January 2011 Archives

Monday, January 31, 2011

The recent news headlines from Egypt show a similarity to many of the TEOTWAWKI predictions we've seen mentioned in SurvivalBlog. In the past three days, we have witnessed: an interruption of communications, chaos and looting on city streets, those who are in-the-know quickly and quietly Getting Out of Dodge, many policemen staying in their stations or even at home to protect their own families, mass prison escapes, neighbors teaming up in ad hoc teams to protect lives and property, and the military either unable or unwilling to step in to stop most crimes. The Egyptian food-price-protests-turned-revolution should be a lesson to us.


Today we present the final two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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 33 begins tomorrow and ends on March 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.

How much did the average home owner in the United States pay for utilities last month?  Last Year?  How much will they pay for utilities by the time they pay off their mortgage?  If they averaged $250 per month in utilities, which is below the national average of “$264.33 per month” (Statistic quoted by White Fence) the answer is shocking.  With the average home loan lasting 30 years, without taking into consideration rising costs, utilities would be $90,000!  For that amount of money this homeowner could put one child through a four year-degree at a very nice university.  What if I could explain how to build a home that would have little or no utility costs and cost the same or less to build as a conventional home?  I think that everyone should consider living in a growing architectural design called an Earthship because it will provide housing to live sustainably with no utility bills, ever.

There is an Earthship community where people live and work on their own property; and share labor and food with each other.  “Stacked up in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Taos, New Mexico, is a community of ‘Earthship’ houses, a pioneer of the Rural Earthship Alternative Community Habitat (R.E.A.C.H.) concept.  Earthships incorporate walls made of discarded vehicle tires, rammed earth and concrete, systems for recycling water and waste, solar technology, and a design that reflects the local adobe vernacular. Designed by architect Michael Reynolds (who lives in the one at the top), they are almost entirely self-sufficient in energy” (2010, Martin Bond).  Whatever a household does not grow or raise themselves they trade with another households that do; back and forth until everyone in the community has everything they need.  Communities such as this one are popping up all over the world. 
Earthship homes are designed to be self contained living units with the construction being out of various recycled materials.  The load-bearing walls are made of counter-stacked, earth-packed, used tires much like a brick wall, only much wider.  “The major structural building component of the Earthship is recycled automobile tires filled with compacted earth to form a rammed earth brick encased in steel belted rubber. This brick and the resulting (load) bearing walls it forms are virtually indestructible” (2010, Earthship Biotecture 1).  These tires can usually be acquired free from local tire companies because the companies have to pay to have them removed so they will happily give them away, ultimately saving them money.  Aluminum soda or beer cans can be acquired free and are used as bricks for interior, non-load bearing walls.  Glass wine or liquor bottles are cut with a wet-saw and placed end-to-end inside non-load bearing walls.  This allows light to shine through, creating beautiful kaleidoscope effects inside the home.  Once the home is complete, the owner can immediately start growing their own food and raising their own meat to supply themselves with the basic sustenance of life.  Because the building will supply the owner with clean drinking water, electricity and comfortable temperature control, there is no need for exterior supplied utilities.  This means the owner has no bills to speak of except the occasional trip to the grocery store for what the Earthship itself cannot provide the owner and propane for backup hot water generation.

Earthships also provide their owners with the three basic needs in life; shelter, food and water.  Additionally, they can provide income if wanted.  If everyone in the United States lived in an Earthship, this country would no longer be dependent on food and fossil fuels imported from all over the world, or huge water and waste treatment plants, run by the government.  This would also eliminate huge corporations controlling public utilities and deciding how much they want the populous to pay for their basic essentials of life.
Earthships are normally built on the downhill slope of a south facing hill but this is not a necessity; a level plot is sufficient.  The “hill” design is so the main structure of the home is underground, keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter; and the southern face of the home is almost completely made of windows.   These south facing windows allow the sun to heat the walls and floors.  This keeps the temperature in the home comfortable during the winter time when the sun is low in the sky as well as bringing in natural light for the plant life year around.  The average temperature in an Earthship is 70 degrees, year-round.  This temperature is controlled by the occupant through various means built-in at the time of construction.  Vent tubes placed inside of the uphill section of the construction near the floor bring in air from behind and above the home; the air cools as it passes through the earth.  Skylight vents in the ceiling also allow hot air to escape upwards and bring in cool air from the front of the house through windows that open.  This cools the home during the summer and also allows various insects to enter the greenhouse area and pollinate the plant life.  Closing these vents during the winter eliminates this cooling effect allowing the sun to warm the home.  This is an extremely efficient form of heating and cooling, requiring no outside power whatsoever. 
Earthships also supply their owners with an abundant amount of fresh water from rainfall, even in very arid climates.  The water collected is then used four times.  Runoff from rain collects in a cistern where it is cycles through a copper pipe to keep bacteria from growing.  When the inhabitant requires water, it is run through a filtration system to make it cleaner than most municipal water supplies.  “Earthship Biotecture has created a board that contains a series of filters and a pump that does this.  They call it the Water Organization Module” (2010, Earthship Biotecture 2).   The first use of the water is for various household duties including drinking, cooking, washing dishes, and taking showers.  This converts clean water into gray water.  Gray water is then recycled the second time by being pumped into the in-home garden where it feeds the plants that will feed the inhabitants.  This is completely safe because no human waste has been introduced into the soil.  Once the water settles down at the low end of the planter system, it is then pumped to a holding tank where it waits to be recycled for the third time to fill the toilets.  Water used to flush the toilets is now considered black water.  The black water is pumped outside where it collects into one of two types of water treatment areas.  The most common is an ordinary septic tank.  Bacteria in the septic tank break down the human waste and the leftover liquid is fed into the ground through a leach field.  “The septic tank contains baffles that prevent any scum that floats to the surface and sludge that settles to the bottom from passing out of the tank. The gases that are generated vent to the atmosphere via the plumbing vent system. From the septic tank, the segregated and relatively clear liquid flows into a small distribution box where it is then metered out to several perforated pipes” (2010, InspectAPedia.com). 

This type of single-home sewage treatment is used worldwide in areas not connected to sewer systems.  The other type of black water treatment is a self-contained flower garden where the black water feeds into a large area of plants, not suitable for human consumption completing the fourth phase of recycling.  This area is completely sealed so no sewage can leak into the surrounding ground and water table.  These plants soak up the water and treat it through natural processes of bacteria and decay.  Animals can eat this grass, bee’s can pollinate the flowers and these animals can be used for food and the bees, of course, produce honey.  This is completely natural as the black water being recycled through the earth and then through the plants, makes it safe for the animals to eat the plants, and ultimately, humans to eat the animals.  Human food cannot be produced this way, because our digestive system does not break down waste as well as the animals digestive system does. 

Sunlight and wind are utilized through photovoltaic panels and wind generators to produce the electricity needed to power the home.  A bank of 12 volt batteries are used to store the electricity produced by these sources and the home mainly runs on fixtures and appliances designed to run on direct current or DC.  An inverter converts the DC into alternating current (AC) for appliances that require AC.  To send power through power lines over long distances requires AC; that is why alternating current is the world standard.  DC is actually much more efficient when power is not required to travel long distances.  Modern Earthships have all the amenities of any home built from conventional means including large screen televisions and high speed Internet.  Propane can also be used for refrigeration or an alternate hot water source.

It takes approximately one-year for the food growth cycle to become established and the home owner accustomed to it.  Once these factors are in harmony with each other; the balance of food production versus use, the owner will incur very minimal monthly food costs.  Earthship inhabitants can teach these methods of living to their children who can either choose to live in their parents Earthship or build one of their own.  The entire process is self-sustaining and continually replenishing itself; thus an Earthship could provide all the basic needs of an entire family.

The cost comparison from conventional home construction and Earthship construction can vary from much lower to much higher than conventional construction depending on how much the owner wants to put into their Earthship.  Earthship architecture keeps the up front cost of construction to a bare minimum because most of the structural materials are either free or very cheap.  Some owners have even built Earthships with no mortgage after completion.  Those building Earthships can rack up expense very quickly with the purchase of the water treatment units and the power generation systems.  Most builders of Earthships choose to save money by building their own wind generators and solar panels, whereas others purchase top-of-the-line, most expensive components saving time and workload. 

When one considers how much money an average homeowner will spend in utilities throughout the length of their mortgage, I believe that everyone should consider building an Earthship.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have no bills to speak of?  Earthships are self-sustaining and for this reason are fast becoming a more main stream option, attracting people from all walks of life.  Imagine never paying utilities, well into your retirement age.  My wife and I are looking for land to build our own Earthship, you should consider joining us.

References and Illustrations:

Blue Rock Station.
Earthship Biotecture 1.
Earthship Biotecture 2.

Home Quotient. “Food Production”
Home Quotient. “Windows”

Low Carbon Trust. “Photovoltaic & Solar Hot Water”

Specialist Stock. (Specialist Stock photo by Martin Bond used with special
permission via e-mail.)

The Open End. “Phoenix Bath”

The Practical Environmentalist. “Earthship Walls”


Those of us who wish to be prepared for whatever may lay ahead, are always faced with unique situations and challenges.  Those challenges may include such things as: lack of funds, a difficult location, non-supportive or elderly or disabled family members, your age or stage in life, etc. The list goes on and on. However, is it imperative to find solutions and make plans?  I think so! 

While my situation is a little unusual, I count myself as truly blessed to be one of those individuals who knows the time to be prepared is now, rather than later.  I am not about to be deterred or overwhelmed.  I do not want to face these challenging times without a plan. Neither should you. 

The questions you ask now may be the key to your successes later.  I knew I needed to have a plan or plans that I could realistically attempt to implement.  I began by making an assessment of my situation; then formulating several plans along with a variety of solutions including skills and preps that could work for my unique circumstances.   While my needs will be quite different from yours, the process of forming the plans will be easy to follow.   If I can do it, you can do it.

My circumstances are as follows:  I am a 59 year old female…wife, mother of two sons ages 26 and 36, grandmother of five, and a retiree from the teaching profession.   

My husband and I purchased a second home about six years ago where we could spend warm winters prior to and during our full retirement.  Our thinking being that the prices were going to continue to rise rather than decline.  Oh, wow, were we wrong!  Since my retirement, I have been spending the winter months at the second home in the warmer climate.  My husband who is self-employed could do the same, but has chosen to reside in the colder climate during the winter months and remain involved with our business. The youngest son resides in the same state as dad and is a full-time student/part-time employee.  The oldest son is self-employed and lives in a very large state in the south with his wife and five children. Okay, my circumstances are not really a problem so far, just somewhat unique.

Challenges are as follows:

Differences of opinion exist within the family:  I know the times are changing!  My oldest son knows the times are changing!  We are both spending our time and resources seriously preparing for the very difficult times that we believe are ahead of us.  Husband and younger son think the two of us are way off base and have done little or nothing with regard to preparing for what is ahead. 

Do I bug in or bug out?  Bugging in will mean being alone without a support system, in a city of 3 to 4 million “sheeple.”  Bugging out will mean driving across country alone in what could be difficult circumstances, for a distance of 1200 to 1800 miles, to get to family.

Do I travel 1,200 miles...
to my older son’s home in a conservative state where he is quite prepared to take care of and defend his family and their home; knowing full well that I could become an additional burden to the already large family?  He and his wife are hoping that I will join them.

Do I attempt to make the 1,800 mile trip
back to my husband and younger son, which happens to be in a fairly liberal state with much more extreme weather conditions; only to find that there have been no provisions put aside or preparations made for difficult times ahead?  For heaven’s sake, they don’t see the train wreck coming!

What am I preparing for?
I am preparing for anything and everything that is not the norm; whatever, whenever, or wherever that may be.

Here is what I have done so far or possible solutions for potential challenges:

  1.  I maintain a three to six month’s storage of foods that I eat regularly. These foods can and usually are taken with me when I make my seasonal shift from one location to another.
  2. I have purchased a S&W .38 revolver with Crimson trace laser, an S&W Bodyguard with laser, a Ruger 10/22, and a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, each of which are stainless steel with synthetic stocks and easy to maintain.  I have a nice supply of ammo.
  3. I obtained my concealed carry weapon’s permit for two states; the third state recognizes one of the acquired permits.
  4. I made the change from driving a small luxury car to a nice 6.2 liter crew cab pick-up truck.  Yes, it takes more fuel, but it is safer and more capable of being driven under difficult weather or road conditions.
  5. I purchased a very quiet used Honda generator that only had logged 10 hours of use from a relative who needed the money. That was an awesome deal at half the price of a new one.
  6. I purchased a half dozen fuel containers, which I can fill within minutes.  I am getting closer to filling and rotating on a regular basis.  I do have Sta-Bil in my preps.  I have also calculated the amount of fuel it will take to get to the shortest destination.
  7. I purchased a Coleman Dual Fuel Camp Stove and keep fuel on hand.
  8. Since I live in a desert climate, water storage is a must.  I always maintain a good supply in transportable containers.
  9. I keep a nice amount of cash on hand and also have a good amount of Silver Eagles as back up.
  10. I keep all documents including my passport in a ‘grab and go bag’ along with a good B.O.B. filled with cold weather clothing and survival gear.
  11. I purchased a good quality sleeping bag, which is also included in the B.O.B.
  12. I have made a very serious attempt to acquire new and used books, which I feel would be quite useful if the internet becomes unavailable.
  13. I read www.SurvivalBlog.com daily and always monitor world events via real and preferred radio or television stations.
  14. I have made a commitment to read The Bible daily, as well as other very informative books.
  15. I do take medications on a daily basis, and make purchases through a national chain.  Because the insurance does not want to allow more than a 30 day supply per renewal, I am considering larger purchases through Canada.  This is not my preference, but may be my only way of obtaining a supply that would last for more than one month per renewal.

Did all of this happen overnight?  Absolutely not! I first evaluated and prioritized! I have since acquired the skills and preps over the past two years as my money would allow.
Do I have all of the answers?  Heavens no! However, knowing that I have acquired some new skills and new useful items, gives me more confidence that I will be prepared for the coming changes.  I simply pray I will know what to do and where to go when the time comes that I must make that decision. 
Are you prepared?  I hope so!  If not, and you have been waiting for a nudge to move forward with your plan, consider this article to be that nudge.  Don’t plan to fail, because you failed to plan.  What are the possible challenges you and your family may be facing in a natural or man-made disaster or event?  Come up with solutions and set your goals to be accomplished within a realistic time period.  Face one challenge at a time, and get to it!  Time may be running out!

I have been a prepper for a while and I have always regarded my current location in rural West Virginia a safe place for WTSHTF. However I failed to recognize it's vulnerabilities in the time before that happens. To set the stage I live just west of the Shenandoah Valley, the nearest hospital is 20 miles away over a mountain chain in Virginia, a 45 minute drive during good weather. It had been snowing for two days and this route happened to be closed to all but emergency vehicles. The other hospital was a two hour drive away, again, snowed in. Our county had two ambulances, one was in a volunteer fire department (They had no established fire department) the other roamed the county seat, which was 12 miles away over another ridge of mountains.

My wife was cooking and my two children were in their rooms playing. It was at this time that I learned a valuable lesson about first aid kits and how unprepared they actually leave you.

My wife, through some slip and catch routine caught the business end of a carving knife just below the inside of her elbow. The cut was about 2.5 inches long and about a ¼ inch deep. Now that doesn't sound like a lot but when you are looking at tendons, fat and blood vessels it's more than enough.

Confident of my first aid kit and training I immediately sat her down and told her to raise her arm. Unfortunately due to the location of the gash, this was unbearably painful for my wife. I opened our medical kit, which I thought was of substantial size, and donned sterile gloves, and opened a pair of gauze pads. I had her hold this on the cut while I called 911 and checked in on the kids. The kids were fine, the ambulance was busy. Busy? Apparently someone had caught their living room on fire and the incident occupied both ambulances which would be unavailable for the next four hours while trudging through the night behind a snowplow to the nearest hospital. Not to mention a plethora of people had been caught in the weather trying to drive.

The severity of that situation did not dawn on me until after the incident. I set the phone down near us as I replaced the dripping bandages. The blood was clotting but it still oozed out of cut. I placed four bandages on and wrapped a triangle bandage and had her lay down so her arm would be slightly elevated above her heart.

For those that do not know when skin is cut that deep it pulls away from itself, all in all the center most opening was nearly ½ inch wide showing more anatomy that I was comfortable with. Upon changing the bandage the third time the blood had stopped and it was clotted enough to allow me to use a small iodine wipe around the cut, careful not to get it into the mound I tried to clean up the blood as best as I could. My wife, now shivering from slight shock of the incident was nauseous and dizzy. I took appropriate actions and assured her everything was going to be fine.(I myself had doubts about this)

It was 9 p.m. when I ran out of bandages. In four hours I had gone through three boxes of gauze as the wound wept, the 'dull thudding pain' also taking it's toll on the medication we had in the kit. I called once more, and said my wife was fine and only needed stitches, and maybe some pain medication. I was told the ambulances were on their way back but someone else had literally slid of the side of the mountain and they were having to Triage people for an ambulance. That sent a chill down my spine. “I'm very sorry sir, but you will be given a call as soon as another emergency vehicle is available.”

I looked at my wife and made the decision to go to the gas station four miles down the road and buy as many sterile pads that they had. The trip took an hour. Luckily halfway through going there I heard the heavy scraping of a snowplow as he rushed through, I pulled into someone's driveway and let him pass before continuing. I bought the bandages: 8 boxes gauze/ 2 boxes super absorbent gauze non-stick pads. As I made my way back on the uncleared lane, I slid off the road or into the oncoming lane (which was plowed) multiple times. Luckily I made it back in one piece and so did the vehicle. The bandages were replaced and luckily all was good. I double checked her wound before calling the emergency line again and informing them to take us off of the 'Ambulatory Triage' list.

It was four days before I could take my wife to the hospital who said she was lucky it was not infected and it would have required stitches had she come in that night. At that point it had closed up and scabbed over enough for them to need only give her some penicillin to ward off any infection and some painkillers.

So in hind sight now I had to ask myself some serious questions...

What if she had cut a tendon or a major artery, would they have diverted an ambulance to our house when someone's vehicle had flipped off the road? Would my wife have been 'triaged' over a smoke inhalation victim?

What if I had gotten stuck in the snow or worse, wrecked as many did that night and was left stranded as I got my wife her bandages? Was I prepared to walk through that kind of weather? Was it a good decision to risk it for bandages and leave my wife alone handicap with two children?

What if the gas station was closed? What if they didn't even carry medical supplies? What if it had gotten infected early on? What if I had cut myself, did my wife know how to properly care for a wound? Would the situation have been more severe had my children been the victim? I asked these and many other questions after this event and have made adjustments accordingly.

We now have an ample stock of medical supplies (As in hundreds of each 'basic' necessity in a first aid kit.), my wife has been to a basic fist aid and CPR class and I am working to educate her to the level of first aid that I am at, the children too, are learning. Remember the lesson here is modern medical kits are designed for the 30 minutes to an hour between the incident and the time the ambulance arrives or you arrive to hospital. Not for extended use.

Replacing the pads as often as I did, I'm sure, is what saved it from infection for as long as it did, all together over 100 pads were used, 2 triangle bandages and 2 rolls of medical tape, three dozen iodine/alcohol wipes, even more pairs of latex gloves, and that's for just one cut for four days.

Take heed that in TEOTWAWKI there are no drugstores or gas stations down the road, you not only have to cover the wound but you have to maintain it until it heals properly. I highly recommend buying massive quantities of gauze and other 'basic' medical supplies.

Learn from my experience and don't ever think it won't happen to you before TEOTWAWKI. You can never be prepared enough. Regards,- I.S.

Hello Mr. Rawles!
Long time reader here, but had taken a break from most blogs for almost a year as I focused on generating alternative sources of income. I have an important question for you. How will we access the Internet after the government shuts off "the switch"? Would we still have access via dial up possibly? I'm on broadband now and its been a long time since I've used dial up service. I've used Ubuntu Linux the past 4, almost 5 years now and I know many old dial up modems do not work well in Linux/ (At least the inexpensive winmodems don't work well.) Of course, some brand name modems still work great. I've have been recently re-watching the Jericho television series to get some ideas of life after the SHTF. My wife from Ukraine says collapse is at USA's doorstep with all the telltale signs). In the show Jericho, Robert Hawkins continues to use a government computer even after an EMP and mention is made the Internet was designed to be able to survive a nuclear war. What about a Presidential kill switch? In any case, I was thinking of getting to know dial up again. Are there still BBS (bulletin board systems) out there? Should I even consider looking into dial up or am I wasting my time? Regards, - Dave in Southern California

James Wesley,
Take a look at the Open Mesh web site. The content of that site is a bit heavy-technical going in places but useful, given: A.) Egypt's recent actions, and B.) the current[ly pending] Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) legislation in Congress to give the White House the power to shut down chunks of the Internet in times of "national emergency."

I'm a frequent reader who appreciates your hard work in making people more aware. - Rick W.

I believe that some TEOTWAWKI-prepping "good" will come out of the recent developments in Egypt. See this recent PC World article: Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to Guerrilla Networking and be prepared for when the lines get cut. I'm even thinking of a "neighborhood intercom"! - The Other J.R.

JWR Replies: I concur that it is important to develop some alternatives in anticipation of draconian government actions. Yishai mentioned another good article with it own little wiki: Communicate if Your Government Shuts Off Your Internet.

Since SurvivalBlog might someday be deemed politically incorrect--either by malicious hackers, our by own government, or by a foreign government, we are developing some countermeasures:

A.) As a first step, a couple of months ago we began publicizing our IP address (It is: I got a chuckle when I saw a wannabe blog quickly follow suit.

B.) The next logical step will be to set up an offshore SurvivalBlog mirror server that will be automagically backed up every 24 hours. (Does anyone have some inexpensive server space available?)

C.) Lastly, I hope to find a used satellite phone with modem capability, "just in case." (Perhaps Iridium...) But even buying used equipment, they seem quite expensive. Ditto for the cost of calls and modem connect time.

Just a short note to provide feedback on your advertisers. First, as a retired engineer who always dealt with verifiable data, I am always initially skeptical of product claims and hype. However, since I have, over the years, started buying materiel, I have found that your advertisers provide not only great products, but also outstanding service.

I now have come to trust any company I see on SurvivalBlog. Looking back, I have spent approximate $14,000 in the last three years getting my family prepared. From your advertisers, I have purchased books, seeds, food, gear, water filters, barrels, grain mills, wheat berries, etc. I have never encountered any problems with any of your advertisers when I have had the need to call for additional information. I received nothing but outstanding customer service.

Today I purchased a Tri-Fuel conversion kit for my Generac generator from the company mentioned in a recent post. I had been looking for two years for the correct one.

Your site, while it has valuable information and hands on application data, is also a valuable source for saving time in finding the right material for specific uses and situations. As far as I and my family are concerned, SurvivalBlog.com has become a national asset ... so (tongue in cheek), be careful. The Feds have been known to take over national assets.

Warm Regards, - Marc N. in Alabama

Rocky Mountain Power asks for 13.7% rate hike

Reader Steve C. pointed us to a blog written by Barry Ritchie, a missionary in Honduras. Ritchie mentions that staple foods like rice and beans have nearly quadrupled just in the past year. Steve's comment: "Food inflation is most certainly on the rise, and apparently even faster in those areas where folks can even less afford the increase."

The Downsizing of America:  Manufacturers Learn Creative Methods of Repackaging Inflation  

Here is a must read piece by Dr. Gary North on family relocation when war is on the way: Moving How Far Out?

   o o o

A company is offering a unique "Multi-Lens TEOTWAWKI Vision System". These unisex eyeglasses includes complete sets of left and right scratch resistant prescription lens ranging in fine diopter increments from - 1.0 up to - 5.0 diopters.

   o o o

Here it comes, just as I warned: BATFE Study On The Importability Of Certain Shotguns. I believe that it was no coincidence that the ATF document featured a picture of a Saiga 12 shotgun. That is the one that has them feeling antsy. They are presently having a "public comment period." Please politely let the ATF know two things: 1.) The Second Amendment has nothing to  do with "sporting" guns or hunting ducks. Rather, it preserves our right to own paramilitary ("militia") firearms. and 2.) Detachable magazine shotguns such as the Saiga 12 gauge are indeed popular for sporting shotgun "Three Gun Match" events.

   o o o

Davey in Michigan notes that the February 2011 issue of Sky and Telescope has some interesting articles concerning the Sun, the upcoming solar cycle maximum, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and the possible implications that such events would have upon the national power grids and high technology hardware.

   o o o

'Death by GPS' in desert. (Thanks to Skip T. for the link.)

"If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of a light," Ma considered. "We didn't lack for light when I was a girl, before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of."   "That's so," said Pa. "These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves - they're good things to have, but trouble is, folks get to depend on 'em."  - Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter (Which describes the harsh winter of 1880-1881 in the Dakotas.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

As both an organic, pastured chicken farmer and someone very interested in preparing for any possible future disruption in the food chain, I have given much thought to what it would take to keep my flock going if everything went to heck in a hand basket.

Eggs or Meat?

Over the past several generations, chickens have been selectively bred to either grow fast and put on lots of meat quickly or crank out eggs like a Pez dispenser. The problem with this specialization of breeds is that it has created fragile, problem prone chickens. The modern breeds require high octane specialized feed and even then suffer from leg crippling problems and deformities. Also problematic is the fact that modern meat birds can no longer mate naturally and must be artificially inseminated to reproduce. This is not a good scenario if you are trying provide your family with a sustainable source of fresh meat when you can no longer swing by the grocery store for some plastic-wrapped boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Ready, Set, Go

To have any hope of realistically raising chickens for meat or eggs in a survival situation there are several factors that must be addressed. Don’t even hope to be able to do any of this after everything goes to heck – you must get started and you must start now.

Survival Breeds

The single most critical factor in your success at putting fresh chicken on the table is the careful selection of breed. You must have a thrifty dual-purpose flock established before everything comes grinding to a halt. This can be three birds in your backyard or thirty birds on half an acre but whatever you do, do it today! Look for birds that can lay eggs but that are also meaty enough to justify the effort of plucking and processing when they are “spent” which is generally at two years old. If you live in colder climates, the heavily feathered Orpingtons are a great breed. In warmer climates, we prefer their heat loving cousins the Australorps. If you are looking online, look for heavy breed brown egg layers. There are many good books written on different chicken breeds and many hatcheries can point you in the right direction if you ask the right questions. Start with “What’s a good, hardy dual purpose breed that does well in (insert your climate here).

Supplemental Feed

The breed you choose should be aggressive foragers but not aggressive birds. Meaning, they will actively spend their day scratching for bugs and seeds but will not try to attack your children when they collect the eggs. Most heritage breed chickens have retained the ability to shift for much of their own food but if you plan on getting many eggs out of them and keeping them meaty, you will have to supplement their diet. The more you can move them to new grass, the less you will have to provide extra feed. Luckily chickens are omnivores and as such will eat almost anything you give them. Any scraps of leftover food especially bits of meat will provide their protein needs. If you catch rabbits, game, mice or rats you can take off the bulk of the meat to feed your family and throw the rest to the chickens. They will pick the bones clean and then you can feed the rest to your pigs or guard dogs. Since you are probably planning to grow your own wheat, barley, corn etc.; set aside a small plot to feed to the chickens or make friends with a local wheat/corn farmer. Once everything crashes and burns, you’ll be able to trade darn near anything for a fresh, whole chicken. As with all of your animals, your chickens will need fresh clean water on a daily basis. Make sure during the summer they never run dry or the stress will negatively impact their health.

No Heat Lamp? No Problem

When everything is working as it should and all is right with the world, you would phone up a hatchery and have them ship some day-old chicks right to your front door. Pop the little peepers under a heat lamp and you are on your way to some tasty eggs and meat. What happens when the hatchery doesn’t answer the call, the phone doesn’t work or the post office doesn’t deliver anymore? How will you get more chicks? The answer is, if you have carefully selected the right breed, and have followed the suggestions so far, you can sit back and let nature take it’s course! Any chicken worth it’s keep will go “broody” meaning she will sit on her eggs until they hatch and then care for the baby chicks. As long as you don’t eat your breeding stock, this will continue to provide nearly unlimited replacements for the chickens that you use for meat. [JWR Adds: As I've mentioned in the blog once before: If your breed of chickens isn't broody, then you can buy a few broody "foster moms" of another breed. Bantam hens are famous for their broodiness.] Although you don’t need roosters to get eggs, you will need some to get more chicks. I recommend getting roosters from at least two or three different hatcheries – that way you can ensure the genetic diversity of your flock if this becomes a long term situation.

Protect Your Flock

Everyone will want your chickens – including hawks, owls, coyotes and raccoons. Unless you live next to a pharmaceutical company and have unlimited access to antibiotics and poultry meds, don’t plan on keeping your flock indoors all the time. Chickens don’t do well in confinement and will peck at  each other out of boredom and become sickly. You can build a shelter for them or buy one of the ready-made chicken houses but either way, they will need a safe place to roost at night. We keep the coyotes and raccoons at bay by surrounding the chickens with portable electric fencing that runs off a deep cycle battery with a solar panel. You can assign one of your kids to watch the chickens during the day and keep the hawks away – what else are they going to do if the Xbox doesn’t work anymore? Make sure the chicken house is closed up tight each night or owls will literally walk in and start demolishing your flock. Have enough chickens so that if you lose one or two before you find out who the new predator is – snake? skunk? opossum? – it won’t be the end of your family’s meat source.


So now you have raised some chickens, you’ve gotten eggs out of them and they are slowing down production – time for chicken and dumplings. You need minimal equipment to get your bird into an edible form. A rope and sharp knife is all it takes. Flip your bird upside down, tie the feet to something so your hands are free and slit the jugular right behind the jaw bone on each side. While the bird is still warm, pull all the feathers off – cut off the head and feet. Make a slit just above the vent (anus) making sure not to cut into the viscera. Pull out the innards and rinse the bird inside and out. You can see some great videos of this being done on youtube.com – type in “chicken processing” – forget the fancy equipment – it won’t work without some serious power and you don’t need it for a couple chickens a week anyway. It’s not hard at all to process a chicken but you might want to try it a couple times before you have to do it on an empty belly and your hungry kids staring you down. As a fun family project, make a homemade solar oven and see if you can cook up a nice casserole for dinner without using any energy at all.


With proper care, sunshine, bugs to eat and grass to nibble on, your hardy dual purpose breeds should have zero health problems and will be a joy to raise and maintain. However, if you ever see one of your birds behaving strangely, off on it’s own, making strange noises, having breathing problems, swollen eyes or any other unusual signs, cull it immediately. Don’t wait to see if it will get “better” remove it from the flock and kill it. Feed it to the pigs and check your flock constantly so that you can catch any other chickens behaving strangely and cull them immediately as well. Don’t take a chance on an illness wiping out your whole flock – healthy birds can fight off most diseases. The ones that can’t don’t need to be part of your breeding stock.

