, lithium, and theophylline.  When serum drug levels or other biologic indices cannot be measured, dosing must be determined by clinical result and side-effects.  Anti-seizure medications, thyroid preparations, and even insulin may fall in this category.  

To sum it all up, the good news is that most tablets and capsules are very likely safe and quite likely effective for several years beyond the printed expiration date.  Using expired medications may do for a decade beyond the end of the world as we know it. 

About the Author: Cynthia J. Koelker, MD is the author of the book 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care. The book explains how to treat over 30 common medical conditions economically, and includes dozens of sections on treating yourself. Available for under $10 online, the book offers practical advice on treating: respiratory infections, pink eye, sore throats, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, urinary infections, allergies, arthritis, acne, hemorrhoids, dermatitis, skin infection, lacerations, lice, carpal tunnel syndrome, warts, mental illness, asthma, COPD, depression, diabetes, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and much more. For more articles by Dr. Koelker visit

“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."” - Benjamin Franklin, 1779 letter to André Morellet

Beer has been a coveted drink from time immemorial.  It has witnessed the rise and fall of many great nations.  It has been the start of relationships and the ruin of marriages.  It is full of memories and yet causes selective amnesia.  Beer is ingrained in us and in a certain sense is a part of our humanity.  Despite ones personal feelings for the fermented beverage, one cannot deny its longevity and enduring quality.  In our own county, even during Prohibition, beer flowed like the waters of the Mississippi.  It is here to stay and will endure into a post-TEOTWAWKI world.  Beer will be a comfort drink in the difficult times and a celebratory drink in the happy times.  The skill to make beer will be a sought after talent that will provide security and income.  To put it plainly, brewing beer is a specialty skill that any prepper can acquire and would do well to acquire. A couple of years ago, I received under the Christmas tree a home brewing beer kit.  It was the perfect gift for someone who really enjoys the hand crafted specialty micro brew beers.  I immediately delved into the world of home brewing and have since made a few beers that are certainly marketable to the wider beer drinking population.   Some may or may not have the ability to win a medal, but they all have the ability to be enjoyed.  I indulged in a hobby and gained a post-TEOTWAWKI skill. 
Beer and alcohol in general has gained a bad reputation over the years as being the devil’s drink.  Like all things that are good, it can be misused.  I advocate reasoned, responsible, and legal drinking in all circumstances. 

With the disclaimer out of the way, beer is a wonderful drink with many health benefits.  A few years ago, I ordered from Netflix the PBS television series “Colonial House”  It’s a wonderful series documenting a “colony” of pilgrims coming to the new world and building a colony.  The overarching theme of rugged primitive survival with stored rations gives us a peek into what a post TEOTWAWKI life might be like, sans the camera crews.  There was one scene I remember, where the governor of the colony called for a celebration and allowed double rations of beer to be doled out.  The mood in the colony quickly changed from over worked depression to exuberant celebration in zero seconds flat.   For the overly soft modern Man, a life of strenuous hard work is taxing on both the body and mind.  If, after a long day of surviving, we have no way to unwind, burn out mode will quickly set in and all our TEOTWAWKI preparations might be for naught.  Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it slows the heart rate and produces a relaxing and calming effect in the brain.  It is a perfect release in stressful and hard times.  The other main benefit of beer is the calorie and vitamin content.  Americans generally live a sedentary lifestyle with very little actual physical labor.  Our day might include an hour trip to the gym or a three mile jog in the evening, but that hardly constitutes as an active life style.  Our calorie intake must be watched since we generally don’t burn as much as we eat.  If presented with a life situation where every calorie counts, the now empty calories of beer will become important to meeting our survival needs.  Beer does fill you up and it does contain calories.  On an historical side note, medieval monks, famed for creating some of the world’s best brews and enduring recipes, brewed a stronger beer during Lent to supplement their restricted diets because of the Lenten Fast.

Another health benefit of beer is its vitamin content.  Yes, beer does contain vitamins.  Researchers say that the average 12 oz. beer contains 25mg of sodium protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins B, B2, and B6.  Not bad for a single glass of fermented liquid.  Beer is also said to help prevent heart disease and improve circulation.  In ages past, dark beers (stouts in particular) were recommended for nursing mothers because it helped increase milk production.  A friend of mine’s wife recounts that after the birth of their second child, her mother arrived to the hospital with a six pack of Guinness.  Beer also contains essential minerals which come from the water used.  The general rule of thumb is the harder the water the better the brew.  When you brew porters and stouts, often times you have to add brewing salts because filtered municipal water or bottled water do not contain enough minerals.  The best water for brewing is natural spring water or well water because of their mineral content.    If you want to find out other health benefits, I would recommend a Google search.   Peruse the different articles and read about all the benefits.

The beer world is vast and expansive.  Home brewing is a wonderful hobby with a growing popularity.  But with any specialized hobby comes a lexicon of terms.   For those who read this article with only a cursory knowledge of beer, let me help you out by giving you a brief glossary to help you through some of the terminology:

  • Ale - type of beer where the fermentation takes place between 60° to 77°F.  Ales include styles like Stouts, Porters, Pilsners, and of course Ales (brown, pale, etc.)
  • Lager - type of beer where fermentation generally takes place between 54° to 64°F.  Lager yeast will ferment at temperature lower than 50°F.
  • Malt -Barley which has been sprouted and kilned.
  • Grist - Malt which has been ground.
  • Mash - The porridge-like blend of water and grist at the beginning of the brewing process that releases sugars for brewing.
  • Wort - The sweet liquid produced in the brewing process by mashing malted barley and water. Beer is called "wort" before yeast is added.
  • Mash Tun - The vessel in which mashed grain is sparged (lautered). Sometimes referred to mash-lauter tun because usually mashing and sparging occur in the same vessel.
  • Carboy – glass or plastic container used to ferment the beer.
  • Hops -The green cone-shaped flowers from the female hop vine used to add flavor and aromatics as well as bitter to beer.
  • All-grain - A term used to describe the brewing process in which only malt grist is used with no malt extract added.
  • Malt extract - Concentrated wort.

There are two types of home brews, all grain and malt extract.  Brewing using a malt extract is a common and easy way to begin familiarizing yourself with the brewing process.  Malt extracts come as either a dry power or liquid syrup and cuts the brewing time by more than half and makes the entire process much easier. 

Extract Brewing [Note that the following instructions are designed for a 5-gallon batch of beer]

Step 1
Gather your utensils: brew pot, metal spoon, carboy, and ingredients.  At this stage make sure you sanitize the spoon and carboy with boiling water.  You can buy packets of One-step Sanitizer which makes this part super easy. Warning:  If you’re using a plastic carboy, make sure you do not melt the plastic.

Step 2
Fill your brew pot with gallon of water and bring to a boil.

Step 3
Add the can of Malt extract to the boiling water.  Boiling the wort at hard boil causes foam to form on the top.  Make sure you adjust the temperature to prevent a boil over while keeping it at a hard rolling boil.  Boil the extract for 45 minutes to an hour. 

Step 4
During the last 10 to 15 minutes of the boil, add your hops.  I add the hops in a hop sack to avoid having to strain the wort.

Step 5
Cool the wort to room temperature (about 72°).  The quicker you do this, the less likely your wort will pick up any air born bacteria, fungus, or yeast.  If you don’t want to spend the money to get the wort chiller, I would recommend placing the pot in a sink with ice water.   This step will take a little bit of time.  Make sure that you stir your wort while cooling, using your sterilized spoon. This helps cool the wort faster and also helps to oxygenize the wort.

Step 6
Pitch the yeast, i.e. add the yeast to the wort.  If you are using dry yeast make sure you activate it before adding it to your wort.  If you are using liquid yeast follow the manufacturer’s instruction.  I have never successfully used a liquid yeast before so I really can give much advice on this particular thing. After you pitch the yeast let it stand for 5 minutes then give it a vigorous stir. 

Step 7
Pour the beer into the sanitized carboy and seal it with the air lock top.  The air lock top is a special cap which allows for the gasses to escape while maintaining the air tight seal of your carboy.  Place the beer filled carboy in a dark place with a relatively even temperature.  Note: UV rays from the sun will spoil your beer.  Fermentation will begin almost immediately.  You should begin to hear the clicking of the air lock only a few hours after you seal the carboy.  If you do not, then you most likely have a problem with your yeast.  This happened to me the one time I used liquid yeast.  I reopened the carboy and pitched it with dry yeast.  While my beer did not suffer any ill effects, I probably violated a million home brewing laws.  Oh well, I still made beer!

Step 8
The primary fermentation can take up to two weeks or as little as one week depending on the type of beer you are brewing.   You will know when the beer has completed fermentation when you no longer hear the gas escaping from the airlock.  Once fermentation has finished you can bottle your beer.  However, some beers need to condition after fermentation.  The flavor of beer will change the longer it sits.  Different flavors will become more pronounced while others will become more subtle. This past summer, I made a Belgian wit bier (think Blue Moon).  After the initial fermentation, it had a very distinct orange flavor from the orange I used in the brewing process.  After about a month of conditioning, the orange flavor mellowed and the coriander and hops became more pronounced.  Needless to say it was a really good beer that ended up being the hit at all my summer cook outs.

Step 9
Bottle your beer.  Before you bottle your beer there are a few things that you must consider.  First, you must have the correct type of bottle.  When you carbonate your beer in the bottle, which is the process I will be explaining in this step, screw top bottles will not work.  They do not have enough of a lip on the mouth of the bottle to create the proper seal.  When collecting bottles make sure you get the ones where you had to pry the cap off.  Generally, the imports and microbrews like Guinness or Fat Tire have the right kind of bottle, while Bud and Bud light all have screw tops.  Finally, you have to consider the color of the bottle.  While most bottles are brown, you will have the opportunity to collect clear bottles (from Corona) or green bottles (from Yuengling or Heineken).  Brown bottles will protect your beer from the suns UV rays and prevent your beer from becoming skunked.  There is no such guarantee from clear or green.  Bottling the beer can be tricky at first.  But once you get the hang of it, it will go very quickly.  You must make sure that all your bottles are properly sanitized before bottling.  You can either boil the bottles or use the super easy one-step sanitizer again.  I prefer the one-step sanitizer.  Add to your bottles ¾ tsp – 1 ½ tsp of corn sugar (not corn syrup) for secondary fermentation, i.e. carbonation.  White granulated sugar will work, although it’s generally not recommended. Use a siphon tube and siphon your beer into the bottle, filling it with 12 oz of beer.  Using your nifty store bought capper, cap your bottle with a new cap and gently (let me stress the word gently) shake the bottle to mix in the sugar. 

Step 10
Store your beer for a minimum of one week, preferably two week, allowing your beer the time to fully carbonate. In my opinion, this is hands down the HARDEST step.  By the end of the two weeks, I have enough built up anticipation that I make a child on Christmas morning look like a stoic Buddhist monk. Chill your beer and enjoy!!!

Grain Brewing

All grain brewing is virtually the same as extract brewing, except that instead of buying the concentrated wort, you will be making the wort.  You make the wort by converting the grain’s starches into sugars and sparging the sugars out.  This requires the use of a mash tun.  While you can buy a mash tun, why not build one.  I made my mash tun using the instructions from this web site.

It works, it’s easy, it’s cheap, and best of all, you can make it at home! 

Step 1
Crush your grain into grist and add it to your mash tun.  If you already have a grain mill for post-TEOTWAWKI milling, you can use it pre-TEOTWAWKI to crush grain for beer.  Don’t mill the grain into flour, just crush it enough to make it a coarsely crushed grist. 

Step 2
Heat your strike water to about 170° and add it into your mash tun.  Your mash should steep at a temperature of roughly 155°.  When you add the strike water to the grain, it normally will cool the water to the proper temperature.  Be careful not to overheat the strike water since over heating the water will kill the enzymes that convert the starch into sugar.  Stir the grain thoroughly, close the lid and cover with blankets.  Let the mash steep for about an hour. 

Step 3
Collect the wort by draining the mash tun into your brew kettle.  Add heated sparge water back into the mash tun.  Drain the sparge water from the mash tun into your brew kettle.  This flushes out any remaining sugars left in the grain. I’m told that the remaining mash is very healthy to eat.  It is my understanding that soaking grains before consumption helps you digest the grain and allows you to absorb more nutrients than you otherwise would if you consumed un-soaked grains.
Finish your batch of all grain brew by following steps 3-10 from the previous. Enjoy your all grain home brew!

The world of home brewing is vast.  Every home brewer has his special process with his own particular steps.  It is what make home brewing a hobby.  There is always something to tweak.  There is always something new to try, making each batch unique and enjoyable.  What is today a fun hobby for a lazy Saturday, might be a sought-after skill post-Schumer  By learning now how to brew, you will be able to testify to “God’s love for mankind” post-TEOTWAWKI and probably make a few bucks in the process.  So bottoms up, cheers, and happy brewing!

JWR Adds: Needless to say, beer brewing brings with it the moral responsibility of controlling who gets their hands on your product. Obviously, minors, idiots, people with addictive personalities, malcontents, and anyone who is irresponsible should be entirely "off the list." In a societal collapse, there will be many who will be tempted to drift into alcoholism, squander their resources, and fail to provide for their families. Do not contribute to their downfall!

You also need to consider that if gain a reputation as the local brewer that some locals will assume that you keep a lot of beer on hand--regardless of whether on not that is a fact. So this could give your home a higher likelihood of burglary or armed robbery.

Lastly, depending on where you live there are tax, licensing, and health code/inspection requirements if you sell beer for profit.

Mr. Rawles,  
Please add my comments regarding Lt. Vernon Baker. I have owned a small ranch about half way between St. Maries and Potlatch, Idaho for the last decade. Lt. Baker was highly respected in St. Maries, and throughout the rest of Benewah County, Idaho. This last summer the whole town came together to raise funds to pay all the expenses for his widow and a companion to attend Lt. Baker’s internment at Arlington National Cemetery. The folks in town were proud to do it.  

I don’t know where Alex B. is geographically so I can’t speak to his circumstances. I have been temporarily living on the wrong side of the Big Muddy for the last six years. What I can tell you is that where I come from we value a man or woman on the basis of how they keep their word, and how they treat others. That’s why our whole community leaped into action within hours of hearing about Lt. Baker’s demise and his widow’s need. I have seen that same spirit in Oklahoma where I have friends, but I have never once seen that spirit in the six years I have lived in the Eastern United States. At the company where I used to work for the last six years (I am now retired ) I was never able to raise more than $300 for the local food bank in the whole month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, despite the company employing almost 600 people.

I think that Alex will find that in the West and in the South – in the agricultural areas – race is less a factor that it once was, and that a great many of the locals are open hearted and respond readily to people of good character. We have lots of room in the West for folks who want to live and worship in freedom. - James J., Behind Enemy Lines

Market pundit Robert Wiedemer recently had the nerve to call gold "the biggest, baddest bubble of them all." What myopia. He's looking up at gold's position only because his vantage point is from the veritable crater formed by the collapsing U.S. Dollar. Gold is simply rising to its natural level, amid a bevy of fiat currencies that are in a frantic race to the bottom. The precious metals are nowhere near the end of the current bull market.

China Says Fed Easing May Flood World With `Hot Money'

Fed Will 'Self Destruct,' Policy 'Deeply Flawed': Ron Paul

Sullivan: The Coming Fiscal Catastrophe in the United States (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for the link.)

K.S. suggested this piece by Bill Bonner: US Debt Crisis: What NOT to Do When Your Country is Broke  

Items from The Economatrix:

14 Pieces of Bad Economic News

Germany 1914-1923 Hyperinflation -- Coming Here?

Currency Wars For Dummies

Bankruptcy of US is "Mathmatical Certainty"

Credit Scores To Be Revised Amid Soaring Mortgage Defaults

Glenn Beck Video Clip: So What Happens Next?  Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Currencies:  Seven Charts You Should See

Stocks Have Collapsed in 2010, When Priced in Wheat

Reader M.B. recommended a classic book that is available on-line: Narrative of a Voyage to Senegal in 1816 by Corréard and Savigny. M.B. notes: "This is a fascinating true story about a group of people who were placed in what today could be referred to as "The End of the World as They Knew It.". The book is in the public domain. Such lessons from the past are relevant to those today in a preparedness mindset."

   o o o

B.B. flagged this: Americans on Food Stamps Reach New High

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Reader Karl W. suggested a source for inexpensive safety glasses. Karl's comment: "These are great for those of us over 40 on a budget or always seem to misplace their cheaters."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

I am by nature a positive person. On the other hand, I fully recognize that we live in a very dangerous world. Ignoring the reality will not make you safe – that would only be an illusion of safety. I sincerely believe that far too many of us live in a fantasy world shaped by what we see on television, and reinforced by our very limited exposure to the world outside our immediate communities. Also, many of us are so caught up in the daily rat race that we don’t stop to think about much else.

To me, being prepared begins with being aware of the real risks that we face daily, or may someday come our way. The fact the something “bad” has never happened to you does not mean that it never will, or that you are somehow immune from such things. I will give you an example. In 1992 I lived in southwest Miami-Dade County with my young family. Florida is known for its long history of deadly hurricanes, but I had lived through many hurricanes, and my limited experience had taught me that hurricanes were nothing more than some wind, rain and a day or two off from school/work. The reality is that hurricanes have tremendous potential to kill people and destroy property. If you are taken by surprise (unprepared), a hurricane and the resulting aftermath can seriously change your life, or possibly end it. In August 1992 Hurricane Andrew turned out to be one of the most destructive in US history and I was completely unprepared. I lost my house, most of my personal property and almost my life. After Andrew passed through my neighborhood, I had little more than the clothes on my back. At that moment I realized just how badly I had failed myself, and my family, by my lack of preparation.   

We were lucky to survive, but the lessons I learned will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will never make that mistake again.  Today, although I am 1000% more prepared than back in 1992, I still feel it’s not enough.  Very few people understand this and many make fun of me.  But they have not had death knock at their door as I have.  They have not felt the fear and desperation of seeing the storm, literally and figuratively, coming their way and not knowing what to do because they had not taken the time to prepare and plan.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I know that whatever it is, it will be unexpected, sudden and it may be very bad. Next time it probably won’t be a hurricane – that would be too easy. After Andrew and Katrina, few of us take hurricanes for granted.  But given our present social, political and financial environment - anything is possible. Ten years ago we thought our biggest threat was from outside terrorism. Today, I sincerely believe that the biggest threat comes from within our own borders.The economy, complacency, willful blindness, and people who refuse to recognize that we have turned a corner.  A corner that will not allow us to go back to the way things were.  But, I can hear it already: "Maybe if I just go about my business and not think about the gloom and doom – everything will be just fine."   

After Andrew I saw a population that very quickly deteriorated. The thin veneer we call civilization was quickly lost in the confusion and frustration.  Looters were in my neighborhood within hours of the storm.  People were fighting over water, flashlights, plywood, etc.  Generators that sold for $300 a week before were fetching $1,000 or more - if you could find one.  People were stressed to the maximum, nerves were on edge, and the essentials were all in short supply.  Andrew was a relatively compact storm that left most of North Miami-Dade County untouched.  I got in my car and drove an hour north to my cousin’s house in Fort Lauderdale and saw that his place was just fine.  He took us in and gave us everything we needed; for which I will be eternally grateful.  

