December 2010 Archives

Friday, December 31, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a survival book that tells you how to get gasoline out of an abandoned gas station with no electricity? (Why do people keep looking for the key?) Or how about a way to take a propane powered car and convert it so that you can attach one of those canisters stacked outside nearly every retail or convenience store?  Or, that a piece of cigarette pack plastic wrapper can be used to stop a sucking chest wound? And, of course, how about an illustration of how to use that ink pen as a tracheotomy tool? (Click pen or stick pen?) One can still hope. The answers are available when one knows where to look.

Since reading “Alas, Babylon” and “Earth Abides” Americans have been captivated by the concept of TEOTWAWKI.  One need not be a survivalist, per se, when disaster strikes, but one always needs to be prepared when “the balloon goes up.”  The first real preparation training one had might have been in the military (while stationed in Germany) or cleaning a rabbit after a Saturday hunt with dad. Soldiers had to have an emergency evacuation kit to get families out of Europe if war between the USA and the Soviet forces actually happened. Same thing was true in Korea, which is more appropriate nowadays, because of the recent incessant “saber rattling.” And here, one could tack on to the list SARS, H1C1, bird flu, monkey flu/pox, smallpox, or just an extreme variant of the common cold (circa 1900, millions and millions dead). And a squirrel will taste real nice after three days without a can of soup.

The world may be past a total nuclear war, but pandemics (massive quarantine), market crashes (no access to your money), and future terrorist attacks are a fact of life. It has been said that the United States is only three days away from starving; if the semi-trucks stop running the food stuffs are not delivered. Scenarios say that a dirty bomb could get set off in Memphis or New Orleans thus blocking the Mississippi River or a dirty bomb could be placed at Houston wiping out the gasoline processing facilities? Hurricane Katrina did a fair job on Houston by crippling American commerce and the economy when the average citizen couldn’t get gas for weeks. And Heaven forbid a tanker ship loaded with explosives gets set to go off at New York, San Francisco, or Long Beach harbors. If any one of these disasters were to happen or there was no gasoline for a month, the average person may be turned into a survivalist by necessity.

All serious survivalists have questions about “what is the best we can do” to prepare for that disaster lurking in the near future which just might come true. There are great books and resources out there that make serious lists and “to do’s” to help get one prepared. Of course, most reliable sources make the statement that “you can’t prepare for every situation” and the contained information is probably limited.  Can’t one be prepared for “most” of them even if there are differing circumstances and scenarios?  Yes, one can with a little help and a little pointing in the right direction.

Most savvy survivors know that the first thing needed in a desperate situation is water, food and then shelter. Weapons are the next must.  Everyone knows that it would be good to have ambulance driver, or a cop, or Kung Fu sword expert for their best friend (or Amish down the street) when real disaster strikes. The EMT (ambulance) and the cop have knowledge and access to resources that just are not available to the everyday somebody. The martial arts expert may keep you alive a little longer (may not help if you are stranded in the desert) and one can certainly learn from any of them.  It also may be nice to know someone who can use a primitive forge, birth a baby or who can make a real bow and arrow. One should take Krav Maga classes. One should have several weapons available (more bullets help) and, please, try to be best friends with a cop (they need solid, rational people, too).

The survival expert reads extensively all types of survival books and manuals. The Foxfire Book series should grace your bookshelf (you know you love butter, but you have to catch the cow first). But, what the novice really needs is more practical knowledge that is easy to remember, practical, and available.  Uncle Bob, whose cabin you are heading for, can’t use the Internet if the power is down. But that fancy propane powered generator in the basement would be super useful in getting the power back on (one must keep it hidden and quiet as the noise attracts varmints). Having the paper copy of such titles as “Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook,” a copy of “The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook”, Mosby's EMT-Basic Textbook, a copy of “The Encyclopedia of Country Living ”, the “SAS Survival Handbook” or even “Introduction to Surgery” (how does one stitch up a wound?) should be essential additions to one’s arsenal of knowledge.  Of course, there are also many free texts available like “Where There Is No Dentist ” and “Book for Midwives” that are downloadable from; nice to know stuff indeed. Make sure that you books are all kept waterproof.

The lists of survival skills can be overwhelming, but one needs to do a little research.  The “Encyclopedia Britannica" (1911), “How Things Work”, veterinary medicine (husbandry), beer brewing, basic organic chemistry, a still, windmills, hydroponic gardening, a 1900s book of formulas on how to make soap and other simple needs, etc., etc. can start the list. One can quickly see that a near library of texts is necessary to jump start yourself into at least the first few months of staying alive and doing so in measurable style. 

Our friends in science fiction have also given us a horde of end of the world titles that contain numerous tidbits about how to be successful in a very hostile, left-over, world.  “Lucifer's Hammer” “Wolf And Iron”, “The Stand”, various zombie-type novels and others, all contain useful information (kudos to the authors).  There are flocks of end time novels and sources that can be used to garner information about staying alive in face of very ugly circumstances. A cornucopia of sources and texts are available if one does a small bit of digging (no, the books don’t have to be buried).

“How do I start?” one may ask. Where is the beginning of the knowledge that is needed and “how deep does the rabbit hole go?” By regularly visiting this blog and reading this article, part of the battle is over.  Identifying a problem is half the cure.  One does not need to spend mountains of money on food storage, automatic weapons, bunkers nor pricey “survival” books.  The basics can be as simple as the “Boy Scouts Handbook” (preferably an older edition). Yes, it will take time to visit the Krav Maga class and attend weapons safety and shooting training. One doesn’t need to join the military to pick up most of these skills in day to day living.  Ninety percent of one’s staying alive boils down to common sense (the good old fashioned kind). The other ten percent comes from luck as the odds are one will not survive a massive civilization wide disaster in any case. But, one can be aware of the possible threats around the daily environment and can be mentally prepared. Buying a hand cranked powered radio and flashlight is just down right simple; and cheap (hooray, no batteries).  Having a sturdy knife, aspirin, matches that are waterproof (dip the heads in wax) and strike anywhere (that little sandpaper thing won’t work if it is wet), candles, a week’s worth of canned food, extra bullets, duct tape (fixes almost anything), extra water and possibly a decent first aid kit are essential.  Can’t leave home without it important, and this is just the beginning.

Don’t be fooled into buying tons of fancy kits at outrageous prices that may or may not contain what you “might” need.  One can build a fantastic, workable, expandable kit easily and economically and the above items thrown into a backpack is a good start. Maybe taking the example of most Mormons, who keep a year’s supply of food on hand per their custom, is a good way to go if one has the money and the space to store the stuff.  One can’t carry that much of a chuck wagon and the horse might get eaten. If it is stored at the up-in-the-mountains retreat, one has to get there safely (no one following) and in one piece.  At the very least, one should have a “get out of Dodge” plan and a kit ready and several means of initiating that plan. The plan might contain places to meet, time tables, message drops, a bicycle, and code words.  Yep, someone may have kidnapped your loved one and you need to hear a code word to make sure things are as they should be; otherwise survival becomes rescue. One movie even portrayed a means of powering a motorized dirt bike by using chicken manure for methane fuel (still looking for this one).

A little bit of planning will go a long way in making a smooth transition from “normal” to “survival” mode. Reading a mountain of material is not accomplished in a short time and one needs to foster a mindset of keeping things ready, way before the “rogue event” takes place. The route to survival is definitely a preparation effort.  Thinking and procuring the lists of needed items ahead of time will save mountains of grief and “what ifs” later. Rainy days spent reading (emergency medical handbook), sunny days spent stocking up (watching for bulk sales of dried goods and canned food) and preparation that takes place every day is necessary. Doing one’s training now, in small increments, makes the knowledge one needs to survive more easily thought of. And there is no panic or hurry. Survival is an ongoing process and a search for ongoing information and preparation is a lesson in time management.  If one has the need and the means, now, to avoid a disastrous situation on easy days, then the “terror” will appear much smaller when the event does happen.  Self-control, patience and being ready for the unknown will pare down that “worry,” because one is prepared and equipped to face survival with surer, rational knowledge.  Half the battle will be won when one does not go into shock worrying about “what if.” And when the TEOTWAWKI happens, all the preparation and reading will pay off handsomely.  Get ready. Do it now.

As the editor of SurvivalBlog, I regularly get those "timing" e-mails from readers, asking me for my prediction of when the U.S. Dollar will collapse. I can't provide you a date, but you don't need to be a past recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics to see some crucial facts and draw some logical conclusions. Consider the following:

  • The Federal Reserve recently became the largest holder of U.S. Treasury debt, surpassing China and Japan. The neo-Weimar monetization that is dubbed "Quantitative Easing" is wildly inflationary.
  • The number of dollars in circulation is galloping, and that can only result in inflation.
  • The government's annual outlay just to pay the interest on the National Debt is nearly half a trillion dollars. The charts show a decline since 2008, but that is illusory. The decrease in interest payment obligations is only because interest rates have been kept artificially low, and because the Federal Reserve is monetizing the debt. (With Quantitative Easing, the government is effectively buying its own debt, with magically created dollars.
  • The U.S. dollar is has lost 96% of its purchasing power since 1913. The gradual effects of continuing inflation are only noticed by a few. But the Generally Dumb Public (the other "GDP") is oblivious to the fact that they have been robbed by currency debasement and inflation.
  • The Treasury Department conservatively estimates that the U.S. debt will be $19.6 trillion within four years. (Many private estimates are substantially higher.)
  • The total long term government obligations including Social Security and pensions are variously estimated at from $48 trillion to $65.5 trillion. That would exceed the gross domestic product of all of the nations on Earth.
  • Federal government indebtedness is approaching 100% of GDP. The only time that it was ever higher was in the 1940s and 1950s because of the huge debts piled up in fighting World War II, and in funding post-war rebuilding of Europe under the Marshall Plan.
  • The Federal Reserve banking cartel finally admitted that they lavished $3.3 trillion in new liquidity and in excess of $9 trillion in short term loans. But in doing so, they downplayed the fact that a good portion of those trillions was used bailing out soured or failed mortgage-backed securities (MBS) derivatives contracts.

In essence, the gig is up. Starting in 2011 or 2012, I expect foreign creditors to demand substantially higher yields to justify their continuing to buy U.S. Treasury paper. Once that happens, prevailing interest rates will jump, and that will stifle economic growth, resulting in stagflation. Interest rates jumping to double digits could result in interest payments on the National Debt becoming the largest single annual outlay for the government-- even bigger than even that for the Department of Defense. Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar will see a sharp degradation as its status as the world's reserve currency. A death spiral for the U.S. Dollar would then ensue.

It is difficult to predict exactly how the end game for the Dollar will play out, and the timing thereof. It is especially hard to predict the timing of a currency collapse because the key triggers are always subtle psychological tipping points. But once enough foreign creditors give up hope for the Dollar, there will be a wholesale rout.

Some Specific Recommendations:

  • Watch the US Dollar Index (USDI) closely. A drop below 72 would be a very bad thing.
  • Watch for jumps in interest rates.
  • Look for announcements of either failed Treasury auctions, or "mystery buyers" that save the day for auctions. The latter will indicate more monetization.
  • Watch commodities prices. (In the midst of a global recession, commodity prices should be weak. But they aren't. This indicates that they are being used as tangible safe havens in times of currency and credit turmoil.)
  • Monitor international news on the global credit and currency markets.
  • You can largely ignore stock market indices, since stocks are manipulated. As a last resort, the government may covertly buy large blocks of stock, or overtly nationalize all IRAs and 401(k)s.
  • Get out of the stock market, stock market funds, hedge funds, and municipal bonds,
  • Plan ahead for mass inflation. Protect yourself from further declines in the U.S. Dollar by diversifying into tangibles. Common caliber ammunition should be at the top of your list.
  • Expect another 20%+ drop in residential real estate. Once a double dip in the economy is confirmed, commercial real estate is likely to also collapse.
  • Count on higher taxes (at all levels) and endless bailout schemes.
  • Don't count on getting much from your pension fund, whether it is public or private. (And even if it does pay in full, it will be in grossly inflated dollars.)
  • Expect continuing bank failures and perhaps some bank runs. Monitor the safety of your own banks.
  • Complete your food storage, self defense, home medical supply, gardening, canning, alternative energy, and Alpha Strategy purchasing. Train with what you have.
  • Round out your bookshelf with key references that you will need to be self-sufficient.
  • Team up with like-minded families. Establish a well-stocked rural retreat with good soil and plentiful water that is well-removed from major population centers. Move there, get your garden in, and plant fruit and nut trees, ASAP!
  • Get in shape and lose your addictions. The physical demands of surviving the unfolding multi-decade depression will be tremendous.
  • Get right with God and pray hard. Darker days are drawing near.

Dear JWR:
I have used Sterno alcohol gel fuel when camping or hunting for years. About a dozen years back I discovered a better product than Sterno for about one tenth the cost. My local Sam's Club sells a hand sanitizer under their Maker's Mark label. A two liter jug of this with a hand pump sells for as low as $5.50 when it is on sale. It has a built in hand pump and I always have one in the shop. I started using this as a substitute for Sterno when I was packing for a fishing trip and discovered I was out of Sterno. I remembered reading the label on the hand sanitizer and it said it was 70% Ethyl Alcohol so I tested it and it definitely burned hot. I know it is a hotter fire than Sterno. (A friend has an Infrared thermometer and we did comparison tests with Sterno versus the hand sanitizer and the sanitizer burned a lot hotter) and it has a pleasant smell.

Since my tests, I've started filling empty Sterno cans with this and it works great. My only problem with it is that the flame is almost invisible. Do any SurvivalBlog readers have an idea of some thing that could be mixed in with the hand sanitizer that would make the flame more visible? When I am the only one in the area when I am using this I am not worried. However, I would hate to see someone accidentally get burned.

JWR Replies: For use as fuel, it is best to use un-scented hand sanitizer.
There are chemical salts that add colors to flame, but I'd be concerned that they might be toxic or induce rust on exposed metal, even in small concentrations. Some chlorides might be safe, but you should avoid using any chlorates, nitrates, and permanganates. (I've read that those are inherently dangerous.) Reader L.P. suggested simply adding a little kerosene to color the flame yellow. She notes: "Ethanol and kerosene mix easily. It will burn even hotter with a little kerosene added."

C.T.L. sent this: Bailed-Out Banks Slip Toward Failure.

From The Daily Bell: Brownian Schism--Ellen Brown Restoring Credit with a Publicly-owned Bank: The Model of the Bank of North Dakota. The article begins: "Neither states in the U.S. nor those in the eurozone can print their own money, but they can own banks, which can create bank credit on their books just as all banks do."

El Jefe Jeff E. suggested this Wall Street Journal report: The Price of Silver is Soaring.

Items from The Economatrix:

Silver Will Be Worth More Than Gold  

If You Haven't Bought Silver Yet, Read This  

Energy, Agriculture, Gold And Silver Bullion--Protectors From The Coming Crisis  

Baby Boomers Retirements In Jeopardy

At least a dozen readers sent this: Ashton Kutcher Predicts Worthless Currency And Mass Panic, Recommends Getting As Buff As Possible.

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News from Lincoln, Nebraska: Twenty police respond to man playing with crossbow in his backyard, seize house. Here is the relevant statute from the Lincoln, Nebraska web site: "9.36.050 Discharge of Weapons and Other Instruments Unlawful." JWR's Advice: I recommend avoiding these ludicrous jurisdictional entanglements by locating your family well outside of city limits!

   o o o

I was saddened to hear that Aaron S. Zelman died on December 21st. He was 64 years old. His funeral service was held Christmas Eve in Mequon, Wisconsin. Aaron was the executive director of the JPFO, an organization that I've supported for many years. Aaron was a strong defender of our right to keep and bear arms. My condolences to his wife Nancy and to his sons Jeremy and Erik. His obituary stated that memorials to JPFO, P.O. Box 270143, Hartford, Wisconsin 53027 or Beth El Ner Tamid Synagogue are appreciated. Rest in Peace, Aaron.

   o o o

Several readers sent this: 14 Of The Most Ridiculous Things That Americans Are Being Arrested For

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Yishai flagged this: Blizzard Used as Pretext to Nix Second Amendment in North Carolina. Oh, and to counter such abuses, see: How to Record the Cops.

"It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking." - Julius Caesar, as quoted in Plutarch's Lives

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’m writing to share stories and lessons from my first year raising chickens for meat for my family and for sale. Knowing the tricks to successfully raising your own meat could really be a game-changer post TEOTWAWKI, so I want to spread this wealth of information I’ve gleaned in hopes that others may benefit.   I followed the model popularized by Joel Salatin where the chickens are put into mobile pens that move along the ground to a new, fresh piece of pasture each day.  Receiving day old chicks in the mail from the hatchery and watching them grow is a real treat.  This will not be a comprehensive guide, however, because there are plenty of other resources out there that accomplish that better than I can.  Several topics of interest have been selected to the share stories and details on how it worked.    


I tried two different breeds in this system: the Cornish Cross and the Freedom Ranger.  The Cornish Cross is the bird that is raised by the billions in confinement by the very biggest producers in the United States.  It has been bred for its fast gains, reaching harvest weight at only eight weeks of age.  Those birds are quite content to just hang out by the feed trough and eat non-stop.  Dressed out at 5.5 pounds, the bird looks much like a whole bagged fryer you might find at the supermarket.  The only difference was that the fat was a darker color and therefore the taste was much better.  The Freedom Ranger is an older style breed (think heritage or heirloom).  The Freedom Ranger was much more active, scratching and foraging for bugs and eating grass.  The benefits of the Freedom Ranger were evident very early as they began jumping and trying to fly at three weeks of age.  The Freedom Rangers take a little longer to reach maturity, at ten weeks.  These birds were smaller in the end and it showed after processing.  Mortality is explained in detail below, but in reference to breeds, we lost 6 Cornish Crosses to every Freedom Ranger lost which is a testament to the Freedom Ranger’s heartiness and survivability.  The 4.5 pound average bird’s fat was darker yellow and more abundant than the Cornish.  It was hard to taste the difference, but decided that we only want to raise Freedom Rangers in the future. 

Sickness and Mortality

You are going to have losses.  It has been said that 5-8% is an acceptable mortality rate.  Mine was much higher, more like (embarrassingly) 14%.  There are two primary reasons and all have to do with feed and water: cleanliness and availability.  You have to be a stickler about keeping the waterers clean as feed and dirt can build up.  When this happens, especially in the brooder phase, the chicks will begin to get diarrhea.  I read that diarrhea in chicks can be treated with raw milk from your local dairy.  I was amazed at how well that worked.  In fact, when I needed to treat a batch with raw milk, I just treated all batches whether or not they had diarrhea.  The health benefits of having raw milk fed to the chickens (and all animals and humans as well) are well documented.  I won’t go any further, because the Weston Price Foundation has done so well at explaining at their web site, Real Milk.  Thanks to this treatment, I never lost a chick in the brooder. 

There was an occasion where we had a really hot spell while I was traveling.  My substitute caretaker let the water run out accidentally and several birds died in one day.  Chickens have very small bodies and therefore small reserves.  They cannot go for any length of time without food or water.  I should add that most of the death loss I experienced were Cornish Cross.  I only lost two or three Freedom Rangers. 

And then there was the hawk.  I lost one chicken to a hawk and it scared me half to death because I walked right up on him in the act.  He was on the other side of the pen as I approached, so we didn’t see or hear each other and both of us were startled.  He got one chicken and pulled it part way under the pen.  The ten foot long bottom piece had bridged right over a small gulley which must have been right where the chicken was sitting.  It was along the roofed and sided section as well, so the chicken couldn’t see as the hawk stood next to the cage.  Lesson learned: use small pieces of wood and wedge them under the sides of the pen so that there are no ways in or out of that pen.  A few days later the hawk returned.  I was in the house but was alerted because the smaller birds (swallows, bluebirds, red wing black birds, etc.) were making quite a ruckus.  I pair of shotgun blasts into the air sent the message to the hawk clearly (I was intentionally not aiming at him, just wanted to scare him off).  I didn’t see him back for another month.  Another shot over the bow served as his reminder to scram. 


Total Variable Costs were as follows:
$323.25  Chicks Delivered
$928.17  Feed
$32.98 Bedding (wood shavings)
$195.00  Processing

Starting with 150 (75 Cornish and 75 Freedom Rangers) birds, but only ending up with around 130 to eat and sell, this makes the cost per (5 pound average) bird $2.28 per pound.  Consider that you can find fryers on sale in the grocery store (of poor quality, suspect cleanliness and marginal nourishment) for $0.95 then it seems like it might not make financial sense.  However, we were able to sell most of the birds for $4.00 per pound and nobody balked at the price because they were educated about the quality of food they were getting.  The ones we didn’t sell were eaten, or course.  I should clarify, though:  We intentionally didn’t sell all of the birds, because we wanted to eat a bunch of them.  The birds we sold paid for the rest, as well as covering the structural costs too.  Cost of chicks can vary a lot too.  I wanted to work in small batches because it was all so new to me, receiving 25 birds a week for 6 weeks.  If you were to do one large batch, you get better rates from the hatchery as well as some shipping savings. 

Total Fixed Costs were as follows:
$200 per field pen (this is an approximation, and is conservatively set a little high – you could do better than this)
$120 for waterers and parts (Plasson Bell waterers purchased on eBay)
$40 plywood to make brooder

It should be noted that you could lower feed costs if you opt for lesser quality feed.  I only used the best Fertrell Poultry Nutri Balancer minerals, etc. but there are ways to do this less expensively.  In fact, Harvey Ussery explains it very well on his web site The Modern Homestead.  He stopped using mineral supplements and is growing most or all of the food his chickens eat now.  I plan to research this further.  He does this with his laying hens, but I wonder what you could do to increase the protein level to the point where you could finish broilers on a home grown ration.  There are lots of ideas, like feeding earthworms from your vermi-composting operation to the maggots-from-a-bucket-of-roadkill idea. 

Another concept I like a lot from Harvey’s web site is breeding your own poultry.  There’s no better brooder than mama.  As long as you have hearty old world breeds which are dual purpose excelling in both egg and meat production you can raise your own chickens indefinitely.  Again, this is referring to laying hens, but mother nature ensures that the male/female is close to 50/50.  The females will become layer replacements and the males will be broilers for the dinner table.  You don’t need a large flock at all to do this on your own. 


Now the real fun can begin.  Yes, processing is bloody and it is gross.  I was secretly a little worried that I was going to pass out, but it’s really not all that bad.  We paid a neighbor who had all of the equipment and we all helped out to learn the process.  Several hours elapsed before 6 of us had 50 birds done and cooling in an ice water bath.  It was because we were beginners and learning.  With the proper equipment and a well trained crew, its nothing to churn through 100 birds per hour.  I’ve only read that and not seen it. 

This winter I’m busy building a Whizbang Plucker in the garage.  I got the book on Amazon and then discovered that the author, Herrick Kimball, has a web site called The Deliberate Agrarian with tons of helpful material.  There are several other great books on how to build your own homestead equipment that Herrick has written and I have purchased.  The chicken plucker will end up costing me less than half of what a commercially built model would be, and it’s a great project for the winter. 


This summer was a ton of fun and my wife and I plan on doing it again.  We have also decided recently that we should put together a blog to share our experiences with the world.  I will go into further detail on all of these topics and hope it encourages more discussion and sharing of ideas.  Our blog is called His And Hers Homesteading.  Bear with us, as we’re new and figuring it all out. 


Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin – this is where you start.  It’s a classic and a must read for anyone wanting to raise their own chickens.  Also read this book to better understand my above comment about being wary of chicken from the grocery store. 
Raising Poultry on Pasture: Ten Years of Success by Jody Padgham – this is a compilation of stories from their newsletters and is incredibly helpful in answering questions and explaining how to do things. The ideas discussed here are very practical and helped me a lot with troubleshooting. 
Freedom Ranger Hatchery – this is where you can buy the Freedom Rangers I used and loved so much.

Mr. Rawles,

First let me say how much I enjoyed your novel "Patriots", I have read it three times now and am eagerly awaiting its planned sequels.

I just wanted to mention/remind your readers as to the importance of sturdy clothing in a "Grid Gone" scenario. It is my belief our clothing (very taken for granted) will suddenly become an extremely important part of life and not just "frosting on the cake" so to speak. I was reminded of this when I had a yard sale one day and a woman from an ex-soviet satellite country arrived as an "early bird", she was returning to her country and was buying up all our used clothing and even bought a couple of used suitcases to put it in. (I consider yard sales more  for recycling rather than a money making event) The best we could surmise from her broken English was that clothing was at an extreme premium in her county and could be resold, traded or worn. New clothing was just something that was purchased on occasion since most money went to food and shelter.

"Grid Gone" means hard physical work every day, which will be very tough on clothing . Although Mil-Spec uniforms are tough, resilient clothing that I highly recommend, I have found another source of clothing that has spawned some interest. "Fire Hose" cotton canvas, the same that is used to wrap around fire hoses. I have been purchasing some clothing made of this material and have found it to be quite tough in my outdoor activities, and very easy to repair (if you can rip it) due to its tight weave. The DuluthTrading Company  has some good quality clothing made of this material at a reasonable price.

A couple pairs of pants, shorts, coats and vests made of this material and tucked away may prove to be a valuable resource. (Note: this material is not light weight, the coats and jackets can be real "hanger benders") I am also looking into finding a supplier of this material in bulk as I believe it would make a great shelter and utility material also. Look forward to survival blog every day. Thanks, - Big Mike in Pennsylvania

As we near the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Army's adoption of the Colt Model 1911 pistol, we should remember: The U.S. M1911 & The Medal of Honor. OBTW, the article begins with mention of my grandfather Ernest E. Rawles's friend, Frank Luke. They were mountain climbing buddies in Arizona, circa 1916. But FWIW, several accounts mention Luke being armed with a revolver rather than a .45 automatic.

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Matthew B. suggested a winter storm article that illustrates a great reason to be as prepared as possible and not rely on "the system" to take care of you.

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Water chaos affects thousands in Northern Ireland - Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water, some since before Christmas.

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G.G. recommend this op-ed piece by Doyle McManus: Surviving terrorism. "Californians know what to do in an earthquake, and Kansans know what to do in a tornado, but the U.S. as a whole is prepared only to overreact to even a small act of terrorism."

"The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of the consent of the people. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22, December 14, 1787

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Like Ed S. I purchased several rolls of new razor wire to string up in case of a sudden rash of nearby home invasions.  I bought it on eBay along with some used razor wire gloves (they have steel in the palms and digits) to enable speedy deployment without losing a lot of blood.  At the farm supply store I bought a couple boxes of hog rings and some hog ring pliers, as well as some small steel conduit straps and a box of screws for mounting the deployed razor wire.  (Two or more parallel coils can be joined together with the hog rings.) 

I knew there was a local ordinance against installing razor wire, plus its very presence suggests there is something worth stealing on the other side.  While it may discourage the petty thief it might also encourage assault by a criminal gang.  If I were such a gang member, I would think of ways to breach the barrier, possibly by teargas or home-made chlorine gas bombs to drive out or kill the occupants.  One partial solution to both problems, but rather like having a porcupine for a house pet, is to deploy the coils inside the home. A thief inspecting a potential entry point might reconsider after spotting the razor wire, yet it would not be visible from the street for neighborhood snoops or criminal gangs to notice. [JWR Adds: This would also shield the home owner from many lawsuits. Any pain or injury-inflicting obstacle set up outside could a best be considered an "atractive nuisance", or at worst intentional mayhem, with a six-figure+ lawsuit likely in many First World nations.]

I also stocked up on heavy steel stake holders to serve as door bar brackets and lag screws for mounting them.  I would remove the inside door casing and mount one set low and one set high, sinking the lag screws into the house framing and running a 2x4 wooden bar through each set.  I also bought two extra hinges for each exterior door that I can mortise into the door and the jamb and secure with long screws. 

Finally, after devising this solution for a friend's rental properties that had twice been broken into by someone kicking in the doorand breaking the jamb, I bought two lengths of heavy angle iron to shape (I used a reciprocating saw with metal blades and cutting oil, then drilled holes for screws) and recess into the sheetrock, the door jamb, and the door casing, each secured with five long, heavy timber screws. Very unobtrusive once the casing was gouged out for the srew heads, reinstalled, and some wood filler and paint was applied.  They serve as a stop for the striker and deadbolt, and hopefully as a foot-breaker for the karate-kick thief's next attempt.

These survive-in-place precautions should really be considered only slow-down measures, allowing you time to grab guns and take aim or begin firing, depending on the circumstances.  Once they enter the residence they are fair game in most jurisdictions.  If the very term jurisdiction has been made meaningless by civil breakdown, I wouldn't be much concerned with satisfying legal threshholds.

(The aforementioned product links are intended solely as examples and not recommended or endorsed by me.) - Jim in New Hampshire


Mr. Rawles:
First one should look to state,  city , county laws and ordinances about restrictions on the use for residential usage and commercial usage on razor wire,  fencing materials,  height of fencing,  distances from property lines and road ways,  etc..   For razor wire or barbed wire, think of it  this way -- if one's space is assaulted by an intruder might the party get injured by not being aware of the system.  If so,  consider whether your efforts to protect yourself,  your family, and your property would be viewed by an attorney with a whinny injured thug client as a booby trap.  Booby traps are deemed a 'no-no'.   Consider the placement of your home security items,  if say a kid came wondering into your space and fell into say the razor wire.  Is it low enough for the child to get injured?  If yes, come up with a better plan or location.    Think things through about how a stupid person might injure themselves -- your neighbor down the street comes by and grabs hold of your low level razor wire.   Think ahead and plan for stupid people just suddenly showing up on your property.   Do you have pets such as dogs or cats that might leap on the razor or barbed wire and injure themselves?  Had a friend whose dog recently met up with some new barbed wire and within 12 hours the dog had a life threatening body infection.  Dog was taken to the pet emergency center and placed on two weeks of antibiotics.

Second,  yes,  security grills can be a sign for law enforcement to put your dwelling on a possible naughty list.  But typically that means that the dwelling is 'out of place' with its neighbors and/or not well maintained property.   In one of the communities that I lived most homes had security grill on their doors and windows.   In another place I lived,  I tried to get them for my doors only to have people raise an eye brow that 'no one' has such things in our safe little town.   Security grills around a home that is landscaped and /or well maintained is not as likely to get one on the suspect list just because one has opted for personal security.

Dog signs:  it took me a long time but I found signs that simply state "dogs on premises'.  I am hoping that it doesn't carry the same dreaded notice of "Beware of Dogs".    I have several dogs and my notice is so that anyone who might open my gates might think to close them so I don't lose my pets.    And, it gives notices to those who are allergic to dogs to be aware that if they enter my property there are dogs present.    Years ago when I could not find a "Dogs on Premises" sign,  I bought "beware of dogs' signs and cut off the "beware of" portion before posting them on my fence.

Security should be consider the current restrictions and work as well to blend in those security options that are legal to exercise in one's area.    Landscaping is a great time to start building in security items -- repainting the house might be the time to add those security grills.   

Think of your safety from thugs and plan for what if a stupid person/neighbor comes upon your place and falls or trips on your security system.

Always planning for Stupid People, - Cynthia W.

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

"No man is an island..." - John Donne

Readers of tend to have an independent streak, and our attitudes toward preparedness and degrees of readiness vary accordingly. Some of us have unplugged from the grid and are completely self-reliant, many have dreams of doing so at some point, while some of us are a little behind the curve and playing catch-up. Others are new to the field and are making what preparations they can in their current circumstances. Whatever our individual temperament, most of us are members of a community--a church, a neighborhood, an extended family--and we need to take that into account in making our own preparations.  Reaching out to others to "spread the word" of preparedness is an obligation that each of us has if we truly care about our neighbors and our country. Although it may be easier said than done, spreading the word is part of preparedness. Whatever scenario for hard times seems most probable to you, most of us will not be in it alone. 

Many past blog postings have touched on the idea of community, from tips on selecting a retreat site to choosing a skill which may be marketable in the chosen area. In this article, I'd like to take that a step further and suggest a way to move a whole community toward a higher level of preparedness, along with the approach I've taken with my own friends and neighbors. Many of you prefer to keep a low profile and won't like my ideas. I respect that, and the decision is yours. But at least think it over.

If you're a long-time reader, you certainly are familiar with food preservation and storage, and probably have already put away a supply of food and other necessities for yourself and your family.  Many of you have thought ahead enough to realize that most of your relatives and friends are not prepared, and--to the extent you are able--you may have put away additional supplies for the purpose of helping others. Maybe you have talked to friends and neighbors about preparedness and urged them to take steps to care for themselves and their families. Hopefully, you got a favorable response or an expression of interest, or at least started them thinking or motivated them to assess their situation.

Consider speaking to your church, social club, or other organization about the virtues of preparedness. Choose your words carefully; keep your own Operational Security in mind, and tailor your comments to your audience. TEOTWAWKI scenarios may be too much for some people to absorb in the first conversation. Someone who is unemployed or in danger of losing his job may be unwilling to use some of his dwindling resources to get ready in case the situation gets even worse. But someone who is relatively well-off might be in a position to make preparations for many relatives and friends, as well as for himself. Give them advice appropriate to their situation, and help if you can. Remember also that some otherwise intelligent people will not even acknowledge the possibility of a deeper economic downturn, let alone an outright financial collapse or other disaster scenario. Giving such people details of your own preparations to show them you're serious will not impress them and is not worth the risk! 

As a member of a major charitable organization, I recently gave a presentation to our local chapter on general preparedness, with emphasis on maintaining a well-stocked pantry. The majority of our members are successful business people, active in their churches, and many are members or officers of other charities. They are a generous and public-spirited group, but it has probably been a long time since any of them really had to do without the necessities of life. My presentation was planned with that in mind.

I asked, "How many of you have a spare tire in your car?" Most responded that they did. Then, "How many of you have had a flat tire on the road recently, and actually had to change it yourself?" There was only one person who had, a man who also had discovered at that very inconvenient time that his spare tire was flat! My point was that we prepare for things such as flat tires, which are definitely possible but don't happen all that often, and that most of us have become accustomed to a support network, often consisting of a cell phone, with help a short distance away. Tires are pretty reliable these days, but nobody laughs at you for having a spare tire in your trunk. "By the way," I asked, "how many of you have recently checked the air in your spare?" Only one hand was raised, by the man who had learned his lesson the hard way!

My presentation continued with a bit of show and tell, showing off my own home-canned fruit (canning is a legal, non-threatening activity familiar to this audience). I asked how many members of the audience knew how to can their own fruit and vegetables. This being an older crowd, in a small town in a mostly rural area, many people raised their hands. I then asked how many had taught their children and grandchildren to can food at home, and only a few raised their hands. Some shook their heads, and one woman said she would do so if she could get them to pay attention. "How many even know somebody in their twenties or thirties who preserves their own food?" I asked. Very few hands were raised in response. The ensuing discussion made the point that most of us have become dependent on food produced and processed hundreds of miles away, and that we are therefore very vulnerable to any disruption of supply.

To illustrate the point that preparedness is not really out of the mainstream, I distributed information taken from the government's web site,  including their checklist for family preparedness which recommends a three-day supply of food, water, and other necessities for every member of the family.  Most of us know that three days' worth of supplies is woefully inadequate, especially in the event of a major storm or other catastrophe affecting a large area. In such a situation, the folks at FEMA may have their hands full. They may not get around to you for quite a while, and you may not even be able to depend on neighboring communities for help.

To point out some options for those unable to grow and preserve their own food, I recommended buying in bulk and slowly accumulating a supply of "store-bought" food, starting with three days' worth and expanding from there. This included a brief mention of rotating your stock. Remember to keep it simple so that the listener is not overwhelmed with detail. Just tell them to note the expiration dates marked on most food packages, use the older items first and place the new ones at the back of the pantry. I also handed out a product brochure from a well-established preparedness supply company which had given me several dozen copies free of charge (no doubt they appreciated my use of their catalog, but I made it clear to them and to my audience that I was not selling anything; the brochure was simply a good representation of the preparedness market and the supplies available. I also provided the names and web addresses of several other firms.)

A quick look at the brochure revealed that one can spend a lot of money on preparedness in a very short time. The bright side is that--at least with respect to food--the money will not be wasted. If you buy foods that you normally use, just in larger quantities, all you are doing is getting your groceries early; you'd have to buy the food some time anyway, and probably at a higher price. The key is to buy more than you normally would, build up a stockpile over a period of time, and rotate it.

The final point in my presentation was targeted at this particular audience--decent, fairly well-to-do, generous people. They were well aware that hard economic times put additional stress on existing charitable organizations. Food pantries and soup kitchens have more people needing their help at the same time fewer people are able to donate. Suppose your community is hard-hit by the economic downturn. You look at your own situation and see that you are still relatively well off; you still have your job, and your family's situation is fairly secure. At the same time, you see that your pantry has many items nearing their expiration dates. You will be able to donate to a local food pantry, church, or to a neighbor when few others can. Suppose that you've purchased a one-year food supply from one of the preparedness companies. That's a year's worth of food for one person, or a month's supply for twelve people, should you have to help out a dozen or so friends or relatives. (The one-year food supply is, of course, an idea well-known to members of the Mormon Church, and I'd like to see every religious and social organization in the country take up the practice of urging their members to stock up.)

Taking the idea one step further, a year's supply equals 52 week's worth of food for one person, or a week of food for 52 people. In a county like mine, with about 20,000 people, suppose a hundred of them managed to acquire a one-year supply. That's a week's worth of food for 5,200 people. Imagine a severe catastrophe, with many people affected locally or with refugees flooding in from outside. Imagine being able to feed 5,200 people for a week, while FEMA is still in Washington writing memos! Apply this formula to your own community. Now, imagine thousands of churches and civic organizations all over the country urging their members to do the same thing. Preparation on that scale could make a huge difference in the ability of the country to respond to another 9-11, or a major natural catastrophe.

This idea, which I called simply the Community Food Reserve, seemed to strike a chord with my audience. Many approached me after the presentation and seemed interested in pursuing the idea. I did not present it as a project for the organization or for local government, but as a step that the members might take as individuals. There would be nobody keeping a central inventory, nobody keeping track of who participated and who did not. Which families maintained a food reserve, how much food they had, and whether they donated to others would be a private matter for individuals and families to decide.

Talk to your neighbors, your church, your club, your hunting buddies. Speak to them as a friend. Don't force your politics on them, don't argue, remember OPSEC and don't brag about the steps you've already taken. Don't be pushy, just make them think. We're all in this together.

About The Author: Rex C. is a semi-retired security consultant who lives on an increasingly-self-sufficient farm in the Appalachian Mountains.)

I have been looking at various posting all across the spectrum of prepping and I haven't seen anyone mention being legal in their preparations. Here's what brought this to mind. I recently purchased six rolls of brand new, never used razor wire. I'm not sure how many SurvivalBlog readers have military/police/corrections backgrounds. If you have fooled with the stuff, you know to be careful. If you haven't, I'd suggest looking for something easier.  I strung a single strand around my backyard on three sides, just below the level of the four foot tall chain link that surrounds my property. Anyone climbing over the fence would get a surprise if they weren't careful. I'm a police officer in an adjoining town (from where I live) and the locals know me. A few days after completion of my project one of the uniforms was stopped at my house shooting the breeze and he says "you know you cant use that stuff on a fence less that six feet high?" Seems there are some obscure ordinances buried in the books that say just that. Even inside my fence like it is, I'm subject to fines and civil penalties (being sued by some miscreant who gets hung up on my side of the fence is plausible)  

I removed the offending wire but the episode started me to thinking. When the authorities moved the old man off his property awhile back for "breaking too many regulations" I said that being off the grid may not be enough. How many of us have made preparations that could/would run us afoul of some local bureaucrat?How did that old man pop up on the radar of the local officials? What are the signs and tip-offs that they look for? Why would a Child Protective Services inspector ask about storing food in a home inspection interview? (Another story I saw recently.) Will it be getting worse in the upcoming days?  

I did some digging and I found several "indicators" that the new breed of spies have been told to look for.   Fences, security cameras, restricted access to property (other than fences) Beware of Dog signs (really, you actually set yourself up for a lawsuit by posting such a sign because it indicates you know your dog may bite), certain breeds of dogs (meth cookers love Pitbulls, but every time any sort of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is proposed about Pitbulls, after every liberal with zero knowledge about dogs is through adding his/her two cents worth, every large breed in the book is on the list) so they look also look for Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, etc) other signs such as "Never mind the Dog, Beware of Owner", security bars and doors, and other things that seem so harmless and needed to many of us, especially nowadays.   I got this information from a friend in our State Narcotics Agency who was describing how to spot a Clandestine Meth Lab. I told him "do you know you pretty much described my house?" He thought I was joking until I started pointing out the other uses those items may have. My talk with him in no way changed his mind on his List but the conversation really got to me.  

Someone, somewhere, has taken the time to make a list of indicators of activity that most certainly will get someone who thinks like us onto a list of possible suspects. Our US Attorney General, in cahoots with the DHS, has already started a program to demonize anyone who doesn't follow the Lemming Mentality, or thinks outside the box on issues.   Is there any way to get around this problem? One way that I can think of is make darn sure our preparations are really hidden, not just veiled. As I mentioned above, a chance inspection by a busy-body Child Protective Services inspector, going what most would consider way beyond her authority, most certainly got that parent listed on some sort of roster of people to watch. Just for storing food, as our very own Government, her employer, recommends us to do. How many more of these "innocent" prying eyes are out there, watching and waiting to inform on someone?   I cannot, in good conscience, recommend taking down whatever security preparations you might have made. I pass mine off as having made enemies in a long Law Enforcement career. I did make some changes in the way I have my stuff stored.  

We are entering a new phase in the definition of Citizenship in this country and we are being bombarded every day with messages to "watch out" for suspicious activity and to inform on our neighbors. As innocent as prepping is, the act itself is on the way to being outlawed, or at least closely monitored. And being on one of those lists makes you a target for anyone wanting your stuff "for the greater good".   Now, even more than ever, we need to exercise the utmost caution.   - Ed S.

JWR Replies: I agree that it is important to research your state and local laws. But in the absence of laws, don't feel intimidated by social pressure, or those "Oh, but they might someday make it illegal" thoughts. We must remember that we are free men and women, and consequently act like it. This is not the time to cower and quiver. Yes, we should make substantive preparations, and be circumspect. It is great to stock up on concertina or razor wire. However, depending on where you live it probably isn't wise to string it up until the Balloon Goes Up.

Lastly, keep in mind that the continuity of our rights is dependent on their regular exercise. I pointed this out in the closing chapter of my novel "Patriots": Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime. Open carry of firearms is prime example.

Leah mentioned a new Yahoo list says that foraging is a top 10 food prediction for the upcoming year.  They even have a link to a Philadelphia Food Harvest Map which has locations for many private properties. 

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson pointed us to a site that describes some PVC "Spud Gun" projects that might have some utility WTSHTF.

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C.D.V. pointed us to the web site of a gent who made a bet that he could eat well on $1 a day. He'd only learned about couponing five months before. C.D.V. notes: "This is a great way to build supplies, though I can't see this working post-SHTF."

"I would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone directory than by the Harvard faculty." - William F. Buckley

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’ve learned a few tricks since writing the first part of this article on stocking up on food items and other good stuff with the help of coupons combined with sale prices. Here are some tricks that I'd like to share with you:

First, a word about ethics:  The web sites will limit the number of coupons you can print. Photocopying coupons is considered coupon fraud. Each printed coupon has its own codes, and duplicates are not legal to tender. They are counterfeit. It is fair game to clip several coupons for the same item, or to use more than one computer to print them out, because they are separate and discrete coupons.

Coupon management: You can greatly expand your ability to cash in by making an effort to collect many sets of those Sunday newspaper coupon booklets. Where to get them? The most straightforward method is simply to subscribe, or buy extra Sunday papers. The couple of bucks a month per paper should pay for itself many times over.
But we’re all resourceful types, right? Okay, cheapskates. Free is better. Store coupon flyers are usually on display for the taking. You can ask friends, relatives or neighbors to save the Smart Source, Red Plum and other newspaper inserts for you. If they clip too, maybe you have a dog, and they have a baby, so you can trade Huggies coupons for the Purina.

For more adventurous souls, dumpster diving is an option. Don’t get too grossed out at the idea. It isn’t all that eewww. Recycle bins contain only paper, and the worst of it is the newsprint I get on my fingers. The newspaper distribution office closest to me has a recycle bin where the carriers discard unused papers. I visit it about once a week to loot the bodies. Is it legal? Sure, with permission. The workers in the warehouse and the delivery truck drivers have been friendly and helpful when I explain what I’m after. They’ve even scared up flyers from the warehouse when I couldn’t find them in the bin. Best check on the feelings of your local newspaper personnel before diving.

You can cruise your neighborhood when people put out their recycle bins, asking if it’s okay to take their old newspapers, of course. Sometimes fast food places or coffee shops have newspapers lying around. Ask them if the Sunday coupon section is fair game for a paying customer.

Another source is Internet coupons you can print out. These can be found through Sometimes you can go straight to the manufacturer’s web site and find offers there, as well.

Another legitimate use of coupons is stacking. If store policy will allow it, you can combine a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon on the same item. For instance, the other day I bought a bag of Millstone coffee using a Publix coupon worth $1.00 from their flyer in combination with a $2.00 Millstone coupon for a savings of $3.00. However, you can’t use two of the same kind of coupon on the same item.

Let’s say you’ve collected stacks of coupon flyers, now what? They can get out of hand if you don’t organize them. Amazing how paper stacks left together reproduce in the dark. Remember the Tribbles from Star Trek? Too bad that paper doesn’t purr or cuddle.

I suggest you file the pamphlets by date. I use one of those expandable file holders with a separate file folder for each week. You can find the distribution date in itty-bitty numbers on the outside fold of the flyer. Of course, you should go through each of them, cream the coupons you expect to use soon and put them in your go-to-store file. But you would be amazed at the useful coupons for products you never thought you’d want. My suggestion is, keep them until the coupons are out of date. Why? Money makers. They pop up unexpectedly, and having them on hand is like gold.

How to access the right coupon when the sales come up? Revisit In good ol’ Mom’s web site you will find a searchable database of coupons. With reasonable accuracy you can find out the date and type of flyer where the brand of coupon can be found. The major coupon brochures are listed, such as Smart Source, Red Plum, and Proctor & Gamble (P&G). The database is refined by geography, though there may be differences in value or availability within a region. Printable coupons can also be accessed from this site. There are other web sites that provide help in your quest as well.

Good so far? It gets better. In Mom’s web site you can find the store specials for your area, complete with coupon match-ups and estimates on savings by both price and discount percentage. In our region four grocery stores are listed, two of which were just added, along with national drug and variety store chains.

For example: When I looked up the Walgreens specials  a few weeks ago, I found they offered Breathe-Rite strips in the sample size for 49 cents each. The item was tagged as Free in the database. Actually, it was much better than free, because the coupons were worth more than the product. Cha-ching! The database designated which week and which flyer offered the coupon. I clipped all seven coupons from my stash. They were worth $1.50 each, good for any size Breathe-Rite packages. I didn’t need the strips, but included them in a charity package to my church. After sales tax, each purchase netted me about 94 cents, times 7. Almost $7.00 I could apply to anything in the store.
Walgreens, you say?  Isn’t that a drugstore?

Don’t overlook the drugstores for food products! CVS and Walgreens both stock a limited inventory of groceries and other products of use to preppers, beyond the expected band-aids, vitamins and drugs. Most are pricey, but both chains offer sale prices on a number of items each week. I’ve bought canned meat and instant oatmeal for half the usual retail price at CVS and Walgreens. Some products generate rebates, or “catalinas” good for the next purchase. These are advertised in the weekly store flyer as well as the previously mentioned database. There’s an art to navigating the use of the catalinas that come with the purchases, and store policies vary.

First, Walgreens. This chain does not issue special cards that qualify you for specials and track your purchases. Stealth preppers need not worry about Walgreens building a dossier on you, and you can go back and buy as many of the rebate offers as you wish, as long as you play the game according to their rules.

Recently Walgreens offered a number of items that were essentially free after the rebates. Some were Proctor & Gamble brand products, along with other manufacturers. A few were money makers. For example, I had a number of $1.00 coupons for Crest toothpaste, and the store offered a full price rebate.  I paid $2.99 plus sales tax for the $3.99 item, and after paying for it, I got a voucher for $3.99, good on the next purchase at Walgreens.

Rule 1: The store only offered one rebate per purchase of a particular item, so I had to make separate transactions for each purchase of Crest.

Rule 2: Turning around and using the Procter and Gamble voucher on the same brand family product would disqualify the rebate offer on the second tube of Crest toothpaste or on Pantene shampoo, another P&G product that offered a rebate. So, when I bought a second tube of Crest with another $1.00 coupon, I again paid $2.99 for $3.99  toothpaste in a separate transaction and received a second catalina for $3.99.

Thus I had two catalinas for $3.99 to spend on Walgreens merchandise. Here’s where it gets sticky, because of restrictions. 

Rule 3: Whatever you purchase with the catalinas and coupons must total more than their value before sales tax – they won’t pay you the difference.

Rule 4: I learned the hard way that at Walgreens you can’t use more coupons than items in a purchase when stacking catalinas, manufacturers’ coupons, and store coupons. I had two rebate catalinas already, so had to buy at least two items for a minimum total price of $7.98 before sales tax. It gets complicated when you have a number of coupons to apply plus the store coupons found in the weekly flyers and want to get the maximum benefit. Dried fruit at $l.00 a box or a carton of eggs if they are on sale may make up the extra items needed and still provide good value.

CVS: You need to sign up and get an Extra Care card to take advantage of their deals. When you enter the store, you can scan the card in a machine and it pops out coupons. You might get $4.00 off a $20.00 purchase, or a buck off a bag of candy. Most of them are for products I don’t want, but some have been money savers. Because the store tracks your sales, you might use caution about heavy purchases of Sudafed and other red-flag drugs and merchandise.

For a buck you can buy a “green tag” to put on your personal shopping bag. Every day you make a purchase the cashier scans the tag (remind her) and after four visits, you get a coupon for a dollar good on anything at the store. The store saves money on plastic bags and my little greenie has paid for itself many times over.
CVS offers rebates on certain items each week much as Walgreens, but they are not as restrictive as to how you use your catalinas and coupons at the checkout. However, because you are using the card and they track your purchases, if the Crest rebate offer is only good for one purchase, you can’t go back for a second deal on the same card. It’s up to you if you want to sign up for multiple cards or get them for family members.

I’ve had some nice surprises at checkout. Recently I made two separate purchases because I wanted to use the rebates from the first toward the second. Out popped an unexpected $5.00 coupon good on a $15.00 purchase! It just so happened I had enough items in the second run-through to take use it. Because I had other coupons to apply, I handed the cashier the $5.00 catalina first to make sure my purchase maxed out at over $15.00 so I could take full advantage of a huge savings.
Rite-Aid apparently offers similar deals, but I can’t advise on their ins and outs because that chain doesn’t play in our area.

Electronic coupons: They are available some places, and come up on the Coupon Mom e-mailings, but I haven’t yet had any success in accessing them for the stores in our area. This must be a Silicon Valley thing.

Here’s another example of how to stretch the cash until it screams for mercy. Last week Walgreens offered melatonin supplements for $3.00 with a full rebate in the form of a catalina. I had $2.00 coupons for the same product. So I paid $1.00 for each bottle of melatonin in separate purchases, and received a $3.00 catalina for each one, for a $2.00 profit. I paid $3.00 for three bottles of supplements, and had $9.00 worth of catalinas to spend. This week Walgreens had a sale on canned Hormel corned beef for $1.99 with a limit of two per purchase, which was a bargain price. Canned Blue Diamond almonds were priced at $2.00 each, another good special. I had two coupons for 60 cents off two cans of Blue Diamond nuts. I bought two cans of beef and four cans of almonds for my stockpile. With the $9.00 worth of catalinas and $1.20 in coupons, I paid $1.78 for the $11.98 purchase. (There is no sales tax on food or vitamin supplements in my state.) The cash outlay for the six cans of edibles plus the three bottles of Melatonin totaled $4.78 for a $30.00 full retail value.

Aggressive coupon shopping takes time and attention, but as the savings and the stacks of groceries add up, I’m finding the payoff well worth the trouble.

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

  • Grass Beyond the Mountains by Richmond P. Hobson, Jr. This is the true story of the pioneering cattlemen that settled the wilderness interior of British Columbia in the 1930s. (This is the region that lies inland from Bella Coola). It is an amazing tale of gumption and perseverance. There is lot in this book about self-sufficiency that will appeal to preppers, as well as being an exciting tale of adventure. I've seen that there are a couple of sequels that Jim has promised to tack on to our next Amazon order. I really enjoyed this book. From it, I learned much about the relationship between a cowboy and his horses, and I'm looking forward to reading Hobson's other books.

  • I watched Tremors. I had no patience for this movie. This is the sort of film that dumbs down young people. The two lead characters in the movie have a good work ethic but are not refined, well educated, or morally upright men. Keep this sort of men far away from our young women. I had Jim fast-forward to Burt Gummer's Bunker so I could see how cool that was. Then we fast-forwarded to the end just to see how it ended. Burt's well-stocked bunker, the wonderful example of he and his wife's teamwork and his fabulous under-lever elephant gun which finally killed one of those awful fictional monsters, were the only redeeming factors in this movie. I do not recommend it. (Gentlemen: just remember this is a woman's perspective of a "Guy Movie". So please, no hate mail.)

  • I'm just into the first few chapters of Lucifer's Hammer. This is a modern classic novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle describes a full-scale societal collapse caused by a comet striking the Pacific Ocean. (The "Hammerfall.") The beginning chapters set the stage, introducing the characters, with much foreshadowing. It is a bit of a discipline to get through it, however the storyline has the makings for some very exciting reading later on. It really upsets me when I pick up a book and find a lot of immoral behavior within its pages. Its too bad that authors feel that they have to gratuitously include it in their books. The storyline would be just as good without it. I'll let you know how the story plays out in my column next week.

Senator Coburn: Control Government Spending or Face 'Apocalyptic Pain'

Quantitative Easing 2 as Projected and Announced

After 62 Years, a First for Harlequin: A Personal Finance Book, The Frugalista Files. "Written by former Miami Herald personal finance blogger Natalie McNeal, is a diary a 34-year old attempt to pay off her credit card debt -- 'without giving up the fabulous life.'"

Items from The Economatrix:

Ted Butler:  A Show Stopper

"Commodity Super Cycle" Ripples Into China  

Naked Emperor and the Conspiracy of Silence

T. sent a picture worth a thousand words: DIY snow tires for your bike.

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More dim bulbs: California banning 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. (Thanks to Yishai for the link.)

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Some weather-related news from Russia: Traditional troika back on track

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Weather news in the US: Storm in Eastern U.S. Wreaks Havoc on Travel. And, Blizzard moves from US to Canada, sowing chaos. Thankfully, most SurvivalBlog readers were well-prepared.

"And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." - Colossians 3:14 (KJV)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have long wanted my own generator, but a $500 and up price tag kept me from purchasing one new.  After some internet searching and sleepless nights I found a good tutorial online.  What I liked best about the tutorial is that Brian at epicenter has already worked out the kinks and sells the materials.  I have no connection with epicenter, and the only things I have bought from them were for this project, but what dealings I have had with them were fair and honest.             

A co-worker gave me an older Craftsman brand lawnmower for this project. It did not run, but with a little bartering, I had it repaired.  I ordered the plate, an alternator, wiring harness, pulley, and two belts from the Epicenter web site. (Together these cost approximately $160 with shipping).            

While waiting on the parts, I laid the mower on its side in the bed of my truck (being careful to keep the gas tank side up) and wedged a 2x4 between the truck bed and the mower blade to keep it from spinning while I unscrewed the blade.  I did use some kerosene to loosen the nut (liquid wrench is almost pure kerosene).            

I then drove to the local auto parts store to use their loan a tool program so I could get a pulley puller.  The blade mount pulled off the shaft very easily, so I returned the puller and went home.  On the way home I stopped by the hardware store to purchase longer bolts and spacers to not only attach the engine to the generator, but also to align the pulley on the mower to the one on the alternator.  It took me a while to find the right bolt/nut/washer combo, but I got 5 bolts, 10 washers, 1 lock nut, and 4 1 inch spacers for about $15.            

Once the plate arrived, I measured it and built a frame from scrap 2x4 lumber.  The plate measured 12x24 so I cut two 2-ft lengths of 2x4 and two 9-inch lengths.  After screwing them together, it made a perfect frame.  Just because I had some, I painted the box with the leftover green paint from making a chicken tractor a few months ago.            

As soon as the paint dried I screwed the plate to the box and attached the alternator.  It fits just like a traditional alternator in a car.  One screw fits in a whole in the plate, while a bolt fits in an adjustment slot in the plate and through the alternator the locks with a nut.  To tighten the belt you loosen the bolt and move the alternator in the adjustment slot.  

Next I installed the pulley on the shaft.  I set in a 3/16 keyway in the shaft and pushed the pulley onto the shaft.  I used a dead blow hammer to knock it flush.  Be careful and think about what your doing, one side of the pulley has set screws so its longer, and I put that end toward the engine, so once I installed the alternator and the belt, it did not line up, forcing me back to the part store to get the puller to remove the pulley and put it on the opposite direction.            

Once the pulley was installed and tightened, and I installed the engine.  The cut outs for mounting the engine were larger than my bolt heads, so I sandwiched the plate between two large fender washers, the spacers fit on the bolts on the top of the plate raising the entire engine over the frame.  This is because the shaft it much longer than the alternator shaft.            