Why Chickens?
On our farm, we raise many animals – pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows, goats, rabbits, ducks, dogs and cats but in a true survival emergency the chicken will be our go-to source of meat and barter. They are easier to process than rabbits, reproduce faster than cows, grow out sooner than turkeys and are simpler to raise than pigs. They are small and kid friendly but provide critical sources of protein and fats. The right breed in the right conditions will have few health problems and will reliably produce offspring with no intervention on your part. Starting a small backyard flock today could be one of the most important steps that you can take toward survival when TEOTWAWKI arrives.

Useful Books:
Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow
Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock by Judy Pangman
Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide by Jeremy Hobson and Celia Lewis
The Joy of Keeping Chickens: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Poultry for Fun or Profit (The Joy of Series) (part of the 'Joy of' Series) by Jennifer Megyesi and Geoff Hansen
Chickens: Tending A Small-Scale Flock For Pleasure And Profit (Hobby Farm) by Sue Weaver


Dear JWR,  
I will present some facts and allow you to draw your own conclusions.  Having been in Army Intelligence, I am certain that you are capable of analyzing data and arriving at multiple possible scenarios of likely outcomes:

1.)     There are currently 9 [well-known] planets in our solar system;
2.)     According to physicists, objects of greater mass attract objects of lesser mass (same goes for planets);
3.)    On October 31, 2003 a new , 10th planet (Planet X [also known as Eris]), was discovered outside our solar system, but traveling towards it in an elliptical orbit;
4.)    See this NASA web page.
5.)    At first this discovery was heralded with much publicity, then died down… this in itself may mean nothing.
6.)     As our own Moon affects tides and weather on Earth, imagine how disruptive a large mass like another planet traveling close to Earth would become;
7.)    Some people say that the extremes we are currently experiencing in weather and seismic activity is actually a felt influence of Planet X as it currently approaches a closer orbit to Earth.

[some deleted, for brevity.]

Sincerely, Wayne.

JWR Replies: The orbit of Pluto takes 248 years.  Eris (aka 2003 UB313, also aka "Planet X") is indeed part of our solar system. But it is in a much more distant orbit than Pluto. Its tracked orbital path shows it coming no closer to Earth than the average orbital distance of Neptune. It also has an orbital velocity that is slower than Pluto's. From what I've read in credible sources, there is no evidence that it will ever get near Earth.

As for gravitational perturbations (tidal forces), even when the much-vaunted Grand Alignment took place on May 5, 2000, the tidal effect was so small that it had five or six zeros in front of it. The inverse square law also applies to gravitational forces over the vast orbital distances of planetary space. The gravitational forces exerted by Eris are less than 1/1000th than that of Jupiter, and even those are negligible, here on Earth.

I don't see any cause for alarm about Planet Eris, even for our great-great grandchildren. It is those large, but as yet un-detected Earth crossing asteroids that worry me.

SAA Joe makes some good points in his article. He states however that “Hopefully 3 minutes without oxygen is self explanatory.  You have to breathe to survive!” then offers no solutions to a scenario where that may become a problem.   Scenario: You are stuck in traffic on the interstate due to an overturned tanker truck a few hundred feet in front Of you when a cloud of unidentified gas starts rolling towards your car from the overturned tanker. What do you do?   Scenario: You are at home which is located ¼ mile from a heavily used rail line. You hear the sound of a train Derailment and subsequent explosion. Looking outside you see large amounts of smoke and strange colored clouds rolling Towards your house which is downwind from the accident. What do you do?   These scenarios are not farfetched. Some version of these occurs on a regular basis in the United States.   In both cases gas masks stored in an easily-accessible spot in the home or vehicle can be life savers. Perfectly serviceable units are available at reasonable cost from a variety of sources. As with most preparations, discretion is advised when letting Others who may not share your mindset regarding preparations know of you precautions. Better safe than sorry!   Regards, - Jack C.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to this photo montage: Ancient Defense Tower Becomes a Sleek Home

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Analysis: Egypt shows how easily Internet can be silenced.

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Reader J.M.C. sent the CNN piece: Utah Base Lockdown. J.M.C.'s comment: "Scooby-Doo says: 'Rutro!'"

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I was pleased to see that SurvivalBlog was just ranked #1, among survival blogs.

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Chris Matthews: Obama Plans Separate Gun-Control Speech

"Woe to those that call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light,  and light for darkness;  who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

While I sit and type, the Mid-Atlantic States and much of the rest of the country are locked in a deep freeze.  Wrapped in a blanket and staring at the fire, the furthest thing from my mind is the warm breeze of spring and my summer vegetable garden.  Yeah, right!  The only thoughts that seem to pass through my brain while staring at “the poor man’s television” is TEOTWAWKI, fishing (trout season is just around the corner), farming, and summer.  Just before it turned winter cold, while we were still experiencing the crispness of fall, I dug out my vegetable garden for this coming summer.  I just moved into a house with a yard and room enough to have a small 5’x15’ garden.  For the entirety of my adult life, my living arrangements have never afforded me the opportunity to plant a real garden.  A garden doesn’t grow in a city apartment on the 3rd floor.  So I’ve been using this winter to read, read, and read.  If growing a garden is anything like drowning a worm, I’m certain that more than simply theoretical knowledge will be necessary.  Practical skills are vital, since nature doesn’t always act the way it’s supposed to.  So, while I am chomping at the bit to practice some plans and ideas, I’m still at present just a theoretician. 
What, then, are some of my theories?  I have some theories of how TEOTWAWKI will happen. China will begin to dump the dollar at an even faster pace.  The rest of the world will get wise to its worthless reserve currency, then bam…we’re done.  The saber rattling by North Korea turns into a destabilizing war in Asia.  Nukes start flying … then bam we’re all toast.  How about this outlandish one I just came up with… Obama’s birth certificate is never found and it’s proven that he is not a natural born American citizen.  A constitutional crisis ensues throwing our society into political and economic chaos and we are living in a "Patriots"-style post crunch America.  I’ve thought of all these theories, but they are not the ones on my mind while watching the fire.  My thoughts these days revolve around how much land will I need to survive.  What kind of food do I need to be stockpiling and how do I preserve it?  What is the calorie count of those foods?  What is the calorie count of wild game?  Heck, I’ve even thought of the unthinkable, what is the calorie content of bugs?  Let me share with you some of my findings.
Recently, the folks at BackyardFoodProduction.com covered the topic “How much land does it take to be completely food self-reliant?” in their newsletter.  The information was informative to the max and nothing short of spectacularly awesome.  If an EMP were to strike right now and we were forced to revert to a hunter/gather lifestyle, we would need in the range of 10 square miles (6,400 acres) to survive.  And this supposes that you are the only person foraging of the land.  It’s an astonishing number and, with the high population density in many parts of the US like the North East or Mid Atlantic, purely hunter/gatherer survival would be virtually impossible.  If you farm, the research concludes that 5 people can be fed complete diet on 1 acre of land, growing food 4 seasons out of the year.  If you only have 2 growing seasons, double your acreage.
That 1 acre of food will produce enough veggies for five people. What veggies are you growing that will satisfy that grumbling belly? Do you know what the calorie count is of some common vegetables? Have you planned your garden with these calories in mind? I for one know that if I simply planted tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, etc. I would starve.  My brother affectionately termed a calorie counting diet the carrot diet. When we are counting calories and snacking all day, we both tend to snack on carrots.  After a day of snacking like a rabbit, I’m so starving hungry, I could eat a rabbit!  When you plan your acre garden, or your back yard 5’x15’ garden, know the calorie content of the produce you are planting and plan accordingly.   I did a Google search and no two web sites had exactly the same numbers.  They always differed by a few calories.  While the numbers I chose might not be scientifically exact, they are most likely in the ball park.  Here is a chart with some of the some of the common veggies:

Type of Vegetable




6 spears






1 medium



1 stick



1 medium


Egg Plant




1 cup






1 whole


Peas – Green



Potato (boiled)



Pumpkin (baked)






Sweet Corn (cob)

1 medium


Sweet Potato




1 medium



1 medium



Most Americans are not vegans or vegetarians; we eat meat.  According to Hungry Planet, Americans on average consume as much as 275 pounds of meat per person per year.  Wow, that’s a lot of carne!  When the food chain breaks down, the food riots in the rest of the world move to the U.S., and mass produced meat is not readily available, do you know how to replace those calories with game meat?  Here is a chart of the calories for some of the common game meats hunted in American forests:







18.6 g

8.2 g



21.6 g

1.7 g

Duck – wild mallard


21.1 g

15.8 g



25.1 g

2.5 g



27.2 g

4.1 g



30.2 g

10.2 g



21.0 g

5.0 g



10.1 g

3.8 g



33.5 g

6.4 g



24.3 g

5.2 g



21.0 g

5.0 g

Here is a list of common fish, both fresh water and salt water.  Please note that depending on your locale, there are different names for different fish.

Serving is 100g




Bass (Small/Largemouth)












Catfish (fresh water)




Drum (fresh water)




Lake Trout




Brook Trout




Rainbow Trout












Salmon (Atlantic)








If you are really in dire straits and that 1 ounce lead meal you’ve saved still isn’t an option (and hopefully it never will be), insects can be your savior.  There is something to be said for the little bugs.  Some of the Old Testament prophets survived for most of their lives on insects.  Here is a chart that I hope you don’t find too repulsive:







5.5 g

6.7 g




14.2 g




28.2 g




6.7 g



3.3 g

14.3 g

Water Bugs


8.3 g

19.8 g



10 g

63 g

When my thoughts have run their course, my plow reverts to my pencil, those corn fields are a thousand miles away and it’s still winter outside my door, I’m just the theoretician. 

PlanetScott.com was my source for this chart.  It was the only place I found it so I can’t verify its accuracy with a second source.

First and foremost let me say that this is in no way meant as the definitive way to do things. This is only one man's opinion of things that I have used in my job and have kept me safe over 15 plus years on the job (I am also not a tactical operator--I am just a beat cop). Also know and respect your local laws when training. Safety is also a factor. I have done live fire training and even with all safety being a priority wearing body armor and having an instructor right next to you my pucker factor goes way beyond heightened. I also want everyone to know that live fire training should only be done at training facilities with proper safety procedures in place with professionals.

Tactics defined “is a planned action accomplishing and end or the science for maneuvering forces in combat and also the skills of using available means to an end” as defined by the Webster Dictionary.

Practical defined “is relating to or shown in practice” as defined by the Webster Dictionary.

Also understand the difference of cover and concealment. Cover is something that you use to keep bullets from hitting you. Concealment is something that probably won’t stop bullets but you can hide behind.

So this puts in layman’s terms is a plan that has been practiced over an over again to end a threat. Many times over my career I have had to implement a quick action plan on the spot. No situation ever has a perfect plan to fit every incident. You have to sometimes fly by the seat of your pants so to speak. In saying that, I have also trained for a lot of situations and from that training I have been able to overcome most situations I have encountered by using that training, adapting it and overcoming whatever has been presented before me. I also use everyone’s training and thoughts that was with me. I use each persons strength’s, weaknesses and abilities to achieve the ultimate goal which is to neutralize and bring a safe close to the problem minimizing the risks of life to all.

Example of this is clearing a house. I do this regularly everyday in calls for service. Usually these are mobile homes and trailers which believe me are not easy to do because of space limitations and fatal funnels encountered. We respond to an unknown trouble at a house. Door is open and there is no response inside. Usually we do this with two but three or four is better. The more eyes and hands you have the better the advantage you will have. Take note of all points of likely opposition (POLOs), windows, doors etc. You need to be aware of these as areas of ambush by bad guys or points of escape from victims. If you have the resources available have them covered by someone. Most of the time we don’t have this luxury available so we move on. The door, or the fatal funnel as we call it, once committed to entry it can be the most dangerous part as you don’t know what is waiting for you (remember that this is more than likely someone’s house, someone that knows every nook and cranny, they have the home field advantage here and you know nothing of the layout inside). Usually we have cleared as much of the house as we can from the outside using windows, but again be careful when using these as you present a target and you can also give away your advantage as the bad guy know knows you there and where your going.

You are at the door now and have committed to entering. You must move slowly. Think of it as slicing the pie. Taking each small piece at a time. By doing this you may be able to see a small part of the bad guy and be able to react to the threat. Present the smallest part of you to the bad guy. Slowly you pie the doorway, taking time to observe what’s inside, hallways, other doorways and objects that can be used to hide behind. Once you have done this, you and your partner must communicate your actions to each other. Using hand signals is best I think and these must be worked out ahead of time so there is no confusion. I am usually the shortest in my squad so I take the low approach. As you enter slowly your partner must also enter over you taking/covering whatever side your not. You must both enter at the same time to cover each other’s backs. Remember slowly take one slice at a time so you can react to any threat seen. Once done and making sure entry is safe you enter, each person still covering their are of responsibility. Also if you have an area of responsibility you must stay on it. You must trust your partner has your back. If you take your eyes of this area you may miss something or leave you open to attack.

Once that room is clear (the standard for clearing a building is 1 minute of clearing for every 100 square feet) you begin to search each room and corner. Again hand signals work best, the lead man must communicate to the second what his intentions are and what he’s doing. The second man usually holds on to the lead mans duty belt so they stay in constant contact with each other. Also if the lead man or second see’s or hears something the other does not they can warn the other and stop, back out or address the threat.

As you move slowly you both have to cover each other. So this means if I the lead man am covering the front, the second has to cover any area not covered by the lead man. If you have more than two people this becomes easier as you don’t have as much area to be responsible for. You do this same technique for the rest of the house. I can tell you that hallways and big open spaces are a LEOs worst nightmare. Be careful of light and sound discipline. Stay away from walls. If you brush up against them you can telegraph your location to the bad guy. Also do not constantly use a light source, again your telling the bad guy your right here. This is something that has worked time and time again for me and I have been able to accomplish the task minimizing the threat to me and my partners.

Another scenario that we have trained for is an active shooter. This is a quite different approach. Over the years we have developed reaction plans to this having learned hard and sad lessons from the old approach of waiting for backup. An active shooter posses the most danger and must be dealt with swiftly. On this type of situation you must forget the slow and go. I know this goes against all sound reasoning to any sane person but remember there a sheep and sheep dogs. Sheep run away, sheep dogs engage the threat.

Example, you respond to an active shooter at a school. You must quickly stop this threat to preserve life. You don’t have time to plan out a response, you don’t have time to wait for backup. This means often going alone. You also have to keep in mind that another person may be doing this from another point of entry. Having a rifle greatly increases you chance of winning the fight and being able to engage at a distance. Also everyone is naturally more accurate with a rifle than a pistol. You must listen to the shots, the screams and move to that area, quickly scanning as you go. You must be able to identify quickly friend from foe. You must be at the ready but keeping that finger off the trigger and along the slide so as not to shoot a friendly. Believe me moving your finger from slide to trigger takes a fraction of a second. Once you have located the threat you must engage it and end it quickly, be sure of your target and what’s beyond, remember your goal is to stop the threat and preserve life. Once that threat is neutralized you must secure the area and treat the most severely wounded first.

These are but two examples of a vast amount of situations you can encounter. I practice for these constantly both in training and in the real world because I am presented with these everyday. I have to constantly adapt for each situation and react in seconds. Also remember that real life encounters can be good training also. Debrief each training exercise or incident. Valuable skills and knowledge can be gotten from debriefs. Remember to listen to each person’s view and opinion on your team because no man is an island or knows it all. If you think you know everything than I suggest you retire. I can tell you even the rookie can have valuable insight and make you sometimes rethink a situation.

You must train constantly because like anything if you don’t do it regularly you can become rusty. You must know your firearms, train with them constantly to know your abilities, limitations and the weapons capabilities. If you have a group and want to train use finger guns or paint guns, making sure to wear protective equipment so as not to sustain unwanted injuries. If you have access to a training facility sign up and use it. Make sure though it’s reliable and reputable. You don’t want bad training or to break any laws. Mix up the training have someone plan a scenario then execute it. Try different approaches, go slowly at first, walk through it several times so everyone knows there part. Then start to speed it up and before you know it, it will be like second nature to you. You won’t have to think you will react.

There is no secret formula to tactics. Its training over and over again for something. It’s not rocket science, you don’t have to be a special forces person to do this. It’s common sense tempered with practice.

We are sisters, age 67 and 73  and live in Southeastern Connecticut near the shore on several acres.  We were fortunate that we grew up on a 100 acre Connecticut farm where we grew our own food, farm animals, had a smoke house, three freezers filled with what we raised, three ponds, learned to shoot, trap, fish, and had very capable parents.   

Until several years ago, we lived as most Americans do, on the grid with only a week or two provisions in the home.  I had moved to West Virginia in 1990 (retired early) and lived alone with my many pets on the top of a hill for ten years.  I learned the hard way to be prepared after a major snow storm!  I had a 2,000 gallon cistern, so water was always available, and learned to stockpile.  

About two years ago I discovered your wonderful blog – the first blog I go to every morning.  I told my sister that we needed to be much more prepared.  We already had many firearms and have added thousands of rounds of ammo – this is for home defense.  The doors are always locked, the two cars in the garage and no one gets in uninvited.  We have agreed that we will not cooperate with any would-be intruders, but fight to the death.   We are fortunate that we live in a small low crime town, and as safe as anyone in Connecticut can be.  

We now have a double row of boxes of Mountain House food more than 5 feet high, a hand operated grain grinder, a water filter (there is a small stream that never dries up in the front yard), stockpiles of essentials – including toilet tissue, paper towel, aluminum foil, olive oil, various size plastic bags, paracord, hand crank radio, candles, oil lamps, flints, various knives, many quilts/blankets, liquor for barter, fish antibiotics (my sister was a nurse and she has stockpiled her prescription meds), four ways of cooking food if the grid goes down, a large propane gas stove with three big tanks for heat.  We have more than 150 gallons of water inside the home for flushing/drinking.   We are physically unable to burn with wood and manage a woodpile, and we know that in a long term grid down, we cannot survive more than a few months.  We know how we would painlessly put our cats  and ourselves down if needed.  We cook from scratch so using freeze dried and dehydrated supplies is no problem.  

I am a bibliophile with at least 1,200 mostly non-fiction books in the home, as we are both inveterate readers. My sister quilts and we have extra clothes, fabric and sewing needs.  We have your books, Cody Lundin’s books (98.6 Degrees and When All H*ll Breaks Loose) and other survival manuals.  Our best “survival” tools, are our creative brains and problem solving skills, and I have always prided myself on being a “Rube Goldberg” – a term that means figuring out another way to build, fix, or do something with the items at hand and we have many hand tools, nails, etc.!  I was always unusual for a woman, as in my youth, I learned to weld, work on my 1973 car, was a licensed small plane Pilot with Commercial and Instrument rating,  We are as prepared as two elderly ladies can be which gives us peace of mind.  We have stockpiled precious metals and survival seeds.  We are ready to barter.  

This winter of heavy snow – another 16 inches last night – is no worry for us!  We don’t have to go anywhere! -  Anne L. in Connecticut

A word of warning for readers in the Northwest who live on the coast: Seismic fault beneath us is ‘fully loaded’ after 311 years

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America Needs Community, Not Collectivism. (A tip of the hat to Susan H. for the link.)

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Reader D.I.W. astutely observed: Amazingly Newsweek declares "the issue at the core" of the Giffords tragedy – in the first sentence of an article. No debate. Nothing other than gun control would have saved the situation. They didn’t even bother to say “the issue he believes to be at the core …” – nope – the “issue at the core of …” is the way it is. Newsweek stated:  “At the beginning of his State of the Union address, President Obama tipped his hat to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who’s now recuperating in a Houston medical facility. But throughout the hour-long speech, he never addressed the issue at the core of the Giffords tragedy—gun control—and what lawmakers would, or should, do to reform American firearm-access laws.” JWR Adds: In coming weeks, look for both new Executive Orders on "non-sporting" firearms and magazine imports, as well as Obama urging congress to enact additional civilian disarmament legislation.

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Mike B. in New Jersey sent this amazing news: Jersey City Council encouraging residents to raise chickens and cultivate bees. Oh, but don't look for any change on their views on firearms ownership. Their Democrat mayor, Jerramiah Healy (recently convicted of obstruction of justice) is a strident anti-gunner.

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I heard That CampingSurvival.com (one of our loyal advertisers) just received another quantity of Red Feather brand canned butter from New Zealand. Order soon, since it is likely to sell out before it sells out! Don't forget to use the 5% off coupon code "survivalblog".

"Americans used to roar like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security." - Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

Being in preparedness mode opens your eyes to a number of factors, not just Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids. As a battalion coordinator for the Los Angeles Fire Department's CERT program, I was asked to give a presentation on Alternative Energy sources for an emergency situation. My research into this was very enlightening, and I found a number of great ideas. This does not encompass everything available, but it is fairly thorough.

So, why Alternative Energy? In an emergency, such as a major earthquake, there can be a loss of power, gas and water. If it is a short-term problem e.g. a couple of days, then no big deal. But what if it is two weeks, or even longer before gas, electrical and water services are restored? Being prepared for such a scenario is just one more area that will make our lives, as well as our families lives easier in the event of such an emergency

There are three areas of Alternative Energy that we need to be concerned with in an emergency: Heat, Cooking and Electricity. The first, heat, means staying warm in your home or shelter and is a huge priority. Once you get cold, survival can become extremely difficult.   Wearing warm clothes, wearing layers, and being prepared for rain, are the very basics. Have blankets and well-made sleeping bags for nighttime when the temperatures drop. (Wiggy’s makes a Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) which is similar to what the the U.S. military uses.)

Fireplaces- These are designed more for show, and traditional open masonry fireplaces should not be considered heating devices. Traditional fireplaces draw in as much as 300 cubic feet per minute have heated room air for combustion, and then send it straight up the chimney. Although some fireplace designs seek to address these issues with dedicated air supplies, glass doors, and heat recovery systems, fireplaces are still energy losers. When burning a fire, you should turn your heat down or off and open a window near the fireplace. 

Fireplace Inserts - Only high-efficiency fireplace inserts have proven effective in increasing the heating efficiency of older fireplaces. Essentially, the inserts function like woodstoves, fitting into the masonry fireplace or on its hearth, and use the existing chimney.  A well-fitted fireplace insert can function nearly as efficiently as a woodstove.  Studies have shown that proper installation of fireplace inserts is very important.  Inserts should be as airtight as possible. The more airtight it is, the easier it is to control the fire and the heat output.

Wood Stoves and Pellet Stoves -
Wood stoves are the most common appliance for burning wood. New catalytic stoves and inserts have advertised efficiencies of 70%–80%.  Advanced combustion woodstoves provide a lot of heat but only work efficiently when the fire burns at full throttle. Also known as secondary burn stoves, they can reach temperatures of 1,100°F—hot enough to burn combustible gases   These stoves have several components that help them burn combustible gases, as well as particulates, before they can exit the chimney. Components include a metal channel that heats secondary air and feeds it into the stove above the fire. This heated oxygen helps burn the volatile gases above the flames without slowing down combustion. While many older stoves only have an air source below the wood, the secondary air source in advanced combustion stoves offers oxygen to the volatile gases escaping above the fire. With enough oxygen, the heated gases burn as well.

Pellet Burning Stoves -
Pellet fuel appliances burn small, 3/8–inch (100–254 millimeter [mm])-long pellets that look like rabbit feed. The pellets are made from compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, waste paper, and other organic materials. Some models can also burn nutshells, corn kernels, and small wood chips. They are more convenient to operate and have much higher combustion and heating efficiencies than ordinary wood stoves or fireplaces. However, they do require a supply of pellets, and electricity.  A pellet stove is often cheaper to install than a cordwood-burning heater. Many can be direct-vented and do not need an expensive chimney or flue. As a result, the installed cost of the entire system may be less than that of a conventional wood stove. Pellet fuel appliances are available as freestanding stoves or fireplace inserts. Freestanding units resemble conventional cordwood heaters in that they generally heat a single room well, but not adjacent rooms unless you use a fan to force the warm air into those other spaces. There are also fireplace inserts that fit into existing fireplaces. Because they require electricity for their pellet conveyers and for their fans, pellet stoves are NOT a good choice for disaster survival unless you have a fairly capable alternative energy system with a battery bank and have the dry storage space for a large stockpile of pellets.

Space Heaters - There are 3 basic types of space Heaters:
Electric Space Heaters, Propane (or natural gas) Space Heaters and Kerosene Space Heaters.
Electric Space Heaters are the most commonly seen by most of us. They do a pretty good job at heating up a room.  The problem is that you have to have back up electricity of some type to make them run. They are good for the short term if you have a back up system, but can be draining on back up batteries. Next are the Gas or Propane Space Heaters.  They run on Propane or White Gas and don’t require any electricity. They will run on your barbeque propane tank, or other sources of natural or propane gas. These heaters have to be properly vented, and can be very dangerous used indoors without proper venting.

The last type of Space heater is the Kerosene Space Heater. It uses a wick that soaks up kerosene (only K-1 kerosene) from a refillable tank.
These heaters have double the heating capacity of an electric heater -- ideal for heating large areas. You should look for a model with an automatic shut-off feature

Space Heater Safety
- When using space heaters, it's important to be aware of the risks involved and how to prevent accidents. Here are some guidelines to follow to maximize your safety:  Select a space heater with a guard around the heating area to keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source. Keep all flammable liquids away from the heater. Place the heater at least three feet away from bedding, furniture, curtains, or anything else that could fall on the heater and cause a fire. Never leave the heater unattended. Look for a heater that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriter's Laboratory. This way you can be sure that specific safety standards have been met.  If you use a heater that burns kerosene, LP, natural gas or wood, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed on every floor of your house.  When purchasing natural gas or LP heaters, look for a model with an oxygen depletion sensor feature. These sensors will automatically shut the heater down when it detects the air is low on oxygen.

Cooking -
Alternative methods to cook food and sterilize water may become necessary.
In the event of a major disaster or other Emergency, there may not be availability of gas or electric for cooking addition, due to possible water supply contamination, it may be necessary to boil water for drinking and possibly laundry.

There are a number of possible solutions to this problem. We will start with the simplest, and work from there.

Soda Can Stove -
A beverage-can stove (or pop-can stove) is a homemade, ultra-light portable stove. The simple design is made entirely from cans (typically soft drink or beer cans) and burns alcohol, typically denatured. Countless variations on the basic design exist.  A ring of holes is pierced into the top with a pin. Parts are glued with high temperature epoxy or sealed with thermal foil tape. The total height is less than two inches (50 mm), though dimensions can be increased to hold more fuel or decreased to take up even less space.  This can be made by yourself, or purchased online for very cheap.  Another Alcohol Stove Option is the Vargo Titanium Alcohol stove which comes with a built-in pot stand. Note that these must be operated outdoors or in a very-well ventilated area!

Propane or White Gas Stoves -
These are lightweight camping stoves that run on propane, butane or white gas.  They can be found online or at most backpacking and camping stores such as REI, Adventure 16 or even Sports Chalet or Sports Authority. These types of stoves rely on canisters of gas to work. My Favorite Mini Stove is The Jetboil, It is an ultra compact 1 liter unit that can quickly heat water for dehydrated or freeze-dried meals. The JetBoil Personal Cooking System (PCS) weighs about a pound.  It lights with the click of a button. It can bring two cups of water to a boil within two minutes (at sea level). Jetboil also makes the larger Group Jetboil system. This is sized for small groups of 2 to 3 and has a 1.5 liter fuel capacity.

Volcano II Collapsible Stove - This is a Tri-Fuel Stove that can use Charcoal, Wood or Propane for cooking. It is a very versatile cooking system: You can grill right on the stove or use a skillet or pot or even a Dutch oven. You can cook a meal with as few as 12 Charcoal Briquettes. A 20 lb bag of charcoal will cook 1 hot meal per day for several months. Overall, a really great, compact system. Note that these too must be operated outdoors or in a very-well ventilated area!

The Solar oven - For those who are very patient with a solar oven, if the sun is shining, you can cook.  Solar cooking is clean, it keeps the heat out of your kitchen, and it uses a free source of energy...the sun.  With solar cooking, you can’t start dinner at 5 pm because you’ve lost your source of fuel. Your best cooking hours are during midday. You may want to do what our ancestors did; have breakfast in the morning, a big meal in the afternoon and a light snack before bed. See SunOven.com for more information

Electricity - Keeping appliances going, lighting at night, Radio and television for information. If the grid goes down during an emergency, It could last an hour, 24 hours or weeks.
Power may come back on then go off again, as in a rolling brown out scenario.
It is important to have a number of alternatives for electrical needs.
You need to evaluate what it is you simply cannot do without that uses electricity, and plan accordingly.

Lighting -
There are a number of options for your lighting needs.
The simplest solution to lighting issues is the use of candles. 120 hour emergency candles are a great start. There are also liquid candles, propane lanterns designed for camping and Kerosene lanterns.  Be sure to take appropriate precautions to avoid fires.

Flashlights and Batteries -
Multiple flashlights are a good idea. LEDs will last much longer than traditional filament bulbs, and draw less current per lumen. If you have any lights with filaments bulbs, then sure to have plenty of spare bulbs. There are also LED lanterns available which are very convenient.
It is also a good idea to have a head lantern, this will allow you to work with both hands, so you don’t have to hold a flashlight.  Loads of batteries are a must.

Rechargeable Batteries -
After much research I recommend the following: The Sanyo Eneloop battery comes fully charged up upon purchase and even after hundreds of charge-discharge cycles; it will retain 85% charged up capacity after 12 months. This means that you can charge up these batteries, put them away in your drawer or cupboard and in a year’s time when an emergency occurs, you can whip them out and they will still be charged up to 85% capacity. As well as this, Sanyo claim 1,000 recharges are possible before deterioration and the Eneloop is renowned for its long life even when consistently used in high drain devices such as digital cameras and transmitters.

Battery Charger
The ultimate small battery charger is the La Crosse Technology Battery Charger is a “smart” charger. It has sophisticated monitoring circuitry that controls the charging process, and it is also capable of “renewing” batteries by running full controlled discharge-recharge cycles. The charger shows battery voltage and charge status on its digital display.
It has four separate charge channels so you can charge one, two three or four batteries at a time – even on individual charge programs. This allows you to test one battery while charging the others. The package deal comes with four AA and four AAA batteries, four battery adapters (which convert AA sized battery to C and D sizes) and a carry case.
Generators - Before you buy a generator, you need to figure out how much wattage you really need. You also need to decide where you are going to run the generator; it has to be in an open area. Having done some research on this I can give a couple recommendations. For a large generator, I'd suggest the Powerland Portable Generator.  It has 10,000 Watt Surge/8,000 Watt Continuous duty capability.  It is mounted on a steel frame with four point isolated motor mounts and has and oversize a muffler to reduce engine noise. These have a typical small power panel with a "low oil" warning light. They have a key start switch voltmeter circuit breaker and power outlets. Like most other generators, it has an idle control that holds a constant RPM.

On the smaller, quieter side is the Honeywell HW2000i Generator. This generator uses an inverter, which keeps voltage consistent and reduces the risk of damage to electronics such as computers and televisions.  It's great for emergency scenarios because it's relatively small, lightweight (58 pounds) and quiet. Two AC outlets and one DC outlet are included. But if you don't need to power electronics, you can get about twice as much power for the same price with a standard (non-inverter) generator.