But, just imagine a larger scale event where there is no place to drive to for relief or safety; unthinkable right?  Imagine that you are unprepared - No Food, water, or medical supplies.  What then?  This is why I prep, this is why I devote, time, effort, money and a lot of planning to prepping, so that I don’t have to face that “what then” scenario.  In retrospect, and to give it a positive spin, Andrew may have saved my life.

James Wesley:
Scott's article was a good one but he neglected to mention that if you have 10,000 pounds of fuel (or most other chemicals) that all State Homeland Security Agencies require a Tier II filing to report this large quantity of material. This reporting form lets the state, local fire marshal and local emergency management coordinator know that you have that much fuel on your place. It's nice if you have a fire (for instance) that the firefighters know where all the dangerous stuff is and usually someone on scene has a PDA with all this info on board, searchable by address. Having that much fuel without reporting it is either a violation of the law with serious fines involved or a violation of your OPSEC so quantities are something to watch.

Reportable chemicals include propane, gasoline, diesel, methanol, most fertilizers, and most other household/farm chemicals as well as industrial ones. It is interesting that explosives and radioactive substances do not fall under this particular reporting requirement because they are covered by their own rules and regulations. This Tier II information is on file at the local emergency management office for anyone to come look at if they want to. This has to do with the Community Right to Know Act. Even a potential terrorist could go and ask for a look see. "Hi, we're from the government and we're here to help." Yikes!

Sincerely, - F.B. (14 miles from Asphalt)

Hello Jim,

Blessings to you and your family.

Here are my comments regarding the article Retreating: A Minority Perspective, by Alex B. The Aryan Nations group has been forced out of North Idaho.  Not only did they lose the lawsuit that took away their "compound".  The new owners allowed local fire department to train on site when the buildings were torched.

Their leader, Richard Butler, died a few years later and the rest of the bugs left for parts unknown.

This small group was good at making themselves look bigger by holding an annual camp-out at the compound and marching in a parade.  Most of their support was from out of state.  It made them appear much bigger than they were.

North Idaho is a land of free and true patriots and not racists.  Here is case in point.  Until recently, the only living black recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor from WWII lived in St. Maries, Idaho. He was married to a white woman (as if that matters).  Vernon Baker recently passed away at the ripe old age of 90 and is now buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  I saw him in 1997 when he was the Grand Marshal of the Coeur D'Alene, Idaho Fourth of July parade.  He received a standing ovation from both sides of the street along the entire parade route.  The crowd was probably 99% white.

Baker's story is told in "Lasting Valor" by Ken Olsen, from Bantam Books.  Baker would sneak out of camp and single handedly dispose of Nazi machine gun nests. He would skip up the steep hills jumping rock-to-rock to avoid land mines.  Upon his return no one believed him so he had to go out and do it again several days later against the same re-manned machine gun nests.  Incredible!

It's sad that more Americans know about Idaho via the worm Butler and his ilk but nothing about a true American hero--the late Lt. Vernon Baker.

Sincerely, - B.H. in North Central Idaho

Ay, Carumba!: California borrows $40 million a day to pay unemployment benefits. No doubt, higher payroll taxes will be coming soon for Californians.

Obama returns fire after China slams Fed's move. [JWR's comment: The Obama Administration's position on the Quantitative Easing monetization scheme is like a teenager claiming that he can pay his VISA Card balance with his MasterCard.]

I guess you've all seen the recent jump in the spot price of silver. FWIW, I've been touting silver since February 2001, just before it bottomed. I'm standing by my prediction of $50+ silver. I'll grant that I was early when I first made that prediction. Well, better early than late...

This news item explains the big drop in the silver price, in after-hours trading on Tuesday: CME Taps the Brakes on Silver. This reminds me of how the COMEX power elite stopped the Hunt Brothers, 30 years ago. The metals markets are both thin and manipulated. Buckle up and be ready for some huge price swings in coming months.)

Items from The Economatrix:

US Federal Reserve Stokes Global Currency War

China Leads Backlash Against US Stimulus as Risk of Currency War, Protectionism Grows

Bob Chapman:  Creation of Debt as the Basis of Growth

Federal Reserve Rains Money on Corporate America But Main Street Left High and Dry

Glenn Beck: Coming Insurrection

An Economic Certainty:  Gold to Rise as Fiat Currencies Fall

Gold's Hot Streak Has a Silver Lining

Reader John E. mentioned a video of a stealthy-quiet solar powered battery powered log splitter, and from the same inventor: a Suzuki motorcycle converted to a diesel yanmar type engine.

   o o o

The Growing Threat of Food Insecurity in America

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Reader M.G. recommend two books: Nature's Garden and The Forager's Harvest, both by naturalist Sam Thayer. Here is M.G.'s description: These books provide amazing, in depth, first hand accounts of how to identify, harvest, and prepare different wild foods.  I have a dozen other wild food books, but these two are by far the best.  The author also has a video that covers all the food in Nature's Garden. While not as in depth as the book, it is a wonderful resource. My children watch it and say "I know that plant! Let's go harvest it!"  The simple truth is that sooner or later all stored food will run out." See Sam Thayer's web site for more information on the books and DVD.

"All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse." - Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

Greetings fellow SurvivalBloggers.  Any of you who read my piece “How I Woke Up” may recall that I started my awareness and prepping in August of 2009. 

Today I wanted to touch on my limited knowledge of firearms, and what I’ve done to start firming up that area. 

Up until six years ago, I had never owned or fired any kind of weapon other than slingshots and pellet rifles as a child.  I dabbled in archery as a young adult, but wasn’t the guy splitting arrows on the bulls-eye. 

But then something happened six years ago that changed that.  I live in arguably one of the safest semi-rural neighborhoods in the country.  I also own and operate a preschool on two acres.  So every time I even casually brought up the idea that it might be prudent to own a firearm, my wife flipped out and that was the end of the discussion.  (We both grew up in families that never owned guns.)

Anyway, back to six years ago.  Aside from the preschool, I also did a lot of side work in real estate, consulting for restaurants, bars and hotels, and property management.  I had an office suite in the building where I was manager on the weekends.  It was in a somewhat seedy part of my town (the south side, where our city leaders put all the low-income housing).  I was often in the office late at night, always trying to get caught up on paperwork.  Usually I had the door open, as our climate is very comfortable most of the time.

One night at about 11 p.m., I was just wrapping up and getting ready to leave.  I looked up from my desk to see a very nefarious-looking character standing in my doorway.  He was looking around, sizing up me and the office.  Being a bit of a hooligan in my youth, I put on my best “game face” and stared intently back at him, nodding my head in a “what’s up?” move.  Fortunately I had taken off my dress shirt, and just had a tee-shirt on.  This exposed the tattoos on my forearms, helping with my tough-guy bluff.  For whatever reason, he decided I wasn’t what he was looking for, nodded back and moved on.  Very scary.      

Well, the next day I was at the local gun store.  Knowing absolutely nothing about guns, the semi-autos with their slides and magazines scared me.  So I got something I understood – a Charter Arms Snub-Nose .38 Special.  I liked the concept of revolvers.  Very easy to operate, and know without a doubt if they are loaded or not.  And I liked the compact size of the weapon.  That was less intimidating to me. 

I went over to the local range and popped off about 10 or 15 rounds at a target about 10-15 feet away.  I hit that target, and was satisfied that I was “good to go.”  That gun and few cartridges went in my office desk, not seeing the light of day for a long time.  (I’d be lying if I didn’t say I secretly hoped my previous visitor might make a repeat appearance.  Fortunately for all involved, he didn’t.)

Right around this time, my wife and I purchased a cabin in the mountains.  Our plan was to retire there in 10-15 years, but in the meantime enjoy it on weekends and holidays.  After a year or so up there, I realized if there was ever trouble, we were virtually on our own.  The nearest Sheriff sub-station was 20 minutes away.  And its crew consisted of four people: a daytime dispatcher and a daytime patrolling deputy, and a nighttime dispatcher and a patrolling deputy. 

So I picked up another snub-nosed .38 Special, and put it and a few cartridges in my bed-stand table.

Fast forward to August of 2009, when my wife and I began prepping.  Soon, we were basically set:  Retreat, check.  Tribe with former Special Forces guy, Carpenter, Electrician, and Registered Nurse, check.  One year worth of dried and canned food for tribe, check.  Heirloom seeds for four acres, check.  Neighbor’s well who will need my photovoltaic power system to get water out of the ground (thus we’ll share the water), check.  Armament, check.        

The last one got me to thinking.  I really hardly know how to use any of that stuff.  Recently I did shoot at hand tossed clay pigeons with a shotgun.  Proud to say that I hit 13 out of 16.  But still, not very experienced.

So when an offer was in my e-mail box to take a four-day mid-week defensive handgun course at Front Sight for only $99, I jumped on it. 

The course was very similar to a recent writer’s shotgun course, so I won’t get into all of that.  But I will say that I learned so much.  There were a lot of tactical things that had never occurred to me.  Also, one of the two-hour lectures talked about the moral, ethical and legal ramifications of firing upon someone.  That is something that we might not think much about, but should.  Oh sure, when the Golden Hordes come it will not be an issue.  But until then, it is. 

I also learned what my wimpy little snub-nose .38 Specials can (and can't) do.  At seven meters or less, I was dead on.  At 10 meters and it was about 70%.  Beyond that, those weapons are basically worthless for me.  That was good to know. 

Everyone else on the range had Glocks, M1911s, and Springfield Armory XDs.  They were putting out much more accurate firepower at greater distances.

So if you have firearms but little to no experience and think that you’ll handle whatever comes along when the time comes, then you may be sadly mistaken.  And that mistake may cost you or your loved ones dearly. 

JWR Adds: I also strongly encourage my readers to get fully and properly trained. When it is YOYO time, you will need effective firearms with power and range kept close at hand. That means battle rifles and riot shotguns, not handguns. As many firearms trainers have observed, a handgun is just a handy defensive tool that might give the opportunity to fight your way back to your rifle, in the right circumstances. Showing up at a gun fight armed with a just a handgun is arriving seriously under-gunned.

Proper firearms training means getting plenty of regular practice. Firearms training is not just one-time event that you can check off a list. You need to regularly work at it, to maintain a perishable skill. This means dry practice every week, and live fire at least several times per year.

Take full advantage of local firearms training, mobile trainers (such as the inexpensive Appleseed shoots), and the big schools like Gunsite, Xe, Front Sight, and Thunder Ranch. A defensive handgun course is just the beginning. Get training with rifles and shotguns, too. Train like your life depends on it, because someday soon, it very likely will.

It is also important to think of each firearm as a weapon system. This means buying all the accessories you need to make it fully capable--such as an ACOG scope, plenty of spare top quality magazines, magazine pouches, cleaning equipment, lubricants, slings, holsters, web gear, spare parts, and ammo. Practice using all of these items extensively, to work the kinks out. You should practice until you are confident, competent, comfortable, and quiet, using all of these items as a system. I'd rather have just one truly fully-equipped rifle than a dozen guns that are minus crucial spares and accessories.


I have been meaning for some time to write a short article about State Defense Forces. These forces are an excellent way to train and learn. I have served seven years in my state guard.

There are federal laws that allow a state to maintain a state guard or state defense force. These are forces available to the governor of the state when the national guard is on duty somewhere else, or if the emergency is a huge one the state defense force can actually be activated on paid mandatory duty. If a state wants to have such a force the state legislature passes state laws to authorize the organization and the adjutant generals office sets it up as an independent military organization. You serve only in your state unless the governor of another state requests state guard help from the governor in a neighboring state. One state even sent state troops to assist in New York City after the 9/11 attack. They all volunteered to go and paid their own expenses.

There is no pay and there are no benefits as in federal or national guard service. You are serving because you want to be ready in a time of emergency to assist the people in your state. Such a force is the organized militia of a state but the word militia is never used due to negative connotations that have arisen in recent years. You are a volunteer so you don’t have to go to every drill but you are expected to make most drills. The more you put into your service the more you get out of it. Normally the state guard does not serve under arms. Some states give weapons training to the state guard in case TSHTF but others do not. There is a lot of variation from state to state depending on what the governor and adjutant general what to do.

You can join if you have some minor problem that would physically disqualify you from federal or national guard units. Most of our troops are veterans but not all, some have “no prior service”. We have army, air force, marine, and navy vets in our local unit.

What training have I had ?

  • First aid/CPR
  • Land navigation /compass course
  • Physical security
  • Patrols
  • Search and rescue
  • Field training exercises
  • Coordination of supplies arriving into the state after a major hurricane
  • Alert drills
  • Red Cross damage assessment

What missions have we had ?

  • Search for a lost Alzheimer's patient
  • Provide communications in an area of a chemical spill
  • Set up road blocks around an evacuated town to prevent non residents from entering and looting
  • Assist in crowd control during a major 10k race
  • Make damage assessment in a neighborhood after a tornado came through.

About half the states currently have a state guard or state defense force. If you join yours, you will meet and serve with some good people. You will learn a lot and possibly be of service in a time of emergency to protect the people and their property in your state. In my state we are subject to hurricanes so that is the most likely thing that would occur to bring us into the field, but actually we don’t know what our next mission is going to be. We are required to keep a Go Bag and be ready to respond on a few hours notice. Note: it takes time and paperwork to activate the national guard but the state guard can be called out on a moments notice by one phone call. We are proud of that !

If your state has a state defense force then check it out. Find out what training is available and where your local unit drills. Give it a chance if you are so inclined. By the way I have met a few preppers in my unit.

God Bless the United States of America and the Constitution. - MVJ

What M.B. is describing in his letter "Post Disaster Wi-Fi Commo Networks" is ideally served by a mesh network. I'd suggest starting at the Open Mesh web site. Click the Support link for tutorials and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

If you want to link up a neighborhood this can work fairly well. Mounting the radios outside helps considerably and will often be required as the 2.4 GHz signal doesn't penetrate obstructions very well. Existing wireless routers, old 2.4 GHz cordless phones, etc may interfere. If radio links are more than a few hundred feet apart you'll need to get creative: find a way to get clear line-of-sight between adjacent radios, use directional antennas or at least upgraded omni's, make friends with someone on high ground between you and your friends, run Ethernet between radios on opposite sides of buildings, etc.

Make sure that you can work with your geography before buying lots of hardware. All too often obstructions are going to be an insurmountable problem. Most mesh networks are dependent on multiple wired connections to the Internet to hold separate portions of the mesh together, which won't be an option in a grid-down scenario.

Dear James,
It is heartening to see enthusiasts for the military M35 series of trucks, but I must take issue with some of the comments made by Tom E. in his recent post.

My Background:

I have been working in the automotive industry for over 35 years as a consulting design and testing engineer for both civilian and military builders. Specifically, I worked for AM General in the 1980s on the M998 HMMWV problems, the M35A3 proposal, and the FMTV proposal (the LMTV version was the replacement for the M35, the contract was won by Stewart and Stevenson) and currently own six different models of the M35, all in various configurations, as a collector.


Overall, I am pleased to see the enthusiasm shown by the original poster about the M35. Several points missed were:

The M35 footprint (length time width) is not appreciably larger than a 2006 Ford dual rear wheel, crew cab pickup truck. The M35 is taller, but the space required for driving and turning is smaller. The turning circle is slightly over 20 feet smaller than the same Ford.

Vehicle Size
The published length numbers for the M35A2C (length x width) are:
264.25 in (22 ft 1/4 in) x  96 in (8 ft)

Ford length x width: 
261.8 in (21 ft 9 5/8 in) x  95.5 in (8 ft)

NOTE: Neither measurement includes mirrors, so I am comparing "apples to apples."

The published numbers for the M35A2C are:
Empty: 14,930 lbs
Gross (cross-country): 19,430 lbs
Gross (highway): 21,930 lbs

For the Ford in this example:
Empty: 7014 lbs
Gross (cross-country): Not Rated
Gross (highway): 13,000 lbs

Turning Circle Radius
The published numbers for the M35A2C is 36 ft.

The Ford turning circle radius is 56.5 ft.

Note that the turning circle of the M35 is about 20 FEET smaller than the same effective overall length F350. This provides inestimable improvement in off road and on road mobility for the M35. The downside is the manner in which the M35 achieves this. By using an extreme wheel turn angle on the front axle, extreme loads are placed on the front knuckle u-joints, leading to a “shaking” or “jerking” or “shuddering” of the steering wheel at very low speeds. This also increases the effort required at the steering wheel to physically turn the steering wheel. This is the reason that power assist, of some sort, is required to drive the M35 effectively when tires are changed to super singles, such as on the M35A3. The Ford numbers are published in the Ford Body Builder's book for the 2006 model year and the military numbers come from the TM published handbook on the M35 series.

"Rambo" Truck Jump

The truck used in the movie "Rambo: First Blood" was indeed a 2.5 ton military truck, but it was not an M35 (see this image). The truck was a modified GM built M211- the predecessor to the M35.

"No Electronics"

Not true for all models. The M35A3 has several computers-one for the Caterpillar 3116 engine, one for the Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS), and others, depending on the options fitted to the individual vehicle.

The point is the end user must check out the specifics of the vehicle that they are interested in carefully.

"Can Literally Go Almost Anywhere A Jeep Can"

Not true. The physical size of the M35 (or the comparable Ford) is a factor the end user must consider and plan for in the bug out route chosen. You cannot fit 10 pounds of manure into a 5 pound sack, regardless of enthusiasm.

[JWR Adds: In addition to a vehicle's width, height, and turning radius, there are lots of other factors to consider, for true off-road capability. These include ground clearance, center of gravity, wheel base length, rocker panel height, suspension throw distance (or "travel"), and approach/departure angles. To varying degrees, traditional configuration Jeeps, Scouts, Broncos, Land Rovers, and Land Cruisers are excellent in most of these attributes. This explains why they are so sought-after by folks looking for vehicles to restore for off-road use. Granted, their cargo capacity is marginal compared to a Deuce, but seeing the trails that an experienced driver can traverse in one of these vehicles at slow speed is simply amazing.

One compromise between a Jeep and an M35 is a Unimog. They offer the best of both worlds--both a true off-road suspension and greater cargo capacity.]

"Makes A Good Battering Ram"

Not true. The frame of the M35 is, when compared to today's commercial vehicles (like the previously mentioned Ford), a piece of "limp spaghetti". The end user does not want to "batter" anything as the end result will be "popped" (or technically, sheared) rivets holding the frame and crossmembers together. Do you really want to be sitting in the middle of a firefight with the truck disassembling itself?

"Historical Vehicle Plates"

In many states, such as Michigan, you are legally limited on the number of miles a historical vehicle may be driven in a calendar year, Same with historical vehicle insurance from companies such as Haggerty. License it as a normal privately owned vehicle and you would not run afoul of these laws before TSHTF.

"Two Speed Transfer Case With Ultra Low Gearing"

Not true. The transfer case has a higher ratio than many of today's light duty 4x4s, such as a Jeep.

Jeep NVG 231 transfer case low range gearing: 2.76:1 reduction (from Chrysler published documentation)

M35A2C T136-27 transfer case low range ratio: 1.96:1 reduction (from the aforementioned TM for the M35)  

The military M35s are a very good solution to the issue of mobility and load transport, but not a vehicle to jump into blindly. These trucks are closer to an old steam locomotive than today's passenger cars. Maintenance is a chore that is easily accomplished (as evidenced by all the good 18-to-20 year old mechanics that were trained on them), driving them is easy (within the limitations of the specific vehicle), and above all, are a lot of fun as a hobby to enjoy today.