Depending on the type of alternator you use and how it’s regulated, there are different ways of connecting everything.  I used an external switch and my alternator had an internal voltage regulator, so I ran a wire from the voltage regulator to the + battery terminal on the alternator, then the + terminal of the battery.  I ran another wire from the second terminal on the voltage regulator to a switch that draws power from the battery.  Because of this you need to have a battery to use your alternator.  You have to energize the regulator to get it to produce electricity.  You need a switch because if you leave the field on when you try to start it, it will put a load on your engine and it won’t crank.  If your smart and get a single wire alternator with an internal voltage regulator it just wires up directly to the batteries.  I would stay away from external voltage regulators as the wiring gets more complicated.              

To keep things easy I paid an extra couple bucks for the wiring adapter for the alternator.  You don’t have to use epicenter’s alternator or their harness, but since I would have to either buy a new one or go to the junk yard and remove one on my own I kept it simple and bought theirs.             

I used their adaptor, some 14 gauge red and white wire, a 50 amp switch, some connectors, and heat shrink tubing to rig up a wiring harness that snaps in to the alternator.  6 gauge battery cables go from the battery to the alternator.

Most lawnmowers come with a safety device that you must hold in order to keep the engine running.  Mine was on the handle of the lawnmower.  I looked at it and decided to keep it functional rather than safety wire it closed.  What I did was wire a washer to the linkage which allows me to pull it tight and loop it over the linkage bracket.  That way if need to stop the engine quickly, I can just pull the washer off the bracket.            

In order to use the generator, you must have a battery; this is because the voltage regulator needs to be energized to function.  This generator is really just a souped-up battery charger as the alternator’s voltage regulator puts out the exact right voltage for charging car batteries. (Imagine that.)             

Some other things to consider are that because lawnmowers use light flywheels, since they depend on the mass of the mower blade to idle correctly.  So when choosing a pulley make sure you get a cast iron pulley with a little mass to it. You do not have to use store bought parts if you have parts at hand.  I could have gotten by with using a piece of plywood as a base.  If I had drilled a hole for the shaft to sit, I could have used the engine as a template to mark where to drill my mounting holes.  This is a project for using your mind instead of your money to come up with a solution to a problem.  I used more money than needed so I could spend less time considering solutions to problems of mismatched parts.  Lastly, don’t scrimp on the belt quality, and buy more than one.  If you are relying on a generator you made from your dead car then it’s a really bad day, and you probably aren’t in a position to go to the auto parts store.            

I really liked doing this project, its one of my favorites I have attempted this far.  I will say that using a credit card to order parts and have them shipped to my door made this a lot more fun.  I could have completed this project for little cash by using donor vehicles from the junk yard, but it would have been a lot dirtier and took more thinking about how to make things fit.            

The moral of that being, reading about projects is nice, but taking the next step and actually completing them is better.  Nothing beats having your plan in the books before you need to start using it.            

Since I cannot leave well enough alone, I plan on taking it a couple steps farther.  The first major upgrade is I plan on making a little switch board to mount the throttle assembly and switch a little neater.  Next I plan on converting the carburetor to run on LPG gas from bottles which will make the logistics of fuel storage safer while allowing me longer run times and faster refuels.  Lawnmower engines have small tanks with limited run time, and you do not want to refuel them when they are hot.  By converting to propane, I solve both problems.  I also plan on making a second lawnmower alternator combo, which I want to modify into an electric welder.  This is something that 4WD enthusiasts have done for years.  The only reason I haven’t done so is that then I would have to learn to weld, which would lead me to more project.  

Dear James,  
Thank you for all that you have done for millions of us who were once asleep and unprepared!   I had a question for you regarding obtaining a Federal Firearms License (FFL).  I am in the process of starting some home businesses as a backstop to my "office job."  I have considered getting a FFL and Class 3 license to generate income from gun and ammo sales out of my home.  Is this advisable or does this make me too "high profile?"  I remember the movie Red Dawn!   Thanks and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! - Mark in Florida

JWR Replies: I have some strong reservations about getting an FFL. The biggest advantage is of course that it gives you access to modern firearms at wholesale prices. But unfortunately there are several drawbacks. First and foremost, it raises your profile, both locally and with the BATFE. Secondarily, it also makes your business premises subject to government search under some circumstances. (The last time I checked, the ATF agents were more constrained in making searches if you operate a gun business out of your home.) You will also need to keep meticulous records and the records will become government property when you eventually go out of business.

My advice is to not get an FFL but instead to specialize in selling pre-1899 guns. Buying and selling these doesn't require a license. Nor does selling ammunition (in most jurisdictions).


The question of how much toilet paper one must store is an important issue indeed.  One thing I feel that is often overlooked, and that some readers can personally attest to is that the method of “doing your duty” can play a role in how much paper is required.  I currently live in mainland China , and have for some time now.  The venerable “squatty potty” is much cleaner for the user and therefore easier on the supply of precious paper.  We have three children and as a whole, China does not supply paper in its restrooms, so I know how much paper we have with us and how much we need daily.  Squatting, like all skills, takes some practice.  Cement blocks on either side of our western “seat” may help also.  This, unfortunately, is worth consideration.             

I must also add that increasing dietary fiber is also important to reducing paper usage.  At least that has been my experience, not that anyone wanted to know.  - Jonboy in Hangzhou


The notion of needing endless cases of toilet paper in a SHTF scenario is a bit far fetched when considering the alternatives to TP that is practiced around the world.

In Asia, toilet paper is only needed sparingly as the use of a bidet sprayer is common.

I am not talking about the French separate toilet looking thing, but rather the simple sprayer that is tied into a T fitting at the water pipe that supplies water to your toilet.

The sprayers come in many colors and styles, some plastic, some fancy chrome. All however do the same thing, they spray water.

To use one, you simply lean forward and hold the sprayer behind you. Direct the spray towards your dirty parts. The force of the water will clean you 100% better than paper any day. After finished use a bit of TP to dry off. If you do it right, you will not spray water on anything but your rear. Water should not splash on your back or the floor or shoes etc.

For added cleanliness and to fight off sweat rashes in hot climates; after you clean yourself with water, apply some liquid soap to your hand and use with water to complete the job.

To clear up common misconceptions about this method, you do not touch feces with your fingers (unless you are doing it wrong with the sprayer in the first place or using the water bottle/dipper bucket method which is something else entirely)

For female use, the principle works as well. Most women in Asia wash themselves with soap and water in this manner every time they use the toilet.

Many Americans are squeamish about this method, however every American I know who has been in Asia for a decent period of time; has been converted to this method. Ask yourself this: Would I clean my dishes with wads of dry tissue paper and expect them to be clean? Of course not. So why should a part of your body that gets far dirtier be cleaned this way? You can also ask yourself, why do you wash yourself in the shower but not on the toilet?

Good hygiene is important in our day to day lives. Good hygiene in a SHTF scenario will save your life. - B.M.


The letter about the challenge of storing enough toilet paper overlooked an important point: The diameter of a roll of toilet paper (and thus the volume of space it takes up) is not the most important consideration when stocking up--what matters most is how many sheets (and thus the total surface area) are available per roll. Some time ago I realized that rolls of the bulk packages of Member's Mark toilet paper from Sam's Club seemed to be depleted rather quickly at my house, and upon further examination, I realized that although the paper was rather thick, there were only 200 individual sheets per roll. So I made a point during my next trip to Sam's Club to see what other brands of toilet paper were on sale. And what I found really surprised me.

At that time, a 36-roll multipack of Member's Mark toilet paper was $14.98, or 41.6 cents per roll, while a 40-roll case of POM toilet paper was 18.88 for 40 rolls, or 47.2 cents per roll. However, the POM had 450 sheets per roll--more than twice as many as the Member's Mark toilet paper--but the POM was not as thick (although in my opinion still very comfortable) so I got more than twice as much toilet paper surface area for approximately the same volume of storage space. If your readers find that their toilet paper supply diminishes more rapidly than they expect, they should probably see how many sheets they are getting per roll. I essentially doubled how long each roll of toilet paper lasts at my house simply by looking at how many sheets I'm actually getting and then switching brands accordingly.

On another note, I've seen comments on a couple different preparedness forums suggesting that to save on paper usage, people should use something akin to a bidet. But what these well-intentioned people don't stop to think about is that in a grid-down situation, water will be a vital and possibly hard-to-come-by resource. I'll take toilet paper any day over chronic thirst because I used my last potable water for something other than drinking.

Merry CHRISTmas and happy new year to you and Avalanche Lily, Jim. God bless, - Chad

Mr Rawles,
Thanks again for publishing SurvivalBlog. Rarely a day goes by that I do not learn something from the posts here. In response to D.D.L.'s "Paper or Plastic" letter, I admire D.D.L.'s out-of-the-box thinking with regards to hygiene, but I wonder what will be done with the wash water (hopefully not being dumped in a river or stream!)

While recently traveling in rural India & Nepal, I was forced to come to grips with the fact that people there simply have *no* toilet paper, and learned to do as the locals do. Here's their solution:

An "Eastern Toilet", as they call it, or "squat toilet", consists of a hole in the ground (if indoors, often a porcelain fixture), a bucket, and a plastic mug with a handle, called a "dipper". The bucket is kept full of water, either by carrying your own in, or by way of a faucet. When you're done with your business, you hold the dipper in your right hand, fill it from the bucket, reach behind you, and simultaneously with your left hand reach between your legs. Pouring water from the dipper over your left hand, you splash a little upwards (like a bidet), and, continuing to pour the water out, use your left hand to clean the dirty area. The dipper and your right hand should never come in contact with anything dirty. Refill the dipper as needed until everything is clean, and use the same water to flush the toilet (if it's an indoor toilet).

It must be pointed out that good hand washing practices with soap are to avoid spreading disease when using this method. Some stockpiled hand sanitizer might not be a bad idea, either. Incidentally, this method is also the reason why it is considered a grave insult to touch anyone or eat with your left hand in the Muslim & Hindu world.

The downside to this method is that it does not work well with a western toilet; a squat toilet is much cleaner, but much harder on the knees for people not used to them. - Adam W.


After reading the article, Paper or Plastic? -- That is the Question, by D.D.L., I was re-inspired to bring up this issue that I have been meaning to write about for a long time.

My wife is from the Philippines and very few people there use toilet paper. Most actually think of it as being unsanitary. Instead they prefer to use the "Tabo", which is essentially just a small bucket that you fill up with water.

The Vu. has this description: "Called the tabo in the Philippines but known by other names in South Asia, this system is basically a jug of water, filled in a bucket or barrel or from the tap. The user raises up slightly from the toilet seat and pours water towards the small of the back where the space between the butt cheeks is. The water naturally flows down and over the skin and washes the area.  In practice, although rarely talked about, the user usually puts soap on his or her fingers and washes the butt, just like everyone does in the shower and then rinses with the tabo. Of course this means touching the unclean substance in question (poo) but the hand is using soap and water so with practice it ends up clean when all is over. In the Philippines, bathrooms are wet, meaning there is usually a floor drain and a faucet on the wall, which is used to fill the vessel. The tabo is difficult for lifelong wipers to accept, but it does remove all traces of waste and associated bacteria, so should not be criticized. Anyone with a sink within arm’s reach of the toilet, and a plastic jug or jar, can try the tabo right now, with nothing to install. In rural areas, the tabo is also used for outdoor, full body bathing."

As I told my wife, we should stock up on toilet paper, but only for bartering purposes. We'll wait a good 2-4 weeks before starting to barter the toilet paper because by then most people will have ran out and will become very desperate. I would suggest that all Survivalblog readers obtain a tabo and practice using it. For my wife and I, it only takes one tabo full of water but we are well experienced. Beginners should first practice with a 5 gallon pail of water so they will be able to refill their tabo.

Since I grew up on toilet paper it was quite a shock for me to experience the tabo when I was in the Philippines. After learning the tabo method, I had to agree that the affected area is much cleaner after using a tabo. I would recommend that beginners try to hold the tabo in one hand while splashing water towards their rear end while somewhat slowly letting the water drain from the tabo (no need to touch the area during this first rinsing). After doing this with the first tabo (note that by now you haven't touched any poo), I would add a little bit of soap in the hand that did the splashing and then use a second filling of the tabo to then wash the area. You may need to use more water to rinse, but this should usually be enough to clean the area. If not then you will need to work on your technique.

The other interesting thing in the Philippines is that they use small, bowl only, one-piece toilets and I frankly like them better as well because they require less water to flush. For urine you just fill up one tabo [with water] and flush it down the toilet. For poo, you may need to use a gallon or so to get it all down. See this article for a picture.

Here is another article about Tabo technique.

So I should ask, why rely on storing years of toilet paper when you should be storing or learning how to make soap? - KJP

News from England: Cost of the Weekly Shop Set to Rocket Next Year

Reader F.B. notes: "I purchase bulk whole grain for animal feed in Kuna, Idaho. I bought Bulk dried corn in January, April & August at $12 per hundred weight, but on Dec 22 it was $13 per hundred. And I bought soft white wheat. It was formerly priced at $11 per hundred. The price at my most recent purchase in December was $1 per hundred."

Bolivia hikes gasoline prices 73 pct; protests hit.

Big Freeze Thieves Target Heating Oil As Prices Soar And Families Wait For New Supply  

China's Wen seeks to assure public about inflation

Reader L.M.W. mentioned a great money-saving online swap site for children's clothes and toys.

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Coded American Civil War message in bottle deciphered. (A tip of the kepi to Richard S. for the link.)

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Also from Richard S. comes a Daily Bell link: Fitzroy McLean on Freedom, International Investing and How to Improve 'the Space Between One's Ears.

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Den from North Carolina flagged this news item: Converting Plastic Back to Oil. But here again, the EROEI numbers tell a tale of gross inefficiency.

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More 2012 lunacy: Tin Foil House: Russian Man Builds 2012 Doomsday Capsule

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." - 1 John 5:11-13 (KJV)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

A couple of years ago I was watching a commercial on television that showed two young men as they stood in a check-out line at a grocery store with a 6 pack of beer, a bag of chips and a package of Toilet Paper…when the young men found that they had only enough money for two of the three items, they chose the 6 pack and the chips. When asked by checker “Paper or plastic?” the decision was unanimous, “Paper!” 

This stark reality of such a simple decision led me on a journey that would involve many years and begin my search for the answer to the question of how much is enough toilet paper (TP) and where do I store it.  I never really understood just how important TP was and the impact that it could have on our daily lives until that commercial was played out. Oh sure, like many deer hunters and fishermen or any outdoor type we all have had our moment where our lack of preparedness has caused us great concern and given us an opportunity to experience the humility of mother nature without TP and all that it encompasses.   

The necessity of Toilet paper and the amount of storage room necessary for a one to two years supply and the quest to keep it dry even in our homes is sometimes a task that has caused me great concern and some sleepless nights to say the least.  With a family of seven (some may be coming home if the SHTF) and no way to transport two years of their own TP supply plus their family and their gear, I had to find a way to simplify this dilemma.   The one thing that I have learned in the past 28 years is that the simplest ideas most always end up being the best…with that being said, I find myself writing about one of the simplest ideas that my wife has produced for our family, and has ended my search for the perfect ending to the mystery.   

Just a short piece of history first.  About five years ago when we were on a two-week camp out, when a sudden and unforeseen four days of rain descended upon our group of 18 families, who were camped in a narrow canyon with restroom facilities about ½ mile from our camp…even though we have our own toilet facilities (I have, along with a few other families who could afford such… purchased used but in good condition portable restrooms and placed them on 2 wheel trailers…one of which is a handicapped restroom with room enough for a solar heated, black bag water shower and a bathroom cabinet), we decided to use the restroom facilities provided even though we knew we would have to plan our walks for the sake of nature very carefully.  We found that in this situation of being away from these very useful luxuries (our portable outhouses) that the trek of ½ mile in wet and cold conditions early in the morning or late at night, with a roll of TP tucked under our jackets, was sometimes a daring adventure.  I lost count of the times a roll of TP was dropped onto the wet ground or in a puddle of water making it completely useless and of the nature walks that ended half way to the desired destination.  Or of the rolls of TP that were found early in the morning, standing silently alone atop the picnic table, dripping wet, after someone forgot that TP and rain don't mix      

The use of toilet paper in very damp conditions led many of our group to wonder out loud about ways to solve this problem.  The storage of large amounts of TP seemed to be a major concern for all of our group, but keeping it dry usually came up…the room needed to store such was vast to say the least when you consider a year or two supply of this basic luxury.   I know that many folks on other blogs or survival sites are stacking phone books to use, or they are storing boxes and boxes of TP and well… to be quite honest, the phone book or a color catalog is not quite the best choice of clean wipe tissue if you have ever tried it…and as my wife discovered, the cost of baby wipes was out of the question and our tries of making our own baby wipes (with environmentally safe soap) discouraged us simply because we knew that eventually we would run out of paper towels.     We needed a solution to a problem that everyone will face someday…paper, plastic, a leaf, or well lets just say any port in the storm…whatever it came to we still had a choice, find a solution or suffer someday.  

They say that every problem is nothing more than a solution in waiting… Being born in the 1950s I remembered what many of you may not…It was called the diaper pal and was as common as toothpaste for families with babies…a closed plastic container would hold about 10-15 dirty diapers and if kept clean (which my mother and other moms demanded) would wait patiently until Saturday morning when the pal was drained into the toilet and the cotton diapers were placed in the washing machine, there to be cleaned with bleach and Tide and hung on the clothes line to be sun dried, and returned to diaper basket where once again the cycle would continue…the solution to my problem was as simple as looking to the past for an answer to the future…why not use cotton diaper material, cut into 4 x 9 in. sections, and then sown around the edges of the material with a zig-zag stitch to prevent the edges from unraveling.  My wife and some of her friends chose a Saturday afternoon, had the men load their sowing machines into the truck and cart them over to a local church where an assembly line soon formed…men setting up sewing machines, women cutting material and other women started sewing the edges, where upon we men would then package in bundles of 50 each a finished product that every man and women took special care not to lose.  The cost of this Saturday was, well lets just say that we all enjoyed the day, we have a product now that we are comfortable with and have no fear of it being destroyed by rain or muddy puddles, left outside in the morning dew or blown of a table top.  We can store 5,000 reusable sheets in a medium cardboard box. 

My cost in time and in material was around 20 cents per sheet if we figured $10 per man-hour to complete the task.  Then again this was 5 years ago, but the benefits have out weighted our investment 10 to 1.  The material was purchased at a local box store but as many of our women found out their mothers had a lot of diaper material stored in boxes in their basements and were grateful to have it put to good use.  We have found that it took a few times to get use to not depositing the wipes into the toilet facility but with practice and a few reminders the system works and in a WTSHTF scenario this idea just may save many of us the distress of using a dollar bill (which does not work at all as toilet paper) as a final solution to an everyday problem.   The results of our efforts became a very useful item that we now carry in all our backpacks,  (stored in freezer bags (but we don’t care if they get wet, they are still usable), in our bug out packs also in freezer bags, and stacked neatly in our portable toilet's cabinets in plastic containers right next to our regular TP that we still use while we can.    I have been able to find diaper pails at yard sales and in some stores, and I have found some that would have really made my mom sit up and take notice; they have two-way entries and are very insect proof.  We have found that this cotton TP also serves as a wound dressing when two are sown together with a famine napkin in between, as a washcloth, a sweat rag, as a famine pad (also when sown together with a sponge material in between) in an emergency situation, and other ways that we are finding each and every trip into the wilderness and around our home.   As a student of outdoor survival and family preparedness for 28 years, I have found that each and every bit of information received, is another thread of the tapestry that will assist us in the days of uncertainty that lie ahead, and that will greatly add to our chances of survival in the world in which we will soon find ourselves. 

Mr. Rawles,  

One of the drawbacks of Iowa as a possible retreat location has been restrictive gun laws. It will be somewhat better as of January 1, 2011 when the state becomes a  “Shall Issue” instead of a discretionary “May Issue” state for carrying concealed weapons (CCW) permits.  

I think that the rural areas of Iowa offer good possibilities for retreats. The farm land is some of the best in the world. Water and rainfall are less of a problem than they are in some of the more western plains states. The people in most of the state still have “old-time” values of hard work and helping one another out.   Because of the expense of farm acreage (on average, about $5.000 an acre), one option for those on a budget might be to live in one of the small towns. Also, one can sometimes find an older farm house with 5 or 10 acres for a reasonable price, where a larger neighboring operator has bought the farm to add to his holdings and does not want the house.

It may take a while to find the right property, because most people who have land aren’t selling.   From the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Journal, December 16: Iowa farmland value up nearly 16 percent.    Best Regards, - Andrew H.

JWR Adds: I must suffix the foregoing with one proviso: Some of the increase in land prices in Corn Belt states has been due to ethanol subsidies, which will be phased out in the lean years to come. So farmland prices in the Corn Belt may be headed for a correction.

I'd hate to be accused of Schadenfreude during the holidays, but I feel I must mention five recent news articles that tie in with my previous mentions of Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns civilian disarmament pressure group:

The number of mayors in Bloomberg's group that are facing felony and lesser charges is simply astounding. Come to think of it, I have roughly the same number of friends as Bloomberg has members on the roster in his little hoplophobe club. But I couldn't imagine having a dozen of my friends facing felony charges. Oh well, I guess that's because I don't move in the same lofty circles as Mayor Bloomberg.

Trouble just seems to follow these gun-grabbing mayors. There are the felonies, and more felonies, and more felonies, and more felonies.

And then there's the scandals, more scandals, more scandals, and more scandals, and even an ongoing scandal that Bloomberg himself inherited when he took office.

With friends like these, at least Mayor Bloomberg has plenty of crime experts that he can consult for his "crime fighting" group.

From reader C.D.V.: A Village Was Swallowed by the Earth

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Airline / Army pilot points out substandard security, has personal weapon permit revoked. Why is it that the whistleblower gets punished? Unless he signed some sort of nondisclosure agreement, why should he get hammered for merely telling the truth?

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Peaceniks live in former Atlas missile silo.

"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger" - Luke 2:15-16 (KJV)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We wish a joyous Christmas to all SurvivalBlog readers. May the love of Christ be with you and yours!


Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’ve been an Emergency Prepper/Survivalist for many years. I’ve participated and am a member in a number of various forums on preparedness. I go back to the old BBS days. I work with my community Emergency Management in the city I work for and county I live in. I am active on various online communities today. I’ve a close knit group of friends that are like minded and we have formed a close bond. This has taken much time, energy, discussion, introspection and prayer. This was necessary for me to learn and earn the trust and faith needed to form the friendships that a close knit group needs in order to be an effective group or team.

 Many in the preparedness community are well acquainted with the concepts of a Mag Group or the Team concept. In case you are not familiar with these term let’s do a short re-cap of these concepts.  First is a Mutual Assistance Group (MAG) or as it is sometimes referred to a Mutual Aid Group.  To put it in the simplest terms it is a group of like-minded individuals who have agreed to come together in a time of need for mutual benefit.  The range and scope of a mutual aid group can be as simple as an agreement between like-minded folks are as complex and diverse as a signed agreement of what is expected in the amount of support or services that each individual is responsible for.

There is a good article listed in the SurvivalBlog archives that goes into better details.

As an example I'll share with you a mutual aid agreement with myself in one of my friends who lives a few hundred miles away.  We agreed should it become untenable to stay in our home retreat and it was necessary to leave for safer ground that we each were welcome at the others area of operations (AO).  We made a formal written agreement of what was expected of us to be welcomed at each other's retreat.  This did require some pre-positioning of food and supplies with the remainder being carried with us when we arrive.  This is a simple formal Mutual Aid Agreement between trusted like-minded people.

Next we should touch on the Formal Team concept.  There have been many articles written on this subject alone.  Including but not limited to building a team, training a team, the psychology of living together as a team.  In short a formal team is a group of like-minded individuals who have come together for the purpose of mutual survival.  It's generally in a team's best interest to have a collection of individuals whose skills offset and complement each other and provide the necessary professions to be a viable and vibrant group.  Generally a formal agreement is made by all individuals concerning a basic ticket list (supplies, goods, firearms, fuel, etc.) that is expected to be carried by each individual should the team have to fort up.  Teams generally have a set bug out plan and location destination prearranged.  These are just a few of the factors that go into the formal team concept.

Both the MAG and the Formal Team have their own sets of pros and cons it is not this writer's intention to try and sway anyone in either direction.

But beware, all things are not always as it seems when it comes to the Preparedness Community!

Through the years I’ve engaged many folks who seemed to be of a like mind. Some turned out to be too militant, others to passive or totally misguided. But the ones I wish to talk about are the Prepping Deceivers!

They are the ones who can truly Talk the Talk but unfortunately are not walking the walk. In my experience I truly don’t believe they mean harm in and of themselves. They know all the key words: Preparedness items, Survival gear, Guns and Ammo, Medicines, Food storage, Alternative energy, Security issues, the list is endless. They may be very educated or be prior military or a medical specialist just about any walk of life. They are extremely personable and usually willing to lend a hand at a moment’s notice. They may train or be trainers within a group. Most of these types of people seem to truly live the life of deeds not words.

I’ve found that an alarming number of them just are not Walking the Walk in their own personal lives, just Talking the Talk. You can already see the harm that can be found in such folks. Your OPSEC discipline is broken and the possibility of any material help for themselves will never be forth coming and may even become a burden or possible a hazard for you or others.

Before you enter into a MAG or Team arrangement with another be sure of not only their good intentions, but their good preparedness as well. This involves a mutual inspection of each other’s preps and supplies. Of course I’m assuming you already decided you could live with the individuals in a close high stress situation on a daily basis and their skills will be helpful to mutual survival. - Mike M.

I am a long time prepper, but didn’t really know it until I read "Patriots". You’re right, you need your family’s support in this type of venture. I am lucky to have a wife and family that feel the same way as I do.

I read with great interest the blog entry:  Emergency Preparedness, Two Liters at a Time, by Roy P.   Not too long ago, my kids coerced me to purchase a science experimenter's “toy” that solves the bottle mating problem discussed near the end of the article. The “Tornado Tube” is a female to female screw on adapter for any screw type soda/beverage bottle like the 2-liter size bottles that Roy wrote about. [By cutting the bottom off a bottle, it can be converted into a funnel, the Tornado Tube adapter allows that funnel to be securely attached to an intact bottle, beneath.]  I realize you probably don’t have time to reply, but I would appreciate it if you could include an explanation on your site of how to contribute…I must be overlooking it.   Have a Merry Christmas. - Peter K.

For Recession Victims, Gold Mining Pans Out

From C.D.V.: 60 Minutes segment: "State Budgets: Day of Reckoning"

Goldman Sachs Guru Sees 2011 as 'the Year of the USA' Goldman's Jim O'Neill shot to fame by predicting the staggering rise of emerging-market economies like the BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China. But 2011, he says, "will be the beginning of a new phase in which the U.S. has strong GDP growth." 


Items from The Economatrix:

Sales of Previously Occupied Homes Up in November  

Oil Tops $90 as Government Says Crude Supplies Shrank  

Citigroup Fears Fresh Wave of Sovereign Defaults and Bank Failures in Eurozone

More People Fell Out of Obama Mortgage-Aid Program 

Reader C.D.V. sent an article that describes the future of America, as seen in California's Central Valley. Here is a quote: "Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World... ...The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business — rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections — but apparently none of that applies out here. It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate."

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Reader F.G. sent this sign of the times, from Mesquite, Texas: Towne East Mall Shoppers Maced at Chaotic Air Jordan Sneaker Sale

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The Full Deployment of the World's Eighth Largest Army Goes Unnoticed...

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Penny wise an Pound foolish: Bridgewater spends $17,000 to defend $5 fee it charged resident.

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Solar Radio Doubles as USB Charging Multitool for Adventurers. (Thanks to Yishai for the link)

"Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him." - Matthew 2:2 (KJV)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

It’s one or two years after an EMP attack and you are safely tucked away in your retreat somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  Your storage foods have mostly been used and your high tech electronics is useless.   The really bad stuff is mostly past.  Now it’s try to stay fed and alive and pray that civilization as you know it is coming back.  You’re going to have to work your environment to live.  Ever wonder what life might be like?  What would it really be like to have no running water, electricity, sewer, newspaper or Internet?  No supermarket or fire department close at hand?

I have a good imagination but I decided to talk to someone who would know first hand what it was like: my mother.  She grew up on a homestead in the middle of Montana during the 1920s and 1930s.  It was a two room Cottonwood cabin with the nearest neighbor three miles away.  She was oldest at 9, so she was in charge of her brother and sister.  This was her reality; I feel there are lessons here for the rest of us.

There was a Majestic stove that used wood and coal.  The first person up at four thirty A.M., usually her father, would start the fire for breakfast.  It was a comforting start to the day but your feet would get cold when you got out of bed. 

A crosscut saw and axe was used to cut wood for the stove and after that experience, you got pretty stingy with the firewood because you know what it takes to replace it.  The old timers say that it warms you when you cut it, when you split it, and again when you burn it.  The homes that were typical on homesteads and ranches of the era were smaller with lower ceilings than modern houses just so they could be heated easier.  The saw and axe were not tools to try hurrying with.  You set a steady pace and maintained it.  A man in a hurry with an axe may loose some toes or worse.  One side effect of the saw and axe use is that you are continuously hungry and will consume a huge amount of food.
Lights in the cabin were old fashioned kerosene lamps.  It was the kid’s job to trim the wicks, clean the chimneys and refill the reservoirs. 

The privy was downhill from the house next to the corral and there was no toilet paper.  Old newspaper, catalogs or magazines were used and in the summer a pan of barely warm water was there for hygiene.  During a dark night, blizzard, or brown out from a dust storm, you followed the corral poles-no flashlights.

There were two springs close to the house that ran clear, clean, and cold water.  The one right next to it was a “soft” water spring.  It was great for washing clothes and felt smooth, almost slick, on your skin.  If you drank from it, it would clean you out just as effectively as it cleaned clothes.  Not all clean water is equal.

The second spring was a half mile from the cabin and it was cold, clear, and tasted wonderful.  The spring itself was deep - an eight foot corral pole never hit bottom- and flowed through the year.  It was from here that the kids would fill two barrels on a heavy duty sled with water for the house and the animals.  They would lead the old white horse that was hitched to the sledge back to the buildings and distribute the water for people and animals.  In the summer, they made two trips in the morning and maybe a third in the evening.  In the winter, one trip in the morning and one in the evening.  They did this alone.

Breakfast was a big meal because they’re going to be working hard.  Usually there would be homemade sausage, eggs and either cornmeal mush or oatmeal.  More food was prepared than what was going to be eaten right then.  The extra food was left on the table under a dish towel and eaten as wanted during the day.  When evening meal was cooked, any leftovers were reheated.  The oatmeal or the mush was sliced and fried for supper.  It was served with butter, syrup, honey or molasses. 

The homemade sausage was from a quarter or half a hog.  The grinder was a small kitchen grinder that clamped on the edge of a table and everybody took turns cranking.  When all the hog had been ground, the sausage mix was added and kneaded in by hand.  Then it was immediately fried into patties.  The patties were placed, layer by layer, into a stone crock and covered with the rendered sausage grease.   The patties were reheated as needed.  The grease was used for gravies as well as re-cooking the patties.  Occasionally a fresh slice of bread would be slathered with a layer of sausage grease and a large slice of fresh onion would top it off for quick sandwich.  Nothing was wasted.
Some of their protein came from dried fish or beef.  Usually this had to be soaked to remove the excess salt or lye.  Then it was boiled.  Leftovers would go into hash, fish patties, or potato cakes.

Beans?  There was almost always a pot of beans on the stove in the winter time.
Chickens and a couple of milk cows provided needed food to balance the larder.  They could not have supported a growing family without these two resources.
The kitchen garden ran mostly to root crops.  Onion, turnip, rutabaga, potato and radishes grew under chicken wire.  Rhubarb was canned for use as a winter tonic to stave off scurvy.  Lettuce, corn, and other above ground crops suffered from deer, rats, and gumbo clay soil. Surprisingly, cabbage did well.  The winter squash didn’t do much, only 2 or 3 gourds.  Grasshoppers were controlled by the chickens and turkeys.  There was endless hoeing.

Washing clothes required heating water on the stove, pouring it into three galvanized wash tubs-one for the homemade lye soap and scrub board, the other two for rinsing.  Clothes were rinsed and wrung out by hand, then hung on a wire to dry in the air.  Your hands became red and raw, your arms and shoulders sore beyond belief by the end of the wash.  Wet clothing, especially wool, is heavy and the gray scum from the soap was hard to get out of the clothes.

Personal baths were in a galvanized wash tub screened by a sheet.  In the winter it was difficult to haul, heat and handle the water so baths weren’t done often.  Most people would do sponge baths. 

Everybody worked including the kids.  There were always more chores to be done than time in the day.  It wasn’t just this one family; it was the neighbors as well.  You were judged first and foremost by your work ethic and then your honesty.  This was critical because if you were found wanting in either department, the extra jobs that might pay cash money, a quarter of beef, hog or mutton would not be available.  Further, the cooperation with your neighbors was the only assurance that if you needed help, you would get help.  Nobody in the community could get by strictly on their own.  A few tried.  When they left, nobody missed them.
You didn’t have to like someone to cooperate and work with him or her.

Several times a year people would get together for organized activities: barn raising, butcher bee, harvest, roofing, dance, or picnics.  There were lots of picnics, usually in a creek bottom with cottonwoods for shade or sometimes at the church.  Always, the women would have tables groaning with food, full coffee pots and, if they were lucky, maybe some lemonade. (Lemons were expensive and scarce)  After the work (even for picnics, there was usually a project to be done first) came the socializing.  Many times people would bring bedding and sleep out overnight, returning home the next day.

A half dozen families would get together for a butcher bee in the cold days of late fall.  Cows were slaughtered first, then pigs, mutton, and finally chickens.  Blood from some of the animals was collected in milk pails, kept warm on a stove to halt coagulation and salt added.  Then it was canned for later use in blood dumplings, sausage or pudding.  The hides were salted for later tanning; the feathers from the fowl were held for cleaning and used in pillows or mattresses.  The skinned quarters of the animals would be dipped into cold salt brine and hung to finish cooling out so they could be taken home safely for processing.  Nothing went to waste.

The most feared occurrence in the area was fire.  If it got started, it wasn’t going out until it burned itself out.  People could and did loose everything.
The most used weapon was the .22 single shot Winchester with .22 shorts.  It was used to take the heads off pheasant, quail, rabbit and ducks.  If you held low, the low powered round didn’t tear up the meat.  The shooters, usually the kids, quickly learned sight picture and trigger control although they never heard those terms.  If you took five rounds of ammunition, you better bring back the ammunition or a critter for the pot for each round expended. It was also a lot quieter and less expensive [in those days] than the .22 Long Rifle cartridges.

If you are trying to maintain a low profile, the odor of freshly baked bread can be detected in excess of three miles on a calm day.  Especially by kids.
Twice a year the cabin was emptied of everything.  The walls, floors, and ceilings were scrubbed with lye soap and a bristle brush.  All the belongings were also cleaned before they came back into the house.  This was pest control and it was needed until DDT became available.  Bedbugs, lice, ticks and other creepy crawlies were a fact of life and were controlled by brute force.  Failure to do so left you in misery and maybe ill.

Foods were stored in bug proof containers.  The most popular was fifteen pound metal coffee cans with tight lids.  These were for day to day use in the kitchen.  (I still have one. It’s a family heirloom.)  The next were barrels to hold the bulk foods like flour, sugar, corn meal, and rice.  Everything was sealed or the vermin would get to it.  There was always at least one, preferably two, months of food on hand.  If the fall cash allowed, they would stock up for the entire winter before the first snowfall.

The closest thing to a cooler was a metal box in the kitchen floor.  It had a very tight lid and was used to store milk, eggs and butter for a day or two. Butter was heavily salted on the outside to keep it from going rancid or melting.  Buttermilk, cottage cheese and regular cheese was made from raw milk after collecting for a day or two.  The box was relatively cool in the summer and did not freeze in the winter.

Mice and rats love humanity because we keep our environment warm and tend to be sloppy with food they like.  Snakes love rats and mice so they were always around.  If the kids were going to play outside, they would police the area with a hoe and a shovel.  After killing and disposing of the rattlesnakes- there was always at least one-then they could play for a while in reasonable safety.

The mice and rats were controlled by traps, rocks from sling shots, cats and coyotes.  The cats had a hard and usually short life because of the coyotes.  The coyotes were barely controlled and seemed to be able to smell firearms at a distance.  There were people who hunted the never-ending numbers for the bounty.

After chores were done, kid’s active imagination was used in their play.  They didn’t have a lot of toys.  There were a couple of dolls for the girls, a pocket knife and some marbles for the boy, and a whole lot of empty to fill.  Their father’s beef calves were pretty gentle by the time they were sold at market - the kids rode them regularly.  (Not a much fat on those calves but a lot of muscle.)  They would look for arrow heads, lizards, and wild flowers.  Chokecherry, buffalo berry, gooseberry and currants were picked for jelly and syrups.  Sometimes the kids made chokecherry wine.

On a hot summer day in the afternoon, the shade on the east side of the house was treasured and the east wind, if it came, even more so.
Adults hated hailstorms because of the destruction, kids loved them because they could collect the hail and make ice cream.
Childbirth was usually handled at a neighbor’s house with a midwife if you were lucky.  If you got sick you were treated with ginger tea, honey, chicken soup or sulphur and molasses.  Castor oil was used regularly as well.  Wounds were cleaned with soap and disinfected with whisky.  Mustard based poultices were often used for a variety of ills.  Turpentine, mustard and lard was one that was applied to the chest for pneumonia or a hacking cough.

Contact with the outside world was an occasional trip to town for supplies using a wagon and team.  A battery operated radio was used very sparingly in the evenings.  A rechargeable car battery was used for power.  School was a six mile walk one way and you brought your own lunch.  One school teacher regularly put potatoes on the stove to bake and shared them with the kids.  She was very well thought of by the kids and the parents.

These people were used to a limited amount of social interaction.  They were used to no television, radio, or outside entertainment. They were used to having only three or four books.  A fiddler or guitar player for a picnic or a dance was a wonderful thing to be enjoyed.  Church was a social occasion as well as religious.
The church ladies and their butter and egg money allowed most rural churches to be built and to prosper.  The men were required to do the heavy work but the ladies made it come together.  The civilizing of the west sprang from these roots.  Some of those ladies had spines of steel.  They needed it.

That’s a partial story of the homestead years.  People were very independent, stubborn and strong but still needed the community and access to the technology of the outside world for salt, sugar, flour, spices, chicken feed, cloth, kerosene for the lights and of course, coffee. There are many more things I could list.  Could they have found an alternative if something was unavailable?  Maybe.  How would you get salt or nitrates in Montana without importing?  Does anyone know how to make kerosene?  Coffee would be valued like gold.  Roasted grain or chicory just didn’t cut it.

I don’t want to discourage people trying to prepare but rather to point out that generalized and practical knowledge along with a cooperative community is still needed for long term survival. Whatever shortcomings you may have, if you are part of a community, it is much more likely to be covered.  The described community in this article was at least twenty to thirty miles across and included many farms and ranches as well as the town.  Who your neighbors are, what type of people they are, and your relationship to them is one of the more important things to consider.

Were there fights, disagreements and other unpleasantness?  Absolutely.  Some of it was handled by neighbors, a minister or the sheriff.  Some bad feelings lasted a lifetime.  There were some people that were really bad by any standard and they were either the sheriff’s problem or they got sorted out by one of their prospective victims.
These homesteaders had a rough life but they felt they had a great life and their way of life was shared by everyone they knew.  They never went hungry, had great daylong picnics with the neighbors, and knew everyone personally within twenty miles.  Every bit of pleasure or joy was treasured like a jewel since it was usually found in a sea of hard work.  They worked hard, played hard and loved well.  In our cushy life, we have many more “things” and “conveniences” than they ever did, but we lack the connection they had with their environment and community. 

The biggest concern for our future: What happens if an event such as a solar flare, EMP, or a plague takes our society farther back than the early 1900s by wiping out our technology base.  Consider the relatively bucolic scene just described and then add in some true post-apocalyptic hard cases.  Some of the science fiction stories suddenly get much more realistic and scary.  A comment out of a Star Trek scene comes to mind “In the fight between good and evil, good must be very, very good.”
Consider what kind of supplies might not be available at any cost just because there is no longer a manufacturing base or because there is no supply chain.  In the 1900s they had the railroads as a lifeline from the industrial east.
How long would it take us to rebuild the tools for recovery to the early 1900 levels?

One of the greatest advantages we have is access to a huge amount of information about our world, how things work and everything in our lives. We need to be smart enough to learn/understand as much as possible and store references for all the rest.  Some of us don’t sleep well at night as we are well aware of how fragile our society and technological infrastructure is.  Trying to live the homesteader’s life would be very painful for most of us.  I would prefer not to.  I hope and pray it doesn’t ever come to that.

After reading the intro to Sean F.'s article on "A Christmas Gift for the Unprepared," there is much I could say about how the World has hijacked Christmas and the unfortunate consequence of Christians becoming dazzled by the tinsel so that they also are confused about what Christmas is really all about. Christmas is actually about a God who loves us pitiful humans so much that he sent his only Son to us as a gift. That is what Christmas is all about--not just "love for friends and family," as Sean indicates.

What better time is there than Christmas to make sure your readers know that securing their well-being for the rest of their mortal lives on Earth is important... however this life is a vapor compared to the eternal life that is offered freely--freely!--by God through Jesus Christ! No books to buy, no supplies to stash, no great knowledge or skills must be obtained. Only this: the simple acceptance of the fact that we are sinners, that we need God to save us, and then accepting his free gift of salvation that comes via Jesus death on a cross for us. This is the message that the world needs to hear! And this is why Christmas is so wonderful, so awe-inspiring, and what Christmas is really all about!!! (For more on these subjects, I strongly recommend picking up a Bible and reading about God's wonderful gift. The original Christmas story is available in Luke 2, and I recommend the entire book of John for non-Christians. In addition, see John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, I John 5:11-13, Romans 3:23, Romans 10:9)

Of course, I do not mean to diminish the accomplishment of your blog; it is wonderful and I am a daily reader, and I thank you for it. However the greater mission for us as Christians is the same as that of the angels to the shepherds two thousand years ago: to proclaim Christ!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! - W.P.R.

Three Letters Re: Question on Burying a CONEX

I have buried a CONEX for cold storage.  I put a 6" thick reinforced concrete slab on the top to ensure the 3-4' of dirt on top would be supported. Also the shelving inside has a support post every 4' on both sides of the CONEX and this helps support the roof.   It takes a lot of waterproofing to ensure the metal sides and bottom won't rust out.  The only advantage of the CONEX is the excellent doors and locks.  After finishing the project I would agree with you on simply building the room with poured reinforced concrete walls.  I would do this using insulated concrete forms (ICFs).  Using ICFs will allow anyone to be able to build an insulated storage room themselves [without having to hire a crane.] - Gary

Regarding the recent post on burying a container to moderate the temperature.

I have extensive personal experience with using shipping containers for long term storage in adverse environments. I've run year long tests on containers with hourly data logging, so these comments are actual results, not speculation or parroting something I've read. Note that containers tend to amplify external temperature excursions. On a hot sunny day, inside temperatures can reach 150 degrees F and on cloudless nights, the interior temperature can actually drop below outside air temperature due to thermal radiation. Basically, the worst of both worlds.

The roof can support a layer of wet hay bales or 3-4 feet of snow, but that's getting close to the limit. The roof and walls are not designed to handle large forces that push towards the inside of the container. However, the walls do give significant torsional and vertical strength to the container. If you cut openings in the walls exceeding 12" or so, do not stack containers on top of each other or attempt to move the container when it's loaded.

The internal temperature can be kept under control in the following ways, ordered by effectiveness;

1) Keep sun off the container. A wooden / cloth shelter with 1-2' of space around the container for airflow will dramatically cut down the temperatures inside. If that is not an option, hay bales or almost any similar material can be stacked around the outside to insulate and shade. Use trees of other natural sun blocks if available. If no shade is available, try and orient the container so the front or back faces south to minimize surface area exposed to the sun. A cover for the container will also limit thermal radiation at night and thus provide additional warmth.

2) Glue 1" foam insulation into the inside of the container. Cost will run around $500. This will keep interior temperatures reasonable pretty much anywhere in the USA. Expect temperatures under 100F in full sun, on a 90 degree day. Winter temperatures will be within 10 degrees of the average of daytime high and nighttime low,. If you need to prevent freezing, you will need burial to just under the frost line. In very cold locations like the northern midwest or Alaska, you will need some form of heating to keep the temperature above freezing.

3) Having the container full adds thermal mass, thus evening out the temperature excursions. If you have space, adding 55gal drums full of water can also help. However, if the drum leaks, the water will flood the content of the container, as they really are almost 100% water tight.

4) Partial burial (under 25% depth) is OK and helps with moderating temperature.

Combining methods 1, 2 and 4 will allow you to keep the interior temperature around 50-70 degrees year round.

I recommend buying two 20' containers instead of one 40'. This limits the empty weight to under 5,000 lbs. Movable by most medium sized forklifts, cranes and trailers. 40' containers are much harder to move. Two 20' containers can be places side by side, with an air gap between them, thus providing shade to each other for 1/2 of the day. 3 or 4 containers can be arranged to do the same or one of them can be used as the "temperature sensitive" container and be placed such that it is 100% shaded by the other units.

Burial and hay bales trap water, so they may present long term rust issues. Come containers are made out of rust resistant steel. None of them are rust proof in the long term. Expect 15-20 year lifespan in a typical US environment and a non-burial application. In a marine environment, life can be as short as 5 years. With upkeep every 4-5 years (painting, gaskets, hinge lubrication) they will last virtually forever. - Cactus Jim



My husband and I where close to being in the same boat as Karla. Do something, or not anything. We did something, I never thought was possible. We had looked into similar things, but realized they wouldn't work.

We live in southwestern Missouri. It is flat land with no hills. It seemed impossible to have buried food storage. Until we researched. It was a daunting task, but it's doable.

It took us the better part of a year, some favors, and some luck, but we did build a root cellar/tornado shelter. We built it for less than $3,000. I understand that seems like a lot. But we now have a concrete 8 foot x 12 foot structure that is buried four feet underground, and houses our potatoes, apples, melons and provides us with some needed tornado protection.

We laid each concrete block by hand, planned out each detail, laid every air duct and sealed it up. We did hire a back hoe operator, but he was a friend, and didn't over charge. It was the longest year I remember but the reward is, peace of mind.

We've had a great deal of success over the past few years storing food.

One of the best books on the subject in my opinion is Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables. It is available through Amazon, and written by Mike and Nancy Bubel. They have plans, instructions on how too, and some amazing root cellars of the past. The advice is spot on too. If I remember correctly six chapters are dedicated to what foods to store. - Pam

I recently took the tax hit and cashed out my Gold Eagle IRA that had been administered by GoldStar Trust (the assumed the accounts of American Church Trust). I did so because I suspect that precious metals IRAs will be nationalized before I hit retirement age. I'm presently 50 years old. Yes, I know that there is a huge tax hit. But thankfully that tax bite won't be too painful, since I paid less than $500 per ounce for most of that gold, back when I was working in the corporate world. I then took most of those gold bullion coins to a coin broker in the big city and ratio traded them for pre-1965 U.S. silver quarters and half dollars. This is because I expect silver to outperform gold as an investment in the next few years. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the silver-to-gold ratio rise to 20:1 before 2020. If you have the vault space, you should buy silver, not gold!

Commentary from Brett Arends: The great bank heist of 2010.

Items from The Economatrix:

Jobless Americans Wary of Losing Skills  

High Unemployment Numbers Fueled New Heinous Job Scams  

Moody's Says 2011 Double Dip Damages US Banks  

Holiday Shoppers Sprint to the End; Retail Revenue Up  

Investor Bond Retreat the Fastest Pace in Two Years  

Tax Cuts Raise Expectations for Economy in 2011  

The Marine Corps Times talks gloom and doom. The author even cited SurvivalBlog.

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A rare moment of common sense: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Commutes Sentence of Man Sent to Jail for Owning Guns Legally.Too bad it wasn't the full pardon that he deserved.

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Eric K. sent an article about a shift in America's political landscape: Massachusetts loses US House seat, political clout. This will give more political clout to some states with conservative leanings.

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There's a mini ice age coming, says man who beats weather experts. (Thanks to Terrence D. for the link.)

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Suddenly, barter is hip.   (Thanks to N.I.M. for the link.)

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince Of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with Judgment and with Justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." - Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Social Networking for the Survivor, by Joshua R.

It used to be called a 'couple of buddies', a 'circle of friends', a 'community', a 'neighborhood' we have a 'social network'.  But whatever you call it, we humans are social creatures and surrounding yourself with like minded individuals is enriching to every aspect of life.  As preppers or survivalists (or whatever term helps you feel cozy), we seem to constantly buck the trends of our naïve society and end up feeling a bit lone wolfish.  Through the last two years, as my mentality shifted to one of preparedness and sustainability, I've begun to  meet people of a similar mindset.  The superfluous nature of a Facebook profile or Myspace page doesn't appeal to my needs.  Though I found that creating a profile of my skills and resources, and those of my peers has become an invaluable tool.  Technology only serves us in as much as it helps us evolve in tangible ways.  The idea of social networking ultimately dates back to the dawn of man, so using technology to connect a group of people committed to helping themselves (individually and collectively) can bring real world benefits to our efforts as prepared individuals and close knit communities.

I'm a talented carpenter, the proud bearer of a green thumb, a home brewed beer enthusiast and proficient storer of food.  My older neighbor across the street maintains a near year round garden, is a retired electrician, and has been successfully treating he and his wife's ailments (including his cancer) almost completely holistically for over eight years.  My good friend is a solar whiz, an amazing machinist, and treats all the sewage from his household cleanly and efficiently.  While I'm familiar with all the attributes of these people simply due to the familiarity of our relationships, I began to meet their friends and their friends' friends.  Obviously, it can be hard to keep track of who's who and who knows what.  Additionally, our current economy helps locally based self sufficiency shine in the face of a faltering global economy.  It became obvious i knew people that could use my skills as much as I could benefit from theirs.  We shared individual knowledge of a region and its resources, and each had unique ways of getting what they needed from their own backyard.  That's when I began the email list...

Its started innocently enough.  I started a short email list, we'd chat a bit or discuss our views on 'How it will all go down'.  But soon the list began to grow, I enacted an encryption protocol to provide a modicum of privacy, and we began assessing ourselves.  We listed our skills in turn, detailed our resources, bemoaned our weaknesses.  Soon enough I got an email from a friends' friend, he wanted to dehydrate his seasons surplus, package it into recipes and set it down for long term storage.  In trade he had the beginnings of a solar setup and the know how to get me started with a reasonable battery backup unit.  Soon I found that others were bartering and horse trading their way to a better tomorrow as well.  Though our list is really only 26 or so regular contributors we're all becoming more educated, better connected, and generally getting more from making our preparations.  Since its earliest form the list is becoming more evolved, better organized and more educated.  Here are a few guidelines that contributed to making our network a better resource.  Hopefully, they'll help you out should you choose to form your own survivor network.  Additionally, I'll add a few tips and ideas towards the end of the article that helped us round out our network and make it more applicable.

Keep it simple...

When I saw the e-mails amongst friends having the potential of being a real resource I entertained the idea of password protected forums, membership rules and bizarre moonlight initiation rituals.  But I realized that the free form structure allowed for more openness  and ease of use.  The network is meant to be a well organized repository of resources, knowledge and contacts...yes.  But it shouldn't take a bunch of effort to maintain and grow.  If its a time consuming pain in the ass, no one wants to contribute and your network will wilt.

Keep it Local...
While its fun to chat in forums with friends around the world on a topic we all know and love, keeping your list reasonably limited to people near you will improve its usability.  Though I have a cousin 1,400 miles away that keeps up with it and contributes often.  He can't really let us know about local resources for cheap materials, we can't barter labor with him or make our resources available to him conveniently.  The real power of this list has been its ability to bring us together physically to create real world changes in our homes and localities.  A big part of our list revolves around this function, and that real world interaction is what brings us together and helps us start to rely on someone other than ourselves.  And ultimately, that's the goal...use technology to better connect with people close to you in order to help one another be better prepared for a changing future.  Lastly, the local nature of our network benefits our own communities and puts us in touch with others near us.  Sure, I can purchase many items from an online store and save a bit on tax or shipping, but should a friend clue me in to a local source for that same item, I may find myself tapping into a wealth of contacts and local options that may be more useful in difficult circumstances.

Keep Politics Out...

Most of us agree in one form or another that big change to our daily lives is an eventuality.  But not all of us agree on the who/what/when/where/why of the cause for this change.  And usually that topic leads to political discussion, or theological debate or a bit of doesn't help us to be prepared spending time trying to sway another to our way of thinking.  While lively debate can be enjoyable. No one wants to anxiously await an informative email, only to receive a bunch of soap box rhetoric.  'Nuff said.

Keep it FUN...

We put in a lot of energy, research and resources into our preparations.  Protecting ourselves and more importantly our family from any coming crisis (from brief unemployment to TEOTWAWKI scenario's) is exhaustive work and not many would consider it “fun”.  Although, peace of mind invaluable, our lives needn't be consumed by this dark notion we entertain.  When one of us is undertaking a new build or project, many of us like to lend a hand.  We get together to learn as a group from the ideas of one.  We help out and offer our own research and experiences.  Often, one of us will set about a task and by its completion it has become a wholly different animal from the original concept, benefiting from the networks knowledge.  When we get together we grow together, and celebrate the accomplishments of a friend.  Frequent barbeque parties and home brew tastings draw us together and strengthen our resolve (much to the chagrin of our livers).  Some of us have found it hard to relate to people who remain deeply entrenched in the consumer culture, and so our group functions are a time to be amongst friends free from judgments about or world views.

Our network is young, but its amazing how important to all of us involved it has become.  Its a serious task we set ourselves to, but with a little help from our friends it can be as rewarding (if not more so) as any job or hobby.  Take the time to seek out others who share your ideals and get to know them, let the list happen organically at first, there is no need to rush it.  Everyone's idea of how the future will play out is different, but as the idea of self sufficiency and sustainability come closer to the front of human consciousness we'll find partners all around us. 

Lastly here's a few ideas we've either implemented or entertained...

  • Some members might like to contribute their contact info and a quick description of their skill sets and resources to a shared database.  I keep a list in a small address book, it comes in handy when I start researching something new that a member might already know about.  It also might be invaluable should things get hairy...
  • Some of us have created a group bug-out/bug-in plan.  We have multiple meeting places, a communication protocol, and a loose list of individual responsibilities should we decide to weather the storm as a group.
  • We use a shared encryption key and enacted a strict privacy policy.  Remember though, informational security rests in the hands of the individual first.  Only share info you feel comfortable sharing, with those you feel comfortable sharing it with.
  • Use discretion when adding a new person to the list...usually we'll introduce a new member around at a function before sharing too much info about the network.  For the most part though, an open and accepting group is better than any alternative.
  • Document any applicable projects and share them.  I designed and built some storage shelves. So I shared some pictures, a material list, and a brief description of the construction process. Another member shared some wiring diagrams for his solar system.  Sure, all these things are available on the net, but I can call a buddy to clarify details.  Likewise, he can ask me to come over and help him out.  So the info becomes much more accessible and user friendly.
  • Share your research.  Many times you'll find someone's been there done that, sometimes you'll find something they missed.  As a group we share a ton of books and info, which helps us all be on the same level.
  • Find someone who brews his own beer and add him to the list asap, it'll help your group functions be that much more fun...

Finally, good luck!  The times they are changing.

Dear Mr. Rawles,  
My husband and I live in rural North Central Florida.  We have been working on our food storage and supplies for years.  I keep everything in my house but my husband and I are frugal and we keep the air at 80 degrees in the summer and 68 - 70 in the winter.  Not ideal for long preservation.  

We have been discussing a storage shelter for years and I would like your readers and your input on an ideal that I've been kicking around.  I was thinking of purchasing a steel freight CONEX container, coating the outside of it with tar and burying it underground. 

This particular part of Florida is higher about sea level so a rising water table would not be an issue.  I would pack gravel or sand around the unit after setting it on a cement foundation.  I would ideally pack about 2 feet of soil on top and eventually build a shed over the entrance.  These particular containers are stacked on ships so the reinforcement of the structure would allow vehicles to drive over it without impact.  I am interested in is an insulated refrigeration container that no longer runs.  This would give me the insulation to keep the underground temp.  Some of these containers are 8 ft wide by 10 ft high by 40 feet long.  If this idea would work we would have plenty of space for food and emergency items.   What are your thoughts on this particular approach? - Karla D.

JWR Replies: Yes, it can be done, but the short answer to your question is No. This because CONEX containers are designed to take tremendous loads on their corners, but not on their sides or tops. Two feet of wet soil would easily crush the middle of a container! You could add a lot of extra bracing, but with the amount of material required you are better off building a reinforced concrete structure from scratch.

Larry C. wrote to note that Patrice Lewis wrote about the "Golden Horde" in a recent World Net Daily article. Hopefully more WND readers will wake up and start prepping.

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Our friend Bob G. sent: 2010's world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards

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J.B.G. sent a link to an article in The Telegraph: Shops hit by snow chaos and panic buying

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Ferdinand mentioned this project: Solar Powered DIY Portable Hot Spot

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Nature Girl wrote to say that she found a very interesting map tool that could be useful for identifying safe haven relocation areas. This global Facebook map parallels some of the other population density maps previously mentioned in Survival Blog.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 4-31 (KJV)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Silver has been known for thousands of years as a killer of pathogens.  The early Greeks noticed that the wealthy people (who used silver utensils) seemed to never get sick as did the common folk.  In the middle ages, the royal families used exclusively silver dinnerware, and in the mid-1800s in this country, pioneers kept silver coins in their water barrels to guard against pathogens picked up from the trail watering holes.