Gas Generator Problems -
Gasoline is not a fuel that professionals ever choose to use on emergency generators.  Hospitals and other large facilities "never" install gasoline powered emergency generators.  They always use natural gas or diesel.  Gasoline has a very limited shelf life and will actually cause engine failure.  Worst of all when power outages occur due to ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and all other disasters, the first commodity to be hoarded is gasoline.  The hurricanes that hit Florida were sad proof of that.  Propane, and especially natural gas, were more plentiful and just the ticket to keep the lights on and the crews working.    Unfortunately, as some have learned the hard way, if not used often enough, gasoline will gum up the carburetor and will render an engine on the emergency generator useless. If you have invested in an emergency generator, make sure that it runs when you need it the most.  Modify your emergency generator to run on propane or natural gas or even keep the gasoline option if you like and have the option to run all three fuels on the same engine

How to build the tri-fuel generator -
Buy a Coleman Powermate Emergency Generator - (6,875 Watts Peak) or a similar generator.  Then buy a Low Pressure Tri-Fuel Type C Kit priced for most engine brands up to 12 h.p. These cost $187. They are available from Propane-Generators.com. Propane and natural gas can save you time, money and aggravation.  This do-it-yourself change over kit allows you to run your gasoline emergency generator on propane (LP Gas), natural gas, or all three. 
Propane and natural gas are truly backup fuels for a backup emergency generator.  Your engine will last longer, start better in cold weather and even start next year when you go to use it in an emergency.  The best part is, with one of these do-it-yourself kits you can change your engine from gasoline to propane or natural gas all by yourself.

Why use propane or natural gas to power my generator?
If you have propane available you know you can store propane for years because it does not gum up, or go bad like gasoline does.  You can use the 100# (24 gallon) cylinders, little barbeque grill type 20# cylinders, which is equivalent to 5 gallons of gasoline, or big tanks like 250, 500 and 1,000-gallon ASME tanks. If you have natural gas available you would certainly agree that it is probably the most dependable fuel on earth and virtually an unlimited supply.   It does not gum up or go stale like gasoline. 

Solar Panels - Photovoltaic panels with battery banks, charge controllers and inverters are available from a number of vendors. [JWR Adds: Be careful to size your system to match your power needs and be sure to do some thorough comparison pricing. Unless it you are buying a specialized transportable PV system, the bottom line is the cost per watt. There is at least one vendor that heavily advertises nationally using the phrase "Solar Backup Generator" that sells packaged systems with a very high price, per watt. The good news is that there are many reputable vendors out there that offer high quality equipment at competitive pricing. Some of these vendors advertise on SurvivalBlog.)]

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there. I haven’t covered everything, such as DC appliances, propane refrigerators, or making your own Bio diesel fuel. With a little research, you can set up a back up system for all of your energy needs.

After reading “Patriots” and then becoming a regular reader of SurvivalBlog I quickly realized the opportunities I had to improve my preparedness.  As someone who enjoyed the outdoors I always felt I had some of the skills and materials but realized the task to have the right preparations in the right quantities was going to be a challenge.  Where do I start?  This was especially compounded with the semi-urban apartment lifestyle I live, in the worst state west of the Mississippi, and one that is sure to be disrupted by some type of event - a major earthquake at the very least.  I expect far worse to actually occur here.  Soon after seeing all of the valuable information and insight on SurvivalBlog I found a desire to contribute to those that need a process and a nudge to get going.  Many people like me would love to move to a retreat location but are still enjoying some of what cities have to offer as well as the inability to make a major lifestyle change just yet.  So, how do I start and how do I help others?    While I have been a SurvivalBlog reader I have not seen mention of the survival “Rules of 3” which I learned years ago and apply to my outdoor adventures. 

The Rules of 3 may not have the long term prepper appeal that is a big focus of this blog but it is the foundation for how I am looking at my personal journey to improved survival planning and preparation.  There are many posts talking about training for muscle memory and the need for skills or knowledge, this “mental memory” training is what I like to refer to as “instinct reinforcement” that will train your mental responses much like physical drills create muscle memory.  I hope that my adaptation to the Rules of 3 will help beginning preppers prioritize a plan to expand their preparedness while also developing a mental path that can help them build their “mental memory” along the way.   

The way I learned the survival Rules of 3 was very simple.  Generally, someone can survive:

  • 3 minutes without oxygen
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food  

When you get to the core of survival, understanding these simple rules will prioritize and focus your survival needs during a critical situation.  Remaining calm and stopping to rationally address each of the rules in progression will greatly improve your potential for survival in any situation whether it be simple like being lost in the woods or a full TEOTWAWKI.  The odds of being someplace other than your retreat, or even your primary residence, in a SHTF scenario is overwhelming for the mass populace of our country.  While many of the sheeple out there probably could not get themselves out of a paper bag obstacle, the way I figure it is that if something happened in the middle of nowhere, in the city or at home, at least remembering the Rules of 3 allows you to stop and to bring calm and rationale thinking in an otherwise bad situation.  My additional Rules of 3 are developed to help others develop their own plan.  One caveat:  SurvivalBlog is full of material to help you prioritize the right items and quantities.  I am not going to provide a list of lists or full checklist as there are many others far better and more detailed than I could ever be in a single contribution.  My goal is to provide you with a high level map to help you achieve you preparation objectives via a simple adaptation of the most basic survival priorities.       

So, let’s start adapting the Rules of 3.  
Hopefully 3 minutes without oxygen is self explanatory.  You have to breathe to survive!    3 hours without shelter is about protection from the elements, “shelter your body”.  Staying dry first and staying warm second are two of the most important elements to address here.  Being prepared means you need to have the right protection from rain and snow and necessary layers for warmth, or methods to cool down, which are customized to your area.  Even if the lack of dry boots or warm socks might not kill me in 3 hours, I still wouldn’t want to endure that so I use the 3 hours without shelter rule for any of my kits where weather protection and warmth are a component.  For the first big step in our Rules of 3 mapping, I include components like blankets, sleeping bags, a tarp or tent and anything to keep a temporary roof over my head and warm, dry clothes on my body.  For simplicity this is also where the tools and ability to start a fire should be captured.  A knife and multi-tool as well as a flashlight come in handy at this phase.  For those more familiar with the process, this is where we start with the makings of a bug out bag or even have a nearly final bug out bag (BOB).   

3 days without water is next.  Our Rule of 3 adaptation is not to go 3 days without water but to make sure our stores begin with a minimum of 3 days worth of drinking water on hand.  Drinking water for just you for 3 days means you generally need to have 3 gallons ready (1 gallon per day).  Multiple 3 gallons by the number of people you are preparing for and you have your 3 days without water covered.  Keep in mind you will also need to plan appropriate amounts of water for hygiene and sanitation.  After you have your water needs set you should move on to a full 3 day plan.  This is when a traditional 72 hour kit or BOB should be completed.  I could not do any better than the many articles on the web about on building a BOB or 72 hour kit.  You will find A Bug Out Bag Reality Check to be a nice article to help you build and test a your kit.  

3 weeks without food.  By now you’ve built a BOB and are starting to understand the Rules of 3 as well as how to use them to increase your preparedness and to prioritize your survival needs.  You may have included some food in the previous step building your BOB (as you should have) but now is when you start taking it to the next level.  Further adapting the 3 weeks without food rules means it is time take the next step to secure and store 3 weeks of food and water.  Too many sheeple barely have 3 days of food and water, so while others are rushing to the store during everyday emergencies like recent snow/ice storms, you can be focused on other more important efforts.  3 weeks of food can be a combination of long term items and extras of everyday items that you rotate through.  Think canned goods, cereal and combinations of items seen in the many SurvivalBlog posts.  Don’t forget preparation methods and all of the associated redundancies.  The key here is to be prepared and self sufficient for 3 weeks.  By being prepared with 3 weeks of food and water, ways to prepare that food, and all of the other preparedness needs you are advancing your readiness to a new level.  The final addition to the 3 week plan is to begin looking at your weaponry and self defense needs.  At this stage it is a personal choice that must meet your situation and local limitations.  I highly suggest you have something at this point but will defer to others that are more expert in the topic for specifics.  Just don’t come knocking on my door trying to get my stuff because I was prepared and you weren’t.  You should be prepared to defend what is yours.   

Now we expand the Rules of 3 to expanding our preparations.  The kitchen pantry is full and you have a rotation plan for your extra 3 weeks of food and water.  There is a stack of gear in a corner of the second bedroom in Rubbermaid totes, duffle bags or backpacks with a printed list of individual contents in multiple locations and on your PC.  You are re-purposing some of your camping gear and are starting to think with a different mentality as it comes to being prepared.  The space in your apartment or home is getting tighter and it is time to take a step that requires more planning and more specialized planning.  Once you achieve this level I feel you can be called a “prepper”.  So let’s move into the new rules of 3.

The first new Rule of 3 is very similar to the 3 week rule.  But this is the Rule of 3 months.  The next step in your journey is to ensure your planning and preparations are enough to cover your needs for 3 months.  If the SHTF so bad that it goes into 3 months then this is a Rule of 3 phase where things are really starting to deteriorate.  While expanding your food, water and other stores to the 3 month level is not a simple or cheap task it is your priority for this stage.  This is a bridge period where you may not be able to store 3 months of water so you should have a plan or source of replenishment and water treatment.  Even more critical, at the 3 month level, your armory becomes a priority and should begin to evolve and expand based on your situation.  While it might not be time for a long range hunting rifle it is definitely time for the localized defense of a shotgun and probably a battle rifle.  Types and calibers are for you to decide and while not previously mentioned, a pistol is already in my BOB. 

My personal pistol choice is the Glock brothers where you can get a pocket size version (little brother) of a full size frame that allows for redundant ammo supply and some parts interchangeability (like magazines).  The 3 month plan also includes building more ammo and related shooting accessories into your reserves.  Other supplies and maybe some items to help others or trade can come in play here too.  It is very easy to start running out of, or missing things that you need a 3 month supply of.  This is true for others too so the insurance of an oversupply on a couple of items everyone needs will help you get 1-2 of the items you need or ran out of.   

I personally have achieved many of the needs outlined for the Rule of 3 months but I am working to fine tune the list, storage, tactical plans and redundancies needed at this stage.   When you get to this stage you too will be well above the average person out there living next door to you.    Moving from 3 months to 3 years is a very big leap.  Now we are at a true TEOTWAWKI scenario which brings us to the Rule of 3 years.  The best map to get to the 3 year mark is to continue to build from your 3 month level as you go.  Based on resources (time, talent and treasure) you may be able to leap to a one year supply of food.  Great.  Make sure you prioritize other needs next.  Check.  Now make sure your ammo and shooting supplies expand.  Or maybe, given the current political climate, you prioritize armory needs now and then move on to other needs second. 

The final objective of a true Rule of 3 years plan is really a Rural Retreat.  Having 3 years of food in your apartment will do you little good at this point but don’t get discouraged.  This is about process and planning.  The preparation road map is about building your preparedness bridge from 3 months to 3 years of readiness and determined the next step for you.  There are many stages between 3 months and 3 years that can be achieved so go for it.      

In conclusion, as referenced too many times on SurvivalBlog, we all see how evolution combined with the comforts and conveniences of the 21st century has removed many of our survival instincts. Utilizing the survival Rules of 3 will provide a preparedness map and the “mental memory” assistance to think through your needs if there is ever a time to call them into action. - Slightly Above Average (SAA) Joe

I've had the impression for some time now that from all the so-called alternative energy sources, photovoltaic (PV) panels appeared to be the only one capable of really having an impact on traditional fossil fuels. Years ago the lowest prices you would see for solar panels were about $4 per watt. Not long ago a batch of new startups entered the marketplace producing thin-film solar cells, which could be manufactured with far fewer materials and some of these companies (Nanosolar) claimed their cell production cost less than $1 per watt, which was a symbolic price point that represented competitiveness with the price of coal-plant electricity. It was one of those things you'd wonder about, like claims of table-top cold fusion.

Ever since I heard about thin-film solar production I have tracked these companies and their progress toward retail production. I had previously checked the panel prices perhaps two years ago and the first thin-film solar panels were available at around $2.60 per watt.  Today I visited the same site and found a link to a vendor advertising $1.69 per watt panels, I thought that was a pretty good price and I clicked the link to see more, to my surprise the site was also selling panels for as low as $0.98 per watt.  These low-cost panels use a silicon-based thin-film technology, essentially the same silicon panel technology that has been around for decades but manufacturing improvements have reduced the amount of semiconductor-grade silicon to 1% of what it was previously.

They may have actually hit retail production at this price level (earlier than I expected to see it!). This is good news for many reasons but the big one is the stability/economic security this can deliver, the lower cost of energy will eventually lead to rapid economic growth, more food, fuel and everything. It will free us from our dependence on foreign oil by not only making electricity cheaper but reducing the cost of battery production and ushering in new transportation technologies. And at the very least, it means that 5 kilowatt solar array you were thinking of building on your house may be a fraction of the price right now, and it's a good time to build it.

I expect the trend to continue, I don't know how low it will go. I suspect that the competition in this industry is ferocious, there is a race on to be the next energy giant and a bunch of totally overhyped clean-energy startups with hundreds of millions in venture capital all trying to eat each other, and I wouldn't be surprised to see $0.50 per watt panels in the next few years, panels may even be selling for less than the cost of production. - Jeff M.

Reader Donald M. sent this: The Fed Won't Be Able to Combat Inflation by Raising Fed Funds Rate

In the latest Daily Bell: US Panel Blames Banks for '08 Meltdown, but not Central Banks

John Browne: The Great Debt Shift. Here is a quote: "Two of the world's largest economies, the EU ($16 trillion) and the US ($14 trillion), have become the leading practitioners of private-to-public debt shifting. The US has assumed the debts of banks, insurers, mortgage holders, and even entire industrial sectors. The European Union has done the same for entire states. The resulting public debt levels are, predictably, placing strains on both the dollar and the euro. Worse still, the bailouts have created a spirit of apathy toward debt accumulation. Western governments have embarked on a debt binge for the ages. Already, the credit ratings of the United States and some of the EU's core countries, such as France and the UK, are being questioned. While this socialization of private debt has created deep citizen resentment, it remains to be seen whether political pressure is enough to hold back the tide..."

Greece Default with Ireland to Break Euro by 2016 in Global Investor Poll

Fed to Pursue QE Even as Business Lending Gains

Items from The Economatrix:

Unemployment Rises in 20 States, Falls in 15  

Only 47% of Working-Age Americans Have Full Time Jobs  

A Three-Minute Lesson in Gold Investing  

The End Is Near For Credit Cards  

K.Y. pointed me to the web page for a new european shotgun slug design that looks very promising: Hexolit 32. Bowhunters will notice a similarity to modern broadheads!

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J.M.B. mentioned this: Mock city rises at Marine base for urban training. It has 1,560 buildings!

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Reader F.G. spotted a piece that obviously must have been written before The Governator left office: Top 10 Reasons Not to Live in California. Gee, and the article doesn't even mention my #1 reason: draconian gun laws that have disarmed the citizenry.

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Risk of Riots Rising as Governments Cut Food Subsidies, UN's Sheeran Says

"The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His Word in his greatest darkness, a lantern to his feet and a lamp unto his paths.' He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation...." - Francis Scott Key, February 22, 1812

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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 dental problem occurring in an environment where access to professional care is limited or absent may progress to a point which seriously degrades the functioning of the afflicted individual. A dental emergency would be defined as a medical emergency where pain or swelling originates from the teeth, jaws or gingiva (gums). The vast majority of dental emergencies arise from either tooth decay or periodontal disease commonly referred to as gum disease. Both are a result of a bacterial infection but follow different pathologic paths.

Tooth decay has its humble beginnings when certain bacteria, ever present in the mouth, adhere and colonize on teeth or exposed root surfaces. As we eat, the bacteria on our teeth metabolize the same sugars that are in our foods and excrete acid and/or toxins. The teeth and their supporting bone and gums respond in different ways to bacteria.  The teeth which we see when looking in a mirror are most susceptible to being affected by bacterial acid and will slowly dissolve when subjected to repeated bacterial acid attack. The bacteria adherent to the tooth wall, referred to as a bacterial plaque, is responsible for the initial event which leads to tooth cavitation and the propagation of the decay process. The most common sites to decay are those areas on the teeth which are the most difficult to clean, for example, the pit and fissure biting surface of molars and bicuspids, in-between the teeth and around the margins of existing dental fillings or crowns. At first, cavities are small and painless, but over a two to three year time interval will increase in size and depth until symptoms such as tooth fracture, tooth pain or swelling occur. Once the tooth has become painful or abscessed, the infected or inflamed nerve must be removed by either tooth extraction or root canal treatment.

The second major cause of dental emergencies is Periodontal or gum disease. It is caused by the immune system’s response to bacterial plaque adherent to the root surface of teeth and necessarily located below the gum line.  The actual causal agent of periodontal disease is once again a bacterial plaque but a second component is necessary and that is an exaggerated immune response. According to a 2004 National Institute of Health (NIH) study the prevalence of periodontal disease in a general population aged 20 to 64 years of age is 8.52%. In my experience I find this number low. In any event, susceptible individuals exhibit an exaggerated inflammatory response to the bacterial plaque (anaerobes, in this case) and endotoxins causing bone loss around the root of the tooth. The initial stages of gum disease, like tooth decay, are painless, with symptoms usually occurring at more advanced stages. Periodontal disease can start in third decade of life (20’s) and go unnoticed until the fifth or sixth decade (40s-50s) of life when the teeth and gums become symptomatic. Generally, periodontal disease will affect the entire dentition and progress at a slower rate than decay induced dental disease. Symptoms of advanced periodontal disease include loose or mobile teeth, pus and bleeding from the gums around the teeth, bad breath, pain and swelling of the gums. Current treatment for periodontal disease returns excellent results, in terms of teeth retained when combined with ultrasonic scalars, lasers, bone regeneration, surgical and non-surgical methods. Although current delivery of treatment of dental diseases requires professional care in a fully equipped office, including a trained staff, an alternate plan should be available if the above mentioned services and facilities are no longer available.  It would be prudent to plan for dental treatment in a post TEOTWAWKI world for symptomatic teeth caused by decay or periodontal disease as well as planning to avoid, slow down and reduce the likelihood of dental disease and emergencies.

Modern dentistry has reached a technologically advanced state and the standard of care is indeed high. In a post TEOTWAWKI situation, the current standard of care will no longer exist and dental treatment, if it exists at all, may be limited to basic care such as treating infection and relieving pain. Even with the lowered standard of care, dental treatment delivered by a dentist will be difficult but not impossible. First, let’s dismiss the idea that the current emergency dental kits will be anything more than a short term temporary fix at best. They cannot and do not address the problem of a toothache other than placing a topical anesthetic on the large cavity found in the tooth. Placing the temporary cement, which is included with the kits, in decayed teeth, does nothing to alter the disease course.  The myth that modern restorative dentistry and periodontal treatments can be done under such adverse conditions is just that, a myth. Just taking out the decay will not cure an abscessed tooth! Treating a toothache in these circumstances, no matter the cause, should be done with a goal of (1) definitively solving the problem and (2) relieving pain and suffering.  In most cases this is best done by extracting the tooth. Probably greater than 90% of serious dental emergencies could be treated by extraction i.e. forceps extraction of the painful tooth under local anesthetic. The procedure itself requires a minimum of instruments, materials, personal and equipment. Once it is determined that there are no dentists or dental clinics available and the status quo will not be changing in the foreseeable future, the task of diagnosis and treatment will fall to the medical officer of your group or someone so inclined. Simple tooth extraction has been done with no anesthesia numerous times by untrained personal because the patient decided that the extraction procedure was a better alternative than living with the increasing facial swelling and continuous dental pain. The more desirable plan, of course, is to use local anesthesia and make the procedure as pain free as possible as well as to develop the knowledge to attempt such treatment.

To successfully anesthetize a tooth depends upon its location. All upper teeth are anesthetized for an extraction by first injecting the anesthetic solution in the mucobuccal fold (the fold formed by the oral mucosa as it transitions from the upper jaw to the cheek) directly opposite the tooth to be extracted. I typically inject 1.8cc of a 2% Lidocaine with 1:100,000 epinephrine solution in a dental aspirating syringe (a regular 3cc medical syringe would work also) using a 30 or 27 gauge short needle. Incidentally, a 1.8ml dose is the standard dose in a pre-loaded dental anesthetic carpule which is used with a dental aspirating syringe. This is an infiltration injection and once the mucosa is penetrated the needle is advanced approximately 10mm, aspirate to be sure you are not in a blood vessel and then inject the anesthetic solution close to the maxillary bone. The Lidocaine will diffuse through the maxillary bone and anesthetize the tooth, surrounding bone and buccal gingiva. A second injection, to anesthetize the palatal gingiva, is given on the roof of the mouth about 10 mm above the given tooth/gingiva junction. The needle is advanced about 2mm through the palatal mucosa until bone is reached, aspirate, and inject a small amount of solution (0.1ml) until the palatal tissue slightly blanches (turns white in an area 2mmx2mm).

A visual representation will best explain what I have described.

The first link is a You Tube video of the of the Maxillary infiltration technique described above. The second link shows the palatal component of the Maxillary infiltration technique. Note that in this link multiple palatal injections are given.



Anesthesia is achieved in 5 to 10 minutes and lasts 90 to 120 minutes.

Mandibular (lower jaw) teeth require an entirely different type of injection technique to obtain anesthesia for tooth extraction.  An infiltration technique will not work on mandibular teeth or bone because mandibular bone has a thick outer covering (named cortical plate) which hampers diffusion of the anesthetic through the bone and into proximity with tooth nerves.  To circumvent this limitation of infiltration anesthesia in the mandible another type of anesthetic delivery is chosen namely a nerve block. The target of the block injection, in this case, is the Inferior Alveolar Nerve (IAN).  Each IAN provides sensation to the lower jaw, teeth and the gingiva on their respective side of the mouth. Since the dense mandibular cortical bone shields the IAN from the anesthetic solution, our strategy is to anesthetize the nerve trunk before it enters the mandible. This can best be accomplished by an understanding of mandibular landmarks and mentally visualizing the location of the IAN before it enters the mandible.  This type of injection is technique sensitive and is more of a challenge to administer than an infiltration injection.  An aspirating syringe with a long (because it has approximately 25 mm of tissue to traverse) 25 to 27 gauge needle is used. Aspiration is of particular importance with this injection  to verify that the anesthetic solution (e.g. 2%lidocaine with epinephrine 1:100,000) is not inadvertently administered into the IA artery or IA vein which are located in close proximity to the IA nerve.  My best recommendation is to study multiple videos on the anatomical landmarks and the technique of this injection.  Dentists give tens of thousands of these injections in their career and with attention to detail, complications are minimized.  I still pay close attention to the following when I give an IAN block.  (1). Correct positioning of the patient.   (2) Reviewing and palpating the land marks intraorally on every patient. (3) Use an aspirating syringe and if blood is aspirated, reposition the needle and aspirate again. Also, if a mandibular molar is being extracted, a separate injection (an infiltration injection) of the Long Buccal (a branch of IAN) nerve must also be given. This nerve provides sensation to the buccal (cheek side) gingiva of the mandibular molars.  Alternately, sensory innervation of the gingiva on the tongue side and the anterior 2/3 of the tongue are provided by the lingual nerve (also a branch of IAN) however this nerve, due to proximity, is usually anesthetized along with the Inferior Alveolar Nerve when the IAN block is given. To be complete, when extracting mandibular incisors, an infiltration injection in the muccobuccal fold adjacent to the tooth to be extracted is given in addition to the IAN block. The infiltration injection is to anesthetize cross over nerve fibers from the contralateral (opposite side) IAN. Anesthesia is profound and lasts 3-5 hours.

Here’s a link to a video which describes the anatomy and technique of the IAN block on a model as well as a patient. It is an excellent video and covers the basics of the technique. The second link is a short video covering the Long Buccal infiltration injection



Despite what you think or may have heard, extracting teeth is not an act of brute force but rather correct application of moderate forces and adequate preparation of the tooth to be extracted. Using excessive force or inadequate tooth preparation commonly leads to root fracture and an overall more complicated extraction. With this in mind, let’s look at the extraction process of a fully erupted painful tooth. This technique would be applicable to a non-surgical extraction. A discussion which encompasses surgical extraction is beyond the scope of this essay. The overview of simple tooth extraction involves severing and widening the bone and tissue attachments which hold the tooth in the jaw. Specifically, after adequate anesthesia has been achieved and in a stepwise fashion, the gingival/tooth attachment is severed. The attachment is about 2mm in width and extends 360 degrees around the tooth. I use a periosteal elevator (Molt 9) placed in the gingival sulcus (gum line around the tooth), and in the long axis of the tooth. The instrument is advanced in an apical (toward the root apex) direction in a short, steady motion until the 2mm tissue band is severed. This action is repeated until the gingiva is reflected 360 degrees around the tooth and to the level of the bone.  Remember this severing is done only around the gingiva closely adherent to the tooth root because you are only separating the gingiva from the root of the tooth to be extracted. There will be some minor bleeding, which can be blotted with some sterile gauze or surgical suction if available. Next is the crucial step in the extraction. Failure to adequately loosen the tooth with dental elevators (either 301 which has a smaller concave blade or 34S) can turn a simple extraction into one which may be beyond your skill level. The dental elevator is an instrument which resembles (but isn’t) a common flat bladed screwdriver.  During an extraction the elevator tip or concave blade is placed in between the tooth and the gingiva/surrounding bone. Once in place, the handle of the elevator is rotated in a fashion (clockwise or counter clockwise) to engage the root surface of the tooth with the blade and attempt to elevate it out of the socket. This process is repeated a few times moving the elevator to different interproximal locations as it gradually widens and separates the boney socket and ligament from the root of the tooth to be extracted. Skillful use of the elevator will render the tooth visibly mobile, that is, noticeable movement of the tooth can be visualized. I have extracted many teeth with an elevator alone. A word of caution, this is not an instrument that is used with much force. The force applied is mostly rotational and is never a strong pushing force or directed in the long axis of the tooth. A strong vertical pushing force has the tendency to slip and become redirected towards other anatomic structures which would best be avoided, such as the floor of the mouth, cheek or maxillary sinus.

Up to this point, the soon to be extracted tooth has obtained anesthesia, had its gingiva reflected with a periosteal elevator, been adequately loosened with a 301 or 34S elevator and ready for the forceps delivery. Forceps are special pliers which dentists use to remove the loosened tooth from the gingiva severed, widened boney socket. There is a specialized forceps for almost every tooth in the mouth but, in a pinch, you really only need two, an upper universal forceps (no. 150S) for all maxillary teeth and a lower universal for all mandibular teeth (no. 151S). One thing to keep in mind is the forceps extraction will differ slightly in technique depending if the extraction is of a multi rooted tooth or a single rooted tooth. Let’s assume that we don’t have access to x-rays and classify all maxillary and mandibular molars and maxillary bicuspids as multi rooted teeth and all the remaining teeth are single rooted. This of course is not always the case but we’re in a post TEOTWAWKI environment. The forceps technique differs slightly if the tooth to be extracted has a single conical root or has two or more roots. The main difference is that a slight 15 degree rotational force is not used at all on a multi rooted tooth because the multiple roots will resist rotation and most likely fracture. Going on, once the appropriate forceps is chosen, the concave beaks of the forceps are placed around the loosened tooth and advanced as far apically (towards the root tip) as possible. The further up the root the forceps’ beaks can be placed, the better. The goal is to apply the holding force of the beaks to the root and not the crown of the tooth. After a solid purchase is attained I will firmly move the forceps in a controlled small figure “8” and also a firm but small cheek to tongue directed rocking motion gradually expanding the boney socket and expanding the periodontal ligament (which is holding the tooth root to the bone socket). I will increase the size of the figure “8” and rocking motion as the bone expansion permits. Only after I have achieved noticeable tooth mobility with the forceps will I exert some lifting force to remove the tooth from the socket. If I am patient and don’t rush the forceps extraction, the tooth will gently release from the socket. Excessive upward pulling force is undesirable and often leads to a sudden unexpected release of the tooth from the extraction site with the undesirable result of the accelerated forceps hitting and damaging the opposing teeth. Once the tooth is extracted, attention is directed to the extraction site. Our goal now is to return the post extraction boney socket to its original shape and to control the bleeding. If needed, I  will first compress the expanded socket using my thumb and index finger in a pinching motion and control the bleeding by placing a few folded 2x2( 2 inch square) gauze on the extraction site and instructing the patient to bite and apply pressure. Pressure is what will control and stop the bleeding. Bleeding is usually controlled quickly with pressure and limiting physical activity until a clot forms. The patient is given gauze to use as necessary and also instructed not to rinse or forcefully spit for 24 hour, soft food diet, no alcohol or smoking (good luck with this one!)
An excellent video is available showing a dental extraction at a Mount Everest base camp.  The dentist uses a makeshift 301 elevator and has a 151 forceps which were found in the dental kit at the base camp. Tooth #28 is a lower right, single rooted, first bicuspid. It’s a great video of an extraction under marginal conditions.


There are many more instructional videos posted on the internet which go into detail about extracting teeth. Don’t misunderstand what I’m writing, extracting teeth is difficult and there is a long learning curve to develop the skill but it is a learnable skill for a nurse, EMT, PA, or dental hygienist. It is likely that a dental emergency will arise post TEOTWAWKI and being a  real medical emergency where no dentist is available reasonable action should be taken by those available and most qualified.

Three points to note: 

1. Gloves are worn mostly to protect against transmission of blood borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B, I have switched to Nitrile rather than latex because there are a significant number of patients who will present with latex allergies.

2.  A complete medical history is taken prior to administering any local anesthetics, antibiotics or extractions.  Persons with certain cardiac conditions such as prosthetic heart valves, certain congenital valve defects, past history of bacterial endocarditis or those who have had prosthetic joint replacement surgery such as a total hip, knee or shoulder joint replacement will require prophylactic antibiotic coverage for any dental procedure which causes gingival bleeding. This prophylactic regimen is followed to reduce the likelihood of bacteria, introduced into the blood by the dental procedure, lodging on the prosthetic hip or damaged heart valve and causing a very troublesome life threatening infection. A common prophylactic regimen is to have the patient take 2 grams (2000mg) of Amoxicillin (assuming no allergy) by mouth one hour before the dental procedure. Some other concerns to extraction are bleeding disorders, allergies to any of the drugs or classes of drugs you are administering, anti-coagulants (Coumadin, Plavix) the patient may be taking and the class of drugs known as bisphosphonates. The bisphosphonates are commonly used to treat osteoporosis and some advanced cancers (palliative treatment) by inhibiting bone remodeling at the extraction site leading to bone death and infection. Of the bisphosphonates (such as Reclast), the intravenous route of administration exerts the most effect on the remodeling bone and can exert bone inhibition for many years after the drug has been discontinued. This is not a complete list and to proceed while not taking these contraindications into account may leave the patient worse off than they are initially. If a patient history or current condition is given and you are not familiar or unsure of the ramifications of the history or condition, STOP, take a step back and reassess the situation and obtain more information. A dental emergency of the type we have been discussing almost never requires an instant decision or action. Risk vs. benefit must be weighed and the question asked “Will this patient be better or worse off if I continue with my treatment.”