Best Regards as Always, - Bob S.


A little info on the deuce and a half electrical systems referred to in the recent blog: One of the most common 12 volt DC accessories that would be used in a 2-1/2 ton surplus truck would be a radio of some sort, possibly a CB radio. Do not use a standard resistance type voltage reducer to go from 24 to 12 volts. The 12 accessory doesn't have enough of a draw to cause a voltage reduction (24 to 12 uses resistance) and you will instantly fry your 12 volt accessory. Either use an electronic reducer, such as one from Transpo Electronics, or tie in to 12 volts  across the batteries. This is the least preferred method, but it will work. And heaters? Can you imagine winter in Northern Idaho in a steel 2-1/2 ton, with no carpet or other insulation on the floor or body, and rolling the window down to control the temp. Unlikely you would be mobile for long. Maybe not even alive. Put a heater in in and hook up a defroster, too. A little visibility might be a wonderful thing. Use a 12 VDC automotive or truck unit. These are much cheaper than the 24 VDC military or industrial accessory. This is just info that might save someone a little grief. - Grayfox

Tom M. sent us this: Alaska attack: A shot too late. The article begins: "Even as Scott Oberlitner squeezed the trigger on the .375-caliber H&H Magnum rifle and sent a massive slug flying toward the hulk of the charging Afognak Island grizzly bear, he sensed it was too late."

   o o o

Deborah B. recommended and audio clip of a prescient speech by Congressman Ron Paul: "Dangerous times ahead"

   o o o

Garnet found a humorous article about an alligator attack.

"Maybe the Fed can fool some of the people some of the time, but it can’t fool all of the people all of the time. In the process, policy makers may end up fooling themselves that they can create expectations of a little more inflation without delivering a lot of the real thing." - Caroline Baum

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm scheduled for a two hour interview with call-in questions from listeners November 24th on EMPact Radio.


Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

It's easy to see that the world may be heading for more trouble, and we need to prepare for hard times ahead.  But it can be daunting to decide what to do, what to stock, and when to get it.
I've been working at this a while, and I've figured out a simple balance in what to buy, and when to buy it, that I think will help other Preppers move ahead with confidence.
You could call it my 100/1,000/10,000 system, and I hope it helps you get going, and get to a place where you feel more prepared for the tough times ahead.

Step One
Step one is to become a "100 level" Prepper.  If you're not there, you're helpless in the event of even a minor disruption.  Luckily, you can get to the 100 level fast, and inexpensively.
At the 100 level,  you're prepared for a brief disaster.  You have some food and water, you can keep warm, travel, and protect yourself in the very short term.  It's a start.  The bare minimum.
Here's what you need:  100 cans of food, 100 bottles of water, 100 lbs of fuel, 100 rounds of ammunition, 100 silver dimes, 100 dollar bills.

Food:  Buy 100 cans of foods that are easy to eat, even right out of the can.  Baked beans, Dinty Moore Stew, Corned Beef Hash, Spaghetti-os.  Canned Spam will do the job, and lasts for 3-5 years.  (Generic brands can cost half the price, so shop around.)
Throw in some cans of veggies that you like too. In a crunch, this 100 cans should feed you for over a month.  Don't forget a can opener!
Water:  Store 100 of those little pint (.5 liter) bottles of water.  That gets you about 12-13 gallons, instantly available.  If things fall apart, you'll want instant availability.  This should get you almost a month in a pinch, when added to other liquids you have in the fridge and on the shelf.
Fuel:  Liquid fuels weigh about 6.5 lbs per gallon, so we're talking about 15 gallons here.  I recommend 5 gallons of gasoline, and 10 gallons of Kerosene (in 2 of those blue 5-gallon containers).
Get Sta-bil for the gas, and once a year dump that 5 gallons in your car gas tank, and refill the container with new gas.  The kerosene will store for a decade or more, especially if you add PRI-D.  Buy a little 10,000 BTU kerosene heater on Amazon, Craig's List, or eBay, and you'll stay “warm enough” if the power is out for a few nights in the winter.
Ammo:  Buy a pistol, and practice with it regularly.  Be sure to use a common caliber.  I don't recommend 9mm, for lack of stopping power.
I bought a Hi-Point S&W40 semi-automatic pistol for $175, and with 100 rounds of Ammo you have the beginnings of home protection.   It's the cheapest gun on the market, but it puts big holes in things I  point at.  Remember to replace your ammo when you practice!  Wal-Mart has cheap ammo.
Silver:  Depending on your finances, either think 100 Junk Silver dimes, or 100 Oz. of silver coins.  At today's market price of $24 per oz for silver, you're either looking at $180, or $2500.  Your goal should be to move as much of your liquid assets as you can into silver.
I like junk silver dimes because they are instantly seen as genuine.  No one is counterfeiting old Roosevelt or Mercury silver dimes.  Plus, they are small, light, and even if silver explodes in value, they are very spendable for small items.  (You won't want to buy a loaf of bread with a 1 oz gold coin, that may well be worth as much as a car.)  And the premium on junk silver is small, compared to the true silver value in the coins.
Silver 1 oz coins are also great, and the ones from the U.S. Mint are very popular and available.  There shouldn't be any question about their genuine value either.  They do sell at a hefty premium at times, though.  (Avoid silver bars, as people will assume they are fake, and they are too cumbersome.)
Cash:  If the ATM is down, and your credit cards don't work because the power or the internet is out, you'll want $100 cash on hand to get over a brief crisis.  Small denominations allow for all kinds of transactions, with little need for change back.

Okay, the first important step is behind you.  You are set for a weekend power outage.  A winter ice storm.  A weekend of civil unrest.  Congratulations.  It's an important start.

Step Two
Now, it's time to strive for the 1,000 level Preparation.  This is the point where you and a couple loved-ones can handle a significant breakdown of civil society.  9-12 months without our accustomed infrastructure will be survivable at the 1,000 level Preparation.

Here's what you need:  1,000 pounds of food, 1,000 gallons of filtered water, 1,000 lbs of fuel, 1,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,000 silver dimes, 1,000 dollar bills.

Food:  Now you need to get serious about food storage.  Balancing your diet, and expense, really come into play here.  And remember, you need to stock up on things you will eat, and that you can prepare easily.
Double your 100 cans of food, and continue rotating your stock.  Eat your oldest can of baked beans, and replace it.  Canned foods are actually fine for several years after their Best By dates, and bad smell will usually warn you something has gone bad, but rotation just makes sense.  Add more canned veggies, as nutrition is now more important if this disaster lasts longer than just a few weeks.
Now add bulk rice.  You can buy white rice in 50 lb bags at Sam's Club for $14 today.  Rice is the right choice at this level, because it's so quick and easy to prepare.  White rice stores better.
Buy 400 lbs of rice, and store it in 6-gallon food-grade buckets.  Figure about 40 lbs of rice per bucket.  People often sell the food-grade buckets on Craig's list used, for $1-$2.  Stock some spices and plenty of soy sauce to make eating all that rice more pleasant.
Bags of Pasta are great, and easy to prepare and eat.  Think about boxes of oatmeal, and bags of mashed potatoes.   You can also store flour, if you use it regularly, and can rotate it.  Flour only stores for a few years, because the wheat “berries” have been broken open and exposed by the milling.
Powdered milk, baking powder and baking soda are important for food preparation, as are oils, salt and sugar.  Oil has a 1-2 year shelf life, but Crisco lasts a long time, and salt and sugar are forever.  Throw in 20-30 pounds of honey as well.  Honey adds nice variety, and never spoils.  It's very quick calories with no preparation, in an emergency.  ( And you can slather it on cuts and other wounds as a disinfectant, in a pinch.)  I also have lots of brown sugar, to go with all the oatmeal I've stored.

 Add to your 100 bottles of water.  It's not that expensive, and if things are suddenly falling apart, you want the ease of grabbing a quick bottle of water.  (My rule of thumb is, never pay more than $1 per gallon of bottled water – roughly 13 cents each for the little .5 liter bottles.)  When you get to at least 50 gallons, or around 400 pint size bottles, you can relax.  There is also water in your water heater, and if you see trouble coming, you can fill up the bath tubs in the house.
But for longer term quantity, you need a good water filter.  One to consider is the Lifesaver Bottle 4000 Ultra Filtration Water Bottle.  Priced at $149 at Amazon, it will filter over 1,000 gallons of water.  If you figure a gallon per day for three people, that gets you a year of safe drinking water. [JWR Adds: Lifesaver bottles are also available from several SurvivalBlog advertisers. Please check their prices, and when you do order, please mention where you saw their ad.]
With fancy water filters, the cleaner the water you put in them, the less the filter has to do, and the longer it will last.  So I have stored 1,000 coffee filters as well.  Pass any water thru several of those first, to extend the life of your filter.  They do sell replacement/spare inserts for the bottles as well.

  Now get serious about fuel.  1000 pounds of fuel means roughly 170 gallons, and I suggest you break it down as follows:  110 gallons Kerosene, 60 gallons of Gasoline.
For the Kerosene, I bought 2 of the 55-gallon plastic barrels, for $10 each.  For fuel storage, get the kind of blue barrel with 2 small bung holes on top, and get a Buddy Bung Wrench at Amazon to open and close the openings securely.  $10.
I buried the barrels 2 ft deep under my deck, so just 1 foot is sticking up above the ground.  They are out of the sun, and the ground will keep the temperature of the Kerosene relatively cool and constant, which fuel prefers.  I added PRI-D so it will last 10+ years, and filled them up 10 gallons at a time, using my 5 gallon blue cans for transport.  Find PRI-D on line at, among other sites.  (The D is for Diesel, but it preserves Kerosene just as well.)
Don't forget to buy a hand-crank pump to get the Kerosene out of the barrels, when you need it.  You can't siphon up hill, remember!  I bought a nice rotary hand crank barrel pump on Amazon, with an attachment to fit the bung hole of the drums, for about $40.
You still have your 2 original small containers full of Kerosene as well, so that actually gives you 120 gallons.  That's just enough to keep you cold but alive from a few winter months in Wisconsin.  Your pipes won't freeze.  Even with no power, you won't have to abandon your home.
For the gasoline, I purchased 12 of the 5 gallon plastic gas cans.  I filled one each month for a year, adding Sta-bil, and labeling the can with the month it was filled.  After 12 months, I began to rotate, by dumping the oldest 5 gallons in my car, and filling the can back up with fresh gas.  So I always have 60 gallons of stabilized gas on hand.  In a real crunch that would get me close to 1500 miles.  And I have plenty of gas for my chain saw – don't go into the Apocalypse without a chain saw!  (In place of Sta-bil, you can also use PRI-G, and the gas will last almost forever.)
Ammo:  Now you need a long rifle, and a lot more bullets.  I bought an AR-15, for $700.  It's a semi-automatic, holds 30 rounds in the magazine, and I bought 10 extra magazines.  (If things get crazy, you don't want to be reloading magazines in a fire-fight.)  Buy another 100 rounds for your pistol, and 800 rounds for your rifle.  And keep practicing regularly, and replace the ammo you use for practice. 
You can get good police surplus body armor for around $250, if you are so inclined.  I used  Remember, it can stop a pistol round, but rifle rounds are tougher to stop.  FYI.
Silver:  Now get serious about turning more of your assets into real money.  It's something the government can't print more of.  So now reach 1000 silver dimes ($1800), or 1,000 oz of silver coins ($25,000).  If we have a hyper-inflationary depression, none of your cash will be worth the paper it's printed on.  Put whatever you can spare into precious metals, and sleep better at night.
Regarding Platinum and Palladium, I just don't recommend them.  They are too industrial, so if the economy crashes, so will their demand.  Most people don't know about them, or understand their value.  Finally, when it comes time to convince someone that your Platinum 1 oz coin, which they've never seen before, is really worth 10 head of cattle –  well, good luck with that.
Cash:  Now move towards having $1,000 cash in hand.  It's always spendable, and if the banks are closed for a week, or a month, you'll be glad you have something people recognize.  It may be worthless eventually, but it may not, so have some on hand.  If not all $1s, have some $5 bills too.

Congratulations, you have reached a big milestone.  The 1,000 level of Preparation is quite an accomplishment, and you are certainly in the upper few percent of  Preppers.  You and a spouse and child could hunker down for a year, and survive without begging others for help.

Now, are you ready to prepare for the complete breakdown of civil society, and the End Of The World As We Know It?  Good.  Me too.

Step Three
This is the 10,000 level preparation, and it will enable you to keep a dozen adults safe and healthy for 2+ years.  How cool is that?
Why a dozen adults?  If things really fall apart, you'll find friends and family at your door, asking to be taken in.  You can either plan on sending them away, or you can plan on taking care of them.  I suggest you plan on taking care of them.
Besides, you'll need a dozen adults to protect your retreat/home.  You can't stay awake 24 hours a day guarding your stash.  You can't be watching in all directions.  There will be troublemakers to deal with.  You need time to sleep, regroup, cook, wash, garden, play.  That means you'll need help.  Stock enough food for them, and they will come.
Why 2 years?  Because it may take that long for things to settle out.  It may take that much time for you and your friends and family to learn to grow food, and hunt and trap successfully.  There's a lot to learn, and you don't want your first crop to be a matter of life & death.

Here's what you'll need:  10,000 pounds of food, 10,000 gallons of drinkable water, 10,000 pounds of fuel, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, 10,000 silver dimes, 10,000 dollar bills.

Don't panic!  It's not as difficult or expensive as you might think.

Food:  When you begin to really stock up on food, in this kind of quantity, the game changes.  What you buy, how you buy it, and how you store it, are the keys to your success.
In addition to the 1,000 pounds of food you already have, now you need to seriously stock up with food that will last, and not leave you broke.  We need 55 gallon plastic barrels, and 20+ of them.  Happily, they don't take up all that much room, with just a 2ft diameter footprint.  35” tall.
Buy the blue plastic barrels with the full open top, and big steel bands that seal the tops air tight.  Used, I can find them on Craig's List for $15 each.  Get food-grade, but to be safe, splurge on 55 gallon food-grade drum liners.  This food will be good for 30 years if you store it right, so don't skimp here.  I bought 25 of the 55 gallon LDPE Drum Liners from U.S. Plastics, for less than $3 each.
Start with more rice.  Buy 800 pounds more white rice, and fill 2 of your 55 gallon barrels.  The best price I found was Sam's Club, in 50 pound bags, at around $14 each.  But if you have a Restaurant Depot near you, find a way to join and check there too.  Figure $350 total for all your rice.
Now buy Hard Red Wheat.  Purchase it by the 60 lb. bushel, in SEED grade, from a farmer's co-op or seed distributor.  That's the key to Bulk Wheat.  (If they ask, you intend to plant it!)
First, seed grade wheat is EXTRA clean.  It's not treated with chemicals.  Just wheat berries, no field crap or bugs.  So you get just Wheat Berries, ready to grind up into flour.
But it's also perfect for planting, having been guaranteed for 90% germination.  It's alive.  Someday, you may want to plant some of your wheat yourself, to restock your supplies.  Or you might trade a bushel of seed to a farmer, in return for 5-10 bushels of grain come harvest time.  So buy Hard Red Wheat Seed – it's just really clean wheat.  (Winter & Spring refer to when it can be planted.)
I paid $13 per 60lb bushel for seed, when I might have found regular wheat for $8.  But Seed wheat is actually easier for the public to locate, and that $13 per bushel is much cheaper than the price “by the bucket” folks charge on line for plain wheat.  Less than 25% of the price.
I bought 4,000 pounds of Hard Red Wheat, or 67 bushels.  That filled 10 more of my barrels.  Another $850.  (Half Winter, half Spring wheat.) But I wasn't done with the grains just yet.
I also bought 1,200 pounds of Rye (21 bushels weighing 56 pounds each), and 800 pounds of Triticale (16 bushels weighing 50 pounds each).  $12 per bushel for rye, $15 for Trit.
 Rye is a great compliment to your wheat.  You can add 25% rye to your wheat when milling it with your hand grinder, and get a more balanced set of nutrients in your bread.  Or you can grind and bake with the rye alone.  The rye filled 3 more barrels and cost me $250.
Triticale is a hybrid of Wheat and Rye, and a hardy plant for growing.  It has a nutrient balance   similar to Wheat and Rye, and looks like both of them.  The “Trit” filled 2 more barrels, for $250.
The Rye cost a little less than the wheat, per bushel, and the Triticale cost a little more.  Is it necessary to have these other grains?  No.  Could you store just Hard Red Wheat?  Sure.  But variety is good for flavor, nutrition, baking choices and growing options, so I splurged a little on the Trit.
The grains have an incomplete set of proteins for people to digest, and if you only eat wheat, you'll eventually starve to death.  Your body would stop digesting and metabolizing it.  What you need to round it out is beans!  If you mix 1 part beans with 4 parts wheat, you have a good balance of proteins in your diet, and your body will be happy.
So now add 1600 pounds of Beans.  I went with mostly Pinto beans.  They are common, tasty, and simple to work with.  Most Mexican dishes sold in America use Pinto beans.  But you can also  store Navy beans, and Kidney beans, as well as others.  (Avoid soybeans, as they aren't right for your home survival meal preparation.)
The best source I found for beans was Restaurant Depot, paying about $31 for 100 pound sacks of pinto beans.  So I spent about $500 more on beans.  (I also have plenty of canned baked beans.)
Fill up 4 more drums with the beans, and you have roughly your 10,000 pounds of food, most of it ready to store for 20-30 years.  (Put extras that don't fill a complete barrel, in 6 gallon pails)
Storage:  Now, it's time to finish putting all this great food away for a rainy day.  You've got your barrels, and your food-grade liners.  Now you dump in the grains and beans, shaking the barrels to help the food settle.  Don't mix foods.  Fill each barrel with one specific item.  And label the barrels!  (Wear a mask when dumping the bushel bags, or you'll cough for days from the fine dust.)
These barrels will weigh 400 pounds when full, so they need to be in the right place when you fill them.  Moving them after that will be difficult.  Put a piece of cardboard or wood under each barrel, if you put them on a concrete floor.  Plastic likes to draw in chemicals from concrete, and you don't need that, even with your drum liners.  Do the same under your 6 gallon pails.
 Try to store them in a cool dark place.  Basements are great.  A garage, where the temperature gets up to 110 degrees every summer, is bad.  Stable, cool temperature extends shelf life.
Fill the barrels almost to the top, and then hollow out a little dip in the middle of the grain.  This is where you will put your one pound chunk of Dry Ice.  Put down a paper plate, some paper towels on top of that, then your dry ice on top.  Put the lid on the barrel, loosely fitting – as there must be room for the air to escape, for safety!  Never let the dry ice touch your skin – you'll have instant burn-like injuries.
As the dry ice “sublimates”  the gas will settle to the bottom of the barrel, because CO2 is heavier than the oxygen in the drum.  Over the next few hours, the dry ice will “melt” and drive out the oxygen.  A low oxygen level stops any critters from living in the barrels.
Immediately after the dry ice is gone, remove the paper, with the moisture and ice crystals drawn out of the air.  Put in 10+ of those little desiccant packs, to reduce moisture still more.  I bought hundreds on e-Bay, but you can get them at hobby shops, for drying flowers, very inexpensively.  It's silica gel.
Now snug down the lid, and tighten the metal band that seals it closed, and you're set for 30 years.  If you seal several barrels at a time, you won't have to make as many runs for dry ice.  I got my dry ice from a dairy company, for $1.25 per pound.  Check the phone book under Dry Ice.