My own grandma placed a silver dollar in the milk can to keep the milk from clabbering in the summertime.
There is absolutely no known bacteria, virus or fungus that silver will not kill, and in most cases, within an hour or two.  It can be homemade for pennies a quart on a continual basis, and is a must for a long-term survival situation. The only criteria that I must warn you of, is that bigger is not better when it comes to colloidal size and the resulting “yellow” color of overcooked colloidal silver.  If your silver solution is colored, or has a strongly metallic taste, then discard it. 
I have been using my home-made Colloidal Silver for over 15 years. The first couple of years I thought it was a piece of cake to make it with a couple of coins and a 9 volt battery, but was greatly mistaken. I continued having health problems, though admittedly, not as severe as before. I spent much time studying, pondering my equipment, and found that the secret is that very small particles are mandatory for silver to suffocate viruses and also some bacteria. First, I learned to never add salt or any chemical to the water. Clumps will form; destroying the product's effectiveness pure, glass-distilled water and .999 silver is the only way to make effective silver colloids. It does take some time, but the result is amazing in its disease fighting ability.

Silver is known to oxidize, or absorb oxygen (tarnish if you will) readily. This makes it effective on pathogens only if it is smaller than the target pathogen. In other words, it must attach itself to them, because Silver colloids operate by absorbing oxygen from the host pathogen and depriving it of the oxygen it needs to multiply. Colloidal ions are attracted to the host (diseased) cell containing the pathogen  by the negative electrical charge they carry which is produced by the electrolysis method of manufacture. They attach themselves to the diseased cell containing the pathogens through this charge.

Exposure to light acts to neutralize the ionic charge over time, so colloidal silver should always be stored in a dark glass container in a cool (not cold) place.  Refrigeration is not necessary, and very low temperatures in fact lessen the charge of the Ions, which keeps them suspended in solution. Colloidal silver should never be stored in most plastics, as the inside of the plastic jar or container will plate out the silver ions, causing the solution to become ineffective. The opaque plastic containers such as used for hydrogen peroxide are suitable, however.

The secret to making extremely small colloids is simple, and can be done by anyone with a small capital investment and then made continually for virtually pennies per quart.
The method I am about to share has proven over the years to produce consistent and effective results. The method is like a recipe. You must follow it, as with any recipe, to achieve consistent results.

The only thing you will need that is extraordinary is a milliamp meter. You can pick one up at Radio Shack, and if you do not know how to use it, get instruction from either the booklet that comes with it, or get someone to demonstrate. There are only 2 wires on it, so how complicated can it be? While you are there, pick up a set of small "clip leads". These are usually sold in packages of 6. (You only need 2). Also buy three 9 volt alkaline batteries. On the way home, stop by Wal-Mart and buy an inexpensive ($5.95 here) aerator (bubble blower) for a fish tank, and a couple of feet of clear tubing for the aerator.

Now for the Silver source. This is the most important ingredient.  Buy a pure silver sheet piece from someone like The purity must be .999. The gauge of metal can be any they list, but I suggest the 26 gauge. Thickness is not that important, but length and width are. The sheets are sold in 6 inch by one inch pieces. Buy just one sheet. Cut two 1/4 inch X 6 inch strips from it. You can use scissors to cut it.

Try to be very consistent in width. Don’t worry that it curls while you cut it. It is easy to flatten again by placing in a book or merely bending it back with your fingers. Then, using a ruler, measure 1 and 1/2 inches from one end of the strip, and scribe an easily visible line across each strip using a sharp knife or other pointed tool.

Once you have made the strips, wash them in a solution of warm soapy water to remove any oils used in rolling them, or any skin oils you may have contacted them with.  Then rinse them well under running water and dry them with a paper towel.

You should never have to wash them again, unless you drop them on the floor. With use, they will turn gray and porous looking.  This is normal. Simply clean them between uses by wiping with a wet paper towel between the thumb and forefinger, and pulling the strip through.

Next, get a one quart wide mouth mason jar. The wide mouth is important, as it sets the spacing between the strips. Wash the inside of the jar, and DRY well with a paper towel and place it in the microwave on high for a couple of minutes, to make sure it is completely dry.

Bend a small hook (or lip) at the scribed end of the strip so that the strip looks like a candy cane, and will hang on the inside, on the lip of the Mason jar, with the scribed line about an inch or so below the top of the jar.

Now, a little bit of basic electricity. The colloidal size is a function of the current flowing in the solution soon to be described. Likewise, the current is controlled by four basic things, which is why the entire accent on dimensions above.
1) The conductivity of the solution.
2) The size of the strips hanging within the solution. (Length and width)
3) The spacing between the strips. This is why a wide mouth jar is used.
4) The applied voltage (batteries) (you need 3 to make 27-28 volts)

Finally we get to the water (solution). Not tap water and not "spring water". These are rife with impurities. You must use distilled water, and not just any distilled water. I have searched high and low and only found two brands which work in my area. Much of what is sold as distilled water is done using metallic distilling equipment. It is highly conductive and will not make effective colloidal silver. Don't waste your time. You probably will have to search and buy several brands before you find one which is glass distilled and is suitable. Don't worry, for you can easily test the water. In fact that is the first step in this recipe.  During a SHTF situation, you can make your own distilled water by steam distilling, but use only glass materials.  Metallic tubing such as copper or aluminum will cause your water to fail the water test below.

1) Hang the two silver strips inside the jar.
2) Snap the three 9 volt batteries together in series. Proper contacts in each battery neatly fit the other. When you get them snapped correctly, two batteries face the third. (The 2 batteries on the outside face the center battery). The two terminals left open are (one on each outside battery) attached by clip leads as follows.
3) Connect one terminal from the batteries to one of the milliamp meter leads. Clip the other milliamp meter lead to one of the strips hanging in the jar, using as an attach point the end of the bent hook on the outside of the jar lip.
4) Move the second strip to the opposite side of the jar from the first one. (Remember spacing is important). Get the strips as close to opposite as possible.
4) Connect the final battery lead to the other strip.

The Water Conductivity Test
Using your fingers, get the strips hanging straight down as close as possible to the inside of the jar.
Now to test the water for suitability. Carefully pour your distilled water into the jar until it reaches the scribed lines on the strips. Monitor the milliamp meter for a reading of 0.2 milliamps (200 micro amps) or less. Less is better. Anything over 0.2 milliamps means the water is too conductive, and it will not make effective colloidal silver. Use it in your steam iron, and try another brand. You must find a source of low conductive distilled water. For those near a Food Lion or Publix, both these are suitable, at least in my area.
Assuming you have found suitable low conductivity water, place the tubing from your aerator all the way to the bottom and hold in place with a clothespin or other method. Turn on the aerator to be sure it does not move the strips, but only gently agitates the water by bubbling.

Monitor the milliamp meter. You are looking for a final conductivity of 5-6 times the starting current, but in no case more than 1 milliamp. (The colloids will be too large, and begin to clump. If you start at 100 micro amps, stop at 600.)

Don't rush the process. Do not heat the water. It will take from 2 -1/2 to 4 hours to make depending on the water temperature for the final current to result.
Once your final current is reached, remove the tubing, strips and disconnect the batteries. Using a non-metallic funnel, place a clean coffee filter in the funnel and filter your colloidal silver into a dark container. I use a dark glass beer bottle, but the opaque bottles that hydrogen peroxide comes in work great also. Light must be kept at a minimum for maximum storage time.

You may notice small gray particles caught on the filter or remaining in the jar bottom. They should be minimal in quantity, and the largest no bigger than about a half flake of black pepper. These are clumped colloids. If you notice these increasing over time, it is a sign that your water quality has deteriorated or some foreign salts have built up. Clean your equipment.  In any case, if you exceed 1 milliamp of current, the particle size will rapidly increase. This is not the most effective colloidal silver. You should experience no color and  virtually no metallic taste with small colloids, because they are smaller than your taste buds can distinguish!

Try to use your silver within two to three weeks, as the colloid ions lose their charge over time.  


  • Prophylactic-- a swig (about a teaspoonful) morning and night. Swish in your mouth and swallow.
  • Minor Cuts -- soak a band aid in the solution and apply to the cut as normal.
  • Infection -- triple the prophylactic dose.

Care of strips and equipment. Wash and dry the jar. Wipe the strips gently with a moistened paper towel between your fingers. Do not polish them. The gray color is a natural feature, and actually decreases the "cook" time with use. This is because of the increased microscopic surface area due to the "tarnish". Keep your equipment in a dust free box between uses, to keep it from picking up airborne dust or metallic particles.

It's a kind of pain to use the recipe, but I have perfected it with much trial and error. I have had no colds, staph or other infections of any kind in 11 years. Furthermore, I've had many cuts, burns and various abrasions that were treated successfully without infection.  I can think of no other item which is more valuable in a SHTF situation.  There has been many who would put food, water and ammunition first, but it’s tough to use those things if you are racked with a debilitating disease.  After a day or so, I cant think of anything I would not trade for effective antibiotics to save my family’s life.  Colloidal Silver will do just that.

JWR Adds: While I concur with its efficacy, I must warn readers: Don't over-do colloidal silver! I recommend that it only be used sparingly, to treat acute symptoms. A daily intake of even just a little colloidal silver can deplete the intestinal tract's beneficial flora. And if it is regularly over-used over an extended period, it can even cause argyria--literally turning your skin blue, permanently.

Awhile back I put up several strings of same color strings of  LED Christmas tree lights from Inirgee. They have been just wonderful to deal with over the years.

The blue strings work great in the outhouse at night because you don't lose your night vision.

Outside around the house, I tried the cool white but the warm white strings worked much better outside under the eaves. They make a very nice non-obtrusive lighting around the house at night and they are extremely conservative on power. They really make it nice on the driveway and walks.

Then I found a photoelectric controller, the Flexcharge Night Watchman Photoswitch, 12 volt DC / 10 amps from It works great.

When I get home at night, I don't need a flashlight to walk in the house.

Just an FYI. Warmest regards and Merry Christmas to you and yours. - The Army Aviator

There are some aftermarket mufflers that just about silence the ATV’s.  I use one on my Yamaha when I choose to take my ATV hunting.  While it does not get rid of all the sounds, I would say that it quiets the ATV by about 80%. is one such vendor of many.  This is the one I use and it wasn’t too bad for me (a computer guy) to install.  The only other issue I have with the ATV bugout scenario is the effects of EMP on ATV’s.  I am in the process of designing and fabricating a large faraday box enclosure for my ATV.  There is so much to hear concerning what a EMP/Solar Flare will or wont do to modern cars and electronics, but I figure building an enclosure in my basement could only help keep my ATV running should either scenario play out.   A.J.

KAF sent us this: Facing Closure, U.S.'s Largest Sleeping Bag Maker Seeks Relief From Free Trade Loophole. (JWR Adds: Meanwhile, Wiggy's, a sleeping bag manufactures that produces all of their products in the U.S. at their small Colorado soldiers on, seeking no handouts or special treatment. This SurvivalBlog advertiser deserves your business!)

Reader R.M. sent this: Moody's slashes Irish debt to three grades above junk. Ouch! So what will a Punt be worth, if Ireland is ejected from the Euro circle? And what does this tell us about the indebtedness of the U.S. government?

John R. recommended this piece over at Zero Hedge: Stockman Explains To Ratigan How In Thirty Years America Spent Enough Debt to LBO Itself, and Ended Up Bankrupt.

IMF chief worried about Europe domino effect. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

Video: U.S. Losing Control of Bombs to China's Neodymium Monopoly

Items from The Economatrix:

France's AAA Grade At Risk As Rating Cuts Spread Through Europe  

Doomsday For The US Dollar?  

Buying Gold:  Why Are The Chinese Gobbling Up Gold Like There's No Tomorrow  

16 Shocking Facts About The Student Loan Debt Bubble And The Great College Education Scam  

Underfunded Pensions Dwarf Deficit 

Gregory C. suggested this piece by Gerald Celente: 10 Trends for 2011

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Andrew sent us some news from England: Farmer accidentally shot burglars. (And of course who did the constables immediately arrest? The land owner, not the trespassing dope growers. In Wyoming, he'd get a commendation.)

   o o o

F.J. mentioned a little $12 item that might be a good addition to your EDC key chain: The Split-Pea Lighter.

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Chalk up three for the good guys: Houston Jeweler Kills Three Armed Robbers. (Thanks to J.S. for the link.)

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El Jefe Jeff E. sent this: Feds want reporting for high-powered rifle sales. Another Lilliputian line is attached.

"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved." - Psalm 62:5-6 (KJV)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

My son handed me a book to read this Thanksgiving titled "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" by James Wesley, Rawles. He had a stack of them and gave them to all his 'important people'. The title intrigued me. Although I never really considered myself a Survivalist in the way that the media might portray one, I have stored food and supplies for emergencies throughout my life. The book was well written and easy to read, as I read it in two days and it has inspired me to once again get serious about preparedness.

Many of us see the potential dangers facing us in this uncertain period of our lives. Unemployment is high, foreclosures are starting to pop up everywhere and we have an administration that doesn't give us any reason to anticipate a speedy resolution. We may still have our jobs and our mortgages may be up to date, but in the back of our minds, we see that it wouldn't take much to turn our world upside-down. Although I am self-employed, and I might entertain the thought that I can't get fired or laid-off, my business is 100% Internet related and dependant. If that single utility were to fail, overnight I could myself in a quagmire instead of the solid ground I thought I was on. Multiply this scenario by the millions of people that share this vulnerability and the whole country could undergo a 'fundamental transformation' as someone has phrased it.

So some of us may realize that we are a little late getting prepared. But, rather than analyzing it, we need to start doing something, now. The problem is that getting started may appear to be a daunting task. Finding and affording long term food storage, locating food grade containers, dealing with moisture control, ordering oxygen absorbers and mylar bags, and on and on, may make the first step too big for a beginner to take.

I found myself in that situation 20 years ago when my wife and I first decided to prepare for emergency/disaster scenarios. Still today we are by no means any kind of experts, but we do have some practical experience that we can share to help that person sitting on the edge get a push into action.

My earliest recollections of preparedness was as a child living in Ohio. Born in the mid-1950s, I grew up in the threat of the Cold War, you know, Duck and Cover in the classrooms. I remember my father looking through brochures for building a Fall-Out Shelter (mid-1960's survivalism I guess). We had a huge basement at the time, temperature and moisture controlled and this is where we played, built projects and the adults had their parties. But in our basement we also had an extra kitchen, workshop, laundry room, food pantry, and a super-secret store room. I think that my dad, not being able to build his fallout shelter, used our basement as his next best alternative.]

Living in a cold climate, in the suburbs of Cleveland, winters were very cold. I remember at times we would get snowed in and couldn't go to school for as long as 2 weeks at a time. If the city's snow plows couldn't get by for a few days, we were seriously snowed in. Even though we lived in the heart of suburbia, 3-4 feet of snow makes it hard to get anywhere. I remember my dad having to dig out of our front door and walk to the neighborhood store (Dairy-Dell) to get milk and bread for us four kids but the mainstay of our food during those times was the huge pantry my parents always kept stocked in our basement. My parents built a set of shelves that covered an entire wall about 12 inched deep and it held canned stews, vegetables, soups, beans, camp stove fuel, Sterno cans, as well as other vital household items. Even back then I remember all the cans were dated and the stock was constantly rotated as we ate out of it almost daily.

Flash forward to the 1980s, my parents are now empty nesters and built a house on a hill top in southern Oregon. My dad, who's perspective was formed growing up in the Depression, serving in WWII, and living his adult life in the Cold War built this new house with a basement again but this time an even more elaborate food storage room. When he showed it to me for the first time I noticed stacks and stacks of 2-liter bottles on the shelves on one wall. I asked my dad why he had all the soda is his storage. Well, it wasn't soda, but is was grains and beans. My dad's childhood of living in the depression made him thrifty in many ways. He told me these bottles are virtually free, they were made from polycarbonate just like my shooting glasses, have an excellent seal, transparent enough to see what is inside without opening, and make handy sized containers for food storage. I thought it was a great idea as I was about to buy and store some grains and beans for my family.

Having just made it through the Bush 41 administration and now wondering if we will make it through the Clinton regime, I felt like I needed some food security. I lived in central California at the time and didn't have a lot of extra money laying around, the 2-liter bottles made food storage really cheap. My wife and I were buying way too much soda in those years, but that made for a lot of empty bottles available. At that time I was buying bulk grains and beans in the 10 to 20 cents per pound range. We bottled up hundreds of pounds of food and spent less than a hundred dollars total. We now got some security in knowing that no matter what happens, we will eat. We didn't use any silica gel, oxygen absorbers, or dry ice as we didn't know about them and couldn't have afforded them if we did.

What we discovered was that the bottles created their own vacuum. We never had any kind of bug infestation or mold. The lentil beans and split peas lost their color after a few years, but the whole wheat and white rice was like the day we bottled it, ten years later. It was all very handy to use, just grab a bottle, pour it in a measuring cup for cooking and keep the unused portion on the kitchen shelf. Each bottle holds 8+ cups of grain or beans.

Of course none of the gloomiest forecasts of that time ever came to be, but my wife and I had to thank God on a number of occasions when that food really saved us. A few years after we stored our food, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and Desert Storm began. We were both self-employed in a business that relied heavily on land development which in turn relied on investment capital to fund it. Investors became uncertain where Desert Storm was going to take the country and started pulling back their money and canceling proposed projects as well as projects already underway. (Does this sound familiar?) Well almost overnight, projects that we had in our cue of work in progress were cancelled one after another. Projects that that would have invoiced for $30,000 to $40,000 each just vanished. We kept our employees on, as they were a good team with skills that were very hard to find, hoping things would improve soon and lost over $30,000 that first month. The following month took another $40,000. Quickly my partner and I started laying-off everyone but ourselves, but now we were in a bad way. We eventually shut down the business and moved to Southern Oregon. I cannot tell you how important it was that we stored that food and other assets that we used to survive the next few years in our leanest times.

The 2-liter bottles are very handy to grab with one hand and use in the kitchen until it is empty. It is easy to share one or two or a variety with a friend or neighbor who is in need. They are reusable and pretty much free and they are air tight, water proof, lightweight and bug proof. We never had any mouse or other vermin problems although a hungry varmint might eat through one if unprotected.

Here a trick in filling your bottles. Always clean and dry your bottles well in advance of filling them. I took two caps and glued and taped them together, top to top. I then drilled out the center so it was like a cylinder with inside threads at both ends. I but a bottle on one end and cut the bottom off that bottle. Then just screw the other end on the bottle you want to fill and you have a large capacity filling funnel that doesn't jam or fall off. Fill them to the very top to leave as little air as possible. If you have oxygen absorbers, you can roll one up and slide it in the top.

I know that this may seem simple and elementary. It is by no means the best way to store food. But it is fun, you get immediate results and you can do it today. If getting started is half the job, this is certainly worth doing to prepare you and your family.

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

  • I just finished reading One Second After by William R. Forstchen, with a foreword by Newt Gingrich. This is a novel based on the the after-effects of a high altitude EMP blast that wipes out North America's power grids one spring afternoon. It focuses on the aftermath in a small town in western, North Carolina. It was written with the literal intent to inform and raise the awareness of the American public to the very real danger our country could face from an EMP attack. The storyline was intensely gripping, keeping me up late reading two nights in a row. As I write this, I am still staggered by what I've read. Without giving away the story line, I have a number of immediate responses to this novel: get food, lots of food, for yourselves, friends and neighbors, get medical supplies everything and anything, wean yourself off of meds if possible; get ammo, lots of ammo for hunting, barter, and self-defense. Learn how to live without electricity, get non-electric tools and appliances and learn how to use them. I was struck by the lack of preparedness of the local, state and federal governing bodies for an EMP attack in the story (and in real-life), the incredible responsibility the town leaders had to govern the town, the decisions they had to make: declaring martial law, implementing and carrying out lethal punishment for those pillaging and stealing, food rationing, medicine rationing, and "triaging" those who could get more food according to the jobs they performed in the community and who would get medical treatment or not. It also addresses the fine line between caring for others and lapsing into totalitarianism. The book also emphasized the need to maintain 19th Century skills, knowledge, and tools. I consider this book a must read for anyone that is preparedness minded. It also a good book to hand to family and friends, to motivate them to get prepared.

  • We watched I Have Never Forgotten You, a documentary about famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. This fascinating biography is available on DVD, and also as a "Watch it Now" streaming video from Netflix.

  • We followed up by watching The Odessa File . (Which had been mentioned in the Wiesenthal documentary.) It is a late-1960s movie, set in 1963. It stars Jon Voight, who convincingly plays the protagonist, a West German journalist who tracks down the former commandant of a Nazi work camp. This former Schutzstaffel officer is still hiding in West Germany under an assumed name, 18 years after the end of WWII. This movie is available as a "Watch it Now" streaming video from Netflix. It has some violence, so it is not one for the kids.

  • Jim noticed that the movie The Young Victoria had lots of good reviews, so we watched it on Saturday night. It had some very good acting, amazing costumes, and lavish sets. It was a remarkably good film. It is rated PG, so it would be suitable for older teenagers. Jim enjoyed it, so I wouldn't categorize it as a chick flick. This got me interested in the history depicted in the film, so I spent a couple of hours reading about the British royal family, and the genealogical details starting with Victoria's father and uncle, and down to Queen Elizabeth II.

Next, I plan to read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, and Survivors by Terry Nation. I'll post my comments on those novels in the next couple of weeks.

Mr. Rawles,  
As a concealed carry permit holder I have a thing for gun holsters, being a big guy, I spend a lot of time making sure that my holsters are comfortable and work well with the clothing I wear.  Something I have noticed with holsters and “gun guys” is that we all end up with a box of old holsters we never use.  Looking through my collection I see that the majority of holsters I use on a daily basis are either Kydex or combinations of both leather and Kydex.  That is no surprise when you look at the benefits of Kydex.  Its cheap, rugged, non-marring of your gun’s finish, moldable for good retention, smooth for a consistent draw, and does not react to normal temperatures or gun solvents or oils.  

Being a do it yourself (DIY) enthusiast, it did not take me long to want to try my hand at molding Kydex.  For those of you that do not know, Kydex is the trade name for a propriety thermoplastic sheet.  It’s rigid and strong, but when heated to about 330-380° it becomes pliable. (The sheet will burn at a temperature greater than 400°F).  Kydex does not have a memory, so that once it has cooled; it retains the shape it was molded to fit.  Kydex is not the only plastic compound that has this property, but what makes Kydex so valuable to do-it-yourselfers is that unlike other heat formable plastics like PVC, Kydex will not off gas toxic fumes at normal forming temperatures.  

Most people use either an oven (full size or toaster depending on the size of Kydex your working with), or a heat gun.  It really depends on the thickness of the Kydex your working with, and how big of a piece your molding as to which is a better heat source.  Normally I find the oven works best to begin the project, and I use a heat gun to spot heat for adjustments.   Besides a heat source, gloves, and trimming tools, one of the most basic tools to mold Kydex is a press.  A Kydex press normally costs from $80 to $180 depending on size, but it is a simple tool that I decided to make one myself.  

At its simplest a Kydex press is a rigid board with a thick piece of foam glued to it as a base, with top made the same way.  The heated Kydex is wrapped around whatever it will sheathe, and then sandwiched between the two pieces and then clamped or weighted heavily until the plastic cools.  

I went a little more complicated, as I put a set of hinges to connect the top and bottom pieces.  I connected them this way because I plan on making knife sheaths for the time being until I get enough skill to try more complicated gun holster designs and by being connected, it gives me more leverage for clamping.  If I was making a press for larger items like gun holsters, I would not add a hinge, or I would make the hinge adjustable.  

Being cheap, I did not want to waste Kydex practicing, so I searched for alternatives to Kydex that I could up cycle.  I needed to find thermoplastic that could be heated without off gassing cyanide or other toxic compounds.  It also needed to become pliable upon heating without turning liquid (this left out soda bottles).  I also wanted something that I could get from trash.  I doubt I would be able to get Kydex sheet in a grid down situation, and its not very high on my stockpile list.  

ABS sheet plastic is usable, but I found that the plastic from milk jugs and detergent bottles also work.  Milk jugs are thin, so heating them in the oven isn’t always practical, and they are not UV stabilized so they become brittle in the sun so they are not practical for holsters.  I did find that milk jugs do make great practice pieces, and I made sheaths for all my kitchen knives using milk jugs to practice. 

Thicker laundry soap bottles work great for knives.  They form easier than milk jugs, and you can “weld” the edges together with heat so you do not have to use rivets as you do with actual Kydex sheet.  

Whatever plastic you use, once it has cooled, its simple to open the press and trim the extra plastic away.  I use aviator snips for most of my work, but a dremel tool, band saw, bench grinder all would work as well.  

Some very good concealment holsters are made using both leather and kydex to utilize the advantages of both.  If take a piece of plywood and cut out the center in the shape of your handgun so that only half or a little more is molded into the kydex sheet, you can rivet the kydex to a large piece of leather and attach whatever mounting brackets you desire to the leather making a very comfortable and secure inside the belt concealment holster that molds to your body, while still giving you a slick kydex draw.   I must practice more to enhance my skill, but considering all the pros and cons of the process it is relative easy to do, and may provide for cottage industry after a grid collapse since many more people have guns and knives than have proper sheaths for them. - David N.

JWR Adds: Every family should own a basic leather-working kit, a riveting mandrel, a large assortment of rivets, and a large spool of sturdy waxed saddle stitching thread. That way, even after Kydex becomes unavailable, you can continue to make holsters and sheaths, the old-fashioned way.

Hi Jim,

Just a friendly reminder that the melt value of U.S. nickel [five cent piece]s are inching up in price again. Their metallic content made them worth 6.5 cents, the last time I checked. The impostor to the presidency recently signed the "Coin Adulteration, Debasement, and Value Theft Act of 2010" also known as "The Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010". This may be driving up the price of the currently circulating real nickels. Regards, - Randy F.

JWR Replies: SurvivalBlog readers should consider the newly-enacted legislation their "last call" to acquire nickels by the roll or by the banker's box of rolls, at face value. Once a new debased (presumably stainless steel) "nickel" is issued, you will have to laboriously sort coins. Yes, I'm sure magnetic discrimination sorting machines will quickly become available, but for now, there is no labor required whatsoever. So stock up. Once the value of a genuine nickel hits two times its face value, Gresham's Law dictates that they will quickly be driven out of circulation. The same thing happened when American 90% silver coins were replaced by silver-flashed copper tokens, in 1965.

I can't provide you plans to build a time machine to take you back to 1964--to stock up on silver coins at face value--but I can clue you in about nickels. History is about to repeat itself. Take my advice, and stock up. In a few years, you will be very glad that you did.

I predict that ten years from now, or perhaps even sooner, pre-2011 nickels will be traded in $100 face value bags.

At present, it is illegal to melt or export U.S. pennies or nickels, but that is likely to change, once inflation drives them out of circulation.

As I've previously noted in SurvivalBlog, inflation of the US dollar has been chronic, cumulative, and insidious. So much so that turns of phrase from old movies like "penny candy" and "its your nickel" (to describe the cost of a call on a pay phone) now seem quaint and outdated. When inflation goes on long enough, the number of digits required to express a price grows too large. (As has been seen with the Italian lira, the Zimbabwean dollar, and countless other currencies. One whitewash solution to chronic inflation that several other nations have chosen is dropping one, two, or even three zeros from their currency, in an overnight revaluation, with a mandatory paper currency exchange. The history of the past century has shown that when doing so, most governments re-issue only new paper currency, but leave the old coinage in circulation, at the same face value. This is because the sheer logistics of a coinage swap would be daunting. Typically, this leaves the holders of coinage as the unexpected beneficiaries of a 10X, 100X or even 1,000X gain of the purchasing power of their coins. Governments just assume that most citizens just have a couple of pocketfuls of coins at any given time. So if a currency swap were to happen while you are sitting on a big pile of nickels, then you would make a handsome profit. To "cash in", you could merely spend your saved nickels in the new currency regime. Imagine a nickel buying a gallon of gas once again.

You mentioned the mayor of Port St. Lucie, Florida in your commentary on the dog attack article. I need to make a correction: Patricia Christensen is the former mayor.  She was forced to resign last September for falsification of campaign records.  Yes, another one of Bloomberg's illegal mayors ends up either in jail or out office for cause.   - T.T. in Port St. Lucie, Florida

James Wesley;
Vlad wrote at the end of his piece, "Wish I had a better closing line but it is getting late and I need to go dig up a potentiometer for this lamp."  Unfortunately, that isn't going to do a lot of good.  Because an LED is a diode (the D in LED) it is pretty much on or off.  Dimmable LEDs are usually dimmed via Pulse-width Modulation -- essentially, turning the LED on and off very quickly.  This doesn't harm the LED, but it needs a particular circuit to do it.  Reducing the voltage will dim it -- but it will happen with such a quick drop off that the "sweet spot" you are looking for will be minisculely tiny and not something you are going to hit without a very sensitive pot and a steady hand.  Several web sites detail how to make a PWM dimmer with the ubiquitous 555 timer chip (The piece at Instructables on this topic  is good).  That would be the best way to dim the LEDs themselves.

Since LEDs draw so little current, I do my "dimming" in stages by either switching in a different number of LEDs for different levels.  PWM isn't hard with a timer chip, but PWM isn't hardened at all against EMP (since a timer chip is an IC) and introduces more points of failure.

Also, on rigging for red -- remember that the opposite is also true.  When you want to get the most vision for the least number of LEDs, go to the other end of the spectrum and get one of the blue LEDs.  I end up putting something over most of the blue LEDs that manufacturers love putting on electronics now, because a single one of them is more than enough to be a nightlight, and having just a few of them going at once will light a room up brighter than a full moon.  Because they also produce virtually no heat, you can put them virtually anywhere without a fire risk, including boxing them up with only a slit or pinhole to control the light output. - Phelps

Siggy sent this: CBO Recommendation to Munis – Default! JWR's Comment: Do I see another expansion of the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) coming?

Marc in the Inland Northwest sent a link to a piece at The Daily Bell: China: That Urban Empty Feeling

Michael Pento - US Headed Down a Path of Destruction       

John Williams: Massive Selling of US Currency Lies Ahead  

Alan B. sent this: Gold to reach $1,800 - probably in Q1 2011 - James Turk

Michael H. mentioned: South Korea plans levy on foreign currency bank debt  

Also from Michael:   China Doubles Korea Bond Holdings as U.S. Debt Sold

Yishai flagged this: Video: The coming collapse in the state budgets

I spotted this over at Fierce Finance: Bill Gross signals end of the great bond bull market

Mike L. recommended the blog articles by Granny Miller.

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F.G. sent this news from the U.K.: Millions facing fuel rationing over Christmas as heating oil runs low

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James C. suggested this humorous video clip: UN Home Security System

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Reader "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" (OSOM) mentioned that the excellent EMP survival sharaeware novel Lights Out by David Crawford (a.k.a. HalfFast), is now available as a hard copy book from Amazon. OSOM's comments: "This is a great read, and really helps you to internalize the reality of an EMP scenario. I would like to think I am more rational than most - but I must acknowledge that the motivation to make the preparedness effort must be intellectual and emotional.  This novel makes an emotional impact." JWR's comment: I hope that the mentions of the availability of this book in preparedness blogs and forums push it into Amazon's Top 200.

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The Low-Tech Texan wrote to mention that Activist Post has just reviewed my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".

"We'll never know the worth of water till the well goes dry." - Scottish Proverb

Monday, December 20, 2010

I noticed that there are several new properties listed at my son's Survival Realty web site. (A spin-off of SurvivalBlog.) Oh, and another property listed there just recently sold. Take a look!


Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am sure that there are many out there that have four wheelers or other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) part of their prepping. These are a great addition for many reasons. First they are able to get decent fuel mileage (will vary on terrain and driving style), they can carry a lot more weight than you could carry on your back, and they can cover lots of terrain that a full size vehicle would have difficulty if even possible. They are great in carrying a Get out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) bag because they can have racks mounted on the front and back of the machine but also able to pull a small trailer.

If planning to have an ATV part of your prepping, first you must consider what features are essential. Engine size can vary but this is a matter of how much money are you willing to pour into the machine. A 300 will do just fine and from there the engines just get bigger, meaning faster, stronger, [louder, less fuel efficient,] etc. However, I recommend that you do get one with four wheel drive. With the 2 wheel drive models you may find yourself doing a lot of self recovery operations. Speaking of self recovery, I highly recommend a winch but if not able to afford one, then get a come along at the very least. Next, with all the electronic gadgets out there, a cigarette lighter plug is essential. If your machine does not have one, no problem, just visit your local auto parts store and buy a kit for this. You can install this in minutes but I recommend that you wire this through the ignition switch to prevent using up your battery when not running the four wheeler.

Now, of course this will add another list to your list of lists. ATV maintenance is essential. To start with spark plugs, belts, oil, filters, grease and spare tires. I recommend lots of spark plugs because small engine triage can be as simple as new gas and spark plugs. Many times this will get a small engine going again that has sat around a long time. If your ATV is belt or chain driven, then you need a trail spare because this can be the difference between walking and driving out of the woods. Oil is simple; a quart for the trail but a 5 gallon can for the shop. Spare tires already mounted on a second set of rims will minimize having to have a full tire shop of equipment but for the trail a good plug kit and a 12 volt air compressor. Even with the small batteries found on an ATV, it will still run 12 volt accessories, just set up that cigarette lighter plug now, so it will be there when you need it.

If you have multiple ATVs then I recommend same brands and even same years if possible. This will minimize the amount of spare parts to keep on hand as well as gives you the option of cannibalizing a machine if necessary. As you do maintenance, take note of problems with the machine as you fix them, and when you buy the parts, buy spares. Also look online at forums covering your machine and you can see what other owners typically have issues with and sometimes find some great fixes. Take a look at the types of hoses that your ATV has on it, then go buy a couple of feet of the different sizes you need. It stores well and will be irreplaceable if you ever spring a radiator leak or fuel leak. Get a small parts box with some miscellaneous bolts, nuts, washers, cotter pins, and other small parts that may be useful for a quick fix.

With the many options of racks, mounts and storage bags, outfitting a G.O.O.D. bag on an ATV is just natural. You will need a small set of tools to do trail repairs. Screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, etc. but don’t forget about hex wrenches and star bits if your machine has these. Duct tape and zip ties are great to have on hand as well. Tow strap, bungee cords, rope, saw, axe, shovel, work gloves, and lots of extra fuel (5 gallons goes a long ways on an ATV, but the more the better). Everything you would normally throw in your BOB. However, you now have room to carry more, so have an ATV BOB, but also have your personal BOB in case you have to continue on foot. Besides having a winch and a tow strap make sure you have a solid tow point on the front and back of the ATV. I also keep a tow strap connected to each with it routed up to the storage rack and zip tied in place. This allows me to be able to have a quick recovery, without getting too muddy. No one wants to be digging in mud, trying to find the tow hook when stuck.

Most preppers probably see the information I shared as common sense. However, let’s talk tactical side of ATVs. They are not quiet. They know you are coming by sound and probably light from your headlights. Put a manual on/off switch for the lights if you have one that automatically comes on while the engine is running. As far as the sound, there is little you can do here, keep your mufflers working because it will be much louder without it, and also bad exhaust gives an odor that cannot be hidden. If you need transportation that is versatile, quick, able to carry heavy loads over less than desirable trails and roads, than this may be your answer. Best to travel in pairs, stagger and one leading slightly ahead while the second performs as an over watch looking for trouble. This is where you will have to plan ahead, an easy weakness of ATVs is that to remove a rider is as simple as running some wire across a trail at head level. That being said, you have to develop some kind of wire strike system. A pole that is welded to the front bumper at an angle with a dull edge that exceeds the rider's height when standing on the machine will do the trick but ensure you have a takedown pin, just in case it hinders a trail movement, you can then remove the wire strike pole temporarily.

Of course there are the cool gun totes that they design for ATVs. Which they are great but there typically is one flaw, the quick draw of a rifle is normally limited by the carrying device normally has to hold the gun well enough to keep it from bouncing out. First wear a hold or shoulder harness that is useable while riding the ATV, second cut down the holding case to seat the rifle well but have a quick release strap to keep it from coming out.

Now you have your basic riding load, if you want to add the trailer, you have doubled if not tripled your carrying capacity. Keep a trailer loaded up with your G.O.O.D. load and it only takes a minute to hook it up to the ATV. However, your personal G.O.O.D. bag is on the ATV, your ATV recovery and supplemental G.O.O.D. load is on the ATV. This way your trailer will have G.O.O.D. supplies but if you have to ditch the trailer in hurry, you don’t want to have to re-pack.

If you have the traditional red ATVs then a good can of spray paint will work great. If you want a nice camouflage paint job paint the panel a green color that is common in your environment. When that dries lay a piece of fern or some other leafy plant over it and spray paint it black. This works great to give a custom camo paint job. You can use whatever colors and plants that are common in your area. I would also recommend a small camo net; the diamond-shaped net out of a military camouflage set would work great. With this, you can park your ATV, cover it with the net to minimize the silhouette of the ATV. Also have a spare diamond camo net for your trailer, in case you have to drop the trailer for whatever reason. You can hide the trailer and return for it at another time.

Last to consider for an ATV bug out plan is to consider having caches in route. However, assume that you will not have the ATV so plan these supplies accordingly. You do not want to cache more than you can carry. ATVs are great additions but ultimately you must plan to maintain them as well as these items will be highly valued, during a TEOTWAWKI event. Use them for the work horses they are but be aware that they can make you a target as well. These are invaluable for assisting with farming. You can get an assortment of tools, or just the fact that they can haul huge loads without the back breaking work.

JWR Adds: In my experience, large wheel utility ATVs (UATVs) such as a Polaris Sportsman Big Boss or a John Deere Buck with a cargo box in the back, or and one of the several models with a large rear cargo platform (such as the Honda Rancher) are the most practical and versatile. Their profiles are not much larger than a standard ATV, yet they can can conveniently carry much more gear. Their large wheels also give them better ground clearance than most standard ATVs.

I recommend assembling a pre-packed G.O.O.D. kit in a pair of whitewater rafting dry bags and a backpack that can be quickly dropped in to the utility box, or strapped on to a cargo rack. That way you don't have to constantly pack and and un-pack your UATV for other uses. The same bags can just as easily be tossed into a larger (road0 vehicle, if you opt to bug out that way.

The author mentioned the noise created by ATVs. There are now some nearly silent electric ATVs, such as a the Bad Boy Buggy, but these have limited range between charges. This makes them impractical for G.O.O.D. purposes, but they are very practical for hauling chores on retreats of 160 or smaller.

And, needless to say, whether your are at the controls of an ATV or any other vehicle, please wear a helmet and drive safely! 

Hello Jim;  
In reference to the recent letter on using a muscle-powered crosscut saw:   For about four years now, I've been doing much of my wood cutting with a DC to AC inverter (AIMS 5000) that I purchased for $299 back then - they are now listed at $399.  I hook it to a used deep cycle battery that was given to me by someone who works setting up remoted gas wells.  I throw the battery, inverter and either a Husqvarna electric chain saw (for deadfallen trees) or an old Skilsaw (for old pallets) in the van and go foraging for wood. 

The inverter easily handles the demands of either saw and I can fill the van before the battery seriously drops in voltage. It's still pretty noisy but is better than gas powered.  I also have several solar panels and could run the whole set up "from the sun" if need be.  I wasn't thinking about preparation when I got it but that inverter and several of those batteries would greatly ease things in a grid-down situation. Thanks for all you do! - Hobomatt

The recent Force Multipliers article was a good read, as was OSOM’s follow-up letter. Your comment about the Magic Cube flash cubes is a good one. I’m ashamed I didn’t think of that one myself.

One of my concerns is the amount of electronic gear that seems to go into play in some of our TEOTWAWKI preparations. If you look at the logistics tail of the US Military you will find that a soldier uses his weight in batteries very quickly in the field. A big problem (as I understand it from my reading) is keeping our guys supplied with batteries in the sand boxes of the world. While I have nothing against the modern multipliers and by all means, use them if you have them, you must be prepared for no electronics or very limited electronic aids. The emergency flare pens from places like this and this, and this.

Are mechanically launched flare devices, (about a .38 caliber) that can be set up as a trip signal without any electrical interface. Items like model rocket engines and electric engine igniters require electricity but are available from many hobby shops, leave no significant paper trail for those searching for “Paramilitary wing nuts” and are very effective as stand alone flash-bang devices or igniters of wood or other fuel in an emergency and are reasonably inexpensive. The exhaust of these model rocket engines is hot so don’t try to hold one (and they have a small explosive charge to ignite the next stage or deploy a parachute so keep away from both ends!) They are not waterproof but that can be remedied easily. Just be careful when handling – these are real, live rocket motors so treat them that way.

Communications is always key and radios are useful if available. Again, land line telephones and telegraphs have been used for years and although require electricity, the old telegraph systems used very basic batteries that are easily home made. Here is a link to hobbyist who are interested in land line telegraphy. There are computer programs to help with the club but your own buried land lines to your ops would be secure and require only very basic electricity. The basic field telephone is still in use in the military and is a very good, secure communications source. Night vision is great but as mentioned, the parachute flare is a much lower tech option.  Just remember, flares often indicate their launch point so using one may give away your position.

The basic “tin can filled with rocks” noise maker is an excellent motion detector that functions without reset. A pressure plate or trip wire that releases a flare needs to be reset to work a second time.

One of the basic tenets of positional defense is to channel the attack. Clear fields of fire are important but if you can make sure your opponents are coming down a path of your choosing, then setting up that kill zone becomes easier. This is a two edged sword. The French army lost Quebec because the British found a way around the ‘only’ approach to the city. The back door was guarded but not well enough. If done right, however, it makes the defenders job much easier. At this point, a laser range finder can be extremely useful. Use it to build a range card to all landmarks within your view. It is easier to use than a tape and attracts less attention. Then once the rangefinder is no longer available, you have known distances. Modern snipers do the same now when setting up a site as it avoids having to impinge a laser on the target before the shot. If his shadow falls on that boulder then he is 473 yards away kind of reasoning. Thorn trees, ditches, canals (think moat), swamps massive sharp trash (broken glass, sharp metal objects), caltrops (easily made from nails and Styrofoam). Also consider vertical drops, but be careful here: a cliff was the protection for Quebec, and General Wolf outsmarted General Montcalm by having his men climb this ‘un-scalable’ cliff in the dark. Anything that makes it difficult and noisy to come that way instead of the easier path that you want them on works.

Booby traps are illegal in most states so don’t use them. If a booby trap causes injury or death then you may well be facing an assault or murder charge. Some of the low tech weapons of choice here like punji sticks or explosive devices such as mines or IEDs are not in our arsenal unless it is truly TEOTWAWKI. Any less serious scenario and you are likely facing charges.

My point is that it is great to have the high tech stuff but in a long duration situation, you most likely don’t have enough batteries to depend on your devices. Use them while you have them, especially to survive the first waves of the Golden Horde, but be prepared to go low tech when the need arises. - Captain Bart


I believe that an even greater force multiplier than secure radios is having the knowledge and the capability of countering anyone using radio communications against you. Triangulation can be done with a single antenna, this is documented in amateur radio literature and you can participate in direction finding competitions. Triangulation is much more difficult when frequency hopping radios are used (like military grade radios and digital cell phones). All you really need to get started with triangulation is a directional antenna, such as a yagi. A wide-band receiver and 2-meter yagi would be a good bet.

If you want to monitor many radio frequencies at once, there is a community of programmers working on the GNU radio project. GNU radio software, combined with a software-defined radio such as the Ettus Research Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP), gives you the radio eyes and ears at a working-man's budget. To get a visual of a software-defined radio's capabilities, try visiting some of the online-receivers here. The USRP is capable of monitoring 50 Mhz of bandwidth at once, so with one device you could detect any aircraft, marine, 2-meter ham or civil service transmissions on any of these frequency at once. One software radio transceiver + amplifier and a laptop is more useful than an entire room full of ham radio equipment. You won't be limited to voice communications, the software radio will plug in to almost any digital transceiver out there including 802.11x, it will allow you to transmit and receive HDTV signals, operate as a GSM cellular network, receive satellite broadcasts, GPS and everything else. These are increasingly important in the modern world. Ham radios are relegated to emergency communications and will not provide you with a modicum of security when you most need it.

The USRP, an amplifier, antenna, and a stack of unlocked Motorola Motofone F3 GSM phones is my pick for truly secure post-SHTF communications on a budget. This would provide coverage out to a mile or so with a medium size (concealable) base antenna, and everyone would have a week of battery life. A large-scale field test has happened at the Burning Man festival since 2008. The drawbacks are that it's not legal to use these GSM frequencies without FCC authorization (guaranteed no-go in populated areas), and the setup isn't as mobile as a secure personal communication system. An alternative is 802.11x VOIP phones and an Asterisk server, shorter range but uses unlicensed radio frequencies.

The US government has has export-banned most radio security technology. Encryption software is still classified as a "munition" and hence [high level] commercial encryption products are under export controls. The use of encryption on all virtually all civilian radio frequencies is illegal. All truly secure (frequency hopping) radio products I find online are not available to consumers, like the Harris Secure Personal Radio.

I'm not sure if you or your readers know of a frequency hopping personal communication system, I've been interested in such a product for a long time but I'm guessing were I to find anything out there it would be too expensive for my budget, given the unique nature of it. - Jeff M.

JWR Replies: As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, both Motorola and Trisquare make frequency hopping radios that operate on the 900 MHz band, with no license required. Their hopping algorithms are rudimentary, so they would be vulnerable to intercept by government agencies (by design), but they'd be relatively secure from interception and even detection by most private citizens. (When a frequency hopper is keyed up, typically the only noticeable change seen on a spectrum analyzer is that the "noise floor" jumps up.)

After much foot dragging, the Federal Reserve banking cartel finally fessed up to lavishing $3.3 trillion in new liquidity and in excess of $9 trillion in "short term" loans. But in doing so, they soft-pedaled the fact that a good portion of that was used to bailing out soured or failed mortgage-backed securities (MBS) derivatives contracts. Gee, even the biggest casino in the world can get insurance, these days. But I suspect that the next derivatives meltdown will be so big that it will bring down the global financial system.

C.D.V. suggested this article: Any Talk of Recovery is False. Here is snippet: "As you can see, the great retail recovery of 2010 is a sham. Comparable store sales increases of 3% are inflation-adjusted decreases of 5%. If you drive around with your eyes open, you would think the hot new retailer in America is called Space Available."

Quest for Revenue Department: San Francisco plans tolls between Peninsula and the city. (Link courtesy of SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson)

Peter Schiff: The Dollar Threads a Needle

Items from The Economatrix:

10 Signs That Confidence In US Treasuries Is Dying And That Financial Armageddon May Be Approaching

Droughts, Floods, Cold, and Snow Hit Global Commodities  

The Fed's Final Days  

Doomsday For The US Dollar:  Post Mortem for the World's "Reserve Currency"

Dollar May Drop 11% in 2011 as Treasuries Fall, Says CitiGroup  

Chinese Take-out Of The US Economy, Debt Crisis Triggering Reserves Conversion Into Gold and Silver

Reader N.I.M. mentioned: Health Disaster Preparedness Rankings by State. N.I.M. 's comment: "Now if we could only get a ranking for overall preparedness."

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Rural America gets even more sparsely populated. Most thinly populated counties in the U.S. continued to lose residents in the last decade, new census data show. December 15, 2010| By Doug Smith and Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times. The article begins: "The majority of the nation's sparsely populated rural counties lost even more residents in the last decade, though some of the counties — particularly those in the Mountain West — saw population gains that may be the result of retirees striking out for areas that are both scenic and affordable...". [Emphasis Added.] I suspect that some those gains may be due to people wisely seeking safe retreat regions! (Thanks to stalwart SurvivalBlog contributor F.G. for the link.)

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John R. suggested this think piece by Giordano Bruno: Constitutional Judo

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Does this invention have some G.O.O.D. possibilities? To Warm The Homeless, A Coat That's A Sleeping Bag. (Thanks to T. Moo for the link.)

"We are in danger of being overwhelmed with irredeemable paper, mere paper, representing not gold nor silver; no sir, representing nothing but broken promises, bad faith, bankrupt corporations, cheated creditors and a ruined people."  - Daniel Webster, in an address to the U.S. Senate, 1833

Sunday, December 19, 2010

SurvivalBlog reader Edward P. very kindly created a new version of the SurvivalBlog Glossary that is much easier to navigate. (Much less scrolling!) Many Thanks, Ed!


Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In survivaldom there are countless potential crises to consider, ranging from a limited local flood to massive global nuclear conflict, and anything in between.  For the newcomer to the prepper/survivor mindset, as well as for those who have begun the journey to preparedness, the range and scope of calamities to consider can be overwhelming.  How does one weigh the need to keep fresh baby formula or insulin available while recognizing that unprotected electronics could become useless after an EMP event?  What good is frozen food if there is no electricity available?  Countless tradeoffs and prioritization must occur, but how does one evaluate the potential crises and decide where to spend the limited time and money available to prepare?

Human instinct being imperfect, undisciplined prioritization is often based on one’s personal passions and instincts.  The young mother may lovingly focus on supplies for her newborn infant while neglecting other basic needs and the hunter may focus on a defensive armory without regard for a potable water supply.  The individualist may fear a “new world order” tyranny, while the accountant may fear a collapse of the US currency or banking system.  Let’s face it - everyone has biases which creep into our decision making despite our best intentions to be objective.  So how does one begin to prepare for a crisis when its nature is not known and personal biases tend to skew one’s focus? 


In the engineering world there is a parallel challenge and a tool has been developed that is now widely used to effectively confront such situations.  The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA, commonly pronounced “feema”, like FEMA) was first used in military/aerospace industry and its use spread to the automotive and other industries.  A FMEA is a rating system to evaluate a potential design (or manufacturing) failure.  Engineers list potential failures, and then apply ratings (1-10) to those failures in the following categories:  Severity, Occurrence, and Detection.  The three ratings are multiplied together to create the Risk Priority Number (RPN).  A chart is then created listing the identified potential failures, and the associated RPNs are then evaluated to determine which potential failures are to be addressed.  The procedure is typically revisited after design iterations to evaluate the predicted results of design changes to improve a product.  (Wikipedia has a good description of FMEAs)

I would like to propose a variant of this tool for to crisis and emergency preparation: The Crisis Mode and Effects Analysis (CMEA).  To understand a CMEA, visualize a chart with the leftmost column listing potential crises, labeled A,B,C, etc…   The following 3 columns would be severity, occurrence and preparedness, each rated 1-10.  Here is an example CMEA spreadsheet with an example and rating system description.


The leftmost column “Crisis” is a list of all potential crises, emergencies, or situations that one would like to prepare for (A,B,C…) and the effects of that crisis (1,2,3…) joined to define items A1, A2, etc…  After listing all of the crises and effects to be considered, the rating process begins.  Each effect is rated for Severity, Occurrence, and Preparedness.  These ratings are then multiplied together to produce the Preparedness Priority Number (PPN).  After all crises and effects are rated, the resulting list of PPN’s provides an assessment of the expected impact of various situations on the group.

Crisis and Effects:  The crises listed should be realistic for the user’s situation, so one living in Southern Florida would not bother to list “ice storm”.  The expected longevity of the crisis should be included in the listing, as it may have a great impact upon one’s state of preparedness.  For example a 2 day power outage has a very different impact than a six month outage.  The scope of the crisis is also relevant:  Local (within approx. 10 mile diameter), regional (100 mile diameter or statewide) or national/international crisis will have different impacts that should be considered.

Severity Ratings:  The severity of each crisis and effect are then to be rated according to the scale shown in the example spreadsheet (“Ratings” tab) – the more severe an effect, the higher the rating.  The longevity of each effect and how widespread it is will affect the severity rating.  The boxes on the left of the severity scale provide guidance to apply a rating based on the scope of each effect (local, regional, etc…).   The severity rating is to be applied based upon the effect as if there were no preparedness in place.  The severity rating scale is as follows:

For Local events (10 mile diameter):
1:  Minor impact on daily life
3:  Moderate impact
5:  Major impact

For Regional events (100 mile dia. or statewide):
1:  Minor impact
4:  Moderate impact
7:  Major impact

For National/International Events:
1:  Minor impact
5:  Moderate impact
10:  Major impact

Occurrence Ratings:  Rate the likelihood of the occurrence of each listed item.  This area will surely be used differently by different people, which is fine because one CMEA is used only for the group that creates it.  The more likely a crisis, the higher the occurrence rating will be.  The time period that is used for the entire CMEA comes into play here.  For example if a group is using a CMEA to prepare for “the next 10 years”, then the likelihood of a 100-year flood event is fairly small.  Conversely, if a family is preparing for the next generation, say the next 60 years perhaps, the likelihood of some of the crises occurring during that time will be greater.  The occurrence rating scale is as follows:

1:  Very unlikely:  It is difficult to conceive that this would happen.
2:  Unlikely:  There is a remote chance that this could happen.
3:  Somewhat Unlikely:  It could happen, but it would be surprising if it did.
4:  Slightly Possible:  It's believable, but not expected
5:  Possible:  Very conceivable, easy to see the circumstances where this could occur.
6:  Somewhat Probable:  It seems that things are pointed toward this occurring.
7:  Probable:  It seems that this crisis will likely happen unless something changes.
8:  Likely:  Fairly sure that this will happen.
9:  Most Likely:  It seems that this will almost certainly happen.
10: Nearly Certain:  Presumed this will almost certainly happen at some point.  (i.e. Hurricane on Southern Florida coast)

Preparedness Ratings:  How well are you prepared for this?  Using the provided scale, apply a self-evaluated rating to how well your preparedness measures would counteract the effect.  The better prepared, the lower the number to be applied.  The preparedness rating scale is as follows:

1:  Fully prepared:  Our preparations will allow us to live with essentially no impact for the duration of this effect with limited or no outside support.
2:  Very Well Prepared:  We can continue life with only minor inconvenience through the expected duration of this effect.
3:  Well Prepared:  We are prepared to live reasonably comfortably and safely in the event of this effect.
4:  Reasonably Well Prepared:  Our preparations will provide for us to survive and live safely, with some effort and use of our preparations.
5:  Partly Prepared:  We have a medium amount of preparation for this effect.
6:  Modestly Prepared:  We have made preparations that will partly eliminate the need for outside support.
7:  Somewhat Prepared:  Some preparations are in place, but only enough to reduce the amount of outside support required. 
8:  Slightly Prepared:  We have a few preparations to lessen the impact of a short-term (3 days) occurrence of this crisis.
9:  Very slightly prepared:  Almost no preparations have been made that will counteract this effect.
10: No preparations have been made at all.

Preparedness Priority Number (PPN):  The PPN is simply the result of the severity, occurrence, and preparedness ratings multiplied together.  The higher the PPN, the more attention should be given to each situation.  The PPN by itself has no significance, only the comparison of all PPNs to each other is relevant.  The higher numbers deserve attention, the lower numbers do not.  When the PPN’s are developed, find the few highest numbers and then consider what can be done to counteract the effects of each situation.  The way to reduce a PPN is primarily to become more prepared to lower the preparedness rating which will then lower the PPN. 

The concept is to first make a CMEA matrix to identify which areas need priority attention.  Then after preparations are implemented, the CMEA can be revisited to see the results to evaluate the effect of those preparations.  Also the CMEA can be used to evaluate “what-if” assessments of a preparedness measure that may be considered.  For example perhaps a water filtration system may seem like a good idea.  To evaluate its benefit, the CMEA could be revised as if there were a new water filtration system in place to see how many (and which) crises and effects would be mitigated to reduce the impact on the well-being of the group.

It’s reassuring to see the PPN’s become lower as preparations are made.   While preparedness is often its own reward, the mental satisfaction of seeing lower PPN’s is additionally gratifying.

Some Notes about Using the CMEA

The best CMEAs are created with open discussion and input from all of those involved.  If someone creates a CMEA individually, the results will reflect that person’s unfiltered biases.  With involvement of more than one, individual biases will be tempered and the result will be more balanced and objective.  A CMEA may still be useful for an individual, but less so than with a group’s (or couple’s) involvement.   The “group” may be a couple, a family, extended family, friends, or any group that prepares collectively.

The CMEA is not designed to address individual accidents, like car wrecks or house fires.  The CMEA analysis is directed toward crises that affect more than an isolated individual or family.  Nevertheless preparedness itself is of course applicable to individual emergency situations, but the CMEA tool is not geared toward them.

Keep in mind timeframes – both the time span of the CMEA analysis itself (what crises may occur during the next XX years) and also the longevity of each particular crisis and effect.  Some effects that are not problematic for short term effects can become very severe if the effects last for a long time.  (i.e. power outages with frozen food)

The PPN’s are comparative only, and they are only applicable within a given CMEA.  One group may apply severity and occurrence ratings differently than another, therefore the PPN’s from one group’s CMEA cannot be compared to another’s.  The actual PPN values (50, 100, 200, etc…) have no meaning – only the comparison of all of the PPN’s within an individual CMEA are relevant.

CMEAs should be revisited periodically to consider the effects of preparedness efforts and also to consider changes in the estimated likelihood of various crises, and perhaps the addition (or elimination) of crisis to the list.  

The level of specificity of crises analyzed in a CMEA can be very broad or highly detailed to suit the preference of the user.  One user may wish to list the effects of a stock market closure, a gold tax, and usurious taxation rates as individual items, while another may prefer to simply use “financial system chaos” as an effect.  Some may not list “currency controls” as a concern, while others may have international financial interests that need to be considered.  