3. Often decayed teeth will not only be painful but will be accompanied by an acute dental infection.  Antibiotics such as Penicillin VK and Azithromycin, if available, are two first line antibiotics useful for treating acute dental infections and can be given orally. If there is an allergy to any of the Penicillins then Azithromycin can be given in its place. An Erythromycin allergic person is also allergic to Azithromycin. Dosages for Pen VK are 250mg to 500mg every 6 hours for 7 to 10 days. Azithromycin (Z-Pak) is usually dosed at two 250mg tabs the first day followed by one 250mg tab on each of the next 4 to 5 days. Antibiotics will work on bacterial infections only and should be administered as necessary. If no antibiotics are available an infected tooth, gum swelling or jaw pain will usually respond favorably once the source of the infection, namely the tooth is extracted and drainage of the infection can be established through the extraction site. If a fluctuant intraoral abscess is present it should be drained and followed with a course of antibiotics.

There is a potential shortfall to this entire dental emergency scenario and our proposed model of treatment namely, all local anesthetic necessary to anesthetize the teeth for dental treatment has a shelf life of ~ 18 - 24 mos. It can’t freeze either, if it does, it no longer works. I don’t know how the anesthetic was kept from freezing at the Everest base camp, but during Vermont winters, if the dental anesthetic freezes (usually in transit from the dental supply house) it no longer works effectively. A patient faced with an extraction without the benefit of local anesthesia knows intuitively that it is a very painful procedure and probably wouldn’t allow it until the dental pain becomes worse than the dreaded future extraction.  As long as local anesthetic is available, extractions can be done painlessly by a trained individual. Keep in mind that many general dentists don’t take out impacted wisdom teeth because of their degree of difficulty and most impacted third molars would be above the skill level of the TEOTWAWKI trained individual. There is also the issue of obtaining a supply of antibiotics and local anesthetic as well as the surgical instruments necessary for tooth extraction. Once legally obtained, the shelf life clock on the antibiotics and anesthetics begins. There are no studies that I am aware of which test the clinical efficacy of expired anesthetic or antibiotics on humans. Ethically, I couldn’t envision a clinical test structured to treat active infections with long expired vs. not expired antibiotics.  Along with drug potency, drug sterility can also degrade over time. Regardless of the expiration date, a liquid injectable anesthetic should be clear and free from floating debris and if isn’t, discard the vial or carpule.  Sterility of the anesthetic is not guaranteed, even though it may appears non contaminated, once past the expiration date.  On the other hand, dental extraction instruments, if properly maintained will last a lifetime. I should mention that surgical equipment needs to be sterilized before each use. Ideal sterilization is done in an autoclave under steam and pressure. If an autoclave is not available, a through scrubbing of all visible blood and debris from the instruments is done followed by a stay in 5% Sodium Hypochlorite(household bleach) and followed by 30 minutes in a pressure cooker @240 degrees F. The instruments are then dried, wrapped in sterile cloth and stored until the next use.  Up to this point, I’ve described one method of treating definitely most post TEOTWAWKI dental emergencies, let’s now examine how most of us can slow down and reduce the risk of dental disease and emergencies to a minimum.

As we discussed, most dental disease is caused by oral bacteria. So anything which reduces the amount of bacteria in our mouths will reduce our susceptibility to dental disease. By routinely maintaining impeccable oral hygiene a person will absolutely lower their risk of developing cavities and gum disease and avoiding the post TEOTWAWKI dental office.  This approach would be applied in a situation where dental care is extremely limited or non-existent. Implement a daily effective brushing and flossing routine, identifying and perhaps limiting the foods which are high in sugar and/or sticky such as raisins and granola bars. Why high sugars and sticky? Because studies show the two most important factors in cavity development are the number of times per day and the duration of time the teeth are exposed to bacterial acid.

In regard to the former, drinking a 12 ounce can of Mountain Dew, two ounces at a time, over 6 hours is far worse for dental health than drinking the entire 12 ounce can at one sitting. It was shown from clinical studies that bacteria on the teeth produce acid each time they are exposed to sugar and the recovery time to return to a normal mouth pH is similar for both the 12 ounce exposure and the 2 ounce exposure. So the incremental drinking exposes the tooth to 6 separate acid attacks rather than just one.

The latter, duration, is a factor when the high sugar food is sticky and becomes stuck between teeth or impacted into natural anatomic pits and crevices. In this case there is a steady supply of sugar for bacteria to metabolize because the sugar source is adherent on the teeth. The pH will stay in the acidic range for a longer time. As we discussed, tooth decay once started, if unchecked, will progress to nerve involvement with all its consequences.

Effective treatment which you can do to avoid or limit the initiation and progression of tooth decay is three fold and is directed at the known mechanism of the tooth decay process.
1. Develop and maintain a high level of home care by effective brushing and flossing. Young children who have teeth and cannot brush or floss effectively should have the parent brush and floss all teeth as they erupt in a child's mouth. Daily brushing and flossing mechanically removes the bacteria adherent to the teeth. The goal is to remove and disrupt the bacterial plaque and thereby reducing the quantity of bacterial acid available for the decay process. Flossing is very important because it is the only way the surface area between the teeth is cleaned. If floss is not available, double thickness sewing thread can be used. In post TEOTWAWKI times I would advise flossing morning and night along with brushing after each meal.
2. Limit the number of times the teeth are exposed to sugar.  Brushing after each meal or if brushing is not possible, rinse the mouth with water. This will dilute the acid and aid in the rapid return to a more favorable oral pH.
3. Avoid sticky sugary foods. To adequately neutralize the acid the adherent food must to be mechanically removed with floss or brushing.

Here’s a link to showing effective brushing and flossing and provides a visual for what was discussed.


It would be good preparation (if you haven’t done so already) to develop good oral hygiene skills   which could be checked for technique by your dentist or hygienist. Also, your teeth/gums should be brought to optimal condition while there is a functioning health care delivery system.  If you have broken teeth that need repair or extraction do it now, while it’s still relatively simple. Ask your dentist about potential future tooth problems and what can be done to minimize them.
For most of us, a tooth free of bacteria won’t develop decay or periodontal disease...our two main concerns regarding dental disease. Keep in mind that before antibiotics and local anesthetics, people routinely died or suffered severely from dental infections. We know the cause of dental disease is bacteria and mechanically removing it with brush and floss will interrupt or mitigate the disease process. Impeccable oral hygiene doesn’t leave you immune to dental disease but will go a long way in preventing or prolonging its’ onset.

There are plenty of forum postings and articles online on the subject of “trunk guns,” but I haven’t seen one that is survival or SHTF specific.  Many postings on SurvivalBlog detail a prep list and/or their B.O.B. list their firearms but rarely describe those carried in a vehicle on an ongoing basis.

This is where the legal disclaimer comes in, right at the beginning.  I’m not a lawyer or firearms-related legal expert.  Do not assume anything mentioned herein is legal where you live or travel, I take no responsibility for illegal acts that stem from this article.  MOST parts of the country allow for the transport of cased, unloaded long guns by anyone age 18+ and handguns by those 21+ (and many states require handguns to be secured).  MOST concealed pistol permits allow the owner of the permit to transport handguns loaded on their person in a vehicle, or secured in a very specific way when away from the vehicle.  If your travels take you to schools or federal installations a 24/7 trunk gun is not going to work for you.  If you share your vehicle with friends and/or family members that don’t meet the guidelines you’re asking for trouble.  Look up the applicable laws and stay in compliance!  While we are all preparing for times when chippy laws like these do not necessarily apply, we must respect the laws on the books.  Part of this article will cover how to camouflage your trunk gun from prying eyes while still keeping it simple to remove from your vehicle and go.

With that in mind I will do my best to cover all the bases.  For those of you in areas where firearms can be openly transported -- in “gun rack country” -- wonderful!  Most of us, this author included, do not.  Likely some parts will not apply depending on which extreme applies.

So what is the purpose of the trunk gun?  First I want to cover what, for the purposes of this article, it isn’t.  It isn’t to sit in your trunk to augment your pistol in case of some crisis like the Virginia Tech shooting or the very recent Tucson, Arizona shooting.  In neither situation was a trunk gun employed nor I can’t think of the last time one was used in a reactive situation by a non-LEO.  Again, speaking of legalities, I believe it is a terrible idea to become a “citizen first responder” with a long gun; you’re more likely to be seen as a threat by lawmen when they do arrive.  On that note I totally agree with what the young man, Joe Zamudio, did when responding to the Tucson shooting --- go to Condition Red, put his hand on his legally carried handgun, take it off safe, and approach the Bad Guy (BG).  As it turned out, he didn’t have to engage with his handgun because others had taken care of the BG.  Had he gone for a legally-stored trunk gun he would have had to 1) open his trunk, 2) uncase the firearm, 3) load the firearm, and most importantly 4) walk toward a live shooting scene carrying a long gun and not in a recognizable uniform --- a really bad idea!

I digress.  The main purpose of a survival trunk gun should be as a tool to get you to your home / retreat in the event of an emergency.  Through this article I want to walk through scenarios to help determine which gun or guns is the best fit.

Here’s the meat and potatoes.  The point system I use looks a lot like something out of Boston's Gun Bible by Boston T. Party (Kenneth W. Royce). This is because I like that system!

There are four categories of firearms I will cover here, in order of depth from greatest to least:

  1. Centerfire rifles / carbines
  2. Shotguns
  3. Centerfire handguns
  4. Rimfires

I want to show some common examples of each category, I can’t possibly list every suitable trunk gun here.  Each will be judged in the following categories from 1 to 10, with 1 being Poor and 10 being Outstanding.

  1. Size:  This evaluates the transportable size of the gun vs. the usable size --- many guns can be broken down smaller for transport.  It will become more apparent in the when and how portions, but having the ability to keep and transport a gun in a small package is a big plus.  For comparison a Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle would get a 1 while a compact pistol would get a 10 (yes I know there are tiny .25 ACPs and NAA .22LR revolvers, but I don’t consider these “trunk guns”).
  2. Firepower:  Can the gun deliver powerfully and quickly?  Can it be reloaded quickly?  Some of this is subjective but centerfire semi-autos will get good marks where rimfires, bolt actions, and small caliber handguns will not.  For comparison a single shot .22LR rifle would get a 1 while a semi-auto .308 with a 20 round magazine would get a 10.
  3. Price:  What would this gun cost to obtain, and perhaps more importantly cost to replace in case of loss or theft?  Trunk guns are much more exposed to loss than those in your safe at home.  A few of us can take losing a $3,000 black rifle, the 99.99% of us that can’t need to explore other options.  That $3,000 rifle gets a 1 while the $99 Mosin-Nagant gets a 10.

After each gun I’ll list these three categories like this with current average price at the end in parentheses: 10/10/10 ($99).  It will become clear that some “junky” guns will get higher scores than you might expect, that’s because I am weighting price equal with firepower --- I mean how can a Kel-Tec SUB-2000 out-do an M1A SOCOM?  Well, I can buy several SUB2Ks with the price of one new M1A.  If you have the cash, then cross off the Price category and go for it!

Someone will ask, “Why not effective range?”  The point is this is a defensive firearm that will probably get used at close range if at all.  I truly believe that most modern firearms will outshoot most users especially in a hairy situation.  If you believe that a sniper duel is in your future, or you are 100% sure you’re able to outshoot your guns, I doubt you need this article to help you in your decision.

Centerfire Rifles / Carbines:
I want spend the most time on these as, where legal, they are in my opinion the best fit for a trunk gun.  The high level of firepower and ease of aim are the big factors.  Most of these are “duffle bag” ready (less than 30” OAL --- explored more later).  This is not even close to comprehensive but broadly covers common trunk guns.

Kel-Tec SUB-2000 in 9mm or .40 S&W.  Can be folded to just over 16” (although not in firing configuration).  Uses common pistol magazine depending on version.  If you carry a Glock in 9mm or .40 this would be a great choice if you want something on the small side that uses the same magazines as your handgun.  The 9mm with a 33 round magazine or .40 with 31 rounds is nothing to sneeze at which gives it a 7 (more like a 6 with standard capacity magazines).  7/7/8 ($300) Score: 22.  Other pistol carbines are usually right in there on the firepower mark but are more expensive (except for the Hi-Point of course).

.44 Magnum lever action.  OAL for 20” barrel (10+1 capacity) is around 37”, 33” for 16” barrel (8+1 capacity).  Big bullet that’s very effective at close range, good capacity.  Not as speedy as a semi-auto but light and handy.  16” 5/5/6 ($500), 20” 4/6/6 ($500) --- each totals 16.  These numbers are going to be pretty much the same for .357 or .45LC lever guns.

.30-30 lever action.  OAL for 20” barrel (6+1 capacity) is around 37”.  Inexpensive and also the least likely to arouse suspicion.  4/5/6 ($500) Score: 15.

AR-15 / M4gery in .223.  With a buffer tube cannot be folded down, but some gas piston ARs can take a folding stock.  Great firepower at close range, high capacity with 30 round magazines (or higher).  Plenty of options available to suit tastes, but decent quality comes at a price.  Most 16” barreled examples have an OAL in the 37” range while folding stock versions are about 26” and can be fired folded.  For folding stock 6/9/3 ($1200 or more) Score: 18; collapsible stock 4/9/4 ($900 or more) Score: 17.

Kel-Tec SU-16 in .223.  Most of the advantages of the AR (semi auto,used standard AR magazines) without the high cost, and more lightweight to boot.  All models can fold up by removing a non-captive pin (don’t lose it!), but only the “C” variant can fire while folded.  6/9/6 ($500) Score: 21.

Mini-14.  Like the above easy to fold with the right stock (and can fire folded) and not very expensive. 6/9/5 ($650) Score: 20.

Carbine-length .308 semi-auto (PTR-91K, FAL carbine, M1A SOCOM, AR-10 carbine, Kel-Tec RFB).  PTR and FAL can easily take folding or collapsible stocks, M1A can but examples are expensive, AR-10 is okay with a collapsible, RFB is a bullpup already with a short OAL.  The .308 semi-autos offer ton of firepower in a small package.  The big downside is the expense.  Assuming the smallest configuration:  PTR-91K 6/10/3 ($1200) Score: 19, FAL carbine 6/10/3 ($1200) Score: 19, M1A SOCOM 5/10/2 ($2000 --- remember that fancy folding stock) Score: 17, AR-10 carbine 4/10/3 ($1500) Score: 17, RFB 6/10/2 ($1800) Score: 18. 

AK/SKS in 7.62x39mm.  Short OAL with folding stocks, great close range firepower, cheap price.  If pistol caliber carbines aren’t your bag, you don’t like plastic guns like the Kel-Tec, and the other semi-autos are out of your price range these are probably a great fit.  Of course, they are probably the most likely to arouse suspicion from anyone seeing one in your trunk! AK 6/9/6 ($500) Score: 21, SKS 6/8 (magazines)/7 ($350) Score: 21 as well.

Scout-style bolt action .308.  This could be any short barreled (20”) bolt action rifle.  Not likely to arouse suspicion in your trunk, but low capacity and difficulty to reload hurts it as a survival trunk gun.  Folding stock?  Don’t think so.  3/5/5 ($600 or more) Score: 13.

Surplus bolt action (various calibers).  I will list the Mosin-Nagant in 7.62x54R and the inexpensive Yugo 24/47s Mauser in 8x57mm.  Totally NOT concealable except in an obvious and long rifle case, but very cheap!  Mosin-Nagant 1/5/10 ($99) Score: 16, Yugo 2/5/9 ($200) Score: 16.

In some places it’s legal to pack an unloaded shotgun around, but a rifle is prohibited.  This would make the scattergun your best choice.  Even where rifles are legal, you may be more inclined toward a shotgun --- I won’t try and dissuade you --- or you simply have an inexpensive shotgun taking up room in your safe.  A setup with interchangeable rifled slug barrel, a long bird-shooting barrel, and short defense barrel is a great combination.  The weakness is transporting them from your vehicle --- most full-stock shotguns are too long for the average “duffle bag.”  I personally do not like pistol-grip shotguns but if you do they are very compact.
Double Barrel “Coach” Gun in 12g.  Inexpensive but only two shots and OAL of 36” make this only an “okay” choice.  4/5/7 ($350) Score: 16.
Pump Action in 12g.  Assuming an 8 or 9 shot defense-oriented gun like a Mossberg 500/590 or Remington 870.  With a folding stock or pistol grip it’s easy to transport.  6/7/6 ($400+ with a folding stock) Score: 19.
Semi-auto in 12 gauge.  Assuming a defense-oriented gun like a Remington 11-87 Police or Benelli M4.  While most models can take a collapsible stock I don’t see too many folding stocks for these.  4/9/4 ($750 or more) Score: 17.
Saiga semi-auto 12 gauge.  The models with the aftermarket folding stock are the best for what we’re looking at here.  Unloaded they are easy to transport in the trunk or in a bag/backpack.  With a 20 round drum they provide amazing close range firepower --- but with the new stock and drum magazines these become very expensive and very heavy as well.  6/10/2 ($1,600) Score: 18.

Depending on the laws in your area, your comfort with long guns, etc, a pistol may be the best choice.  The strategy of legally carrying a small handgun and having a larger one in your trunk is solid.  Even better --- augment that trunk long gun with a capable handgun.  As I mentioned before, the laws concerning the transport of handguns are often very different than rifles and shotguns --- read up!

Semi-automatic centerfire pistol.  I’m just going to column list some of these rather than spend time going through each one by one.
Glock 17/20/21/22 8/6/6 ($500) Score: 20 (you could substitute nearly any double stack handgun in the same price range here)
Quality 1911 .45ACP 8/5/4 ($800) Score: 17
AK Pistol in 7.62x39mm 7/8/6 ($450) Score: 21; 75 round drum 7/9/6 ($450) Score: 22.
AR Pistol in .223 7/8/4 ($800) Score: 19
MAC-10 Clone 9mm 7/7/6 ($450) Score: 20
CZ-52 7.62x25mm 8/5/8 ($250 surplus) Score: 21
Makarov 9x18mm 9/4/8 ($250 surplus) Score: 21

Full sized double action revolver.  Again going to column list.  If you’re going to use a pistol caliber lever action as a trunk gun one of these in the same caliber would be a great companion.

.38 Special 4” barrel 8/4/8 ($250 used) Score: 20
.357 Magnum 4” or 6” barrel 8/5/5 ($600) Score: 18
.44 Magnum 6” barrel 7/6/5 ($600) Score: 18


I’m not going to spend any time debating individual models of rimfires (specifically .22 LR). It’s more about what you believe your path from your vehicle to your home / retreat will be like.  If it could turn out to be a very long trek where you’re going to have to forage and hunt to stay alive, a rimfire rifle like the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22 and a brick of 1,500 rounds may be perfect.  As for firepower, it’s a tough call but in a fight with two legged critters I’d much rather have an accurate 10/22 than, say, a snubnose .38.

Other thoughts:

Keep as much ammunition as you are comfortable carrying --- there is no set amount.  Regarding optics, I lean toward scopes and not red dots / holographic sights as these take batteries.  Nothing worse than needing your trunk gun and finding all of your old batteries have died!  Yes I know the Trijicon ACOG is a great counter to this problem but due to expense I think they are beyond the trunk gun concept.  If you’re comfortable with a $1,200+ optic in your trunk then that’s great.

Here I’ll cover how to store your trunk gun(s).  First I’ll reiterate that 1) be legal and 2) lean toward safety and security versus ease of access.  If you live in a state/area where you’re not able to legally carry a loaded handgun, ease of access may be on your mind --- but if you’re being carjacked or attacked near your vehicle, I can’t see a legally secured trunk gun being of any use (remember that scenario described earlier --- only your loaded and ready firearms are useful, the stowed ones are not).
The best storage method both conceals your trunk gun and creates the image for those that dig deeper that you’re headed to the range later --- I am assuming here that you don’t like in “gun rack country.”  Let me explain.  If you have one of those long, solid stocked trunk guns you’re probably stuck with an actual rifle case; if so I recommend hiding it under other bags or items.  If you can fold or break down your trunk gun, or it’s a handgun, I firmly believe a dark colored athletic-style duffle bag is the best way to transport it.  First of all, it’s unobtrusive (stay away from the camo bags), and easy to complete the look with a towel and/or a pair of old sneakers next to it.  When you need to get your trunk gun and go, I would slip my small rafting B.O.B./G.O.O.D./survival bag on my back and my dark gray duffle on my shoulder --- the trunk gun is on the top with ammo & other accessories below.  I pack clothes and other soft items around it to reduce the noise signature.
While overseas I ran into a number of private security professionals that carried H&K MP5Ks (9mm machine pistol) in small black cases slung over their shoulders.  These were very discreet and gave them much more close range firepower than any concealed handgun (save maybe a [registered full-auto] Glock 18).  I am aiming for [the semi-auto equivalent of] this concept (no pun intended) with transporting the trunk gun.  I can’t say enough that running around with an uncased long gun is a bad idea, especially right after a major emergency like an earthquake or local civil disturbance that renders the roads impassable (otherwise you’re driving home).  Not only are you probably breaking the law [in many jurisdictions], you have become a target for lawmen and unwittingly a Bad Guy.  Don’t do it!  If your route takes you through the wilderness then your carry method might change but stay legal whatever you do.

So when do you actually use your trunk gun?  Displaying a firearm when and where it’s not warranted can get you in a lot of legal hot water and be very embarrassing --- but the flip side is even worse, the BGs get the drop on you.  I can’t possibly describe every situation but simply reiterate that it’s a defensive firearm --- it’s there to give you added firepower and/or dissuade the BGs.  I am working on a follow-up article on self defense which should go into greater depth on this subject.

Final thoughts:  I would love to get some feedback on this!  Much of it is “brain sweat” and by no means do I think of myself as an expert, you are definitely not going to hurt my feelings with any counterpoints or criticism.  I’m not 100% happy with my firearms evaluation either; by my point system the Kel-Tec SUB2K and AK pistol are the best trunk guns by size, firepower, and value which I know many will totally disagree with --- although the AK rifle, SU-16, and SKS are in a virtual tie and I would say are the three best choices where firepower and value are concerned.  A $400 folding stock AK or AK pistol with a 75 round drum is quite a package.  I’d also like to hear from any current or former LEOs on this subject, it’s my personal experience that the law enforcement community is not a fan of the trunk gun, even where legal.  I have done my best to describe how the trunk gun is not a tool to “help” lawmen take care of BGs before the first patrol car comes on the scene --- any additional thoughts, stories, or insight would be great.

Some additional links:

Last year’s Cheaper Than Dirt blog article on the same subject.
Last year’s Survival Retreat blog article

The is also a good archived thread on Warriortalk.com.  It’s kind of “hairy chested” but that’s the point --- most of these guys prove why the trunk gun is not a good tool to respond to a local crisis (attack) but needs to be used for personal defense (especially the first post, I don’t much about Gabe Suarez other than he’s a well-known self-defense instructor, but his logic is solid.

JWR Adds: In my estimation, carbines chambered for pistol cartridges are over-rated. Ditto for "pistol" versions of semi-auto rifles (such as Kalikovs and "Pistol" marked AR-15s that are sans buttstocks.) I would much rather have a folding stock AK, a Kel-Tec SU-16, or a collapsing stock M4gery for a trunk gun. They are much more accurate to shoot than just "cheeking" an over-grown pistol.

I'd also like to mention that choosing the right state to live in, will have a huge impact on your safety. With a few exceptions (like Arizona), the states that recognize your right to carry a loaded weapon on your hip or in your vehicle are also the states with the lowest violent crime rates. This reminds me of a joke that Rush Limbaugh recently told in his radio show:

"A guy makes a rolling stop at a stop sign and gets pulled over by a local policeman. Guy hands the officer his driver's license, insurance verification, plus his concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit.

"Okay," the officer says, "I see your CCW permit. Are you carrying today?"

"Yes, I am.

"Well then, you'd better tell me what you've got."

The motorist says, "Well, I got a .357 revolver in my inside coat pocket. There's a 9mm semi-auto in the glove box. And, I've got a .22 Magnum derringer in my right boot."

"Okay," the officer says. "Anything else?"

"Yeah, back in the trunk, there's an AR-15 and a 12 gauge shotgun. That's about it."

"Sir, are you on your way to a gun range?"


"Well then, what are you afraid of?"

"Not a d**ned thing!"

I had been thinking for some time about what topic I should write about that may help others here on SurvivalBlog. I myself am fairly new to prepping and have tried to soak up all the information this site provides and that Mr. Rawles has graciously provided.

Last year I purchased and read the book “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It.” I enjoyed the book incredibly and learned so much more. For one, I realized that I am far from reaching my goals of being self sustaining and providing for the needs of my family if the Schumer hits the fan any time soon.

One part of the book I liked spoke about web gear and how it should be an integral part of your battle rifle and day to day equipment. I have thought about this topic and decided I would try to share some ideas and basics about web gear. I would never intentionally plan to take away from Mr. Rawles book but hope this adds to or supports his writings.

I must also state I am no expert in military equipment or believe my opinions expressed here are taken as such. I am a veteran of the USMC and currently a LEO. I have used several different types or styles of web gear during my two careers. I have personal pros and cons for each system I have used. Hopefully someone out there can benefit from this information.

To begin I want to state there are many styles, designs, colors, patterns, and even names for web gear. I personally have always generically called it a Load Bearing Vest (LBV). Web gear seems to be a fairly general term encompassing the many different types there are out there.

Some of the other names you may hear are: Web Gear, LBV, Chest rig, Tactical vest, MOLLE vest, MOLLE gear, and Enhanced load bearing vest. I am sure there are other names given to and to describe web gear. These are just some of the more prominent ones.

What is Web Gear? Generally it is a vest, suspension system, or similar system that is used primarily by military personnel to hold and organize weapons and gear on their body allowing them quicker access, if needed. According to “Militarydictionary.com.” it has the same meaning as “webbing” which says: “a set of equipment pouches attached to a belt or harness.”

Some reasons for using and having web gear are: to carry canteens and water bladders, magazines and ammunition, holsters, radios, survival kits, mess kits, food, first aid kits, e-tools and shovels, any many more.

Some of the earlier Web gear systems were the “M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE)” and the “M-1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE).” These were later replaced by the “Alice” system or ALICE. (All-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment). These were used by the United States and other allied countries. Probably every modern military in the world has used or is currently using a form of web gear.

These earlier systems generally consisted of a set of suspenders that clipped or attached to a pistol belt. The belt would then hold or have attached various pouches and/or gear. The suspenders would help to reduce the weight and strain of the gear on the wearer, hence the term “load bearing.”

In our current military there are several load bearing set ups that are used. They all generally follow the MOLLE standard. These systems generally are a vest, carrier, or other system that is equipped with sewn on web straps across the exterior of the article. Modular pouches and other gear using interwoven straps can be attached to the webbing on them allowing the user to customize and accommodate their own set up and positions.

One benefit of the MOLLE system is exactly as stated above. The person can attach any of almost endless varieties of pouches and gear to their LBV. At this current time my preference is for the MOLLE system and my web gear is a MOLLE variant customized to my preferences.

Web gear can be found as military surplus from any number of resources. These are usually used in different states of wear. There are now many commercial companies who make copies and or original designs for web gear. Some of the online sources that sell these are: Sportsmansguide.com, Cheaperthandirt.com, Major Surplus and Survival, Ops gear, Mars gear, and many others.  I have no affiliation to these companies but have either purchased items for my web gear through them or searched for items on their sites. For those who do not want to buy on the internet, your local military surplus stores will probably provide similar results.

One big question to think about is what color or pattern do I want my web gear to be? You can find it in any of the standard military camouflages used from the past to present. Also solid colors that include black, olive drab, tan, foliage, and others. I even purchased an LBV that was made in the German Flectarn camouflage pattern.

The skies the limit on what you can find out there. I would suggest trying to find a color and pattern that matches or compliments the colors and patterns of your groups chosen BDU or other gear. The colors and patterns in no way affect the overall use and benefits of the web gear and contrasting colors and patterns are only that, contrasting. 

When I first planned out my web gear, I planned it to be a 72 hour kit for survival. I figured I would set it up so I could just grab my web gear and go and be self sustaining for 72 hours. Later, I decided I needed my web gear to be a part of a weapon system and include parts of my 72 hour kit. We each may have different reasons to build or buy a web gear system.

One thing I learned in Military was that web gear can be worn over your flak jacket and under a pack. We set up the web gear so it would not interfere greatly with the pack and when the pack was dropped we were ready to go into a fire fight. I have seen some web gear setups that I believe would hinder the wearer to use a pack, if needed.  I wouldn’t want to have to be fumbling around inside my pack for my web gear and magazines if I were being fired upon. When you prepare or buy your web gear, think how it would fit under your pack or BOB if you needed to carry both.

When I joined the military we carried an older LBV in boot camp. It was a one piece vest that had padded suspenders sewn onto netting. MOLLE style pouches were then sewn onto the netting at various locations. They included magazine pouches, grenade pouches, canteen pouches, and butt pack. They were adjusted for girth and size by lacing on either lateral side. They were kept secured by one or two adjustable clips in the abdomen area. Those LBVs were also patterned with woodland camouflage. Lastly, they had a “drag strap” across the upper back between the shoulder blades. The down side to these vests was aside from girth and size, they could not be adjusted.

Along with the above LBV we were also issued a pistol belt with 2 canteens and canteen holders. The canteen holders and other gear that was attached to the belt using the old “alligator clips” of the ALICE and similar type web gear. Personally, I hated these. The clips were either too tight or rusted shut or too loose and came open. Numerous times I would crawl through a course and realize that I was missing gear that fell off while I was on the course. Many of the older web gear systems used these alligator clips to attach the pouches, bags, and holsters to the belts.

When I arrived at my unit I was issued a different LBV with my 782 gear. This LBV was also in woodland camouflage but was designed with the MOLLE system. Instead of having lacings on the sides for adjustment it used compression straps. They had the same pouches as the older LBVs but these could be removed and adjusted to different locations on the vest as the user desired or needed. This especially helped in setting up the rifle magazine pouches for left and right handed shooters. I really enjoyed this set up and used it for the majority of the time of my enlistment.

When I received my 782 gear, I was also issued a flak jacket. It was in woodland camouflage as well and also had MOLLE webbing sewn onto the front and back of the vest. Our platoon commanders allowed us to skip or leave our LBVs behind as long as we attached all of our MOLLE pouches onto the flak jacket. In the end this was my favorite set up and I only brought my LBV out for gear inspections.