Preparation tools:
  Don't forget to have the proper tools to process all this grain.  Have a good hand crank mill, so you can mill wheat into flour with the power out.  Having two mills may be smart, so you have a spare – you have a lot of grain.  Amazon sells some simple ones for around $75.  (Rice won't need grinding, which is a plus.)  Buy the book “How to Live on Wheat ” for your library.
Beans should be soaked in water for hours, then cooked well to destroy the natural toxins in them.  (Refried beans actually means "Well-fried" beans.)  But after years of storage, if they just get too dry, they can still be milled into a powder, and mixed in with wheat in small quantities, for baking
Many other items you purchase also store well in barrels.  It protects them from light, moisture and critters.  I have all my oatmeal, still in the boxes, in barrels, along with pasta noodles, sugars, mashed potatoes, powdered milk, etc.  Barrels are just handy for all my non-canned foods.  I stack these barrels on top of the Wheat and Rice barrels, and then slowly fill them up with perishables.

So, what did I spend on my bulk food?  $350 for the rice.  $850 for the Hard Red Wheat.  $250 for the rye and $250 for the Trit.  Another $500 for beans.  That's a total of $,2200 for the bulk food.  Figure in the cost of drums and liners, dry ice and desiccants, and call it an even $2,500.
To feed 12 people for 2+ years.  (Eating almost 2,000 calories per day)  That's $100 per person per year.  When they show up at your door, ask them each for a couple oz of silver, and call it even.

Water:  Now, you're wondering how we're going to have 10,000 gallons of safe, drinkable water, aren't you?  Actually, it's cheap and easy.  We don't try to store it, we make it.
First, you buy a 16 oz bag of Pool Shock at  It is 100% Calcium Hypochlorite with 65% available chlorine.  Cost, about $4.  You can find this same formula elsewhere as well. 
With this pound of Pool Shock, you can now make 1,000 bottles of chlorine bleach.  Each time you drink one of your pint bottles of water from the 100 level preparation, save it.  When you refill that little bottle with filtered water, and add pool shock, you have a bottle of great disinfecting bleach.
Each one of those 1,000 pint bottles of chlorine bleach can be added to 12 gallons of filtered water.  Let it sit 30 minutes, and you have 12 gallons of safe drinkable water.
So your one pound of Pool Shock will disinfect 12,000 gallons of water.
I actually have 7 pounds of Pool Shock set aside.  If things really fall apart, I plan to sell/barter pint bottles of bleach to others who are less prepared for long-term troubles.  Since I have enough Shock set aside for 7,000 bottles of bleach, I should have a nice little business, and I'll save lives at the same time.  (I'll never run out of bottles to put the bleach in, because the “price” of a new bottle of bleach will include the customer trading in an old empty bottle.)

Fuel:  Now we're talking about 10,000 pounds of fuel for your retreat.  No problem.  You have enough gasoline – you're not bugging out, you're bugging in.  That just leaves more Kerosene.
Another 9,000 pounds of Kerosene means almost 1,400 gallons.  How did I manage that?
First, I went on Craig's List, and found a guy selling 330 gallon used pallet box totes.  These are big, square plastic barrels, inside steel cages.  They are super tough and stack-able.  Their footprint is the size of a pallet – 47 inches by 39 inches, and they are 54 inches tall.  I bought four for just $75 each, delivered.
Then along my back lot line, along a woods, I built a big stack of fire wood.  5 ft high and 20 ft long.  Behind it, I dug a trench long enough and wide enough for the 4 totes, 2.5 feet deep.
I dropped in the totes, leaving 2 ft above ground.  I ordered bulk Kerosene from a fuel oil dealer, after shopping for price.  I paid $3 per gallon, for the 1,325 gallons the totes hold.  $4,000.
I covered them with a camo tarp, down below the ground level, and covered the edges with 2 feet of dirt.  Just in case, I bought a second hand crank pump, to get the Kerosene back out.  $40.
I also bought another 10,000 BTU Kerosene heater on eBay, and a 22,000 BTU heater off Craig's List for $50.  Small one for the basement, big one for the ground floor, small one for upstairs.
These modern Kerosene heaters burn very clean, but you still need some ventilation when they are used indoors, so don't seal the place up tight.  And get several battery powered Carbon Monoxide detectors, to be sure.  Be safe, people!
I can either keep the retreat nice and warm for 2 Winters with the 1450 gallons of Kerosene I've stored, or I can stretch it out for 3-4 years, and shiver thru winters here in Wisconsin.   (I may also want to trade some Kerosene, if the price is right.)  12 adults will give off plenty of body heat, so that will help stretch the Kerosene.  Also note, Kerosene, plus 2 cycle oil at a 100/1 ratio, will run a diesel engine or generator.  That may come in very handy.  Put some 2 cycle oil aside as well.
Ammo:  Okay, now get serious about protecting the retreat from bad guys.  10,000 rounds of ammunition should be your goal.  If you know who you expect to join you, be sure to suggest what caliber weapons they should buy now, and urge them to stock up on the same type ammo as well.
I suggest at least 1,000 rounds for your pistols.  That's right, pistols.  Buy at least one more pistol, which fires the same ammunition.  I added a Taurus 24/7 for about $375.  15 rounds in the magazine, it's a nice little gun.  Any “guests” who arrive unarmed can use the 10 round Hi-Point pistol.
Now work toward at least 4,000 rounds of ammo for your rifle.  For me that was 4,000 rounds of .223 ammo.  My AR-15 from Olympic Arms also fires the popular police and military 5.56 NATO rounds, so it's more versatile when it comes time to scavenge for extra ammo.  I can use either one.
I also added an M1 rifle that I inherited, which fires large .30-06 rounds.  It's my backup rifle, for “guests” who show up unarmed.  1,000 rounds will have to do.  $300.
And it's time to get a .22 rimfire rifle, for small game hunting.  I bought one with a scope at Dunham's for $125.  Then I added 4,400 rounds of ammo at Wal-Mart, for around $160.
I don't have a shotgun.  Too few rounds on board, too bulky for close combat, too short a range. Too much time between shots.  But if you do, be sure to have plenty of ammo for it as well.
Silver:  Now you have to get serious about TEOTWAWKI.  Converting $18,000 into 10,000 silver dimes is a great stash if you can afford it.  Start to work your way there.  I like Gainsville Coins for my metal purchases.  Very safe and reliable.  Best prices I've found.  It comes in the mail.
If you're in even better financial shape, and want to protect serious wealth, then it's time to have $250,000 in the form of 10,000 silver 1 oz coins.  Even if things really fall apart for a while, you should survive the collapse with real money to invest in seriously depressed assets.
Cash:  The final step is $10,000 in $1, $5, and $10 bills.  You're not giving up any real interest income by holding cash these day, and if your bank doesn't open one day, you'll be glad you hold some currency.  Be sure it is well hidden, and a fire-proof box or safe is a good idea.  And tell no one outside your immediate family! 

All the stages in between
Now you've seen the path from bare minimum survival, the 100 level, to a fully-stocked retreat.  The key is to keep these six ingredients roughly in their proper proportion.  Keep things balanced.
The guy with all food and no bullets is waiting to be robbed.  The guy with all silver and no food will not like the price a starving man has to pay for a loaf of bread.  The guy with all wheat and no beans will struggle with malnutrition.
I hope it's clear that there are many small steps between each of these three main levels.  You can be a 300 level Prepper, or a 2,000 level Prepper.  Each step is an important achievement, and gets you closer to true security.  You don't have to reach the 10,000 level of Preparation to sleep better.
In addition, there are lots of other smaller things you'll certainly want to buy along the way.  I have 200+ Votive candles, each good for 15 hours of light. (Ebay)  Boxes of rechargeable batteries and a solar charger, and LED lamps.  4,000 strike anywhere matches. Crank-able portable radios.  Lots of toilet paper.  Boxes of vitamins C, D and Multiple.  A big stash of fish antibiotics.  Walkie Talkies. Paracord.  Nails, thread and needle.  Seeds for a garden.  Rolls of razor wire. 200 bottles of bug spray.  Fish hooks.  Night vision goggles.  Lots of books on survival skills.  And chocolate syrup!

So don't ignore those details that all the Survival books and web sites cover so well.  Start your own list, and when you think of something you don't want to live without, add it to your list.  Then buy it, and put it away.  Someday soon you'll be glad you did.

Your life, and the lives of your family and friends, may well depend on your level of Preparation.  It's quick and easy to get started, and there's no reason to not be at the 100 level of Preparation.  But once you start, tell only your most trusted future allies.  Tell no one else, ever.
From the 100 level, keep adding to your stores in the proper proportion, level by level, as you can afford it.  But tough times are coming, so skip that vacation, or nice dinner out, and put that money into reaching your next level of Preparation.  You'll sleep better.  Good luck.

Seven hundred years before the birth of the Christ, a man named Hezekiah ascended to the throne in Jerusalem. Looking around, Hezekiah saw a nation divided and in spiritual decay. Bold action was needed to set the nation back on track.

Though we may not be kings with the power to lead our country off of a path of destruction, I believe that there are several valuable lessons that can be taken from the experiences of Hezekiah and applied to the life of a Christian prepper. When we look around, we see a nation on the brink of disaster, just like Hezekiah. The question is, what will we do about it? Here are nine things that Hezekiah did:

1. Hezekiah put God back at the center of worship. (2 Chronicles 29:3-19)
Before we launch into our preps, we must be sure that Christ is at the center of our lives. Without his help, any plans we design on our own are destined to fall short or fail all together. Just like Hezekiah worked to put God back into the center of his nation, we must examine our lives and be sure that God is at the center of all we do.

2. Hezekiah restored the tithe. (2 Chronicles 31:4)
When our eyes are first opened to the dangers that are routinely discussed here on Survivalblog, it is tempting to give up on the tithe and use that money to lay up more preps. However, it’s important to remember that the tithe is a form of worship that keeps us from putting ourselves at the center of our lives. That position belongs to God. Giving 10% back to God is a way of acknowledging that all we have is His and thanking Him for intrusting us with it as a steward. While I can’t explain how, I can only say that I live better on the 90% after the tithe than I have ever lived on the 100% without the tithe. In 2 Chronicles 31:20 we see this spiritual principle play out in Hezekiah’s life. “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.” (NKJV)

3. Hezekiah identified the threats to his nation and made preparations accordingly. (2 Chronicles 32:1-6)
When Hezekiah surveyed his kingdom, he saw Sennacherib, king of Assyria, preparing for war. Just as Hezekiah identified the Assyrian king as a threat to his people, so too we must identify the hazards that threaten our families. Financial collapse, job loss, hurricane, flood… some threats are held in common by all Americans while others are specific to certain regions. Identify the threats and make preparations in accordance with their probability and severity.
As an emergency management student and a member of the National Guard who has responded to Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf, tornados in Tennessee, and deployed to Iraq twice, I know how fragile the thin veneer of civilization is. Our nation is dependant on many things but I’d put cheap oil and the steady flow of electricity at the top of that list. If one of these two things falter, our way of life will change dramatically. As has been clearly articulated many times before on this site, the systems that ensure the distribution of cheap oil and reliable electricity are vulnerable. Therefore, it only makes sense that we prepare for life without them.

4. Hezekiah sought the counsel of wise individuals. (2 Chronicles 32:3)
We weren’t designed to live this life alone. Find godly people that you can trust and seek their counsel. Proverbs 15:22 is one of my favorite verses on this matter. “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” (NKJV)

5. Hezekiah made preparations for hard times. (2 Chronicles 32:4-6)
In his preparations against Sennacherib, Hezekiah repaired the walls around Jerusalem, built weapons, organized the civilian population under military leadership, and redirected springs to flow inside the walls of Jerusalem. In fact, you can still wade through the water in Hezekiah’s tunnel to this day. The preparations that you choose to make will rely heavily on the threats that you identify. Having said that, food, water, and the means to defend your family make sense in just about any disaster mitigation plan.

6. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord in spite of the danger that faced him. He didn’t let fear paralyze him. (2 Chronicles 32:7-8)
In Hezekiah’s day, the nation of Israel was divided. Hezekiah ruled a small portion of it called Judah with Jerusalem as its capital. The rest of the nation had long since fallen into spiritual decay and had been dragged into captivity by invading armies. By all rights, Hezekiah could have given into the fear that the same fate would find him and his people. Instead, Hezekiah called on the people to be “strong and courageous” and to not be afraid. (2 Chronicles 32:7 NKJV).
The shadow of economic collapse hangs heavy over America. We cannot allow ourselves to get lost in fear. Fear paralyzes and robs us of the strength and presence of mind needed for prudent action. We must be strong and courageous for the sake of our family, friends, and community. The majority of our nation is living in denial. They need us to stand up and lead like Hezekiah. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV) If you’re living in fear, you didn’t get that from your Father in heaven.

7. Hezekiah prayed. (2 Chronicles 32:20)
Hezekiah prayed for help. We too must pray for God’s help. I pray that our nation would be spared the collapse that we see on the horizon. If it can’t be stopped, I pray for more time to prepare. I pray that God would help me to open the eyes of my friends and family members. I pray that God would help me to find trustworthy people to work with in my preparations. When Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed, God sent an angel that struck down the leaders of Sennacherib’s army. Sennacherib fled and was later struck down by one of his sons while in worship in the temple of his god.

8. Hezekiah let pride set in. (2 Chronicles 32:22-25)
The Bible is great at reminding us that no man is perfect. After the victory over Assyria, Hezekiah’s stature grew. For a while, Hezekiah lost sight of the fact that it was God that had pulled them through when Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem. Once all our preps are laid in and we build up our skills, it’s easy to trust in those preps instead of God. When you feel you are ready for the worst, remember that God is still the only one that can pull you through. Trust in Him and not your preps.

9. Hezekiah failed to practice good OPSEC and it cost his nation dearly. (2 Kings 20:1-6, 12-18)
Hezekiah failed to point to God as the true source of the nation’s victory. So, in the face of Hezekiah’s pride, God allowed sickness to bring Hezekiah low. In fact, the prophet Isaiah even came to Hezekiah and told him to prepare for death. At this news Hezekiah wept bitterly and prayed. God heard this prayer and healed him. The news of this miraculous recovery went far and wide. Several nations sent envoys with gifts to Hezekiah. One of these nations was Babylon. Hezekiah hid nothing from the Babylonian envoys. He showed them his treasury and armory.

Revealing your preps to the wrong people can put you and your family at risk. Many years after Hezekiah’s death, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, laid siege to Jerusalem. He stripped the city of everything valuable and carried the people off into captivity. This wasn’t a coincidence. Isaiah the prophet had confronted Hezekiah about his OPSEC breach shortly after the Babylonians left. He told Hezekiah that the Babylonians would carry off everything that they had stored up.
The story of Hezekiah is a story of a God fearing man preparing for disaster. If it teaches us anything, it’s that making preparations for disaster is not a failure to trust in the Lord’s ability to provide. He has given us the wisdom to see the world as it is and to take action accordingly. May we all take the threats seriously and store up a little extra for those who don’t.

God bless this community and may God lift up more leaders who can see the threats and take action against them.

P.D. flagged this one: Right Now, a Complete Collapse of the Financial System is Not Out of the Question

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) recommended this article: Bernanke soft-pedals QE2 risks.

The age of the dollar is drawing to a close. (Thanks to H.W. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Stiglitz:  We Have to Throw the Bankers in Jail or the Economy Won't Recover

Largest 15 States are Spending Over 220% of their Tax Revenue

Microsoft CEO Sells $1.3 Billion of Shares

World Blasts Deranged Madman's Uncheckable Insanity

German Minister Renews Fed Criticism

Inflation Watch:

Chris Mayer: Inflation is Already Here with Lots More to Come

US Dollar Printing Huge Risk to World: China Banking Adviser

Quentin wrote: I have been using the “Big Rolls” (1,000 sheet roll) of toilet paper from Walgreen's Pharmacy for years. Whenever they are on sale we buy. I knew the price had gone up but didn’t know “the rest of the story”. The oldest roll in our stock was priced at 79 cents each or 3/$1.99 and weighed 9.4 oz. The sheets were 4.5”x 4.4”and totaled 137.5 sq. ft. The next oldest roll in our stock was priced at 89 cents each or 4/$3.00 and weighed 7.8 oz. The sheets were 4.25”x 4.0”and totaled 118.05 sq. ft. The ones I bought yesterday were priced the same at 89 cents each or 4/$3.00. The sheets were 4.25”x 4.0”and totaled 118.05 sq. ft. But the rolls only weighed 7.4 ounces!"

Cotton Clothing Price Tags to Rise.

As Fed Policy Sinks the Dollar, Prices of Essentials Soar

There is an interesting new forum called Every Day Carry Central. It is essentially a forum for gear junkies with a focus on personal protection, security, preparedness and self defense related gear. They post opinions and gear reviews from people who really know what they are talking about. It is free to register on it and there are no annual membership fees, unless you want access to the buy/sell/trade forum. For an initial membership drive, on November 24th they are doing a giveaway drawing for more than $200 worth of gear just for registering on the site. If the winner is from the USA they will get the gear with the knives, but because of Customs restrictions if the winner lives overseas they will get the gear sans the knives. (OBTW, I've volunteered to send the equivalent value in books, in that event.)

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Pastor Chuck Baldwin (who recently relocated from Florida to near Kalispell, Montana) has updated his survival recommendations. It is noteworthy that Baldwin is just one of dozens of people I've encountered who have mentioned that they felt a strong conviction to move to the Inland Northwest. When you ask them why they moved, they almost invariably give a one word answer: "God". Like Baldwin, I predict that Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah will be bastions of liberty in the years come. These states will also be relatively safe places to live, as the U.S. economy continues its death spiral. Oh, and speaking of Montana, Steve Kendley's recent bid for Sheriff was unsuccessful. Running as an independent, he was edged out by the Republican candidate by only about 300 votes. But the really noteworthy aspect of the recent race is that Kendley's campaign web site attracted over 180,000 visits nationwide. This is indicative that there is a move afoot!

   o o o

Reader E.H. wrote: "For anyone having a hard time finding boots to fit oddly shaped feet, then I would suggest that they look into White's Boots. White's offers many styles including Boots made specifically to your measurements for an individuals Right & Left feet. A comprehensive measuring chart illustrates the technique. Boots are then built to fit if I understand correctly. Warrant and return are explained on the web site. Their boots are rebuildable and repairable. Since I am aging and have trouble finding Boots to fit satisfactorily, I am going to order from White's. A little pricey but if they fit properly, then I'll buy happily." [JWR Adds: A key advantage of White's is that unlike most mass-produced boots, these can be re-soled. Most other boots must be discarded once the sole is worn out.]

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G.B. mentioned that the full text of The Federalist Papers are available online.

"There are two ways to sleep well at night... be ignorant or be prepared." - Simon Black, Editor of the Sovereign Man blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

There are all the “normal” things a person who has decided that a TSHTF or even a TEOTWAWKI event is possible in the near future thinks about, and then there is the fact that  some of us are ethnic minorities and our current plans may be to retreat to areas that are overwhelmingly Americans of European descent.  The reality is that many of these areas are also the best suited to survive a TSHTF event or the (hopefully) unlikely TEOTWAWKI.  Thus the quandary: retreat to areas that are highly ethnically diverse, but less prepared, or retreat to areas that are less ethnically diverse, but much better prepared.  If one chooses to retreat to an area that is not ethnically diverse, I believe it is prudent to plan that some of your co-retreaters, who may or may not be your close neighbors, may take that opportunity to attempt to impose their racist views on you – either violently or non-violently -- during a time when law breaks down and you are located in a fairly remote location.  Thus being a prepared citizen that is also a minority may introduce additional challenges.  