The rating scales and scope guidelines are not cast in stone.  The user is free to change the scales as desired for his or her situation.  These scales are similar in nature to the “pain” scales commonly displayed on the wall in doctors’ offices – they are rather subjective, but as long as they are applied consistently they will be effective. 

Focus on preparedness.  The severity of a crisis often cannot be affected except with major changes such as moving to higher ground to reduce the effect of a flood, etc…, and similarly the likelihood of occurrence of a crisis cannot expect to be controlled.  Preparedness is the area that one has substantial control over to improve the ability to withstand undesirable circumstances, and therefore preparedness deserves the most attention.

The example CMEA is arbitrary – the effects and ratings listed are not intended to be guidelines, rather they show the methodology and usage of the matrix.


The CMEA can be used as an effective analysis tool to help the prepper to apply his or her limited resources as effectively as possible to become better prepared.

James Wesley:
I am writing by the light of a post-apocalyptic reading lamp I just constructed. From a string of LED Christmas lights, I removed two sections of just three LEDs each. To each of these I attached in series a single 100 Ohm resistor from the parts bin at Radio Shack. A goose-neck work light provided a good reflector and glare control. I cut the plug off the other end and crimped on the connectors appropriate to my battery. The battery was salvaged from a defunct computer UPS. They are common to alarm systems and are not expensive new. About 12" of electrical tape to cover my splices and some string to arrange the bulbs just so in the work light. For a more permanent project I would solder and heat-shrink the splices and add a fuse.

In addition to looking like something just a bit too civilized to make it into a Mad Max movie this lamp puts out enough light to read by easily or do fairly detailed hand work. This is far more than my oil lamps can do. It draws .055 amp at 12 volts or seven tenths of a watt. Add a few bits of solar panel from some garden lights and the right diode and it can be made rechargeable. Tie it in to a more sophisticated off-grid power system for even better results.

I have small ones around and fear fire. Glass oil lamps are a nightmare. Even kept high and out of the way I can picture a high spirited little darling tossing an object just right and chaos follows.

If I can figure out how to integrate it aesthetically I plan to 'nightlight' the whole house. The same series circuit can be reproduced over and over in a parallel run using a light gauge wire.

Any parent can probably sympathize with trip hazards due to small people around. Stumbling around in the dark is dangerous and inefficient. Integrating something like this in a discreet way could be valuable. Maybe add a light sensor so they come on dimly as path lighting all night, and include an override switch to turn them up to full brightness as needed, or cut them entirely for light discipline. A relay powered by the solar panel could hold the circuit open until it had no more energy to contribute, then the lights would come on.

The same approach could be managed with unmodified Christmas lights and an inverter. Running an entire string of 60 lights plus the paying for losses in converting from AC to DC is fine of you have power to spare. But it silly when all you need is half a dozen lights at the right place.

Wish I had a better closing line but it is getting late and I need to go dig up a potentiometer for this lamp. - Vlad

JWR Replies: Low power DC lighting is great for retreats with alternative energy systems. And of course LEDs are the most energy-efficient source of light. For use at retreats, I recommend getting segmented strings of red LED lights. Several vendors make LED "Rope" strings divisible into three-foot segments that are custom made to work on 12 VDC power sources with no modification. (This is a plus for those that are not adept at wielding a soldering iron.) Why red, you ask? For preserving your best natural night vision. This is the same reason that many navies around the world still "rig for red".

Of concern to readers in the U.S.: ATF to Require Multiple Sales Reports for Long Guns. Perhaps the Feds ought to police their own ranks, first. They seem to have some bad apples, some of whom have gone into “We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges” (WDNNSB) mode. For example, take John Thomas Shipley, a rogue FBI agent in El Paso, Texas. Here is a quote: "A federal judge in August hit him with a two-year prison term for selling guns illegally. ATF agents had traced back to him a .50-caliber rifle that was used in a drug cartel shootout in Chihuahua, Mexico. Court records show that between 2005 and 2008, he posted at least 280 firearms for sale on just one web site alone" [].    

   o o o

Scott H. sent this: A Dangerous Gap in Our Defenses? An EMP attack is a terrible threat, but countering it is affordable.

   o o o

Yishai and RevWojo both sent this: The Harrowing Tale of an Amtrak Train Stuck on the Rails for 10 Hours

   o o o

Almost a dozen readers mentioned this news story and subsequent commentary: Iran Placing Medium-Range Missiles in Venezuela; Can Reach the U.S.

   o o o

F.G. flagged this: Dog attacks jogger, 7-year-old son; jogger kills dog with bare hands. Of course it would have been quicker and more certain to dispatch the dog with a pistol. It is too bad that Florida is not an open carry state, and that the city of Port Lucie's Democrat mayor would likely oppose allowing it, anyway. (Since she was duped into joining a civilian disarmament group that gives lip service to "defending the Second Amendment".)

  o o o

Tim R. mentioned some dramatic moments preserved in pixels: Petrol Bomb Riots In Greece

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."- Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Mr. Rawles,  
I'd like to share some things that happened yesterday at work to really hit home the basics.  (I'm looking to start my own crisis management firm so these really sunk in for me.)  You wouldn't think of a Library as a hub for disaster, but naturally it just follows people.  Or at least when there are people around, an occurrence becomes a disaster (tree in the woods?).  No place is "safe" from everything.  

1) First Aid Kits -- This seems so basic to any of us that we would dismiss minor cuts and scrapes from bearing any seriousness.  "No stitches? No problem."  Wrong.  If you can't handle a minor cut in a timely manner how are you going to handle a serious wound?  I think I am going to rename my kits "Quick Aid" to emphasize the necessity of fast response as well as the readiness of response.  Let me explain.  

I was helping move a plexiglas case that came apart and slid down my arm, scraping from mid-thumb to halfway down my forearm.  I didn't think it hurt, didn't know anything happened, because it was the feeling of dripping blood that alerted me that I was cut.  We all hate those stupid cuts that think they are war wounds and bleed accordingly.  After cleaning it in the bathroom I came down to get some band aids for my hand, just two dramatic little cuts.  

Currently the building is under construction so things are moved around, including the cabinet in which we keep our "first aid" kit (it's a jumbled mess of odds and ends and every band aid).  I finally find the cabinet, tear it apart to find the kit, all the while trying not to bleed everywhere still and being thankful that it's not serious.  Then came applying the first aid cream and band aids with 1.5 hands, since I had to press my cut hand into a towel against my chest to slow the bleeding.  Pretty tricky-- you should practice it.  

2) Reliability of the 911 System -- We all know that if emergency responders were flooded with calls (more than a handful at the same time) that it could mean a slow (at best) response to your emergency...IF you can even call them.  No phones, no calls.  

Just yesterday 150 miles north of us a construction team accidentally severed a few communication fibers.  Our internet/phone provider went down for four hours.  Also, the fiber used for 911 calls was out too.  And this is during a perfectly normal day.  Can you see all the problems that can arise on a normal day?  Emergencies happen every day (what about a "bad day"?).  Will everyone know to call the local police department number if 911 is down?  Do they know it or have it?  If their email is down they can't read such helpful messages being sent them.  (Seriously, I got emails from several sources about what to do but only after everything was back up.)  And personally, I can never find my phone book.  In these days, that's what the internet is for...  

I just try to remember if you can't handle something on a small scale don't think you can handle the big stuff.  I think we need constant reminders of how big the small stuff can be and how useful too.  So many of us have a mindset that mental preparedness will glide us through anything.  Just because you have guns and anticipate WWIII doesn't mean you will effectively handle an emergency.  It almost seems that without a grid down, bugging out, or bullets flying a lot of our plans are useless.  Prepare for and practice on the small potatoes.   - Harper

Mr. Rawles,
The U.S. government has released new advice for what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. What's really disturbing is that with the low protection factors cited, someone essentially needs to come and rescue. On the plus side at least they're thinking about what ought to be done. - Jake in Massachusetts

Dear Editor:
It shouldn't come as a surprise to SurvivalBlog readers but the newest research in the June 2010 document, "Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation" concludes that rate of survival to a nuclear disaster climbs if people shelter in place. I thought this line from the CNBC news was interesting: "disasters planners should forget trying to evacuate large cities and instead urge people to shelter in place." Oh the good old days of digging out a basement under our house in the early 1960s. - C.A.

The Wild Yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, also known as Milfoil, Soldiers woundwort, Nose Bleed Weed, Sanguinary, and Devil's Nettle is a very useful medicinal herb.      

Growing Wild Yarrow: This plant makes a wonderful addendum to a domestic garden in the Spring. Although now cultivated and available everywhere in nurseries, there is still a quaint but practical feeling to include a wild species in a domestic garden for a feel of times past. Red and yellow varieties are used as ornamentals, but by far the most common variety is white. I think the colors are hybrids of the wild white species. Some cautions when planting, as Yarrow will creep through its root system and will drop seeds readily in late summer, thus becoming very prolific with time. All varieties of Yarrow have similar qualities medicinally. Choice of colors should be preferential. It is not commonly kept as a 'Ground Cover' and if it should get too thick, just thin it out. But Yarrow deserves a special place in everyone’s crisis/ survival garden. It's a very special plant and should be treated like an old friend.

Yarrow is well known for its blood clotting properties (Hemostatic). It can be used when used fresh/crushed and applied as a direct poultice on a wound or laceration. It also promotes healing and new tissue growth of the damaged tissues (a Vulnerary). Yarrow is mildly antiseptic, even somewhat antibiotic by nature and can be applied directly to a wound. Herbalists in history have used Yarrow leaf rolled and inserted into the nostrils to stem bleeding from a nosebleed. Another herbalist claims when a rolled leaf of Milfoil (Yarrow) is placed in the nose it promotes bleeding to stem a severe headache and lower blood pressure. So it seems it has been used in history for both reasons. Yarrow is also an alternative blood cleanser, for example, it can be used if the initial wound was contaminated such as puncture wounds or lacerations. It may, in fact, prevent blood poisoning from a dirty laceration. Yarrow applied this way reduces pain and swelling, because it acts as an anti-inflammatory to the affected area. Yarrow is a good choice for veterinary first aid uses on animal injuries. Yarrow's blood clotting ability is legendary throughout history. Native Americans, warriors and soldiers--dating back to the Greeks nearly 3,000 years ago--all have used Yarrow to stem blood loss from wounds and injury. Hence the name "soldier’s woundwort". Crushed leaves in a tea can stop internal bleeding from ulcers, nasal passages, esophageal, bleeding hemorrhoids, etc.

Yarrow also contains a Digestive "Bitters" quality and is very helpful as a digestive aid, promoting bile flow and preventing Gall stones from re-occurring. It is also very soothing to the pancreas and endocrine system. It is useful in treating the common cold as it induces sweating by opening pores (diaphoresis), cleanses the blood and reduces fevers readily especially when aspirin is contraindicated or not available. Yarrow is considered a pretty safe plant and reportedly even used as a wild edible (survival food), but like anything else, take care when using it and monitor its results. When taken internally the active ingredient, Thujone Oil, produces a slight sedating and diuretic effect. Thujone relaxes smooth muscle in the body which helps prevent cramping (menstrual and abdominal). It is very healing to an inflamed liver (hepatitis and jaundice conditions) and can be used as an adjunct in liver, gall bladder tonics.

Yarrow is a good choice to include in your crisis garden next year. Its delicate presence it looks good as a backdrop growing amongst the other domestic low growing flowers. Yarrow is indispensable as a wilderness first aid plant in the wild. Know this plant, and know where to find it in the wild. - The TinMan

What the New Tax Bill Deal Means for You. JWR's Comment: I'm very skeptical about what went on in back-room deals to get this legislation passed so quickly, particularly in the U.S. Senate. Were promises made about acquiescence to one or more upcoming treaty ratifications or the DREAM illegal alien amnesty bill? Time will tell, but something seems amiss.

The Lumberman sent this: Food Stamp Rolls Continue to Rise. (Nearly 43 million people in the U.S.--14% of the population!)

Frequent content contributor John R. sent the next few items:

Doomsday for the US Dollar: Post Mortem for the World's "Reserve Currency"   (Mike Whitney)
Failing to Prosecute Wall Street Fraud Is Extending Our Economic Problems - Washington's Blog  
Sidestepping the U.S. Dollar, a Russian Exchange Will Swap Rubles and Renminbi

Items from The Economatrix:

Eurozone Debt Crisis Spreads to Belgium  

Silver at $40 Will be Best 2011 Metals Bet, Standard Bank's Ikemizu Says  

The Dire Collapse Taking Place  

Ruble-Remninbi Trading to Start in Russia 

Extreme Weather Sparks Global Commodities Rally  

Public Pensions Face Underfunding Crisis  

Kids Write Santa For Basic Needs This Year Instead Of Toys. [JWR Adds: Julenissen is bringing my kids ammo and silver for Christmas. They said that they wanted "tangibles", bless their hearts.]

Mike H. sent me an amazing video by Halvor Angvik, filmed in the Swiss Alps. Okay, I guess that in order to qualify it for inclusion in SurvivalBlog, I'll title this: High Speed Bug-Out in Alpine Terrain.

   o o o

Eric in Kansas sent this preview of American street riots, in a few years: Greece riots as fire bombs, stones fly in Athens, and meanwhile there are riots in Rome, following Berlusconi's no-confidence vote. Oh, and more riots are expected.

   o o o

Don't bring a knife to a gun fight: Would-be robber faced many previous charges. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

Tim P. mentioned some compact chemical fire starters that he saw at his local grocery store. Tim's comments: "They are lightweight and waterproof and make for a great kindling option in a B.O.B.  I also use them in my wood stove/"

"The herd instinct among forecasters makes sheep look like independent thinkers." - Edgar R. Fiedler

Friday, December 17, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Christmas isn’t what the television commercials would have you believe. It’s not about diamond jewelry, new cars or power tools. It’s not about trinkets and treasures and toys. It’s not about online shopping and last minute bargains.

It’s about love.

Not love of possessions or material wealth, but love for friends and family.

And because you love them, you naturally want them to be happy and safe. In easy times, this isn’t a problem. But what if the Schumer really does Hit The Fan? Will the ones you love be able to sustain themselves and survive? If your family is anything like mine, there are people in it who do not see the need to prepare. Fortunately, Christmas represents the ideal opportunity to help them learn to help themselves.

By giving a basic starter survival kit, you will put them on the path of self sufficiency and in doing so, give them the greatest gifts – confidence and the means to weather the coming storm.

When preparing the kit keep in mind the spirit of the gift. It’s not to show off how much you know. It’s to put them on the path to prepping. Give them what they need, tell them why they need it, and show them how to use it, always with the subtle caveat that they must learn more on their own. Though it has already been covered very well in this blog, I humbly offer my personal opinion of the very basics of what might go into a starter prep kit. This, in the physical sense, will be your gift. If you don’t have enough redundancy to spare, you can purchase the items in this kit for far less that you’d spend on a new “stuff”.

At every stage remember that this is not a fully grown bug out bag; it’s a seed that will hopefully grow to fruition. Accordingly, each part of the kit should have a note on a 3"x5" card telling “why” it is important and “how” they can build upon it. These notes can - and should be - very simple. Information overload is not the goal; kick-starting their thought process is. For example, with the water you might write, “What happens when the taps won’t work? Several sources of water include swimming pools, ponds and solar stills. Did you also know that a small amount of bleach will help kill the bad stuff in untreated water?” Keep it short, interesting and friendly.

If you haven’t made a survival kit before, here’s an easy way to get a grip on how to start. The next time you go shopping, look around at all the shiny packages and think for a moment what you’d do if the shelves were empty. What would you feed your family? What would you use to light the lights, cook the food, cure a cold, guard the homestead? Imagine if you couldn’t buy what you needed. This is the sudden, terrifying situation that most will face, including your loved ones. Yes, those same mothers, father, sisters and pals who didn’t heed your hints, warnings or exasperated pleadings to be the ant and not the grasshopper.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you feel comfortable in your basic preparations. Can the same be said for your child, mother-in-law or best friend? If you’ve been practicing your best OPSEC, they might not even be aware of the hard work you’ve put in. If so, how can you expect them to have followed your lead and taken the necessary preparations to take care of themselves?

How long will they survive without your help? Give it to them. Remember the famous saying, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

As a Christmas gift, the starter kit perhaps will not elicit the same shrieks of joy that a “stuff” will bring, but it’s one that will keep them safe when storms (natural or man-made) come to shatter the calm. It won’t last forever, nor is it meant to. By giving it to them now in times of relative calm, along with some helpful tips and suggestions, you’re giving them a lifeline in times of trouble, and hopefully a head start into the prepping adventure.

My gift to the unprepared in my family is a starter prep kit that includes the following. Keep in mind that this is representative of what my budget allows. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and you may find that you’re able to add more or that you must cut some items. If you have an extra backpack, you can even pack all these items inside it so that they will have a self-contained kit that they can grab at a moment’s notice.

Food – Protein bars, granola bars, MREs, canned meat and vegetables (and can opener). Snares, fish hooks, small fishing net and knife. A propane camping stove with extra fuel. Saucepan, fork and spoon. Salt and pepper.

Water - Bottled water, purification tablets, Katadyn water filter, Gatorade mix for electrolytes.

Fire - Flint and steel, lighter, matches, magnesium fire starter, cotton balls saturated in Vaseline and stored in a film canister and a fire starter stick.

Shelter - Survival blanket, extra socks, warm clothes, sleeping bag, wool hat, gloves, scarf or shemagh, hand warmers, hatchet or small saw for building a lean-to or cutting branches to make a windbreak. Flashlight and candles.

Self-Defense – Depending on preferences and your local legalities, a firearm or hunting knife, Sabre pepper-spray, staff, or stout rod.

First Aid - A basic small first aid kit will do, available anywhere and everywhere. Be sure to bolster it with items that may not be included such as an anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-histamine allergy pills, antacids and whatever else their personal condition may require. In the case of prescription medicines that they take, a note inside the first aid kit advising them to stock some will be a good reminder.

Hygiene – Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, foot powder, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, small towel.

Serenity – Emotionally and spiritually reassuring items like the Bible or a book of their particular faith, playing cards, pen and notebook, hobby or heritage craft supplies to productively pass the time, small game or toy for children. Most importantly, a small photo album with pictures of their loved ones to remind them what they are fighting to survive for.

Information - Compass, street and topographical maps of the immediate and surrounding areas. An empty envelope inside a Zip-Loc bag with a note telling them to fill it with copies of their birth certificate, driver license, health insurance information, medical records, emergency contact numbers and other important documents.

Very basically, what I’m giving them in this kit falls into three categories: supplies, information and support.

Supplies – The starter kit I just detailed covers this. Some readers will disagree and find fault. Many will suggest additions or improvements. And they’ll be right. The kit is personalized to the individual. Having the basics is vital, but specializing the kit to the one who will carry it is likely the key to their survival.

Information – This comes in many forms, but your loved ones may be panicked or fleeing and have access only to what you provide in the pack. Include a selection of concise how-to books, survival guides, maps and a printed plan of how and where you will all meet in case of an emergency, or a plan detailing your bug-in procedures. A printed version will be important since the unprepared are more likely to panic and a reference guide will be paramount to their survival.

Support – Include a card that is both relevant and sensitive to their situation. Try to maintain a positive tone. Do not judge or frighten. As an example, consider using this: “Dear Mom, I am giving you this because I love you and because I want you to be able to have what you need to deal with whatever life throws at you. If there’s a bad storm, or you have to leave town on a sudden emergency, I hope that this will provide you with what you need to make it. If you have any questions or want to learn more about anything please know that you can always reach out to me.”

The goal here is not to give them every last thing they could possibly need. That’s a long term project. Instead, make it your mission to open their eyes and give them the impetus to start thinking outside their safe box and taking the simple steps necessary to protect themselves.

At the end of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, “In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; But the greatest of them all is love.”

With this gift, you are giving all three. Faith in themselves in case of an emergency. Hope that they can carry on and provide for themselves and their family. And, of course, the greatest gift of all that you can give, and one which needs no explanation - love.

Dear Editor:
Can Michael M. provide a bit more detail in his process of developing a UV air treatment solution?  The part about" "Slack tube manometer and did a static test with the air handler running and the house closed up tight. I had a negative pressure of .45" water column vacuum. I concluded that I needed a fresh air return duct if I was going to use my air handler to try and pressurize the house" is difficult for me to visualize.  Is the manometer on the upstream side of the Air Handler fan or the down stream?  Also I don't understand the math used. I do understand the 4940ft^3 / 1170ft^3/min =  4.2 minutes, but how did he calculate or measure the 1170ft^3/min of airflow?  How did he come up with "a needed 60 to 75 sq in fresh air duct to compensate for the tight construction to bring my static pressure to 0?"   This appears to be very important information but is difficult to understand.   Thanks for the good work and words. - Mark X.

I Forwarded This to Michael M. and He Replied:

Daer Jim & SurvivalBlog Readers:
Let me first explain what the Slack Tube Manometer can be used for:
Mainly it is an instrument that can be used to measure static pressure, pressure differential, or total pressure. In my case I used a Dwyer Model 1212  to measure pressure differential from the outside ambient air pressure to the inside air pressure. One could call it a static pressure. I did this by putting one side of the tube on the outside through a window and blocked the remaining area of the open window and the other side of the meter on the outside of the door of the heat exchange closet. It could be placed anywhere as long as one side of the meter is outside and the other inside. I used this area as it was easy to change the fan speeds and see the result. When the air handler was on a negative pressure was seen on the tube.  

Next would be the issue of the 1,170 cfm air rate. This number was supplied to me through the Manufacturer's manual as to the cfm at the various fan speeds available. i.e.: fan speeds available Low--820 cfm Med low--1,003 cfm Med high--1,170 cfm High--1,532 cfm.  

How I came up with the  fresh air return needed and wanted:

First I obtained a copy of the Rules and Rules of Thumb for Duct Systems on the Internet. This gave the necessary numbers for a filtered grille area to compensate  for the negative pressure. At this point with the fan on the med high speed I open a window away from the air handler till the pressures equalized in the manometer. I measured the calculated the square inches of the opening and had my filter size to equalize pressure per the rules. I added the other 2 filters and with the air return from the house blocked achieved a positive pressure of .35" of pressure.

It should also be noted that not all homes can use this type of system as many are not sealed tight enough to maintain the slight pressures.

Another interesting side note is that we are also able with this configuration to use one small bedroom as a negative pressure room simply by opening the window in the room making a perfect place for a quarantine room for the sick.   I hope this helps, - Michael M.

Dear James:

D.W. is exactly right about training for unarmed defense - at close range, the immediate empty hand response trumps even the 1.2 second draw.

I would like to plug the superb training at Target Focus Training.

Out of many years of training in different schools and courses, they are head and shoulders the most scientific, the most practical, and impart the most effectiveness in the least amount of training time.

Their training is extremely expensive, and extremely good.  (By the way, I have no financial relationship to Target Focus Training other than being a happy customer.)

Sign up for their free e-mail newsletter - it is eye-opening information.

A quick and dirty way to evaluate any school - do they teach eye gouging if your life is on the line?  I know it's a horrible thing to have to talk about - but if your life is on the line you go for the assailant's most vulnerable target if you are get the chance...

If this is not discussed, they are not serious about saving your life in a do or die situation. Regards, - OSOM


It seems the article "Fight and Survive--Warrior and Scholar" did everything but explicitly endorse Krav Maga.  I have only started following your blog recently, but one of the first things I did was start taking Krav Maga classes.  There is nothing quite like it for getting into shape and more importantly for training your body to react in stressful situations.  It is real-world self defense.  I would highly recommend joining a [Krav Maga] gym, or at least buying some DVDs.  More info can be found at, and there is a good set of Krav Maga DVDs available at

Regards, - Peter P.

Debt monetization (the government buying its own debt) is waving a huge Red Flag that signals mass inflation in the near future: Fed Surpasses China in Treasury Binge

News from England: Inflation surges at record pace in December

Serbia's Inflation Rate Hits 10 Percent

Addison Wiggin: Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Core CPI Numbers

General Mills to Raise Prices

Reader Dirk W. spotted this: Forever foods: 10 cooking staples that can outlast you

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I noticed that among the Top 50 Risk Management Blogs, SurvivalBlog is listed at #28.

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Several readers sent this: iPhone snitch network launched. Oh, and now YouTube has now added an option for flagging content that is terrorist in nature. So, any guesses on how long it will be before preparedness blogs, video blogs (vlogs), and podcasts get flagged?

"Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society." - Benjamin Franklin  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am a physician in Iowa and have read SurvivalBlog and many books related to survival including yours. In general there are many good thoughts and insights in the Blog. History predicts the future and some facts of history seem to have been overlooked by many survivalists. Many predict that in a long term situation, those left would be in an 1880s situation.

In Iowa, most counties had a peak population in the 1880 census. Most counties in Iowa have lost population every census since then (1940 was generally flat) this means that the land could support more people if individuals and society were prepared. Furthermore, if society were to collapse there would be trillions of calories of food in dent corn, soybeans and livestock which farmers would gladly exchange for anything useful. This would help bridge the gap in food production. This situation is common throughout the midwest. I would argue that west of the Mississippi is just as good as west of the Missouri River. Iowa does not have any very large cities and there are limited bridges over the Mississippi. Note what happened over the Mississippi River Bridge after Katrina where local law enforcement prevented refugees from crossing the river.

Many point out that in the north, if TEOTWAWKI were to happen in the winter, most would freeze, not starve. This is probably fairly certain outcome. Economic panics seem to develop in the Fall, meaning the winter would be a fairly likely time for an economic collapse to occur. Preparing to heat your house or remote location without power is fairly easy. This would limit the Golden Horde as many would freeze in place and limit the distance traveled of those that do leave. This would lower the effective population density of the north.

A study of the history of medicine came to a conclusion that it was not until the 1930s in which a person was probably helped more than harmed by seeing a physician. Antibiotics were the main reason for this. Other studies indicate that plumbers have saved more people than physicians by improving sanitation. I am not certain about the second statement but the point is valid. Sanitation needs to be a prime concern, mostly with respect to clean water. Prevention of a disease is better than treating it. Infections could be treated fairly well with a few antibiotics which have a long shelf life. Most human to human only infections are viruses and since nearly everyone is now vaccinated to most of these, and travel would be limited, these should not be a big problem for many years post TEOTWAWKI. Most bacteria are not specific to humans and antibiotics would be worth their weight in gold. Although any antibiotic would be valuable post TEOTWAWKI, Doxycycline should be included in any pharmacy. It would be effective against tick borne infections as well as Brucellosis from infected meat and milk, chlamydia and malaria. Some of these are bacteria that are inside the host cells and other antibiotics would not be helpful and the bodies immune system is not good at fighting them. I relearned this by an infection that I received while backpacking for three days. I am normally very careful to check for ticks every evening after being outside. But while backpacking, this was not done as I was tired and did not remove all my clothing. After returning to civilization I noticed a lesion that ultimately turned out after becoming very ill to be Tularemia (this was in Wyoming). There are several more common similar diseases Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever being the most common. As people would be outside more and personal hygiene would suffer these infections would be common. These infections become chronic or fatal. Most other infections would be fought successfully by your immune system, an appropriate antibiotic would be helpful but often not needed. I do not have great advice as to how stockpile antibiotics. Physicians would probably be more comfortable giving these as prescriptions than narcotic pain killers. I do not know anything about veterinary medications. Although narcotics may be nice and valuable post TEOTWAWKI, they are unlikely to be life saving.

One pain killer that would be very life saving post TEOTWAWKI and has a long shelf life is aspirin. This should be the first stocked drug. If you have a heart attack and you take an aspirin you cut the risk of dying in half. Do not take it if bleeding is an issue so after in injury it may not be a good option.

If you really think that narcotics are important, remember that opium, the mother of all narcotics was and still is made from poppies grown in temperate climates. I do not know what is legal but you can by poppy seeds to eat or plant. In case you do not take my advice and buy aspirin when it is cheap and legal, you can try making it from willow bark.

The first medical book someone should get is the Merck Manual which covers nearly everything. It is written for professionals but is easy to read. Many of the treatments may not be an option post-TEOTWAWKI but it is mostly based on science. Remember that until the 1930s most people were harmed more by medicine than helped. Most survivalist related, back to nature, talk of old treatments that are not effective. There is a lot of concern about people taking chronic medicines, not able to get more medicines. About half of these would not be needed as they are directly or indirectly related to overeating or smoking which would be self correcting so worry about other things.

The other area of medicine that made a big difference in life expectancy is obstetrics. Until the early 20th century, men outlived men because of child birth. Until recently the advise to women was to not gain more than 26 pounds. This was based a on pre-C section study from Germany which would be very important post-TEOTWAWKI. Folic Acid and iron supplements are important in early and late pregnancy. Iron supplements should last forever. In the Middle Ages, a iron nail was placed in an apple for a day before a pregnant woman was to eat it. Folic acid has an unknown shelf life but of course is provided by vegetables.

If a women has previously had a C-section and needs to deliver in a less than modern health system, a vaginal delivery [VBAC] would almost certainly be better that doing a repeat C-section in a less than ideal situation. There are no good easy options as to how to deal with a failure to deliver naturally post TEOTWAWKI. If you have figured out clean water, food, heat, security and sanitation, study obstetrics. The first vitamin deficiency noted by sailors on a diet without fresh food was scurvy, from Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is found mostly in fruits and some vegetables. Apples have been the traditional source of Vitamin C in Europe and North America in the winter because of their long shelf life. Pure Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin C, has an shelf life of many decades. GNC and other nutrition stores sell this.

Salt was extremely valuable before the modern era. In some areas gold and salt were of equal weight value. Ancient salt mines in Europe have evidence of many thousands of years of use and traded goods from many hundreds of miles away. You can grow everything your body needs, but not salt. It is cheap now and if you keep it dry never spoils. Get table salt with iodine to prevent goiters if you live in an area with low iodine concentrations. The Non radioactive iodine in it may also be important if radioactive iodine finds its way to your location. Salt blocks for livestock may be an okay long term option for livestock and humans. Salt for water conditioners does not have iodine but would be useful most of the time.

Another historical fact that seems to have slipped past preppers is that Thomas Edison developed the iron-nickel battery for electric vehicles. Some of these have been running 100 years. I have ordered one but do not yet have experience with them. It seems that with solar panels and a iron-nickel battery system your children will always have power. These do not freeze, making them especially good for remote northern locations.

Mr. Rawles,

My name is Christian and I live in California. I have been reading SurvivalBlog for some time now. I am currently serving in the National Guard. I was wondering if you knew why California does not allow Big Berkey filters and most ceramic filters to be shipped to California. Do you have recommendations for another one?

As you well know, California is in a grave financial situation--one that could have catastrophic consequences. Prepping in California has been a way of life because of earthquakes, and recently wildfires. Thank You. Sincerely, - Christian R.

JWR Replies: Your question went beyond my expertise, so I consulted the owner of Directive 21 (A British Berkfeld water filter distributor), and this was his response;

The “no lead law” basically stipulates that any device used for water filtration/purification for the intent of human consumption, and any and all of its components, must undergo testing by an independent lab in order to certify that the device and all of its components and raw materials are lead-free, especially if it reduces lead. Research conducted independently by the manufacturer (New Millennium Concepts- NMC), regarding the two acceptable certification standards, indicates that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has not reached a conclusion upon the protocols which will need to be followed in gaining certification status. DTSC is responsible for product review and certification. NMC has taken a proactive role in working to discover the path which will allow them to resume offering the product within California, while maintaining the privacy of proprietary production and prices within the reach of the public. NMC attempted to gain clarity to meet the January 1st, 2010 deadline, but were not provided the necessary information, as a result, “strict-compliance” was recommended and pursued. Essentially, the “no-lead law” places significant financial burden on the manufacturer, creates areas of unnecessary compliance, and offers no protection of proprietary practices, nor does it guarantee that the “inspector” will be accountable for any violation of privacy, potentially exposing the most sensitive parts of a manufacturer’s business to all of their competitors!

The preceding is an independent summary of content posted by the NMC, and the following is the statement issued by NMC: “Therefore, we have reluctantly decided that until clarification is given [by the bodies imposing certification on manufacturers] on a whole host of unanswered questions, as of January 1, 2010, we suspended sales of all Berkey® water filtration and purification products in the state of California. This also means that our dealers worldwide will not be able to ship Berkey® water filtration and purification systems to California residents. “We will continue to monitor the situation and as we get clarification on the issues for which we currently are unable to obtain answers, we will be able to make a determination as to whether it will be practical to pursue the matter further….”

Your request for a recommendation of another water purification system other than Berkey® is unusual because Berkey® Products are unique in function and category. The degree of water purification offered by the gravity-fed Berkey® Systems and the Sport Berkey® On-Demand purification, is unmatched, although we recommend that the consumer look for certain aspects of functionality when choosing a device other than Berkey® for providing clean water for consumption. Some of the characteristics to consider include:

· Physical filtering of particulates and sediments.
· Any chemical treatment of microorganisms or the method of capturing pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, & other harmful pathogens
· Does it address heavy metals, potential carcinogens, nitrites & nitrates, Radon 222, VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, & other contaminants?
· Addresses treated & untreated raw water from lakes, streams, stagnant ponds, & other water supplies?
· Affordability
· Low-expense of energy to operate (ease of operation)
· Does the system remove beneficial minerals from the water?
· Ease of replacement (cost)
· Durability, compactness, lightweight

There are other aspects to consider but this list only reflects the Black Berkey® elements. It is a trustworthy and proven system of water purification. Its use as a reference would provide beneficial to any consumer looking to become educated in making a sound and responsible choice.

Although we do not ship products directly to California nor to Iowa, we do ship to other states as those states appear to be "business-friendly" in application of protections and support of options to a public in need of daily/emergency water purification systems. The Berkey Official Statement can be found in full here. [End quote]

I agree that the Berkey filters are some of the best available. Just as with the MTBE groundwater contamination fiasco, the career politicians and bureaucrats that govern California have a sad track record of both incompetence and heavy-handedness. It is best to circumvent such inept meddling. The best way of course would be to move from California to a free State! But of course having a friend that lives in another State take delivery for you also works. (The preceding should not be construed as legal advice--see my Provisos page for details.)

Hello JWR,  
I would like to post a brief observation from the most recent snow storm here in Minneapolis this past weekend as it relates to the "Golden Horde".  A very large storm system that started Friday evening and ended up dumping 18 inches of snow till Saturday evening.  It will go down on record as the fifth largest in the history and as you probably know it caused the Metrodome's roof to collapse.  I am a daily reader of SurvivalBlog and have been for some time now.  I have been making my preps for a few years now after finally waking up to what's going on and reading your books.   

On Saturday, I woke up to a good 12 inches of snow on the ground with it coming down pretty hard.  I decided to go out in my bug out vehicle (BOV) and have some fun because I wanted to see how bad the storm really was, how well my BOV handled in extreme winter conditions (granted I already knew this from hunting every weekend), and I also wanted to see how other people were reacting to this same situation.  I do live right smack dab in the "urban Jungle" of downtown Minneapolis.  (I know it's not recommended but for work and many other reason I have too)  Based on the social differences I have noticed of people living "downtown" I was not surprised at all how ill prepared everyone was.  I helped pull many cars out of the snow banks along the snow emergency routes so people would not get towed and the plows could get through.  Just about everyone I was helping dig out their cars were poorly dressed for winter weather.  I had even made a point of asking everyone I came across if they had basic winter weather clothes?  The answer was no.  Of course this really surprised me because the vast majority of the people had the money to spend on really nice cars and expensive condos but don't even own snow pants?  This is Minnesota!   

Just based on these minor observations, including many conversations asking multiple questions "survival situations in a lite tone, if/when a SHTF scenario happens during the winter months I believe there could possibly be a few extra day lead time to bug out of the city just for the simple fact that so many people are truly un-prepared even to spend a few hours outside during the winter months.  I think most will shelter in place at first and "Hope" someone comes to help.  After they figure out that FEMA or no one else is coming to help, then all bets are off.   - K.J.

I enjoyed the recent letter on motorized bicycles. I found this discussion forum thread which is packed with simple tips for making your bike motor much more reliable. It has tips like which nuts to replace, where to put Loc-Tite, where to lube, and so forth.

Regards, - C.D.V.

N.J. doctor supplied steroids to hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters. (A hat tip to Chris M. for the link.)

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B.B. pointed us to: Tea Party Charter: Defense of Property & Revival of Virtues Equals Liberty

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Étienne de la Boétie (a pen name) has kindly made available a Survival Retreat Operations Manual. While nor perfect, it may be a good starting place for groups that want to write their own. (Note on the included photos: Somebody needs to re-package that bagged rice in buckets!)

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Global Eruption Rocks the Sun. (Thanks to Richard S. for the link.)

"A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." - Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Because my preparedness course is now out of print, we are substituting it with a new prize for this and subsequent rounds of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The new prize will be expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value. These products are American-made and designed to last for many years.


Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 32 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I observe that a good deal of survival related information is centered around gear, politics, guns, BOVs, BOLs, BOBs, how to plant a garden on the south slope of a rocky mountain in the wintertime using solar panels to warm up the non-hybrid seeds and so on ad nauseam.  Meanwhile the most basic, primary, and must-have survival skill is largely ignored.  What I’m referring to is personal, hand to hand self-defense.  Now I know what a lot of you are thinking, especially the CCW guys and gals out there.  “If someone messes with me I’ve got a surprise for ‘em.”  Concealed carry is a wonderful thing, but it should not be the sole method of self-defense.  “Defense in depth” is a phrase you should already be familiar with and it should apply to your person as well as your home.  As gear-laden as you may be there are times and situations where we have nothing but our hands, our brains, and our warrior spirit to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  What if you’re at the pool, the beach, the gym, a bank, a Federal Courthouse or walking to your car from work?  What if someone grabs a hold of you or sucker punches you before you can draw, flick off the safety, aim and squeeze the trigger?  What if you run out of ammo or there are multiple assailants or the tool just goes click instead of bang? 

You see what I’m getting at.  Not only is the ability to defend one’s self without weapons a vital skill, but the warrior mindset that comes with training your body to defend itself carries over to every single aspect of your daily life and survival preparations.  I can only speak from my own humble perspective, which is shaped by my experiences and which for brevity’s sake I’ll describe as many, varied and hard for even me to believe in the retelling of them.  I live very close to the Texas/Mexico border and have all my life.  Street fighting here is like the national pastime and I started as a white boy in public housing and rose to the top of the local scene. For a time I dedicated my life to martial arts and I was blessed to be able to train with some of the best martial artists in the country. 

The most important thing of course is not to get into a fight in the first place, especially without a weapon.  If this happens you have failed miserably and there’s a decent chance you’ll die or maybe spend the rest of your life with an IQ of 50, both of which have happened to people I know.  A lot of avoidance is common sense stuff, i.e. don’t get drunk in public, don’t drive aggressively, and don’t escalate a minor thing by mouthing off.  Hold your damned temper in other words.  Stay away from bad scenes and bad people.  If you’re attacked unprovoked and can’t flee you better have some training and forethought.  Some of you are naturally good fighters and will stand up well to the challenge.  Most will not without training and preparation.  Even I’m in the latter category and the most highly trained people still lose fights.  There is always somebody better, luckier or more devious so start training now and get your wife, kids and your mother involved.

You won’t learn what you need to know from this article or any DVD course.  Get into a gym, dojo, dojang or boxing ring and do it yesterday.  There’s no reason not to, Karate schools and boxing gyms are in every strip mall in the country it seems.  Every martial art has something to offer and you’re best trying a couple of them and seeing what you think is most practical for your age, gender, conditioning, etc…  It’s more about the teacher than the style so ask around and find someone who teaches practical self-defense.  Interview the instructor like he’s applying for a job not the other way around.  Stay away from these new Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dojos popping up everywhere unless they also teach a lot of striking.  Some grappling/wrestling training is important, but wrestling on the ground is only good for getting back on your feet and grabbing a weapon.  You can’t wrestle multiple opponents and you can’t wrestle even a single opponent with a knife so don’t try it.  You have to train to fight a larger stronger opponent and more than one of them so you need to approach self defense scientifically and logically.  There are no ancient Chinese secrets.  You must learn kinesiology and human anatomy and bilateral symmetry.  You have to learn to attack soft body targets with hard body weapons.  Learn how to throw a correct punch with the top of your hand in perfectly flat alignment with the top of the ulna using only your two front knuckles for impact.  Learn how to keep a fluid and moving 45 degree stance which opens up your weapons and closes off you targets.  Learn the correct parts of foot to kick with so you don’t break the darned thing.   Be practical about yourself and your limitations to begin with.  If you’re a 90 pound person with limited upper body strength then don’t waste your time training to stand and trade punches with a 250 pound gorilla.  Learn how to use your car keys or your two fingers to gouge out an eye and plan to bite carotid arteries and kick groins.  Find out what the Xiphoid Process is and how to exploit it.  You have to be serious about training and learn to weave it into your daily life. Remember that practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. 

Once you begin to do these things and learn how to better protect yourself I promise you will feel better protected than if you went out and bought ten of the latest whiz bang survival gadgets.  You will learn that the level of fitness you attain as well as the fundamental principles you learn will translate effortlessly and seamlessly into many other aspects of your life and survival preparations.  If you can shoot well then you will begin to shoot very well because shooting is a martial art in its purest sense.  The exact same principles of muscle memory, focus, elasticity, and environmental awareness apply to both shooting and fist fighting, which are essentially two versions of the same thing.  The exact same techniques you learn for unarmed self defense also translate into armed self defense with blades and blunt force weapons.  I’m a gear head like many of the rest of you and I’ve got the retreat, vehicles, larder and other things that are essential to emergency preparation, but I also have confidence that if I’m caught unawares and without all my gear, I can essentially take care of myself and that is priceless.

Now that I have hopefully convinced some of you that self defense training is a worthy addition to your survival/preparedness regimen allow me to add a few warnings.  Don’t jump into the deep end your first day.  Even though some simple and valuable things can be learned right away this is still a large undertaking and it will take time.  If you think you are going to be Bruce Lee or Matt Hughes right away you will only be disappointed and more likely to not stick with it.  Take your time, work on your basics over and over and enjoy the learning process.  Do not over train and injure yourself.  If you feel uncomfortable with the other students or the instructor at the school you chose just choose another one or get private lessons.  Oh yeah, don’t sign a contract right away for 6 months worth of lessons at some big flashy black belt factory.  The uglier and more informal a place is the more likely it is to be oriented towards practical self defense.  In fact, try boxing if you have a good gym near you.  I’ll take one good boxer over three Tae Kwon Do black belts any day because they train harder, they hit harder and they train to take hits.  I know we don’t all live in a large city with lots of options so just tailor this information to your situation.  If you are truly isolated then go ahead and get that DVD set, it’s still better than nothing.  If you have kids then by all means sign them up.  I promise you won’t regret it.  It is the discipline and self respect my martial arts training gave me that got me out of public housing as a kid and into the beautiful home I have now, no question.

As a last thought I would like to remind you that knowledge, once attained, does not rust, go rancid or get stolen. It is something which can be passed on to others, bartered, or sold in perpetuity.  Knowledge is the five loaves and two fishes in our survival pantry and with that said; Don’t you think it’s time to stock up?


I've been a follower of your writings since you wrote your shareware novel "The Gray Nineties". After seeing some recent postings on SurvivalBlog regarding communications, I decided to write you.

I have been a licensed Amateur Radio Operator since 1984. Before that I was a "skip shooter" on the 11 meter band. My Army MOS was 13E. I'm presently a Certified Electronic Technician working in the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) industry.

Survivalists who use tactical radio communications, whether it is CB, MURS, FRS, marine band, or VHF/UHF ham, need to be aware of a police scanner technology called either "Signal Stalker" or "Close Call". This is a near-field detection and intercept function that is available in inexpensive (under $200)  police scanners which allow almost instant (2 seconds or so) frequency determination and monitoring of radio signals. With handheld radios, this distance is about 1,000 feet. With high-power base stations, the range can reach a mile with the right antenna. It doesn't matter where in the spectrum you try to hide, a COMINT operator with this readily-available technology will find you in a matter of seconds and in short order be listening to you.

Furthermore, even at extended distances, current police scanner technology is at about 100 channels per second. That means that a COMINT operator can scan through the entire 2 meter ham band in about eight seconds. I have a list of about a hundred common handheld VHF and UHF radio frequencies (including FRS, MURS, and GMRS) used by handheld radios. It takes a second to scan through them all with a regular police scanner.

I advise SurvivalBlog readers to look into finding surplus (Motorola) LMR radios that support encryption (DVP-XL or DES-XL) and the respective key loader. These radios can be programmed up with GMRS (UHF) or MURS (VHF) frequencies and used legally on those frequencies. When TSHTF, users can then turn on the encryption.

Other options include the use of Nextel/Sprint "Direct Talk". This off-network communications mode uses frequency hopping on 900 MHz and won't be picked up by police scanners. Motorola and Trisquare also make frequency hopping radios that operate on the license-free 900 MHz. band.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
As a devoted prepper, I have been trying to be diligent in practicing what I preach.  This past weekend was a bit of an eye-opener for me and should be for most of my fellow travelers.  In anticipation of future gas shortages and the impossibility of maintaining reasonable security while running a chain saw, I recently purchased a one-man, 36 inch, made in Germany, crosscut saw.   Saturday morning, I spent a couple of hours building a sawbuck.  Then the education began.  

At this point, I need to interject that I’ve been burning wood for the past 30 years and typically cut (chainsaw), split (hand maul) and stack 12-to-14 face cords of hardwood per year.  I’m in good shape and used to hard work.  In fact I also put a truckload of hay in the barn and went horseback riding before putting the new saw to work.   I went into the hedgerow next to my pasture and took out a fairly small ash tree and a section of a dead cherry tree with my trusty Stihl gas chain saw. 

I then cut them in sections which would yield three or four stove-length logs and sawed these lengths by hand.  After an hour, I had produced maybe three armloads of wood.  My arms were sore and my grip was shot.  I woke up pretty stiff on Sunday morning but finished sawing up my “pile” later that afternoon.  The soreness worked out and I felt fine on Monday.  I also found that if I cut every third log with my left hand that I could keep from over fatiguing my arms.  Still, it became abundantly clear that supplying my home with heat in this manner will occupy an hour a day year round! 

Sawing firewood, in addition to gardening, caring for animals, hauling water and providing security will be more physically taxing than most people can imagine.   I don’t find many truly committed preppers as it is, but of those that I have encountered (mostly in tactical weapons training), I’ve only met one or two that would be up to the physical rigor.  This is no joke.  I would estimate that not one percent of the general population is doing anything to prep for TEOTWAWKI while maybe 10% of preppers are fit enough to see it through.  Gear and even knowledge will be of little use to the ones that collapse from exhaustion.  As Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  That is truer for us than for the NFL players for whom he intended it. - F.M. in Western New York

I discovered motorized bicycles last year after going from and $80,000 annual income a year to zero.

I first saw a kid riding one in Los Angeles and asked him where he got it and the details. Turned out that a distributor of these kits was located up the street from me. After much research and trial and error, I found a Diamondback beach cruiser full size bike from Dicks sporting goods with a front fork that had a gas shock, for less than $200 on sale.

I then purchased a kit online and followed the instructions. Needless to say it didn't work right away.

After more reading on the troubleshooting section in the forum I upgraded to better chain, upgraded rear wheel and axle due to alignment issues and had a proper motor mount fabricated with rubber washers to reduce the vibration.

The result was a bike that I rode all over Indianapolis Indiana last fall.

I discovered that in Indiana, under 50 cc engines do not need a license to ride on the road. Downside was the 25 mph speed limit on these machines. My kit was 66 cc; but I never had anyone check it and the police pretty much ignored me.

I even used it on the bicycle trails, since the stock motor was so quiet, I would peddle along and occasionally when I wanted a burst of speed I would just pop the clutch and give it some gas.

I avoided running high speed on the nice paved and mostly unused trails to avoid unwanted attention. When the time came to use the streets, I was able to keep up with traffic doing a estimated 30-35 mph. Most automobile drivers were unaware that my bike was motorized and would pull risky maneuvers to get around me at times; even when I was dong the speed limit.

When cold weather came in the fall, I continued to use the bike till the first snow. The engine is two stroke gas; running 87 octane unleaded, an approximately 50-to-1 gas-oil mix and a dash of Marvel Mystery Oil to keep the engine from gumming up. Synthetic two cycle oil should not be used with these engines.

All new kits come with a catalytic converter in the muffler and should not smoke much if at all.

The engine is very simple mechanically. It is started by peddling the bike to about 5-7 mph with the clutch engaged and the carb choked. Release the clutch gently to start the engine spinning. Engine will start to fire after a few seconds and run a bit rough for a few hundred yards until the engine warms up. Do not give it any throttle until then. When the engine starts running smoothly, un-choke the carburetor and gently give it gas to accelerate. When the engine is fully warmed up you can make full speed.

To stop, press the kill switch that grounds out the spark to the frame, and engage clutch.

66 cc (advertised as the 80 cc model) engines are rated at 2.8 h.p. and will go up to 3.2-3.5 h.p. after being broken in.

Typical motor bicycles get between 50-150 m.p.g. depending on load, speed, driving habits etc. I am a rather big man and weigh close to 300 pounds (nearly all muscle). This kit engine moved me along on the flats at a good speed and a afternoon of fun riding used about a half gallon of gas. If you had to travel a long distance with only pocket change expenses or if inflation made auto driving very expensive then this would be a good way to go.

These motor kits can be adapted to tricycles, recumbent bikes, and can easily propel a combined weight of rider and cargo of more than 300 pounds.

For more information, see this motorized bicycle forum. Regards, - M.B.

Marty Weiss: Warning: Muni Bond Chaos Imminent

The Fed’s Contrarian, With a Wary Eye on the Past

I found this sign of the times linked at The Drudge Report: Grave Robbers Steal 400 Urns From Cemetery

A big electronics retailer's stock drops 14% in one day: Best Buy’s holiday fumble.

Items from The Economatrix:

Shoppers Shunning Credit Cards  

Roubini Sees Roots Of Next Crisis  

Eric Sprott's Double-barreled Silver Issue  

David H. sent us this: The new hungry: College-educated, middle-class cope with food insecurity.

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Mullen: Risk of War Rising on Korean Peninsula. (Thanks to veteran content contributor KAF for the link.)

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Reader Paul G. sent this story about a Neighborhood Watch lapsing into Roy Bean-style vigilantism: In Mexico, a legal breakdown invites brutal justice.

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Life imitates art... This description of New Detroit by Mish Shedlock sounds like something out of Paul Verhoven's Robocop movie: Detroit is Halting Garbage Pickup, Police Patrols in 20% of City: Expect Bankruptcy in 2011. Here is a quote: "In a futile attempt to stave off the inevitable (bankruptcy) one last time, Mayor Bing's latest plan is to cutoff city services including road repairs, police patrols, street lights, and garbage collection, in 20% of Detroit..."

"The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or, in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments, have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." - The Federalist, #84 (Attributed to Alexander Hamilton)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I noticed that we've just surpassed 25 million unique visits. Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. Please continue to spread the word to family, friends, and co-workers. Just putting a small link to SurvivalBlog in your e-mail footer or on your blog or web page will greatly increase our visibility. Many thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

My interest in ultraviolet (UV) light systems began a number of years ago with the introduction of a UV system in the discharge effluent stream of water at the wastewater plant where I work. If it works in water I thought, then why not air! The removal of pathogens from the water was most impressive and a mystery, So I hit the books and the Internet to learn more.
Here is a light summary of what I learned:

The sun generates ultraviolet rays. These rays are natures way of purifying the air. When sun passes thru a prism it’s broken into its component colors, thus giving the colors of the rainbow. Each color in turn has it’s own wavelength.
Ultraviolet light has three specific wavelengths that have particular applications:

UV-A is the source of suntanned skin, With its relatively longer wavelength, can penetrate the atmosphere. Applications include tanning beds and treatment of some skin diseases.
UV-B is in the middle wavelength of the ultraviolet spectrum and has principally been used to treat skin diseases.
UV- C or short-wave ultraviolet radiation, is used to destroy bacteria and other biologic containments in the air, in liquids and on surfaces. This is the area of my interest and study and use!

X-rays, BTW, are adjacent to UV-C on the spectrum. (They have even shorter wavelength).

It should be noted that the aforementioned are not all of the wavelengths available. Certain short-wave UV energies can be created by specially designed UV lamps, such as Ozone.

I learned that for many years the medical industry has been using UV light to sanitize rooms and equipment.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends UV lamps for their germicidal effect.
Through firsthand lab testing, I have seen the effect UVC has on pathogens (bacteria) in water. It renders them sterile.

So How Does it Work?

Using UV lamps provide a much more powerful and concentrated effect of UV energy than can be found naturally.
UV-C rays break through the outer membrane of microbes like yeast, mold, bacteria, viruses, algae. When the radiation reaches the DNA of the microbe it causes modifications. The DNA then transmits incorrect codes, rendering the microbe sterile and thus unable to reproduce.

Many industries utilize this type of process. Understand that  I am not advocating that all microbes are being destroyed or sterilized in this unit! Only that through my use (Private and Professional) that I have seen a reduction in the overall colony count of microbial life forms. I use this system as just another line of defense in cleaner purer air. To put it into a simpler form, would you rather have to deal with hundreds of thousands of bacteria or hundreds?

My research found that UV light air purification systems were available and being used in schools, commercial  buildings, federal buildings, many places.
Now that you have a light understanding ( pun intended ) of Ultraviolet Light you can see how I put this information to use to help better protect all my loved ones.

How I Used UV
The ability to protect yourself and loved ones from biological intrusion is a many-layered thing we all are preparing for: chemical suits, positive pressure safe rooms, filter masks, OTC medications and prescriptions to name a few.
Never being satisfied with the amount of space in my safe room (NBC-protected), I decided to see if  I couldn’t incorporate a germicidal Ultraviolet Light System and positive pressure environment in my main living quarters to use as first line defense against poor air quality. I was off and running.

I knew since I constructed it, that my house was sealed exceptional well. Little did I know until I used a Slack tube manometer and did a static test with the air handler running and the house closed up tight. I had a negative pressure of .45" water column vacuum. I concluded that I needed a fresh air return duct if I was going to use my air handler to try and pressurize the house.

My heating system uses a four speed motor (switchable) on the squirrel cage fan unit. All readings were taken with the fan set on a speed of med-high, resulting in a standard cubic feet per minute (scfm) rate of 1,170 cfm. My home has a combined cubic foot measurement of 4,940 cubic feet, thus resulting in the turnover rate of once every 4.2 minutes.

So, doing the math on the unit's scfm capacity, and taking advantage of the variable speed motor I came up with a needed 60 to 75 sq. in fresh air duct to compensate for the tight construction [of my house] to bring my static pressure to 0. With full confidence in my math, I started. Next I needed filtration, HEPA filters of course. (I must state here that I’m working on a better filter arrangement than this but it’s sufficient for the time being). I installed one filter through the floor.

I then re-tested the static pressure. The static pressure in the house dropped to zero with one fresh air filter installed. The second took it to .2" positive.

Here were my results:

  • One filter  = Equalized pressure       
  • Two filters  =.2" positive pressure              
  • Three = .45" +  positive pressure   

Things looked pretty good at this point. I installed a third filter and the pressure went to .45" positive with the in house air return in the full-open position. However, I still had a few concerns about air return temperature through the heat exchanger of the unit during the winter. But I pushed on.
I took a pressure reading from the slack tube at this point from the outside ambient pressure against the inside pressure with the air return in the full-closed position.
My pressure system looks pretty good @   .35” positive pressure running state.
Next, after researching the various light systems available I decided on the Calutec Blue UV, 72 watt, 2 bulb system. The system was designed for a 2,000 square foot house, but I have only 1,200 square feet. Bulb replacement cost is $18 ea. and the manufacturer says yearly replacement is advisable. Through personal hands-on experience, I’ve found that UV lamp life is reduced significantly after about 5,000 hours and I plan to replace them at that time on my system.

Having a raised platform on my heating system the return air duct was the perfect location for installation. The unit looked easy to install and would give me all the protection I felt could be attained with any such system. The return air and the fresh make up air would both be treated by the UV system before exiting the duct work with the fresh air being run through a HEPA filter. There are various locations for the unit and each has its merits depending on [the climate and] the configuration of the individual's system.

I received the unit.  I read the manual and then installed the unit. It was a very straightforward installation with minimal electrical work.

Safety Warnings
Here is a good point to tell you that UV-C light is nothing to play with:
NEVER expose eyes or skin to the UVC light from any source. Looking directly at UVC light can cause retina damage or even blindness. Only install unit in a closed area or duct system.
UV Lamps contain Mercury.  As a kid, 50 something years ago mercury was cool to play with. It is a wonder that many of us are alive today. Use all necessary precautions if exposed to possible Mercury contamination from a broken bulb or any mercury for that matter.

So that was that, just another line of defense added to an expanding arsenal of personal protection apparatus.

Since marrying Jim, I've started watching some of his collection of movies on DVD. Jim says that seeing them will help give me "a common frame of reference". A few of them he even considers survivalist training films. I suppose that the endeavor will also keep me from giving him odd looks when he quotes lines from his favorite movies out of the blue.