When I decided to buy my own web gear I searched for some time on the web looking for what I felt would fit my uses. I built my web gear from MOLLE system components and purchased them from different vendors. The following is my current web gear set up:

  • ModGear Tactical Magazine Chest Rig

This suspension system has two padded suspenders that attach to a bladder pouch on the back. The outside of the vest is covered with MOLLE webbing front and back. There are six M16/AK-47 magazine pouches built into the front of the vest. It has compression straps on either side for size and girth adjustments. The front is secured with Velcro, snaps, and a plastic snap clip.

  • Butt Pack

This butt pack is different than the military rectangular style. This bag has a main compartment with three smaller pouches attached to the sides and front. The lid to the main pouch has compression snap straps to hold it tight and secure. This bag has multiple MOLLE straps on the back that attach to the bottom end of the bladder pouch. This puts the bag on the lower back below the area where my pack would rest.

  • Deployment Bag

This bag is only a part time item. I place it above the butt pack on the upper portion of the bladder pouch. When I don’t want to carry a pack or back pack but need extra room I attach this for space. It comes with its own shoulder strap so it can be used as a stand alone piece of gear or additional bag. The back of this bag also has multiple MOLLE straps for attaching to the chest rig.

  • EMT Pouch

Although I don’t use this as a first aid kit, its design is known as such. This pouch is 7x5x2.5” with a zipper around the three sides. This pouch houses my survival kit. The back again has multiple MOLLE straps and I attach it to the left forward side of the chest rig. I also take this pouch off and carry it when I am not using my web gear.

  • Gadget Bags

These bags are similar to the EMT pouch but smaller. They also have smaller pockets and enclosures inside. In a pair of these, I store my various items in these such as my lighter, compass, chap stick, and flashlight. I have one pouch on either side of the front of the closure of the rig.

  • Pistol Magazine Pouch

This pouch is a double pouch that holds two full capacity pistol magazines. It is adjustable for different magazine sizes. I have it attached to the front of the chest rig. I may change this and place a triple pouch there instead to carry three magazines.

The chest rig I chose already has the rifle magazine pouches built in so I did not need to buy any exterior attaching pouches. I also like to use a water bladder and this particular chest rig has the bladder pouch built in. This increased my locations for attaching other MOLLE pouches and gear. I may add several other pouches later but for now this setup suites me. All the above MOLLE pieces and the chest rig are in Olive Drab.  I chose this because it will not contrast with the several different BDUs I have. Therefore I don’t need different rigs for each BDU set I have.

This web gear set up is my main LBV. I have three other LBVs that I have set aside as extras or for different terrain. One of them is exactly the same as the above set up but in Coyote Tan. Living in Arizona this one has obvious advantages. The other two are commercial rigs and are in different patterns and colors. I plan on setting them aside with spare magazines for my additional weapons platforms. (That is another of JWR's suggestions).

Several other designs I would like to talk about are some what different from the standard web gear or LBV. These are actual vests that cover the torso like body armor or plate carriers do. They are commonly called “Tac vests” or “tactical vests.” There are many vests that are made by commercial companies that have prearranged pockets, holsters, etc. added to the exterior of the vest. They also come in numerous colors and patterns. They also come set up for MOLLE systems so you can add your own pouches as you desire.

Except for carrying body armor and plates, I don’t like this style as much as it encloses your torso more and increases body heat (sweating) while performing physical activities. The more traditional web gear to me feels more open and less restrictive. You should try both before you decide which one you want to buy or build.

Similar to the flak jacket setup above, if you are going to carry body armor or plates these vests may be more acceptable. Instead of having your carrier and LBV over it, you can incorporate both into one. Just remember that some states and locals have laws and restrictions on body armor. Make sure what you are doing is legal before you buy anything.

Remember that your web gear is yours. You have to be comfortable in it and using it. Set it up how you will use it and practice using it. In other words, practice how you play.
If you have spent time wearing it while you are shooting and reload from the magazine pouches your muscle memory will kick in later when you need it and your training will take over. I know this is true, I have seen it day in and day out throughout my career.

I hope this can assist you in choosing and building or purchasing your web gear. God bless and Semper Fi!

Dear Jim:
When I teach classes on water storage and preservation I am often asked this question. I usually respond with a few questions of my own:

1.) Name all of the reasons you need water?

2.) Tell me what percentage each of those requires?, and:

3.) How many of those could you do with pool water just the way it is?

The truth of the matter is that the only reason you would need to "purify" pool water is for drinking or cooking. Washing, (dishes, clothes or bodies) doesn't  require any pool water purification. Same with flushing the toilet an often forgotten water usage) In longer term "grid down" situations drinking and cooking become a smaller percentage of the water that you would use. If the water is only off for three to four days, you can go without washing clothes or bodies, but there is a need for cooking and drinking. Conversely the longer the water outage lasted the need to use greater amounts of water for cleaning would be required. 

More directly to the inquirers question of how to "Make pool water potable" especially in Arizona the answer is relatively simple: a solar still. A solar still is a simple apparatus that can be made in a pinch with the simplest of items on hand or purpose made in advance of the need. the simplest example is placing a shallow pan with an inch or two of pool water, setting a small cup or jar in the middle, then covering it with a piece of plastic sheeting sealing off the edge of the pan with a rope, bungee cord, or tape and allowing evaporation to do it's job. The "distilled" water can them collected from the jar. This process doesn't yield a great deal of water but is very effective.

Option two is by doing a similar thing by placing water in clear two liter bottles and letting them sit in direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours and letting the sun break down the chlorine (that's what happens in your pool naturally)  The bottle need to be well sealed and clear.

The third option is making a purpose built solar still. The concept is the same as the plastic covered pan, but on a much larger scale. To produce the two to three gallons a day needed for drinking purposes, a solar still would need to be at least 4' x 8'. There are plenty of plans available on the Internet, but my favorite plan comes right from the inquirers back yard from the University of Arizona. You can read all the information of effectiveness of materials, water outputs, as well as, construction variants.

As the name implies, to have a solar still you need to have sunshine. In the winter time or If you live in more Northern climes the output of your solar still will be diminished, maybe even to the point of being less than useful. Since I live in the Southwest this is a viable option for me and I am planning on making one of these stills for my families use in the future. - Kory Mikesell

I heard from the developer of an interesting shelter system designed for natural disasters: LifeCube. It is a 144-square foot inflatable shelter that is transported in a 5-foot cube of pallets. The shelter is a very clever design and looks ideal for short-duration natural disasters.  However, its long term viability is dubious.  (Since it requires electricity (or compressed air), and once the integrity of the inflated envelope tubes is lost due to any large punctures, the structure will collapse. But I've been told that the fabric portion of the shelter is manufactured by the Patten Company which invented the inflatable Life Raft in 1946, so the quality is top notch.)

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These deadly animals will kill you in seconds

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This is criminal! Watch this C-SPAN clip: FOPA Hughes Amendment Vote on April 10, 1986. Here you can see how Chairman Charles Rangel (D.-NY) ram-rodded through a Federal machinegun freeze that clearly failed both a voice vote and a recorded vote. We are now saddled with an onerous law that is not only unconstitutional, but that also was NEVER PASSSED!

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Lost city of 'cloud people' found in Peru.

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Erik K. sent this article: Siberians Raided Rodent Caches for Food

"...either you oppose a lie, or you become a liar." - Franklin Sanders

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

By now, many of us have heard, and perhaps even put into practice, that old adage of practicality: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  I think of it as the wisdom of the Great Depression.  When so many people had so very little, the best use was made out of every single resource – be it a sock, a newspaper, a swatch of fabric, or any number of little things I take for granted every day.  Perhaps I should restate that last sentence – that I used to take for granted every day.

Since the Global Credit Crisis of 2008, my family has been affected in a similar manner to many others.  Our single income has been reduced by more than 25%; we lost our home to foreclosure, despite the fact that we purchased far under what we qualified for when we took out the mortgage; our day-to-day purchases are ruled by the now-familiar question: “Is it a want or a need?” But we are not unhappy.

Sometime around 2005, I started hearing about “preparedness.”  It struck a chord in my mind and in my heart.  As I did more research, attended some local classes, and talked to people who were quietly preparing themselves for – well, for something , although even they didn’t always know quite what – I became more and more convinced that I was being guided down this path of knowledge, and that I needed to begin my own preparations for a long-term emergency.

What eased this transition for a spoiled-rotten, materialistic, comfort-oriented woman who had never thought about “the end of the world” or even what would happen if the money ran out one day?  The stories of my Great-Grandmother--stories I’d been hearing from my Mother and my Grandpa throughout my life.

My Great-Grandma lived in rural areas throughout the Midwest and West Coast most of her life.  She was a rugged, tough woman, not attractive in the dainty sense of beauty of her time, but she exuded a confident, strong, chin-up prettiness in the pictures I’ve seen of her as a young woman.  As a married woman, she managed the farm she lived on with my great-grandfather, preparing meals for her husband, children and all the farm hands from scratch every day; keeping the kids out of trouble and into their education (for the most part!); gathering eggs, produce, and equipment; killing the non-productive hens and rabbits for the stockpot; canning, preserving, and candying; and all other manner of daily tasks which her family and farm provided her with.

Great-Grandma pumped her water by hand and heated it on her wood-burning stove to wash dishes, clothes, and children.  She tended her seedlings with care in boxes on the windowsills until they were hardy enough to plant in the garden plot.  She took care of the soil and her livestock wearing long-skirted calico dresses and a working apron; my Mother recalls fondly that Great-Grandma only wore pants when she went fishing – “A lady doesn’t fish in a skirt!” she would say.  I never had the opportunity to meet this woman, whom I imagine had calloused hands to go with the soft smile she wears in my favorite photograph of her, standing beside her prized and unbelievably gorgeous hollyhocks that grew outside her door, but she above all others motivated me in my efforts to make sure my family is as self-sufficient as we can possibly be.

As I learned more about the prepared lifestyle, I began to store away food that would store well long term; first wheat, then rice, beans, and canned goods, among others.  I learned to grind wheat to bake bread, and put away white flour, learning to make biscuits from intuition, thinking of my Great-Grandma as I mixed the flour, salt, baking powder and milk with a lump of shortening in a bowl with my hand.  I got a barrel and some five gallon containers to hold extra water, and considered how fortunate Great-Grandma was to have a hand-pumped well.  I ground my wheat and baked bread, much to the delight of  my family, and realized that when my Grandpa was a child, he never ate store-bought bread. 

But there is one thing that makes me feel closer to the memory of my Great-Grandma than anything else; canning.  When my kitchen is chaotic with jars, ladles, funnels, cutting boards, lids, and a huge canner clattering on the stove, I feel like I practically have her standing there beside me.  You see, Great-Grandma canned her garden up every year so there would be ample food for the winter, since the store was miles and miles away and there weren’t yet shipments of grapes from Chile or strawberries from hothouses.  My Mother tells me that the canning time was busy and fun, with neighbor women getting together constantly, first in one house, then another, until all the women for a few miles around had their produce and some meat tucked away to feed their families for another year.  It was a community event, a time for women to get together and have time to discuss local gossip, their families, their farms, and their children.  And, of course, in the meantime, they were assuring their health and survival.  When I can for long-term storage, I feel I am carrying on that tradition that has been lost from our family for two generations.  I feel like I’m passing the memories and philosophies of my wise and strong and tireless Great-Grandmother on to my children…and providing for their health and survival just like she did for hers.

Looking back, I do believe that the Lord provided my memories of my Great-Grandma to me for inspiration on my journey to preparedness.  >From 2008 to 2010, as a string of pay cuts and rising inflation ate away more than a quarter of our income, we relied more and more on the food we had stored away to supplement our grocery budget; at one point, before we realized that we were going to have to lose our house, we lived entirely off our storage while we funneled most  of our assets into our mortgage payment.  By the time we lost the house, we had used up most of our storage – it had borne us through our emergency.  God has been good, and in recent months we have been able to start building it back up to the levels we’d had previously.  My husband is now a passionate advocate of our storage and all manner of emergency preparedness, and my children excitedly tend the lettuce we’re growing in our teeny-tiny garden plot.

And as the nation teeters on the brink, with politics and the economy wheeling toward what seems to be a point of no return, I try not to fear; I hear the wisdom of my Grandpa’s mother whispering to me –

“Use it up,” when I start to throw away the tablespoon or two of sour cream lurking in a container taking up space in my fridge – I add it to my biscuit dough.

“Wear it out,” when I start to toss a pair of out-of-style, but perfectly sound jeans into the donation bin – and I keep them and wear them until they’re frayed and worn (and usually keep them even then, since that’s the most comfortable denim!).

“Make it do,” when I notice holes torn in our only sofa’s upholstery and instinctively wish we could buy a new one – I go get thread and a needle and stitch the hole up nice and tight.

“Do without,” she counsels me when our bills skyrocket, or the car needs a repair, or the medical bill for a sick child's doctor visit arrives in the mail -- and I drive on by the store to my well-stocked home, where I know I can keep my children and husband comfortable, safe, and well-fed without having to spend any more money.

The cash I save and the skills I gain serve to increase our preparedness and supplies -- and I realize that much of what I have learned about being prepared – and being content – has been supplemented and supported by the wisdom of a woman I never really knew…but still love and respect. (Dedicated to Great-Grandma Hall)

In an event where supplies of food and water or your access shelter have become compromised due to natural disaster, civil unrest or an unplanned scarcity of commodities, it would be comforting to know that in spite of the unplanned event you have planned for it. 

This is not a detailed itemized list of what to get. There are numerous books, internet sites and clubs that offer all kinds of advice on preparedness. By doing your own research you will see that there are ample lists and dialogs to glean from. What this is is a method to keep you focused and ultimately successful in your plan to prepare for what may come.

When beginning to form a plan to put away necessary provisions for an emergency event it can be overwhelming as to what and how much would be needed to provide for simple survival. The first thing to do is break it down into manageable parts and start working on a basic inventory. Once you have covered the basics then and only then do you proceed to a more complex inventory. The logic of working up a basic cache of supplies is that once it is in place you are secure in your ability to survive, albeit simply, for a determined amount of time. Without a plan you will be tempted to start gathering an unorganized pile of “stuff” that has value, but does not ensure that you are prepared. Haphazard gathering is incomplete gathering and if you leave out an important item you leave yourself open to disaster.

Here is my way of staying organized as you put together a cache. Before you buy a can of food, a box of Band-Aids or a set of camo’s start first with this simple plan that relies on meeting three levels of preparedness;
Good, Better, Best.”

To illustrate the levels and give guidance as to when you move from one level to the next, let’s use the basic necessities of survival for our goal. As stated in the first sentence they are: food, water and shelter. 

Again, your own research will be needed to determine exactly what to get and how to use it.  


This is your basic level of stuff. If you have a good level of provisions you will be ready to survive in a basic manner for a short time period. At the good level you also have acquired some simple skills on how to maximize your basic provisions. Here is how it looks…


  • A one week supply of usable non-perishable nutritious food stuffs kept at your home
  • A grid down means of cooking, i.e. propane stove, gas stove, etc
  • A grab and go kit of food in case your home becomes untenable


  • An amount of clean stored water equivalent to 2 gallons/day per person to last one week ( 28 gals per couple)
  • Knowledge of secondary water sources (hint: 40 gal water heater)
  • Means of water purification (pump, chemical, UV light)


  • Your home…with grid down heat and light (kerosene heater/lamps)
  • A RV (fully self contained and stocked with propane)
  • Quality tent and sleeping bag ( as part of your grab and go kit)

At the good level you will be able to live in your home during a short term disruption of services or be able to leave if necessary with a grab and go kit that contains a basic amount of survival items to support you for a short time.


You have the good level covered now it’s time to step up to doing better. At the better level you build upon the amount and variety of provisions in your cache and work to improve your skills. At the better level you will enhance your survival odds and make the situation more comfortable through thoughtful and more thorough preparation. Here’s how better looks…


  • In depth study and procurement of long-term storage staples, i.e. wheat, corn, rice and beans.
  • Food in adequate amounts correctly stored with the bulk of it in a secure location. In addition; sundry food stuffs like powdered milk, spices, sugars, fats, vitamins, etc.
  • Cooking and cleaning supplies and a reliable long term grid down means to heat food (wood stove)


  • Reliable and safe access to water source, i.e. lake, stream, spring, etc.
  • Large capacity filtration system, i.e. “Big Berkey” or reverse osmosis
  • Water storage with ability to heat large amounts for bathing (wood stove and tubs)


  • Your home has been retrofitted to off the grid capabilities with solar and deep cycle batteries
  • Wood heat with enough fuel for six months
  • A bug-out plan to your long term cache at a fall back location



This is what the well prepared person has been working towards. At the best level of preparedness you have been steadily building your cache and skills to a level that allows you to live in relative comfort and security. Things may have gone very wrong in the population centers, but you have placed yourself, family and friends in a remote retreat location with the means to live through a cooperative effort for the duration of a societal collapse. There will be hardship at times and hard work constantly, but with the tools and provisions you have cached and the varied skills of the group you will make it through. You will not only survive, you will thrive.


  • Livestock, poultry, bees and other regenerating food sources
  • Non-hybrid seeds and garden space with an established orchard to grow sizable crops with the means of food storage, i.e. canning, drying, cellaring, freezing
  • Tools and skills to hunt game and catch fish locally to augment diet

  • Easily accessible potable water source at the retreat with back up gravity fed storage tank
  • Water heating capability; solar in summer, wood stove with coils in winter
  • Irrigation system installed to both garden and orchard along with fire suppression plan for structures


  • Retreat layout to provide living space for all members with adequate sanitation facilities
  • Work spaces with necessary tools and equipment, i.e. shop, outdoor kitchen, wood shed, livestock paddock, coops etc.
  • Complete off the grid capabilities with redundant systems combining as many of the following as possible: solar, wind, hydro-electric and generator.

So, here is a start. By following this outline of the “Good, Better, Best” plan you can stay on task in your efforts to lay in supplies and learning valuable skills.

Whether you need to ride out a storm for a week before the power comes back on, or you been forced to bug out to your completely stocked group retreat; your careful, deliberate preparation has made the difference between success and failure.

Preparedness provisioning is not only wise, it can be fun.

With regards to you advice on avoiding railroad lines except as a last resort, I will offer my observations growing up in South Dakota.  A good portion of the lines have been abandoned and but still have [de-railed] right-of-ways for horses or bikes.  We used to use these road beds to ride our horses or bikes to go play with friends one, two or three miles away. The main advantage was that they were abandoned and posed no threat to us kids, so it kept us off the roads.  The second was that the law prevented them from being blocked in anyway.  Just because these lines were abandoned didn’t mean they couldn't be rehabilitated quickly,  The train companies still owns the routes and they would be inspected periodically to see what would required to get them operational again (an abandoned line can be reopened between 6 to 18 months depending on weight and the required use).

Even an operational grain train route was no impediment.  The conductors knew we used them and took the proper precautions to protect us. South Dakota being largely flat, we could see a train for miles, and we knew the horns.  We were taught to get off the path and wait for the train to pass (around Christmas we would line the track at certain points and the conductors would throw candy to us kids.  

Bottom line: train tracks in urban areas are iffy under the best of circumstances. But lines in the rural Midwest, South and West can be viable routes if proper precautions are taken. - "Light"

Mr. Rawles,   
I enjoyed reading R.E.V.'s letter on preparedness for truckers. My husband and I are truckers as well, and we have done a lot of thinking about what we would do in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation. Being 500 to 1000 miles away from home means a whole different set of requirements for a "Get Home Bag". R.E.V. did a great job, but I feel there are a few more points that should be touched on.

The first is how quickly diesel can become scarce. Having seen how rapidly truck stops in a given area can be drained of fuel if a delivery is delayed, or if demand becomes higher than normal (such as during a snow storm, especially when a large number of trucks have been shut down by a storm - once the roads open again all the truck stops in the area very quickly run out of fuel due to increased demand), we are very aware that we might not be able to drive our rig home in the event of a large disruption of the fuel supply. We have to be ready for the possibility that we will have to abandon our rig and our load and try to make it home on foot.  This brings up the question of when it is appropriate to abandon the rig. There is a major ethical question involved for us because we are company drivers, and the truck doesn't belong to us. We are responsible for an expensive piece of equipment and a valuable load, and if there is any chance things will return to normal after a period of time we will have to account to our company for that equipment, and may find ourselves on the hook for the cost of tractor, trailer, and load if we abandon it when we could have stayed with it and "waited out the storm" or perhaps gotten it to one of our company's secured yards. So the first question we have to ask ourselves is "Is this a short term event, or a long term TEOTWAWKI event?" We also have to ask ourselves if we can safely deliver our load before we head for home, or if things are dire enough for us to abandon that responsibility - not a choice we would make lightly, people somewhere my be depending on the food we are carrying. We have to look at the situation: How quickly are things deteriorating? If we deliver will we have the fuel to get home? Will delivering the load cause us to risk our lives or loose our chance of making it back home? Should we take the load home with us? The food in our trailer might mean the slim difference between life and death for our family and neighbors.

Once we do start heading home every mile we can push this rig is one more mile we don't have to walk. We can improve our fuel mileage and maneuverability by dropping our trailer and bobtailing, but if we're in snow and ice, or very cold temperatures we may want to keep the trailer for the extra weight and traction. We haul a refrigerated ("reefer") trailer, and if the temperature is cold enough to kill batteries, and we think we might have to stop, we might want to hang onto the trailer - the reefer unit uses less fuel that idling the engine. We can hook jumper cables between the reefer battery and the truck batteries to keep them charged, and run our inverter and an electric blanket to keep us warm. If we do decide to drop the trailer to conserve fuel, we keep a siphon hose on hand so we can siphon out the [dyed] diesel from the reefer tank [or some purchased home heating oil] and add it to our truck tanks. Some states dye reefer fuel red because, just like "off-road" or agricultural diesel, it isn't taxed at the same rate as on-road or commercial diesel, and the DOT has been known to check tanks for red dye, so we can only do this if we a sure things have broken down to the point that the DOT is the least of our worries.   

The last few gallons in our saddle tanks are unusable, the intake is above about the 10% mark to allow debris to settle to the bottom of the tanks where it won't foul the filters. Most trucks have this same feature, and there will be plenty of other drivers in the same boat you are in. You may be able to make a deal with another stranded driver by trading a ride in exchange for the last few gallons of diesel in his tanks. Siphon out the diesel and run it through a cloth to filter it before adding it to your tank. Use your best judgement when offing a ride, though. There are a lot of untrustworthy people out here.   As a last resort, gasoline can be run in a diesel engine, just make sure you add a an appropriate amount of 10 weight motor oil to your tanks to thicken it and to duplicate the lubrication you should be getting from diesel. Your engine will run hotter than it should, but it will get you a few miles further down the road. Every 15 miles you get closer to home will knock off a full day of walking.      For a driver, the cab of your truck is your home away from home. Our cab tends to fill up with all sorts of things we will not be able to carry with us when we finally do have to abandon the rig and walk. We keep well stocked bug-out bags under the bunk, and there have been plenty of articles on how to stock a BOB so I won't go into that. But we do keep an extra plastic storage tub, a couple of heavy duty garbage bags, and duct tape handy so that we can pack up and cache anything we can't take with us, but might want to come back for later. That empty rig just sitting there in the truck stop lot, or on the side of the road will be a target for looters, thieves, and opportunists - you can't expect anything you leave behind to still be there later unless you hide it well. Bury it inside the wood line and take note of landmarks, but bear in mind that you may never see it again in any case - don't take anything irreplaceable out on the truck with you unless you are sure you can carry it home again.   Some of the items in your cab might help other stranded motorists to survive. For example: If you have a separate sleeping bag in your BOB, then perhaps you can roll up your bunk sheets and blankets as a bedroll to give away to that unprepared fellow shivering in his out-of-gas car in the truck stop parking lot, or to trade for something you might need.

Finally, when trying to decide what route to take to get home, keep in mind that people may be abandoning larger cities in droves and the interstates may be parking lots for many miles around any large population center. US highways may be better than interstates, and you may have to go miles out of your way to get around a major city. Go ahead and plan routes and try shortcuts now while things are good so you have an idea which roads you can take to get home when things go bad.  - Truckergirl


Today's post about big rig survival was interesting, but contained this statement about self defense:

"Non-firearm protection for a trucker can be a tire thumper, ball peen hammer, side handle baton (PR-24), straight baton or numerous incarnations thereof."

In many jurisdictions, it is illegal for anyone other than a badge-carrying police officer to own any sort of baton.  In California, for instance, it is a crime to own a baton [or was last I checked], even if you keep it in your house, and even if you have a CCW permit.  Yes, this is the stupidest sort of law. Yes, you may own and carry a tire thumper or ball peen hammer or baseball bat in California, so long as you do so without criminal intent. Other jurisdictions have no such prohibition.

Also: while many jurisdictions recognize the carry permits issued by other jurisdictions, one must obey the carry rules of the place where you find yourself and carry rules are different everywhere. For instance, Oklahoma is a carry-friendly state, but prohibits carry of pistols larger than .45 caliber. On the other hand, Oklahoma allows transport in your truck cab--only with a permit--of a rifle with a loaded magazine and an empty chamber.  Carry of pistols larger than .45 is allowed in many jurisdictions, but a rifle with a loaded magazine and empty chamber will get you arrested in some places.  

My point is that the author overstated the meaning of reciprocity--one jurisdiction recognizing another's permit. You must know the law of the place you find yourself or risk the consequences.- J.E.J.

JWR Replies: In additional federal laws, America has a patchwork of city, county, and state laws. The good news is that this means that you can "vote with your feet" and move to a jurisdiction that has the liberty that you desire. But the bad news is that travelers must research these laws before they travel, or travel unarmed. Please don't contact me with legal questions. I'm not an attorney. Do your own homework, and if need be, consult a knowledgeable attorney in your state.


Thanks again for the great job on your blog.In reading the recent excellent article forwarded by Doc in South Carolina titled "Zen and the Art of Basic Rifle Marksmanship," a few additional thoughts came to mind.

I recall my father teaching us boys how to shoot at ages 11-12. We used a break-open pellet gun, similar to the Gamo that I now own (now with a scope on it), to shoot at a small target mounted on a pellet trap, which was in turn mounted on a large and thick piece of plywood.  Our instruction was carried out in the dining room of our apartment located on the base at Ramstein AFB, Germany.  Some might just be cringing at the thought of practicing in one's dining room, but as Doc implied, if you cannot do it safely, you maybe hadn't oughta be doin' it, at all.

So it was in our dining room there on an Air Force base that our father, a fighter pilot and an avid rifle hunter, shotgunner, and hand loader, taught us the basic formal shooting positions, which, as described in the article, included prone, kneeling, and standing.  There he taught, as the author suggests, the art of breathing, trigger squeeze, and concentration on the front sight, as well as the creation of stability "triangles" by the use of ones bones (as opposed to muscles) to create structural braces for each shooting position.

However, not described in the article is one of the most useful and stable of all positions, second only to prone, and that is sitting.  That position is begun from standing by plopping down on one's buttocks at an acute angle to the target, and then placing the elbows forward of the spread knees.  Incidentally, the "formal" sitting position such as we were taught in the USMC, that is, sitting with legs crossed and ankles tucked in under the thighs, is almost useless in a field situation, as it requires a nearly flat surface, a wonderfully lithe and agile body, and time to properly attain.  However, the sitting position as has been used routinely by soldiers and Marines in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam (my war), and by numerous hunters,  is one taken with legs spread and used to create the stability "triangles" mentioned above.  It is useful on flat ground as well as inclines, and can be obtained very quickly.  Of course in a tactical situation, its use could be limited by the necessity to be behind adequate cover, but that is true of all positions.  As the author states, a prone position is favored for its near rock-solid stability, and can usually be obtained behind low cover.  Nevertheless, the sitting position is inherently stable, and much more so by far than either kneeling or standing, and should be considered.  I feel sure that the author is writing in the context, perhaps, of a "running gun fight," in which plopping down on one's buttocks is likely too slow to allow subsequent rapid movement, which event favors the kneeling position. However, in that case the squatting, or "Rice Paddy Prone" position might also be used.  But for those times, particularly while hunting, where a relatively quick and very stable position is desired for a really precise shot, the sitting position is an alternative worthy of consideration.

Further, for the best discussion I have ever read or heard, including the excellent instruction that we received in the USMC, see Col. Jeff Cooper's book The Art Of The Rifle. It is arguably his finest work, this among his many fine writings.  It is not a book about equipment nor hardware. It is about how to use a rifle, and in this respect is much in line with Doc's article.  It is recommended for shooters of all ages and experience, for there is always  more to learn.  While it is not a substitute for formal "live" training, it is about the next best thing. - Two Dogs in West Virginia Lt.Col. USMCR (ret.)

F.G. sent a rousing tale of a Gurkha's daring chivalrous deeds: "A retired Indian Gorkha soldier recently revisited those glory days when he thwarted 40 robbers, killing three of them and injuring eight others, with his khukuri during a train journey. He is in line to receive three gallantry awards from the Indian government."

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The latest concern is sulfolane contamination of water wells: Tainted Wells in North Pole Spur Alaska Officials to Issue Garden Alert. Note that such contamination is suspected in other states.

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Cheryl N. spotted this: "Buy A Gun" Google Queries Hit All Time High, And Other Off-The-Grid Economic Indicators

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Also at the National Geographic web site: New Aurora Pictures: First Big Show of 2011.

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The folks at Ready Made Resources wrote to tell me that they've just received a special purchase of 10 Litton AN/PVS-14 night vision monocular/weapon sights. These are autogated, Gen 3+, and come complete with case and head mount. These have original factory data sheets. They are priced at just $2,895, while supplies last. We have one of those monoculars here at the ranch, and it is amazing.

"If you can get closer, get closer.  If you can get steadier, get steadier."- Marksmanship advice from Col. Jeff Cooper

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

So, you’ve decided to prepare for WTSHTF because you want you and/or your family to be safe. And to more adequately defend your safety, you’ve read every survival book and blog ever written. You’ve stockpiled non-hybrid seeds, bought a brand new shortwave radio (while still paying for your smart phone with some sort of “survival” app, no doubt), stacked fifty pound bags of whole grains about your bedroom as both emergency food and added fortification, and bought the most expensive and elaborate firearms recommended by whichever “Mall Ninja” managed to bombard the ill-informed public with the most convincing (albeit speculative) argument. I jest…(kind of). Stockpiling necessary supplies is an outstanding idea (I’m doing it). And SurvivalBlog.com is a reliable source of valuable information in a world where reliability and value of information is rare. However, what I’ve noticed about most “survival” sites, excluding SurvivalBlog, is that everyone out there seems to have the best idea for what weapon you should purchase to protect you and your family. If you want to trust the opinion of a stranger with little weapons training and even less knowledge of you and the situations you may potentially encounter, that’s your call. But I'm not going to do that. I can’t pretend to know what you may personally experience in the future. Some situations call for not only different weapons, but the employment of completely different tactics all together to address them. I can’t cover them all in 1,500 words. I won’t even try. What I can tell you is, as a former U.S. soldier, I know a lot about what it’s like to have to work with what you have (ever cleaned an M16 with a battle buddies tampons? I have…). Which is why in both my weapons collection and my preparedness I follow one simple philosophy, “Any weapon is better than no weapon.” Don’t misunderstand, weapon selection is very important. For example, I don’t recommend a .22 LR as an anti-personnel weapon. Great for small game, but grossly inadequate for self-defense. However, I’d gladly plink at an assailant with a “poodle-shooter” than throw rocks at them. My confidence (and lack of desire to scour the globe looking for the most over-priced H&K USP or Winchester Model 70 I can find) comes from one simple asset:

TRAINING! My point here is you aren’t going to die if you can’t afford a registered select-fire M16 with an ACOG and an assortment of accessories you aren’t trained to use and will most likely never be in a situation to need in the first place. And you don’t have to pay top dollar for a competition grade over-priced Model 1911, for crisis or grid-down defense, a less expensive G.I. style one will work, trust me. You also don’t need a venerable arsenal of weapons. Nothing wrong with having a large number of weapons (I do), but there is an old adage in the shooting community that says, “Beware the man with one gun, as he probably knows how to use it.” And that is why I’m writing this. Lots of people are more than happy to tell you what or how many guns you “need.” But you only need one person to tell you how to use the one you have. And that information is far more valuable than a shopping list written for you by someone else. A dozen people can tell you to go spend $1,500 on a Kimber Tactical Warrior Elite with Crimson Trace laser grips (or whatever). Unless someone teaches you to use it effectively, it’s just an expensive paperweight. And you end up just as dead.