When you think of attractive retreat areas like Northern Idaho, and you read about the annoyance that idiots like the Aryan Nations can pose, it gives you pause. Logically, I realize that these mostly carpetbaggers are a statistical minority (many of whom have been chased out by other concerned Americans of European descent) and anomalous to the local people of these various regions. [JWR Adds: Butler and the "Idaho Nazis" are a tiny group, and it is noteworthy that in 2001 they lost their "compound" in a civil lawsuit. To call them a marginal group is an overstatement.] But emotionally it is still something that weighs on you when you think of migrating your family to face a TEOTWAWKI-like event in a isolated, remote location.  Will you have to defend yourself against people who know the area very well and know exactly where you live?  The reality is that many well intentioned people do not realize how significantly challenging it can be to live life as a minority.   Let me just say, without making any excuses, that it weighs on you and your children constantly. Now, imagine you are in a TEOTWAWKI event, in a remote locale, and you are the only person of your ethnicity in that area.  How do you prepare?
Unless your head is in the sand, these additional concerns certainly add to your preparedness worries.  In the area I am retreating too, my family will double the number of ethnic minorities reported in the 2000 Federal census.  To prepare my family first I take a deep breath, pray, and realize that we can do this.  I’ve lived all over the globe with the military and thus living in my own country, with fellow Americans, has to be achievable.   I’ve also learned numerous processes from my time in the military to help families that must reallocate often.  We can make this work.

I and my family live and work in the “low lands” far away from our retreat area, right smack in the middle of what will become the Golden Horde in a Blue State.  We have a complete understanding of the dangers of long travel and being separated from our secure location and prepare as best we can.  For many reasons we have decided that simply building a retreat in and around the South Western Blue States is unacceptable.  Fundamentally, I am using the additional earning power of “the big city” to complete our retreat, before inflation and job loss really destroy us.  Neither my family nor I were raised with any real “rural” skills, so we are also busy adding those and learning “survivalist” skills as we work to finish our retreat.  We do not have a retreat group, but continue to work on some long time family friends.  

Reasons I Don’t Prepare
I do not think we will have we will have a TEOTWAWKI event in the near future.  I really do not.  Why?

Self-Correcting Internal Systems
.  First I believe in general the American political and economic systems are the best man has ever created, and they are largely “correctable” by citizens in peaceful ways.  I expect we will all see evidence of this in the very different voting patterns of November 2010 to the response to the shocking recent political lurch towards the “redistribution of wealth” concept that many logical people believe has its roots in socialism. 

Well Supplied Legions Protecting the Borders. Second, I have worked in and around the “military-industrial-complex” for most of my life with the required security clearances.  From everything I know I simply do not see anything on the horizon that indicates a TEOTWAWKI event in our immediate future.  Our military still holds global dominance on Land, Air and Sea.  China’s military is nowhere near being on par no matter what pundits may say.  Just remember: the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit (which no one else in the world can make, and China almost certainly can’t see) was designed in 1979 and first displayed publicly in 1988. What do you think the American “military-industrial-complex” has been doing for the last 30 years?  Remember as well:  we have not truly waged full war since 1945.  Our American Legions are truly a scary thing.  Certainly there are non-Nation threats, mostly centered on the Muslim terrorist with biological or nuclear materials (and they try, boy they try), but these most likely would result in a more localized TSHTF event.  To have a true military related “TEOTWAKI” event that goes “through” our Legions will most likely take time.

Economic Meltdown Will Take Time
. Third, not to disagree with JWR and others, but most peoples’ theories of economic collapse make some large leaps that are largely unsupported by past experience.  America is the only Western nation that has survived essentially a complete economic meltdown without having a violent political change in the 20th century.  Some argue that Japan’s recent “lost decade” is the other.  For example the derivative time bomb article talks about potential economic disruption – which I agree is certainly possible, maybe even likely -- but the follow on jumps from disruption to an “Armageddon” like outcome, where all markets stop functioning, no gas, no power is in many ways like leaping from the steam engine to landing on the moon.  I will give a concrete example.  Does anyone realize that most inner-city folks (black and Hispanics) are only two generations removed from the farm?  If “TSHTF” many people still know some basic skills and would almost certainly be heading to their Aunts’ or their Cousins’ places, or back to the pueblo or the Deep South wherever their extended family still lives.  In my opinion, a mass exodus to the South, and/or massive reverse migration is much more likely than formation of a giant roving cannibal army.   It is possible over time, but seems fairly way out there from where we sit today.   

Reasons I Do Prepare

Localized Bad Events. Even though I do not think, there is a high probability of a countrywide (or worldwide) TEOTWAWKI in the near future, I do believe there is a much higher chance that we may experience multiple TSHTF events, most likely localized.  My primary evidence to support this is both the numerous local TSHTF events of the recent past, and the many near misses that we don’t know about, so it is completely logical to assume these events will continue to occur in the future.  A compendium of many localized TSHTF events can be found in The Pessimist's Guide to History, by Doris Flexner and Stuart Berg Flexner, ISBN 978-0-06-143101-2.  Whether it is a terrorist dirty bomb, a sustained power outage, massive earthquakes, tsunamis, or plagues like the Swine Flu which could move quickly, localized TSHTF events are possible – and in my opinion likely within my planning horizon.

 I also believe in my heart-of-hearts that the American economic system cannot continue indefinitely, without change, as it is.  It is structurally flawed.  We cannot continue to have unlimited illegal immigration impacting primarily blue collar jobs, and unlimited off-shoring of American jobs primarily impacting white collar jobs, without ultimately becoming a nation that produces nothing locally. To me, this combination means we will continue to see “record profits” on Wall Street as companies keep seeking the “lowest cost” way to make junk globally, while on Main Street the unemployment (and underemployment) rate remain unsustainably high. In the end, we will be able to buy less as we continue to become a nation of middlemen who shuffle paper, but otherwise produce nothing of substance.  Absent a serious change in political direction, this process which has been enabled by both Republicans and Democrats, will continue until our economy is a wreck and the problem is too obvious for people to ignore.
Side note: One thing I admire about the primarily Mexican illegal aliens is they are at their core a traditional, family-oriented people who most mostly come here to work and make a better life for themselves and their children.  These folks are not trying to blow up airplanes, or install some foreign form of law.  Also to be completely honest, they are doing pretty much what I would do if I were stuck in Mexico in 2010:  Get out any way I could.  However as I tell my friends from Mexico “…if everyone where you are from, moved to where we live now, then where we live now will look like where you are from…”       

.  Economically, again, while I do not believe in massive hyperinflation in the near future that leads to “societal meltdown,” I do believe that more inflation in coming, maybe even a return to the kinds of rates we saw in the late 1970’s – and everybody should be taking reasonable financial steps to prepare for that eventuality. I expect my earnings will continue to be depressed due to off-shoring of jobs, illegal immigration, inflation and a growing tax burden.  When will I get sick of working for the Federal government?  When it hits 30%, 40% perhaps 50% of my income?  I do not know when other people will hit their personal breaking point, but I can tell you that most productive people I know are well on their way to getting sick of it. If and when this happens, having food-producing, independently-powered land may become a very attractive alternative to working and be taxed at a 50% rate.
The most important reason I prepare, is that I MIGHT BE WRONG! 

As many know, preparing is different than retreating.  I will not specifically dive into “why” to retreat rather than shelter in place, but if you are curious about the philosophical and practical differences please read the enormous amount of writing on the subject here.  In addition to the general challenges involved with retreating, the specific challenges I believe that a racial minority needs to logically prepare for when retreating to a remote, ethnically monolithic location are:

  1. Being mistaken for a non-local resident in a potentially highly volatile situation.
  2. Dealing with aggressive and / or violent racial supremacist / separatist.
  3. Making it much harder to “blend in” to your surroundings.
  4. The additional emotional isolation you and your family may feel.

Here are some of the methods I am choosing to use to address these issues.

As local as you can be.
  First, I visit the area I am looking to move to as often as time and money allows.  I try to move around the area and meet as many local people as possible.  I pay attention to the local norms and try to conform to them as much as I can at a basic daily living level, from where we eat to what we wear.  I get drunk (or appear to be) in the local bar. I attend Church whenever I am there (I know that drinking followed by Church make for an interesting juxtaposition, but it works for me), and I enjoy attending the the local town halls.  I want to interact in the retreat area to the maximum extent possible.  I want the locals to know that I exist while maintaining OPSEC which can be challenging, and I want to learn as much about the local area as possible. One of the communities I absolutely leverage is our church.  I decided early in the process that I would not move our family to any area that did not have at least one existing religious community that my family prescribes too.   I actually used a map to look through various counties that had people with a similar religious background.  There is an excellent map here to find a religious community you feel comfortable with:

Next we go out of our way to see how welcoming the area is.  This required me to take time off work to drive around the area. After I close on my raw acreage, I plan regular trips during all four seasons to hike and hunt in the local area.  Once again, the point is to move around your retreat community as much as your “urban” job allows.  Use the fact that you are the one of the few minorities roaming around these hills to your advantage.  People will remember you, and thus you have an excellent opportunity to make a memorable positive impression every time. 

The reason I am retreating from my urban center to one of the Free States is to be safer, not to place my family in greater risk.  I am moving to find security and stability for my family, not to worry whether some pickup truck full of drunken racists is going to harass or otherwise interfere with my wife or children.  In good times, violence of this type often leads to some people ending up dead, and others ending up with an extended stay in Club Fed.  In lawless times the encounter may be even more extreme.  While often it is simply more efficient to avoid violent confrontation, I believe one must be prepared to effectively deal with rabid animals when you have too. When I was in the Navy, a good friend was a Marine officer (European descent if it matters).  He explained to me that one day a new Marine family came over for a visit and were very up front in explaining their very supremacist views.  My buddy, looked this guy in the eye and let him know that neither he, nor his family wanted anything to do with him or his family, and in case his new neighbor “took issue” with that he wanted to be clear “…I just want to let you know that my family is heavily armed and highly trained…”  I have taken that example into my life when dealing with all forms of violent, virulent racists.   

Once you come to terms with what your family must ultimately be prepared to do to protect yourself from racial violence, you must also realize that you cannot defend yourself against an entire community.  This is one of the primary reasons to retreat from the “big city” in the first place!  You may already have problems with elements of the Golden Horde, a roving band of biker zombies and / or the “normal” TEOTWAWKI threats like trying not to starve or freeze to death with minimal skills.  Adding on that some of your neighbors may choose to take this opportunity to implement their view of the world may just be too much.  Just as “sheltering in the city” raises issues with your neighbors becoming a mob threat, having too many people in an area who feel they have the right to ethnically cleanse you from your land can be a similar level of threat.  Add into the fact that your minority “JWR prepared non-local” family may be one of the better prepared in the area and you have the potential for additional hostility.  While not a complete solution, I also try to find out about any known active racist groups in our retreat area.  One useful online resource is the Southern Poverty Law Center's map which shows what it considers to be hate groups and their known locations.  I certainly do not agree with all of their classifications, and this is only one data source, but the point is to realize who lives at your retreat area.  Work with your small, but hopefully growing, network of friends to better understand both who to keep your eyes on, as well as who you might depend, on in a crisis.  It will be more difficult since most likely your property is on the outskirts of town, but if you have been reading the various JWR gospels, you know that gathering as much information as possible, including as to people who may be hostile to your being there at all, could one day save your life.  Ultimately, while the reality is that I’ve found most people I’ve met in rural life are decent, common sense Americans who respect privacy, that’s no good reason not to keep your eyes open for potential trouble spots.

Blending In
.  I work hard to prepare my family to succeed in a different cultural environment by focusing not only presenting ourselves as locals, but also on developing skills that may be useful where we are going and that the family can participate in together, here and now.  For me this means being more active at our private school, our local Church, active in Boy Scouts for my son, Girl Scouts for my daughters.  We are looking at the local 4-H Youth Development Program (pure gold) in our local area to help the entire family understand what we are getting ourselves into.  In addition we are also approaching various NRA Youth Programs.   I spend time ensuring my children (and therefore my wife and I) are learning the common sports of the “target area” which are primarily skiing, snowmobile riding, skating, hiking and hunting (and drinking).  Between school, Scouts, 4-H, NRA Youth, skiing, hiking with friends, my family is getting good exposure and since we my wife and I remain active in our children’s activities we are getting TSHTF skills as well as building a tighter family unit.  Preparedness can really be a strategic philosophy that supports the principles of bringing your family together.  In addition now that you have acquired some of the hobbies and skills of the retreat area you can more easily participate in the community. 
Finally, in addition to understanding general local social norms, I also think it’s important to learn as much as possible about the “local” property norms as well.  In the “free states” in general they are highly respectful of property rights.  Hang your “no trespassing” signs and in general most “normal” folks in most places will leave you and your family alone.  That said, in my retreat area homesteaders tend to fence their land, but do not hang out “Private Property” signs and are generally of the mentality that “animals stay out, but people can move through.”  If a person paints his fence posts orange, it means “do not hunt on my land.”  “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs mean just that, go around.  Learning local signs and “acceptable norms” help avoid misunderstanding and the potential of putting yourself at undo risk.  Once you learn these norms, use them to increase your own security. 

Stay as connected as possible. Since I do not live at my retreat year-around I use 21st century technology to bridge the distances.  If you have reliable power to your retreat, then web-enabled cameras are an increasingly inexpensive option for remotely monitoring your property and can add an additional level of security so long as the grid is up.  Recently a couple was able to call the local police department to report a break in from another state. Anyway, when I am stuck at my desk job in one of the most liberal states in the Union, the ability to sneak peeks at my retreat should help me remain sane and focused on the long-term “big picture.”

How else to I stay connected with my retreat area? I spend some time in my normal day listening to local radio stations that broadcast from my retreat area over the Internet, and I am a subscriber to the local paper.  I called my satellite television provider and added local channels from as close as possible to my retreat (which required me to tell them I had “moved” to my retreat address).  I now get my physically local channels over the air with a digital antenna.  In addition, I regularly read the minutes of governmental meetings posted on the County’s web site.  I now know who the major political figures are, including the new “out-of-town” local sheriff and his new push on people putting gates across open county roads.   Now and in the future, when I move through town, I can more easily participate in discussion about or respond more appropriately to local events.

.  This is hard because it deals with the emotional stability of my wife, which is in the best of times a challenge.  First, I try and encourage my family and friends to plan on retreating with us.  This is the best option and is in general a requirement for improved security, in any case.    I also try to make our family as independent of their local surroundings and as mobile as possible. To me, this means primarily getting our television and radio from the Internet or satellite which can move anywhere in North America (at least while the grid is up).  We also make reading a major part of our lives and are learning to use ham radio.  We also ensure that to the extent possible the children look to each other as primary playmates.  Homeschooling is a great option if you can do it, further making the family more of an independent mobile unit.  We personally cannot make that work today, but we stretch to keep them in Catholic private schools which are similar any where you go.  We do a lot or our purchasing over the Internet which again remains the same no matter where we live, as long as the grid is up.  The military always recommended to create family traditions and then hold too them.  If Dad gets up on Saturday and cooks breakfast, then ensure you try to do it every Saturday, no matter what comes. Kids will complain, but in truth, those traditions can create and maintain stability, even in the worst of times.  This stability may really help as you finally make the transition to your retreat area, whether willingly or unwillingly. 

To conclude, I find that being a racial minority brings with it additional challenges to retreating to a remote area, but those challenges can be successfully overcome with some modes, proactive and smart effort.   Again, most of the people I’ve run into are hardworking, peaceful, respectful individuals who are willing give everyone a fair shake, regardless of color or creed. As a by the way, I have also found this to be largely true in the many other countries I have visited.  Most people are good people.  Stick to the basics:  be as local as you can be, stay as connected as you can, find ways to adapt to the local culture in ways that are consistent with your beliefs, and honestly face the potential challenges that may come your way.  Keep a focus on how you plan on dealing with these issues as they arise, and the Lord willing, you too can make the move successfully.

I have been an avid follower of SurvivalBlog for several years now and you and I want to thank JWR and my fellow readers for helping me to get prepared.  I am not nearly where I want to be yet, but thanks to your books and your blog, I am leaps and bounds better prepared than I was even two years ago. I am writing this article to help others discover what took me some time and research to figure out – what would be the ideal kind of vehicle in a TEOTWAWKI bug out situation?  You're ready.  You have done your homework.  You have at least a years' worth (or more) of food preps done.  Check.  You have your water and filtration/purification systems.  Check.  You have your medical supplies.  Check.  You have your defensive arms and armaments.  Check.  You are all set if you bug in. 

But what if something upsets your plans?  What if you have to bug out?  Do you have a vehicle that can get you through the worst conditions?  I am not just talking about bad weather.  What if the roads are blocked or damaged and you need to go off-road?  What if some bridges are blown and you need to cross streams?  Now, how close do you live to that nuclear plant downwind of you?  Less than 100 miles?  Less than 50 miles?  Oh, that's bad for you.  If the grid goes down, either through a solar storm or a cyber attack, that's not good.  If there is a high altitude EMP attack, that is probably the worst case scenario.  You see, those nuclear plants have about a week's worth of diesel fuel to power their cooling pumps.  After that, bad things happen.  You remember Chernobyl, don't you?  Guess what – Chernobyl is coming to your town if the grid goes down and they can't get extra diesel fuel to those nuclear power plants before the cores melt and the spent fuel pools catch fire and disperse radioactive death for thousands of square miles.  The NRC has known about this issue for years, but has taken no action.  (Why don't you write your Congressman and complain?) 

So what do you do now?  You were all prepared to bug in.  But now, you need to leave.  If you already have a place to go, you're already one very large step ahead of the Golden Horde.  But what about your vehicle?  That late model fancy 4x4 SUV isn't going to even be able to leave your driveway if there is an EMP attack. Walking is going to take a long time and how are you going to carry all that food and water and guns and ammo that you acquired?  Bicycling is faster, but you still can't carry much.  Maybe you have an old late 60’s muscle car that is EMP-proof.  Or perhaps you were smart and have one of those '68 Broncos or other EMP resistant 4x4s; they still aren't going to carry all of your gear.  Think about that – if you only have a few days to pack (or a few hours) and you know that you can never come back to your home or your town because it will be radioactive for 300+ years – how much will you need to take with you?  What about tools?   Extra clothes?  Blankets? How about those bicycles?  What about all those survival books that you have accumulated?  How about all of your gardening tools?  A years' worth of food takes up a LOT of space and weighs many hundreds of pounds, even if it is freeze-dried!  You need something that can carry all of that weight and bulk.  Why, all those things must weigh thousands of pounds and certainly they won't all fit in a Jeep or a Bronco or that old 1960s muscle car. Remember, you won't be able to come back to your home – at least not to live there again in your lifetime if you want to survive.  And even if you decide to come back to get something that you really wanted but forgot – well, it's going to be contaminated – so you really can't come back to take it with you anyway.  It’s coming.  We can’t stop it. This is TEOTWAWKI.  Most people will not be prepared.  People are going to starve.  People will riot.  There will be chaos.  You need to get out – now.  With the grid down, fuel will not pump from gas stations, no matter what you might have that will still drive.  You have already spent a good deal of money on all of those other items that you needed.  How are you going to possibly be able to carry all of those things that you want to take from your home? 