Recently, I've watched:

  • Big Trouble in Little China. Parts of this movie really creeped me out. Yes, it seems John Carpenter (the same director who made The Thing) couldn't resist including horror elements in even this supposed light-hearted comedy. I hated this movie! Let's face it: Its a guy movie. Oh, and it is one of Jim's favorites.
  • Blast From the Past. A hilarious film that requires some serious suspension of disbelief. (For example there were not thirty years worth of logistics squirreled away. That would have taken a pantry room at least ten times that size.) I really liked the clean and wholesome parts of it. It had one annoying gay character that was obviously added for the sake of political correctness. It is perhaps unintentional, but this movie makes a very strong case for homeschooling.
  • Buckaroo Banzai. It is a science fiction comedy cult classic that defies description. Jim says that to be fully appreciated, this film must be seen at least three times. I've only seen it once and unfortunately by coincidence, I had a very bad stomach ache during it, so I did not get to fully appreciate it at the time. Jim quotes this movie a lot (as much as I quote The Sound of Music :)). He even squeezed the line "So what, big deal" into the first chapter of his new novel. (It is the first sequel to "Patriots", now in the final editing stages, and scheduled for release in about 10 months.) I need to watch the movie two more times, because frankly, Jim quotes it a lot and I'm not privy to these inside jokes. He just gets a blank stare out of me when he says: "What's that watermelon doing there?", or "Hey man, what's in the pink box?"
  • Defiance. This movie was loosely based on the book by Nechama Tec. It shows (with some typical Hollywood embellishments) the true story of the Bielski partisans in Byelorussia, during World War II. This was an inspiring film and I do recommend it. But it has lots of bloodshed (cover your eyes, block your ears until those scenes are over), so it is not a movie for kids.
  • A Room with a View. Oh my goodness! Now this is movie that ladies can relate to. It is a costume drama/comedy. It has excellent acting, great location shooting in Italy, and a very witty storyline. (It is based on a great E.M. Forester novel.) It has some brief nudity (male nudity, I was surprised to see. In American films you never see fully naked guys!), so it is also not one for the kids.

We have some travel planned over Christmas, so that will give me a chance to delve back into my stack of books. I'll have another update on my latest books, next week.

This was an excellent article.  I was on the right track but it was reassuring to see an M.D. confirm it.  Thanks.    I just wanted to pass along a warning of sorts as it relates to Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) because I know Preppers like myself tend to have unusual shopping habits.  We not only buy a seemingly odd assortment of items all at once, but we probably buy them in larger quantities and with greater frequency than the average shopper.  This is simply for the fact we are stocking the products for future use rather than replenishing them as we use them.   Some people in society manufacture an illegal drug called methamphetamine and they use Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) as one of their primary ingredients. 

To help curb the production of the illegal drug many retailers across the nation now keep it locked up and require ID with signature to purchase it.  Some states have even passed laws which impose daily or weekly purchase limits of this cold remedy.  Legally purchasing a box or two under such tightly-controlled conditions will not put us at risk of being in trouble with the law, but buying more than a few primary “meth lab” ingredients in the same shopping trip can put us at risk of arrest.  According to Methpedia, some of these other ingredients needed for a meth lab are lithium batteries, steel wool (a great fire starter), starting fluid (ether), plastic storage containers, duct tape, coffee filters, aluminum foil, funnels, rubber (or surgical) tubing, thermos bottles, propane tanks, camp fuel, portable heat sources like hot plates and camp stoves, Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol, acetone (fingernail polish remover), sodium hydroxide (drain cleaner), salt, and cat litter.   It’s not easy to spot a meth lab operator on the street, but they need supplies to stay in business so they are most vulnerable when standing in the checkout aisle.  Store security staff are the tipsters who actively work with police to catch potential meth lab operators who are known to buy certain products repeatedly and frequently.  Unfortunately, Preppers also buy many of those same products repeatedly and frequently.   

If you (as an innocent Prepper) earn the attention of Store Security through your unique selection of purchases then they will start building a case file complete with credit card information gleaned from the cash registers and license plate numbers acquired with store security cameras.  Those cameras at the checkout will also be used to acquire an image of your physical appearance.  A simple phone call tip to the police could result in you being investigated by a city, county, or state-level police detective as being a possible meth lab operator.  What other purchases will your credit card reveal to an investigator?  Firearms?  Large quantities of ammunition?  Tactical gear?  If enough evidence exists, a search warrant could be obtained and served upon you.  How is it going to look when they find many of these “meth lab” ingredients stored in your home at quantities which far exceed what is “reasonable and customary” for the general population?   Law enforcement officers have also been trained to identify the makings of a meth lab when conducting traffic stops.  They will probably not be concerned with a box or two of Sudafed, but they will go on high alert if they see a certain combination of key ingredients in the back seat after a shopping trip.  If law enforcement has a reasonable suspicion to do so, based on the combinations and quantities of certain items being present in the vehicle, they can make an arrest under the charge of “intent to manufacture”.  In all likelihood, it would be difficult for them to convict an innocent Prepper having no prior criminal history based on such little evidence; yet the time in jail, loss of income, legal expenses, and tarnished criminal record could have a negative impact on preparation plans.  If a conviction were to be handed down by the courts then know it would be a felony which can severely impact freedom, including gun ownership rights.   

Be especially mindful of retailers who offer a plastic discount card which is scanned at the register.  Those discount cards often require a name and address be submitted by the card holder, meaning they know exactly who you are and where you live.  Every time the card is scanned the card holder is authorizing the recording of all their purchases.  The retailer uses this information to study the shopping habits of customers and to make legitimate business decisions, but law enforcement has been known to acquire and use this purchase history to investigate meth lab suspects.  If an innocent Prepper is falsely arrested for “intent to manufacture” following a routine traffic stop, law enforcement could easily obtain a conviction if the suspects recorded purchases includes a higher-than-normal purchase quantity and frequency of the items mentioned above.  Again, Preppers are at a disadvantage here because they often do buy these things in higher numbers and with greater frequency than the general population.    

If at all possible, when purchasing emergency supplies, don’t use discount cards which record the transaction and link it to you by name.  That information can later be used against you, even if you are innocent of all charges.    Use cash rather than credit card, debit cards, or personal checks.  Approach shopping just as you would “no impact camping”, meaning there should not be any evidence or paper trail  linking you by name to a particular purchase.    This becomes difficult if products are ordered online, but at least be aware the transaction is being recorded for long-term reference.  If you need, say, 4,000 rounds of .22 ammunition; then it might be a better idea to buy it with cash in smaller quantities from several stores over a longer period of time.  Likewise, if you need 500 Sudafed pills, consider buying them with cash as single-item purchases from several stores over a very long period of time.   When purchasing emergency supplies take care not to acquire too many of the above listed items in the same shopping trip.  The ["plain view"] contents of your shopping bag can be used against you during a traffic stop, so keep them covered up from prying eyes. - M.E.R.

I recently mentioned the good news that my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" is presently on sale at for just $6.98. But the bad news is that due to its popularity, they are limiting customers to just three copies per order.

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Reader Ben. S. sent a reminder for readers in the U.S.: Anyone enrolled in a Health Savings Account (HSA) should expend their set-aside funds for 2010 on OTC medical supplies before December 31st.

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My recent mention of the proposal to make the Model 1911 the State Gun of Utah inspired a SurvivalBlog reader in Tennessee to write his legislators, asking that the Barrett M82A1 .50 Caliber Rifle be proclaimed as the State Gun of Tennessee.

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Hooray! U.S. Health-Care Law Requirement Thrown Out by Judge

"If the Democrats believe Clinton's tax increases led to a boom economy and Bush's tax cuts destroyed the economy, why do they want to extend the Bush tax rates?" – Rush Limbaugh

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Jim:
Regarding force multipliers, you touch on early warning with SIGINT, HUMINT and night vision, but I would argue that more immediate early warning through intrusion detection or perimeter security should be stressed as well:

If you are not aware of the bad guys approach, then all your other defensive measures are for naught.  Even just having a minute to muster a defense, instead of 10 seconds, could make all the difference.  Imagine an early warning on the approach of intruders at O-dark-thirty, with your entire team wide awake and suited up in defensive positions, vs. waking up to the sound of gunfire to mount a defense.

Some examples of perimeter security to give you early warning:

• Electronic motion detectors, or ground sensors. [Typically either passive IR or seismic.]

• Electronic hearing amplification. [JWR Adds: The Walker Game Ear hearing aids are very compact and have automatic noise suppression, so they work like electronic ear muffs.]

• A trip wire connected to tin cans, or a chemical light stick (visible light or IR) or blank cartridge. [JWR Adds: Magic Cube photographic flash cubes can also be set off, using a paper clip and a trip wire. It is quick and easy to use clear packing tape to attach them to a post, tree, or large bush. Magic Cubes are no longer manufactured but are still often sold on eBay and Craigslist.]

• Military grade thermal imaging scopes would be the ultimate for your OP, but are still $10,000 plus, the last time I checked

• Don't forget the obvious - a cleared field to approach your homestead versus an overgrown field. How have other folks dealt with this issue?  What worked, what didn't?

Regards, - OSOM


Regarding force multipliers, I would like to mention body armor.  Obviously, protecting the main target area on the body "puts the odds in your favor" as we say.

Being in the business of selling body armor (I run BulletProofME) I am obviously partial to ballistic protection, but no less an authority than Boston T. Party lists body armor, along with night vision and secure radio communications as “... An order of magnitude advantage”. (See his book Boston on Surviving Y2K .) - Nick

As of Monday, December 13, 2010, my preparedness course is now officially out of print.


Today we present a guest article by Dr. Cynthia J. Koelker, a frequent content contributor to SurvivalBlog.

Are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs really worth stockpiling?  As a family physician my answer is a resounding yes.  Most of the following were actually prescription medications when first released.  (In higher dosages, several still are.)  Although other OTC drugs are worth considering, these ten have been selected due to their ready availability, affordability, safety in both adults and children, and multi-use potential.  Used alone or in combination, they can effectively treat dozens of conditions including:  headache, fever, sore throats, ear ache, menstrual cramps, heartburn, arthritis, ulcers, diarrhea, allergies, hives, congestion, dizziness, mild anxiety, nausea, vomiting, poison ivy, athlete’s foot, ringworm, eczema, insomnia, backache, gout, diaper rash, yeast infections, and many more common illnesses. 

1.      Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) - Among the OTC anti-inflammatory medications, ibuprofen is probably the most versatile.  Primarily indicated for pain and inflammation, it may also be used to relieve headaches, earaches, sore throats, sinus pain, stiff neck, muscle strains, menstrual cramps, arthritis including gout, and back pain.  It is also effective at reducing fever and is generally safe for use in children.  It is not advisable for most stomach-related pain, although may decrease the pain of kidney stones, kidney infections, and possibly bladder infections.  The most common side effect is stomach irritation or heartburn.  When combined with acetaminophen it is nearly as effective as codeine, tramadol, or hydrocodone in relieving more severe pain. 

2.      Acetaminophen (Tylenol) - Acetaminophen is the only OTC pain-reliever that is not an anti-inflammatory drug.  It will not irritate the stomach like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen.  It is useful for the same conditions as ibuprofen, though effectiveness varies according to patient.  As mentioned above, it may be combined with ibuprofen in full doses for more severe pain.  Side effects are very few, though in high dose, especially when combined with alcohol, it can lead to liver failure.  It is available in several pediatric dosages, both for pain relief and fever reduction.

3.      Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) - An inexpensive antihistamine, diphenhydramine is primarily used for drainage due to respiratory infections and nasal allergies, in both adults and children.  It is also indicated for hives and itching, including itchy rashes such as poison ivy.  Although not all patients become drowsy when using diphenhydramine, many do so, making this medication useful for insomnia as well.  Some people find the drug relieves nausea or mild anxiety.

4.      Loperamide (Imodium) - The most effective OTC medication for diarrhea is loperamide, which is available both as tablet form and liquid for children.  It is often useful for relieving intestinal cramping.   

5.      Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) - Pseudoephedrine is effective at relieving congestion of both the upper and lower respiratory tract due to most common causes including infection, allergy, chemical irritation, and mild asthma or bronchitis.  It frequently has a stimulatory effect, similar to caffeine.  The most common side effects are those resembling a burst of adrenaline:  rapid heart rate, palpitations, and increased blood pressure.  Years ago this drug was used in young children, even babies, though now most pediatricians do not advise it in patients younger than about six years old. 

6.      Meclizine (Bonine, Dramamine) - This antiemetic drug is available both over the counter and by prescription.  It relieves nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, and vertigo-like dizziness.  For some patients it causes drowsiness, and therefore may be used as a sleep aid.  It is related to medications for anxiety and may help with this as well.

7.      Ranitidine (Zantac) - Although several medications are available OTC for the treatment of heartburn, ulcers, and other acid-reducing conditions, ranitidine is among the best-tolerated, is inexpensive, and is also useful for relieving hives. Doctors often advise an acid-reducing medication such as ranitidine for patients who experience stomach upset when taking ibuprofen, though this must be done with caution.

8.      Hydrocortisone cream - The 1% version of hydrocortisone is the strongest steroid cream available over the counter.  It is safe for use in both adults and children in treating inflamed and/or itchy rashes such as eczema, poison ivy, diaper rash, and other minor genital irritations. 

9.      Bacitracin ointment - This ointment is best used to prevent skin infections when the integrity of the skin has been breached, as by an abrasion, laceration, insect bite, or sting.  It also may be used to treat a superficial skin infection such as a mildly infected wound or impetigo.  It is less likely to produce a topical skin allergy than other topical antibiotic preparations that contain neomycin.  It cannot be used to treat deeper infections, however, which generally require an antibiotic by mouth.

10.  Clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin) The same antifungal medication, clotrimazole, is contained in both Lotrimin and Gyne-Lotrimin.  Gyne-Lotrimin may be used to treat both female yeast infections and any other yeast or fungal infection that Lotrimin would treat, including athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, diaper rashes, and skin fold irritations.

For under $50 total a good supply of all of the above can be purchased.  Several of these medications are also available at higher doses by prescription, and may actually be less expensive if obtained from a physician (ranitidine, meclizine, loperamide, and diphenhydramine), even paying full price.  All of the above drugs and many more are discussed in detail in my book, 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care. The book 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.

JWR Adds: Dr. Koelker has recently started a new blog on TEOTWAWKI medicine at

In the past 60 years military organizations of First World countries have often dominated their foes in combat because they've taken advantage of Force Multipliers. These are technologies or tactics that dramatically increase ("multiply") their combat effectiveness. These multipliers are typified by electronic communications, aerial bombardment, intelligence gathering, rapid troop transport, electronic warfare, force concentration, and the use of precision guided "smart" munitions.

Similarly, I suspect that in a post-collapse world, Constitutional law and order will best be reestablished by those who stand ready to employ force multipliers of their own. These will likely include:

  • Uninterrupted radio communications to provide a rapid response security network. (I dubbed this The Neighborhood Watch on Steroids.)
  • Night vision (Starlight) equipment.
  • Flares. 26.5mm flare guns and Czech military surplus flares are presently fairly cheap and plentiful, but will become a precious commodity in TEOTWAWKI,. Stock up, especially on parachute flares to provide illumination that will give you the when defending ground at night.
  • Human Intelligence (HUMINT). Know what is going on in your neighborhood and region. Keep informed, and always keep your ears open. Take advantage of existing social networks.
  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). At the minimum, buy a couple of multi-band scanners. Having a spectrum analyzer that will allow you to visualize (and rapidly tune to) the spikes of your opponent's communications would be a huge plus.
  • Long range weapons. In the civilian world, the .50 BMG is the clear choice for "Reach Out and Touch Someone" situations. Here in the U.S., .50 caliber is the bore diameter limit for military chamberings, unless you pay a $200 Federal transfer tax.
  • Guerilla tactics. Acquire key reference books, such as Total Resistance, Guerrilla Strategies, and Guerilla (by Charles W. Thayer).
  • Legal explosives and flame weapons. To start, do web searches on Thermite and Tannerite. Depending on the situation, these can be used in less-than-lethal or lethal modes.
  • Psychological Operations (PSYOPS). At the minimum, be prepared to use pamphleteering. Refrain from using heads on posts.
  • Off-grid power. Develop photovoltaic and micro-hydro power so that you will have electricity, even when everyone else in your region is living by candlelight.
  • Secure communications. Organized opponents may monitor CB, FRS, and GMRS communications, but using MURS or Marine Band can make interception less likely.
  • Operational Security (OPSEC). Stay hunkered down at your retreat and what and you have, and what you are doing private.
  • Cached food, fuel, and ammunition supplies. Stored food will give you the ability to avoid risky travel. Stored fuel will give you a mobility edge on your opponents, if and when you do travel. If you still have vehicles but your opponents are on foot, then you can "get there fustest, with the mostest."

Think through some likely situations and the force multipliers that you could prepare to employ. And, as always, avoid breaking the law. A Federal prison is a very bad place to be when TSHTF.

As you read my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and as you work your way through the SurvivalBlog archives--best accomplished with the Search box--be sure take notes on potential force multipliers.

Once you have a list of force multipliers that are within your budget, then gather the references, lay in the tools and supplies, and finally practice the requisite skills.

Dear Editor:
There is a wonderful source for free e-books called Project Gutenberg.  The books are free because the Copyright for these books has expired in the United States. (They may still be copyrighted in other countries). So anybody may make verbatim or non-verbatim copies of those works.  

This is a wonderful source of information.  They will even send free cds and dvds that have as many as 29,000 books each if you request.  You can find books on a multitude of 'How To' subjects from a time when doing it yourself was the only option.   

Of course you can find many of the literary classics including Shakespeare and original writings by and about our Founding Fathers as well.  

When I ordered my DVD, I received two copies.  One for myself and one to give away to a friend.  They encourage making copies and giving those away too.  Check out the CD and DVD Project link at the bottom of the page to download or request copies to be mailed to you.  

They offer many opportunities to contribute if you aren't in a situation to donate money (neither of which are required).  It definitely is worth anything that you can do to help this project that is working to provide knowledge to everyone who wants it at no charge.  

Regards, - Teka

Several readers pointed us to this New York Times article: A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives

Patron Mark mentioned some commentary about the debt problems in blue states that makes a compelling case that severe hard times are inevitable.

Cheryl N. sent this: Why Use Gold As Money?

Social Security advocates fear payroll tax cut. (Thanks to Sue C. for the link.)

Bram flagged this news item: Australia Overhauls Banking Rules

B.B. sent this: Jim Rogers: Fed understates inflation

B.B. sent this: China’s Gold Imports Soar Almost Fivefold on Inflation Concern

TAC in Illinois mentioned: "A 50 pound bag of white rice at Sam's Club is now up to $19.47. Up almost three dollars in the last couple of months."

Dr. John Waterman will be hosting a two hour show on The Prepper Podcast about herbal medicine. That show will air on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Central Time.

   o o o

I just noticed that has dropped the price of my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" to just $6.98. This is their lowest price ever, so it would be a good opportunity to get a short stack, for Christmas presents. (Hint, hint.)

   o o o

H1N1 virus returns, already claiming lives of 10 British adults with early signs that illness has spread to other European countries. (Thanks to KAF for the link.)   

   o o o

F.G. sent this: Representative Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman [, Utah], wants to declare the Browning model 1911 .45-caliber pistol Utah's state gun. F.G.'s comment: "What's not to like? (A lot, if you're a anti-gun Tribune reporter.)" FWIW, your editor would like to make the birthday of John Moses Browning a National Holiday.

   o o o

Also courtesy of F.G.: Top 10 States People Are Fleeing: New York, Illinois and Louisiana are expected to lose more residents than they gain this year. Given California's budget crisis, I suspect that California will soon join the list. Speaking of fleeing, I've had five different blog readers and consulting clients mention that they are making mid-winter relocations to Idaho or Montana. That sort of action only comes from strong conviction. This by the way parallels the recent moves by Chuck Baldwin's entire extended family, also in the dead of winter, to Montana. Obviously, some folks are feeling the need to move, immediately.

"Most of the central banks have a lot of Ph.D.s, with no real world experience. They have read books, but have not been in the trench to "feel" what it is truly like. This is why government employees rarely have anything worthwhile that will ever contribute to society. There is not a single economic statistic that is even valid, no less any plausible guide as to what is going on. There are manipulated so much to try and influence the 'public confidence' that it becomes a joke." - Imprisoned economist Martin A. Armstrong

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The publisher's on-hand supply of the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course has now sold out. However, the publisher will still honor the sale price and take orders until midnight Sunday (Pacific time). But for any orders that are received in the last few hours of the sale, customers will have a 3-to-4 week wait to receive their orders. As of Monday, December 13, 2010, the course will be officially out of print.


Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I know that I would be preaching to the choir telling SurvivalBlog readers to have a well-stocked survival library but I just can’t help my self.  I’ve read most of the archives and I must admit I was unable to find exactly what I was thinking about in terms of building and maintaining a survival library.  Everyone that is even a casual reader of this blog knows that knowledge is far superior to having a lot of neat toys and gizmos. The truth is, knowledge is king when it comes to survival, and knowledge can only be obtained in basically three ways: trial and error (experience), other people (apprenticeship) and from books (study). 

When it comes to the area of survival, experience is the worst way of learning something because life is usually on the line.  The next best way of learning about survival is to know someone that is an expert, as of yet I don’t know any experts personally.  So that leaves finding information that has been written down and learning from it.  Books have been historically recognized as one of the most influential tools in teaching people and because of this they have also been recognized as one of the most dangerous.  Throughout history evil dictators, evil organizations and cults have taken great pains to prevent people from reading “dangerous” books.  Books contain ideas and ideas are dangerous.  The survival library that I am suggesting will focus on three different but equally important areas; Skills, entertainment and ideology.  I’m going to look at each one of these areas separately.

Skills—this is the first place a survivalist should have invested in concerning survival skills.  Books that cover things like survival in the wild were the first on my shelf because it’s interesting (and the show ‘man vs. wild’ might have had something to do with it).  When I started I bought every book on the subject.  I now consider myself an expert on starting a fire with two sticks (and a lighter), building a expedient shelter and finding north using my watch (which I don’t own).  I noticed though that after a while I was very heavy in survival situation books which I never used because the only out doors I saw was from my front door to the car.  I then discovered the exciting world of prepping.  I have started to buy books on all sorts of skills that could be used in TEOTWAWKI, things like gardening and animal husbandry were educational and will be very valuable one day.  There are many areas that are more than just survival but they are going to be useful for the rebuilding of society.  Just to make it easier I’ll make a list other things that I have started to or will be added to my library.

  • Soap making
  • Shoe making
  • Candle making
  • Wood gas conversions for vehicles
  • Manual machine design and construction
  • Paper making
  • Retreat construction
  • Weapons smithing
  • Blacksmithing
  • Cheese making
  • Beer and wine making
  • Canning and drying food
  • Making antibiotics (I own it and I don’t understand it…but someone will)

You get the idea that to rebuild society we will need skills to do this.  It’s sad that we have lost the ability to do certain things that were once done.  For instance did you know that in the middle ages they could make stained glass windows with such pretty colors, and they can’t be duplicated today?  The ability has been lost.  Of course who cares about some stupid pretty glass but what if some of the skills that we have today are forever lost?  We could be heralded as a truly wise man if we had the forethought to preserve these skills in writing for future generations!   

The next area of importance is the area of entertainment.  While we give this a cursory head nod, it is not really an important issue, if we look at what is written in SurvivalBlog.  Just stop and think about how entertainment oriented our society has become then this area will take on new meaning and importance.  Our highest paid people in America tend to be actors, sports stars and cartoon characters, which should show what importance this area has on American life.  While a book is not the same as a movie it is very close.  The movie is by far and above less valuable than a good book.  You’ve heard that the book was better than the movie?  That’s because the movie represents something less.  The theater that we have in our mind is better than any special effects or actors skill.  Some of the greatest books ever written were mainly written for entertainment purposes.  I personally have a printed copy of The SurvivalBlog Bookshelf list with extra books mentioned in the blog and I am feverishly working on buying all of them, the list is over 12 pages long double column.  Entertainment will be something that people will need even if they don’t realize it.  The ability to leave our current situation, and take a mental odyssey to never-never-land, Narnia or the Land of Oz is so very important!  Especially in a situation where normal sucks, such a TEOTWAWKI or our favorite sports team looses, whichever. 

The final and most important aspect of a good library is that it offers ideology.  What I’m saying is that history is full of examples of books that have influenced all of society.  For example look at the changes the Bible has brought about; Vikings used to raid, rape and pillage until some of the women they brought back home taught them the truths found in the Bible, and their whole society changed.  They no longer went on raiding parties but started churches.  If you ever have the chance to read about the Sabine women it’s very interesting. 

A less positive example is Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf (My Struggle).  This book inspired an entire nation to rally around this young idealist and then to try and expand (growing room) eastward all the while killing six million Jews.  Ideas are the most important thing that can be preserved, more than food, guns and gear combined.  Ideas are what build every great society and also what has destroyed every great society.  America is a prime example of a people that had an idea and used to form a more perfect union.  Of course new ideas have come in and destroyed the once industrious nation into a nation of beggars.  Socialism is nothing more than an idea that when implemented ends in starvation. 

What we have here is an opportunity to shape the society after the end of the world into a society that will be strong based on ideals that have been proven to work.  Ideas like the Christian work ethic (Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson, Little House on the Prairie), charity (A Tale of Two Cities, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ ), Sacrifice (The Chronicles of Narnia, Captains Courageous).  The list goes on and on.  The fact is that most of the great influential novels of our history were written from a Christian point of view.  Of course we don’t know that because we don’t read the books anymore.  There are many people that think that the book ‘Ben Hur’ is about a chariot race and this shows that ignorance of the American people but it’s also our greatest opportunity.  We can influence how people think and subsequently how they will act.  It’s too great of an opportunity to pass up.  So go out and find the books that have influenced western civilization and buy them, one day they will be useful for the information, entertainment and most importantly of all, the mind changing ideas they contain.

An interesting trend to make note of: Here in the Great White North, ScotiaBank (one of our Big Five banks) sells physical bullion through it's investing arm: ScotiaMocatta.   I simply walk to the main branch in my municipality, make an order at the bullion desk, pay cash, and walk out with a number of 1 ounce silver bars (or whatever precious metal suits your tastes. I find gold too cumbersome at $1,420 per ounce to be useful for trade/barter WTSHTF...)  

As of last week, the 100 ounce silver bars were no longer available either online, or through the bullion desk at the main branch here in town.   Now, neither are the 10 ounce silver bars.  And I'm told that, if their mint is making them, it's going to take a while as they're having problems with fulfillment shipments of raw silver.  Wondering when the 1 ounce bars are going to reach the same conclusion...   Keep Your Powder Dry, and God Bless!   - J. in the Great White North

I have made something similar and would agree it is and easy and cheep way to make a reliable stove.  In my instance I have used Altoid cans and I personally like the size and having the lid attached.  I like that there is no "where did I put that lid" problems. - Jason H.

Hi Jim and readers,
Brian C. mentioned his stove. I was  fascinated with the dryer lint stove idea,  I do it a little different, many many years ago, and a long long time ago, I learned a similar way of making a stove, but we used a alternate method using long strips of corrugated card board box material  cut just a little narrower than the tuna can, and wound very tightly into the tuna can, and using paraffin for fuel. They work very similar to Brian's stove, and spread the heat quite well. I use a lot of wax in my business, So every now and then I make up a few stoves, and place them in my G.O.O.D. bags.  One stove is good for about one meal, or warming a tent.  I think they would be great as part of small kits made up for charity as mentioned in one of the other pieces I read today. Blessings and Merry Christmas, - Dave M.

David C. suggested a good interview with John Williams of ShadowStats, wherein he outlines the case for hyperinflationary depression in 6-to-9 months. 

Regulators close banks in Michigan, Pennsylvania. The number just goes up and up...151 banks thusfar in 2010. (Thanks to Kelly D. for the link.)

Glenn Beck Warns of Food Riots, Martial Law & Gun Confiscations. (Thanks to H.W. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Gold, Silver, Copper Hit Record Highs On Weakening Dollar

It's Not IF The Euro Collapses, But WHEN

Zero Permanent Jobs Were Created By The Stimulus

Global Bond Route Deepens On US Fiscal Worries

Newsweek asks: Are We Running Out of Antibiotics?

   o o o

Reader F.J. suggested: How to Make a Secret Book Safe

   o o o

Camping Survival has added several interesting new products to their line.

   o o o

Reader F.G. sent this: "An acclaimed outdoorsman who wrote movingly about testing himself against nature is presumed dead after a crocodile snatched him from his kayak while he led an American expedition from the source of the White Nile into the heart of Congo." K.T.'s wry comment: "Sadly, his 'test against nature', failed. He and his friends also failed the 'Carry a very large caliber handgun on your belt in Crocodile Country', test."

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJV)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course is only rarely offered at a discounted price. While supplies last, 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 before it goes out of print.


Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This easy to make tool has been in my inventory for 30-plus years. It has come in handy while camping as a scout, serving in the Marine Corps and even on the ground in the Gulf Coast as a First Responder after Hurricane Katrina and during Hurricane Rita.

Once assembled it is primarily a stove, but a bit of its contents can be cut away and used as a fire starter, and--if the area is properly ventilated--a heating device. That’s right, a single, self contained, water proof unit consisting of just three materials of which many of us have and throw away.


  1. Dryer Lint (About a one-pound coffee can full)
  2. Empty 12 oz. Tuna can (Clean and dry)
  3. Wax (Approx. 12 oz) [JWR Adds: Plain paraffin is available wherever home canning supplies are sold.]


  1. Fry Pan
  2. Small Pot
  3. Stove
  4. Water
  5. Small stick (Popsicle type. I use my fingers but the wax is obviously hot!)


  1. Place an inch or so of water in the fry pan and bring to a mild boil.
  2. Break or cut wax into small pieces and place into the pot.
  3. Place Pot into the water and allow the wax to melt.
  4. Pack as much lint into the tuna can as possible.
  5. Slowly pour wax over the lint. The lint is going to absorb the wax and contract.
  6. Continually add lint. One tuna can will hold almost all of the lint that you have collected.
  7. Once the tuna can is almost full, top off with just a bit of wax.
  8. Let the wax cool and harden. I place it in the fridge to expedite the process. Even in the fridge it will take several hours to cool thoroughly.

Once assembled the total weight will be approximately 12.5 ounces.

How to use
Acting as a wick the lint burns the wax just like a candle. The Flame base is wide, almost the circumference of the can used, so it’s large enough to make quick work of a plate of food or a pot of snow. Take your utility knife and pierce the contents about a quarter of an inch and gently pry up creating little peaks you can easily light.
 If you are having trouble getting that fire started, just grab your handy knife and carve a bit of the lint and wax away and place it under your kindling.
With wax as the fuel source once this handy item cools it is also water proof. I will admit it is a bit heavy however for three days in the field about half a can will work.


Different containers, e.g. an empty shoe polish can, will make a smaller stove with a lid. A larger can will burn much longer allowing for larger items to be heated.

JWR Adds: All the oft-repeated safety provisos on open flames and stove ventilation apply. Also, keep in mind that once ignited, you are dealing with liquid paraffin, so it will create a napalm-like burning puddle if the stove is tipped over. So show great caution when using your stove. Once you are done cooking, it is best to snuff it out by covering it with a tight-fitting steel lid. And of course let everything cool down completely before moving the stove.

I wanted to share some info on food prep. I'm sure you know about Shelf Reliance but I wanted to mention them to you and their great resources. I am trying to start prepping food and found their site a few months back. Yesterday, I went to their site to try and figure out how much of what I will need and what it will cost.

They have some good tools and packages in there for general prep and emergencies. They also have some decent medical supplies and kits too. Under the "TOOLS" tab, you can use the THRIVE Planner to set up your family and food needs based on each person’s age and daily caloric intake needs. You can even specify what percentage of the package is ready-to-eat entrees (such as macaroni and cheese or linguine and meat sauce) and what percentage is freeze dried food. You can add in drink mixes and basic cooking items like salt and sugar and what not. You can even set what your monthly food prep budget is and set up a monthly program. Once I entered in my family needs and the duration of anticipated need, it auto-generated a plan consisting of a variety of grains, fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, and so forth. It will group everything by type and you can swap out items that you may not like or may be allergic to. I found this tool great for me since I don't know as much about food storage and planning as I would like. They know their products and what a person needs and put the package together for you. It is also handy to be able to put in $200 per month for food and they will break the package up and set up a recurring monthly plan to get me everything and will show me how many months it will take at a given budget.

In addition to the food, they have food rotation storage systems, recipes to use with your prep food, emergency kit planners, and general emergency/prep information.

I was also enjoying browsing their emergency supplies which seem very extensive and include supplies for cats and dogs. I have already put together several kits for hurricanes and bugging out for my family and pets. - Ford M.

We post SurvivalBlog's IP address (also referred to as a "dotted quad" or IPv4 address) as a sort of insurance policy. Recent events have proven that a government agency or a malicious hacker can fairly easily seize or hijack a domain name. This has already happened to at least 75 U.S. web sites without due process of law. Their DNS records were changed, essentially erasing them from the "phone books of the Internet." To insure against this, we are distributing our IPv4 address. This can be pasted or typed into a web browser window in place of ""

What you need to do:

Take a pen and write down our dotted quad address:, and please carry that in your wallet.

If and when "" disappears, or if it is replaced by a graphic and a message from a bureaucrat or a hacker, then enter our dotted quad IP address into your web browser. That way you should still be able to to continue to access SurvivalBlog, as long as our server is still functional.

If "" doesn't work, but our dotted quad IP address does work, then please send an alert with the dotted quad notation IP address to all your friends and relatives via e-mails, IMs, forum posts, phone text messages, or social networking services. Be sure to include the full address: Do your best to then spread the word, far and wide!

In the months to come we plan to implement some additional Continuity of Web Service (COWS) insurance measures, including an offshore mirror site and perhaps even a darknet setup. We will post details as these features are developed.

Mr. Rawles,
I have often thought about the dire situation a fall may bring in a sans medical treatment facility scenario. In the western novel Jubal Sackett, by Louis L'Amour, Jubal finds himself in the wilderness with a broken leg and cursing himself for not being more careful.

Though the article references falls from structures, I thought the ability to tie a Swiss seat may help an individual in either an urban or wilderness environment. ITS Tactical puts out a great knot tying series on YouTube, and the Swiss seat may be a quicker and cheaper alternative to purchasing a harness or just going without one. I hope this is a help. - Jeremiah Johnson in Florida

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I just got a link to a New York Times article about geotagging through Michael Yon's web site, but with the New York Times date of August 11 2010, you may have seen this already. Regards, Albert U.

I have been using the Exif JPEG header manipulation tool for several years.  A batch file can be written to remove EXIF data from all images in a folder.  I have my wife do this before she uploads her photos to Facebook. Regards, Lee H.

Rahn: Folding the Fed. (Thanks to John for the link.)

B.B. recommend this piece: How Far Will The Gold Correction Go?

C.D.V. and Roy G. both suggested a piece by Alfred W McCoy: Taking Down America (How America will collapse by 2025)

Fed's QE Ponzi Scheme begins to Backfire

Items from The Economatrix:

Euro Collapse "Possible" Amid Deepening Divisions Over Bail-out  

Still Asleep To The New Economic Reality  

UK:  Overdraft Charges Soar to 19%  

Gold Likely To Hit $1,600 in 2011 - Credit Suisse  

David in Israel mentioned: Ask the Rabbi: The right to self-defense

   o o o

Chris M. recommended an article about recognizing psychopaths in our communities.

   o o o

Another accidental invasive pest import: Stink bug numbers 'explode' along East Coast. It will be catastrophic if these get out to the fruit orchards of the west coast.

   o o o

Michael Panzner reports on Obamaville homeless camps: 'It's Ugly Out There'

"I began to sense faintly that secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy ... censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, this you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives." - Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course is only rarely offered at a discounted price. While supplies last, 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 before it goes out of print.


Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.  

My wife and I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and we have been in serious preparation mode for about a year now. Let me explain what I mean by serious preparation: I am talking about creating a defend in place (bug-in) plan and a bug-out plan along with identifying and obtaining the necessary resources to carry them out.

Understanding how to Hunt, fish, trap, raise livestock, garden, can and preserve food along with the necessity of having an alternate heat and readily available water sources are still a way of life in the Appalachian Mountains. My gardening is the most vital resource for food availability, I could write an entire article on gardening for preparation. For now I will just say that I use heirloom seeds and some hybrid seeds. I keep them in my freezer until ready to use this keeps them fresh. I always have a supply of various seeds on hand. In a without rule of law (WROL) situation seeds may be more valuable than gold. Until the last few years our main concern has been natural disasters, i.e. snowstorms, flash floods, thunderstorms, tornados and the like, so we like many others across the nation are raised in a culture which teaches us to be prepared for the unexpected. Also our heritage is one of being a self reliant people relying heavily on our Christian faith and each other. I feel we are blessed in the area of understanding preparation.

Where my wife and I fell short was the realization that in a TEOTWAWKI situation people will be stealing, looting and scavenging without regard for human safety or life. About a year ago I realized our weakness and began to establish what I call defend in place, some call it “bug-in” so I began evaluating my property and home for adaptation, this is what I wound up with. We have a small home, about 1,000 square feet of living space with a full basement. I only had one access to the basement and it was outdoors, I immediately saw that was a real problem. I began looking for ways to create an indoor access, without remodeling the house along with a means of better securing the outdoor access. I removed an old abandoned in place floor furnace, kept the floor grating and built a set of steps from the opening into the basement. I then made a swing open access door that can be locked in place from the basement, while unlocked it can be opened from either side and with the grating in place and the door closed it looks like the opening has been attractively boarded closed and the grating used as a floor covering. By the way I sold the old furnace for scrap metal and had enough money to finance the project. I built a new door for the outdoor access out of two 3/4” pieces of plywood and used barn door hinges on the inside with security hasp padlocks on each side.

Why worry so much about the basement? I’m glad you ask, my basement doesn’t have windows, instead I have four 8” x 12” vents, if they are removed these make excellent observation ports for my hilltop location and if necessary shooting ports without providing an access point for any troublemakers on the outside. I have a small wood stove down there for supplemental heat and alternate cooking means for my propane camp stove. For an alternate lighting means we have propane lanterns and candles. I also store a supply of food down there (right now we have several weeks of canned and dried goods). I have ABC fire extinguishers and I am looking at a few gas masks with eight hours of cartridges. These would be for short term use by those using firearms in a defensive situation. Others may need to cover their face with wet cloth to help filter smoke or gas. Right now I have a basement that can serve as a bunker if necessary and we can even accommodate our married children and their families. This would give us the ability to function as a compound with security 24/7.

A co-worker of mine introduced me to the bug-out concept and we realized we were not prepared for this either. So I took an inventory of what we had on hand measured it against what we needed and quickly figured out we had everything, we only had to organize it into a bug-out bag(s) and plan. I now have a main pack with tent, sleeping bags, and clothes, two types of fire, folding saw, cook kits, leg hold traps, connibear traps and related items in it. I have a secondary pack with 3-to-5 days of MREs and food supplies in it. We also have a medical kit (not first aid) my wife assembled. She is former Army medical and has been a tremendous help with not only the medical side of things but also with planning and application. We have an older small pop-up camper that serves our camping needs and now fits into our bug-out plan just fine.

I can’t leave out self defense. Having a heritage in hunting and the outdoors I have at my disposal an assortment of hunting firearms that can also serve as a means of self-defense.  I realized it is impossible to take a cache of firearms on bug-out. My wife and I decided on a 12 gauge pump shotgun with choke tubes a .22 rifle and a .30-06 bolt action rifle along with three handguns. A .357 Magnum revolver for me, a 9mm pistol for her and a .22 revolver for general purpose use. I will carry the .357, she will carry the 9mm and the 22 revolver is in a hard plastic case for packing. For ammo we have a load bearing vest already prepped with ammo ready to grab and go.

Now that you know a little about our inventory let me discuss our plan with you. Concerning our defend-in-place scenario it is pretty simple since the basement is already supplied we would only need to move weapons and ammo in, lock it down turn on a radio (AC or batteries) or television if power is still on and organize the area for the situation at hand. The food we have stored in the basement is in five gallon containers they are easily stacked and don’t take a lot of room and they store quite a bit of canned and dried goods (food dehydrators and vacuum sealers are great investments). [JWR Adds: I discuss both of these in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course.] The five gallon buckets when empty can serve many other uses, i.e. planters, toilets, water containers, just to name a few.

Concerning a bug-out situation; first let me say that a bug-out situation is possible for my location but not really probable. In the event we had to bug-out I would hook up the pop-up camper; this takes me about two minutes. Then move the two packs the med bag and ammo vest to the truck. While I am doing this my wife is gathering the firearms along with five gallon buckets of food from the basement, the camp stove and lantern along with a five gallon bucket filled with propane canisters and candles. While doing all this I am carrying the .357 and she is packing the 9mm. We can do this in about five minutes with our four-wheel drive truck loaded we still have room for others who need to go with us and their supplies. If we need to lose the camper we can use the tent and sleeping bags. If we need to lose the truck we can as well and back pack it.

When considering a bug-out you need to decide on where you’re going in advance, we selected three locations, one local, one within a hundred miles and one west of the Mississippi river, the type of event will determine which location we will move toward. When planning a bug-out have multiple routes picked out, use an old fashioned paper map and don’t depend on a GPS, under certain situations they may not be operable or they may take you the most congested route. Know the gas mileage of your vehicle when loaded and store enough gasoline to carry with you for the trip, this way you do not have to stop and risk safety or pay extremely high prices for gas if it is even available. You never know how bad things may be and how restricted travel may be having options will only increase your chances of safety and survival.

As I am learning my way through preparation I see it as something that will always evolve. One of the fundamentals is that all of us must have a plan ready to activate which allows us to be flexible with its implementation; I personally see this as an important component of preparation. Since we do not have a specific scenario to prepare for its imperative we have the ability to adapt and improvise for many different situations.

I want to change gears just a little, let’s not lose sight of charity; I am not asking for anyone to give away the farm only to do the best you can to help others during a TEOTWAWKI situation. Set aside something for charity, we know there are individuals in our community who for various reasons cannot do much for themselves and they will not have much to barter with when the time comes. I’m sure there are similar people in your area. This area of preparation is something each person must determine for themselves. There will be con-artists, men and women who will even sacrifice their children if necessary in order to get hold of food and supplies. It’s difficult to comprehend but those people do exist and we must be prepared to deal with them. Also there will be those in true need, orphans, widows, elderly and the disabled. It will benefit everyone to consider it and have a plan in place to deal with it. We have some pre-made packages that contain some food, hygiene supplies, matches, an emergency blanket and a home made fishing kit (hooks, line, sinkers and bobber) and a personal New Testament. This kit cost a few dollars each and may make the difference in someone living or dying.

Learning self-reliant skills isn’t difficult it does take creativity, patience and some practice. For instance you don’t need several acres to plant a garden. Ten inch deep by three feet long plastic planters are available at most home improvement centers, dollar stores or lawn and garden centers of variety stores. They will work great for a mini-box garden they can be used indoors or in a garage or basement moving them outside occasionally for daylight. Several of them can grow a variety of vegetables that are nutritious and flavorful. Also don’t try to be a mountain man, while that may seem adventurous it is for the most part not possible for the average person today. You don’t have to kill all your meat, as a matter of fact hunting is a very big waste of energy, most of the time you will expend more energy hunting than you will gain by the game killed. The question comes; what do I do about meat? The answer is simple raise it. With a few exceptions most people can raise chickens and rabbits for eggs and meat. Did you know that rabbit is actually a white meat and has more protein than chicken, if you have never eaten rabbit you have missed a real treat. Hunting and trapping is great for alternate meat sources and should be learned and done when safe and practical.

Use your head, think, plan; read different magazines, books and forums listen to various ideas and adapt them to your specific circumstances. Most of all remember God, pray daily, read the Bible for guidance and encouragement, if you will allow Him the Lord will help you prepare for the difficult days ahead. I hope there is something in this article that will help others adapt what they have for a TEOTWAWKI situation and still be functional for day to day living.

Since I have a background in electrical and electronics systems my current plans include a photovoltaic (PV) power system that can be used in house to supply low voltage power 12/24 VDC for lighting and power for CB radio, scanners or other devices that would make life more comfortable and safe during a difficult time. This PV system would be portable and could be taken with me in a bug-out situation. Or I could build a second system and install it onto the roof of my pop-up.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, preparation is an evolutionary process that will grow with your experience and location. We must once again learn how to learn so we can be creative and live a fulfilling life. In the event of a TEOTWAWKI event I plan on living not just surviving and I plan on being as comfortable as possible given the circumstances we are in. My prayer for everyone reading this is that you will be able to do the same.

An early winter here in the Pacific Northwest reminded me that cascades can get you into trouble and potentially kill.   “Cascades” are what I call the series of events that take us farther and farther from the safety of home and hearth.   Let me explain what happened to me just yesterday:   Yesterday, the temperature warmed to just above freezing for the first time in about three weeks.  During those three weeks, about two feet of snow had fallen.   My tractor developed a leaky rear tire, so I took it off to take it to town to get fixed.  The tire weighs about 350 pounds, so I got a neighbor with another tractor to use the bucket to lift it into my trailer.  After hooking the trailer (filled with snow I neglected to shovel out) to my 4x4 pickup I headed out my private road toward the county road.  Coming over my ice and snow covered bridge, I got just a little off track and tried to correct.  

Well, you recall I told you that the temperature was just above freezing?  I slid into the deep snow on the side of the road and sank my left front wheel.  Since I was already in 4-wheel drive, I tried to plow forward and get the truck back on the hard packed snow on the road.  No luck.  I tried reversing.  No luck.  I tried rocking back and forth.  No luck.  I got under the back seat to get my shovel out and dig out.  No shovel.  (I knew that I had one)  Then I remembered that I had left in the travel trailer which is in storage.  No luck.  Fortunately, I had my brand new tire chains with me.  I got them out and fitted one to the right rear tire.  It was then that I realized that I had changed tires on the truck and the chains were just barely large enough to fit the new tires.  

Digging with my glove covered hands, I scooped enough packed snow from the wheel well to almost get the chain on the driver side tire…almost.  Reaching into the box of supplies I keep under the back seat of the truck, I pulled out some 550 parachute cord.  Using the ten feet or so of cord, I made a rope by threading it through the links of the chain and wrapping the last third around itself.  With this makeshift rope, I was able to connect the ends of the tire chain.  I hoped it would hold as I eased on the gas and backed out of the hole I’d created while unsuccessfully trying to extricate the truck by rocking it.  Nope, couldn’t do it.  I had a heavy trailer attached to the truck and was trying to push it uphill.  Tried going forward too.  Nope, that didn’t work because the trailer exerted forward force on the truck as it tried to roll down hill.  The front tire just plowed deeper into the snow berm.  
So, I found a log, blocked the tires of the trailer and lowered the front stand, lifting the hitch off the truck.  So far, so good.  Back into the truck and easing it forward, I plowed the snow with the left front tire far enough that I could now back out onto the firm (but still slippery) surface of the road.  Made it!  With the truck on terra firma, I backed up to the trailer and hitched it up again.  Total time:  One hour and 45 minutes.  Oh, and by the way, this all happened when I was within 200 feet of my back door.  

So, the lesson to be learned, put succinctly, is one mistake can lead to another and another in a cascade that leads to failure or worse.   Here are some of the lessons this little incident taught me:  

1.  Make sure you have the equipment and supplies you will need in an incident.

2.  Check your equipment & supplies on a routine basis.

3.  Prepare for your trips –even the routine ones before you leave the garage.

4.  Redundancy is important.  While I had a pair of warm gloves; fine for keeping my fingers warm, they were inadequate for putting on chains and tying knots.  A pair of rubberized mechanics gloves would have made the job much easier.

5.  Cotton kills.  It was a warm day, so I had slipped into a pair of lightweight cotton long johns and a pair of jeans for my trip to town.  An hour and a half later, I was wet and chilled.  Normally, I carry a day-and-a-half pack with my necessaries.  (I don’t have to bug out.)  In the pack there are a set of military polypropylene long underwear and powder pants.  The pack was in the other vehicle.

6.  If you live in snow country, keep your chains/cables in the vehicle.  I keep mine in an old plastic gas can that got partially squashed.  I cut a hole large enough for the chains to easily be placed in and removed.  It keeps the chains ice free when they’re in the back of my pickup, has a handle and is easy to pick up and move.

7.  Practice putting chains on before you need them.  If they don’t fit, get some that do.  Don’t put it off. [JWR Adds: Also carry some short lengths of chain, stout wire, and a couple of boxes of Monkey Links (no longer manufactured but can still be bought as "new old stock"), in case you have to repair a broken tire chain, or improvise--perhaps fitting your chains on someone else's tires.]

8.  Take your time.  Being in a rush makes it more likely you’ll make mistakes.  Mistakes cost time and can cause injuries.  An injury might trigger a cascade and ultimately be fatal.

9.  It’s best to turn off the engine unless your battery won’t start it again  Being down by the exhaust pipe putting chains on can expose you to carbon monoxide.  The gasses probably won’t kill you outside.

10. If you’re in a remote area, don’t be reluctant to leave your vehicle and go for help before the situation becomes so dire that it’s too late.  Remember those folks in Oregon a few years back.  They stayed with their stuck vehicle on a road closed in winter until it was too late.  It was a sad event but one that can teach us lessons.

11. Men:  If the woman in your life is with you, chances are she’ll be pretty stressed out.  Have a talk with her before you start and when you stop to take a break.  This will keep her calmer and allow her to express her concern over the situation in general and over your safety.  Suggest that she get out of the vehicle and watch.  If you give her small tasks, she’s much less likely to feel panicky over the situation.  

In sum, don’t let little, seemingly minor, problems cascade into life and death struggles.  Take care of the little things before you get stuck.

Hello Mr. Rawles,      
I've been using your Pre-1899 FAQ web page to advise many auction sellers from whom I buy [Federally exempt] antique guns.

You invited comments or questions so here is my latest problem: An auction gallery in Indiana offered a pre-1899 S&W .32 Hammerless for sale. I won the item at auction and the gallery owner is of the opinion that State law prevents him from mailing the item to a non-FFL holder because it uses a currently available metallic cartridge even if it is pre-1899.

But when I go to what seems to be the state law in question it says:

"Antiques and Replicas -- The chapter of Indiana's code concerning regulation of handguns does not apply to any firearms not designed to use fixed ammunition or any firearms made in or before 1899..."

[Some deleted, for brevity.]

I would appreciate any light you could shed on this matter so that trade of antique weapons be not limited any more than what is required by the law.

Yours truly,  - Jim in Georgia

JWR Replies: You are not alone. I get several e-mails like yours each year. I also very regularly see online gun auctions listed where a do-gooder seller tries to amplify the law.  (With phrases like: "This gun is pre-1899 but for me to deliver it you need to have an FFL.") What nonsense! The law is the law.

In your instance, you note that the Indiana law states: "...not designed to use fixed ammunition or any firearms made in or before 1899." [Emphasis added.] The operative word here is "or", so the law exempts pre-1899 from paperwork requirements. Clearly, guns in both categories--both muzzleloaders and pre-1899 guns--are considered exempt.

One of the precepts of jurisprudence is the phrase: 'The black letter law", which is a terse way of stating:  The law is what the law says in black and white--no more and no less. The written law is generally unambiguous and known to all intelligent readers with a basic grasp of the language and therefore is free from any doubt or dispute.

I'd recommend that you bid only on auctions where the seller states forthrightly: "Pre-1899, no FFL required."

If the sellers wants to ask for proof of majority (adult age), and a signed statement that you are eligible to buy the antique gun, then so be it. Those are reasonable protections for the seller. But for someone to insist that a non-FFL item be logged through an FFL bound book is idiotic.  Is it legal or proper to log a BB gun or an iPod, or an automobile through an FFL bound book and Form 4473 "Yellow Forms"?  NO!  Neither should you log an antique gun that is built on an original 1898 or earlier receiver.  In the eyes of the law, a pre-1899 "antique" is not a firearm. It is outside of Federal jurisdiction, plain and simple.

To voluntarily self-impose extra restrictions is, to quote my handy thesaurus: "abject, adulatory, bootlicking, bowing, brownnosing, cowering, crawling, cringing, ingratiating, kowtowing, obsequious, parasitic, prostrate, scraping, servile, slavish, sniveling, spineless, submissive, subservient, and sycophantic." Pre-1899 antiques are one part of our lives where we can fully enjoy our liberty. For those that would unilaterally "amplify" the law, I say: Don't act like a slave, or insist that I act like one!

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney and the foregoing does not constitute legal advice. Consult an attorney licensed in your own state who is familiar with both Federal law and your state's firearms laws.


Hope all is well!  Hopefully everyone reading your blog will already be prepped for what is inbound....but in case some are not aware, AccuWeather is predicting incredible cold for much of the East and Southeastern US...all the way to Florida.   Everyone needs to be sure to have water, warm clothes, boots, blankets in their vehicles...especially for those transporting children.  Batteries and water pumps often fail in cold weather and to have such a failure in extreme cold can be life threatening if one is not prepared for the event!    Water in the fuel lines of vehicles will freeze in the next few days if it is in the system.  Treat your gas tank with 'Heat' or a similar product.  Keep your fuel tank full as condensation does not manifest as readily with a full fuel tank.  Full tanks of gas are not going to leave you stranded because you 'ran out of fuel' either!  

Homes need to be prepped and stocked for potential power outages; vents closed and insulated to prevent against freezing pipes and excessive energy (heat) loss; LP propane bottles topped off for emergency use/cooking; etc.   Household pets and Farm livestock....they are domesticated animals and don't fair well with cold extremes...the wildlife doesn't fair as well either but that is another issue.  Water is vitally important.  Dehydration is the first step the warm blooded take on the road to hypothermia.  Shielding against the wind and energy in the form of food for internal heat needs to be addressed as well.   In 10 days you will likely receive updates on "how my preps failed or succeeded when the temp dropped below freezing for five days." Until then, build a fire, read a book, enjoy the time at home with friends and family!  Don't forget your prayers...all we enjoy is from Christ Jesus!  - Matt in Tennessee


I'd like to add a couple of things to C.J.'s recent article about getting your soil ready. As C.J. says, adding organic matter to the soil is vital for gardening success.  He also mentions that this is has to be an ongoing task as organic material continually breaks down and has to be replaced. One of the most effective and quickest ways to do this for a garden of a few thousand feet or larger is to buy soil amendment in bulk form from a commercial landscape supplier.  You can have it delivered in their trucks or buy a cubic yard of two at a time using your own pickup or trailer.  Since you'll need three cubic yards of soil amendment per 1,000 ft. of garden, truckloads of 12-to-20 cubic yard aren't unusual. Check online or in the Yellow Pages  as to where the local yards are and do some homework before ordering.  Many types of amendment are usually available.  You can get well rotted manure, usually cow or sheep as horse manure often contains weed seeds.  Peat moss and grass clippings as well as slaughterhouse waste too, usually in a mix.  My  favorite was ground cow and peat that I used in business in Denver.  The peat moss helped balance the pH in the alkaline soil there.  Your local dealers will have the best idea of what you need in your local. Ground costs more than rough as you might expect but gives a better initial result.  If you do a fall till, then rough is fine since you'll be doing another till in the Spring.

If you plan of starting a garden in hard pan or virgin soil, or even in a large back yard lawn area,  do yourself a favor and rent a smallish tractor (Kubota is great) with a front end loader on one end and a tiller on the other.  It makes moving a dozen yards of manure and then rototiller it in a much less memorable experience.  Do always carry your tractor bucket low as these small tractors tip over easily. If a tractor isn't suitable, then use a rear tine tiller, not front tine.

One bit of advice I might also give: Businesses as you might expect get offered better prices and service than do retail customers. They also have access to wholesale supply outfits that retail customers don't.   If you want the best of both get yourself a business license, which is often a trivial exercise, then build up a small bit of a knowledge base to you can "talk the talk".    For those with many construction projects on the horizon, it can make a large difference in costs and build quality.  There can be tax, insurance and government regulation issues but these are often trivial as well, so it can be well worth it. - LRM in Perth, Australia

The Wall Street Pentagon Papers: Biggest Scam In World History Exposed - Are The Federal Reserve’s Crimes Too Big To Comprehend? (Thanks to Timothy R. for the link.)

Reader L.V.Z. sent this bit of conformation for the long-standing SurvivalBlog advice to buy physical precious metals and keep them at home: Jim Rickards: At Least One Swiss Bank Has Started Refusing to Hand Over Physical Gold to Clients. From the article: "All you need is a government order and 'gold' becomes something that isn't to be backed by real gold. At which point you'd be wise to have real gold in a treasure chest at home."

CBS Allows Fed to Spread Disinformation Unchallenged. (Thanks to David W. for the link.)

John R. recommended: Doug Casey on Bernanke: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (Part 1)

M.E.W. sent thisone: US Treasuries hit by biggest sell-off in two years

Items from The Economatrix:

From Bad To Worse:  The Economy Today, And Tomorrow  

Big Squeeze is On in Gold and Silver  

Spain on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown  

American Retirement Funds at Serious Risk of Being Seized  

US Military Prepares for Economic Crisis  

US Fiscal Health Worse Than Europe Says China Adviser  

No End In Sight To U.S. Economic Crisis As "Scariest Jobs Charts Ever" Shows Post-Recession Unemployment At Its Worse Since WWII  

Inflation Watch:

The Daily Bell asks: Inflation Bell Tolling for China?

SurvivalBlog reader Jon in New York noted: "Since May of this year, when I got my first batch of piglets to raise, the price for pig feed from my local supplier has gone up from $13 to $14 and is now $15 per 100 pound bag."

Tighter food supplies, high prices to persist.

Ivory Coast deadlock: Food shortages and price rises

El Jefe Jeff E. suggested this amazing video: A time lapse view of the World. Of course, what the narrator fails to mention is that all that wonderful health and wealth cane aboutr as a result of inexpensive and plentiful petroleum. The post-Peak Oil crash will put nearly everyone back down in the dreaded "lower-left corner."

   o o o

E.J.J. wrote to mention that he liked the copious useful content at the Practical Answers web site.