Now, why am I qualified to talk about marksmanship? Well, I’ll expound on that a little bit. I am an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Army. I served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician. Like all soldiers, I am Infantry qualified. Rifle marksmanship is paramount. Also, as an EOD tech, I am trained in handgun employment and long-range, big-bore rifle shooting, as well. And my credentials as an “expert” hang proudly on the dress uniform that I used to wear. And I have trained over 200 hard-charging, fighting men and women who use the guidance I gave them to defend themselves, others, and (to some extent) American freedom in countries across the globe. If that doesn’t qualify me, I don’t know what does. So, (since you’re still reading), let’s get started. First, as I can not presume to know what kind of weapon you have. I’m going to discuss rifles. Because, rifles are the most versatile of the three primary options you will have. Also, this will be covering the basic use of a rifle with iron sights. The fundamentals are basically the same for use of a hunting weapon with an optic (scope), but scopes get dropped, bumped, and damaged with real world use. So, they may not always be your option, even if you have them. Also, as a side note, most popular hunting rifles aren’t equipped with factory iron sights, so if a hunting rifle is all you have, then protect that optic! For a diagram of parts for your rifle, see your owner’s manual. And remember, you will have to practice this before TEOTWAWKI.

Firing position - There are three major firing positions: standing (off-hand), knelling, and lying (prone). I recommend the prone position to start, as it is the most stable. However, it is not always an option in a real situation. Kneeling is a rapidly obtainable position if on the move, and more stable than off-hand (standing). But, we’re going to shoot prone for starters, until you get the hang of the basics. Stack two or three sandbags forward of your body, halfway between you and the muzzle of your weapon. These won’t be there WTSHTF, so don’t rest your weapon on them. Only your hand, if you must.

Now, you have your rifle, your sandbags, and a stable firing position.. There are a few more things. We call them “fundamentals.” They must be practiced religiously until they become muscle memory.

Sight picture - Proper sight picture is important. Whether it’s standard, notch-type sights, or a military-style “peep” sight. We’re talking fundamentals, though. So, whatever your sights look like, you must align the front and rear sights, first. Practice this anywhere (unload the weapon and keep your finger off the trigger. If I have to tell you to follow basic firearm safety, you probably aren’t smart enough to survive a socioeconomic collapse…). Focus on your front sight. That’s the key. Now, lets add the target. When you sight your rifle, your front and rear sight should be aligned, with the front sight covering your target. Your front sight should be clearly in focus, and your target should be a blurry silhouette. If your target is in focus and your front sight is blurry, you’re doing it wrong. But, don’t touch off that first round yet. There’s more.

Breathing - I know, you breath a million times a day without thinking about it, right? How ‘bout you chill out and maybe you’ll learn something today, “High-speed.” Notice that breathing while shouldering your rifle moves the sights? See, there’s a reason this is part of the fundamentals of marksmanship. You can’t stop your breathing. Breathing moves you off target, though. That’s okay. We can work with that. It’s simple, you have to fire when your sights are on target. That should be around the middle of your breathing cycle. Inhale deeply, let it out until you’re on target, hold it, fire, exhale, repeat. If you hold it too long, you’ll fatigue and begin to shake, so practice it. You’ll get the hang of it. One more fundamental.

Trigger squeeze - That’s right… “squeeze.” Yanking or jerking the trigger will pull your shot off target. Misses are a waste of ammo. It only takes three muscle to squeeze the trigger properly. Not your whole arm. You want to apply smooth, even pressure straight back on the trigger. Don’t worry about speed. It’ll come with practice. Remember, “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” Also, don’t wrap the trigger with your finger. Use the first pad of your finger only. And don’t anticipate the shot. It’ll be a more accurate shot if the discharge surprises you.

That’s about it, folks. It’s easy. And accurate rifle shots not only defend your home, but can put food on your table. Seek formal training if you have the option. Shooting is best learned with an instructor correcting your errors as you make them. Also, you cannot learn to fire a rifle accurately by reading. It takes practice. Lots of it! Shooting is also a perishable skill. If you shot at cans with your grandfather 20 years ago, and haven’t picked up a weapon since, you probably need to brush up. But don’t worry. If too much trigger-time could kill you, I’d be dead. Happy shooting. Once, you’re all stocked up as Mr. Rawles has instructed, and are proficient with your weapon, you can just sit back and enjoy TEOTWAWKI.

Virtually everything you use, have or need with the exception of the air you breath has at some point in its life been touched by a truck (aka Big Rig). Without the estimated 3.5 million truck drivers, America as we know it literally stops.          

In an emergency, whether it is natural or man made, preparedness for the truck driver is paramount. A Hurricane Katrina like situation or a economic crash as portrayed in JWR's novel "Patriots" allows the prepared truck driver to not only survive but possibly prosper and contribute to the revitalization of our homeland.          

Big Rig Survival can be broken down into three parts. 1) The Driver; 2) The Tractor and 3) The Trailer.          

Obviously, no matter what Big Rig combination we are talking about, without a functioning driver it is simply a free standing store open to anyone who has the determination to get in and take not only the cargo, but the cab contents as well.          

You need to take care of yourself. Physically, mentally and spiritually. If you vapor-lock because you are in poor shape, severely over weight, a heavy smoker or just plain lazy you are not going to get your cargo where it is sorely needed. You won’t get home to any loved ones you may have waiting for you and worst case, depending on what you are hauling you may hand over to an enemy not only items they sorely need, you give them at least a psychological victory if you are found by the side of the road incapacitated.          

There are many good books and sites that talk about getting into shape or staying in shape. I will only touch on some important, possibly neglected items that can easily affect a professional driver.          

The number one thing a big rig driver can do to help themselves get and stay in shape is to get off their fat butt and walk. (Preferably not in sweats and cowboy boots.) Walking is the best all around exercise one can do. Start with short distances and expand from there. Park your rig in the back of the truck stop and walk to the convenience store. Not only will it help your health, your rig is less likely to get damaged.          

If you are having trouble getting motivated, then get a dog. Not only do they need exercise they provide security for your tractor.          

Take care of your teeth. It may not occur to you but teeth care can save your life. An abscessed tooth, especially in the upper portion of your mouth puts infection millimeters from you brain. Ignoring it is not only painful, it has killed truck drivers in their bunks while they sleep. If you have all of your teeth, make sure you brush and floss. It is cheap insurance that pays tremendous dividends. If you have a cavity, get it taken care of. Yes it is cheaper with dental insurance but even if it has to come out of your pocket, what is cheaper in the long run. If you have problems with your teeth or what’s left of them look to the future and what enables you to survive. Get them pulled and depending on your pocket book and insurance replace with dentures or implants. Keep this in mind though, there are pros and cons for either prosthetics. Implants require additional surgery and chances for infection. Dentures act as a covering while healing but need adhesive to act totally like the teeth they are replacing. Either make it much easier to eat.          

For those drivers who are type II diabetics, take extra care to get it under control through diet and exercise. If you do then when the medicine is no longer available you can survive since you won’t need it anymore. If you don’t it can turn into type I and insulin not only can derail your career, it will kill you when insulin is not available.          

If you wear glasses or contacts, get or keep an old pair of glasses or two. If buying new, look to getting sports or the old “birth control” glasses the military issued or some of us wore in our youth. Looking good is not a survival prerequisite.          

If you have a hernia that you’ve had for years, get it taken care of now. If your knees are bad, look to getting replacements. The prosthetics have come a long way and last much longer. Make sure you request a “sports knee”. They are closer to what god gave us and allow more freedom of movement. It is a major investment in yourself but freedom from pain medication and the ability to move in a Schumeresque situation makes it worth it.          

Mental conditioning is valuable too. As a professional, you know how to keep looking around as you drive: forward, dash left mirror, forward, right mirror and so on. You know how to watch for four-wheelers who don’t care that you can’t stop as fast as they can or can’t stand being behind you. Now you need to start expanding your situational awareness. Depending on the nature of the future emergency you may find yourself driving in, hijacking is a very real possibility. Practice scenarios in your mind for evade and escape, defensive maneuvers and offensive tactics. Relive some of those experiences where you wish you had no money cares or concern for your commercial drivers license(CDL). You may have to actually do them in a time of lawlessness. Even though real world application may not be practical at this time, visualization is a tool widely used by both the military and civilian law enforcement. Athletes of all schools use it also. If you can see it and believe it you can realize it.          

Road rage and getting mad at everything and everybody only hurts you. We can only be responsible for ourselves. Letting others dictate our reactions to the world puts us in a poor survival mode.          

Prayer can be your most effective tool in getting on top of any situation. Whether you believe in Him or not, He believes in you and you can talk to him 24/7/365. Kneeling is not mandatory nor is closing your eyes (especially if you are driving). You can just talk. You can yell. You can say anything you want to him and he will listen. Oh, by the way. Take some time to listen. He does answer.          

Music can be a powerful tool in your physical, mental and spiritual health. Numerous studies and papers plus experience show that music affects your heartbeat, blood pressure, alpha, beta, delta and theta waves. Why do you think high school and college sports bands play while the athletes fight? The music inspires man to greater heights.          

Tractor Survival can take many forms. The number one rule in having a tractor survive in any future catastrophe is that as of 2011, have or buy a pre-EGR engine. Typically this means nothing newer than 2003. The reason being is that exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) technology is the number one cause of diesel engine problems. It is an attempt by the EPA to reduce pollution. 2004 was the first federally mandated year for EGR followed by 2007 and then [further changes in] 2010. Stricter levels of various gasses brought about selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology and today we have diesel particulate filters (DPFs) that requires diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) which means that if you don’t use the DEF your DPF will foul-up faster and your engine will de-rate. Fuel mileage has decreased since the mandate of EGR technology and overall it has hurt rather than help.          

Two ways to achieve this goal of having a truck that will have as few problems as possible: One is to buy a glider kit and put a pre-2004 engine in. It is cheaper than buying new but still around $100,000. (New will cost you $130,000-150,000.) The second is to buy a pre-2004 truck and have your engine rebuilt by a quality shop. For information on gliders and quality shops, become a “Friend of Kevin Rutherford“. His web site, LetsTruck.com has info, forums and links to products that can help your tractor last and make money while we can. Kevin Rutherford is also offering a class on big rig maintenance and repair scheduled for the spring of 2011. Being able to do your own minor repairs and preventative care is paramount to surviving where others will not.         

As far as security for yourself, your tractor/trailer and load, please listen carefully. As far as federal law goes there is no prohibition concerning carrying a firearm in your cab. Most, but not all states allow carrying of firearms in your cab also. 37 states have reciprocal agreements concerning concealed weapon permits (CWPs) with at least one other state and several honor all. Check Google for numerous information sources. Trucking companies may have prohibition on carrying firearms and there is no law saying they have to let you carry.          

As to what type of weapon, there are numerous experts that can help or advise far better than I. My simple rule is, find something comfortable and become expert in it.          

Non-firearm protection for a trucker can be a tire thumper, ball peen hammer, side handle baton (PR-24), straight baton or numerous incarnations thereof.          

Security for your tractor can be found in man’s best friend. Don’t think bigger is necessarily better. A Rottweiler can be a great deterrent but also due to it’s size be a detriment. There is only so much room in your sleeper. Plus they need a lot of food. What you are looking for is a warning system. There, a Jack Russell Terrier or miniature Dachshund are perfect. Maybe they can’t eat an assailant but that’s your job, not theirs. They will key off you and let you know if an undesirable has approached your home on wheels. One highly dismissed aspect of dogs is one your life could hinge on. Listen to them!!! You may be fooled by a person but they can’t be. Their overall senses dwarf ours and if they don’t like a person, it is 99% because that person has a hidden agenda, is plotting harm to you and yours or is just plain evil. Dogs do not lie.   Watch any post apocalyptic movie with or without zombies and you see numerous configurations of protection for a tractor/trailer. Most you cannot use on our highways at this time. Being able to work now and still be ready for what comes will take planning and providence. Remember, you will in all likelihood be on the road when TSHTF. Preparation is the watch word for survival.          

Most truckers with sleepers carry only a minimum of equipment, clothing and food. A G.O.O.D. bag you carry in a side box or under the bunk should be an absolute minimum. Being able to survive for extended lengths on the road is important to getting back home or getting to somewhere you can be safe. A little ingenuity can provide massive dividends. Setting up an inverter provides you with electrical power to use a refrigerator, microwave, crock pot and/or a electric skillet. The one drawback is you can run your batteries down overnight if you are not running the truck. One way to avoid that problem is to use a solar collector to trickle charge during the day. Small solar collectors can fit on your dash while larger ones can be mounted on top of your sleeper and provide more than a trickle.            

An APU (auxiliary power unit) can be invaluable to survival. Make sure you have one that has extra power outlets and can recharge your batteries. If $8,000-12,000 is a bit out of your reach at first, an inexpensive generator can also do most of the same things for just a few hundred dollars.          

MREs, self-heats and dehydrated foods allow you to survive but being able to eat something fresh or nicely cooked is possible with the above accouterments. Don’t forget you can cook on your diesel engine too.          

Of course tools to do repairs and other work are a must, Once you know the most common things that need doing on a big rig you can put together a tool kit or box. The main rule to follow is quality is worth the extra money. Buying "Made in China" is just asking for failure when you most need an item to work. Craftsman, Crescent, Husky and Kobalt are all top of the line tools. Snap-on, Mac and the like are up there, too.          

A little known fact is you can run almost any air tool off your big rig's air tank. Plumbing a fitting off your air tanks is not difficult. You can even run right off your glad hands if need be. You may have to up the cutoff level on your compressor but 125 psi will not be hard to do.          

Setting up you tractor/trailer with all these additional items will cost you in weight which could affect how much you can haul which in turn could affect your pocket book. You have to decide for yourself whether the time has come for a change in priorities.          

Depending on the nature of the catastrophe, these are indispensable items:

CB Radio - preferably with Single Side Band (SSB). A multi-channel scanner; a GPS unit either hand held or dash mounted; a mobile ham radio. These and other items can be helpful and allow you to find others who might be in a similar situation.          

Your trailer and load security depends on the type of trailer you haul. Dry van, flat bed or reefer all do different things. Reefers can haul what a dry van can but also can haul produce or frozen food. You can also reverse the normal cooling and turn it into a 48 or 53 foot low heat oven. The down side is it takes diesel to run it. Depending on availability, the fuel needed to run the reefer could get you just that much further.          

A flat bed can haul irregular shaped items or oversize things like poly tanks and multiple Hummers. All trailers have their good and bad points. Securing a load on a flat bed is different than in a dry van or reefer. You can lock the doors on van trailers while flatbeds, even when tarped leave the load exposed to theft or damage. With a van trailer you can fortify the walls and rear doors for added security.          

One absolute rule you should always follow to give yourself the best chance at surviving both now and in the coming catastrophes. When it comes to tires for both tractor and trailer, virgin rubber will always beat re-caps, period. Do not run re-capped tires anywhere on your rig. Legally you can’t on the front wheels ("steers") but anywhere can lead to failure at the most inopportune time. Virgin rubber, unless made wrong in the factory will always outlast re-caps. Get the highest number ply tires you can get. The greater the number of plies the better, since a high-ply tire will be less likely to succumb to piercing and road damage.          

Have a plan for what and where you can go when things go bad. If you are an [unscheduled] over-the-road (OTR) driver, you might think about have multiple caches across this nation. Develop relationships with like minded individuals or trusted friends and leave pre-thought out items with them.          

There is so much more detail that could be gone into but if you have learned anything in this short dissertation, then the intent has been accomplished.          

If you are on the road when things go wrong you must decide if you are going to hunker down or head for a relative safe place. If you are prepared, physically, mentally and spiritually you can survive. Remember to always look up, so you won’t fall down.

About the Author: R.E.V. is a retired police officer/firefighter/paramedic who currently drives a big rig around our nation.

I've had another busy week of homeschooling, re-organizing the house, and several days of fun outdoors in the snow, so I haven't done as much reading as usual.

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

  • Today, I finished watching Volume 3 of the Homesteading for Beginners DVD series. This particular DVD covers cooking with long term storage foods, home canned meats, vegetables, and self-raised dairy products, in great detail. Erin Harrison is very down to earth, warm and friendly as she demonstrates, with easy-to-follow steps, how to cook her all-natural recipes. As you watch the video you feel as though your right in the kitchen with Erin and her five children. The only sad part is that we can't partake in the tasting of all of those wonderful foods they are making. Erin's videos make me want to get outside and get my gardens in and get myself into the kitchen to do more cooking and canning. I highly recommend these videos! They are wonderful to watch with your children. You and your children will learn so much from Erin and her family. You'll want to watch these videos over and over.

  • I'm more than halfway through reading The Rancher Takes a Wife. It is a sequel to the book Grass Beyond the Mountains, by Richard Hobson. (Which I reviewed in a previous column.) Rich is an excellent writer. He has given me many chuckles in his accounts with working with his cattle, horses as well as his relationships with his bride Gloria and his fellow ranchers. One lesson that women can learn from this book: when participating and helping your husband in his line of work, obey his directions! It may save your life and keep you from too many heart-pounding incidents. (Rich's wife Gloria almost got herself killed on at least three occasions by angry cow moose protecting their calves, because she didn't obey Rich's command to get down and be still and quiet. Instead she used her own judgment, leapt up, screaming and began running away. A mad mother moose always charges creatures in motion when protecting her young. Luckily, their dog Bear came to the rescue each time and warded the moose away from his people.) These books are a bit survival-related because it carefully illustrates how, in order to operate a cattle ranch 200 miles from the nearest town, one has to plan very carefully for food, tools, clothing and cattle needs for four to five month stretches of time between provisioning trips to town. Rich had some very good descriptions of their shopping trips from which preppers could glean. Some of the conversations between Rich and his fellow ranchers remind me of the relationship that James Herriot had with his boss Siegfried Farnon, in the All Creatures Great and Small book series. I am enjoying Hobson's books. If you're interested in cattle, horses, dogs, wildlife, ranch life interactions and stories of people testing their stamina then you'll enjoy them, too.

  • The next item on my reading agenda will likely be Joel Rosenberg's nonfiction book Epicenter 2.0: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future.

James Wesley:
I've got a question for your readership, the answer to which may save a great number of lives.

The metropolitan Phoenix area is one of the half-dozen most populous in the United States. Between 3 and 4 million people live there. The river which Phoenix was built on (the site of a previous civilization whose population vanished around 500-600 years ago) is now dammed upstream, and usually bone dry. The population is mostly dependent on grid-up well-pumped or canal/dam-diverted water for its entire supply.

Some 3.5 million people are going to be in a world of hurt if the grid goes down.

One bright spot: given the high temperatures, swimming pools are very common, even in working-class neighborhoods. A hike to the top of any of the several urban park mountains in the city reveals dozens or hundreds of backyard swimming pools scattered everywhere. These manmade cisterns will presumably hold several thousand gallons of water even after a SHTF event.

If the grid goes down, these are going to be the best available source of water for millions of people.

What is the best low-tech, grid-down way of de-chlorinating, or otherwise rendering drinkable, swimming-pool water?

Thanks! - K.F. in Phoenix

While you and other readers have touched on some of the safety and legal concerns regarding the use of railroad tracks as G.O.O.D. routes, I'd like to add a couple of points.  

My wife and I live in a city surrounded by major rivers, so my plan assumes that in an emergency situation it will be difficult - if not impossible - to get a vehicle across any of the bridges out of town.  Thus, we have to be prepared to travel roughly 100 miles on foot. A couple of years ago, as I was planning the route my family would take to our retreat area, I realized that old, mostly inactive railroad lines offered a far more direct route than the country roads that we would otherwise utilize.  I tentatively included travel along these tracks as an option.  Last year, I committed myself to a practice evacuation to assess firsthand the strengths and weaknesses of the route I'd selected and to make any necessary adjustments.  Sure enough, what looked easy enough on a map proved to be far more challenging on foot - especially the railroad tracks.

As you might imagine, given the proximity of the rivers, much of the terrain we'd have to cross is frequently muddy and difficult to negotiate.  From that perspective, the railroad tracks would seem to be a God-send because they are built to remain high and dry above even flood-stage waters.  But as I considered more carefully I decided that while the tracks might offer some conveniences, their potential dangers made them unacceptable as part of our bug-out route.  First, being elevated above most of the surrounding terrain makes you an easy target.  Second, the elevated sections of track are sometimes eight to ten feet above the normal ground level, and the embankments beside the tracks are exceptionally steep and covered with gravel; it would be very dangerous to jump off the tracks in these places if some threat required taking cover.  Third, even with a map of out-of-service rail lines it may be impossible to predict what has become of the tracks since they were abandoned.  At one point the map indicated that the tracks would provide bridges to cross over some wetlands, but when we arrived there the bridges had long since disappeared and we had to go nearly a mile out of our way to get around a lake.

So the lesson I hope my fellow readers will take away is that you should at the very least put eyes on any railroad track you're considering as part of an evacuation plan and carefully consider whether that specific track is really suitable for they way you might use it. - Rollie D.

Reader J.B.G. sent this great video clip about silver market: Off-the-Grid Economic Indicators

Speaking of silver, I noticed that spot silver dipped below $27.40 per ounce on Monday. Buy on these dip days!

G.G. flagged this: An Ugly Side Effect of New 1099 Law: More Tax Evasion.

The latest from The Daily Bell: 'Super Stagflation' End Game?

To stop "Global Warming", they say: Brits Ponder Fuel Rationing. (Thanks to Chris T. for the link.)

Lisa L. sent a lesson in how not to do offshore banking in Panama: American Arrested in Mexico for Carrying 150 Gold Coins; Coins Seized. (And he still must answer to U.S. authorities about exceeding the $10,000 cash or equivalents reporting limit.) So much for "financial privacy."

Items from The Economatrix:

Silver Investors: Pick Your Poison  

The Next Great Bull Market Of The Decade  

Debt Bondage From The Economic Treason Of Banks

UK:  Soaring Petrol Prices Will Damage Economy

Kathy N. sent this: Postal Service Eyes Closing Thousands of Post Offices. (This could have an impact on our readers with small town retreats who run mail order businesses--or those who plan to.)

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Reader Jack C. sent this: Police suspended for failing to show up during storm. Jack asks: "If public safety employees won’t come to work during inclement weather, then how will they react during a TSHTF scenario?   I think we already know the answer to that question but this is interesting nonetheless."

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K. L. wrote to note: "Ron Hood of Hood Woods and The Woodmaster fame has been diagnosed  with a very aggressive form of prostate cancer. I read about this in his latest issue of Survival Quarterly magazine. According to the message, the Hood family will be in hiatus with publishing  their magazine and maybe other projects as Ron battles this illness. I have no doubts that Ron will pull through with his usual style and grace. However, all of the readers of SurvivalBlog may want to include Ron, his lovely wife Karen and their son Jesse in their prayers."

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Montana Lawmaker Proposes Bill Where Feds Need Permission from Local Sheriff to Arrest Citizens or Seize Property

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F.G. and Ben L. were the first of a dozen readers to mention this: Government ponders the need for 140 million MREs for New Madrid earthquake zone. The RFI's synopsis: "The purpose of this Request for Information is to identify sources of supply for meals in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7 M[illion] to be utilized for the sustainment of life during a 10-day period of operations.   FEMA is considering the following specifications (14 M[illion] meals per day)..."

"We are soldiers who devote ourselves to arms not for the invasion of other countries, but for the defense of our own, not for the gratification of our private interests but for public security." - General Nathaniel Greene

Monday, January 24, 2011

The queue for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is now full. There will be two entries posted each evening between now and January 31st. Any entries received this week will be posted and judged in Round 33, which begins on February 1st.


Today we present another two entries for Round 32 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round 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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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 foray into prepping began over a decade ago after I became hopelessly lost in the Adirondack Mountains.  My birthday falls on October 24th and on this particular year, the day was uncharacteristically warm.  I felt the urge to take advantage of my good fortune by scouting out some new area for the upcoming deer season.  Telling no one of my intentions that day, I jumped into my four-door beater sedan that I fondly called “The Kevorkian” and resolved to boldly go where no man had gone before.  I went off the beaten path and drove the Kevorkian down some back roads that snaked their way through the Adirondack’s 6.1 million acres of woods.  I parked along the side of the road, locked the door, and walked into the woods wearing a T-shirt and jeans. I did not have a map, a GPS, or even a compass. I had no food, water, or anything remotely resembling survival gear.  I made up for this by carrying mass quantities of hubris and I would almost pay for my youthful indiscretion with my life. I wandered the rugged terrain for a few hours when I came to the base of what could be interchangeably termed a large hill or small mountain. After reaching the top I stopped to look around and catch my breath. The trees at the top were so crowded that there was no view to speak of.  Having walked for several hours now, I decided I had gone far enough and it was time to go home. I tried to find the side of the mountain that I came up to retrace my steps and panic suddenly welled up in me as I realized that I couldn’t.  In case you have never experienced the initial feeling of fear that comes with realizing you are lost in a 6 million acre forest then it is worth a superficial description. There is a characteristic lump in the throat that makes swallowing as difficult as getting conjoined twins into a kayak. Then there is the very fascinating sensation of your sphincter muscle loosening without your express or implied permission. This gives way to sweating like your diffusing a grenade and a heart rate that is higher than…. Well.. Something that is really high. The initial shock and fear passed after several minutes and gave way to a moment of clarity. I sat down and developed a plan. I oriented myself using the sun and walked in as straight of a line as I could until I found a river. I followed this river until I saw some posted signs and then, after about 15 miles and several hours of walking, I came upon a house just before dark. I knocked on the door and was almost in tears when a man opened it.  I explained that I was lost and had been walking all day. After conferring with the man as to my location, I determined that I had been walking parallel to the road I parked on for the last 12 miles.  I walked back to my car and returned home that night more exhausted than I’d ever been but with a tremendous sense of relief. The seeds of a prepper lifestyle were sown that day and I’ve thought long and hard about how different the outcome of day’s events could have gone had I chosen a different azimuth.

Over the years I have researched survivalism in great depth.  The bug began with wilderness survival but has since branched out to disaster preparedness. I have made numerous bug out bags and mini carry kits in altoid tins and small cigar tins. The issue is that every time I wake up and get dressed I must make a conscious decision to place that item in my pocket and inevitably, it would be forgotten and left at home. My philosophies have since changed to try and incorporate survival and preparedness items into my every day carry items. Lets discuss everyday wear or carry items common to most people and what can be incorporated into them:

: Merrill hiking sneakers are my everyday shoe. I removed the laces and measured out an identical length of seven-strand 550 [nylon parachute] cord and melted the ends with a lighter so that they don’t fray. These laces have held up extremely well and they represent almost 50 feet of usable cordage with the strands removed. 550 cord comes in numerous colors to match your shoes or boots and is an indispensable asset to have in many survival situations. Next, I purchased several ferrocerium rods of varying lengths and diameters through an Internet wholesaler. These rods are also called “Swedish steel” or “metal matches” by some and they are able to create sparks when scraped with a sharp edge. I removed the inserts from my Merrill hiking shoes and cut out the outline of a small rod roughly 1/8 inch in diameter and 2.5 inches in length into the bottom of the sole. The rod fits perfectly in place and after the sole was reinserted, I couldn’t feel it at all. I duct taped a small two inch piece of jig saw blade to the bottom of the other shoe underneath the sole in the heel area. I made sure the duct tape fully covered the blade and that the blade lay perfectly flat on the heel portion so that when the arch flexed the blade did not try to dig into my foot. The square edge of this small jigsaw blade is what will be used to scrape the metal match to create a spark. Both additions add virtually no noticeable weight and did not change the feel at all. This will enable me to start a fire almost anywhere and they work even after being submerged in water.

: My wallet contains a Victorinox Swiss Army Card. These are the same dimensions as standard credit card but a little thicker. These great little gadgets give you scissors, tweezers, a knife, pen, light, toothpick, and magnifying glass. In addition to this I carry some individually wrapped water purification tablets and an unlubricated condom. In a crunch, you can place the condom inside a sock to hold a quart of water and then add the iodine tablet to it.  A few Band-Aids and packet of triple-antibiotic ointment finish off the wallet. If you happen to be a woman and you carry a purse on a daily basis then you are not nearly as limited as the average guy. Man bags and fanny packs seem to be an assault to the masculinity of most of us men but if you are willing to sacrifice your dignity for the sake of preparedness, then God bless you. Purses or Maxpedition bags can carry a huge amount of survival gear to include some food and water. These can be set up more like a small bug out bag. Comprehensive lists for bug out bags can be found all over the Internet and as such it is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that a purse gives a woman a huge opportunity to prepare for almost any need i.e. First aid, self defense, food, water, shelter, communications, etc.

KEYCHAIN: Key chains may not be the most discreet way to carry survival gear but they are one of those ubiquitous items that we always seem to have on our person regardless of where we go. This makes them an ideal candidate for our discussion. I recommend using a carabiner to hold your keys since they hold more gear and are a valuable survival item. Make sure they are rated to handle a load. The spine will typically say “not load bearing” or “not for climbing” on the spine if it is not. Let’s discuss the gadgets you can have on your keychain         

FLASHLIGHTS: There are numerous flashlights to be found that are designed to be small and fit on a keychain. With the advent of the LED and their improvements in technology, there is no reason not to carry a small LED flashlight on your key chain. It is an inexpensive and inconspicuous way to ensure that you have enough light at night to cope with a survival situation. A caveat is to ensure you only purchase a light that be locked or switched into the on position. I made the mistake of purchasing a small light that would only illuminate if I held the button down. This meant that I would only have one free hand to start a fire or engage in other life saving tasks. Having a light that can be switched on ensures you can free up both hands.  Some of these lights even have little clips that can mount to your hat so you don’t have to hold the light with your teeth.