Some roads may be impassible – you may need to go off-road to reach your destination.  I have heard that in some places, people are even prepared to blow up bridges to stop the Golden Horde from reaching them.  What if you need to cross a stream or creek?      Your bug out vehicle needs to be EMP proof – otherwise, don't even bother – it will just be an expensive lawn ornament.  It needs to be easy to work on – no complex diagnostic computers – they won't work after an EMP attack any way.  You want it to go wherever a Jeep can go – so it needs to be a 4x4 (at least).  You want it to be inexpensive.  You don't have $50,000 or more to buy a used Hummer H1 (and they can't carry that much anyway).  You have to be able to buy it and insure it (at least until the EMP comes) for not too much money.  Let's say your budget is $5K to $6K (it is even hard to buy a decent used 1968 Bronco for that much money, and I have seen old Toyota Land Cruisers go for over $12,000).  You don't want it to be a huge vehicle or semi-truck, since you don't have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive something like that any way.  You want it to be fairly easy to drive and park and maneuver. Wouldn't it be great if it had its  own built-in air compressor, so that you could air your tires up and down as needed?  Wouldn't it be great if it could run on almost any fuel?  Diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, kerosene, biodiesel or gasoline?  In that case, you could siphon fuel out of almost any vehicle that was stranded or abandoned on the road and use it. 

What then, is the ultimate bug out vehicle that can solve all of these problems?  Is there such a vehicle? Yes!  It's called the M35A2.  It's a surplus U.S. Army truck!  What?  An army truck?  Yes!  Popularly known as the Army’s 2-½ ton truck or “Deuce and a half,” these trucks were designed and first built in the late 1940s, and manufactured from the early 1950s all the way through the late 1980s. The government literally bought tens of thousands of these trucks.  They are now (and have been for the last several decades) being sold as government surplus to American citizens from every state.  They have three axles and in stock form have ten tires.  The front axle drive can be engaged or disengaged at will simply by flicking a lever in the cab (no need to get out of the cab to lock hubs).  That makes them literally a 6x6.  They can go through mud, sand, snow – you name it.  They can get across that stream if the bridge is out because they can ford over 30 inches of water (with a snorkel, some Deuces have even run completely under water!).  They have no on-board computers.  They have virtually no electronics on  them.  The engines have no ignition system (since they are primarily diesel engines).  The engines are multi-fuel, designed to run on anything that might be found on the battlefield.  If gasoline is used, just mix about 1 quart of motor oil for every 15 gallons of gasoline (hey, if you find an abandoned car with gasoline, just drain out the engine oil as well and mix the two and you are good to go!).  They are designed to carry as much as 10,000 pounds on the road and up to 5,000 pounds off-road and can literally go almost anywhere that a Jeep can go.  Plus they can tow up to 10,000 pounds.  The rear bed is 8'x12', so you can stack quite a bit of heavy gear in the back.  There are even troop seats that fold down if you need to carry a lot of passengers.  Empty, the truck weighs over 13,000 pounds and is built on a very stout frame, so it makes a good battering ram if you ever need to push a vehicle off the road or out of the way (or recover them from  off the road) if needed. 

There is a scene in the movie “First Blood” where Sylvester Stallone (as “John Rambo”) is seen busting through a road block of police cars at nearly full speed in a Deuce and a half, so you could argue that it makes a good tactical vehicle as well (who knows what you might encounter in a TEOTWAWKI situation?).  And in most states (except a few like California), you don't need a commercial driver's license (CDL) to drive one.  Most people pay less than $300 a year for insurance on a Deuce as well.  And since most of these vehicles are over 30 years old, they also qualify for antique or historical vehicle status in many states (also saving on insurance and registration costs).  You can find these trucks almost everywhere if you look.  Look locally in Craigslist or on eBay.  You can spend $2,000 and get a fixer upper, or you can spend $5,000 to $6,000 and get one that is well sorted out with good rubber and good mechanicals.  These trucks were designed to be driven and worked on by 18 to 20 year olds in the motor pool, so they had to be simple and robust (though some of the parts are large and you will need some larger tools, plus you may need a buddy to help with some of the maintenance tasks). 

These are bare bones trucks mind you – no creature comforts at all.  Forget about a radio – the exhaust noise is too loud to be able to hear one anyway.  Forget about A/C or heat (although a few have heaters), or even power steering.  Not even carpeting on the floor.  You need to roll your windows up or down the old-fashioned way - by hand.  Some of the few options that you might find are a “springer” seat (a seat with springs and a shock absorber - more comfortable than a solid mounted seat) and perhaps a front mounted winch.  It's no hot rod sports car either.  Top speed is governor limited to 56 mph.  Realistically, expect about 45 to 50mph cruising speed if it’s loaded up.  It does, however, have a 5-speed transmission that is practically bulletproof, and a two speed transfer case with ultra low gearing for off-roading.  And they are surprisingly easy to drive.  No need to double clutch, and shifting is quite smooth once you get used to the odd gear shift layout (it doesn't follow the usual H-pattern). 

Driving range is actually quite good considering that it can get 8-11 miles per gallon and it has a 50 gallon tank (that’s as good or better than some large gasoline pickup trucks).  They can also be driven in “blackout” mode, so that you could, in a tactical emergency, even drive with night vision goggles and just a hint of light from the special headlights and tail lights, or totally blacked out with no lights at all (not even brake lights).  The brakes are air over  hydraulic, so the M35A2s come with their own on board air compressor.  This can also be used to air up tires or even power air tools.  With no electronic nanny systems and no ignition system, they can even be roll started or bump started in the case of a dead battery.  Spare parts are readily available and also quite cheap, and many NAPA auto parts stores (as well as others) carry the more common maintenance parts like belts, hoses, oil and fuel filters and light bulbs. 

Note that these trucks run on a 24-volt electrical system and requires two 12-volt batteries, so if you want to run 12-volt accessories, you need either a 24-volt to 12-volt DC-to-DC converter or else run wiring to a single battery.  There is even an online forum for military vehicle owners called that can help you with anything and everything about these trucks.  Complete manuals for every aspect of the truck can be downloaded for free from the internet. In summation, the M35A2 “Deuce and a half” army truck is a go anywhere, carry anything, run on anything, cheap, EMP-proof, easy to drive, easy to maintain vehicle, and that makes it worthy of consideration as the ultimate TEOTWAWKI bug out vehicle.

The recent article: "Built-in Obsolescence, by Margaret G." prompted me to comment on personal computers. I am a die-hard anti-Windows guy. The troubles caused by the easy subversion of your own computer by bad people combined with terrible permissions allowing user space programs to affect and jump to your whole network makes it a no-go operating system for people wanting reasonable network security unless you are a computer scientist working for the NSA or other governmental agency with a contract which allows you to review and customize the actual source code. While most windows boxes die a slow slide to uselessness caused by inadvertently or surreptitiously installed spyware, malware, and junkware running in the background you you can often revive it by wiping the hard disk and reinstalling windows if your manufacturer is one of the few that gives an install disc or avoid the entire problem by never allowing MS Windows computers to connect to the Internet or allow any outside disks to be inserted or connected for any reason.

Breaking through the new OS Unix/Linux learning curve no matter how shallow is an investment in time, install on at least one computer so you can get familiar with it while you have access to Internet help forums. Just so you know I have my best responses from people who are power Unix users and from people who only know how to surf the web and I install Ubuntu so they can use a morally clean install disk.

For most people I suggest Ubuntu Linux because most functions work automagically such as Wi-fi, 3G phone modems, and many advanced video cards. Not everything works perfectly with all hardware since the manufacturers worry most about the large MS Windows market, but the beauty is you can order or burn a free Ubuntu Linux CD and test it out without even doing an install. If you need MS Windows for special software there is an option during install to dual boot at startup into Linux or an existing Windows partition. The good news is almost all Linux software is free and there is no moral or ethical questions in borrowing or burning the install disk since the writers are bound by contract law to release all distributed updates to GPL software for free. If the computer runs too slow you can always use IceWM window manager and lightweight apps such as AbiWord as opposed to richer ones such as office suite.

For really old hardware DSL Linux is a good choice. Although you need some more command line Linux knowledge to run DSL on some computers it includes drivers for older hardware and uses a simpler interface suited to slower machines all the way down to 20 year old hardware in the 486 class.

The main concern is hardware failure in computer moving parts and in the power supply. Having spares for hard disks, optical drives, and cooling fans are top priority as are protecting the screen hinge joints and hinge connection cables on laptops. Knowing how to improvise and repair a DC power supply and connector jack or better yet having one on hand will make the eventual connector failure not such a big deal. High voltage systems like the cold cathode fluorescent tube inside a laptop are occasional failure points although you can improvise with a few white LEDs in a pinch; even worse is the fragile power hog vacuum display tube in non-flat screen monitors.

If all else fails having an Live CD type install CD or USB drive means you can still boot and use your computer as a Linux machine even if the hard disk is destroyed.

My best luck has been with used business grade computers. Business grade mostly computers have better components since they don't want to send out a same day service tech that often, they also tend to have well supported hardware when using Linux.

As an aside I find Wikipedia is a very useful basic reference, I keep an offline copy of a recent snapshot of Wikipedia on most of my machines. MS Windows users can grab a local copy using WikiTaxi. Most Linux users can install Wikipedia Dump Reader from KDE.

I have the KDE Wikipedia reader installed on my Eee-901 and it takes up about 6GB of flash disk space, this combined with a 25w solar panel, DC charge controller cable, an external disk drive, a radio terminal node controller, and a 3g modem and I can be truly wireless. Shalom, - David in Israel

This week I bought at a charity resale shop some silk and Merino wool sweaters, as recommended by a contributor. I also bought a La Crueset pan for a buck, blankets and a backpacking frame. Every single piece of my quality camping equipment came from garage sales. Americans buy a lot of stuff and just don't use it and dump it at garage sales or charity resale shops. Debt-addled Americans so over-bought clothes that they are so cheap at resale shops and garage sales (as low as 25-to-50 cents apiece) that you could buy a lifetime of outfits for next to nothing. Just buy and package good clothes and store in a cool, dry, non-dusty, non-buggy place. I've found so many low priced items, such as quality American-made kitchenware, that I am storing some for my kids for when they start up housekeeping in several years.

My dad talks about when he was a boy in the Great Depression, of traveling down from Chicago to rural Tennessee to visit his “poor relations.” He recalls the soles on their shoes were gone and they used rags to wrap together what was left of their shoe. I mention this as I was at a church garage sale the other day. Good boots (Cabela's, L.L. Bean) were selling for a dollar which I bought and disinfected. You could stock up on a lifetime supply of boots for the cost of a restaurant dinner! Take advantage of Americans' wastefulness. - McB.

Thanks to B.B. for this link: Dollar at Risk of Crashing, Triggering Inflation

G.G. spotted this recent post over at Zero Hedge: David Stockman Says The Fed is Injecting High Grade Monetary Heroin into the Financial System

Susan H. flagged this: Citi: Central Banks Are Going to Start Dumping Dollars in the Coming Weeks

Doubts grow over wisdom of Ben Bernanke 'super-put'. The last line in the article is chilling: "If they start to act on this suspicion, they could push rates higher instead of lower, and overwhelm the Bernanke stimulus. That would precipitate an ugly chain of events for the US." JWR Adds: Be sure to watch the US Dollar Index closely in the next few months. Anywhere below 72, all bets are off.

Gerald Celente: Does The Federal Reserve Know What It Is Doing? 

Items from The Economatrix:

The Silver Alpha

When the Price of Silver Doubles in a Month

Quantitative Easing is Just Devaluation

Gold Bottomed, Dollar Index Headed to 56

Hiring Spurt in October Eases Jobs Crisis a Bit

Stocks Post Meager Gains Despite Strong Jobs News

Pending Home Sales Drop 1.8% in September

Fannie Mae Asks for $2.5 Billion in New US Aid

Consumer Borrowing Posts Rare Gain in September

NASA is Building a 'Solar Shield' to Protect Power Grids from Space Weather. (Thanks to J.V.M. for the link.)

   o o o

Via Reason magazine: "Researchers at Purdue University have updated their popular Impact Earth! online calculating tool. If you've a morbid interest in just how big an asteroid it would take to end civilization (and who doesn't?), click on over and type in size, density, angle of impact data to find out."

   o o o

Brian spotted this over at the SHTFPlan blog: Homeland Security To “Regionalize” Emergency Supplies Over Next 90 Days

   o o o

Do you enjoy Michael Bane's television shows, like I do? You have the chance to vote for him for "Fan Favorite—Host/Personality."

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." - C.S. Lewis

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday's closing prices for spot gold and spot silver might seem astounding, but just wait a few months. You will probably wish that you had bought more silver at today's prices.


Today we present two more entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

SurvivalBlog has gone to some lengths to provide first rate information on a wide variety of subjects - including first aid kits.  I strongly encourage everyone to receive professional training  and to own at least one (or more) quality first aid manuals.  In my experience. many first aid kits seem to have been built with either a limited vision or a lack of foresight regarding their use in a disaster situation.  Worse, some contain items that if misused or improperly used can further injure/permanently cripple/kill the ‘patient’.  Hence my emphasis on professional training - it is easily as good an investment as freeze dried food. maybe more so.

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to receive training from the military to provide field medical support to my (small) Airborne unit, and to work in military hospital ERs for several years.  I was a state licensed and Nationally Registered EMT for many years as well.   this field and clinical experience, I have some ideas on First Aid Kits that I would like to share with readers of SurvivalBlog. I will make some suggestions on how to build a multi-layer kit, offer some specific advice on items not normally found in First Aid Kits and the reasoning behind the suggestions.

Finally, I will give some URLs for sites designed for self-training in first aid, provide some suggestions for additional books and equipment sources.  I have no interest in any of the books, items or sources.

DISCLAIMER - I am not a doctor, and I never played one on television. 
Always seek consultation with a medical professional whenever possible. 
If you have not been trained on certain procedures, do not attempt to perform the procedure - you can harm, permanently injure or worse, cause a lifelong disability.

This information is for educational purposes and for discussion.  It will hopefully get you started on your own training program and help you to build a First Aid Kits that will support your family or group.  No first aid kit, no matter advanced, well stocked or massive is a substitute for training.

The  multilayer approach in building this resource is focused on supporting you, your family or small affiliated group in an abnormal situation, either long term or short term. It provides the means for escalating support for different types of injury and illness found in a situation with limited or no routine medical care access - such is found in disaster areas.  Each kit supports or provides items to be used with the next level kit.  Modular in nature, this allows for the medical supplies to be carried by many members of a group, should displacement occur.

Kit Limitations
Some injuries are so grievous that without surgery, drugs, specialized medical equipment and techniques, the odds of patient survival are extremely limited.  Likewise, some injuries while non-emergent, require very specialized treatment - for example, a detached retina.  Finally, some diseases require special testing in a lab setting to determine the course of treatment.  All of these fall outside of what I and many others would consider “first aid”.
You can, however, provide real first aid care for an injured or sick person that will allow them to recover from their injury - with or without advanced medical intervention.  You will find this the driving focus here.  Items listed are suggestions, feel free to change or add as you see fit.

Multi-layer - what does that mean?  It means you have a series of medical resources (First Aid Kits) or modules if you would, each with different levels of items and equipment to match treatment of what the patient is presenting to you, the care provider.  Simply put,  the modules are designed to support the treatment of different levels of injury.
These levels are:
Minor injury, individual
Minor trauma, individual with limited bleeding
Expansion module for minor trauma kit to deal with significant bleeding
Major trauma - as bad as it gets
Clinical or ‘sick call’’ type issues

Minor injury, individual. 
Failure to care for even a seemly minor injury can kill you.

My Grandmother was very alert to minor problems - she often told me that “The Presidents son died from an untreated blister” just before dosing me with some noxious concoction.  As it turns out - she remembered a tragic death in the Presidents family - that of Calvin Coolidge Jr in 1924 - from a infected toe blister. 

I worked with a youngster in the ER who presented advanced sepsis (blood poisoning).  His knee was swollen, with ‘angry’ or bright red lines running up the leg.  He was in pain with an elevated temperature.  We used a large bore syringe to remove over 70cc of pus and cloudy liquid from the swollen knee, then a drain was installed.  He was given IV antibiotics.  After a hospital stay, he was released and made a full recovery.
What happened?  He fell while playing, scraping his knee.  His folks washed the area but did nothing further.  Even as the child complained of pain in his knee, no further ‘first aid’ was attempted. On the morning of the second day after injury, he presented a swollen knee - again, nothing was done until late that night, when he made it into the ER.  A string of bad moves that could have easily killed this child.

A simple Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) would have been enough to properly treat this child for what began as a minor injury.  In a multi-layer system, the IFAK is the first of 4 layers - this kit should have something to clean an injury, some antibiotic ointment and something to cover the injury.   I keep one of several IFAK at hand, work or play.  The size factor is focused on something small enough so that you always have it hand - in a pocket, purse, briefcase, or toolbag.  One per individual, extras for workspace.

Suggested contents: (you can have whatever you want, these are just suggestions)
Case, hard, designed for cigarettes.  Splits in half and is pretty waterproof.  The orange color is a plus.  Anything from a glasses case to a small bag or pouch  will work.
Inside are several adhesive bandages - both strip and ‘dot’
4 Providone-Iodine prep pads
2 foil packets of Betadine antibiotic ointment
2 foil packets of ‘triple antibiotic ointment’ - also sold as Neosporin
2 individual doses of eye drops in individual ‘tear-off’ dispensers
1 foil packet of lip balm (Blistex brand)
1 packet of Aspirin (2 tablets in packet)
1 2x2 sterile gauze packet
1 2x3 no-stick gauze packet
1 steel splinter tweezers
1 small LED ‘squeeze’ light
1 book of military waterproof (MRE) matches
1 card with 5 ft of duck tape wound upon the card. - one ‘stripe’ of tape is 1/2 in wide, the other 1.5 in wide.  The card itself is a old ‘credit card sized’ plastic card..
The kit also has a ‘manual pencil sharpener’ which looks. to me anyway, like a small folding barber razor. Small, it has a two inch ‘razor’ blade that folds into its handle for safety.  Just the thing for scraping off cactus needles and the like.  There is room for a flat Fresnel lens to spot splinters.  I keep one in my wallet, so not shown in this kit.

The case is secured with a large rubber band, which helps keep the case inside of a pocket and can further be used as ‘tinder’ if a fire is needed.

The next level in the multi-layer approach is a minor trauma kit.  The basis (container) for this is the well known military Individual First Aid Kit, Field (NSN 6545-01-521-8502). Minor trauma may be falls, twisted or sprained joints, cuts or minimal depth penetrating injury.  While not adequate for large lacerations, avulsions or deep penetrating injuries, it should do for the risk posed by your day to day outside activities.  One per individual, extras for the work area or GOOD/BOB bags.  Works with ‘expansion’ module listed next.

Years ago I worked for a geophysical exploration company.  In remote Montana, one of our field crew was struck just below the knee with a chainsaw in a brush cutting operation.  The saw cut deep, into the bone.  The location of the injury allowed us to treat and self-evacuate while treating. The crew person required surgery and a hospital stay but thanks to the care given in the field, was able to fully recover with no permanent  loss of mobility. The module described here would meet the needs of this type of accident.