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Deb J. sent us this interactive map: Diabetes on the March. It is further proof that some regions are healthier places to live. (Note that there may be some inconsistencies, because of differences in monitoring and reporting. For example, the incidence data for Colorado seems out of range.)

   o o o

An update to my recent article about the Mayors Against Illegal Guns cabal. Another member was just convicted! Adam T. Bradley, the Democrat mayor of White Plains, New York was found guilty of attempted assault, harassment and criminal contempt. And then there's his connection to the son-in-law of "former" mobster Anthony Anastasio of the Gambino organized crime family. Hmmm... I wonder how quickly Bradley's name will disappear from the roster at Mayors Against Illegal Guns web site? (Note to Mayor Bloomberg: It is important to maintain a spotless sheen!)

"If anything, the private conversations of diplomats and security professionals paint a world even more dangerous than the one we usually allow ourselves to describe publicly. And there seems to be more consistency with this American worldview on the part of our friends and allies than is generally admitted. Quite an exposé. " - Gen. Michael V. Hayden (US DCI, 2006-2009), describing the 2010 Wikileaks Cablegate disclosures

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It looks like my Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course, currently on sale, will soon be going out of print for an indefinite period.  Jake Stafford, the owner of Arbogast Publishing (which publishes the course) tells me that after the current sale exhausts their remaining inventory, they will not be doing a new print run, and the course will be officially out of print.  This is due to Arbogast relocating its order fulfillment operations, and because of the very small volume that this publication generates. Because of the urgency to get your food preps squared away, and because there’s no telling when and if the course will ever return to print, I advise acquiring a copy of the course before the opportunity is lost. 


Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have been reading SurvivalBlog for some time now, and I have seen several articles on fire protection, and some mention of chainsaw safety, as well as other notes on being sure to safely use tools.  I have not seen, however, any topics regarding fall protection. 

In the post-SHTF we will be doing more repairs ourselves.  Things like patching the roof, modifying the gutters and downspouts to collect water, maybe installing those PV panels you bought.  In addition, more folks will be hunting, which can mean using tree hunting stands or elevated hunting blinds.  These situations present prime opportunities for a fall that could cause injuries that you don’t want or need in the new world. 

Currently, OSHA requires fall protection for all personnel working more than 4 feet above the floor in industrial settings, 5 feet in maritime settings and 6 ftee in construction.  There is good reason for this, falls account for 8% of all occupational fatalities from trauma, and they can be easily prevented.

Basically, fall prevention and arrest systems are made up of three components:

Anchor Point – to stop a falling person, the anchor point must be able to withstand 5,000 pounds of force per person attached.  Many items that we may think are adequate anchor points are not.  For example, your chimney, antenna tower, or vehicle bumper on the ground may not be adequate to provide resistance to a 5,000 pound force.  That is why I recommend that preppers install adequate anchor points on their roofs, stands, blinds, towers, etc., now, so they are available when needed in the future.

Body Harness – a belt is not adequate to stop a falling person, a full harness must be worn if you want to avoid injury.  If you fall, and your fall is arrested by your lanyard, and you are wearing a belt, there is a good chance you will suffer internal injuries, (and aren’t we trying to avoid injuries here?)  These harnesses are cheap and readily available.  They can be had for as little as $60 online.  For the most part, a harness is a harness, they all will do the same job, if you pay more, you are probably paying for comfort, rather than a performance during a fall.  There are many videos online that discuss how to put the harness on to be effective during a fall, but I highly recommend training in person.

Connecting Devices – these include D-rings and snap hooks that are used to connect the lanyard to the anchor point or harness.  These components typically must be rated for 5,000 pounds of force as well.  Buy connecting devices that are rated for this force, do not skimp and try to use items from your local hardware store.

While the topic of how to use a fall arrest/prevention system is too in depth to discuss on this blog, I highly recommend that readers purchase and learn how to use a safety harness and lanyard as part of their preparation gear.  As I mentioned above, there are plenty of online resources that will give you the basics of use, however being able to put on your harness and see how it feels when properly fitted, and being able ask questions are key to learning how to use a fall prevention/arrest system.  For this reason, I recommend that preppers take fall protection training if it is offered by their employer, whether they will use it on the job or not.  If it is not offered by your employer, it is worth while to take a class at the local tech school.  It could be a valuable tool down the road, to keep you and those who rely on you safe.

A fellow citizen of the Great White North is building his house, off-grid, out of CONEXes (commonly called sea cans).

Check his web site out, and his YouTube videos (from local television news channels).

My understanding is that he's only 75% done, but what an effort!  (I'll bet that having two metal towers on your house would be good for a couple of LP/OP positions..)

God Bless, - J. in the Great White North

Many of your readers have been sending links to articles explaining how bad the economy has been and how much worse it may get.  Some of us have little recourse but to bite the bullet and make do, do without or downsize.  Municipalities across the U.S. also face hard economic times but they have a recourse you and I do not have.  They can raise revenues by fees and fines.  Cities across the country have been increasing fines for such things as traffic violations and many have decided to enforce laws on the books to raise revenue.   

In my small town, I live in a downtown district.  I often park on the main road downtown as I have the past three years.  However last week, I received a $10 parking violation citation for parking in a spot more than two hours.  Now I understand the law is the law, but I have not received a violation of this kind until now.  A policeman came door to door a few days after I received the violation to let residents and business owners know that the city has decided to enforce parking laws.  I looked at the cop and said (in a nice way of course) that I wished he had told me this a few days ago because I already received a violation.  Of course I promptly put a check with the notice in the mail.  

Early this summer, a co-worker passed a state highway patrolman on a state highway.  The cop turned around and pulled him over and informed him that he may now have his seat belt on but as he passed him…he did not have it on.  Now if my co-worker had stuck to his story and insisted he did, he may have received a warning but he caved in and admitted it.  A citation was issued and it cost him $97 including court costs.  Ouch!  

Now none of this really has anything to do with many of the topics we discuss here on but I thought I would warn others for three reasons: we always want to fly as low under the radar as possible when it comes to law enforcement, we don’t want to spend our hard earned money on violations when we can best use them for beans, bullets and band-aids, and we don’t want to risk having our vehicles towed when we rely on them daily including having to bug out one day. 

My advice to anyone is to wear seat belts if your state requires it, don’t exceed the speed limit (even 5 over will get you pulled over in some communities), make complete stops at stop signs (to avoid ‘rolling stops’), don’t risk avoiding putting change in a parking meter and try to be aware that many towns are now enforcing a two hour parking limit.  

Here are four sites I bookmarked that back up my assertions:

- Mendy P.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

With the proliferation of smart phones, as well as advanced cameras with GPSs installed, people may be giving away more information than they intend to when they snap and distribute pictures. This can be an operational security (OPSEC) issue.

Embedded in the Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) data on the picture, the GPS coordinates of the picture location may be stored for anyone to access. This is especially a problem as people post these pictures online (for social networking, emailing to friends/family, or for online sales, etc.).

This embedded GPS data can reveal the exact location of your home, work, and enable an individual with nefarious intent to build a profile of your movements. A threat to OPSEC to say the least!

Adam Savage, co-host of the popular television program "Mythbusters" inadvertently did exactly this.

Tech gurus and electronics manufacturers are touting it with that famous line - "It's not a bug, its a feature"

Accessing the data is exceedingly simple if you know that its there.

At least the U.S. military has recognized the OPSEC threat that this geolocation data represents on phones and cameras.

Stay safe, - Christopher T.

Your comment to the article on Budget Survival strategies cautioned about the use of grocery store club cards, as potentially allowing your purchases to be tracked.  For those concerned about this, there are simple work-arounds, and the cost savings of using club cards is usually in the order of 30% to 50% or more.   

Club cards are usually available at the store through a quick sign-up process, and fake names, phone numbers and addresses can be used.  (I signed up for my first club card under the name Georgina Orwell; and with Sherlock Holmes's "221b Baker Street" address. I'm sure the literary allusions were lost on the clerk who gave me my card.  I used that card for at least 10 years without any problem.)   If  given the option to opt out of mailings, do so, since the returned mail might trigger a cancellation of the card.    Regards, - N.A.

K.T. suggested this video about drunk driving from Australia. If you don't use a Designated Driver, then don't call yourself a survivalist. (That's more suicidalist.)

   o o o

F.G. sent this: Was Medieval England More Merrie than Thought? F.G. asks: "Are they readying us for our near future by re-writing our historical past?" Are you dissatisfied working in your cubicle? The statists are saying, "Shut up, peasant!"

   o o o

S.H. pointed us to a great compilation of various how-to videos of low-tech traditional skills like fiber arts, and metalworking.

   o o o

The folks at Directive 21, well-known for selling Berkey water filters now offer Wise Food storage foods. Just three varieties have been listed on their web site thusfar, but more are coming. Call for special bulk pricing if you are planning to place a large individual order or a "group buy."

"The current Irish government has agreed to borrow something like $88 billion euros to shore up their banking crisis. That is about $27,000 for every man, woman, and baby in Ireland, a rather small country with a little over four million people." - John Mauldin

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SurvivalBlog may have some downtime at midnight EST tonight (Wednesday, December 8th), as we make server changes. Things should be back to normal in less than 24 hours.


Just five days left! 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 two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.   

A topic that seems to get little attention in the prepper community is your soil.  We spend countless dollars and hours preparing our homes, family, and arsenal for the coming catastrophes, but we do little to prepare our soil.  Many preppers store away garden seeds of heirloom varieties, but we must remember that the soil is just as important as the seed, and your soil may not be adequate for production of crops when your life depends upon success.  Even if you are currently successfully growing crops on your property, your crops may not fare as well after fertilizers are no longer commercially available.

Every plant that grows takes vital nutrients from the soil.  If that plant is never clipped, cut, or harvested, a fair amount of the nutrients are put back into the soil through decomposition of the plant, or from the manure of animals that are drawn to that plant for whatever reason (food, shelter, nesting material etc).  Little land, these days, is completely abandoned and allowed to grow in a natural setting.  If a fairly large portion of your land is ignored, and nature completely allowed to take over that land, odds are that your soil nutrient levels are at least good enough, and likely are excellent.  This article is written with those of us who currently use our land in mind.

The World Below Your Feet

A teaspoon of soil contains literally millions of microorganisms of thousands of varieties.  These microorganisms work together to maintain the ecosystem within the soil.  The plant photosynthesizes sunlight into simple sugars, which are stored in the root system of the plants.  The microorganisms feed upon those sugars, which encourage them to reproduce through the high carbohydrate content.

Each variety of these microorganisms has a different job.  Some feed on insects, some on organic matter, some on toxins, some on petroleum products, and the list goes on.  After feeding on the preferred food, they convert the food into a form that is readily available as fertilizer for the plant.  When the plant has an abundance of fertilizer in the root zone, it photosynthesizes more efficiently, providing more sugars to the microorganisms. 

When inadequate amounts of it’s preferred food are available to a microorganism, the numbers gradually either die or “hibernate” until the active members of that variety are low enough to be sustained by the food that is present.  If an abundance of a variety’s chosen food is available the population explodes.

Feeding the Soil, Not the Plant

After the SHTF, unless the situation passes quickly, there will be little commercial fertilizer available, which means it will become necessary to make our own fertilizer through manure, and other organic matter (leaves, grass clippings, shredded twigs etc.).  If your ground has been reliant on synthetic (man-made) fertilizers for several years or more, odds are that the microorganisms that break organic matter down into fertilizers are not as plentiful as they should be.  This means that organic matter in the soil will decompose very slowly, and take a very long time to be converted to a form that can be used by the plant as fertilizer.

Synthetic fertilizers feed the plant directly, especially if it is in liquid form.  Organic fertilizers feed the soil, which then, through the microorganisms living there, feed the plant.  This means that we get very fast results with synthetic fertilizers, and slow results with

In order to increase the numbers of these microorganisms, we must provide them with plentiful amounts of their preferred food (organic matter).  This can take several years, and in a TEOTWAWKI situation, when little food is available your life could depend on a strong crop and you won’t have years to wait.  Because of this, you should begin adding organic matter to your soil now.

Most universities or cooperative extension offices will perform a soil test for a very low charge.  In my area, the charge is five dollars for the basic test, and one additional dollar to test for organic matter in the soil.  You should have this test done as soon as possible, and definitely pay the additional charge for the organic matter test, as this could be your most important piece of information when preparing the land for a day when fertilizer is not available.

The test results for soil organic matter (SOM) will be presented as a percentage.  An SOM score of five means that five percent of your soil is made up of organic matter.  If your score falls in the five to seven neighborhood, you have a huge head start, but you cannot afford to relax, as the organic matter will decompose and be consumed, and must be replaced.  If your SOM score falls below five, then you definitely have some work to do.

In any case, you can improve your SOM by applying organic fertilizers or top dressing the soil with compost.

Organic fertilizers are available at most big box home improvement stores, and farm supply stores but can be very high cost, as compared to the cost of synthetic fertilizers.  One way to decrease your costs is to use feed grains, bought at your farm supply store, as an organic fertilizer.  Any grain will work, but I do recommend that the whole, intact grain not be used, as you may wind up finding a crop of wheat, oats or corn growing in your pre-SHTF lawn.  Depending upon your geographic location, your least expensive options are probably either: cracked corn, dried distiller’s grains, soybean meal, cottonseed meal, or alfalfa meal.  Each of these items has it’s benefits, so it is best to use as many different grains as possible, especially if there is little price difference between them.  As a general rule of thumb, apply about 10 - 20 lbs of a grain meal per 1,000 square feet of area.  If you are using a broadcast type spreader to apply, you may find that the meals will compact at the bottom of the hopper, making it hard to get an even coverage.  Many of these meals are sometimes available in pelletized form, which is much easier to apply, but is usually slightly more expensive.

Top dressing with compost can become very labor intensive, unless you own a top dresser or a manure spreader, but is by far the shortest, most effective route to improving your soil.  Not only is compost made up of organic matter, but it also contains a large, healthy population of the microorganisms that you want to inhabit your soil, which will further shorten your road to soil preparation.

The Home Lawn

Turf grass is, by far, the most widely grown “crop” in the world.  A small portion of the population grows fruits, vegetables or grains, but almost everyone has a lawn.  Many preppers who live in the suburbs and plan to “bug in” after SHTF have stored away some vegetable seeds (hopefully heirloom varieties) and plan to convert their lawn into a garden after the Schumer becomes intimate with the fan. 

If you fall into this category you can improve the organic matter in your soil by top dressing with compost, by applying organic fertilizers, or by utilizing free resources available to you.

If you choose to use grain meals as an organic fertilizer, use about 10 lbs of meal per 1,000 square feet of land for higher (30%+) protein meals, and 20 lbs of meal per 1,000 square feet of land for lower protein meals.

If you choose to use compost, spread grass seed over your lawn, as recommended on the seed bag and apply about one half inch of compost on top of the grass and seed.  This will add up to about ¾ cubic yard of compost per 1,000 square feet of land.  Use a leaf rake to fluff up the grass, to allow the compost to sift down to the soil surface.  After 3 to 6 months, have another soil test performed and if your levels are below five percent, repeat the top dressing as soon as time and finances allow.  If your levels are above five percent, wait another 6 months before you apply more compost.

If finances or time do not allow you to purchase materials to improve your soil, you may find organic matter for free in many places.  Some possible sources include:

  1. Local coffee shops (especially Starbuck’s) often give coffee grounds to gardeners for free, just ask.
  2. Never bag your lawn clippings, just leave them lying on the ground.  Up to 30% of your lawn’s fertilizer needs can be supplied by lawn clippings.
  3. Rather than collecting the leaves from your lawn, shred them and spread them over the lawn.
  4. If you burn firewood, wood ashes make a great fertilizer.  Spread wood ashes very thinly over the lawn, as too much in one spot can damage the grass.
  5. Start a compost pile and make your own compost.
  6. If you live near a lumber yard, sawdust may be free for the taking, however use sawdust in very small amounts.


Generally speaking, pasture land most likely doesn’t need much preparation for the coming times when commercial fertilizers are not available.  You most likely do not remove leaves from your pasture, and the manure from the grazing animals put a great deal of organic fertilizer back into the ground.

If cattle or horses are grazing the pasture, dragging the pasture to break up the manure piles and spread them will help to distribute the manure.  This will help to make your soil more consistent.  If sheep are goats are grazing, there is no need to drag due to the smaller size of their manure.

In order to keep the pasture at a high level of fertility so that the soil is at it’s best when it is needed most, some benefit can be gained by using urea, which is chemically organic due to the presence of carbon, to fertilize the pasture each fall.  Apply about 100 lbs of urea per acre.  Since the synthetic fertilizer is only being applied once per year, while the livestock is distributing organic fertilizer several times per year, this will keep the necessary microorganisms active for the breakdown of organic fertilizers.


Most of the same rules would apply to gardens and cropland that apply to lawns.  The main exception being that if you choose to apply compost, it should be applied after harvest and tilled into the soil, along with any remaining parts of the plants that were grown there.  Weeds should not be tilled into the soil immediately, but can be put in the compost pile.  This is because any weed seeds will be killed by the heat generated as the compost breaks down in the pile.

If you are growing a crop that uses high amounts of nitrogen, such as corn, it could become very costly to apply enough nitrogen for a good crop with only organic fertilizers.  In this case, you could continue to apply synthetic fertilizers, but supplement them with as much organic fertilizer as your bottom line will allow.

Of course you could use some of the free sources for organic “fertilizer” mentioned for use in lawns, with two additions.  A great deal of fertilizer can be gotten for free by cleaning your barn stalls and tilling the manure into the garden after harvest.  This will allow the manure several months during the winter months to break down.  Poultry manure, in particular, contains a fairly high amount of nitrogen, as compared to most other organic fertilizers.  The second addition would be in the form of blood, if you process your own livestock or game for the table.  Blood should be pasteurized by heating to 160 degrees and held at that temperature for several minutes.  After it cools you could either use it immediately, or refrigerate for later use.  Do not apply blood directly to the crop full strength, instead, mix 1 cup blood to 1 gallon of water and pour it on the soil around the plant.

Fertilizer Analysis of Several Organic Materials

Fertilizer analysis is broken down into 3 numbers.  The first number representing the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer, the second number representing phosphorous, and the third potash or potassium.  For example of fertilizer analysis of 5-10-15 would mean that the fertilizer is 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorous and 15% potash.  The remaining 70% is inert materials in most cases, however a portion of the remaining portion may contain some micronutrients which are necessary for plant growth, but in far smaller amounts than the 3 mentioned above.

Below, I will list the average fertilizer analysis of various organic materials.  I encourage you to research further to find the analysis of any materials that you feel that you will be able to acquire for this purpose, but are not listed.

Grain Products
Soybean Meal: 7-2-2
Cottonseed Meal: 6-2-2
Alfalfa Meal: 4-1-1
Distiller’s Grain: 4.5-2-1.5
Corn Meal: 1.65-0.65-0.4
Dry Molasses: 1-0-5

Fresh Manures
Cattle: 0.5-0.3-0.5
Sheep: 0.9-0.5-0.8
Poultry: 0.9-0.5-0.8
Horse: 0.5-0.3-0.6
Swine: 0.6-0.5-0.4


As a rule of thumb, if soil has been treated regularly, or often with synthetic fertilizers, it takes 2 to 3 years of using organic fertilizers to adjust the soil so that it produces satisfactorily without the use of synthetic fertilizers.  During this “crossover” time, small amounts of synthetic fertilizers can be used to supplement the organic fertilizers without any adverse effects.  This time frame can be shortened, in many cases, to 1 to 1-½ years if compost is applied twice per year, due to the presence of microorganisms in the compost itself.

If you plan to grow any of your food after TEOTWAWKI, you could greatly increase your chances of success by remembering your soil during preparations.

If you have to bug out, bug in, or even just hang out in the Superdome with the other hurricane survivors, you can go for 10 days or more without food.  It will be unpleasant, you will feel ill, unhappy, and desperate.  You will, however, live if you get a reliable supply of food within a few weeks of your TEOTWAWKI event.

Water, however, is a different story.  It's not just something you use to bathe, wash your car, or do the dishes.  It is, literally, the elixir of life.  You will die if you go four, maybe five days without it.  Even if you are without it a few days you will begin to suffer potentially permanent ill effects.

When you prepare for disaster, civil disorder, or other TEOTWAWKI events, water should be at the top of your list of considerations in my opinion.  Fortunately water is one of the most common things on Earth, right?  Absolutely.  You are right, water is everywhere.  The problem with that observation, however, is that very little of it is consumable.  About one percent of fresh water on Earth is potable, or about .007 percent of all water on Earth is potable.  With that in mind, water for your family to drink becomes a much bigger issue.  There are ways around this problem, though.

Americans are blessed with a water system that provides healthy and usually quite good tasting water for use of our citizens.  It comes out of a convenient metal fixture in my sinks, my bathtubs, and my water hose.  What happens if that water supply stops?  The best answer for anyone would be a good long term solution, such as a well.  With an aquifer beneath your property supplying a well with fresh water, you have the advantage of the Earth itself filtering your water.  Unless you have dangerous metals contaminating that well, you will have access to fresh water for your family that will be both convenient and reliable.  If this is your situation, you are indeed very lucky.  The first thing you should do is ensure that you have the means to get to that water should the electrical grid fail you.  I still remember the hand pump behind my grandparents house.  They'd always save a little water to prime the well so that they could get as much as they needed from the ground.  I used to think they had it rough.  Now I know they had security.

Another method of securing water for your family long term is access to a stream or river.  A lake will do just fine.  There is, however, risk associated with water open to the environment that isn't as much of an issue with well water.  Contamination.  Well water is, as mentioned, filtered by the Earth.  Open water is contaminated with decaying animals, bacteria, animal and human waste, and potentially chemicals that will poison you as surely as if you sucked the mercury out of a thermometer. 

A way to get around the contamination problem does exist.  In fact, there are several ways.  You can buy a pre-made filter, plenty of extra filter [element]s, and keep stocked up for a long term ability to filter your water of chemical and biological contaminants.  You can also make your own filter, it's not that hard.  Activated charcoal and increasingly fine mesh filter media used inside a PVC pipe can do a pretty good job of cleaning water.  No matter what you do as far as filtration goes, you should also boil your water.  As can be seen with the current cholera outbreak in Haiti, microbial contamination is a huge threat in TEOTWAWKI situations.  If the Haitians were all boiling their water, it would go a long way toward putting an end to the cholera outbreak.  They are, however, due to their financial situation unprepared for the problems associated with the earthquake that devastated their country. 

Boiling water takes fuel.  A wood fire will do, maybe propane on your camp stove.  However you do it, you must have a container to boil the water in that will stand up to repeat use as a boiling pot.  Since you must use fuel anyway, I have a different suggestion that I use for my family.  Distillation.  I built a still, and I plan on building another.  The one I built costs me eighty dollars.  I plan to put aside a few hundred dollars soon to buy and build a larger still. 

To start with I bought a thirty-six gallon aluminum pot from Sam's Club.  It is quite thick and sturdy, able to stand up to open flame or a burner.  I have no idea of knowing which I would have to use, so my pot is the best I could find.  The pot came with a nice thick lid as well.  I bought a couple of C-clamps to hold the lid in place, preventing steam from escaping.  Some still does, I am planning on adding a gasket to the lid to make a better seal. 

The next step was to give that steam in the pot a place to go.  I didn't want to build a bomb, so I put a plumbing fitting through the lid.  I drilled a hole of the proper size, and the correct fittings from the local home fix-it store.  A hardware store will likely have all the plumbing fittings too.  I'm not going to give out part numbers, if you're a prepper you're already smart enough to figure out how to use a gasket, select a plumbing item, and create a way for the steam to pass through the lid of the pot.  I selected my fixture so that I could use garden hose gaskets as gaskets for my fitting.  They are cheap, and heavy duty.  You also get several in a bag.  The next thing I did was attach a flexible faucet hose to the fitting on the lid.  I'm talking about the braided steel hose that attaches the faucet fixture to the wall spigot.  You'll see why I selected a flexible hose in a minute.  They have plastic hoses as well, but I paid a few more dollars to add the durability of braided steel.  I then attached a fitting to the other end of the hose that would allow me to attach and remove a one half inch copper pipe to the steam pot.  I cut a two foot section of pipe for this.

You can't distill water if steam is the only thing coming out of the end pipe.  You need a chiller pot.  I bought a sixteen quart enameled stockpot as my chiller.  Again, I put plumbing fixtures on the pot, but this time I put them through the wall of the pot, not the lid.  I put one near the top, and one at the bottom.  On the inside wall of the pot is a pressure fitting that allows you to press your condensation coil into it.  That will create a tight seal with the copper tubing of your condensation coil.  Your condensation coil is created by purchasing a coil of copper tubing that is flexible, and then creating a spiral from the top fitting to the bottom.  Make sure that your spiral is angled down at all points, as water will not drain if it condenses into a 'valley' in the coil.  If the water cannot drain, it will act as a plug and create back pressure in the steam pot.  This increases the possibility that steam will escape instead of condense and flow out as pure water.

The outside attachments on the chiller pot are the same attachment you use on the end of the braided steel hose.  Make sure you caulk the inside and outside of the fittings on the chiller pot liberally, you'll need to make sure your water in that pot doesn't leak out.  That water will absorb the heat from the copper condensation tube, turning the steam from the steam pot back into water.  On the bottom fitting, the one that the condensed and purified water comes out of, I put a six inch copper tube to allow for a bowl or pitcher to be used to collect the distilled water. 

This design can be improved.  For one thing, by the time I distilled a quart of water, the water in the chiller pot was steaming from the heat transferred to it.  You'll have to change the water in the chilling pot (which doesn't need to be purified, just reasonably clear so as not to make the pot too nasty) for every quart otherwise too much steam will escape and not be saved as water.   The next thing is that I believe the chiller pot needs to be bigger and also have another fixture at the bottom so you can drain the water from it without disassembling the still.  Refilling it would then be a matter of just closing that valve and pouring more cold water into it.  Make sure not to mix your distilled water and your chiller water, or you've just wasted all your effort.  I also believe that a bigger chiller pot will allow you to use a longer condensation coil.  The longer the coil, the less likely it is that it will get hot enough for steam to travel the entire length of it. 

My current still design is nice in that you can put the chiller pot inside the steam pot, allow you to travel with just the one pot as far as space goes if need be.  The half inch copper transfer tubes can be shortened as necessary to allow them to fit inside the steam pot as well.  Once you use the still, you simply scrape any scum left in the bottom of the steam pot out to prepare it for the next use. 

Distilled water isn't that great tasting, but it works.  Mine removed salt and food coloring from the water.  Boiling is included in the process, of course, so all life in the water is killed.  There is an urban myth that distilled water is bad because it leaches minerals from your body.  This is wrong, the water is perfectly safe and any mineral imbalance that might give any weight to the leaching idea is fixed immediately as it mixes with the contents of your stomach.  You did store food too, right?  Even if you didn't, there is no risk from distilled water.  Distilled water is used in the saline solution that you are given in hospitals.

The great thing about a still is that it will clean very contaminated water.  The downside is that you need fuel and a place to set it up that will be secure.  If you don't have that, you're going to need short term water to get you by.  That involves storage on hand prior to TEOTWAWKI.

My family stores water in portable six gallon water containers that we pick up locally to avoid shipping.  Wal-Mart has containers that are free of BPA (bad chemicals) in the sporting goods section for ten dollars.  When you compare that to fifty-five gallon drum storage, there are several benefits.  The large drums are generally nearly a hundred dollars by the time you add in a hand pump to get the water out.  Just try picking up a fifty-five gallon drum to pour out the water for dinner.  After shipping the cost of a large drum can be well over one hundred dollars.  The six gallon containers, at ten dollars each, give you sixty gallons for one hundred dollars.  They are portable, you can pick them up to pour out what you need.  They have handles that you can use to carry one with you if you need to do so.  They're still heavy, but you're much more likely to carry one of them instead of a barrel. 

We also have about six hundred bottles of water on hand.  If we bug in, those will be available for any excursions we have to make, as well as for home use as we need.  They're very convenient, and can store for a good long time.  Usually it's less than four dollars for a pack of thirty two at the bulk stores.  We also save our two liter bottles and fill them with water after they're empty.  They're designed to last long term with liquid inside, and we stack them like you would stack wood.  On their side stacked up about five high.  You might be able to stack more, but I don't want to put too much pressure on the bottom bottles and promote leaking lids.  The last method of short term storage is your bathtubs and your toilets.  The water in your toilet tank is perfectly good if it came from the water system prior to TEOTWAWKI.  Once you have room in another container, siphon it out and store it safely.  You can then use non-potable water to flush your toilets if you have a source.  Remember the rule for that.  Let yellow mellow, if it's brown flush it down. 

Remember that water needs should be at the top of your stores.  If you have kids, buy some cocoa mix or fruit drink mix.  They'll snap that right up, mine do so now.  So many of us are preparing for the worst, but if you don't have safe water you may well be buying those goods for other survivors who find your stash after you die from dysentery or cholera.  You owe it to yourself and to your kids, if you have them, to ensure you have a water supply that is safe. 
Happy prepping!

I'm tired of hearing hoplophobic whiners in their endless prattle about "the gun show loophole." Just what is this "loophole" they are talking about? It is in fact perfectly legal commerce between private citizens of the same state. This not a "loophole". Rather, it is merely the exercise of free trade in used household goods between sovereign citizens within their own states. Gun shows are a time-honored tradition--not some sort dodgy maneuvering.

The leftist whiners are again begging congress to apply the Interstate Commerce Clause to restrict intrastate sales. That is just plain extra-jurisdictional and hence absolutely unconstitutional. (Does the phrase "No nexus" mean anything to them?) In light of the U.S. v. Lopez decision, there is no way that the Commerce Clause can be contorted to fit their expansive view.

Some of the biggest whiners are the members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a civilian disarmament cabal that was created by billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Most of the members are leftist big city Democrats from eastern states. Ironically, this group has a membership roster with a remarkably high felony conviction rate. According to Conservapedia their roster has included these criminal mayors:

  • Former Mayor Gary Becker of Racine, Wisconsin. (He was convicted of attempted child sexual assault and child enticement. With a shopping trip to the juniors' section of the lingerie department of a local store, Becker threw a monkey wrench into the sentencing phase of his trial. Just as he was on the verge of getting a light or suspended sentence, he instead earned himself a three year prison term.)
  • Former Mayor David Delle Donna of Guttenberg, New Jersey (Federal extortion and mail fraud charges. Both he and his wife are now serving four+ year felony sentences.)
  • Former Mayor Sheila Dixon of Baltimore, Maryland. (Found guilty of four counts of perjury, two counts of misconduct, three counts of theft, and three counts of fraudulent misappropriations. A "probation before judgment" (PBJ) sweetheart sentencing deal enabled her to keep her $83,000 per year pension.)
  • Mayor Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City, New Jersey. (Convicted for obstruction of justice in 2007, but still in the mayor's seat!)
  • Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit, Michigan. (Two felony obstruction of justice sentences stemming from his efforts to cover up an extramarital affair. He also pleaded no contest to charges of assaulting a police officer attempting to serve a subpoena a friend in that case. He is now back in prison for violation of parole, and he still faces trial on additional charges. That trial will most likely begin in mid-2011.)
  • Former Mayor Larry Langford, of Birmingham, Alabama. (He was included in a 101-count indictment for conspiracy, bribery, fraud, money laundering, and filing false tax returns in connection with a long-running bribery scheme. Convicted on 60 counts, he is now serving a 15 year sentence.)
  • Deceased Mayor Frank Melton of Jackson, Mississippi. (At the time of his death was under felony indictment on civil rights charges. He died before a scheduled re-trial, following a mistrial.)
  • Former Mayor Eddie Perez of Hartford, Connecticut. (Felony bribery, fabricating evidence, conspiracy to fabricate evidence, and first-degree larceny by extortion. Now serving a three year prison sentence.)
  • Former Mayor Samuel Rivera, of Passaic, New Jersey. (Corruption, influence peddling, and extortion charges. Sentenced to 21 months in prison.)
  • Former Mayor Will Wynn, of Austin, Texas. Convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, for "a choking assault on a man who had crashed a party."

If the foregoing isn't enough, Conservapedia also details numerous firearms-related scandals involving members of the mayors' group, including Bloomberg himself.

It goes without saying that once someone is convicted of a felony, it is crime under Federal law and most state laws to possess a modern cartridge firearm. So perhaps if these do-gooders want to restrict "Illegal Guns", then they ought to start by disarming themselves.

(Permission to re-post the full text of this particular post is granted, as long as a link to is included.)

The following is my contribution to SurvivalBlog about antennas for High Frequency (HF) Transceivers. One antenna that has served me well over the years and easy to build is the G5RV antenna. Louis Varney, a British ham, came up with idea for the G5RV which also his call sign.

The G5RV is a dipole antenna with 51 foot legs and the center feed point being 28'6" of 300 ohm twin lead transmission grade twin lead connected to RG58 coaxial cable ("coax"). There are other construction methods, but for simplicity, we use a 1" outside diameter PVC Tee to create a center feed point. To seal this all up I used caps and cemented them to the two openings closed. Before you seal them up you drill a hole in end caps and slip them over the 51 foot length of wire and put a knot in the end of the wire that will be inside the tee. Pull both lengths of  wire through the tee and using a 10 to 12 inch section of PVC pipe that you cement in the opening that will point down the wire through the tubing and solder to the 300ohm twin lead. Before soldering the twin lead split it down middle about six inches. The reason for this is to allow the twin lead a little room feed the wire you will solder the twin lead to. This is where you have to eye this very carefully because once you seal this up in the tee then you are "up the creek" if you did not do it right. At the bottom of the PVC tubing we drill a couple of small diameter holes to slip a couple of tie wraps through to form a strain relief  on 300 ohm twin lead. Put enough caulking inside the end of the PVC to seal it up. On the tee I usually tie 550 cord or equivalent  small diameter rope so you throw this up in a tree and pull it up in a tree or a mast.  The length of RG58 we use is about 50 ft. at the most you can use more. But due to power loss we would keep it to that magic 50 foot mark. This just a guess but through 35 years experience as a two radio tech and U.S. Merchant Marine radio officer on Navy ships. Use your imagination connecting the twin lead to the coax.

When you solder this up make sure you do not short out the coax, We highly recommend using a 30-40 watt soldering iron to solder all connections. concerning the end of the dipole legs. We have used a one inch diameter PVC pipe/tubing cut to the length of four inches. Drilling holes in both ends put the wire from the dipole leg through it and using about a foot. wrapping a the wire around itself until you wrap it all the way. Then wrap electrical tape around to protect the end of the wire and keep moisture out.The other end put  a length of 550 cord though it and use it to tie off the dipole legs  I use Radio Shack  PL-259 crimp-on connectors for the connector to connect to the coax to the antenna tuner.  

Now concerning antenna tuners for the HF ranges. This probably is a mystery to you who are reading this posting. But to use a dipole or any other antenna with a HF transceiver you probably need an antenna tuner. HF transceivers cover from 1.8 to 30 MHz . This is not like your CB radio, as it uses a small section of the HF frequencies. 26.5 to 27.5 Mhz and this only a guess. We are covering almost 30 MHz with a real HF transceiver.

You match the different impedance  to the radio. The radios are set up to work with 50 ohm inputs. Using the antenna tuner you match the radio to the antenna keeping the 50 ohm match to the radio. Now what brands are out there that affordable and reliable. Over the years we have used a MFJ 949D/E etc antenna tuner it match  many a ham transceiver. MFJ Enterprises makes a great line of HF tuners. Also, I's would like to write about automatic antenna tuners. One brand we have used and very happy with is LDG Electronics. LDG makes a variety of  tuners. The one which I chose for simplicity and the price was the Z-100. This operates on the same 12 VDC power supply that many ham HF radios already have available.  LDG and other manufacturers make connecting cable to use with different radios. We used the Z-100 with a Yaesu FT857D  which is small HF solid state transceiver and also has 6 meters, 70cm, and 2 meters. We used this combination while on a month-long school in Florida, six years ago. I used a commercial antenna that adjustable in length up to a hundred feet.

In closing, this is one of many wire antennas that can be used portable as well fixed location. Also another radio that is small (and also 100 watt) is the Icom 706 MkIIG, a great little radio with a good receiver. A lot of the information you will need is on the Internet and also in amateur radio books.

Just one final warning: Don't just get a HF rig and get on the air without a license. A lot of ham radio operators will direction find (DF) you, and turn over to the FCC. In an emergency you do not need a license. - Ben N.

First, thanks for all that you do. God bless you and your family.  Second, to reiterate what you've already posted, the five gallon buckets sold at Home Depot and Lowe's are not food grade buckets. They are stamped with the number 5. Yesterday I discovered that the buckets in the paint department at my local Wal-Mart are marked Food Grade. They are selling for $2.50 each, which is half the price of those at Home Depot and Lowe's.  Also, the lids, which have rubber gasket seals are selling for .98 cents each. Be sure to check your local bakery. Many of them have the 2 gallon and 3-1/2 gallon buckets for free. Hope this helps. - H.W.

JWR Replies: This expands on what I wrote in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course. I concur that bakeries are a great place to find used food grade buckets for little or no cash outlay. Also ask at delicatessens, catering companies, or other vendors that utilize foods bought in bulk.

Reader G.W. wrote to mention that the Coin Debasement Modernization Act passed on November 30th. It is now waiting President BHO's signature. I've been warning folks about a likely change in the composition of the U.S. Nickel (Five Cent coin) for more than three years. This may be your last chance to get real nickels at no premium over their face value and without the effort of any sorting. (Once a coin composition change takes places, it will become labor intensive, just as it did with pennies.)

Jason in Central New York sent this: Was There A Big Recession Warning Buried Inside This Week's ISM? Jason's comment: "Looks like manufacturing being purchased for inventories ratio is a good indicator of what's to come."

MERS: The Mortgage Database That's Clouding Millions of Titles

By way of Forbes, Michael Pollaro itemizes U.S. Government Debt Monetization

Items from The Economatrix:

Why Governments Will Buy Silver  

Jobs Rebound Will Be Slow  

Bernanke Doesn't Rule Out QE Exceeding $600 Billion. (Of course he doesn't! Note that Bernanke stonewalled congress for more than a year about announcing the size of the bank bailouts, and the roster of recipients. It was only last week that we found out that it was actually $9 trillion in taxpayer-guaranteed loans, lent to just a handful of big banks at ridiculously low interested rates.

Texas Calls in the Law in Its Beef With Feral Porkers; You Can't Shoot Them From Helicopters in Dallas Proper; Subtlety Is Required. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Also from F.G.: For Jacksonville couple, historical re-enactments are real business

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There are now more than a dozen family preparedness podcasts out there. Two of them that I find particularly useful are The Prepper Podcast and The Chip Monk Family Survival Podcast.

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Tired from a hike? Rescuers fear Yuppie 911

"Ask five economists and you'll get five different answers (six if one went to Harvard)." - Edgar R. Fiedler

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SurvivalBlog may have some downtime when we make server changes this Wednesday night. The blog page should be back online in less than 24 hours. Don't panic!


As we remember Pearl Harbor Day, we need to be vigilant, both as a nation, and as individuals.


Today we present another two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

You don't have to read many gun blogs before you are faced with discussion regarding Bad Guys ("BG's"). The BG shorthand is the current forum-speak for "Bad Guy". In these discussions you'll find that BG's are always in desperate need of having an end put to their pathetic lives, and that they are nothing really but a target waiting to be acquired. But does reality reflect forum logic? Does every BG have an angry scowl and use someone's beautiful daughter as a human shield?

Life, unlike some forum discussions, is chuck-full of gray areas, shadowy concealment, and moral dilemmas where right and wrong are difficult or impossible to distinguish in the short time to takes to apply draw, front-sight, press, front-sight. We don't like to hear that. We prefer to think that when the waste hits the whirler we'll know exactly what to do, but reality screams otherwise. Ask any combat veteran or beat cop about reality versus training, the tunnel vision and hyper-awareness of a genuine adrenaline dump can greatly effect one's perceptions of the situation at hand, and severely limit our ability to find the coherent choices we may need in those split seconds that tick by so slowly in hind-sight yet are over in a blink in real-life.

We train for just such reality. We prepare for just such circumstances. We train so that muscles do their job even if minds turn to butter, just like we prepare so that we'll have the particular supply in hand the moment the need arises. Yet there is an issue of preparedness which few people intentionally train for, and fewer still take the time to ponder in any degree comparable to how they worry about food, ammo, or shelter. That issue is morality.

Morality is completely irrelevant if the BG is always as readily identifiable as the dude on those full-color paper targets which are so popular, but bad guys are never so simple to spot. More people have lost their lives at home and abroad to unexpected encounters with a smiling stranger than with an obviously motivated mugger. Now if the bad guys are hard to spot, don't think the good guys are always easy to distinguish either. To further play into this difficulty, remember that you are a stranger to a great many people, and in TEOTWAWKI any stranger might decide you are a threat to be shot first and questioned only afterward. To these concerns we must realize that morality is the straw that braces the world from tumbling into darkness. Morality is also a very relative term, and an even more fluid target to try and live in even a relatively peaceful world like most of us enjoy today, to say nothing of a post-disaster, or dollar-starved, social environment.

How does one prepare for such a world? How do we train for the situations we might face regarding a fallen or collapsing moral structure? If truth be told I fear some of our own good folks sometimes. When I hear some prepper buddy talking trash about BGs in the context of complete legal ignorance of even our existing laws, it scares me. When that same individual seems to get a twinkle in his eye at the thought of zero prosecution in a weak or fallen local civil structure I start maneuvering my kids away from him, because here is one that might be a bit too trigger happy.

Want a practical example? Assume everything fell and the crops are growing well in your little hide-away. You return from a hunting trip and find a man with a rifle under one arm and load of your fresh produce under the other. The trigger-happy hero wannabe draws his .45 and taps two rounds center-mass, thump, garden fodder? Does he even consider that fifteen minutes later the mother of that fifteen year-old "man" might be at his feet wailing the loss of her son? Can he take-back those bullets when she explains that they had company coming and needed to borrow a few things. Knowing he was away on a hunt they had assumed they could barter appropriate payment when he returned, but instead the lad is dead. He'd brought a rifle because everyone carries a rifle now when they are alone... it's a different world when the SHTF, and our trigger-happy "friend" wasn't morally ready for it. He did not train his mind & heart to work in tandem with his body.

Training Day - Seven Everyday Ideas to Practice
Obviously every day is training day when it comes to morality. Any trip to Wal-Mart or visit to a neighbor's home is an opportunity to practice one's judgment of the intents of others, while putting your own best manners all the way forward. On a practical level though, it's hard to train without narrowing the focus. Like all our other prepping, we should specify the particular needs and scenarios we might face. For this, I'm going to narrow the moral field to seven specific areas, not in their particular order of importance per se, but I'll discuss them in the order in which they build upon themselves to form a full moral foundation. Others might divide these differently, or might disagree with the ones I put forward, but that is training in itself since the real world is nothing but differences of opinion on how we should all get-along.

I won't bother explaining the source for my divisions at this point, since it will be clear by the time we reach the end of the article, but keep in mind all throughout that general morality is not the possession of any particular religion or sect, it is the factor which sets every man apart from the animal kingdom. The very fact that an individual can form words into language and thereby communicate his own most personal thoughts to another individual is light years ahead of even the best communication among beasts. Likewise though, the necessity of words and language in such communication is also the loose thread that can pull the entire garment to pieces, so we must be careful. We'll build one piece onto the next, in order, and with reason, we'll construct a concept about morality which, if communication proceeds in peaceful lines, will permit the discussion to grow, and the ideas to be perhaps steered toward a far more useful implementation than is suggested here where only my one mind is spewing the ideas.

Life. Our concept holds that life is afforded only to individuals, and for life to continue it must, without exception, be subject at various times to the will and whim of other individuals. For our first moral analysis let's consider the abrupt termination of life we term as murder. For society to thrive, before or after a fall of any kind, we must not tolerate "murder".

One: Don't Murder
If we must not tolerate murder then it is vastly important that we properly define murder, so let’s call it the intentional termination of a human life without justifiable cause. Such a definition helps us differentiate taking a human life versus an animal life, something we’ll deal with in greater detail later. It also helps us focus on the motive behind taking this life, when we must stop to consider whether such an act is “justifiable” we come face to face with society. The very term “justifiable” implies that there is some entity other-than the one taking said life, an entity to whom the homicide must be accounted to. Most any of us might “justify” homicide several times a day, during brief lapses from rational thought, but knowing the matter would be judged by others makes us all think twice (God-only knows how many ill-tempered managers have been saved from a “death by stapler” through such efforts of conscience). Like the example of our trigger-happy friend in the garden , an individual might justify lethal action within his own mind during a particular situation, but it can be another thing altogether to stand among your peers and explain exactly why you pulled the trigger, what events led-up to it, and what other options may have been available. Depending on how bad things get in TEOTWAWKI, our neighbors and any remaining law-enforcement might be a bit more lenient than now, but we should hope that they keep a rational judgment of such things, and that we don’t see the better aspects of society fall to fear and panic.

What “justifies” the application of lethal force? Most likely the same factors we consider now, would apply just as well in times of massive societal stress, but the situations might be more frequent, and more severe. Specifically, there are three clear indicators an individual must consider in those split-seconds when he is “choosing” whether to defend with lethal force. This BG might indicate the ability to kill or maim, having weapons or known skills. He must also show the intent for grave bodily harm, displaying or verbalizing an immediate threat. Finally he must have the immediate opportunity to exercise his ability & intent.

If all three of those reasons are present, (ability, intent, and opportunity), and you cause the BGs death, then you might not face prison in our current American system, but there are always factors which can complicate things, and there is rarely indisputable evidence that you made the right choice. So much the more in a world fallen into potential chaos. Will your peers be thinking rationally or will we default to the Old West 1.0? If so you might be able to “get-away with” some bad choices (which trigger-happy folks look forward to); but keep in mind that evil can likewise turn your way with little recourse of justice if we fall that far morally. Will the BG put all his cards on the table in time for you to make a clear choice? He might sneak-up with a smile, all three indicators might not be present, and ignoring your gut could get you dead.

Here is where it’s vitally important that we “train” even for moral actions. In a world where any stranger might be a murderous zombie you need to have more options that just live and let live, but when that world is also inhabited by people of generally good character we also can’t adopt a kill or be killed attitude. Good training is to take day to day situations now, and apply them to your best-guess post-fall neighborhood. There’s a strange car in the drive, how should you enter the house? Should you drive around the block and reconnoiter via phone or observation? Do you have access to the tools and ideas you’d need to resolve this? What if a stranger catches you chopping wood in the backyard and is quickly approaching, should you draw your .45 and shout for him to reach for the sky? Do you carry a pistol while you chop wood?

You don’t need to actually act-out these scenarios, but at least play them through your mind a few times. What moral issues might you face if your family is potentially held hostage? You might be physically prepared by having weapons stowed in your car or an outbuilding, but are you morally prepared? Would you enter guns blazing & risk killing family? Would you snipe the supposed BGs through a window and risk escalating a simple scavenging mission into an ugly blood-bath? How would you react to the sudden introduction of a random stranger to your daily routine? What actions could you take that would balance hospitality with awareness of the potential threat? Be creative.

Those who have trigger-happy tendencies should man-up and recognize the trait in themselves now, before the SHTF, and train themselves to spot the good in folks before they wind-up in an ugly situation where they were blind to the innocent intentions of someone whose life they ended too soon. In contrast, those who have milk-toast personalities and get squeamish at squashing spiders should also man-up and realize that if they truly hope to prepare for the rough times ahead, they need to train their moral-center now, so they can be ready to protect those they love. We can prepare our stored goods, and can train our bodies, but the readiness we need to have morally can only be forged in the furnace of day by day application and creative mental considerations. There truly is a time to kill, and a time to let live”.

When it comes to homicide, some people are natural-born-killers long before they ever learn to use a weapon. They have trained their minds everyday by looking for excuses to hate and hurt. Such people see end-game scenarios as a place to play-out bloody fantasies. Others see the coming times as a cleansing of society, the natural result of greed and elitism, but an event which can right the wrongs which politics and wealth couldn’t touch. Such people want to help put the pieces back together after a fall, and their minds, though aware of potent danger, are honed to find ways to build community, and strengthen the moral foundations of their neighborhoods – they look to strengthen life, not end it.

In that respect, moral-training should be constantly looking for creative ways to resolve difficult situations. That might mean thinking outside the box when it comes to family disputes, looking for new ways to respond instead of just doing what dear old Dad did. It might mean trying extra-hard to keep a smile on your face when you feel offended during some menial act of commerce. Such things may seem silly and small, but it’s the kind of mental self-control we train for at the range when we swap mags between strings of rapid-fire target practice. You work at something till the muscle-memory takes-over even under stress, and your mind is a muscle which can be worked in the same way.

Two: Don't Steal
Stealing, more so than murder, helps us to really begin to see how morality can begin to blur the lines a bit between the good guys and bad guys. Even thugs view the taking of a human life as a pretty serious thing, but when we begin to talk about taking property a lot of otherwise good folks find peculiar ways to justify what is undeniably theft. So to make matters clear, let’s define “stealing”as taking what belongs to others. In some respects, theft is just a lesser form of murder - I mean really, even life is only our possession temporarily, none of us keep it forever, we eventually give it up as we do all our belongings. So do we take life more seriously than property, or are we really much more serious about our belongings than we realize?

Anyone who has ever had anything of value taken from them knows the flood of emotions that can pour into your mind. It’s easy to start fantasizing about catching that person red-handed next time. That’s part of why some states have castle-doctrine laws, but there can be a wide gap between legal and moral justification behind protecting one's property, and so much the more when it comes to stealing the property of others.

In our pleasant pre-fall world we often blow-off "little" thefts. Printing that personal document on your bosses printer, or intentionally wasting time at work, are technically theft. Cheating on your taxes to avoid paying more than your rightfully "owe" Uncle Sam might be rationalized in a time when we all feel over-taxed, but let the IRS catch your tricks and there will be legal recourse. Morally speaking, there is a big difference between actually justifying something, and only rationalizing it. When the fan starts flinging foul things our personal ability to morally distinguish between justifying and rationalizing might be the difference between life or death. Lets consider some examples.
The teenager in the garden of our trigger-happy friend, was he stealing? Technically yes, in that he didn't have permission to take those veggies. But before we label him as a BG we should realize there must have been some rational belief on the part of his mother which led her to believe it would be ok to work-out the details later. Her rational mind surveyed the need to feed her guests, weighed it against the fact Mr. Trigger was away for a while, and concluded it was not really stealing but just a trade in process. There is no way she would have rationally considered that her dear son would be shot dead by their normally friendly neighbor.

Lets get ugly now and build a post apocalyptic scene of mayhem and murder. Society collapsed almost overnight, before you could even get out of Dodge, and you are finally working your way toward the safe house where you plan to meet-up with others. Your family & belongings are in the Travel-all when it runs out of gas on a back road, very near a farm house. Your keen observation detect no signs of life at the farm, and your "Hello the house!" has raised no response. When you carefully enter the house you find a murdered family, Everything indicates that scavengers took what they wanted very quickly and moved-on. A quick survey of the premises reveals no survivors, but lots of important items the BGs missed. Now the question, do YOU become an instant BG if you "take" anything here? Ponder it. Maybe there are survivors who just wandered into the timber to mourn, will they return to find nothing to survive on because YOU stole it all? Does the fact that someone less moral than yourself could stumble along an hour after you leave it all untouched and take it anyway play into your thought process? Human beings have already adapted all manner of fine excuses for our immoral behaviors, how much more so in TEOTWAWKI?

With all moral questions it's best to keep things simple and stick to the facts, so let's apply our simple definition to the ugly scene at the farm. If stealing is "taking what belongs to others" then clearly the folks to whom this "stuff" belongs are no longer claiming it, that makes the property in question something more like "lost items". Hopefully even in collapse (maybe especially in collapse?) we will live by the golden-rule, so consider if you lost something, you would hope the finder would want to return it to you. We write our names in things because we hope someone will return it to us if it's misplaced, but in this case we know the owners because the stuff is ON their premises, and while the deceased might make no claim of the the lost items, a mourning survivor might return any moment. Like the mother of our teenage veggie-gatherer, we have have rational beliefs about our situation, we can assume beyond a reasonable doubt that there are no survivors, and thus help ourselves - there would likely be moral justification.

Playing it a little further though, assuming a survivor did indeed return, and he caught you in the act of pillaging his home during his time of grief. If that survivor is armed you now have more moral questions to ponder. From his perspective (and legally) you are trespassing, you are stealing (unbeknownst to you till now), and he might easily rationalize opening fire on you and yours! Things could go from ugly to gruesome in seconds as this survivor fulfills the honest desires for vengeance any of us might play with in such a situation. All your rational intents have taken place inside your own mind, and within your family discussion, the survivor is not privy to your insight, he sees only more looters and his own red grief. You might still be a good guy in reality, with no immoral intent to steal, but had you practiced this scene in your mind before the fall you might have considered putting a sympathetic look-out in place. Your look-out could watch for returning survivors or more looting BGs, carefully discern which one this is, and intercept them in an appropriate manner to avoid any loss of life. Who knows, perhaps this lonely survivor would make a providential addition to your little clan of like-minded friends; and at the very least he could certainly use the presence of good people as he works-through his grief.

Economic collapse, or the fall of the many powers which keep modern society in-check needn't mean it's time to throw morality to the wind. In fact the opposite should be, we should all the more uphold moral ideals, since such would be among very few foundations left to stand upon in keeping our humanity intact and differentiated from the animal kingdom. In that light we should appreciate that the root of theft is greed for more than we have at hand. Greed is the most likely candidate for ushering-in collapse in the first place, why should good and moral people play that same game? Thus applying factors of greed in our scene at hand, and assuming no survivors present themselves, how much should one "take" from the farm before continuing on our merry way? If you find yourself in need then likely others are in the same need, so is it morally good to take everything you can carry, including the last can of Who-Hash? Consider leaving things for the next guy, maybe even stacking them in plain sight with a note of encouragement. If one believes in providence then we needn't be greedy. Our every kind act will only influence a better road ahead for us and for those who follow-after. If one doesn't believe in providence then surviving a collapse like we are describing can be a living Hell, with one torturous day leading into the next, with existence as the final goal - that can make for a very sad life.

Again, today is training day for this moral faculty. A person should practice recognizing ownership of items, and appreciating the payment for services as a part of what one owns. Likewise, we should be careful to consider the motives of our judgment when it comes to sharing what we have at hand. Not every charity is a rip-off, so one should judge carefully. When looking for good opportunities to give charity, try not to be lazy about it by only giving to those who come begging. The world is full of needy people who would never ask for a hand-out, and maybe they have need of some item you posses more than they need your cash. Remember, some day you might be in need, and at such a time we can hope that providence smiles on you in the same measure you smiled at others.

Three: Don't Neglect Justice
There is a verse where God commanded the Jewish people saying, "Justice, justice you shall follow, so that you may live and possess the land". The idea is implied that if His people neglect keeping justice they can expect trouble measure for measure. In the context of that command God also told them to appoint "judges and officers in all your gates". Regardless whether one lives their life by such words, it seems obvious that the principle is one that works very well when applied with care. Our great nation set a standard for such justice when the Constitution was penned, but it seems that in recent years we have neglected the proper care necessary to assure that justice is followed. In that respect I see several important reasons for this failure, and each is outlined subtly in the quotes I just made from the Bible.

First, we seem to have lost sight of what "justice" truly is. I prefer to read the Good Book in it's original language, and there I find that when it says "justice, justice" we are actually translating a word which we usually translate to say "righteousness". When we think of justice we should naturally think of what is "right", what is proper, what is moral; but sadly today we tend to argue cases based on what is "legal". To follow justice in terms of "righteousness" though, is about more than just legal concerns. Of course righteousness implies a religious connotation, and those without religion, or those who hold a minority view in regard to religion, might take offense; but in fact, the religious value of righteousness relates at a higher level than who is right or wrong about "God", it rests at a level which admits that each man is accountable. In that light every individual must consider his actions in every respect. A secular man should be concerned about his place in the community, and should abide by its laws. A religious man should have the same concerns, and in addition concern himself with his standing before God almighty.

Secondly then, we must consider that those who wish to follow justice, will from time to time be required to exercise decisions in questionable matters. As we discussed regarding murder and theft, there are times when the line between right and wrong is difficult to discern. If righteousness effects individuals as they relate to the community and to God, then how much more so the judges and groups which will serve to assure that justice is followed in a righteousness manner? 

If society collapses then our current justice system may likely follow suit. The current system is pretty whacked already, but at least it's a system. When collapse comes any remaining authorities may introduce martial law, and we can't delve into the details here for how to deal with life in those confines, so let's think smaller, focusing on the local level. When the SHTF a great many municipal funds will be weak or empty, forcing the shut-down or minimizing of police & fire departments (entire states are currently facing nearly this degree of trouble already). So the question at hand will become "How can we maintain justice"? On a local level, where individual communities have need to govern themselves in the absence of State or Federal help, people must be willing to agree together as a community regarding how justice will be served, who will administer the tough decisions, and in what way we should expect such servants of justice to labor. Jails and prisons, probationary officials, and a great many other servants of justice work behind the scenes now, but with no paycheck they may have to find other ways to eat. Without such systems local justice may not have the luxury of extended trials and lengthy appeal processes. Good people may be forced to do the best they can when deciding matters of legal consequence, and situations like that can separate the good guys from the BGs pretty quick!

Thirdly, the Biblical command to serve justice was to be measured "in your gates", meaning that each community was to appoint its judges and establish justice for itself. Difficult cases could be taken to regional and national levels for consideration, but the day to day judgments were made per the needs and understanding of the local community, in the context of the underlying moral code God had given at Sinai. In TEOTWAWKI the 613 commands given at Sinai would be neither practical nor applicable to any gentile community, but the underlying principles of morality which are common to mankind should certainly enter our discussion.