MEDICINE: Waterproof pill bottles designed for your keychain can found all over the internet and in most drug stores. These can house critical medication like nitroglycerin tablets if you have a heart condition. I have water purification tablets in one, aspirin and anti-diarrheal in another and a small fishing kit in a third. Of course waterproof matches can be fit in these containers as well.  I warn you not to place so much gear on your keychain that it creates the temptation to remove things. The entire idea behind this is to seamlessly integrate survival gear into your everyday lifestyle so that it is there when you need it and it does not involve consciously deciding to carry it. You may have to create a cover story for your friends when they ask why you carry so much “junk” on your keychain but remember that it is only “junk” to the uninitiated we call “sheeple”.          

MISCELLANY: You can also carry a small compass, multi-tool, whistle, pepper-spray (where legal), pocket knife, or Swedish steel (redundant to what's in your shoe) if you so desire. My advice is to conduct a web search on the phrase “Keychain survival kit” and see what is out there. You will be amazed by what your find.

There are numerous plans on the Internet for making your own belt out of 550 cord. They look great and involve using a “double cobra stitch”. It took me about 15 minutes to learn the technique from the Internet and then about five hours one evening to make my first belt. I have since made three and they are an awesome piece of gear. The belt will give you about 75 feet of 550 cord depending on your waist size. There are two other belts that have survival value. The first is the rigger's belt. These can be found at most Army/Navy stores or easily on the Internet. They can be used with your carabiner keychain (if rated for load) and some cordage to belay you if necessary. The second is the money belt. These belts have hidden pockets inconspicuously sewn in and you can hold emergency money or small items of survival gear.

I have a Timex compass watch, which as the name implies, has a built in compass. The triple sensor watches like the Casio Pathfinder give you a compass, barometer, and altimeter in addition to the other functions. If you don’t own a compass watch then consider adding a compass to the band as an afterthought. [JWR Adds: If your watch has a steel case, you will of course need to remove the compass from the watchband before using it, to avoid a directional error.] My favorite watch is my Polimaster PM1208. It serves as a radiation detector and dosimeter in addition to telling time and looks just like any other watch. I am an active duty Marine and it is comforting to know that I have the ability to tell if I am being exposed to radiation and how much. This watch is very sensitive and actually detects the increase in background radiation I experience every time I fly.  There is a newer version out currently called the PM1208M. These watches are pricey but I have been thoroughly impressed with all my dealings with Polimaster and I believe they are worth the cost.

My wife would occasionally ask me why I needed something that I was carrying. My response was always the same “You don’t need something until you need something”.  My mind inevitably wanders back to the day I was lost in the woods and I think of how different things would be today. Set up your gear so that you will have it with you by default and you will never find yourself in a situation where you are kicking yourself for leaving it at home when your need it.

There’s plenty of talk on this and other internet sites and blogs about get-home-bags.  What’s in yours? What’s in mine?  What should be in there, what should not.    All of it good information and some quite thought provoking.   I really don’t understand the folks that need fishing hooks and line in their get home bag (GHB), but then again everyone's circumstances are different.   Just like "bugging out" implies a sense of urgency, to me getting home is just as urgent and I'm probably not going to stop and do any fishing.  I have no plans to “bug out” without a place to go.  But wherever I am, I will need to get home.  In addition to my get-home-bag, I need a plan.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers.  What I have are a lot of questions I hope will encourage you to formulate your get-home-plan.  I hope my hypothetical situation and queries will cause you to think of things and begin formulating decision points now, before you have to decide.

Consider that things are mostly normal.  Your two parent two children, 1 dog family is as typical as can be.  Both parents work and both children are in school.  You’re both preppers and you’ve got your bug-out-bag and your get-home-bag.  You’ve got food, water, fuel and the means to defend it.  Then on a random and typical Tuesday at 2:00 pm the world changes when a series of high altitude EMP detonations occur.    Now, I’m not expert in EMPs, and I can’t seem to find a definitive answer either.  Some say that an EMP will “fry” all electronics.  Some say cars and trucks will with electronic ignition and computers will be dead.  Others contradict this.  Others will add that the cars and trucks will be immune from the EMP if they weren’t running.  Some say airplanes will fall from the sky.  Others disagree, and say the planes will be fine but air traffic control, radio, and radar failures will be the cause of air disasters.  I don’t think we really know, and I don’t think we’ll find out till it happens.  Let’s assume the worst.  Let’s consider for now that after the EMP, everything electronic is dead.   The lights go out, the computers all crash at work, the heat or air conditioning is down.  While everyone wonders what happened you look at your cell phone and it’s blank also.  You pickup the phone in your office and there is no dial tone.  Someone in the workplace turns on a battery powered radio and if it works at all, it only picks up static.  You look out the window and cars are stopped and the traffic lights not working.   As co-workers are asking “what happened” you know that we’ve suddenly been plunged into the 1860s.  

Now what?   Here you are at work.  Your spouse is at work.  The children are in school.  How do you get home?  How do you get in touch with your spouse?  Who goes to get the children?  Will the school hold the children till someone comes for them?  Are the children in the same school or different schools?  Do you go for one child and your spouse the other?  Did you pre-arrange this?  What about the teachers at school.  They want to go to their home and family.  They’re as confused as everyone else and want to just get home.  Do you expect them to stay at school and maintain custody of your children?  Will the teachers divide them into groups and take them home?  How would you know?  How would you know where your child went?   Would the school turn the children out and hope the big kids will take the little kids home?   Can you imagine the panic?

Before we go on, let’s reacquaint ourselves with the 10-80-10 statistic.  This statistic asserts that in any given disaster or crisis, 10% of the people will perish because at a critical moment they either made the wrong choice, or were so gripped by panic and indecision, as to hasten their demise.  Eighty percent of the people are looking for direction.  They know things aren’t right, but because they’ve never been in this situation before, they don’t know what to do.  These folks are looking for leadership.  The final 10% assess the situation, pull themselves together and implement a plan, direct others, and survive.

Let’s continue.  Are you going to walk home?  By yourself?  Or are you going to posse up with others at work that live in your direction?  Will you leave now, or wait awhile to see what happens? Will you wait for the weather to improve?  How far home is it? How long does that take in ideal conditions?  How long will that take under these circumstances?  How does the time it takes to get home, impact your thoughts on the children and the school?   Will you walk part way and stay at a co-workers house overnight?  Can you do that with the unanswered questions about the children and your spouse?  What about the weather and time of year.  If it’s in the winter, darkness comes early and you’ll be walking in the cold and dark.  In the summer it may be a long hot walk.  Do you leave or wait?   Will it be safe for you to leave now, or wait until dark? Until 2 a.m.?  

Do you shelter in place at work?  Could you stay there not knowing what the status of your spouse and children is?  Do you have any provisions in your desk or locker at work to eat or drink?   What if an “authority person” (a manager, principal, security guard, etc) told you to stay in the building.  What if they said something to the effect: “You’re safer here than outside.  We should shelter in place until we have more information.  We’re waiting on instructions from the authorities.”  Would you defy this advice?  It might be advice given in such a manner as to intimidate you into compliance.   Is this the leadership and advice that 80% of your coworkers were waiting for? 

What about your car?  Are there things in your car you may need going home?  Extra sunglasses, a hat, a flashlight, sneakers from your gym bag, etc.  Your canvas grocery bags would make extra totes for the walk home.  Will you need them?   Are there things in your car that you should remove?  Things that have your name, and address on them.  Do you need to “sanitize” your car before you abandon it?.  Do you leave a note in the window that you left on this date and started walking home?   Are there things in your workplace you can borrow to make the trip home easier?  Fill your water bottles, grab some toilet paper, grab the coat out of so-and-so’s office.  Some trash bags from the office  will make an emergency poncho.  Do you need one?  Will you need one on the walk home?    What about that posse you formed to walk home?  Who’s in the group?  You know that the pregnant young woman is going to slow you down.  Can you turn your back on the pregnant 28 year old and head for home?  Her husband left last month on his second deployment to Afghanistan.  Is she still on her own?  The man weeks from retirement that works with you and lives a few miles away is also going to slow you down.  Are they on their own?   If some of the lesser-prepared members of your posse want to loot a more comfortable pair of shoes for the walk then would you agree with that behavior?  Do you wait for them or keep moving?   

What will you encounter on your walk home?   Some cars will be stopped in travel lanes.  Others will have drifted to the shoulder.  Others will have crashed.  Will people be hurt?  Will you stop and help?  Are they legitimately hurt or is it a trap?  People may be stranded along the road confused wondering what happened to everything.  Will you walk on by or have them join your group?  Will you walk the same route you drive or take short cuts through parks, power line right of ways, railroads, and neighborhoods breaking away from your group?   What is your walk-home from work route?   Can you walk it in the dark?   

What do you do when you arrive home and although 20 hours after the event, and you are the first one from your family there?  

Now, replay my series of questions with this assumption:  My car is fine and it will take me home, however, all power and communications are dead.  Stores are dark and without power.  Gas stations closed and without power.  Cell phones and land-lines are dead.   Do you keep enough fuel in the car to get home?  What about the lack of traffic signals, will there be crashes and massive congestion?  Do you have a different, perhaps longer or slower (but less likely to be congested), route home?  

Replay the scenario again, but this time you're on vacation with your family, starting about 500 miles from home.  

I have lots of questions and no answers for you.  Your answers are different than mine.  Your situation is different from mine.  I'm working on finding my answers to my own questions, hoping it's all a mental exercise, fearful that it isn't. 

I hope you’ll reflect on the circumstances I described and begin developing your plan.   In closing, I’d like to add that getting home might be a secondary objective.  It could be that it makes more sense for everyone in your family to get someplace else first, a rally point, and as a group head home from there.  Explore your situation.  Look for solutions.  Talk it out. Formulate a plan.

While working on my preps I found electrical specifications in the data sheet for the mylar-foil bags I was investigating for my food storage.  This reminded me that many computer components (e.g., motherboards, hard disk drives, and expansion cards) are packaged in mylar-foil bags for ESD protection.  I reasoned that since the ESD protection is provided by the conductive foil layer in the bag one should be able to use the same mylar-foil bags as Faraday cages to protect electronic devices and components from EMP.

One of the perks of my engineering career at defense contractor is that I work with genuine experts who deal with EMI and EMP issues on a regular basis.  I ran my mylar-foil Faraday cage idea past a co-worker to make sure I wasn't missing something.  In addition to designing EMP hardened equipment this individual is very like-minded with respect to survival and TEOTWAWKI topics.  His response was that the mylar-foil bags offer good protection against EMP events due to their continuous and highly-conductive foil layer.

I think that mylar-foil bags offer several advantages when compared to the commonly recommended popcorn tins and ammo cans.  First and foremost, sealed mylar-foil bags provide the water resistance near that of an ammo can without the bulk and weight.  With one bag you can protect the gear in your BOB from both moisture and EMP!  Also, the mylar-foil bags can be much more space efficient, especially for irregular shaped devices.  Finally, these bags are inexpensive.  Even if you don't have extras left over from your food preps you can visit your local computer store and usually find an assortment of them for the cost of your time.  

If you choose to use salvaged bags make sure to stick with the mylar-foil style ESD bags.  Avoid the bags that are clear, pink, or blue and those with printed patterns of conductive ink.  If you can find them, I would recommend the mylar-foil bags with “zip-lock” style seals.  These will allow one to periodically rotate the rechargeable batteries in their emergency gear without consuming material in the resealing process.  

A word of warning: DO NOT use electronics grade mylar-foil bags for food storage!  Bags that are not made specifically "food grade" for food storage may contain harmful chemicals and compounds that could leech into your food.

Many thanks for the great blog! Sincerely, - Kron

Hi Jim and readers,
After reading C.J.'s piece mentioning the negative attention he got from generator noise. I recalled how we reduced that awful noise in Viet Nam. We built a sand bag wall up about four feet high making an enclosure large enough to work around the generator comfortably for servicing and over lapped the door with a sand bag return wall, This insured good noise discipline, and a better work environment. The enclosure also makes an good firing position. Modern generators are nowhere near as noisy as the old Army 1.5, 5, or 10 KW generators, but the noise was reduced enough for us to be fairly confident it would not attract negative attention. With modern generator sets, the noise is way less than what we dealt with in the Army. Now, our military uses extremely quiet diesel generator sets.  But if you have an issue with noise, which would be a negative thing in a retreat environment. Thy the above trick and it will give you more confidence in your retreat environment. Also being able to hear other sounds besides the steady whine of an engine is very important when you life depends on it. Blessings, - Dave of Oregon


Thanks for your help and support for all of us that are closet preppers working our daily grind but having this subject always in the back of our mind.  My job takes me to the west side of Washington state weekly and I live on the east side in a rural setting.  I know I am not alone with the thought of “how am I going to get home” if a sudden event happens.  

As you have talked about, railroad lines are an option.  One can purchase a railroad atlas online that is helpful in thinking through this process. - Randy O.

JWR Replies: I consider railroad right-of-ways a G.O.O.D. option only for dire emergencies. As previously discussed in SurvivalBlog, there are both legal and safety issues, since nearly all active railroad right-of-ways are considered private property. Use the blog's Search box to scan the blog archives for articles that address these issues, as well as some fascinating pieces on adapting bicycles to run on rails, high-rail trucks, and speeder track vehicles.

News from Nanny State Canada: Man faces jail after protecting home from masked firebomb attackers

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Ian R. sent this: Kroger storm watchers prepare 24/7. (Once again, private enterprise is often more effectively proactive than government agencies.)

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Jason M. suggested this network news clip from last year: Obituary for Col. Robert L. Howard, U.S. Army Special Forces.

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Eleventh Hour Supplies (one of our newest advertisers) is offering SurvivalBlog readers a 5% discount for their entire order on anything in their store. They provide free shipping to the continental U.S. on all orders over $100. Just use coupon code 5%SB.

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OSOM painted us to Pure-Gas.org a web site with "the definitive list of stations that sell ethanol-free gasoline in the U.S. and Canada."

"The timid and fearful cannot defend liberty -- or anything else." - G. Edward Griffin

Sunday, January 23, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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 family has harvested food from our farmland for generations. I would love to say that since I was a child, I had gone into the fields with my father and grandfather and learned the ways of hunting and ethical harvesting of animals for food and resources, but unfortunately, I made very few decisions which I consider to be wise until I lived to be around 26 years of age. It was around that time that I formally accepted Christ in my heart, and around that time the seeds of becoming a true skeptic were planted. As a young man I spent most of my time outside, in the forest and fields, and I’ve always loved animals. I had never understood why anyone would want to kill one. So, it wasn’t until the last few years, nearing my third decade of life, that I became interested in hunting, or appreciated God’s works enough to understand why such activities are part of God’s plan.

However, while I was then emotionally ready to participate in harvesting game, I had not anticipated one key aspect of hunting – it was difficult, I was terrible at it! In addition to adding several long bouts of sitting in cold weather and not seeing any viable game, I spent large amounts of money on out-of-state hunting permits and gear. My attention turned to the patriarchs of my family with new respect – to this day, my 85-year-old grandfather can take rabbits with his .22 LR with incredible efficiency. The amount of knowledge that sits dormant in these men is simply staggering.

I was thoroughly humbled, and the resulting quest for knowledge has left me hopelessly addicted to not  just hunting, but all woods lore, survival, and outdoorsmanship – and furthermore, an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge.
Being a beginner at harvesting your own food can be daunting – and so I’ve decided to put together a short primer on several topics which would have been helpful to my preparations when I started. It is my hope that you find this helpful when making your own plan and starting your own journey.


Know Your Objective
The first thing that I must stress before preparing to harvest game is to know what it is your objective is. Many of my good friends stock up on hunting rifles and ammunition with the mindset that in a crisis situation, they will be able to go out and shoot deer to feed their families. Others keep loaded handguns in their vehicles or on their person with the reasoning that if they are caught in the woods unexpectedly they will have a food source. I have actually done just that – kept a .45 caliber handgun in my Tier 1 gear just in case. It is now apparent to me that while using this gear is feasible, it is by no means optimal, and this error is mostly because I was not correctly identifying my objective.

Note: Tier 1 gear is gear that I always have on my person. Tier 2 gear is that which I always keep available in my car, and lower Tiers refer to gear that I may have handy in my house or elsewhere. Different people have different systems for tracking their gear; but I find that in general thinking of your gear in this fashion makes it easier to not only locate gear when it is needed, but decide where and how to store gear during preparation.

Consider this – hunting deer with a rifle, when successful, does provide large amounts of nourishing food to you and your family – but only when you find deer that you can shoot. Do you see deer every day? If you do, do you have an opportunity to shoot one every day? How good of a shot are you? The risk associated with relying on hunting deer with a rifle for food is that hunting deer can be difficult. Not only are deer very crafty, being prey by nature, but you may also have to spend large amounts of your own time hunting them. You may also put yourself in a disadvantaged position by doing so, especially if your need for food is great and the conditions under which you must do so are dangerous. So, if your objective is survival or reliable food source, first consider learning and preparing for harvesting techniques that are much more effective and much less time consuming – for example, learning to snare animals will provide a much more efficient food source. Further, not having to spend lots of time hunting will provide a higher return on your investment, not to mention that keeping a few snares in your “go bag” takes up very little space and almost ensures that you can find food in a pinch. In a survival situation, trapping will also not instantly give away your position to anyone within a few mile radius, as using a firearm most certainly will.
This is certainly not to say that rifles are not useful for harvesting food; but if you know your objective, it may not be the most effective method of meeting it. If you live in an area where game is incredibly plentiful (or incredibly easy to harvest) then large caliber rifles may be the most efficient. Consider your objectives very carefully before beginning your preparations.

Know Your Target
Once you know your objective, you likely have an idea of what your target will be. When making preparations and before you begin harvesting, take the time to learn about your intended prey. In general, there are a few things you should definitely make yourself aware of before attempting to harvest an animal.

  • Where is such an animal most likely to be found at the time you are out, if you are hunting?
  • More importantly, why are they there?
  • If an animal is moving, what is the purpose of the movement?
  • What parts of the day, month, or year are the animal most active?
  • What kinds of tracks or signs will the animal leave?
  • How will all of this change during the year? For example, anyone who has seen the habits of deer during the “rut”, or mating season, knows that during this time period, all bets are off as to what behavior male deer exhibits – they only have one thing in mind, and it isn’t food.

These questions may seem simple, but if you don’t at least have an idea of why an animal “does what it does”, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage when it becomes time to intercept them. Additionally, having an understanding of the basics of an animal’s routine will lead you to discover many more things about them. More complex things to consider:

  • What levels of awareness does the animal have? What actions or signs will it pick up on fastest?
  • Every animal that is naturally prey has some defensive mechanism, and most of them are movement-based. What tactics does this animal use to survive?
  • When “spooked”, or faced with the need to act defensively, what will the animal do? If it travels, which most targets will, what patterns will the animal take? Will it leave the area, or circle back? Will it flee in a straight line, a curved or snaking path, or will it double back?

In truth, all of this knowledge takes a long time to accumulate, and it won’t happen overnight. But having an idea of what to note when you observe the target animal, even when you aren’t in the act of harvesting, will provide you with more insight into the animal, and may provide you with an advantage down the road.
A great example of several of these characteristics is the way male deer use the females as scouts. Males will often trail behind the females during movement, often from a higher or lower vantage point, and will maintain a level of awareness of what the females are doing in addition to their own senses. They will also frequently allow the females to enter open areas (like fields) before they do, and observe what predators may appear before entering the area. When I first began hunting, I would often move to “put my scope on” and target female deer, which almost always alerted them to my presence – and which beyond any doubt alerted any trailing bucks to my presence as well. I can only imagine how many deer I never saw because of that beginner’s mistake.

Know the Land
Understanding the habitat of your target is just as crucial as understanding the animal itself. You may know that rabbits inhabit this section of forest, but do you know where they move? Do you know where the warrens are? Having done your research on your target animal, and the last key piece to beginning to successfully harvest is then applying that knowledge to the actual environment. As anyone who’s ever walked outside of their front door knows, everything changes when you put the simulation in the real world.

The first step in knowing the land is to spend some time out there. Look for tracks, burrows, nests, bedding, or whatever sign is crucial to your target. Make notes of the kind of terrain and topology in which you’ve found the sign. Once you begin to get an idea for the landscape, you may want to compare your notes at different times of the year. If your objective is to be able to harvest for reliable food source, you are at a serious disadvantage if you only know behavior patterns during the government-enforced hunting season.

One of the best ways for the beginner to scout terrain is to use snow as a tracking aid. Wait until a light coating of snow falls during the night, and spend the next morning moving and watching – the snow reveals almost all movement of animals, and with experience you can even get an indication of what time the animal was moving. In a survival situation, using this information combined with the snares that you keep in your Tier 2 gear can provide enough food to keep you alive.

Finally, always consider the type of vegetative growth where the animal is likely to move. The deep forest will have large trees with nice open areas, and the fields will have large open areas as well. I remember my first watches, waiting for a deer to step into an open field or walk down through the open woods to get a drink. I didn’t see much. If you were an animal that had to stay alive by your evasion skills, would you walk through the areas that provided you the most exposure? Certainly not – wild game prefer to be hidden whenever possible. Deer love to walk through the nastiest, prickliest cover they can find, and most other wild animals do as well. Keeping this in mind when you survey the land can save you large amounts of time.

In conclusion, get out there and start learning. The absolute best way to gain experience and skill is to find someone who’s good at what you’ve decided your objective should be, and do whatever it takes to obtain their knowledge. Show them you’re serious, and willing to work, and you can grow by leaps and bounds. If you don’t have that opportunity, and can’t find any classes, just get out there as much as you can, and read about it when you can’t. Survival (and sport) is all about being prepared before the time for application has arrived.

I was raised in a small town outside the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois  A normal kid in the 1970s, I really didn't care about anything except getting out of high school and moving on with my life.  I hated history class, geography was alien to me, and other than having to know the constitution in order to pass out of eighth grade, politics didn't mean much to me, either.  I did, however, try to get my fellow classmates to vote in a mock presidential election in 1980.  My family didn't discuss worldly events.  In essence, I had no clue. 

After moving to Arizona in 1992, my eyes began to open to the world around me for the first time.  I was a business owner and when President Clinton raised the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.00 per hour, I paid attention.  I had one new employee that had been earning $4.50 per hour prior to the increase.  As he ran around telling everyone how wonderful Bill Clinton was, and how he was going to vote for him again, I began studying the affects of that raise.  He was shocked when I showed him that he was able to bring home .02 cents per hour more than he had before even though he had just gotten a .50 cent per hour raise.  The government, on the other hand, between unemployment, workers comp, social security, medicare, and state and federal taxes, took $1.25 per hour more for each hour he worked.  What a wonderful trade!  And of course, because the government raised the minimum wage, all of my employees demanded raises.  I took a cut in pay to compensate and paid myself less than one of my countermen earned.

In 1997, I met a man that opened my eyes more.  He introduced me to guns – something I had been desperately afraid of up until that time.  We even became members of a local shooting range, where I eventually was voted in as treasurer.  Hmmm... politics!  After the weekly shooting matches, several of us would go to a local truck stop to discuss the match scores.  Eventually, conversations turned to world events, religion, and politics.  One evening, one of the better shooters looked across the table at me after I had responded to a question with more than usual passion and told me I was a “Patriot”.  I had never heard the term before.  And at first, my only thought was, “Yep.  I knew it.  Finally met one of those people!” 

By 1999, most of the talk in our group, turned to the infamous Y2K and what preps needed to be made.  Since my business relied on computers, I thought everyone had gone nuts.  Stockpiling food?  Trading cash for gold?  Yeah, right!  Then, someone mentioned 9-9-99.  That was another date the computers were not supposed to be able to recognize.  I laughed at the people that believed that was going to be the day TSHTF!  That is, until a vehicle accident caused all the electricity to go out in the downtown area on that particular day.  Now, I didn't believe in the dreaded 9-9-99, but what I saw forced me to take another look.  Business owners all over downtown had stepped outside their locked doors and stood in front of them with their arms folded across their chests.  They were going to defend their businesses against looters.  They could not sell any of their goods because “the computers were down”.  I could not buy a pack of gum from the corner gas station because they had no idea how to ring up a sale without a computerized cash register!  Now I was scared!  I knew then that though I did not believe computers would cause all the problems, panicky people would!  I suddenly found myself eagerly searching out Preparedness Expos and bulk foods for long term storage.

In the year 2000, my husband found the novel "Patriots".  He read it so many times he could quote portions of it.  He had me read it.  He had our kids read it and actually quizzed them on it to be sure they had actually read it and not just gone through the motions.  I found much of the book interesting.  I learned quite a bit.  However, I will not deny that after seeing the people's reactions in 1999, I am sure that everything described in the book is quite feasible when The Schumer actually does Hit The Fan.  One thing I knew for certain, the desert did not offer a chance for survival in any TEOTWAWKI situation.  Water was scarce and growing our own food would not be cost effective if it was at all possible.  We had to get out of there before anything bad happened.

In 2004, we found our survival retreat in the Ozarks.  It's a tiny, poorly built cabin in the middle of the woods.  It had a private well, septic, electricity, phone service, and even DSL!  A small spring-fed creek is near the front of the house.  The nearest neighbor is about 700 yards away, through the trees.  Our intentions were to work hard and tear the cabin down to rebuild something a little larger.  I began trying to figure out the whole “gardening” thing.  I am finally making some progress with that, though the bugs still get more of my produce than I do.  We raise chickens and have raised several pigs.  Someday, maybe, we will clear some land and have a small pasture to raise a cow or two for dairy and meat.  Someday.... 

The bad thing about our little retreat is that it is in the middle of the woods.  The dirt roads and the creek we have to cross have caused constant damage to our vehicles.  The cost of gas has escalated, which wouldn't be bad if we worked at home, but the nearest town of any size in either direction is 30 miles away.  Not only had our cost of living increased tremendously, but then our personal fan was hit in 2008 when I was injured and could no longer work. 

Since then, we have restructured the way we live.  We took a long hard look at what was really important in our lives and made changes that, though difficult at first, have made us more self-sufficient and less reliant on others.  The first thing we did was get rid of the satellite television.  Where we live, that means no television as we are too far away for cable and live to deep in a holler for antennas to work. Dropping our satellite subscription saved us $900 per year. I am forever grateful for the Internet!  Our home is all electric, except for the heater, which is run on propane.  During an ice storm in 2009, we found out the hard way that the propane would not work without electricity as the furnace still has an electronic ignition.  That's when we discovered that the wood stove that came with the cabin could keep the inside temperature at 70 degrees without a blower.  We canceled our propane service and saved $500 per year.  During that same ice storm, we learned how wonderful the creek really is when there is no power as we still had flushing toilets when we hauled water into the house. We do not have trash service as the local refuse collectors will only pick it up if it is at a major roadway, which is 1/3 of a mile away.  Food scraps go to the animals or in the compost pile (which my chickens have discovered), we drive anything that is recyclable into the nearest center, and in six years, have only had about ten bags of trash go to the landfill after we deliver it to the refuse plant. 

Where we live, the soil isn't soil at all.  It is rock and clay.  Therefore, all of my gardening is done in raised beds that are made of wood frames, tires, or self-watering Earth Boxes.  At first, we tried to haul water to the garden from the creek in 5-gallon buckets.  That did not work well.  We then set up a 50-gallon drum with a solar powered pump that was connected to a battery.  That worked better, except we still had to haul buckets of water to fill the drum.  We contacted a local well company and learned it would cost approximately $600 to drill a 60-foot well and in our remote location, the whole process would take more than a week to accomplish.  Ummm... we learned that water hoses could be stretched the 300-foot distance from our frost-free pump to the garden for a much lower cost! 

Last year, we finally grew enough tomatoes so that I had to learn how to can them.  I tried to get advise from neighbors, but learned that the few neighbors I have  that do can anything, don't like to follow the guidelines in any of the books on canning – that's just a waste of time.  So what if some of the jars don't seal!  Okay... back to the books.  I found that to be much safer.  I have found myself wishing my grandmother were here on several occasions just so I could have someone to teach me!
Through all of this process, we have made many more discoveries.  First and foremost, we can do it on our own.  I do not get disability benefits, and we have never received welfare.  I have discovered that Staghorn sumac makes a wonderful lemonade in the summer.  Tiny wild strawberries grow in abundance here, as do wild plums and of course, walnuts.  Green Briar tears clothes, but the fresh new shoots taste better than green beans when eaten raw.  Crows and squirrels will take all of your fruit before you ever get a chance to sample any of it!  And I haven't found a way to make a squirrel taste good when I catch one eating my peaches.

My most important discovery, though, came only a couple of weeks ago.  Our daughter's boyfriend indicated he would like to join us and learn how to prepare as well.  He is an avid hunter and fisherman, but he wants to learn more.  He wants to be part of a group.  He wants to know how to survive and how to keep what he has.  As he is only twenty-three years old, I was impressed.

However, one morning, I made the mistake of asking him what he thought TSHTF means.  I was curious to know what he wanted to prepare for.  I was not prepared for his answer.  He answered that he believed it would be total anarchy.  Most importantly, in his young mind, since he had not had a chance to make prior preparations, he was not above stealing whatever it was that he needed for his family to survive.  At that moment, I panicked and thought, “Wow.  Instead of being one of us, he is the one we are trying to protect ourselves from!”  I was no longer sure I wanted my husband to show him where our caches of food and supplies were buried. 

I couldn't help myself and pressed him a little further.  If he looks around at the world, does any of the current events constitute even slightly TSHTF?  You know, like Hurricane Katrina and all of the problems there, the shootings, the increased crime rates because more and more people are losing their jobs and/or homes?  The government intervention into the private sector and into our lives?  The thought of a serious injury?  He replied only that he doesn't pay attention to that stuff.  People that worry about that every day rather than living are as bad as the people that believe in the Mayan calendar.  He feels that everyone that believes that December 21, 2012 will be TEOTWAWKI will be totally lost when they wake up on December 22, 2012.  I tried to explain that there is no preparations for that scenario except to make peace with our God.  He then turned it on me and asked me what I will do to prepare.  I could only answer that I could only do what I am doing right now.  Live.   Live the best way I could with what resources I had.

Mulling over the conversation in my head a couple of days later, it dawned on me.  I thought I was clueless when I was young.  I didn't care about anything happening around me as it didn't affect me.  Why should he?  He is young and no one has taken the time to teach him.  His eyes have not been opened.  He has not been taught how to survive. 

The point is, TSHTF scenarios can be in any form – from natural disasters to total anarchy and anything and everything in between.  Depending on your own point of view, any major event can cause TEOTWAWKI for us personally.  It does not have to be a global event, nor does it have to be local.  It can be personal.  How you react, how you respond, how you have prepared yourself, all will determine your own survival rate.  Get out there and practice!  And teach someone else if you are able!

Just to let everyone know, I am new to the prepper lifestyle, and new to the kind of changes one must make in one's life to begin saving as opposed to spending, or maybe a better way of saying it is to say “ changing what your spending your money on ”   where before it may have been a new dirt bike, man toy,   or flat screen television, now my extra cash (after my tithe and savings) is going to preparations.   My change in spending habits quickly brought about a realization , that some items that I need are truly big ticket items, and require a significant investment.  