Still small in size (4-3/4 inches high by 2-3/8 deep by 4-1/2 wide) the kit was designed to accommodate a waterproof plastic insert box which contained the components of the military Individual First Aid Kit. The first pattern (preferred) has snaps to fasten the cover flap.  The case can be attached to any belt via two ALICE clips.  This makes a good platform to build upon.  The nylon cover is larger than the ‘insert’ allowing for additional items to be added.  This container is available from multiple sources on line.

This next level is for dealing with minor trauma with limited bleeding.  Inside the nylon case we find:
8 Providone-Iodine prep pads
2 hand wash packets (commercial - to clean your hands before or after)
1 aluminized mylar ‘survival blanket’ - this to wrap the patient should shock or cold be an issue
1 gauze eye pad
1 set latex or Nitrile gloves in Ziploc bag, not sterile, but clean
1 Insert, First aid (plastic)
The plastic insert box holds:
3 Dressing, First aid, Field, Individual Troop, 4x7 inches
1 Bandage, muslin, compressed - a triangular bandage, or cravat
2 Band-Aid brand bandage 2x3 in (larger than the 1 x 2 in ones used in simple kits)
1 Band-Aid bandage, extra large
6 adhesive bandages - 4 ‘normal’, 2 small
2 foil packets, triple antibiotic
2 foil packets, burn get (Lidocaine) 
4 large safety pins - for use with the cravat
1 packet electrolyte tablets
1 eye drops in tear-off dispenser
1 book of waterproof (MRE) matches

If you will support an industrial type operation, you may wish to add a pair of tourniquets.  Keep in mind, use of a tourniquet will require you to seek advanced, professional medical care at a hospital or trauma center as soon as possible. 

The “expansion” module for the above listed kit is for more extensive trauma, with bleeding.  This should be adequate for large lacerations, avulsions or deep penetrating injuries - but not penetrating chest injuries which result in a tension pneumothorax or those resulting in evisceration.  One per two group members involved in industrial or dangerous activity with a high risk of injury minimum - one per person is better.

For me, this module is housed in a soft-sided nylon case 8 x 6 x 3 in deep.  It has a strap handle and a steel clip similar to a carabiner to hold the case, should that be required.  Color is optional, mine happens to be bright red with a First Aid logo on the exterior, but almost any waterproof container will work.

We had a call to respond to where a person had pushed their hand through a plate glass window.  The person had severe and deep lacerations to the hand, with soft tissue avulsion (‘meaty’ parts of one finger removed to the bone).  This kit would be adequate to deal with this level of injury.

This module contains:
2 sets of latex or nitrile gloves in Ziploc bag
1 package of 10 cotton applicators (Q-tips)
3 5 x 9 sterile combination dressing
2 Dressings, First Aid, Field 4 x 7 in
5 3 x 4 in non-adhering sterile gauze pads
2 tongue depressors/splits
1 bandage compress, muslin - AKA triangular bandage or cravat
1 non-stick gauze pad
1 eye patch
1 Band-Aid - extra large
1 roll 2 in self adhering bandage
1 roll 2 in bandage gauze with 2 safety pins
1 tourniquet
1 set plastic ‘splinter’ tweezers
1 set steel tweezers
1 ‘travel sized’ vial of 200mg INN (Ibuprofen)  22 tablets, OTC
1 vial of spray Neosporin
3 swabs, tincture of benzoin for use with SteriStrips
2 packages of ‘SteriStrip’ wound closure strips, butterfly bandages are a substitute
15 Providone-Iodine prep pads
30 adhesive bandages (1x 2)
I plastic hard case insert (3.5 x 4 x 1 in deep)
5 2 x 3 non-stick gauze pads
1 3.5 x 5 in moleskin patch
5 eye drop doses in ‘tear off’ dispensers
6 tabs Imodium (OTC)
4 large safety pins
1 #10 sterile scalpel blade
2 foil packets triple antibiotic ointment
2 foil packets ‘burn gel’ (lidocaine)
2 packets electrolyte tablet ( 2 tabs per packet)

The next level module is for major trauma.  Housed in a surplus M-3 Medic bag, it has supplies for dealing with major trauma, heavy bleeding, crushing injury.  At this stage any injury you treat will require professional medical care found at a hospital or trauma center.   Designed to provide pre-hospital treatment of large lacerations, avulsions or deep penetrating injuries which may result in a tension pneumothorax or those resulting in evisceration.
These kits are normally built based on the advice of a trauma physician and include items not covered in training at a level below P-EMT.  As such, I will just list some items to provide an idea of the level of care that might be provided -
4 sets latex or nitrile gloves
2 N-95 masks
1 set eye protection
1 SAM splint
2 Quick-clot gauze, large
2 Quick-clot gauze, small
20 5 x 9 sterile dressings
20 4 x 4 sterile non-stick pads
2 hot packs (hand warmers are fine)
2 cold packs
2 6 in Ace bandages
2 4 in Ace bandages
2 4 in self-adhering bandages
4 rolls 4 in Kale
2 Israeli Emergency Bandage 6 in with slider
1 Israeli Abdominal Emergency Bandage - 12" or
1 Silver "H" Compression Bandage (optional as it is specialized)
1 set of  OTC meds (ASA/INN/antacid/Sudafed) 10 packs of tablets in OTC doses
1 headlamp - LED - stays in kit.
This is a sample - I strongly suggest you discuss the items for this module with your own medical professional and factor in your level of training, location and risk exposure.  I don’t discourage the view that having more ‘advanced’ supplies is a good thing - for use by medical professionals to treat your group members in case the pros supplies are exhausted.

Not to beat this to death - but in some States suturing, for example, is considered surgery - and requires professional licensing to perform.  If all goes well, fine.  If things go badly, you can expect trouble on many fronts.  The Good Samaritan laws I am familiar with do not cover you if you perform advanced medical procedures without the documented training and licensing required by the local authorities.  If society collapses, this is not going to be an issue, if this ‘system’ is for disaster support - it may become an issue.  You can make that decision for yourself.

Both M-3 and M17 based “Medic kits” are offered online.  The M3 bags are far smaller and easier to carry and work with in the field.
Prices range from under $30 to over $300.  You must examine the offered contents closely!  The “trauma items” offered by some vendors includes such items as a 100 ct package of Q-Tips, 100 adhesive strips (Band-Aids) and so on.  These items are quite useful, but are not normally considered in the same class as pressure dressings or FAST (Sternal Intraosseous Infusion) infusion equipment. 

Other vendors offer the “Medic kits” as surplus and may include IV setups, IV bags, and other advanced treatment items.  All of these advanced items have “use by” or expiration dates and may have issues with packaging that has not kept the items sterile.  Use common sense or ask a professional.  The medic bags may be purchased empty and filled as you deem appropriate, this is usually the best option.  Consultation with a professional can save you money - by not purchasing unnecessary or overpriced items.

The final module is for what I will term clinical treatment.  Here is where most of the ‘hardware’ resides.  For me - it is a two part setup. I use a large tackle box which provides water resistant protected storage and a means to organize the items. The other is a commercial ‘first aid’ bag that folds out presenting many pockets to hold items.  These are used to provide follow-on treatment and treat ‘sick call’ type complaints - earaches, foreign object in the eye, colds, hay fever and so on.  
Typical contents are:
1 box of latex or nitrile gloves
Surgical soap or Betadine or Hibiclens Soap for cleaning your hands and any wound areas that require cleaning.  Check with your medical professional on cleaning tips.
Eye protection and masks
5 x 9 sterile pads for wound dressing changes
Adaptic pads for draining wounds or burn dressing changes
Steri-strips for reclosure of lacerations, if needed, when changing dressings
Multiple swabs, tincture of benzoin. for use with SteriStrips 
Several oz of medical saline solution for wound cleaning, eye wash and so on.  Several 2 oz squeeze bottles of saline are better then one big container.
Commercial dental kit + several teabags.  Ask your dentist what is best for you.
Stethoscope and sphygmomanometer to monitor blood pressure in long term care, monitor for pulmonary sounds (like rales) and to check for distal pulse sounds.

Note - while the simple ‘nurse’ type stethoscope is just fine, the slightly more expensive Rappaport (two headed) type, with changeable diaphragms, offers better sensitivity.

A quality otoscope for ear examinations, important if your group include children.  Some are sold with booklets containing color photos of different conditions.

A UV or Cobalt Blue light for in use in conjunction with orange dye (fluorescein)
to detect foreign bodies in the eye or damage to the surface of the eye. 
Used with saline solution eye drops, it can be used to confirm all debris has been removed from the eye.  Ask your medical professional to demonstrate correct use before you use these items.  I suggest adding a set of ‘hobby’ headband magnifying lenses - very handy in eye examinations - and allow hand-free use.

Some kind of notebook or other means of recording treatment.  These records can be important in the long run, certainly valuable to medical professionals if you seek care after treatment.

Activated charcoal and syrup of ipecac are not included in this module. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that ipecac syrup not be stocked at home, the same for the charcoal.  Activated charcoal can cause ‘concretions’ in the intestines, an often fatal condition. 
You should closely examine those items your group will carry and consult with a poison control unit to determine risk and treatment if the substance is ingested, now.  Examples include water treatment tablets, prescription medicines and so on.

A separate OTC carrier.  These may hold:
24 Aspirin, 325 mg Tablet
24 Acetaminophen, 325 mg Tablet
24 Ibuprofen, 200 mg Tablet
24 Diphenhydramine, 25 mg Capsule
24 Diamode, 2 mg Tablet
24 Diotame Tablet
24 Alamag Tablet
24 Sudafed Tablet
3 Cera Lyte 70, 50 g Packet, Lemon
24 Loperamide tablets (Commercial name - Imodium)
12 Triple Antibiotic Ointment
12 Hydrocortisone Cream 1%
Printout - of all OTC meds, showing reactions, contraindications and save dose levels (see this site for good data or consult a PDR guide)
Checking with a medical professional on your selection of OTC meds is a good idea if you have members with prescription medicines or long term health issues.
Prescription drugs and antibiotics are best discussed and obtained from your health care professional. 
In many jurisdictions possession of prescription items without the accompanying script is a felony.
Do not carry any medicines or pills in unmarked containers. 
Officer Friendly and his trusty canine companion Killer-Diller just may not understand.   Avoid that dirty boot on the neck and those cold steel bracelets - ensure all items are in the original and marked containers.

I have covered a module based approach for first aid treatment of :
Minor injury, individual
Minor trauma, individual with limited bleeding
Expansion module for minor trauma kit to deal with significant bleeding
Major trauma - as bad as it gets
Clinical or ‘sick call’’ type issues
in layers that provide for mutual support, ease of carry and distributed carry - avoiding a ‘all eggs in one basket’ for medical support.

I hope you have found this document useful and take the time to consider your specific needs rather than just purchasing an expensive kit that may or may not meet your real needs.  As before, the investment of your time and money is a really smart investment - one that will pay dividends to your family or supported group.

Self training--
USAF Self-Aid and Buddy Care (SABC AFH36-2218V2 )
IS 0871, Combat Lifesaver Course self-study
REI stores often offer first aid classes with a focus on remote treatment

Medicine for Mountaineering & Other Wilderness Activities,  James Wilkerson (Editor)
Combat Medic Field Reference (Spiral-bound) by United States Army.  Some parts may not be useful - how to deal with enemy POWs for example, but good overall - requires training for best use
Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook (it superceded the very out-of-date ST 31-91B). Requires training for best use
Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid, 5th Edition by William Forgey - the original classic for field use
Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook by David Werner
Where There Is No Dentist by Murray Dickson - when you need it, you really need it
First Aid -- (American Red Cross Handbook) Responding To Emergencies
First Aid for Soldiers FM 21-11 - on line reference


Zee Medical Supplies - they will build any first aid kit to your specifications.  While not the least expensive, they offer quality, well marked supplies.

REI - offers a set of kits, some of which are limited, some offer more expansive items.  They also offer small amounts of individually packaged and marked OTC items - worth a look

Chinook Medical - Sells professional items at reasonable prices

Red Flare Emergency Supplies Company - kits and refill items at good pricing.

An cigarette case kit

You're stacking wood when a log suddenly twists, and the pile comes tumbling down on you, leaving your legs covered with cuts and bruises.

You walk into the kitchen, and see your toddler, who has climbed the counter to grab something in an upper cabinet, start to topple over. You lunge forward to grab her, and your body provides her with a soft landing spot as you crash over the kitchen chair and wind up on your face on the floor.

Accidents happen, and they hurt. Many posts have discussed pharmaceutical painkillers, but most people have limited access to them, and if a layperson tries to prep by storing controlled substances in quantity, difficulties with the law may result.

A client who owned a health food store introduced me to a legal, low-cost, readily-available painkiller that is incredibly effective for any type of flesh injury, as well as several other types of pain. Many readers already have it in their homes, since it is widely used for arthritis, but have no idea that they own something that can put morphine to shame. Not that you can get high on it, you can't, but it wipes out most pain with without making you sick, sleepy, or risking addiction.

Methyl-sulphonyl-methane (MSM), is a common ingredient in joint health supplements. It is non-addictive, and has very few side effects - mainly softer skin and thicker hair. It has the same toxicity as water. If you take too much at once, you will get the runs, but that's about it. A few people have mild negative reactions, usually an upset stomach, so take a small dose before using it extensively. (Since it is acidic, you could try taking it with milk, which is a chemical base, and see if this neutralizes stomach upset.)

MSM is a naturally occurring substance in the environment, produced by trillions of living organisms in the oceans in the form of a gas (don't ask). It drifts in the atmosphere, and comes down on the continents when it rains. After tens of millions of years of this, the stuff is everywhere - in the water, in the soil, and in you.

MSM works by stopping the inflammatory processes of wounds, bruises, surgical incisions, and other soft tissue damage before it is transmitted by the nerves in the form of pain. It does not directly affect the nervous system in any way. Therefore, you can drive, play football, do brain surgery, play chess, or whatever else you want to without being fuzzy-brained or sleepy.

According to the book "The Miracle of MSM", by Jacobs and Zucker, professional athletes were among the first users of MSM for pain caused by sports injuries. They had to get back on the field fast, and couldn't use opiates during a game.

Does MSM work for all types of pain? No. It works primarily for soft flesh (not bone) injuries, and joint pain. It also works for a wide variety of medical conditions which involve pain, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic back pain, chronic headaches, tendonitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel, TMJ, and allergies. (There are details on the book). If you hurt, try it. If it works, it works, if it doesn't, it doesn't. For mixed injuries, such as damage to both flesh and bone, it will help the part of the pain from the flesh wounds, which makes your life that much easier.

Dosage: there is no fixed dosage for MSM for pain. Dosage is individual, depending on you, and on the type of damage. People have taken up to 50,000 mg. a day for very severe conditions. From what I have seen and read, 5,000 to 15,000 mg. seems to be enough for most problems.

The dosage must be divided, and taken every hour or two, to avoid reaching bowel tolerance and heading for the bathroom. Definitely don't take it all at once. MSM can be mixed with sweet juice. I dump mine in a latte.

My first experience of dosaging involved dropping a solid oak settee on my thumbnail. After I stopped howling and hopping up and down, taking 1,500 mg. an hour for several hours worked. It took an hour or two for the pain to fade completely, and I continued to take several a day for the next few weeks. Even though I lost the thumbnail, the only way it would hurt was if I squeezed it, which I was foolishly curious enough to do. There was no other pain at all.

My second experience of dosaging involved major surgery, complete with a six-inch incision. I took as much MSM as I could tolerate every hour or so for ten days before surgery, with the intention of completely saturating my tissues with it. (Ten days was an arbitrary length of time, as I didn't know how long it should be taken for before surgery, and was taking no chances.)

After surgery, I was given an unlimited supply of morphine IV drip. When the nurse came in to remove it the next day, she looked shocked, and exclaimed "You only used one milliliter!" I also took one pain pill, mostly because I was afraid I was going to hurt (I have no pain tolerance). A friend sneaked some MSM into my room, and that was that. No pain; just a lot of abdominal discomfort from the usual bowel problems caused by anesthesia.

MSM also induces extremely rapid healing. The client who introduced me to it came in one day with a MSM lip balm. I thanked her, but added, "I have lots of chapsticks" (and need them). "No you don't," she said. "You only have this one. Try it." I did. The next morning my rough, chapped lips were smooth, and completely healed. She was right, I only had one chapstick - I threw the others out. (MSM chapstick is made by TriMedica).

My surgery was the same. Recovery time from this form of surgery typically lasts from one to three months before people can resume normal functioning. I was driving, and back to work in ten days. The only problem occurred because there was no pain, and I was occasionally careless about continuing the MSM. After a few days of this, twinges of pain firmly reminded me to get back with the program.

While MSM reduces pain, it does not remove the condition causing the pain directly. But in the case of soft tissue flesh damage, since it speeds up healing, it does help remove the cause of the pain.

Many people use MSM pre- and post-surgery to reduce pain and stimulate rapid healing. An electrician friend had to go in for shoulder surgery, and was told he would be out of work for six months. Not good. He took it after surgery, and was back at work in a month.

On the other hand, an attorney I know found it didn't work at all for his surgery. I asked him how many of the 1,000 mg. capsules he had taken. "One," he replied. Too low a dose of any medication will accomplish nothing.

I have found taking one an hour for a day or two to see if it helps works well. If you don't have any lessening of pain by that point, you probably won't. For me, MSM did nothing for a toothache, or for a dislocation. However, I am not a medical professional, and am only sharing the results of my own experience. This is not medical advice; and you should consult your doctor, and do your own research.

The Miracle of MSM by Jacobs and Zucker is a good starting point (lousy title, sensible book). Dr. Jacobs has many years of experience with MSM, and gives thorough discussions of the various conditions in which it does or does not work. His book is professionally written, and readable. Other books with similar titles appear to be low quality knockoffs, as far as I could tell.

Some Amazon reviewers commented that they preferred the hardcover edition, but did not say why. Since I lent my copy once too often, I'm replacing it with the hardcover version.

MSM is readily available in almost any drugstore or health food store. The NOW brand works, and is inexpensive. For a seriously inexpensive source, try, where you can buy it by the pound. You may want to consider stockpiling several pounds of it if you think that you may need a supply that would last for months or years, or for multiple families.

The dose for arthritis is 1,000 to 1,500 mg per day.

Could MSM be used to prevent or reduce pain during surgery? I do not know. (I was under anesthesia). However, my experience suggests that it might, at least for soft tissue surgery, since there was no significant immediate post-surgical pain. Obviously, this would be a desperation choice, where no alternative was available. Comments from medical professionals with experience of MSM would be valuable for your readers.

If you are pregnant, and decide to take MSM, you may want to dissolve it in juice (it is acid and tart), and drink it very slowly over an hour or so. I found that extremely high pre-surgery doses made my body temporarily acid, and made my eyes sting for an hour or two when I over-did it. You don't want to pickle the baby by taking lots at once.

[JWR Adds: Readers are warned that they should approach "mega dosing" of any drug or dietary supplement with great caution. Even if a substance is deemed entirely "safe", (such as water soluble vitamins) there are variations in pill binders, dyes, and encapsulation materials that are only significant at high dosages. Toxicity can develop in some individuals! Keep in mind that individual physiology, digestion, hydration, and metabolism vary greatly. Excretion of toxins varies, depending on water intake, liver function, kidney function, perspiration, et cetera.]