If history proves nothing else it bears record that mankind has a way of complicating things. We are prone to add tiny bits and pieces to beautifully simple ideas and processes until the beauty becomes lost in layers of details. Such has been the problem with politics and religion since the dawn of history. When the SHTF perhaps the details can melt-away and reveal the shining simplicity of moral virtue. It's hard to imagine, but the very attempt by good and godly people to live together peacefully in a world gone to Hell, might be enough to rekindle the embers of the ancient virtues of simple morality. With the collapse of religious systems morality may be reduced to the lowest common denominator, but that is NOT to say morality is out the window, (as zombies and BGs might prefer), rather it brings those who wish to live in community to a CHOICE - are they willing to look their neighbor in the face and know that the simple moral codes they have in common are more important than the dogmas which separated them before the SHTF?

Of course "the Devil is in the details", and men will always have disputes, but if a simple code of moral conduct is well-known and established, and each community upholds that code to the best of its abilities, then disputes can be settled without the need of bloated legal systems. The moral code I have been writing about up to this point is based in the seven Biblical commands given to Noah, and are known in Jewish tradition as "The Noahide laws". Living such a code in TEOTWAWKI would not necessarily make a Christian less Christian, nor should it be offensive for a Hindu or Buddhist, because we are not talking about doctrine here, but about righteous behavior. Jewish people should not be troubled by gentiles living this code, since they allege these ideas were given originally to Noah, and were reiterated by Moses at Sinai, (in fact it could be argued from Genesis that all gentiles were aware of this code already, and lived it to varying degrees from Adam’s time).

Having already discussed how three of the seven Noahide laws could be applied, its easy to consider the rest of them in a similar context. If we can assume that the best situation for mankind is to live in community, and not entirely seclude his family during troubled times, then applying this code of conduct would allow most any individual or group to get along with outsiders who adhered to the same code. Different communities might vary somewhat on their application of certain details of this code, but the general practice of these standards could aid the interactions from one community to the next for commerce and trade, since knowing the boundaries for behavior is crucial in any cultural interaction. Murder and theft are obvious problems in most any culture, and the remaining four laws are captured within the concern for justice, given that we should hope not to offend our neighbors if we want to live peaceably.

Four: Don't Be Immoral
Moving-on in this seven-part code, we can appreciate that "immorality" is often a dividing factor in today's society, and could make for difficulties even within a single community, nevertheless when several communities try to interact. Again though, we should seek common ground in this issue, and as it relates to Noah, the common ground was in the command to "be fruitful and multiply". There is really no moral truth required in realizing that the physical union of a man and woman can bring offspring, but how to formalize that sexual union is varied in many ways by cultures and religions.

Marriage is the most common way to formalize a couple's decision to mate, but to truly appreciate marriage one has to step away from his own culture and appreciate that marriage as we know it has gone through some pretty radical transformations since Noah's day. I have never walked through goats blood with another man in order to finalize a marriage contract for our children, but I suppose there were ancient Bedouins who would find it peculiar for me to hand-over my daughter to some man to watch them proceed with a marriage ceremony. Truth be told, even today our own cultural experience can easily blind us to the core value of what marriage is all about, so it isn't hard to imagine how our views on marriage might need to adjust if the SHTF.

Life must go on, and that is not all about gardening and setting-up watch posts, someone must make babies, and raise children while we adjust to whatever chaos might strike, and any of my single-parent friends are quick to admit that that the task is much easier as a couple. If one can imagine a community banding together to help protect each others crops and livestock its not a stretch to consider they would likewise guard the local gene pool. Marriage might be able to shed some of it's religious formalities if necessary, but its not likely that a man would tolerate an adulterer, or that every unwed daughter would be free to bed whoever catches her eye. In a world where food and other essentials might come at a high cost of labor and trade the idea of bringing more mouths to the table would be taken very seriously. With birth being tied directly to sex, the latter might become more of a privilege for the worthy, rather than a past-time for bored.

What we roll our eyes at today, might cause heads to roll when the SHTF, so those who are morally practiced to restrain their lusts might have a serious advantage. Let's face it, sex is not impossible outside the bonds of matrimony, and is often practiced for reasons other than procreation, so lets get practical with this idea as well, and apply it in a world gone to Hell scenario. Its not hard to fathom that some people who enjoy today's permissive societal standards for sexual deviations would love to seize the moment if law enforcement gets toned-down or disbanded. This is all the more reason to live in community and to uphold justice, since the fathers and husbands of the world aren't likely be peaceful if predators start stalking around. Who is the "bad guy" in the eyes of a community when a girl from a respectful family is deflowered or becomes pregnant? Is it only some wandering pervert who sneaked past the guards, or is the neighbor's heavily-hormonal teenage son just as bad?

The girl isn't married, she might not even be promised or engaged, so technically its not adultery, but that doesn't make his advances a good moral choice. Is she old enough to safely bear children if pregnancy occurs? Is he able to help care for them, and do his part in the community? His inability to restrain his youthful urges might itself prove him a less than worthy mate, and the world around them is an unforgiving place for those with weaknesses. Even if she, in her pining love, consents to his advances, the responsibility for their decision could easily effect the entire community, especially if pregnancy and complications should arise.

The moral choice to engage in sex could carry very grave consequences, how much more grave would be the moral choices of those who would engage in relations which are more deviant? How should the community look upon those men who would let their lusts burn toward younger girls, or toward boys? Responsibility in the context of procreation isn't even the question in such a scene, but only selfish, greedy lust. Perhaps some communities would be more morally permissive than others, but it is hard to believe those who fail to rein-in deviance would survive long, and they would be hard-pressed to expect much cooperation with neighboring communities.

Clearly any community which hopes to uphold justice would need to establish standards for sexual relations, and would be required to respond quickly and seriously when established moral lines are crossed. If the moral standards are not kept the entire community is as much at risk as if their homes were unguarded or their crops left untended, good people would suffer, the BG becomes hard to identify, since either those who were immoral should be punished, or those who permitted their treachery.

Five: Don't Blaspheme
Western culture has primarily two moral foundations, based on two unique cultures: Greek, and Jewish. The ancient Greeks had reached the height of intellect in their time, concluding that morality means what is best for society; since their day though, history has proven that ethics steered by the needs of the time can foster incredible evil in social settings. Such moral ideals can be twisted to support Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, or any other regime where an elite few live greedily off the wealth generated by the masses. Jewish culture though, refused a moral standard which shifted with the ideas of men, and recognized that morality must come from beyond the human intellect, it must come from an Eternal Being Who rewards human accomplishment in keeping with His Divine standards. Such standards, though we might find societal benefits in them, are ultimately based solely on God's design.

It is sometimes hard to picture a society rising from the ashes of collapse with the ideals and intentions of "God" at their core. It can conjure images of a wildly religious people who are prone toward mindless rituals, who are led sheep-like in a post apocalyptic world by wild-eyed shepherds. Yet the Noahide laws are quite the opposite of that picture, instead they encourage people to set-aside superstitious ideas and think for themselves about the day to day situations they are facing. This puts the rise from ashes squarely in the hands of the common folks of the community, the moral choices are not dictated by long lists of evils to avoid, but by farmers and shopkeepers with the best interest of their neighbors and community in mind.

Still, it is hard to see the idea of blasphemy as anything but religious, yet in reality this too is a moral choice. In our American Society we enjoy the luxury of a freedom to speak our minds, and think for ourselves, even if our words and actions might offend those around us. We naturally see the opposite of such freedom in the milk-toast world of some who passively permit any and all offenses against themselves with no retribution or remark. The luxury of free speech must of course be upheld, and a healthy society is a balanced one, but to what degree? If we buy our groceries at Wal-Mart then I can damn my neighbor to Hell when he offends me in some way, but when we live in community and barter or share what we can with one another, then it is imperative that we should be careful about meaningless offenses, either in taking them or in giving them out.

Any post-fall community might have citizens with a vast array of religious values and theological ideas, and while healthy debate over such things is fine in the pubs and around dinner tables, a great deal of chaos can ensue if people take lightly the religion of his neighbors. Today an Atheist and a devout Catholic can share a property line and have no real need to engage one another in conversation, but in the world we prepare for they might desperately need one another's help and camaraderie. Dare the one look down on the other for his faith, or for the lack of it? For the sake of common need both must strive to not offend in religious matters the same as they would not think of crossing sexual boundaries with his neighbor's wife. If we can concern ourselves with offending our neighbors, then surely we can avoid offending God as well. If one has no belief in God then surely he can at least play nice for the sake of those around him who do hold such values.

Blasphemy then could be defined as an impious utterance or action concerning God, or the act of cursing or reviling God. If the members of a community are willing to think before they blow-away someone with an armload of veggies, and willing to curb his desires toward a neighbor's hot-looking daughter, then surely we could also take serious moral consideration about religious values. The bad guy in this case might be some one so common as one with an off-color joke that threatens to divide good friends, here is a place to guard our tongues as well as our doors.

Six: Don't Worship Idols
Granted we don't find a lot of altars to strange deities in American culture today, and the temple prostitutes so common to pagan religion went out of style a long time ago, but that doesn't mean we can ignore this subject if we hope to build a solid core for our fledging society. In the same way we avoid impiety for the sake of others, we should be able to limit our expression of religious tastes. We take for granted the many symbols of religions today, because in modern society these become little more than marketing tools, and at most they represent ideas and events of a particular religion. These are not usually a necessary part of the actual worship, and for the sake of conscience could be eliminated if push comes to shove. A bad guy here wouldn't need to be a Satanic priest threatening to spill the blood of a child on his altar, he could be far more subtle. [JWR Adds: Modern Western societies have obviously developed many contemporary idols, including money and celebrities.]

Seven: Treat Animal Flesh Properly
I'll grant this idea may have less application in our day, but if we consider it's historical root we might be able to glean some appreciation from it. Like our mythical post-collapse world, Noah was rebuilding society after the catastrophic flood, and in the historic shadow of a world where immorality had truly run amok. He may well have been the worlds first "prepper", having worked on his ark for one hundred and twenty years before it ever floated. Genesis related that Noah was the first human being permitted to eat meat, where Adam and Eve had been given the same command to be fruitful and multiply, and they had dominion over all the animals, they were granted a strictly vegetarian diet.  Noah though was told by God that animals were now on the menu (granted He says it more eloquently), but that they should not be eaten while they are still alive. This basically says that we shouldn't remove a chunk of meat or a limb from some poor beast without first ending it's life.

This is more important than we might realize at first glance. Remember how seriously we take the idea of ending a human life? That care is part of what makes-up our humanity, our moral base, but how far does that respect for life go? If conditions dictate that mankind needs to forage from the ground like an animal for a period of time to stay alive, is he reduced to the level of a beast? No, we should of course recognize the priority of man over the other living things thriving on our planet, but we should also appreciate that each life is brought before us by the grace of God. Today I can buy meat in a package and not even think about the long hours of hard work by crews of people who carefully kill and carve some unsuspecting bovine into my juicy T-bone, but when I'm hunting, and the life of some beast is in my hands, or farming and its time to put-up some bacon, it is important to appreciate the animal whose life will soon be supporting my own.

I should strive to make a clean kill, and to not be wasteful of the remains. In many ways the hunt or harvest of a living animal, and the labors of bringing it's meat to my table, should be a constant reminder that none of us live on our own. We breathe in and out, but even the energy to do so must be maintained constantly, and I should be glad to have that which feeds my need. If my heart can grow too cold to the spilling of blood for the purpose of maintaining my life, then how long till I fail to appreciate the sweat of my family or neighbors who help me labor toward that goal? Life is a powerful thing, but we hold it loosely in our hands far more often than we realize. Our own life would start to wane as soon as we fail to lift the spoon to our mouths, and the life of a "bad guy" might be either strengthened or spilled by our simple judgment of his intentions, a motive which is rarely as clearly revealed as we think, and which we must take care to judge rightly even during these days or moral training before the SHTF.

Those of us who see the end coming, rarely think of it as such literally. I for one think the "end" is simply a collapse of systems that haven't worked and are designed precisely by greedy elitists to "not work" for the average Joe. To such folks we the people are no more that the analogous "copper tops" of The Matrix,  We are an energy source from which they draw the power for their machines. The energy is our labor, and the power is the capital (spelled "dollars" in America) we use in order to eke-out existence from day to day. That power turns the gears of a vast network of machines, but the joke is on those elites, because as long as they are dependent on us for energy they have no real life of their own, they are truly machines and must therefore constantly devise new ways to avoid our inevitable waking from the slumber they have synthetically produced for us. When the day comes we realize that we can live without the many and various venues of entertainment which lull our sleep, their number will be up. But when that day comes we must prove ourselves more than just bipedal animals, we must be moral beings, capable of building a world which is better than the one upon whose ashes we would build.

One of the more unsettling observations that I’ve increasingly noticed in the current talking circles of the internet catastrophe/ end-times web-sites is the lack of agreement on whether or not a manmade scenario or an earth caused event hits us first. The preparations for either are complex, the preparations for both at the same time may be so much so, as to leave holes in our efforts. It might be prudent therefore to consider the strength and synergism of developing a team of like minded individuals or families to fill in these holes that may be unseen in our preparations as well as spreading the cost of goods over more people.

Think about it for a moment. What are all the scenarios we have read about concerning man-made disasters; an EMP event, a city destroying nuclear event, an economic collapse requiring martial law, an economic collapse not requiring martial law, severe food shortages causing rioting, et cetera. Then think about potential terra disasters; the New Madrid fault earthquake, further seismic activity in the West, cosmic object collisions, and on and on. The inability to know which one or combination of these events that may take place necessitates a problem solving ability that may be beyond the individual’s skills and resources. We may need help.

The idea of having a team concept of surviving a disaster will cause one to think a lot about who to trust. For example, one day in the office I was relating a story to a fellow worker about a man that I knew was a prudent survivalist, my fellow worker off handedly stated that all of the man’s preparations would be for naught as he would just kill him and take his resources. I had no idea that my co-worker planned to be a thieving anarchist, but now I do and that is good information. This is information we need to have well in advance of hardship. Begin now to find a non-aggressive way to explore people’s way of thinking about such things, and while you’re at it, you may be able to help some to get ready themselves. The more you expand your territory of knowing who you can trust the less likely it is to fall prey to those who do harm. As you perform this exercise of personnel scouting you should also identify those who think that you’re crazy but are themselves harmless and might be a very helpful part of a survival team. Government employees, law enforcement, and people with specialty skills come to mind as well as friends and members of our family. Crazy is sort of a relative term.

There are a myriad of possibilities and types of team building paradigms that might encompass the various circumstances in which we in America may find ourselves. Each unit that is formed will have properties of the individuals and environmental factors that shape it into a logical and workable micro-society. These units could be built around common grounds of faith, community organizations, or simply a group of like-minded friends as well as many others. The small community that my parents live in has two or three meals a week that are sponsored by various groups for fund raising endeavors. These are well attended by young and old alike and become a nesting ground for like minded conversation and expansion of relationships. When you are looking for help, act a little helpless. You’ll get more sincere reactions and hence will discover more good information about people. You may have to spend a lot of time and put a lot of faith in members of your survival group, best to start with honesty and truthfulness.

Along with the planning and detail of getting ready for some future cataclysmic event there should also be some thought on a worst case scenario of living for an extended period without law. If indeed the civil authority is overwhelmed or non-existent because of the severity of the disaster there will be a lawless state of affairs. Preparing yourself and your team for such a time will prove to be as necessary and useful as any other skills for the safety and longevity of the group. I don’t believe it will be as simple as friend or foe, with us or against us, shoot or don’t shoot. The structures of a civil society could be taken back hundreds of years. How we choose to live when there is no law should be the number one factor in our selection of team members or our nurturing of those that end up in our group. Living without the law will be a turning point event in everyone’s life. Deep-seated beliefs and conditioned responses will rule unless an alternative way of thinking is agreed upon. One can imagine the life and death decisions that may have to be made to protect and prolong the group’s survival.

We have heard our Presidents speak of this nation as a country where the rule of law is supreme. This may not be as comforting as you may think. If the law breaks down, then what takes its place as supreme? If I want to kill you but I don’t because of my fear of going to jail, then the threat of jail is the only safety net of society. Many of the disasters that we are hearing about will remove this safety net. We only have to look at ourselves and imagine how our response to a hostile threat might change if we knew there was no threat of jail. Would we become more lethal? These are indeed issues that need to be aired out in our group of survivalist. Will our group trust in violence alone to survive? I would hope not. There is an alternative way of life that does not need the rule of law to operate.
Jesus said that to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourselves would fulfill (or put an end to) the law. If this statement is true, and I believe it is, then the world that we can build around us would no longer be held up by the rather frail institution of jail. The threat of jail would no longer be a factor in my choice to not kill you; my choice would be based on the relational concept of neighbors. In other words, the change in the temperament of the world around me would have no bearing on my choices as my choices are not based on whether or not I will go to jail for my actions, my choices are based upon what is best for my neighbors. How the members in our group may feel about such things and how far down that road of self-sacrifice that some or none or all are on, is a question that should be well vetted at some point in the building process. Are all the members committed to giving strangers every chance possible to be neighborly, withholding judgment and violence until it is absolutely obvious that the strangers are deadly and only intend harm? Are all members in agreement as to the amount of resources that are available to be shared with others before there is a risk to the survival of the group itself? Thinking outside the box of self-reliance and conditioning oneself to doing whatever would be best for others in my experience actually helps to make questions like these less complex.

So far I have mostly discussed the importance of a common view of beliefs and goals and reactions among the group’s members. In closing I would like to touch upon the actual bonds within the group itself and how the members organize themselves into a workable unit. I have spent thirty-plus years managing small teams of men and women in various work environments. This experience has taught me that without a doubt the military or corporate model is not the correct way to build a team of people. Jesus used the paradigms of family and friends when He trained and managed the team of men and woman that were to end up changing the world. Think about a family for a minute. Brothers and sisters sitting around a supper table, each with their own gifts, strengths, and weakness. In a survival situation, none of the members would be rejected, strengths and gifts would be utilized and weaknesses would be made up by others or simply overlooked. Communication could be open and direct without fear of offenses and personality conflicts. Paul told Timothy;”Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger  men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters with all purity.” Thinking of others in your group as family members may be a stretch for some, but it will deepen bonds and commitments to one another’s safety and well being. Putting others ahead of ourselves should be our method of operation. It is easier to do this with family and friends than with bosses and leaders.

I took the opportunity once to ask a Missouri state legislator what type of emergency plan they had to distribute food and resources in the event of cataclysmic proportions. He said that as far as he knew they had none. I repeated the question because I thought he had misunderstood me. Again he said none. Let us make haste to prepare to protect those things that are counted as unimportant to those we have mistakenly put in charge.

JWR Adds: In the hour-long audio CD that accompanies the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course I discuss some of the dynamics of survival groups--most notably some strategies for motivating relatives who keep their heads thrust into the sand. Keep in mind that everyone has their own particular interests and "hot buttons". For many, your emphasis should be on encouraging food storage. Even if they cannot see the necessity to have lots of food on hand for extended emergencies, they will usually recognize the cost saving advantages of buying in bulk quantities. Others can often be attracted to preparedness as an adjunct to an existing hobby like gardening, amateur radio, shooting, caring for pets, or raising livestock. Not everyone will respond, but do your best. Every member of your extended family that you can encourage to get prepared represents one less individual that will come begging on your doorstep on TEOTWAWKI+1. So it is is in your best interest to see them get squared away.

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

  • I just finished the novel What So Proudly We Hailed by South Carolina author James Howard. It is in the "Cozy Catastrophe" genre, and has a victorious Christian message. I love reading books that are prophetically and scripturally sound. This is the second book, which I've read recently, in which the author selects Islam as the religion out of which the Anti-Christ and his prophet arise. This book was both fast-paced and thought provoking. It is a bit scant on the "nuts and bolts" of surviving a disaster, but it definitely addresses the "mindset" aspect. In a nutshell, the first chapter begins with an actual dream the author had in 2006: A limited dirty bomb nuclear attack on the United States causes the grid to go down. The author presents his envisioning of what one Christian family could do, with what they already have, to survive a grid-down disaster. The family decides to take a "vacation" on their coastal cruiser off the Coast of South Carolina within 24 hours of the attacks. The father listens to a radio which tells of the Islamic religion in the USA taking advantage of the situation and helping folks while indoctrinating them with Islam and controlling their freedom. Meanwhile overseas, the Twelfth Imam reveals himself and his prophet and unites the Islamic countries worldwide into one Islamic coalition. The story explains how the family deals with this while meeting non-Christian folks who are threats to them, and meeting Christian folks who help them survive/remain free and independent.
  • The novel The World Ends in Hickory Hollow by Ardath Mayhar was another recent read. It is even more strongly in the Cozy Catastrophe genre. It was a very enjoyable read. The family in the story had moved back to their roots of homestead living in central Texas before the grid went down from a limited nuclear war. Because this family often loses electricity for days at a time, they think very little of this power outage until they enter their local town on the day of their weekly mail collection and shopping trip and discover the new reality. There were many scenarios in this book that gave me much to think about what may happen in a grid down situation: who to care for and what to do with orphans, acquiring sturdy housing, foodstuffs, discerning who to allow in to the community, defense training, training up the younger generation, dealing with self-appointed lawmen, et cetera. The local bad women made all-too believably wicked villains.
  • A homeschooling guide that we often refer to is the Rainbow Resource Center catalog. It is the size of metropolitan phone book. It is an excellent catalog for acquiring anything and everything on nearly any homeschool subject. For folks new to homeschooling or contemplating it, the catalog is also is a great book that gives an overview of the many types of homeschool philosophies and programs and curriculums available. In a sense, it could be considered a modern Codex Calixtinus for homeschoolers.
  • I'm right in the middle of reading the new book Crashing the Dollar: How to Survive a Global Currency Crisis by Craig Smith. It is a well-researched book that spells out the current monetary and credit market policies, and their inevitable conclusion. It is a very, very scary scenario that is being continued at an accelerated pace by BHO and his buddies in D.C. I'd say that this is a good book to give to your relatives that don't understand the need to hedge their investments with precious metals.

Ever since I was a young'n, it has been hard for me to pass a dumpster or trash heap without investigating it.  I quickly learned that folks throw out a lot of good stuff, thinking it is worthless (someone said "one man's trash is another man's treasure"); e.g. I've found appliances which only need a new electrical plug!  Nowadays, the same habit has greatly enhanced my prepping inventory, and best of all, it's free, leaving more of my tight budget to buy store-bought items.  If you collect more things than you can use, the extras can be bartered, sold, or given/lent.  

I'll start with some common-sense cautions: 

1) Avoid climbing on or in dumpsters.  No sense getting injured, even before the SHTF.  Or, you can get trapped inside a high-walled one.  If you have to, carry two ladders with you.  Also, it's common to meet up with nasty critters inside. 

2)  Unless you're starving, stay away from food garbage dumpsters.  Although, I must admit, I've gotten perfectly good food items from behind grocery stores which were discarded on the sell-by date. 

3)  Watch for nails and other "sharps".  Wear gloves. 

4) To be safe (legal), seek permission beforehand.  In my experience, checking with the site guys always resulted in a friendly "sure, go ahead!" 

5)  Do not touch the charity bins, such as those owned by Goodwill.  

I've personally gotten my best finds from construction sites.  Obviously, there's mostly wood, but hey, I'm a woodchuck anyway, and have made many projects out of scrap lumber.  Also a good source for kindling.  I've found plenty of other goodies, though:  tools which only needed a new handle (often you can find a tool with the handle bad and another one with the steel part bad, and swap the parts).  The best thing I've been getting lately by far is scrap copper, as #2 (not shiny) is fetching $2.80/lb. 

You'd be surprised at the number of short lengths crews throw out.  Plastic buckets are very common, as are pallets (both have multiple uses)   Some of the best troves can be found when a company is going out of business (nowadays, imagine that!).  It just isn't worth their time to try and sell a lot of their office and shop stuff.  Good furniture, filing cabinets, pads of paper,  buckets of nuts and bolts, cleaning supplies, etc.  

Obviously, you're going  to have to do a bit of investigating in order to find the best dumpsters.  Once you do, you can visit the same ones every few days or so and get more of the same stuff you previously found.   The biggest drawback a lot of you will have is the attitude of "wouldn't stoop so low", or "that is just too embarrassing".  Well, over the years I've come to realize just how right my late mother was when she always told me "pride goeth before the fall".  Maybe not a direct quote, but now I understand it. - Bullet Bob

Surprise, surprise: Fed aid in financial crisis went beyond U.S. banks to industry, foreign firms

B.B. sent this from the Des Moines Register: Why farmland is skyrocketing. (I've been telling folks to invest in productive farm land, for many years. I told you so!)

How muni bond bust could do big damage

Foreclosure mess could threaten banks, report. (A tip of the hat to Kelly D. for the link.)

Elitists Leading On An Odyssey Of Economic Ruin. (An excerpt from Bob Chapman's weekly International Forecaster) Our thanks to frequent link contributor John R.

I told you so: Spot silver hit $30 per ounce on Monday, and meanwhile gold briefly touched $1,420.

Items from The Economatrix:

"Shock and Awe" in Precious Metals  

Strange Events At The Comex ... Gold and Silver Continue to Advance  

Bernanke Warns on Long-Term Joblessness

Job Growth Weak for November in Setback for Economy  

Confronting the Devils of the Financial and Sovereign Debt Crisis 

SurvivalBloggers will consider this well-trodden ground, but since it is a concise summary, so it might be a good link to forward to Pollyanna relatives: How To Prepare For The Coming Financial Apocalypse.

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V.L. flagged this: Hoarding more than just a little clutter. Unfortunately everyday preppers may get ensnared in new regulations designed to stop compulsive hoarders.

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OMG That's OTT Department: SureFire “Quad-Stack” AR Rifle Magazines. The word "impractical" doesn't begin to describe this product. Prone shooting? Forget it!

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Ghost Towns: Ciudad Juarez Residents Flee New Homes to Escape Drug War Violence

"A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately, they don't have a J.-O.-B." - Fats Domino

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just one week left! 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 two entries for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

  1. Where to Begin

First, take into account how many mouths you have to feed, what resources you currently have available and what resources will be available if SHTF in your current location.  Figure out a monthly budget that includes money coming in, bills going out, and what you have left over.  This will give you an idea of where you can trim the fat. (We will cover more on this later.)  Next, take an inventory of you already have that will be useful if SHTF, such as lighters, matches, wool clothing or blankets, canned food.  If you have camping gear, include this.  You will want to find or prepare your own “wish list” of items you are in need of.  List items from most to least expensive, and put them in categories of “must have” (food and water) and “nice to have” (spices or a generator).

  1. Research

Study books and web sites to help fine tune and add to your list.  Good research will help you to avoid costly, inappropriate purchases.  None of us know exactly how much time we have for preparation, but many of us see that time is short.  Adequate research will play a major role in helping you cover all your bases with a limited budget and time frame.  Building a library of books and other materials that you can refer back to while preparing for and being in survival situations is a good idea.  During stressful times, it may be hard for you to remember all of the information that you have learned.  Further research will help you find what works and what doesn’t in survival situations. 

2. Necessities

The obvious necessities will be food, water, and shelter, but you will also need to consider adequate clothing for multiple seasons, hygiene supplies, pet supplies (if you have pets).  You will also need multiple forms of fire starting devices (magnesium striker, lighters, matches, etc.), water purification (Steri-Pen, tablets, filter, etc.).  Don’t forget batteries for devices like the Steri-Pen that are useless without them.  At the very least you will need a .22 LR, but if you can acquire a variety of calibers (pistols, shotguns, rifles), that would be even better.  I recommend a pistol that is 9mm or higher, a 12 gauge or 20 gauge shotgun, and a rifle such as a .223, a 7.62x39mm, or a .308 etc.  Each gun will serve its own purpose.  Pistol=defense, shotgun=defense/hunting, rifle=long range defense/big game hunting.  You need to get an adequate supply of ammunition for each gun you plan on using.

3. Trimming the Fat

Once you have put your finances and budget under the microscope, you should be able to find areas that you can “trim the fat.”  For example, if you have a student loan, consider deferring if for a few months or paying minimum payments on your credit cards and using those payments to get aggressive on stockpiling your supplies.  You might consider not putting much money, if any, into your 401k or other retirement accounts until you have accumulated adequate supplies.  Now, don't skip payments on your mortgage or car and get yourself into a bind, but be creative about where you can feasibly trim the fat on your budget.  You could treat yourself to that $80 steak dinner, or you could use that same $80 to purchase a week’s worth of rations for your family.  Part of trimming the fat is making sacrifices now (budget meals at home, brown bag lunch) in order to adequately provide for your family if SHTF.

4. Making Your Dollar Stretch Farther

As nice as it would be to be able to have a year’s supply of # 10 cans of food, MREs, Mountain House foods, etc., a year’s supply of any of these for a family could cost you upwards of $3,500 just for food.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have that laying around.  There are many items out there that don’t have as long of a shelf life, but they can feed you if SHTF.  Dinty Moore soups, Spam, condensed soup, powdered milk, potted meats, powdered Gatorade, a variety of nuts, home-made preserves, honey, peanut butter…  there is a huge variety of foods that have a 3 to 4 year shelf life.  All of these foods are readily available, and they are often on sale. 

As survival preparedness has become more mainstream, the cost has risen greatly on foods such as MREs, whereas checking weekly grocery ads will commonly find you great sale prices and coupons.  Last week, our local Wal-Mart had the big cans of Campbell’s Chunky soups for $1.25 each.  We bought in quantity.  One can could easily feed 3-4 people in a survival situation and the shelf life is 3-1/2 years.  We also found 7 gallon water containers for half the price that I have seen on survival gear web sites.  Stock up when you find the good deals.  I have learned through experience that often I can find the same or comparable product for less money at a store like Wal-Mart.  Also their camping gear goes on clearance every fall as well as sporting goods stores.  

Signing up for store buyer’s clubs or store credit cards can earn you rewards and give you big discounts on merchandise. [JWR Adds: But keep in mind that using buying club cards or a credit card leaves a paper trail, whereas traditional purchases with greenback cash do not.]

I hope this helps you, it comes from trial and error experience.  Stay strong and focused, be prepared.

Mr. Rawles:
I'm befuddled. My husband says that the new orange 5-gallon buckets they sell at Home Depot are the same as "food grade" buckets, because they are made of the same plastic. But my sister says they aren't food grade. Who is right? Thanking You in Advance, - Lena in Indiana

JWR Replies: This has been discussed before in SurvivalBlog, but it comes up so often that it bears repeating: As I explain in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course, determining whether or not a plastic bucket is truly food grade can be a challenge. I've had several readers and consulting clients who have mistakenly been told that the the number 2 (with the number 2 inside the "chasing arrows" recyclable plastic symbol) refers to Food Grade HDPE, but that is not true. Not all "2" marked plastics are food grade!

Here is the distinction: The "food grade" designation is determined by plastic purity by and what mold release compound is used in the injection molding process--not by the plastic itself, since all virgin HDPE raw material is safe for food. For paint and other utility buckets, manufacturers sometimes use a less expensive (and toxic) mold release compound. For food grade they must use a more expensive formulation that is non-toxic. Unless the buckets that you bought are are actually marked "food grade", (or, marked "NSF", "FDA", or "USDA" approved), then you will have to check with the manufacturer's web site to see if they make all food grade buckets.

For more details, see the information at this barbecue and brining web site. (BTW, the same web page has some great advice on removing odors and stains from HDPE buckets.) If in doubt, then mark the suspect buckets to strictly non-food item storage, such as for storing cleaning supplies, clothing items, or ammunition.


I'm writing to recommend the Surviving Disaster series. It was a simulation of real life disaster situations produced by Spike. Hosted by former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley, each episode retells situations in a worst-case scenario and what viewers can do to survive them. There have been ten episodes aired to date. The series was not picked up for a second season.

Spike TV has the entire season available online.

I have found this show to be quite helpful should you ever be caught in any of those situations.

Enjoy, - KJP

Letter Re: Cooking & Canning Beans and Meat

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for all of your efforts to share such useful information that can be used in our daily lives and in the times ahead!   I would like to compliment Marie H. for sharing much useful information on pressure canning beans and meat. However, there is one bit of information that scares me big time: using a tongs to remove the pressure regulating weight to decrease the pressure quickly. Even the thought of doing this sends shivers down my spine.   As a multi-generational food producer and processor, with 2 decades of pressure canning experience, I'd never, ever consider such a thing. First, not one food processing book I've ever seen recommends dumping the pressure quickly. On the contrary, they warn against it and recommend the the pressure canner be allowed to cool and lose pressure by removing it from the heating unit. Second, from personal experience, removing the weight at low pressure creates a geyser of scalding steam. I've never tried it at high pressure. This high temperature steam would be incredibly dangerous.   

Even if it could be done without injury, the extreme change in pressure makes if far more likely to have a canning jar break or the lids to fail. The liquid inside the canning jar will boil violently with the fast change in pressure possibly warping the lid if it is tight, getting food particles under the seal causing it to fail or if you are lucky, just force a portion of the liquid out from under the canning lid.    My family and friends all use two or more pressure canners during canning season. That way, as pressure canner is processing, the second one is being filled. Then when the first one is taken off the stove to allow to cool, the second one is allowed to cool. We have been known to pressure can 60 or more jars in a longgggggg day using this method.   I've used  Presto brand pressure canners for years with no problems other than replacing the rubber gasket on occasion. I like the tall ones as I can get 18 pints in them at one time using a second shelf above the first layer of pints.    May your Light continue to shine! Steven S.

I can, that is "jar", quite a bit, using the boiling water bath, as well as a pressure cooker.   Based on experience, watching my mother as a child, I personally find it easier and safer to wear heavy duty Bluette latex loves with cloth-linings, for handling the hot jars.  I rarely use the canning lift tool.  Just reach in the boiling water with gloved hands and grab the jars.  And for washing jars, they decrease the likelihood of a broken jar cutting my hands.  And always, always, no matter what the temperature is in the summer, wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and real shoes [not sandals] to be safer from scalding splashes. My local True Value hardware is my source for Bluettes.  My the local food cop sells the Atlas brand -- a similar glove.

On SurvivalBlog, everyone's efforts sharing knowledge is an outstanding display of the best in people. Thanks to everyone. - Timothy R.

America Bails Out A Thankless World  Here is an excerpt: "Turns out the Fed had over a dozen emergency programs operating beginning in 2007-08, one of them lending close to $9 trillion to Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and other troubled institutions, often at the comical interest rate of 1%."

John R. suggested this insightful piece by David at Deepcaster: Profit-Lessons from The Ongoing Europe/USA Crises

Reader Davis sent flagged this: Mounting State Debts Stoke Fears of Looming Crisis

Bob G. sent this item: The Patriotic and Moral Imperative for Owning Gold and Silver

Items from The Economatrix:

FDIC Takes Gloves Off for Failed Bank Losses  

Euro Slide Gathers Pace on Debt Crisis Fears 

Holiday Shoppers Came Out to Spend in November  

White House Presses Congress for Jobless Benefits  

Fed May be Central Bank of the World After UBS  

UK Banks Borrowed More than $1 Trillion from Fed  

Fed Reveals it Dished Out Trillions to World Banks to Aid The Crisis   

I got a bit of a shock when I dropped by my local coin shop, planning to buy some pre-1965 non-numismatic ("junk") U.S. silver coins for Christmas gifts for Rawles family members. Their asking prices was 21.1 times face value! I was also surprised to see a few minty-looking 1964 proof quarters mixed in with the dealer's tray of junk silver coins. He said that the spot price of bullion silver has galloped up so quickly that it has completely overshadowed any numismatic value for the 1964 proof Washington quarters. These are strange and exciting times for the coin bourse! The next coin show that I attend should be wild.

Rice May Triple in 18 Months As Supplies Tighten  

Reader G.W. mentioned: "I buy Nutivia Organic extra-virgin coconut oil. An 8 pound tub (1 Gallon) was $43.99 January, 2010. But it was $49.99 with my last purchase in late November, 2010. (A 13.6% increase.)"

America's Leading Export: Inflation

Is QE2 the Road to Zimbabwe-style Hyperinflation? Not Likely

Global Food Prices About To Break An All Time High

Is there a SurvivalBlog reader who lives offshore that has some available server space? My goal is to set up both a public access mirror (or multiple mirrors) and a closed peer-to-peer set of torrent files of SurvivalBlog, to keep as a "worst case" situation back-up. These back-up files will be automatically be updated daily. Please e-mail me if you have some server space available in a country that is not reflexively obedient to the U.S. government. (Preferably somewhere like Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Andorra, Sealand, or Tonga.) Alternatively, is there a scripting guru out there that can create a script that will automatically create a Torrent of all the archived SurvivalBlog posts, on a daily basis?

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Donald S. mentioned this sign of the times: Backwoods Home magazine has announced that they are now offering the option of selling annual subscriptions for $1 in pre-'65 silver coin.

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New East Palo Alto license plate readers will run all plates through crime databases. JWR Notes: FWIW, back at the turn of the century I worked as a technical writer for Oracle Corporation. By geographic necessity I commuted to Oracle's Redwood Shores headquarters via East Palo Alto. At that time the city had lots of illicit drug dealers and a very high street crime rate. I suspect that situation hasn't changed much. These license plate scanners are a troubling development. The erosion of our liberty is most noticeably felt in the big cities, but we are all suffering for it.

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I heard that Mountain House now has a four week order backlog on their storage foods in #10 cans, and they've stopped taking any new direct purchase orders from the general public on their canned foods. They are also now strictly rationing their distributors. Buy now, while there are still fairly ample supplies in the pipeline. As I've noted in SurvivalBlog before, the long term food storage industry is very small, and it doesn't take much of a macro level event to completely overwhelm their production capacity. OBTW, for a limited time, Ready Made Resources is still offering a free U.S. Mint Silver Eagle one-ounce silver coin with each full case order. (These must be full cases of six cans, and the same variety.)

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Fire and ice headlines: Fire in Israel, and Bitter Cold in Europe.

"The only purpose for a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should have never laid down." - Clint Smith, founder of Thunder Ranch

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Anyone that has ever considered using lesser-known caves beneath public land (or private land--by ownership or permission) as fallout shelters might find this article of interest. The many challenges and special safety considerations have been previously discussed in a previous SurvivalBlog letter and in follow-up letters.

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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I got hooked on spelunking in the early 1990s in Tennessee. It was an adventure that would last for about 5 years and take me in several different caves including one that I went in between 35 to 40 times. There are basics to know when planning a cave trip and you need to have a good plan up front before starting out on your journey. I can’t say that I had them all right when I first started but I think my guardian angel kept me safe.

Leave an Itinerary

  1. Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before so you are well rested .
  2. Eat a good breakfast before you go but don’t eat heavy after you come out until you are close to home.
  3. Leave word of where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  4. Leave a map of the directions to the location.
  5. Have phone numbers for the local police and emergency teams in the area.
  6. Let someone know a time of when they should call emergency teams.
  7. Make sure to leave cell numbers of phones you will have on your trip
  8. Never go with less then two people and three to four is preferred   Making sure to leave the five above will ensure that if there would be a problem that you know at a certain point, someone would be looking for you and would know where to start.  


Clothing plays an important role in being prepared as well. Most people that I have ever seen get rescued from a cave, had no idea what they were getting into. When they were pulled out they would have a t-shirt and shorts on with a cheap plastic flashlight and no food or water. So getting back to clothing, 53 degrees is not bad when you are moving but when you stop in a cave it can get cold quickly. I suggest these items of clothing on your trip:

  1. Jeans, pants, not shorts. You will be crawling on your hands and knees and sometimes even your belly so you will want that protection on your legs. Also they will help keep the heat in when you are not moving.              
  2. A t-shirt and a hooded sweat jacket. Again, a t-shirt is good if you are moving but when you stop you are going to want something that will cover your arms and give your body some warmth. Also if it is a hooded jacket it will help keep the heat from escaping out the top of your head.  
  3. Gloves. I prefer those weight lifting or riding gloves with the fingers cut out because the padding on your palms gives you protection when you are crawling but you want your finger tips exposed so you can feel  what you are grabbing hold of when you are climbing.
  4. Shoes and socks. Your feet are probably one of the most important parts of your body when it comes to these times of adventures. They have to be working well in order to get you in and out safely. I have used hiking boots and tennis shoes. I prefer a good high top tennis shoes or a light weight hiking boot. As far as socks go, I always regular tube socks but I always took a spare and a pair of thermal socks.


Now let's talk about lighting. Lighting is very important and you want to know what is out there because it has changed allot since I was going  but none the less there is still the basics. As far as what I used it was MagLite, the best handheld light for the job.  I have had one fall about 30 feet and land on solid rock and when we picked it up, the only thing wrong was the button was stuck. Once we fixed the button which was just moving it with our finger, the light turned on. Here are a few others I would look into. 

  1. Petzl Explorer Light System ($299 from Karst Sports.) This is more for the hard core spelunker but would out of reach for the average person.
  2. Petzl E69 P Duo 5 LED ($109 from Karst Sports.) While this is a little more affordable it still expensive.
  3. Petzl Tikka Headlamps from
  4. I suggest these series of Petzl lights as they start around $20.00 and go up from there. I also suggest checking the web sites as I found better prices while I was looking. As far as Petzl headlamps go I would rate the as one of the best for caving. I have researched them and talked to people who have used them and they had nothing bad to say about them.  
  5. (4) 8 hour glow sticks.

First Aid Kit

Now it is time to talk about first aid. When planning for a trip like this, you may want some basic items that are just common place. Remember that you are going to be crawling around and getting you hands dirty. You don’t want to be treating an open wound with dirty hands so think about the list below as getting prepared.

  1. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes (This allows you to clean your hands and to clean up the area that is injured.)
  2. Exam gloves
  3. Splinter forceps and EMT shears
  4. Razor blade
  5. (20) Ibuprofen tablets
  6. (20) Aspirin
  7. (4) 12” long pieces of wood to use for splints
  8. 1” Medical tape
  9. Duct tape
  10. (2) ACE bandages with Velcro
  11. (1) small paper bag
  12. Roll, 4.5" Kling gauze
  13. (4) 4x4" gauze bandages
  14. (2) Instant Cold Packs
  15. (20) 1" Band-aids, cloth
  16. (10) butterfly Band-aids
  17. (2) finger splints
  18. (1) 2oz tube of TF RenewAll ($22.95)
  19. (1) 4oz spray bottle of Cedarcide
  20. (2) gallon size Ziploc bags
  21. Glucose tablets                                

Beyond reliable light, food and water is probably the most important items on these trips. You must remember that even though your plan is to go in and come out in the same day, you can’t always rely on that. So for each person that is on your trip you should plan on a 3 day supply of food and water to sustain you if there should be a mishap. Those foil bags of tuna is ideal and it is good for you. Also, a hard candy like Jolly Ranchers are good to keep your mouth from getting dry. Other food items I have taken is beef jerky, trail mix, sunflower seeds and nuts. You can be creative in this department and pick things you know you love to eat.   Last of all, there are some other things you may think about carrying but these are more for the advanced adventurer, like climbing rope, ascenders, harnesses, carabineers, chalks, and a figure eight.

Plan on having a good and safe time and when you plan it out ahead of time, and you will always start out in the right direction. One thing I do want to add. You really need a book like Caves of Tennessee that I listed below. It will give you useful information about the cave or caves you want to go to. If it describes a "major breakdown" then I would say scratch it off your list because if you look at the dates of when it was explored it was probably more the 50 years ago and it is probably not safe now.

Useful Web Sites and Reading

Caves of Tennessee – This book is excellent! I owned it and most of the caves that I explored were out of this book.

An Introduction to Caves and Caving – This web site will give more in depth information about caving.

These vendor web sites will give you an idea of what is out there and prices:  
Inner Mountain Outfitters
Gonzo Guano Gear
Karst Sports  
Rescue Response            

I am trying to picture my intended audience on a typical weekday, sitting down at your computer for a brief respite or perhaps you are working at your desk all day and are checking SurvivalBlog for your daily reality moorings.

First about myself: With my family I recently relocated to a state "west of the Mississippi River with multiple right-angle borders" where I am very fortunate to have found a job at all. I thank God that I am making a living--which is 1/5th of the wage of my previous job back east, where I worked for a well-known corporation. Can there be any argument that defense contracting or government jobs pay well? So then why did I give up that life? It comes down to location and timing.

Let us say that you live and work somewhere near a “large vending machine of federal spending.” Times are good, it is after October 1st (the money valve has been reopened), and you probably earn a comfortable salary. Maybe you have prior military experience, a college degree, people working under you, or even a security clearance—all of that raising your salary significantly higher still. But, it is not a question of Patriotism or even ideology, rather of location and timing.

You know that where you are is more than likely a higher cost-of-living area and a high-population-density area. Probably not where you want to live for a retreat That's the location. You know that this economy is not going anywhere but down. Taking into account reading this one blog daily, supplemented by the occasional article, a snippet of Fox News here and there, a recent historical perspective of the commodities markers, or even just minding the prices at your grocery store. That's the timing. So what of it?

To a disinterested third party observer, it seems that there is little difference between you in your present circumstances and a person in an elevator that is plummeting down the shaft, with the plan of jumping at just the right time to avoid the catastrophic impact.

This crash is imminent, you know it, and I know it. But “location and reality” are not on your side if you choose to remain in “Egypt” until things really get bad. By then you can't just leave. How bad is bad?

I know, I know, you are thinking that you can make more money where you are now, and buy a bigger/better retreat in another location later, when it gets really bad. What will you take with you? How will you move all of your preparations there? Are you just going to rent a truck from someone—what will fuel cost? Were you thinking that people will still be accepting the Federal Reserve Notes that you currently earn now for valuable retreat property later? At this place that you have in mind--will the well already be drilled, garden planted, firewood cut and stacked, beehives set up, fruit and nut trees planted, houses built, neighbors befriended, good hunting and fishing areas scouted, homeschooling materials procured, tools sharpened, food dehydrated, skills acquired, vehicles maintained, stores secured (with extra set aside for charity), livestock cared for, and solar power installed?

If you are planning on bugging in and have prayed about it, then there are no action items here for you; feel free to stop reading. For those of you still reading this who have proclaimed Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, do not dismay, for our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He does not need you, but He does require your obedience (Psalm 50). If you know that you are not where you should be, doing what you should be doing, when you should be doing it, and you have felt the nudge of the Lord telling you otherwise then, friend, this article is for you. If you plan on surviving in the face of adversity, then how will you be strong enough to do so if you do not build up those muscles now? Bad times are coming in America, and the whole world for. I need not tell you because you probably already have read the book of Daniel and Revelation (among other relevant portions of Scripture) to know that in the end, the good guys are delivered and God wins (Romans 8:12-27). Until God reconciles everything, we are saved not by works, but to work (James 2:14-26).

My family and I first got the call from the Lord to make this move a year and a half ago. Leaving a job where I made more money than anyone else in my family ever had was a very difficult decision for us to make. After all, I too was in “Club Fed” for many years. I worked in a very rewarding career to keep our guys in the know. I had every reason to stay put, to maintain the status quo and to keep working in “Egypt.” This was my life until one day when I got into a discussion about rain barrels with our assistant pastor. He scribbled: “” on the church bulletin for me to look up. However, those who argue with the Lord will generally get the “luxury” as in the case of Jonah to decide which end of the great fish they would like to exit. Yes, I had the cool job, six figure salary, great benefits, medical coverage, lots of vacation time, the opportunity to travel all over this great country as well as to “exotic locations,” etc, a.k.a. the golden handcuffs. None of this may change your mind, as a matter of fact you can be willfully ignorant for as long as you like. Or you can arrive at the realization that life can be less expensive, yet more fulfilling out here in fly-over-country (especially when you have used that big salary to pay off your debt first). Anyone else going down this path needs to know and we are in the grip of a merciful God who knows the end when He calls you (Romans 8:28-39). If that is you, then you know what you need to do—hey, if Christianity was easy, everyone would be doing it.

As a testimony to God’s faithfulness, we have had everything that we needed (not wanted) since we went “all in” for God. You have to get past the fear and excuses to the other side where accepting someone else’s used furniture is okay. Trade in the Crackberry with the fancy data plan for a flip phone, drive cheaper used vehicles that you can maintain yourself, clip coupons, check out documentaries from the library instead of going out to the movies. Perhaps the biggest benefit is when you realize the most important people in your life are your children because no one will even remember you three years after you die. So what are we discussing now? I am not trying to sell you on preparedness, you probably already read this web site for that. We are talking about action, friend; the time is passed to academically discuss what the problem is or who caused it. 1 Tim 5:8 (in context) applies here, as does Proverbs 6:6-11. I like this wise woman’s treatment of the Biblical perspective of the topic here. I know that you can find many other scriptures to substantiate this premise, and for brevity’s sake I will simply say the judicious application of the Word of God is what will always make the difference between head knowledge and a life lived in pursuit of the Holy One. Those who seek the truth find it (Matthew 7:7-12). In my decision making process, there was a time when I had to stop praying for wisdom and start praying for courage because I already knew what to do; I just needed to get busy doing it.

If we believe what we discern about things steadily getting worse and think that we are still without hope, then Christians are to be the most pitied. Our hope is in God and through the finished work of His precious Son on the cross. Things will get worse here but we must remain faithful to the bitter end, make the hard decisions now, and be prepared to help others which is only possible if we ourselves are not in a position where we need to be helped. Having personally been in three theaters of combat, I agree with others who have posted here, “Do all that you can to avoid being a refugee.” And just before the cyber-snipers, grammar nazis or arm chair theologians send their salvos, know that this was for a select audience for an intended purpose.

If this article was not for you, then go prep and help others to do likewise. I cannot settle the debate between: hybrid & heirloom, Chevy & Ford or 9mm & .45. But the debate between taking action or finding yourself in the belly of a great fish because you disobeyed—well, that is one debate that can be decisively settled. For those who needed this reminder, try reading Psalm 37, as I call it, “a psalm for patriots in the last days.” As an aside, I am not writing to our precious American sons and daughters who serve nobly in our military to take care of our nation’s business. They certainly have my complete respect, as I have done my service too. Pro Deo et Patria

James Wesley,
I’d like to add my experiences regarding locally grown feed stock corn. One of the big motivators to buy local is cost savings. Shipping grain to add to food storage is expensive.

I discovered the thousands of acres of locally grown feed corn may or may not be safe for human consumption. As you note there are higher levels of bacteria in this corn and the corn is not necessarily handled in a food grade manner. The local big name co-op will not recommend eating the feed stock corn they sell. While not as critical, yellow dent corn which is the most common feed corn, is not the best choice for grinding corn meal.

As you have previously stated, seed corn is heavily treated and should never be used for consumption. I was totally shocked to learn all of the corn we see growing all over this country isn’t 100% safe to eat. Some of it is and some of it isn’t. Of course given the right circumstances we will eat what we can find. My research led me to discover local organic farmers. I used the Local Harvest web site to find local farmers I am now a member of a local buying co op and we buy products from a large organic farm in bulk once a month. The farm is located within 200 miles and they will deliver to us at no charge once we meet the minimum purchase. I have found the arrangement to be the best way to add safely to my food storage without paying for shipping. I am able to buy food grade yellow dent corn for $12 per 50 pound bag. One of the uses of the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course is the information on how to repack bulk food for long term storage.

I am not a big time organic food proponent however I believe we will return to locally grown food for a number of reasons. Quality, safety, availability, logistics and common sense being some of them. Not that long ago farmers only grew corn which was totally safe for animal and human consumption. There wasn’t any other corn grown. It is a sad state of affairs our farmers for the sake of keeping the farm viable find it compelling to grow less than food grade grains. Best regards, - Doug S.

One of your readers asked about obtaining feed corn for grinding into cornmeal. My local restaurant supply store - a "Cash & Carry" - sells 12.5 lb. bags of popcorn for around $5.

I don't know much about varieties of dried corn, but the popcorn grinds up into a very tasty cornmeal flour. I put it through a coarse sieve for baking purposes; what's left behind in the sieve includes a lot of the tough outer membrane. Cooking what was left in the sieve into a porridge was not a success, but the flour itself was fine. And of course, this worked as popcorn too.

Cash & Carry is a Western non-membership regional chain, with stores in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. They are online at and offer a bigger selection of beans, rice and condiments, at better prices, than the Costco in my area. Regards - N.A.

Marie H. wrote a great article, however, it is imperative to remember that elevation plays a huge part in canning whether pressure canning or boiling water bath canning. So, if anyone above 1,000 feet above sea level elevation is canning beans, meat of vegetables that require pressure canning - using just Marie's advice could be toxic. Improper canning whether in amount of pressure and/or time cooked could cause Botulism - a very deadly toxin. It is very important to follow the directions in a good canning book, preferably the Ball Book of Home Preserving, as the pressure for higher elevations is adjusted to 15 pounds of pressure for higher elevations and the time is adjusted to 90 minutes in the pressure canner. Also, in higher elevations a larger volume pressure canner is advised rather than an 8 or 10 quart size. At least a 16 quart pressure canner is best for higher elevations. The time in a boiling water bath canner is also increased. These very clear instructions are always listed in the canning books. Reading the directions that come with the canner and a good canning book is imperative. People too often forget and use the instructions where they live forgetting that we have a variety of elevations all across America. That needs to be paid attention to. - Pat B.


Dear Editor:
Take care when cleaning jars or glasses, I had a large mouth break while I was running my hand (with washcloth) around the inside. Something around six stitches at the emergency room later, lesson learned. The loss of the use of a hand could mean life or death in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

A lesson I learned when I fist moved out on my own. When pre-soaking beans to cook in a pot, I soaked the beans over night like my grandmother told me, where the problem came in I decided to add my salt and spices (you know like marinating meat). No amount of cooking would make the beans soft or edible, my grandmother set me right on what I did wrong telling me to never add salt, spices or meat to beans when they are soaking makes the beans hard as rocks. Not sure if that rule applies to all spices but I treat the rule as law from my grandmother. - Don G.


Just a couple thoughts regarding Gary M.'s feed corn question.  In my area (upper midwest), nearly every hardware store and gas station sells 40# bags of shelled corn as deer bait around hunting season.  It appears to be dent corn, but not certain.  I don't buy the stuff.  But I do store a couple (food grade) plastic barrels of field corn that I purchase from a local feed store.  It is dent corn, and its intended use is livestock feed.  A 55 gallon barrel holds about 250#.

Besides its intended use, I also store it for use in hard times as bait (deer and turkey, plus lots and lots of blue jays), alcohol, pet food extender, barter, charity, and food, as a last resort.

Without going too far off-topic, we also keep a couple 50# bags of black oil sunflower seeds around as the Mrs. is an avid bird/wildlife watcher. It's a bit more expensive for the black oilers, but she just didn't get the variety of wildlife when she tried the "wild bird seed" mixes. With this regular source of quality food available, our visitors include doves, squirrels, raccoons, porcupines, and black bears. Easy protein, without leaving the yard. Sprouting is an option as well. [JWR Adds: Not all seed will sprout. Keep in mind that some bird seed is heat sterilized to prevent germination.] - Bruce C.


Mr. Rawles:
Marie states "Place the jars into your pressure canner and then add water to the canner so that it covers the top of the jars by at least ¼.” All of the instructions I have read, and the canning I have done with a pressure canner is to put the jars in the canner and fill with water to about two to three inches deep. I only cover the jars when I am water bath canning.   That is one of the beauties of pressure canning. You use a small amount of water and the pressure does the work. - Paulette


I understand that the main intent of her article was to promote home canning, but it is unfortunate that Marie H. has had bad experiences with older pressure cookers. It is obvious that she is speaking about the most primitive and dangerous rubber bullet type, which I don't think is even made anymore or at least not available for import to the US. My advice is do not use pressure cookers that use the rubber bullet "geyser of boiling food" plug system. Additionally, always clean and inspect your primary and secondary pressure valve (if there is one), just as you would check your weapon before use. Like a firearm, a pressure cooker is designed to safely use potentially dangerous pressures in a safe way every day.

Modern, safe, pressure cookers should be certified by the Underwriters Laboratories if purchased in the US. The UL has a very strict testing program. The Spanish Fagor and Swiss Khun Rikon have a specially engineered series of pressure valves, and the gasket will deform and release pressure as a last safety, before the pressure could ever get to a dangerous level. I own several of the UL-certified Indian-made Hawkins cookers, sometimes sold under the Premier brand. I sometimes leave them running in my kitchen for several hours on electric heat while I work at my desk. I know the sounds the cooker should make, and I adjust the heat and ensure a proper liquid level before leaving the room. The Hawkins uses a very effective low-melting point metal fuse plug. I keep a strip of replacement melt plugs, along with my replacement gaskets. I have only blown one, by overcooking some rice in a 1.5L cooker without enough water in it. Pressure cookers are often over $100 for the best European brands. These cookers are real lifetime friends, made of heavy stainless steel. There may be other inexpensive cookers for less than $100, but I was able to get a 1.5L and a 5L Hawkins classic Aluminum cooker for $50. They are heavy and thick but well engineered. Some of the other inexpensive pressure cookers available are of questionable quality, with lighter walls reducing the pressure capacity below the standard 15 psi, making them almost worthless. Hawkins also makes higher-end aluminum and stainless steel cookers. The best thing about Hawkins is that they make all replacement parts available for retail, something rarely seen from most manufacturers these days. In the end, I suggest pressure cooker users keep an eye on their pots until they learn how long is required to cook their food. Most pressure cooking takes less than an hour in any case. Shalom and Chanukkah Somayach, - David in Israel

Michael Ruppert's interview documentary "Collapse" (2009) just became available via "Watch Instantly" online streaming on Netflix. Despite some coarse language, I highly recommend it.

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The producer of the excellent DVD Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm are offering a 10% discount for SurvivalBlog readers  This is the most comprehensive DVD tutorial on home food production available showing you how much water you need, how mach land, highest efficiency gardening systems, home butchering and small livestock, orchards, and other topics. 

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AT&T goes after copper wire thieves. (A hat tip to G.G. for the link.)

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Ol' Remus evokes Babi-Yar, as a cautionary tale.

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Patrice Lewis over at the Rural Revolution blog has some very practical details on assembling bug-out bags.

"Go to now, [ye] rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon [you]. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned [and] killed the just; [and] he doth not resist you." James 5:1-6 (KJV)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Birds take flight before a devastating tsunami.  A little dog runs out of a building before a massive earthquake.  (Begin to play spooky music now.)  A banker pulls his funds from the market just prior to a ruinous crash..

Luck, foreknowledge, divine guidance, coincidence?  No.  In each case, they were simply more in-tune with the environmental ebb and flow that surrounds them.  That minor change in the normal pattern which betrayed impending disaster and great loss. 

With animals, it is a natural physical sensory extension.  With the banker, an uncomfortable sweaty hunch alerted to by a mind rooted in market patterns for years.

Buy a Dog and Watch it Closely

Actually, you become like a dog.  Get in-tune with the great ebb and flow of society.  You can't really develop your sensory apparatus  to run out of a bank before an earthquake, but you can develop a “sixth sense” in regards to societal disaster.  You can “sense” a run on a bank before it happens.. You can still get a dog if you want to.


Be Alert and Curious in Training your Mind.. Yes.  It seems appropriate to have our very own acronym as we move forward.  Not only does it emblazon the importance of what we want to develop, but it also clearly notes the integral components of our “Survival Sixth Sense”.  It is something we can touch and feel as we develop what is not as nearly definable.


Be Alert

This is not complicated, but it does require good habits.  The first of which is being alert.  In the case of societal upheaval we have to maintain an awareness of the indicators which surround us every day.  This can range from a serious look from time to time at things or even just a casual notice of certain indicators throughout the day.  Day to day.  Week to week.. Yes, a continuous daily habit. 
A way of life seamlessly inserted into daily habits.

How we each compile this “background” mental information may vary as to what is comfortable with each of us.  Just make sure that all of your indicators are factual.  You are what you eat.  Don't rely on “fringe” sources which may continually harp “doomsday” fears or simply want you to buy gold, silver or long shelf life foods from them.  Be your own person and build a foundation of factual sources you can monitor actively and in the background of your everyday life..  If your foundation is factual, your “sixth sense” will be a valuable tool which may save yourself and others.  If it is not factual, you will soon find yourself in the position of the “crazy uncle” unable to save yourself or those you love even as the rumbling dark flood breaks into view.

The best I can do here is to let you know what I do.  Let you know what I see, watch and listen to and how I do it:

Tools - Smart phone, Computer, TV, Radio, Acquaintances, Police Scanner, My Eyes and Ears.

On my smart phone and computer I often visit sites that give me a reading on the current price and direction of the markets, dollar, silver and gold.  These four indicators form predictable patterns as you note them over time.  I won't explain the patterns- it is up to you to casually check these several times a day and get used to their general flow and relationships.  If you want a dependable “Sixth Sense” you have to develop it yourself!

In tandem with the markets I also survey the headlines from news sources.  There can often be relationships in the news that tie back to the markets or even hints of future fluctuation.  I also review other commodities from time to time such as wheat, cotton, corn, copper, etc.

It is fine to go to other sites to buffer your knowledge, but make sure you always consider the source!  Sometimes what is not mentioned is more important than what is.  Sometimes it is a pile of rubbish and sometimes it is a lump of gold.  Weigh every bit of information by who the source is and how factual it is.  Don't be afraid of ignoring some information altogether!

The above items are simply incorporated into your day at your convenience.  I can be in a Doctor's waiting room and get an update on all of the markets in just a couple of minutes.  It may not mean much at the time but it adds to the pattern developing in my head.  Don't let this stuff consume you!  Just glide it into your life as an unobtrusive habit..

Oh, eyes and ears.  This is simply everyday living with an eye to ground information.  What is well stocked in stores?  What is short?  How empty are the shelves?  When are the lines longest?  What price changes are noticeable?  What is the price of gas?  What of law enforcement, National guard and military activity?  What do friends who work in Banks say?  What do friends who work in law enforcement or the military say?  What do friends who work in stores say?  What kind of public works and infrastructure work is going on?  Is rush hour normal? 

Alertness is simply taking notice of information which can be put in the “normal” folder.  What of the occasional anomaly though?  Read on.

Be Curious

After taking notice of all these things for an extended period, we have built our own “background” knowledge of what is “normal” in the fluctuation of our current society. 

When a piece of information comes along now that does not fit- we notice it.  It is the scream from the abandoned house which sends a chill along the spine,  it is our “Sixth Sense” alerting us.  It is the tide gently beginning to ripple  out before a tsunami, the delicate unfelt trembling of the earth before is splits open.  It is not yet time to sound the alarm though.  Now is the time to target the anomaly.

When a small piece of the fabric of our society unravels to our notice- now is the time to be curious.  Focus on it and learn why it is different.  Use your information resources you have developed to see as clearly as possible what is going on.  Is it the unusual early outgoing tide or the prelude to a devastating tsunami?

Investigate.  You may find that it is simply an unusual infrequent fluctuation which has happened often before.  Pet your dog and file it into the patterns you have formed in your “background” knowledge.  It may be unexplainable, but also seemingly harmless.  Pet your dog and await further possible indicators.  It may be pointing in a direction so far from the normal pattern that it is time to take early action based on your “sixth sense”.  Pet your dog and act!


Train Your Mind

To be alert and curious of the society surrounding you, in a fundamental factual way, is to train your mind.  This is how we store information into the background of our daily thinking.  Don't run with every story you hear, but verify it first! 

All of these verified factual observations  collectively form a “background” knowledge base to our every day lives.  This enables us to note quickly that one thing slipping past us that does not fit.  This is how we can get that uneasy feeling we can't quite figure out right away.  This is how we survive and protect the loved ones around us.  This is how we keep from being that “crazy uncle” crying wolf all the time.  This is how we are listened to when we tell those around us what we need to do- and we need to do it now!

Buy a dog.  He may warn you of an earthquake.  Train your mind in being alert and curious about the world around you.  You may save yourself and those you love from great calamity (and your dog).  These words from Proverbs speak to preparedness, and what greater preparedness can there be than that of our very minds?

Proverbs 3:21-26
My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.

James Wesley,  
Thank you for all that you do and the wonderful, informative web site.  I have been active for about a year and am working on my introduction and first contribution to Survival Blog.  Ironically I have basically been employed all of my life in one of the industries, consumer package goods, which is one of the key industries so tied to technology that if TEOTWAWKI hits would be significantly impacted. 

Earlier today I came across an article in The Wall Street Journal which emphasizes the needs for preppers to be more prepared and to also know what your neighbors are doing or are not doing: The Just-in-Time Consumer. As we prepare for the worst of the worst in coming economic collapse many of our neighbors are now purchasing food and household supplies "just in time" (JIT) much like inventory is managed at your local retailer.  More and more of our neighbors will have less and less reserves in their pantries just when they need them the most.  This is a startling trend that I wanted to bring to everyone's attention.   

I sincerely appreciate your web site and have learned a great deal from it in the last year.  I also have enjoyed your books "Patriots" and "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and look forward to future releases.  Regards, - S.A.A. Joe

Mr Rawles,  
I’ve read through your section on firearms and have a question about the rifles.   As I’m very much on a budget, I am looking to add one or two self defense rifles for the TEOTWAWKI type scenario.  I’ve been looking into the AR rifles and find that they are ungodly expensive.  I’ve found some Bushmasters that seem to be in good shape for around $800, but these were chambered in .223, which seems like a fine personal defense caliber, but is not versatile enough to use to kill game, should you have the opportunity.  The .308 chambered rifles seem like much more versatile, but are quite expensive.

This leads me back to the “Russian” chambering.  I’ve looked into the AKs and have learned that they are reputed to be tough, reliable guns, but they are not known for high accuracy.  While investigating those, I’ve become rather attracted to the SKS rifles for some time for several reasons.  First, they are reputed to be reliable like the AKs, shoot the same 7.62x39 round, and are more accurate (especially the Yugos).  The rounds have about the same ballistics as a .30-30, indisputably enough power for two-legged varmints and enough for deer as well.  

I could purchase at least two—possibly three—SKS  rifles for the price of one .308 AR-10.  I’m thinking I’d like to make sure my wife and I both have identical rifles (as you say: “if you have two, you have one, if you have one, you have none”) to defend the family with.   What really is causing some kinks in my plans is ammunition.  I’ve found that .308 and .223 rounds are more expensive than 7.62x39 rounds.  As you said, having a gun is really useless if you can’t shoot them often and really get good with them.  I can buy nearly 500 hundred rounds of 7.62x39 for about the price of 100 rounds of .308 Winchester.  So I could afford to stockpile a few thousand 7.62 rounds, while I couldn’t do the same with the .308 or .223 rounds.  

So what is your honest opinion of the Russian rifles?  Would they make an acceptable “low-budget” rifle?  Or are there problems I’m unaware of that would make it a poor choice?   And while we’re talking Russian rifles, I’ve become a pretty big fan of the Mosin-Nagants.  I’ve got an M44 that I love, and I’d like to buy another 91-30 with a full length barrel.  They are very powerful. (More powerful than a .30-06) but again, 440 rounds of ball can be purchased for under $90, and hollow points can be bought [more expensively] for hunting.  I rather like these as general purpose hunting/defense/sniper rifles, except of course that they only carry 5 rounds.  What do you think of Mosins being kept as a hunting/defense combination rifle?   Thank you,   - Curtis R.

JWR Replies: I'm definitely a proponent of 7.62x39 SKS rifles for anyone that is on a modest budget, and 7.62x54r Mosin-Nagant rifles for anyone on a truly tight budget. They would also be my top choice for anyone--regardless of budget--who resides in Finland or for anyone else living in or on the periphery of the former Soviet Union.

As far as Mosins go, I prefer the Finnish Model 39. They have excellent sights, and their 27" barrels are a good compromise length between that of the M44 carbine (20.5" -- too short!) and the M91 long rifle (31.5" -- too long!) One other advantage of the M39 is that there are still decent quantities of these rifle available that were arsenal rebuilds using early (pre-1899) hexagonal receivers. These have the advantages that I outline in my Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ. Note that the dates marked on the barrel are not the receiver build dates. (The receiver dates are stamped on the tangs, and unfortunately you have to disassemble the guns to see those markings.)

Dear Editor:
That sidearm on your hip may have a lot of admirable qualities, but so long as rule of law is still in effect here in the US, there are some places you simply can’t take it. On a plane, for example, or into a Post Office (which is where folks tend to "go postal").

Further, even if you are armed, there still could be a problem with an attacker who is relatively close. Several sources assert that, at 21 feet an armed, fast-moving attacker could close the gap and fatally assault you with a knife, sword, or blunt instrument before you could deploy your holstered pistol.

But what if you could have a lethal self-defense weapon in your hands at all times, carry it anywhere, and no one would so much as raise an eyebrow? You can. The humble cane or walking stick will suit your purposes just fine.

A cane extends your reach to keep an attacker at well more than arm’s length. It’s always at hand; there is no delay in bringing it into action. A cane can trip, entangle limbs, strangle, poke, abrade, break and crush. It can also block and parry strikes from an opponent. Like a Star Trek phaser, a cane’s power is adjustable from a warning tap to bone-breaking force to a lethal blow.

The simple physics of a cane multiplies your force. Swing a cane and its middle travels faster than your hand, and the tip of the cane travels faster still. Scott Rorebeck, who wrote two excellent articles on "The Dark Side of the Stick" for The Backwoodsman magazine (March/April 2003 and May/June 2004) recounts how he saw a deer that had its legs broken by an encounter with a car. He dispatched instantly with a single blow from a walking stick. Even a brush from the speeding tip of a cane can rip open skin or tear a jugular vein.

I walk frequently with a cane or walking stick and have never been questioned or prevented from bringing it anywhere.

For some quick lessons on what to do, check out The "Walking Stick" Method of Self Defense, by H.G. Lang and Also, do a web search on “stick fighting.” Regards, - J.E.

JWR Adds: Readers may find that my 2006 SurvivalBlog article on Canes, Walking Sticks, and Umbrellas for Street Self Defense has some useful tips, legal provisos, and links.

Dear Mr. Rawles:  
In response to Marie H.’s essay on canning beans and meat, I’d like to add a few thoughts.  

The ability to preserve food through water-bath and pressure canning is, in my opinion, one of the most important of the domestic arts survival skills there is.  But as every experienced canner knows, the Achilles heel of canning is maintaining a supply of lids.  The problem with the everyday canning lids you find at the grocery store is that they must be discarded after every use.  Oh sure, I’ve experimented with reusing lids with some success, but the fact remains disposable lids are meant to be disposable.  

This means canners must stock up on as many lids as possible prior to a Schumer situation.  Lehman's sells bulk lids, for example, or you can do as I did for many years and pick up a box or two of lids every time you go to the grocery store in a pathetic attempt to store up as many as possible.  

But no matter how may boxes you have stored away, you will eventually run out of lids.  Therefore I would like to introduce your readers to the best-kept secret in the canning world: Tattler brand Reusable Canning Lids.  

Yes, reusable.  Unlike disposable Kerr or Ball lids, Tattler lids can be reused indefinitely.  The lids are in two parts: the plastic lid which has a lifetime guarantee, and the rubber gasket which can be used about twenty times.  The gaskets are cheap and I recommend stocking up.   I ordered some Tattler lids last summer and put them through their paces, and came away so impressed that I’ve been an outspoken proponent ever since.  Tattler lids use a slightly different technique than disposable lids but the instructions in the accompanying literature are clear, and once I got the hang of things I’ve never had a lid fail.   Needless to say Tattler lids are more expensive than disposable, but only if looked at in the short term.  But in the long term, you never need to buy lids again.  If you’re an avid canner as I am, this can mean significant savings – and peace of mind.  I saved my pennies and purchased 1.000 lids (500 wide-mouth, 500 narrow-mouth) and I can’t even begin to describe the sense of satisfaction that large box of lids gives me.  

I have an illustrated review of the reusable lids on my blog if anyone is interested.  This is a superior product that, frankly, could save a lot of lives someday.  In my opinion, no one who takes preparedness seriously should be without a pressure canner, a thousand canning jars, and a thousand [reusable] lids among their survival supplies.   Thank you, - Patrice Lewis, Editor of the Rural Revolution blog

G.G. recommended: The road to a US insolvency crisis

F.J. liked this piece by Simon Black: Disappearing Bank Accounts. The article begins: "If you don't have money outside the computerized banking system, you should do so now. You just never know when the system is going to go down."

Randy F. suggested this book review: The Penniless Billionaires: A Tour of Inflationary Eras Past and Present

Items from The Economatrix:

Cutoff of Jobless Aid Would Lower Economic Growth  

Happy Holidays?  28 Hard Questions It Would Be Great If We Could Get Some Real Answers To  

The Gold Standard Never Dies  

Why Eric Sprott Sees Silver as the Next Big Investing Windfall  

Eric J. sent us the link to this fascinating article: Iowa's hardest years: Stories from the farms during the Great Depression

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For anyone that missed hearing it live, here is the link to the podcast of my recent two hour Q&A interview on the EMPact America show.

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Steve K. sent this video: Nigel Farage (United Kingdom Independence Party President), Representative Member of the European Union speaks about Turkey's admission to the European Union. Steve's comment: "Sounds like our immigration policy here in the United States. Listen to the results that are anticipated."

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Video shows heavily armed men storming RBC Bank. Perhaps they saw the movie Heat.

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US approval a step toward Russian company control of Wyoming uranium mines

"I don’t want to scare anyone but I am considering investing in barbed wire and guns, things are not looking good and rates are heading higher." - Anthony Fry, as quoted by CNBC, June, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just 10 days left! 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 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We have beans, perhaps hundreds of pounds of beans. How exactly am I going to eat these? Nutritionally beans are great. Logistically though, they are a tough sell for the average, inexperienced bean cookers.

For example Bernie has his big cast iron pot, some wood, and a bag of beans. After working all morning getting his camp fire set up, he pours his beans into the pot with water and maybe some salt, and waits, and waits. And stirs, feeds the fire, and waits. It has been four hours, the kids are looking hungry.

“Is it done yet?” they ask.

“No,” he says and sends them out to collect more fire wood.

Three more hours pass, the kids are back, looking pitiful, “Are they done yet?”

“No, but they are eatable, if you don’t mind somewhat hard beans.”

Desperate for food they eagerly get a bowl full. They taste like… hard beany dirt. all the grease from the pot, the dust and ash in the air and the soot from the fire mingling to create a new bean flavor.  Hey, at least it’s food. Tomorrow they can eat bean dirt again. Sigh.

Now, living without ice or refrigeration is a little tricky. You have to eat them all up pretty quickly because cooked beans can spoil at an alarming rate. Here is a clue, if you see any type of foam or bubbles in the beans, then do not eat them. If you think you have ever experienced intestinal gas before, this combination can produce the Mother of All gas and other, errr, issues that you really don’t want to deal with without indoor plumbing.

Another option is to cook a bunch of beans at a time in a pressure cooker. This makes them much better, softer, and quicker. The thing with a pressure cooker though is that it has to be watched. You cannot leave it alone, and should not even go into go another room while it is cooking, because you will most likely become distracted. It only takes minutes for it to go over the edge into the dangerous pressure area and then bam! 

So yes, you can make beans every day in a pressure cooker, but when supplies are short, you want to make sure you make enough to satisfy, but not too much to spoil. Remember, the tell tale bean-foam.  You will then become a slave of sorts to your pressure cooker on a daily basis. Sigh. At least it’s food.

Canning Beans:

Let me tell you, as an experienced farm mom and canner and bean lover the absolute best way: Canned beans. You can make seven sealed, preserved jars of very tender cooked beans in about an hour and have them ready to eat in smaller quantities as you want them and it is so easy. But perhaps even better than the convenience, you are not risking any spoilage and waste. Here is how to do it successfully:

First, get out a couple pounds of your favorite beans. (My favorite is Pinto beans). Soak them in some water for about an hour while you get your canner pot and jars washed.

You need to get a pressure canner. It is a large pressure cooker with a gauge on top. I have had several canners and my favorite brand is Presto. I like the way it latches, but everyone has his or her own preference. My canners can process seven-quart jars at one time. I like this size because it large enough to get a good sized batch processed but still small enough to manhandle. It takes just as long to process four quarts as seven, so you I figure that you might as well go for the gusto!

You will also need canning jars. I recommend the wide mouth quart sized jars because they are so much easier to clean. Those little necks on the regular jars require a bottlebrush to clean them. Why bother if you don’t need to.

You will need to make sure that your lids (the flat round parts) are in good condition, not dented or rusted and the rubber seal part is solid.  It really wouldn’t be a bad idea to stock up on the lids. You can buy them in rolls of 100 or so from various sources.

The rings that secure the lids to the jar are also important, but if they are a little worse for wear it is not as critical. This is because they never touch the food, and once the processing is complete the flat lid will be fused to the jar and you can remove the rings entirely.

One of the amazing things about using a pressure canner is that even though the pot is huge, once it gets up to the right internal temperature to be able to read 10 pounds of pressure, it just takes a tiny amount of heat to keep it steady.

So now your beans are soaked, you have your jars, lids and rings. Rinse the nasty water off the beans and spoon them into the quart jars, up to about ½ full. Then add one-teaspoon salt and any other spice you may want to add to each jar of beans. Then add water to the jars so that the water level reached the bottom of the threaded area.

Wipe the top edge of the jar with a clean cloth and run your finger around the rim to make sure it is perfectly smooth without any chips or food particles to break the seal. Once you are satisfied, then put on the lid and ring, twisted on snugly.

Place the jars into your pressure canner and then add water to the canner so that it covers the top of the jars by at least ¼”. Lock on the lid of the canner, and put it on your camping stove, wood stove, or whatever you are using to heat it. Now is the important part. Watch the pot. Stay in the room. The first time you use one of these it can be a little intimidating. The pot will start to hiss and sputter and make all kinds of gurgling noises. Don’t panic, this is normal. Just watch the gauge.

Once it reaches 10 pounds of pressure on the gauge, lower the flame until it is barely lit and set your timer for 60 minutes. As I said, watch the pot. You may need to adjust the flame a little up or down slightly during the hour, but your main concern is that it does not build up a lot of pressure.

Older canners can explode if they build up too much pressure (note to self, this is very, very bad). Make sure your canner has a pressure release system. Mine has little black rubber stoppers in the lid about ½” in diameter. If the pressure builds up too dangerously, these stoppers will fly out and all the liquid in the pot, mostly converted to seam, will come shooting out. You do not want this to happen, so avoid the temptation to leave the room, please.

With that warning being said, canning is really not a stressful procedure. Once your 60 minutes is complete you can A) turn off the flame, leave the room and wait it out because as the pot cools, the pressure will gradually go down so that the pot will unlock and you can retrieve your jars. Or B) you can find a safe way to quickly remove the pressure. My canners have a little weighted cap that sits over a stem that can be removed with tongs.

Remove your jars, let them cool, and enjoy. Once they are cool, they lids should be set, “sucked into the jars.” If they pop when you push your finger on the center of the lid, something did not go right. Eat that jar immediately. The rest of the jars have successfully been preserved. They will remain fresh in the jars for a long time. I don’t know exactly how long because we have always eaten them before six months is up.

Canning Meat

Now that you are able to can beans, there is one more thing you really need to do: Can your own meat. It is really terribly easy.

There you are, you have used your gun to shoot a deer, and if it is anything but the dead of winter in a colder climate you risk losing your meat if not eaten or preserved quickly.

The easiest way without refrigeration is canning. Cut the raw meat off the bones and put into the quart jars. It doesn’t matter how big or small the pieces are. You don’t need to be an expert butcher. Just cut it off the bone. Make sure there is no hair on the meat, if you see any wash it off. Pack it into the jar, add one teaspoon of salt and then add water to the jar up to the threaded neck. If you see air bubbles in the jar, just run a knife inside to it and it will pop and fill up with water. 

Process just like you did with the beans, the only exception being that once the pressure reached 10 pounds you set your timer for 90 minutes. The meat will cook in the jars. It cooks really well do. Falling apart tender meat. It is ready to eat as is, or pour on some barbeque sauce, or make a stew, anything. And it does not go bad for a long time. Your family will really like this. Even people who say they do not like deer meat will eat this and enjoy it.

For a really wonderful meal, dump one jar of canned meat and one jar of canned beans into a pot and warm it up. It very is good.

My last suggestion is that you don’t wait until an emergency to try this. Do it now, while you can get used to it under relaxing circumstances. You will do well incorporating the foods you plan to eat in your survival menu now. Your body will be used to it, your family will be used to it, and it may just open up a whole new hobby in home canning for your family.

James Wesley;
I have been following your blog for a little over a year and have always been one to stockpile items that I know we will use, having lived nearly all of my life (less four years of college and two years of my working life) in a rural location. You simply buy things in bulk, so you don't need to run into town to get that one thing. Growing up Mom always kept a full pantry (and still does though the kids are all grown and married and live elsewhere), a root cellar, etc. We have continued that for ourselves. This time of year, many grocery stores sell nuts in the shell. They are perfectly protected by the shell, so the oils in them do not go rancid, as do shelled nuts. Any shelled nuts I buy, are stored in my freezer till I use them. Nut in the shell are a great nutrition source as well and I thought it would be a good addition to food preps for your readers.

Keep up the good work. I am preparing to purchase the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course during the current sale and taking an inventory of what preps we have and what we still need. There are advantages to living on your grandparents farm (purchased in the 1930s). There are many great things that are still here. Recently we cleaned out my grandparents home in a neighboring state, in preparation for it's sale in the near future I was able to bring back a Coleman lantern and my grandmothers treadle sewing machine. Two things that could be very useful, when things get bad.

Thank you for all you do to share this information with others. I have shared you site with like minded friends and they have been thankful for it. - Kristi G.

I read with interest and nostalgia the post about flats. I grew up in an area of poorly maintained gravel roads,and hauling scrap metal for extra cash. Flats were a fact of life. Those days aren't so far behind me as I recently learned. But thanks to the school of hard knocks I was prepared. So here's a tip from a pro, carry a tire plugging kit plugging kit in your vehicle. Usually you will notice a tire going down long before it's flat, and you can often plug it on the vehicle. Contrary to what most tire shops want you to believe,it's not rocket science. The kit you want will have two tools in it with some plugs,(you want the T handles trust me) rubber cement is nice but optional. The first tool will be a reamer, this prepares the hole for the plug. The second tool is a really big needle, with a split eye (some have a closed eye,but I haven't seen one of those in years).

Find the leak, nine times out of ten you've picked up a nail or screw, if that's all it is you can plug it right there and go on your way. Take the needle from your kit first,and thread a plug into it. Now it's time to ream out the hole, push the reamer into the tire, twisting left and right, till all the teeth are below the surface, and leave it there for now. Pick up the needle, if you have cement apply it, now whether or not you use cement light the plug on fire. When the whole plug is burning and bubbling goo (10-15 sec.) blow it out, yank the reamer from the tire, and replace it with the needle. Push the plug in slowly, till about 1/2 inch of plug is showing(you should have a pile of goo forming around it) twist the needle till it starts to pull the plug in, then yank it out very quickly. The plug should slip from the split eye of the needle and stay in the tire. Give the rubber a minute to cool down, then trim the plug as close to the tread as possible. As soon as possible air the tire back to the proper pressure. I have driven literally thousands of miles on tires plugged this way,that said, I do recommend that you go to a reliable tire shop and have it properly patched, because plugs do sometimes pull out. This is often as fast, and always less work than changing a tire, and if you're away from home it will get you back without getting fleeced at strange tire store, or running a mini "doughnut " spare (That is not safe ). If you have the money then Staun internal beadlocks might be a good investment for your bug out vehicle, you'll learn more from a google search than I can tell here. - Disco

Mr. Rawles,
I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now and it is something I look forward to every day. I have even persuaded my wife to open her mind and start preparing as a result of many of the articles on SurvivalBlog.  

Regarding the article on the .357 Magnum, I agree with most of what the writer had to say regarding the performance of the round. But there are a couple of  points I feel compelled to make.  

1) To take advantage of the ballistics he refers to in comparison to other cartridges (specifically, I refer to the comparison to the 10mm Auto), you absolutely must reload. I can't remember the last time I saw .357 factory rounds in a 200 grain JHP. The most common bullet weights in [commercially-loaded] .357 are the 125 and 158 grain.  

2) That leads me to another point. Cartridge availability is not what it used to be for the .357 Magnum. I remember that the .357/.38 Special used to be touted as the ultimate survival round because it was the most common cartridge around next to the .22 LR. (There would always be plenty of it available) This I believe is no longer the case as most police departments have adopted semi-autos. A case in point would be that during the recent ammo shortage, I couldn't find .357 Magnum anywhere but I was occasionally able to find .40 S&W at somewhat inflated prices. Even now after the acute shortage has supposedly ended, .357 Magnum is only available in limited quantities. (And at a healthy price, I might add). On the other hand, I've found that .38 Special was somewhat more available. Possibly due to the current fad of CCW "snubnose" revolvers.   I love the .357 Magnum. I own a Ruger GP-100 with a 6" heavy barrel, and if as the old saying goes, I could only own one handgun, this would probably be it. But, that being said, while it will not do everything as well as some other guns/cartridges, it will continue to be an important part of my survival battery as well as my primary go to gun for the outdoors.   Keep up the good work.   Respectfully, - Ken S.

I too had a problem getting vermiculite here in Houston.  There was no way that I was going to pay that much in small bags for as much as I needed.  I then got a tip to look for it under insulation as used in new construction.  I found a local firm that sold it in very large bags for $7.50 each, cash.  My 10 bags totally filled up the back of my F-150 pickup truck.

You can get your materials from salvage.  My raised beds came from my fencing that was blown down by Hurricane Ike.  The size of my beds are 6' by 3' since the recovered fence boards were six feet long. The beds are 15 inches deep.

The time to start is now!  The near future may be too late.  Start small and build more as you get the experience and practice.  Square foot method is indeed a great start for putting your garden together.  The recipe in the book is great to use as your starting base.  Over the years you can add more compost, earthworms, and whatever to improve your soil.  Seed saving is your responsibility, just use the book as a resource and guide. - Ken L.

JWR Replies: I must add one proviso. Do not accept any offers of any "used" vermiculite insulation from buildings that are being torn down. Up until 1990, one of the nation's largest vermiculite mines up in Montana produced countless tons of vermiculite that were contaminated by asbestos. That vermiculite from that mine was shipped all over the country.

Dear Editor:
The submission by Roy H. on mushrooms bothers me on a survival skills level.   It bothers me because mushrooms are a poor source of calories.  Just 4 calories for the white button kind ranging up to 22 for Portabella mushrooms.  They're mostly air and spores.  Yes, they have lots of vitamins in them - but I could spend all day foraging for mushrooms and end up expending more calories than I gain.  Let's assume I find enough to pay me back for finding them, if they're the white caps we're familiar with and I spent 1 hour gathering them (hypothetically) then I expended somewhere between 200 and 300 calories finding them.  divide 300 by 4 and you'll have to eat 75 of the things to make it worth your effort.  Given that most of the calories I burned were basal metabolism, it still gives so little return on effort to be useless in a survival situation.    Oh, and then there's the whole "Will eating this thing kill me?" and if it wont kill me, will it make me throw up all the food I've eaten today and dehydrate me?  The risk, is too high.   I don't care if you're an expert or not, if you're foraging for mushrooms you're not looking for threats.   Mushrooms don't grow on the plains, they grow in the shade (wooded areas) in general and your ability to scan for threats is directly limited by the terrain that mushrooms grow in.   Okay, so take a buddy to stand guard.  Now that's two people that need their calories replaced.  

I'm being as candid as possible here because I consider it risky behavior for a survivalist.  Flavoring for our food occurs in so many other plants that the benefits of mushroom gathering for variety's sake is negated.    I suppose it's nice to know what mushrooms are poisonous, or not, but in any grid-down scenario it's not worth the risk.  It puzzles me that the appearance of the mushroom article appears in a survival oriented web log.   The paragraph on eating mushrooms should be included with the paragraph on jumping off of cliffs, don't do it.  Further, in any scenario where you are down to either eating mushrooms or starving, then I posit that if you know what mushrooms are good because you spent your time learning about them, then you have failed utterly at surviving.  The time you invested in finding and identifying edible mushrooms in your area could have been spent delivering pizza (nods to Dave Ramsey), taking the money you earned from that and buying a pail of hard red wheat.  I don't study other useless topics, and I don’t consider learning about mushroom foraging as beneficial in a grid-down survival situation.  If I am just sitting around with nothing to do and want something productive to do, there are always plenty of tasks to expend energy on that don't involve poisoning yourself.   There's a reason you don’t ever see any of the pseudo-survivor reality television shows personalities eating mushrooms when they get dumped in the wilderness, the reason is that it's a bad thing to show people to do and they didn't want to risk getting ill themselves.   In his article he talks about stumping a mushroom expert with a photo and description of a mushroom, and this is supposed to instill confidence in us for eating them?    All that being said, mushrooms are cool and tasty - but not a survival food. - Jim in Colorado    

There are a few points I'd like to make. I am an avid mushroom hunter and have been for years; but that doesn't give me any more qualifications than still being obviously alive.

First I'd like to stress that I do not consider mushroom a valid survival-diet constituent. As the author said, many, many species will kill you or make you very ill, and even a benign bout of diarrhoea isn't as benign when you are at risk of dehydration. In addition, it stinks more than regular feces and you won't be able to bury it properly. All of this for "food" that, unlike what is stated, holds very little nutritional value: only water and some minerals. They would have an utility as flavoring, to avoid this appetite fatigue that has been mentioned several times recently, but that's that.

The tips given to identify the edible species vary widely by location, but here are some I know from experience: Many boletes with red pores are edible, at least as many than those that aren't. Several are extremely tasty, too. As for blueing, it has absolutely nothing to do with toxicity, and none of the most toxic species (here in Europe where none will bring anything more serious than strong bowel upset) blues at all. From my experience, none of the species that grow on acidic soil are really toxic, either. Soil composition and tree species growing around are the 2 main factors to find most species, since most grow in symbiosis with roots or on specific rotting wood.

Morels contain a substance that will destroy your red blood cells and are called hemolysins. They are destroyed over a certain temperature, so you are safe as long as you cook them thoroughly and for several minutes. Better know that if you're on your first mushroom hunt and find any!

Most species have gills, and many are edible indeed without any sinister twin to fool you. Just dumping a whole group of species because they share one characteristic with the few deadly ones is a bit short-sighted, especially if you're planning on relying on them for survival (you won't, they're barely "food".) A spore print itself will give you very few clues about the species, apart from the fact that they did have a round cap and  gills arranged in a wheel pattern. Different species have white, beige, pinkish or brown spores and various colored gills, but the actual spore color will only show when the mushroom has reached maturity and may be rotting on its foot and crawling with worms. Even looking at the spores shape with your survival pocket field-microscope will only give you some more clues to narrow down your choice.

Even with limited knowledge, you will quickly be able to tell if you're sure enough of your identification to eat your find. Getting an exhaustive guide and perusing it at leisure will quickly make you see which clue to look for, and which section of the book to search when you're in the woods. I wholeheartedly agree with the advice given: "If you ever have any doubts whatsoever about the identify of the mushroom you’ve found, then don’t eat it." I'd even go further and advise not to pick it up, and carefully wipe your hands after handling a specimen. From my experience, the common advice to go show your haul to a pharmacist holds very little utility: most of them don't know mushrooms and will look it up in an old guide showing a couple of species and giving few indications about the botanical identification clues. Unless you are blessed with a professional who takes a personal interest in the matter, the only use in asking a pharmacist is that they may have some of the chemical substances used to find a particular component. Once again, it is only useful if you know what to search for beforehand. - Frenchy

Tim. R. was the first of several SurvivalBlog readers to mention this: 10 Skills Needed to Thrive in a Post-Collapse World

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Jeremy C. sent this item: Madison County [Indiana] to evict man from camper.

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Simon J. mentioned: The R2B2 pedal-powered kitchen appliance concept.

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Reader Don W. forwarded this: Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions. Oh and speaking of scary computer technology, Laura C. sent this: Race Is On to 'Fingerprint' Phones, PCs

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Captain Bart sent this news from England: Millions endure second nightmare journey home from work as forecasters predict EIGHT INCHES of snow tonight. Bart's comment: About their cold, snowy weather. The temperate is –6 C (which is about 21 F) so it isn’t all that cold but with the snow, the country is at a standstill and food stocks are running out, if you can even get to the store." Meanwhile here in the U.S.: Snow Strands Hundreds of Drivers in Western New York. (Thanks to Marie K. for the latter link.)

"A fiat-money inflation can be carried on only as long as the masses do not become aware of the fact that the government is committed to such a policy." - Ludwig von Mises

Thursday, December 2, 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, with a $50 discount. Don't miss out on the chance to get a copy for yourself, or to give one as a Christmas gift.


Today we present the first entry for Round 32 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 250 round case of 12 Gauge Hornady TAP FPD 2-3/4" OO buckshot ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $240 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 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’m not a mushroom expert. But I still gather and safely eat several types of wild mushrooms, and have done so for years. Wild mushrooms are a tasty and nutritious addition to any diet, and the ability to identify and gather a few safe species is a great asset to any set of survival skills.

The keys to wild mushroom safety are learning and admitting your limitations, religiously sticking with a few guidelines, and seeking out expert help to increase and enhance your knowledge.

Before starting to gather wild mushrooms in your area, read some good books like Mushrooming without Fear: The Beginner's Guide to Collecting Safe and Delicious Mushrooms or even North American Mushrooms: A Field Guide to Edible and Inedible Fungi, and seek out an actual mushroom expert, also known as a mycologist.

Where I live, in the Ozark Mountains of western Arkansas, I have the good fortune of having met a mushroom expert who’s served a term as the president of the American Mycological Association. He puts on a wild mushroom lecture in the fall in a local state park, that includes slides, actual mushroom samples, a mushroom hunting hike, and a “Cooking with Wild Mushrooms” segment that involves actual cooking and eating of wild mushrooms. This particular expert has proven very helpful, even to the point that he doesn’t mind me e-mailing him digital pictures of new types of mushrooms I’ve found, and identifying them as best he can. For the rest of this article, I’ll refer to him as “Dr. Mushroom.”

That said, even this man, with a Ph.D. in mycology, is sometimes totally stumped by the digital pictures and descriptions I send him.

Read those words again.

Several times, a man with a Ph.D. in the study of mushrooms has been unable to identify a mushroom based on the digital pictures and closely-written descriptions of where I found the mushroom, what kind of plants were growing nearby, what kind of leaf litter was on the forest floor, how close to water, and all sorts of other possible indicators.

Again, this is man with a Ph.D., who’s been the president of the national society for people with doctorates in mushrooms. Sometimes, even he can’t tell.

In some cases, the only way to really tell exactly to what species a mushroom belongs is to make a “spore print” of the mushroom. Making a spore print means cutting the cap off the mushroom, and placing it overnight atop a sheet of clean paper. The spores fall out of the cap, and leave distinctive colors on the paper. The specific color of the spore print helps nail down the specific species.

If it’s a mushroom that requires me to make a spore print, I’m not eating it, or anything that even looks like it.

Understand that gathering wild mushrooms for food can very easily kill you and anyone else who eats that fatal meal with you, including your wife, your kids, your friends, your kids’ friends, anyone.

Think about that very clearly and carefully before you start collecting wild mushrooms to eat.

And do not think for a second that what keeps me safe in the Ozarks of western Arkansas will keep you safe in the hills of Northern California, or the wilds of Appalachia, on the Great Plains.

You must consult an expert for the specific area where you intend to gather wild mushrooms for food. You must do your own research. To paraphrase Davy Crockett’s advice, be first absolutely sure that you are right, and then go ahead.

Whatever you do, don’t put several types of mushrooms into one bag, or one basket. Carry a separate bag or container, and put only one type of mushroom into each to avoid possible cross-contamination, just in case you pick a bad one by mistake, and don’t’ realize it until you get back home.


Edible mushrooms can be broken down into two basic groups. Those with caps and stipes, and those without.

To understand cap and stipe, draw a mushroom, or a mushroom cloud, or a mushroom shaped like a mushroom cloud. The stipe is the “stalk” of the mushroom, or the long skinny part of the mushroom cloud rising up from the ground. The “cap” is the dome-shaped top of the mushroom, or the mushroom cloud. It’s the classic mushroom shape, and the reason why a “mushroom cloud” had the “mushroom” part in its name.

Lots of edible mushrooms have stipes with various types of caps. However, lots of deadly poisonous mushrooms share this exact basic anatomy.

Confusing the two can kill you.

Other mushrooms like puffballs and black trumpets or shelf fungus don’t have stipes or caps at all, but other structures.


“If it’s got gills, it kills” is a little saying that I created for myself, and beyond which I never venture when I gather wild mushrooms for food.

The “gills” are structures on the underside of the cap that look like fish gills, or a ring of playing cards turned on edge, or skinny blades of flesh arranged in a circle. It’s hard to describe gills, but once you see them either in the photos of good mushroom book, or in person, you will know exactly what gills are.

There are many types of perfectly edible, very tasty mushrooms that have a stipe and a cap with gills. In fact, if you go to the grocery store and look for the whole mushrooms in the produce section, you’ll see commercially-grown mushrooms with stipes, caps, and gills. Wonderful Portabella mushrooms have stipes, caps and gills.

However, the really nasty deadly mushrooms from the genus Amanita also have stipes and caps with gills underneath. These nasty ones have common names like “Death Cap” or “Spring Destroying Angel” or “Destroying Angel.” Did you notice the pattern in the common names? Death? Destroying? Did you know that the only way to survive some of these mushrooms is to get a successful liver transplant in time, and sometimes not even that works?

There are several species from the Amanita genus that are allegedly very good to eat, as well. I say “allegedly” because I have never, and will never taste any of the wild varieties because it’s hard for even experts to tell the difference between the tasty ones, and the deadly ones.

For some of these species, the only way to really tell is to make the spore pattern. Again, if a mushroom requires me to go the trouble of making a spore pattern to tell it from a deadly-poisonous look-alike that can kill everyone in my family, then it’s simply not worth my trouble.

Even though I may miss out on some really tasty wild edibles, following my little saying of “If it’s got gills, it kills”also keeps me from eating a Death Cap or a Destroying Angel.


The first type of mushroom that everybody starts with (at least everybody who lives beyond his first wild mushroom gathering) is the lowly puffball.

Puffballs are the easiest to identify of the edible wild mushrooms. They are exactly what they sound like, roundish, fleshy balls of mushroom. There are no deadly species of puffball where I gather, although there are species that just aren’t good to eat because of bad taste or disagreeable textures.

Be sure to check with an expert where you live to make sure there that puffballs there are safe.

To really be safe with puffballs, you have to cut them open down the middle after you gather them. What you want to see is a formless, featureless white expanse inside, like a slice of white bread. If the flesh is any other color than white, don’t eat it.

Puffballs eventually turn dark and release their spores in dark “puff” clouds when you step on them. They just aren’t edible once they start to turn color.

The other reason you must cut puffballs down the middle is because that some deadly forms of Amanita mushrooms form puffball-like pods in their juvenile stages. They look like puffballs on the outside, but when you cut them open, you can see the “larval” stage of the stipe, cap, and gills inside the little pod mushroom. If you cut open a “puffball” and see structures inside it, pitch it.

Again, what you want to see inside a puffball is a blank, featureless whiteness, like fresh, undisturbed snow, or a slice of white bread.

The best part about puffballs is that you often find a cluster of them together. They grow just about anywhere. I have gathered them off the lawns and green spaces of the college where I teach English. I’ve had folks tell me I’m crazy for gathering puffballs, but I just smile, and give them silent, crazy-faced look.

In my experience, puffballs have more flavor than store-bought white mushrooms, either fresh or canned, but aren’t as good at Portabellas. Puffballs are tasty sauteed in butter with garlic, but what isn’t tasty sauteed in butter with garlic? I mostly use sliced or chopped puffballs in scrambled eggs, or in spaghetti sauces. Don’t try to dry or save puffballs. If they’re blank and white on the side, cook ‘em up and eat ‘em.


After gathering a eating puffballs for a few years, the second type of wild mushroom I added to my menu in large quantities were members of the order Cantharellus: Black Trumpets, Golden Chanterelles, even the little bright hunter-orange Cinnabarinus, that have a peppery hotness when raw, and taste awesome sauteed or spread across homemade pizzas. Another favorite way I prepare chanterelles is in a cream and wine sauce, and ladled over fresh pasta. Absolutely heavenly.

These types of mushrooms are low to the ground, and trumpet shaped to varying degrees. Some kinds of them have “false gills” which really aren’t gills, but little folds or rolls in the flesh of the mushroom. There are some types of toxic gilled mushrooms that superficially look like chanterelles, according to my Dr. Mushroom, but most chanterelles and trumpets are fairly easy to identify once you’ve had a few types of them positively identified for you by an expert. There’s also the “Devil’s Urn” which superficially looks like a Black Trumpet, but that grows on dead wood, but once you see them side by side, it’s really hard to confuse the two.

Once you’ve had a little help from an expert, and gotten your hands and your nose on chanterelles, they’re another “can’t miss” variety, almost as easy to identify as puffballs. Only they taste and smell a lot better than any puffballs.

In the Ozarks, Black Trumpets grow almost year round, although they are most plentiful in the spring after good rain, and in the fall. In some years, Black Trumpets are astoundingly abundant, and then heartbreakingly scarce in other years. These mushrooms dry well. If you dry them in a food dehydrator, use the lowest setting you can. I usually just spread out some paper towels on little racks from an old hibachi grill, and just let them air dry. I’ve used dried Black Trumpets and Cinnabarinus mushrooms a year after I harvested them. All I did was put them in water, and let them plump back up for a few hours, before putting them in pasta sauce, or using them in stews or on pizzas.


After getting some confidence and experience gathering puffballs and chanterelles, lots of mushroom hunters take a step up the food chain and add boletes to their menus.

Boletes are mushrooms that have the classic mushroom look. They have a stem leading up to a cap, but they don’t have gills on the bottom side of the cap.

Instead of gills, boletes have pores or tubes. Again, consult a good mushroom book with quality photos and illustrations. The underside of the cap will have lots of little round holes, or look like a sponge, or like a slice of bread, but will not have any gills at all.

Where I live, in the Ozarks of western Arkansas, there are no known species of deadly boletes, at least according to the mushroom expert whom I consult.

There are plenty of species of boletes that will give you projectile vomiting and projectile diarrhea, to the point that you might wish the mushroom would just go ahead an mercifully kill you. But in my particular area, there are no known boletes that will destroy your liver, or cause your kidneys to fail, and otherwise kill you graveyard dead.

To avoid the “gastric upset” inducing boletes, there are few little guidelines that Dr. Mushroom taught me, which I follow religiously.

1) I avoid all boletes that have pores or tubes that are red or bright orange. While there are some edible boletes with red or bright orange tubes on the undersides of their caps, there are enough boletes with red or bright orange pores and tubes to make it just not worth the risk.

2) Before I eat any bolete, I pinch off a bit of the cap, and also slice the whole cap in half, and wait 15 minutes. If the flesh of the cap bruises or stains black or blue, I don’t eat it.

According to Dr. Mushroom, in my region, the boletes that can cause bad upset stomach aches have red or orange undersides on their caps, or they stain or bruise black or blue when pinched or sliced. Some take a few minutes to change colors when pinched or sliced, and some do it immediately. I don’t know what it’s properly called, but I encountered an attractive tan bolete this past summer that when I pinched off a little chunk of its cap, it stained a startling, almost electric blue within seconds.

The color change was so striking that I actually looked for this type of mushroom just so I could pinch off little pieces and watch the flesh turn from white to blue. But I made sure to never eat it, and wash my hands thoroughly before picking any mushrooms that I planned on eating.

I treat boletes like the mushrooms I buy at the grocery store. I saute them. I break them up raw for salads, especially the ones with attractive, earthy odors. I dry some of them to crumble into soups.

I have learned the hard way that some types of boletes smell great when gathered, but get a strong, funky “unwashed feet” odor when sauteed in butter. They still taste okay, they just stink up the kitchen quite a bit.


The holy grail of mushroom hunters, especially in the Ozarks, are the various species of morels. Morels have stipes, but their caps are crinkly and wrinkly and hollow, without gills or pores. They look all the world like little stalks with clumps of brains atop them.

And they taste awesome sauteed in butter. That’s the best way to eat morels, in my opinion. Just simply sauteed for a few minutes in butter, and eaten without any further adornment, because they simply don’t need any enhancement.

There is the “false morel” to watch out for, but for the most part, once you get an idea of what a morel looks like, from either a good book or from an experienced mushroom hunter, you simply can’t mistake them for anything else.

Here in the Ozarks, folks who know where morels reliably appear typically protect their morel hunting grounds with the same type of intensity that female saltwater crocodiles defend their eggs. In fact, morels are so popular around here, that when you say “I hunt mushrooms” many folks just assume that you mean morels, and nothing else.

If you find a good morel patch, look for the delicate morsels of heavenly mushroom goodness to appear in the spring.

So far, I’ve been lucky enough to find only a handful of morels, and they’ve all appeared around the same tree. And I’m not saying where it’s located, either.


Shelf fungus are pretty much what the name sounds like. They appear to be little shelves of fungus growing off of trees, or on dead logs, or even up out of ground. Several types are edible, and many others are non-toxic, but so woody and chewy that you’d be better off trying to eat pine sawdust.

Where I live, there are various kinds of shelf fungus that are quite good to eat, one of the most commonly-known being “Hen of the Woods.” The Hen is called such because in its splendiferous adulthood, it looks all the world like a pile of gray hen feathers. And it tastes good.

I have found a few small hens of the woods, and was totally heartbroken this fall to find an enormous one in my regular deer-hunting spot, only about a week too late. It was huge, and blackened and rotting and infested with ants and several other kinds of bugs. I had to stand over it for a moment of regretful silence, but I have marked the exact spot, and plan to make more regular checks in the future.

By educating yourself with good books and by consulting experienced, trustworthy experts, you can add several types of wild mushrooms to your menu, enhancing and expanding your ability to use wild foods in a survival situation. And so long as the world as we know it doesn’t end, you can also really jazz up your recipes and impress both friends and family with the wonderful delicacies that nature offers in the form of edible fungi. Just be sure to educate yourself, seek out experts.

Safety Proviso: If you ever have any doubts whatsoever about the identify of the mushroom you’ve found, then don’t eat it. No mushroom, no matter how tasty it might be, is worth dying for.

James Wesley,
I am starting to store food for the future and have some wheat, beans and rice.  I would like to store corn to make into cornmeal, however I haven’t seen any available for this purpose.  I live in the southeast ands there is lots of corn we use to feed deer.  Is this suitable or can I get seed corn from the local feed store?  Any help you can provide would be appreciated.   I read your site each day and have learned a great deal from you and your readers. Thanks, - Gary M.

JWR Replies: Unfortunately, a substantial portion of the "feed corn" or "deer corn" that is typically sold at grain elevators and at farm co-ops in the U.S. is treated with fungicides, herbicides and pesticides in high concentrations. These often make it unsafe for human consumption. Furthermore, the standards for allowable levels of aflatoxins are much more lax, especially for "deer corn." (Which is not even approved for livestock feed.)

True food ("human consumption") grade whole corn is available in sacks or in 6 gallon food grade plastic buckets from a number of reputable vendors including Ready Made Resources, Walton Feed, and Honeyville Grain. OBTW, if you end up buying any grains in sacks, I describe how to to re-package the grain so that they will be safe from insects and vermin in the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course. (Currently offered by the publisher at $50 off. This sale ends soon.)

Hi Jim, and Readers;    
Winter is here! After all of the winter preparations around the house, trying to winterize the chicken coop.  The snow has come, and to date in the last better than two weeks we have had a total of about four feet of snow already. Wow!  I now have about nine hours behind the snow blower, and snow plow already. I consider this work "Better than mowing grass any day in the heat". I try to keep my driving to a minimum, especially on our local highway as much as possible. (The only way to any town in either direction)  When our first big snow a little more than two weeks ago, we were on the way to church, and passed seven vehicle slide offs, and one rear end collision, all in a stretch of just twelve miles. Today we were on the way to the local hardware store 25 miles away to purchase a toboggan for our grandson who is coming to visit Monday. Within the first ten miles into the trek we passed one slide off, and one semi trailer rig overturned into the ditch with about five emergency vehicles around it. Forget the toboggan, it was time to turn around and head home. 

Not more than an hour after returning home, I got a phone a call from our friends. They were still a hundred miles from their home, but just ten miles from us. the husband asked: "Dave, will you bring some wrenches to our mile marker?" Now the friend who called is a mechanic, and wrecker driver. After apologizing over and over, and saying he knew better, but he didn't put a tool box in his truck. On the way to their location, I came up on a vehicle stopped on the road, no blinkers on, and smoke coming from under the hood. I pulled around them and pulled over about fifty yards in front of them and turned on my blinkers, got out and ask what the problem was.  One of the young men asked if I had any duct tape. I went back to the car and looked in my emergency 10 day pack and found no duct tape. Yes, I know better too.

Where I live we have snow on the ground from November until June, or sometimes even July. Now I always keep my "ten day bag" in that car, plus road flares, tow strap, a good come-along, heavy duty jumper cables, water,  snacks. I also carry other assorted items including engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid,  o course the spare tire, jack, and tire irons. Now I don't normally keep a small tool kit, but after today, the small tool kit, and duct tape, some heater hose (two sizes), hose clamps, large ones that can clamp all the way down, and capable of fitting any larger hoses in the vehicle. I of course have and end wrench to insure they are tight.  Now, here in this part of the country I do my best to always keep the fuel tank not less than half full even though we keep two large fuel tanks at the retreat.  We always carry window antifreeze, and antifreeze for the radiator (50/50 mix). 

I also keep a blue tarp, and two blankets, two parkas, warm gloves, two pull over wool caps. and a set of ice cleats for our boots. A military first aid kit, the kind issued for military vehicles . We also carry a good shovel, axe, saw, a pick would be nice, but here the shovel is adequate for most of the terrain we travel. (The dirt is all pumicy, volcanic ash.)  This pretty well takes up about one third of the rear compartment of our 4x4 Ford Expedition. Now the two vehicles we use most in the winter are a small Ranger pickup, and the Expedition. Our "snow plow" Blazer  is used only on our own own road, to clear for a few neighbors, and out to the highway from our home about two tenths of a mile. So I don't carry any preps in it, Except a come along, and rope. And if I am using it, I am already bundled up warm. I have another large pickup that only is used on the road in the non-snowy season that is fully prepped in the Rawlesian way. It is a dually and quite squirrely on icy pavement. I do chain it up and keep chains on it through the winter, but it is just used for emergencies in the winter. And it is also our towing vehicle for  the G.O.O.D. trailer that is more than prepared than anything else.  Now, I have absolutely no intention in getting out of Dodge,  because I already live out of Dodge. Anyway the nearest big city is over an hour away on a good day.  Days like today it's two three or four hours away.  But if I ever need to G.O.O.D., then I am ready.

I guess where I'm going with the preceding is that now is the time for all prudent preparedness folks to double check our emergency kits, and supplies in our vehicles. Think of the worst case situations, prepare for them, and hope for the best. Here where I live, we are soooo far out in the country that it could take hours for emergency vehicles to get to you if your in a slide off, or accident, because they are all occupied somewhere else up and down the highway.

In two of my vehicles I keep ham radio sets. I would love to install one in the big car, but keeping my wife happy is important too. So a good handheld will do until her mind is changed on her own.   That usually takes a real eye opening experience and the Lord changing her mind. I do recommend if you don't have a ham radio license, please consider studying up and getting one. Or at least get a CB set and have one available in your vehicles. If for no other reason than to listen to the truckers and gain some vital intelligence when your on the road, about weather conditions, accidents, road blocks, and detours.

Drive carefully, especially on icy roads. And God's blessings to you all. - Dave M. in Oregon

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I'm a newbie to investing in junk silver and no nothing about coin collecting, but some questions at my local coin shop in Calgary, some research on Wikipedia have yielded some information I thought your readers might find useful:

1920 - 1967 Canadian minted coins seem to be the most commonly collected and follow this general rule:

Any combination of $1 face value 1920 - 1967 Canadian minted coins contain 0.6 Troy Ounces of silver (said coins have 80% silver content), with the exception of dimes and nickels.

In 1967-1968 it appears there were 50% silver dimes introduced alongside the 80% silver dimes, and in 1968 the 80% silver coins were discontinued.  If post-SHTF barter is your intention, I'd say not to take the risk with dimes minted after 1966.

Only 1920-1921 Canadian nickels had 80% silver content (and thus, 0.6 troy oz to the dollar).  Prior too, 1858 - 1919 nickels had 92.5% silver content.  Any later nickels are either nickel, steel or copper.  Current circulation Canadian "nickels" are 94.5% steel, so I can't imagine the same rule with American nickels applying to current Canadian nickels.  Either way, Canadian nickels are, for the most part useless - and I'm not going to bother trying to search my pocket change for them.

The 1920 - 1967 nickels, dimes, quarters have a very similar appearance as current circulation coins (except for a different monarch, God Save the Queen, eh?)  The other coins (half dollar and silver dollar) are no longer in circulation.

One other interesting observation is that prior to 1920, with all Canadian coins having 92.5% silver content, each $1 face value contains 0.693 Troy Ounce of silver.  However, these coins don't appear to be as common as the 1920 - 1967 coins, and I think in a SHTF situation, I believe either too few people will recognize these coins for what they are or the people who do will realize they have collectors value above the silver content.

Either way, I believe that "junk" 1920 - 1966 Canadian dimes, quarters, half dollars, and silver dollars are what you should be looking for, if you are a Canadian.

Here are the Wikipedia links for each Canadian coin:

Canadian Nickels

Canadian Quarters

Canadian Silver Dollars

I hope the foregoing proves useful.

Thank you for the work you do, and God bless you! - Nick L.

This news story from U.S.A. Today sounds like something out of a novel I once read wrote: More families, friends move in together. They even refer to it as "doubling up." A hat tip to Jeff S. for sending us the link.

   o o o

I recently placed a small order with L.L. Bean Company. When it arrived, I was disgusted to see that they are now selling some clothes that are made in mainland China. My advice is that if you place an order with them only do so by phone, and insist that they omit any items made in China. (See my previous post about the laogai prison factory system in China.)

   o o o

Dr. G.S. found the web site for the El Paso Energy Association. "There are multiple resources for off grid energy resources, including links to external sites devoted to straw bale house construction, et cetera."

   o o o

House May Block Food Safety Bill Over Senate Error. This is good news. Please contact your Congresscritters and ask them to stop this bad piece of legislation via "blue slipping" or any other means! (Among other things, the Senate version violates Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution.)

"You don't have to be a member of the build-a-bunker-in-Montana crowd to believe gold could hit $2,500 in the next couple of years." - Dan Burrows , writing in Daily Finance

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We've completed the judging for Round 31 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. And the winners are...

First Prize goes to T.K. for his article: Bugout Base Camp: My Solar School Bus, which was posted on Nov. 15, 2010. He will receive: A.) A