One thing not mentioned in the survival groups web sites is the use of ad-hoc wireless wireless fidelity (wi-fi) networks.

When me and several others put together a group plan, we came up with the idea of using wi-fi as a short range method of communication, information sharing and news distribution.

We found several Wikipedia pages devoted to getting maximum range from a wi-fi router. Many of these methods can cover entire small towns. Enabling the password encryption features built into these devices can while far from perfect provide a super secure text and voice communication service when used in conduction with other encryption software.

Our idea was to set up a daisy chained router network that when accessed would display a web page hosted on a desktop or laptop on the network. This page would have links to other pages on the local hosted site. A entire library of public domain books from project Gutenberg, videos, e-mail and instant messaging options.

Because of how the Internet works, when you type in a web name like you are directed to a IP address that has the information like 111.23.457.99. Since there is no address book on the network, your browser would be directed to a local address on the network that is indexed on the home page, that you initially see when you log into the router that has the best signal close to you.

Routers themselves use a small amount of electricity; so one could set up a solar/and battery powered network discretely placed around town. Even if the batteries go out after a few years, the solar cells will still power the network in the daytime.

This network can also be used with many other devices like iPad, iPod Touch, wi-fi smart phones, Sony PSP, etc.

The methods to build this type of network are a bit complicated, but there are hundreds of web sites dedicated to instructions on how to set this up.

This communication method has been successfully set up in Hati after the earthquake and in Mali where the entire city of Timbuktu has been set up with wi-fi access using cheap off the shelf electronics and improvised gear. - M.B.

Mr. Rawles,
I am a long time reader who enjoys how thought provoking your blog can be. But have a disagreement with a recent post by Josh S.

I am a Emergency Medicine Physician, practicing in the Northeast US. Josh S.'s article is true in the detail of developing your medical network -- it is quite easy to call up a friend or relative for some quick medical advice or help. And, furthermore, I appreciate this -- I did get into medicine to help people, and I would much rather help friends and family than a vast majority of drug-seeking lowlifes that seem to frequent my Emergency Departments. While it is true that the ER is required by law to see you, there is really no "magic number" that states we have to treat you. The Visual Pain Scale, which is the 0-10 scale that we often use, is purely an estimate "in the patient's own mind". While Josh is correct, in that we (ER nurses, physicians, technicians, secretaries) have become astute at observing a patient for discrepancies, just because you say your pain is an 8 / 10, does not mean I am going to give you medicine, where-as at 7/10 I kick you out the door. You see, everyone's pain is different, so my 7/10 is different than your 7/10. However, the pain scale is more appropriately used to see how an intervention or treatment changes your perception -- a change from a 7/10 to a 2/10 (i.e. 5 points) is something that is quantifiable and seems to transfer between patients. I assure you that every junkie who wants percocet for their "back pain" tells me their pain is a "ten out of ten". And, again like Josh said, we have become aware of things -- if you are texting or laughing or playing video games, I am pretty comfortable in making the assessment that you are not "in the worst pain imaginable".

In truth, if there is any advice I can offer as an Emergency Medicine physician, if people are just nice to me or my staff, usually we will bend over backwards for you. As soon as you get ugly or inappropriate, things will change. Nothing matches a woman's scorn, except for an ER nurse who has been screamed at and called a b***h!

Emergency Room nurses are some of the best in the world, and they have saved lives and cleaned up puke, dealt with the dregs of society and come back with smiles. As Obama-care kicks in, we in the EM community realize that there will be a lot more people utilizing the ERs -- hopefully, you won't need to go. However, if you do find yourself there in dire straights, remember my words to be nice, and we'll try to get you out ASAP.

Thanks for all you do for the prepper community, - Croaker

Reader Michael A. suggested reading this commentary by Karl Denninger: Bernanke's Folly: The End Game.

K.T. liked this piece by Bix Weir at The Road to Roota Letters: A Final Checklist for Everyone. The article opens with this sobering words: "My Road to Roota analysis shows that we literally days away from the breakdown of the entire fiat monetary system and I thought it a great time to go over final preparations for the coming chaos. In the grand scheme of things you can never be fully prepared for what is about to transpire because nobody on earth has been through it before...not to this scale. I guess the closest thing we can compare it to is the experience of the Germans in the early 1920s with the Weimar Republic."

Expert: Home Prices Cosuld Fall Another 20% Due to Excess Inventory

Fed's Bernanke `Doesn't Understand' Economics, Jim Rogers Says. (A hat tip to J.C.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Warning of Possible Bank Holiday

Retailers' Modest October May Spur Holiday Deals

Applications for Jobless Aid Rise Sharply

Some good advice from Dr. K.: The Challenges of Medical Preparedness in a High-Tech Age

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Larry in Ohio flagged this: Carry a Cloaking Device for your Cell Phone anywhere you go. Decent protection from EMP, too...

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A reader mentioned the interesting Informed Citizen News videos available at YouTube.

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This definitely qualifies as an "Odd" item: Masked man nabbed on flight to B.C. from Asia. The accompanying video has some additional details.

"Lo que separa la civilización de la anarquía son solo siete comidas." ("Civilization and anarchy are only seven meals apart.") - Spanish proverb

Friday, November 5, 2010

Das Ende der Welt, wie wir sie kennen! I'm pleased to report that my nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" will soon be published in German by publisher Kopp Verlag. There are now nine foreign publishing contracts in place, for editions of the book in eight languages. Please be patient, as some of these editions may take more than a year to reach production.


Today we present two more entries for Round 31 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 $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), 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, B.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and C.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

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

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

I’ve had a very frustrating three weeks. My laptop crashed and as I couldn’t get back the files, it had to go to the computer doctor.
I know that I’m not alone and that this has happened to many people but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it.
What really made me irritable though was that it is only three or four years old. I was told that three years is "old" for a computer. Pardon me?
Fortunately the computer doctor was able to recover my files, but I’ve had to buy a new laptop.
It’s not hard to tell from the above that I’m of the generation who when an item was bought, expected it to last practically forever. So I find it difficult to accept the built in obsolescence that is encouraging consumerism and debt. 

So what has that to do with preparedness? The more that you have to, or choose to spend on replacing items, the less you have for beans, Band-Aids and bullets and important survival items.

When the SHTF in one or more of its forms, you won’t be able to replace the gadget anyway. A ‘fixer-upper’ is and will be an excellent occupation for a handy person. Someone who can make one workable item using parts from several other items will be of great use to their community.

How many times have you had the repairman or shop assistant tell you “It’s not worth repairing; it’s cheaper to buy a new one”? If you then decide to buy a new toaster, what parts can you salvage off the old one? And that is the ideal time too, to buy a couple of the long-handled toasting forks used by campers. If you are a handy person, start saving bits and pieces now while they are still easy to come by.

Always have two or three backups and know how to use them. For convenience sake, I currently make my bread in an electric bread maker. But I know how to make bread by hand and have several different sized bread tins and other bits and pieces in the cupboard ‘just in case’. Back in the 1960s I didn’t have a clue about how to make bread so I enrolled in a night class and learned how. That was also pre-bread machine days too so I had a good grounding in ‘how to’. If you have the luxury of having an institution near by that offers night classes, take advantage of enrolling in as many practical courses as possible to expand your skills. Alternatively, ask around and find someone who can help you learn what you want/need to know. Quite often a retired person will be pleased to teach you in exchange for home-grown veggies.  

Returning to the topic of my computer (and I know it’s been said before) but make hard copies of important documents and files and store them safely. In a grid-down situation you may not have the luxury of taking the machine to the computer doctor.

The throw-away mentality often applies to clothes too. I have several pairs of pants and a couple of jackets that were once upon a time fleecy and warm. This year they have seen their last winter. I’m going to cut them up, sew the best bits together, line it with wadding, back the whole thing and it will become another layer of warmth on a bed. And no, I’m not going to worry too much about ‘style’, just warmth. A cold person won’t worry about glamour. The same thing can be done with flannelette shirts too.

I’ve just had my antique wind-up clock serviced and repaired. The first time it stopped, I took it to the local jewelers who kept it for months. When I got it home it kept stopping again so I found a watch/clockmaker in a different town who has it working like a charm. The three points I’m making here is that no matter how many batteries you have, they may not be sufficient or they may die; the importance of finding a ‘proper’ watch/clockmaker instead of a retailer and the chance for you to start a repair business and/or learn the business while there is still time and there are still people around who can teach you.

Another useful skill to have is boot/shoe repairing and making. I know many people wear sneakers these days but these can’t be re-soled like boots. I have two pairs of custom made desert boots – one for best and one for every-day use. And I certainly don’t want to end up wearing shoes made from car tires. (By the way, do you have shoe polish in your survival gear? Polish helps to preserve the leather so the boots last longer.) When the boots need repair – which is very seldom, I take them back to the people from whom I bought them and I get another couple of years wear out of them. Admittedly I don’t go on 20 mile hikes so I can get away with my two pairs. But having the equipment and skills to make and repair boots and shoes will enable you to make a living. That equipment can also be used to repair tents, backpacks and a wide range of material too tough for a darning needle and cotton thread.

Even though I started this article grumbling about built-in obsolescence, I would like you all to think about the every day things you use that may not be available in the future. Think too about the skills that our fore-fathers (and mothers) had that you still have a chance to learn I’ve only touched on a few of them; you can probably think of a lot more.
Start gathering items and skills that will enable you to make a living, support your family and be a useful member of your community – while there is still time.

There are obvious reasons for prepping, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, civil unrest, financial collapse, or just the event of an intruder into your home. Prepping is just basic insurance and just like insurance you hope you never have to use it but, need it in case of a severe raining day. I’ve found that most people will not listen to you when you tell them they should prep, they usually look at you like your some insane person who listens to every conspiracy theory that comes by. These same people in an event will be over at your house.

 “Oh my! They are killing people and I don’t have a gun!” I heard this statement from the mouth of an avid and vocal anti-gunner just after he was watching Reginald Denny being dragged out of his truck and beaten during the Los Angeles riots of 1992. I offered to sell this gentleman a single shot .22 caliber rifle for $1,000 and ammo for $5 per round. All sporting goods stores quit selling ammo during the riots at law enforcement request. When times get tough, eyes open, opinions change and inflation kicks in.

The big one. Two years ago out here in California the USGS had a statewide earthquake drill for a magnitude 7.8 quake nicknamed The Shakeout. I worked as a Land Surveyor for 10 years and am really good at making maps. A few years ago I came across Geographic Informational Systems (GIS) and started learning it and actually improved my map making skills. A few of the folks involved in the Shakeout knew I enjoyed GIS and enlisted me into the drill for my GIS skill set. The original data from the USGS stated that we would have 30 feet of lateral movement and 10 feet vertical movement along the San Andreas Fault line. This data was later revised by USGS but, the Engineer involved in the drill and I went to work on this data. The greatest thing about GIS is that you can look at how events (like earthquakes) will affect systems geographically.

Let’s examine the path of the San Andreas Fault line, it runs from the Salton Sea just north of the Interstate 10 (I-10) freeway along the mountain range (and is the reason that mountain range is there) in an Northwest direction all the way up to Grapevine on the 5 freeway. This feature basically cuts off everything from Palm Springs to Northridge and everything west of there to the ocean from the rest of the world. A lateral movement bifurcates anything crossing the fault line and moves it 30 feet in opposite directions. Everything we depend on for modern living in Southern California crosses San Andreas including major electric transmission lines, water aqueducts, major gas transmission lines and many major freeways that supplies cross on a daily basis.

What happens to modern living when we lose our power? Most of Southern California energy is generated outside of Southern California. Your home wireless telephones quit working, your lights go out, your central air stops, your laptop works until your battery dies, traffic lights stop working, hospitals start using their generator backups, the water pumps that pump water to the water towers will stop working, the equipment at the sewage treatment plants stop working, refrigeration stops working, gas station pumps quit working and so do the cash registers.  This is just the power, gas lines and water aqueducts cross the fault too. This really means no water, no heat, no food, no medical, no sanitation and no transportation.

Bug Out? Sure, If you can. Did I mention the 10 foot vertical shift? This would place a 10 foot cliff along the fault line and the I-15 freeway, the 2 freeway, the I-14 freeway and the I-5 freeway all cross the fault line. These freeways are all the major corridors out of Southern California. At the I-5 freeway and the 210 freeway interchange the overpass failed in the Northridge quake of 1994 (magnitude 6.7) and the San Fernando quake of 1971 (magnitude 6.6). The freeways in Southern California are bad in rush hour or when it rains, imagine how bad it will be when everyone is trying to get out of town. I do not believe bugging out of Southern California will be possible. The transportation system will be in shambles. It would be impossible to evacuate Southern California. With the number of inhabitants and the freeway congestion on a good day this would be impossible.

Bugging In? How long can you last? Water supplies will soon stop. Human beings can live without water for three days. How much water do you have on hand? In Southern California our food is shipped in and distributed via several key distribution centers. With refrigeration out fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, frozen dinners, etc. will not be available. With the roads out how much food will reach the grocery stores. With everyone in a panic how much food will be at the grocery store? Out of the folks who are not preppers how many will be on your doorstep? The people that live day to day with their supplies will be looking for more supplies and they will be desperate, their lives as well as yours will be on the line.

It is a pretty scary issue once you start diving into the details. Southern California will not be a pretty place to be, it will be a death trap.  Eyes need to be opened before an event not after when it is too late. Please preach to that family member or friend. Get them to do at least the bare minimum of prepping, at least to keep them off of your doorstep for a few days.

Mr. Rawles,
Recent posts about chimney fires mention the value of having ones chimney cleaned at least once per year. Most volunteer fire companies do chimney cleaning for a nominal donation. It gives the homeowners a chance to get their chimney cleaned and make a donation towards their community's fire service, it helps the fire company by making one more house less likely to have a chimney fire, and it benefits both parties by getting folks to interact with and perhaps join their local volunteer fire department. Best, - RMV

Old Farmer wrote an excellent piece. As he noted, each area is different and has its own patterns. I have spent decades as a pilot and have learned to read the weather fairly well. A couple of tips the Farmer left out:

1. If you place your left shoulder into the wind (or the direction from which the clouds are moving) you are facing into an area of low pressure. This is useful in locating the source of bad weather. For example, if your weather generally moves in from the west and you have a wind coming in from the North-Northeast, the low has passed your location and the worst of the weather was north of you. (Quite common in Houston).

2. Cloud thickness [generally] determines precipitation:

  • If the cloud is less than about 1000 feet thick, no precipitation
  • If the cloud is between about 1,500 feet and 3,500 feet drizzle or freezing drizzle is possible
  • Between 3,500 feet and 7,500 feet intermittent precipitation
  • Between 7,500 feet and 10,000 feet moderate precipitation
  • Above 10,000 feet moderate to heavy precipitation

You can get a good estimate of the cloud thickness based on height. Depending on temperatures you can guess as to whether you’re going to see rain or frozen precipitation. (Temperature drops about 2.7 degrees F per thousand feet in humid air. The base of the cloud is located where the dew point and the temperature meets.)

Keep a notebook of weather observations using entries like Old Farmer used in his example. One of the greatest finds was that British sea captains of the 1800s recorded weather observations in their ships’ logs and those logs still exist. The data has been priceless to researchers. For the individual, if I watch the weather channel, note the weather across the US, and the forecast, and then note how the weather plays out here; I now have a really good idea of how weather is going to play out at my home for a given set of conditions. I’m usually more accurate than the weather folks.

Final Note:
Weather is a “chaotic” system in the scientific meaning of that term. Extremely small variations can make huge differences in outcome. The old saw about a butterfly flapping its wings in Norway means hurricanes in Florida the next year is close to the truth. I say this just to re-emphasize Old Farmer’s point about being prepared. It is a scientific impossibility to ever get the weather 100% accurate, even with the best computers we can imagine. Always be prepared for it to get much, much worse than expected. The folks in Florida learned this lesson the hard way from Hurricane Andrew.

Excellent posts and the caution about relying on our technology to keep us safe is very good advice. - Capt Bart

This article by Jeff Nielson is a must read!: Quantitative Easing is Economic Suicide. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate G.G.sfor the link.)

The latest from our favorite Switzerdudes over at The Daily Bell: How Western Powers May Have Blown It

Here is Sheepdog to rout those grievous wolves: Ron Paul Will Chair the Monetary Policy Subcommittee.

Items from The Economatrix:

Dow Hits Two-Year High as Fed Details Stimulus. How can investors think that stock gains will out-pace double digit inflation? What idiocy.

The Fed's Big Gamble: Here's What Could Go Wrong

US Quantitative Easing is Fracturing The Global Economy

US Home Prices Expected to Slide Another 8%

Three Charts that Prove We are in the Biggest Debt Bubble in History

The Federal Reserve Stirs Poltergeist of Hyperinflation, Weimar Collapse

Asset Inflation/Deflation: The Fed's QE2 Versus $15 Trillion in Losses

Fast Rising Food Prices Feed Inflation Fears

Reader "Skyrat" notes: "Just today I purchased a Famotidine (an antacid OTC medication) refill, 20 milligrams, sixty tablets for $4.00 at Wal-Mart. This replaces the (now empty) bottle I purchased 20 August 2010, for $4.00. The kicker? The new bottle held only ninety tablets. Rising cost of living, anyone?"

Corn, food and potential sticker shock

Freakanomics: A Dunkin’ Donuts Store Exhibits Penny Sanity. JWR's Comment: I believe this trend will continue until a zero is inevitably knocked off the currency.

Food Inflation Accelerating as Cooking Oil Poised to Catch Grains.

US Coal to Gasoline Plant Will be the Largest in the World. The $64 question is: What will be the real EROEI ratio for this production process? If it is not any better that that for corn ethanol, then we may be witnessing little more that political grandstanding.

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Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish Department: ACORN Files for Bankruptcy. (A hat tip to Ross H. for the link.)

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AmEx (American Expatriate) forwarded this: FEMA's data collection and analysis of national preparedness information stalled

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The folks at Internet Grocer (aka Best Prices Storable Foods) wrote to clarify some confusion caused by their recent newsletter. To put this straight: The November specials are for free shipping on the following: Full cases of butter, Full cases of canned cheese, large can cases of canned meats, MREs, and the Aquarain 200 and 400 water filters.

"To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men." - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I was asked about the implications of the recent political power shift in Washington, D.C., following the November 2010 mid-term elections. Although it was generally good news, I must sadly conclude that we're still in Deep Schumer. Another $600 billion in monetization was just announced by The Fed. And Senator Judd Gregg, (R-N.H.)--a sitting US. Senator--admitted that in a couple of years unless our level indebtedness is decreased, our sovereign debt position will be no better than that of Greece! (But this is mathematically impossible, since our debt is compounding, so the U.S. will be a great big Banana Republic.) Whether the denizens of D.C. shift to a policy of austerity or they continue with bailouts and monetization, and whether the interest rates go up or down, every summary sentence will still end with the words: "...and crashed the economy." So after celebrating the Republican victory, and bemoaning the continuing Democrat control of the Senate, I recommend that you get practical redouble your family preparedness efforts. We are heading into some very hard times, with plenty of drama. The US Dollar is doomed. There is now virtually nothing that anyone can do to stop it. So get busy: Get out of Dollars, and into tangibles, pronto!


Today we present two more entries for Round 31 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 cos