I already live in a house on 1.5 acres, in a semi rural area .   we have our own well, and we are on a new 2,000 gallon septic system just replaced three years ago.   I just recently measured static water depth of my well in late summer,  the well is 180 feet deep and I have standing water up to 135 feet. I did this so that I could purchase a deep well hand pump . I purchased it from www.survivalunlimited.com it is 1” PVC pipe with a stainless spigot and stainless foot valve. The foot valve is driven by a fiberglass   rod that goes down the center of the pipe. The nice thing about this unit is that it can be installed alongside my existing well , with a stainless cap that is provided by the pump manufacturer. My well water is currently sanitized by an ultraviolet filter, with no power that will not be an option, a Big Berkey filter is next in line.  I have no farm animals yet, but a coop is in the plans, and goats maybe before next fall if I can get the pasture fenced in.  

Our homestead also has a 12 kilowatt Generac generator that automatically comes on in the event of a power outage, we have a few of these every year because of the large amount of 100 foot plus tall Douglas firs that seem to love to fall over onto our counties power lines, which are overhead, as opposed to buried as in modern towns . It runs off natural gas, and can be switched over to propane with a few simple modifications.    

What I don’t have is a source to heat with wood, and if the natural gas goes out, I will not be able to heat our house, which has nine people living in it. So my next purchase will be a wood stove. Both Quadrafire and Lopi make excellent stoves that are EPA certified and can be installed easily. The stove, along with chimney and installation is going to run almost $5,000, although there are state and federal tax credits that will help ease the pain somewhat.  

Food storage is another item I have begun. I decided right of that I would begin researching food packaging solutions, and scrounging buckets. Most restaurants will give you there leftover food grade white pails, and if you are lucky lids to go with it. I purchased mylar bags and oxygen absorber s from Jan over at www.healthyharvest.com   and pieced together a nitrogen bottle along with an old helium regulator, wand and nozzle to charge the bags. I purchased a Teflon cover for my iron so that I could seal then bags without buying an impulse sealer, I just place the edge of the bag on a 2x4 and iron it shut. I purchased my grains from Bob’s Red Mill. They have a wholesale division, that will sell in bulk if you order over 350 lbs of product from them.  Beans, rice, wheat, kamut, spelt, and oat groats. A $1,000 order will give you enough staples to feed a large crew for a year or so.  Also from Jan I purchased non-GMO open pollinated seeds stored in #10 cans, so that I may begin growing at the first sign of TEOTWAWKI  With food, water, shelter provided for--or at least in process--I am on the road to sufficiency. I will let you know how the journey progresses. Sincerely, - T.C.

I would like to add my two cents to the discussion of the Great Carolina Blizzard of '11. I had some similar experiences to B.H.: Deep frustration over dead batteries in cars. I had two every day drivers that just would not start. While it was fairly cold for our area, I suspect that high humidity added to the cold had a draining effect on the batteries. In the future, I would think about a short start and warm up every 8 hours or so on vehicles that I knew were to be needed on short notice. 

It took me an hour and a half to get our cars started and out to the street the first day that we ventured forth. That compares to the usual turn the key and go. This is another point in favor of a regular dry run up and down the drive way with essential transportation.

Times like these provide windows into the minds of our neighbors. This situation and the others similar to it lead me to conclude that, at least in our area, folks will cocoon for hours or days when something happens. After that, who knows what will happen, there has not been any precedent locally on which to base an opinion.

The most sobering lesson was the effect of personal injury. I was taking my portable jump starter out to my stuck vehicles when I stepped on a patch of ice. I dropped like a stone and landed with my arm under my chest. "Crack", my ribs said. As I lay in the snow, rolling my eyes at my natural graceful coordination, I assessed my condition. There was no real pain and I had no chills that I had had after my other bone fracture experiences. I could breathe deeply in and out with out any more than some minor soreness. (Different answers to those questions would have led to a trip to the Emergency Room ) After I passed my personal triage, I got up and proceeded to get the vehicles going. I found I had some serious difficulty using the arm on the effected side. Any movement with even a minor load was seriously difficult. I was reminded how our body works through stiffening our core to provide a solid base for the movement of our limbs. To make a long story short, I concluded that I had cracked a rib. There is no real treatment for this other then tincture of time: 4 to 8 weeks. As I sit here this morning 10 days later, I still have to sleep in my recliner due discomfort when prone. I had to change my plans for getting outside and working today due to my limited upper body strength. I am getting better, but it is frustratingly slow.


1. While we are used to having our bodies ready to do what we need them to do, that can change in less than a heart beat. Believe me, I will be more thankful for a normal day from now on.

2. Especially for us Gray Panthers: listen to what your body is telling you. I tried to push through this injury, and just made it worse. Know your limitations, and realize that you do not exceed them with out paying a price.

3. In spite of all our plans, serendipity will play a role in our future. Some things, perhaps most things, will be as we expect. There will always be the unexpected and unplanned that will stretch our flexibility. 

Regards, - Wh2thdr

Mr. Rawles;
I have been reading your blog for a few months. I am a young Christian. I've been attending church four years and saved for three of those years.  I have been doing some preparations for "survival" as per your blog in all areas after observing the financial collapse and other related events in recent years.  Many at church say I am wasting my time cause we will all be raptured prior to the tribulation.  Any brief comments would be appreciated. Thanks, - Jim V.

JWR Replies: You are not wasting your time. The concept of a pre-tribulation rapture is a modernist "feel good" invention. In my estimation, bowing out of preparedness because of just one verse in the Bible (I Thessalonians 4:l7) is foolish. The word rapture doesn't occur in the Bible. That is word used in summary of "Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (I Thessalonians 4:l7)

Scriptural interpretation of end times events is the subject of much eschatological debate. But if you are looking for a sequence of events, then see Mark 13:18-27 and Matthew 24: 2l-42. A lot of modern evangelicals point to verses 37 to 41 in Matthew 24, and say " Ah-ha! 'Two in the field, but only one one taken'" and conclude that a "pre-tribulation rapture of the church" will occur. While it is true that living believers will be taken up to heaven directly in the Last Days, my interpretation is that it will occur after the time of tribulation, that is, after the breaking of the seals and the numerous plagues described in John's Revelation. Christ made the sequence of events clear, when he was quoted in Matthew 24 :29-31: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (My emphasis added. Forgive me if I have somehow added anything to scripture by showing some words bold, but there is a sequence here!)

But, please, don't get too caught up with doctrinal differences. What really matters is that we should all be prepared both spiritually and physically, regardless of the exact sequence of end times events. The crucial thing is our salvation--accepting Christ as our Savior, and reconciling ourselves to God. Anything else, by comparison is just a doctrinal nit. I believe that we are in the Last Days and that it is of vital importance that as many as possible come to saving faith in Jesus the Christ.

Remember: "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" of Jesus' return. (Matthew 24:36). Get ready, today, by getting right with God. Even if I'm wrong and there is a pre-tribulation rapture then the food you have stored will be a blessing for friends and relatives who were unsaved and that would be a form of witness unto them. Keep several Bibles amongst your preps. And for those who are strident pacifists, I would submit that it is hard to share the gospel with others if your mortal body has assumed room temperature.

If you want to delve into these topics further, I suggest reading: The Rapture: A Question of Timing, by William Kimbal. This concise book echoes what a lot of theologians like John Wesley and Charles Haddon Spurgeon made clear, long before the modernist church attempted to reinterpret the End Times for their own convenience.

Jeff M. highlighted this: Yellowstone Magma Bubble is Swelling. This is yet another reason not to live in the eastern U.S. (Geologists tell us that the last time the Yellowstone caldera blew up, it buried the east coast under six+ feet of volcanic ash.)

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Reader Kevin S. mentioned this news item: Chinese Troops Stationed in North Korean Special Zone

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Jason G. flagged this: Schneider Electric Recalls Xantrex GT Series Grid Tie Solar Inverters

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this interesting article: Web-controlled guns are illegal. Bummer. I wanted to set up a pair of UA 571-C sentry guns here at the ranch.

"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe [and] to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

Blessed [shalt] thou [be] in the city, and blessed [shalt] thou [be] in the field.

Blessed [shall be] the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

Blessed [shall be] thy basket and thy store.

Blessed [shalt] thou [be] when thou comest in, and blessed [shalt] thou [be] when thou goest out." - Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (KJV)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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 the last year my husband and I have been blessed to be able to sell our house and move to our bug out location (BOL) in the mountains.  It is a learning experience!  We have been watching the signs of these times.  It seemed prudent, for us, to prepare for emergencies – be they natural disasters or an economic meltdown.  About four years ago we began our journey to learn as much as we could and fumble our way through obtaining supplies and equipment to become self-sustaining.  What follows are lessons we have learned and questions we have asked ourselves that might mean the difference between “We can do this” and “Panic”.  Hopefully this will assist others in their preparation.

Read Them Before You Need Them:  Putting together a library of “How To” books is essential.  Subjects such as food storage and cookbooks, dental care, first aid, gardening, mechanics, survival in harsh weather, security, defense, arms, canning, etc. are great resources. But if you don’t read them before you need them you will find that you don’t have what is needed to carry out the task.  For example, food storage requires certain containers and a temperature controlled storage area – are those containers and an appropriate place to store the food available?   Cookbooks require certain ingredients in each recipe - are all the ingredients on hand?  Dental care requires certain tools, temporary dental fillings, or common household items – are they at your bug out location?  First aid procedures require specific equipment and medications – do you have those supplies on hand to treat illness and injuries?  Canning requires equipment as well – do you have all equipment needed?  Books are a wonderful resource but it can’t be stressed enough to have supplies and equipment on hand which leads to:

Use It or Lose It:  Okay, you have obtained a generator, wood stove and/or wood cook stove, tools, a solar panel or two, seeds for a garden, treated gas and diesel, and an adequate food supply, along with recipes for stored food.  The power goes out; food is in short supply, fuel unavailable.  Is the generator ready to go?  Has it been started at least monthly?  Do you just need 110 VAC or do you need 220 VAC, perhaps to pump water?  Does your generator have 220 VAC?  We bought a backup generator that we thought had a 220 VAC winding.  It did not, so although it will light up lots of 110 VAC appliances and lights, it won’t pump our water.  Do you have a power transfer switch installed so when the power comes back on (if it does) your power does not back-feed through the power lines and injure or kill a power company employee?

Do you have wood available?  Do you know how many cords of wood it will take to heat your house for a winter?  Have you cooked in your wood cook stove?  (If not, you have some stress and challenge to look forward to)  Are tools where you can find them?  Do you know how to use all the tools you have?  Are the photovoltaic panels hooked up and ready to go?  Are you set up with batteries to use in tandem with solar?  Have you gardened before?  Are the seeds you have specifically indicated for your climate?  If, for example, you live where the growing season is short and the seeds you have require a longer growing season, your crops will not mature and there will be no food.  Are the proper tools available to garden and a water supply close by?  Do you rotate your fuel?  Did you add fuel additives for storage?  Are you cooking with stored food? If you stored wheat, for example, do you have a grinder?  Have you used it? If the wheat does not have the correct protein content (no less than 13% for bread), do you have gluten to add to the flour so the bread will rise?   Have you stored food your family will eat?  For example:  Do you have 200 pounds of black beans in storage and everyone in your family hates black beans?   These questions beg to be answered before the need is pressing.  Then, when you least expect it – something breaks, so:

Redundancy:   Planning is key. The old saying often quoted in SurvivalBlog is: "Two is One and One is None." For a heat/cooking source we have a propane fireplace, a wood cook stove, an electric range with a propane cooktop.  For further backup we have an electric 22 quart roaster, crockpot, numerous camp stoves, propane burners, cast iron pots and pans to use over open fires and a propane barbecue.   If propane and electricity are depleted, the wood cook stove provides heat and the ability to cook.  What is your plan A, B and C?  Lighting:  While electricity exists there is electric lighting (when the power does not go out).  Our backup is the generator (while fuel is available), candles, oil lanterns, Aladdin lamps and battery flashlights and lanterns.  Do you have more than one source for lighting? What is your plan to recharge batteries – solar or electricity?   Murphy’s Law seems to be alive and well.   If one system fails, you need to have another option.  If the electricity goes out, we have a generator to pump water from our well.  If fuel runs out, we have hand pump from Lehman's that fits on the wellhead.  Do you keep water in 5 gallon containers in your house?  Have you thought about – what if…..?  

Transportation:  Climate may dictate modes of transportation.  While fuel is available automobiles, trucks, quads and snowmobiles can all fill the bill.  Do you have an older vehicle that you can work on and actually fix that is impervious to an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) so you can still keep on trucking?  What if there is no fuel?  Options are:  Feet, bicycle, horses or maybe a boat depending on your location.  If horses are a choice – do you have feed, shoeing supplies and know-how, fences prepared, vet supplies and shelter? 

Communication:  When a storm came through this fall and the power was out for several days our phone system was useless.  Luckily, we had not thrown an old land line telephone away.  It doesn’t require electricity so we were off and running.  It’s now plugged into an extra jack all the time.  Do you have a land line ready to go?  What will you use to communicate if there is no phone service?  We have several walkie-talkie type handheld radios that are effective short distances.  CB radios, base station and mobile, offer more distance and will put you in touch with other CB radio operators. Some HF band Ham radios offer world-wide communication but require a special license.  Short wave radios will keep you in touch with emergency news and weather.  Do you have a system in place?  

Laundry:  Clean clothes make us feel better and aid in hygiene for better health.  Of course, the first choice is an electric washing machine and dryer but what will you do when that is not available?  We have two washtubs set on a stand – one for washing and one for rinsing.  From Lehman’s we have purchased a hand washer (looks something like a plunger) that is plunged up and down to agitate the clothes.  We plan to purchase a wringer two2 would be even better – one for the wash tub and one for the rinse tub) for the washtubs.  A washboard is great for working out stains.  We also have a clothes rack for drying clothing in front of the wood stove and clothes lines for drying clothing outside in the summer.  There is also a hand washing machine available called a James washer (similar hand washing machines are available at Lehman’s).  Have you prepared for taking care of laundry?  Much of the equipment and paraphernalia necessary to survive and thrive needs maintenance.

Packrat Is Not a Dirty Word:   My husband is the original keeper of all things.  When asked why that box of stuff can’t be tossed, his reply is always:  “We might need it someday”.  I have always chaffed at having a 1960s-vintage soldering gun and four crates of screws stacked around the shop - but no more!   If it can breakdown, at some point it probably will.  When it does, do you have what is needed to repair it?  My husband can go to his shop and rummage around innumerable cubbies, cabinets and shelves and find something that will work to fix almost anything.  Do you have basic extra supplies? Duct tape, electrical tape, nails of several sizes, wire (both insulated electrical wire and plain of several gauges), screws of several sizes, wire nuts, nuts and bolts, welder, fence staples, lumber, extra chains for the chainsaw, oil, anti-freeze, light bulbs (the 2000 hour bulb keeps the pump from freezing and doesn’t have to be changed frequently), paint, turpentine, lamp oil, electrical switches, locks, rope, tow chains, and tires makes up only a partial list of great junk to have.  It can mean the difference between keeping it going and doing without.   However,

If You Can’t Find It –It Doesn’t Count As Having It:   This fall, the snow started to fall and the temperature dipped into single digits.  Gloves, boots and cold weather gear became a necessity and we had prepared, except, we couldn’t find where we had put it.  Maybe the barn, or the shed, or the root cellar or stashed in a container all of which required digging mountains of snow to access.  Oops!  We had prepared but didn’t track where items were located.  Are you organized?  Do you have lists of what you have and where it is located?  A 3-ring binder or a clipboard works well and will save your bacon when something is needed and needed immediately.  It is vital to have a list of stored food and the location of that food for several reasons.  First would be so it can be found easily and quickly but also the list can be used in the rotation process, noting date of storage (my daughter also date-marks each food container--a huge help)    and which items need to be used first.  It also acts as an inventory so you can formulate shopping lists of what is still needed and what is used and needs to be replaced.  Alphabetizing inventories is a great help in finding specific items.  There should also be separate inventories for clothing, supplies (toilet paper, soap, laundry items, toothpaste, etc.), tools, hardware, equipment and medical supplies that contain such information as amounts and location.  Knowing what and where medical supplies are located could save a life.  Are you ready?   Are there specific emergencies in your area for which you should:

Assess Your Environment:  Do you live in an area that is prone to flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, extreme heat or extreme cold, tornados or earthquakes?  What plans can you make to respond to threats in the area in which you live?  For example:   The greatest threat in the area in which we live is wildfire.  This area is heavily forested and timber was/is the predominant industry.  Our plan:  Clear a fire break (disc under grass in a 12 foot swath, and clear a gap of 30 feet in timber) around the perimeter of the property.  Selectively remove or trim trees that are close to structures.  We purchased a fire tanker trailer from a retired logging company owner.  This trailer includes a 300 gallon water tank, 200 feet of hose, nozzle, and two pumps (one to pressurize the hose and one to fill the tank from the creek).  The tank is kept filled during the dry season but drained for the winter.

In Conclusion:  Preparedness can be an overwhelming task.  Learning to ask some of the right questions and think through your specific needs can lighten the process.  Readiness will remove stress and panic in the midst of new challenges.

Note:  There are many sources for technical information on all of the subjects mentioned above. SurvivalBlog and Paratus Familia are two excellent resources for information or that can refer you to find the desired information.  Remember, though, every area must be tailored to your specific needs.  Recommended food storage lists, for example, are wonderful guidelines but must be adjusted to your family’s preferences.

I don't remember the exact date, but it was close to a year ago that, on a whim, I downloaded and read "Patriots" on my iPad.  As I read through the fictional account my world was turned over and an amazing trip down the rabbit hole of preparedness began. I scoured the blogs and read every account, both fictional and non,  searching for and accumulating knowledge that would lead me to effective action in order to save my family's life.  I learned the distinctions of TEOTWAWKI and more, then began to design a way to "bug out" of my current city-dwelling life should the SHTF.  

My wife and I accumulated the basic essentials and built contingency plans while we searched for places to bug out to, move to, acquire or otherwise get out of dodge.  In the process, we've started a local preparedness group and talked with others about the best ways in which to survive the coming hard times.  My moods alternated between sadness, fear, accomplishment (at getting ready), and resolution.  Focusing on my survival and the survival of my wife and two young kids was actually a relatively straight-foward process.  We need food, water, shelter, and protection no matter if it's economic "collapse", EMP, solar flares, martial law, war, or any other chaotic life-changing event. 

As we made progress, a new question kept nagging me.   It wasn't until last night, when I read your blog and the post by T.N.P. about his retreat's rules, that it really clicked that something was missing.  I think he did a wonderful job organizing the requirements, expectations, and parameters for his group. I'll probably use some of his ideas for our group. (Do you hear the "but" coming?) Yes, there was something missing. It was the answer to these questions: For the sake of what are we living like this for?  Why would I give up whatever freedoms I still had, and subject myself to the complete authority of a single individual? You may or may not have caught it, but his narrative stated that he had the final say on issues. He maintained the authority (and supposedly force) to kick you and your gear off his land, which would supposedly be during crisis times. The consequences of which would be unknowable, but most likely not very favorable to the banished.

I served over a decade in the US military and in combat in Iraq.  I learned and explored the dictatorial nature of military structure and chain of command during that time.  I know firsthand that this type of "government" is necessary for good order and discipline.  Yet, in this all-volunteer military, there are still checks and balances to power accumulation and usage in the ranks.  More than anything, however, we choose to give up some of our rights and privileges for a clearly defined purpose and trust in the system against abuse.  That purpose is to preserve and defend the US Constitution against it's enemies foreign and domestic.  

What makes this different from other countries though?  I assert that it is the content of the US Constitution that really gives meaning and power to ones decision to fight and die for.  I didn't willingly join the military to fight for a "leader", or just in order to "survive", nor for the simple "common good".  I committed my life and limb to an idea that the US Constitution is the most superior document designed in which to secure the blessings of liberty for me and my family.  I willingly decided to join the ranks of other men who were will to live and die for the freedoms that our country have nurtured and enjoyed.  In other words, freedom and liberty became the cause for which to fight and survive.  

That indirectly leads us to the core philosophical question of why do we prep? Why do we work so hard to survive?  How do we do it and maintain a philosophical and spiritual harmony?  If the answer is simply to survive, we could accept all manner of bondage and survive.  We could submit to an authoritarian regime, be it a US Government, a feudal lord, or a survival retreat owner.  We may indeed survive.  What then is the cost? Would we then have to shed more blood to regain freedom and liberty?  History is full of these examples.

As we stand on the precipice of world chaos, a potential economic collapse, and surely hard times, we must continue to make a stand for Liberty.  We must embody it even in the darkest of times, and keep it alive even as we plan our survival.  We must build our retreat constitutions not only with laws, but also checks and balances, commitments to individual rights and freedoms, and model it after what we as patriots hold dear, The Founding United States Documents: The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.  

I fear, more than anything (in this world), losing the individual freedoms we are assured by these documents.  If and when the SHTF, lets keep liberty alive in our survival groups. Be that shining light others will rally around.  Don't become an authoritarian regime. Practice love, charity, kindness and guarantee individual freedoms.  Don't do it at a whim, but build it in your survival constitution and build in a series of checks and balances.  Distribute power.  

I am confident that fiefdoms will arise.  Gangs will gain power.  In an economic collapse scenario, the US Government will lose power and a power vacuum will occur at local levels.  People and groups will accumulate that power through force, financial power, or entrepreneurial power.  Conflict will occur.  I intend to align my family with those whose practice is to build individual freedoms patterned after our founding fathers.  Many US patriots will flock to those groups and a new power (grounded in liberty) will arise in a distributed authoritarian nation.  This ideal of liberty is what will save our country as we've known it.  This power and promise of liberty is what will give us hope.  It will give us something to really survive and live for.

Our family lives in a rural area of South Carolina, recently affected by a freak snow storm that shut the area down for a week, and is still affecting our area in other ways more than 10 days later. Our family was much better off than most we knew, but this little test really showed our weaknesses. We thought we were prepared, but we found some holes in our planning that came as a complete surprise. I've taken notes, and hope to be better prepared for next time, and hopefully can pass along some advice in the process.  

First mistake - not shoveling right away while the snow was fresh and newly fallen, or even while it was falling. This was a mistake because the very first day, the snow was very light, almost pellet-like, and easily brushed away with a broom or any form of shovel, no machinery needed. However, we let it sit a day, in which it partially thawed, and then froze overnight in subfreezing temperatures into a solid mass that did not thaw for ten days. Had we shoveled, swept, and dug out the very first day, we would have had clean walkways, accessible vehicles, a clear driveway and sidewalk. Instead, we experienced the inaccessibility of two of our vehicles, and treacherous injury-inviting conditions everywhere we walked.  

Second mistake - when the snow started falling, that's when we needed to move our vehicles to the most accessible point in our drive area. Instead, we had one very reliable front wheel drive vehicle parked behind our house, on the down side of a slope, encased in ice, surrounded by solid ice, unable to move. Even if we could have moved it, we found the battery died after a couple of nights of subfreezing temperatures, and the front of the vehicle was pointed away from where we could reach it to jumpstart with another vehicle, so it wasn't going anywhere until it thawed. Another full size vehicle, with a full tank of gas and great tires, pointed the wrong way on the back side of the driveway, encased in ice and also on top of a solid ice driveway, unmoveable. Only one, a large 4-wheel drive truck, full of gas and having new tires with great mud and snow grip, plus all the goodies needed to traverse any road conditions, was positioned in a place where it could have left the driveway under its own power, and it had a flat tire. Not just a few PSI flat, but down-on-the-rim, not-going-anywhere flat.  

Which brings me to ...  

Third mistake - actually a combination of mistake #1 and #2. The only moveable vehicle we had, had a flat tire, and although it had a full size spare, we had no way to change it. The truck was on a solid sheet of ice with no traction. No way to position the jack without making the truck unstable and possibly sliding it dangerously into the house, another car, or ourselves. No way to secure it to safely change the spare. Our way to resolve it was to pump the tire as much as it would safely hold and then  try to make it as far as we could towards civilization (we live outside the city limits) where I could then find a flat spot, maybe a gas station that had cleared its parking lot, where the spare could be safely put on. Luckily, and I wasn't expecting to be this lucky, the leak was very slow and I made it all the way to work, where I bought another tire.  

Fourth mistake - not keeping track of our portable jumpstarter. We had a nice one for years, even had its own little mini-air compressor. It had some problem a year or so ago where it would not charge up any longer, so I brought it back to the store where we bought it to exchange it for a working one. They no longer sold that model, so they exchanged it for a cheaper one that did not have the air compressor feature. We had this cheaper one for a while, but then one time someone from work borrowed it, and ... and ... I don't know. It's somewhere. I forgot, and didn't replace it, and now I had a perfectly good reliable vehicle completely inaccessible.  

Fifth mistake - losing patience. That was me. Everything took so much longer when you had to walk slower, avoid carrying items, keep your hands free, avoid running certain errands, bundle up every time you go in and out, take an hour and a half to drive on single lane roads what used to take only 30 minutes with plenty of room to spare. I had no patience, and the stress this generated was entirely self-inflicted. Like I said, the bad conditions lasted 10 days, with the first four days being complete shut down disaster, and things barely returning to normal in a trickle after that. Work was difficult. Customers were stressed out. No deliveries showed up on time. The snow hit us on the night of the 9th, and just today (the 20th) I got some deliveries that I had been expecting between the 10th and the 12th. There are some suppliers that are experiencing a "snowball effect" ... no pun intended ... of the further they got behind, the worse it got. Some delivered once a week, some daily, some three times a week, some once a month. There are some deliveries I was expecting between the 10th and the 14th that still have not showed up, and that I am told will be the end of this month before they have caught up, because they had to just cancel all their deliveries from those times and start their schedule over. I have had some very tense, and very unpleasant, conversations with suppliers because their inability to deliver parts to my business meant my customers were waiting, which meant my customers heaped their frustrations on me, and I dumped all that right back on my suppliers. It doesn't help anything to get bent out of shape. I'm going to remember how this feels next time something like this happens, and just try to be more patient. Sometime around the 17th (the last day of actual ice causing problems, but still while the repercussions of business interruptions were troublesome), I finally stopped stressing and just decided to embrace the horror. I stopped apologizing, after all I was doing everything I could, I stopped berating my already weary suppliers, I stopped lying awake at night freaked out about what might be waiting for me tomorrow. I just let go of all the negativity and decided it was all going to have to go on without me. The snow and ice have since melted (it's the 20th as I writing this today) but we are not over the damage done yet.  

Things we learned for next time:  

Lesson #1 - Really evaluate your errand-running. When it takes ten minutes to dress properly, and an hour and a half to get anywhere, you seriously evaluate what you "need" to go and get. Driving was a tension filled event, not so much the act of it, because I had a very reliable vehicle, but because other people on the roads were so unpredictable. Every Yankee joke about Southern drivers happened right in front of me, too numerous to mention. I really tried harder than anything else to maintain distance between myself and other drivers, even if it meant pulling over in a parking lot and waiting for cars to go by so I could have a several car-length cushion between me and anyone else with a Southern license plate. I just had no idea what they would do - maybe they just moved down here last week from Maine, or maybe they've never been in the snow before ... I didn't know and treated everyone like they were crazed maniacs bent on destroying themselves and everyone around them in the process, and avoiding other drivers meant slow going. Worse, I actually did see several drivers being intentionally reckless - several that were intentionally spinning out in the middle of the road, doing donuts, or racing down the road at higher speeds than the speed limit for unknown reasons - maybe to prove to everyone else that they could, I don't know. Many older rear wheel drive cars, when stopped at a stop light, would gun it when the light turned green and whip their car sideways, then get traction and take off, fishtailing down the road. So if I saw a car stopped at a stop light, I intentionally slowed way down and didn't approach the stop light, instead crawling in the other lane way back until the light turned green so I wouldn't be in the damage path when they decided it was play time. When it takes you that long to do any simple thing, you find there are so many errands you don't really need to run. Doing this really kept us efficient, as I would leave the house, I'd be sure to get everything done in one shot.  

Lesson #2 - Be patient, kind and pleasant. Everyone is stressed. Everyone is trying in their own way to get through it. Nobody cares that you are stressed. So, be the nice one, be the one who does not add misery.  

Lesson #3 - Wear waterproof outer clothes, especially if you are in and out. You're not going to keep changing clothes, you're going to trudge around in what you put on that morning and maybe layer some extra to go out, so as soon as you let snow build up on your pants and boots and sleeves, you'll go inside and it will melt and you're going to be miserable all day until you change again. It was silly of me to not know this, because I have plenty of waterproof hunting clothes, but I didn't wear them. I could have just pulled them over the outside of my daily wear clothes. I will next time.  

Lesson #4 - Is your fireplace usable? What, you live in the South, and it's only decorative? Check and see if you can actually use it, and if you have firewood! We got lucky and didn't lose electricity or any heat function in our house - but we were lucky. We didn't have firewood, we would have had to venture out and cut some ... in the snow ... and even then I don't know if the fireplace was safe to use. We didn't have to find out the hard way, but we are going to check on this before next time.  

Lesson #5 - Find relaxing things to do. Pacing, complaining, and growling at your family are not preferred options. When things slow down, and things aren't happening like they should, and you feel impatient, find something relaxing to do. I settled on reading (although it took me a few days to realize this), and that helped pass the time and calm me down.  

Things we were happy to see we did correctly:  
Gold Star #1 - Filled up all the cars with gas before the crisis! Had good tires (with one unforeseen sudden problem)! Lights working, horns working, brakes in good working order, belts in good shape, all caught up on maintenance. Had emergency kits in every car - blankets, flashlights, bungee cords, spare tires, bottled water, gloves, etc.! Lets not mention that 2 of the 3 vehicle were unusable for several days. We were at least not so bad off once things were moveable again.  

Gold Star #2 - Plenty of food and cooking supplies! We even fed our pets and the local wildlife with plenty of food to spare. The deer hung out in our yard and ate dried corn, bruised apples, molasses and salt. We had tons of birds on our back porch in all daylight hours feasting on the bread and scraps. The raccoons at night ate all our leftovers and stale food. Our pets were well fed and didn't mind having us around the house to pay attention to them.  

Gold Star #3 - Everyone stayed healthy, and did not experience any injuries, no falls on the ice, and limited contact with the ice at all. Having everything we needed at home and limiting our movement outside the house decreased our chances of injuries and health problems.  

Gold Star #4 - Semi-ready if the power had gone out. We had candles, warm clothes, and a generator. Not bad.  

Gold Star #5 - Did not require any emergency services whatsoever. Did not request roadside help from any of the overworked and emergency-limited roadside service companies, just handled our problem ourselves. No medical emergencies, really I believe due to our careful thinking and moving slow, avoiding leaving the house unless we had to, and not trying to behave as we normally would on a normal day. Did not get ourselves in any unneccessary troubles. Avoided traffic accidents, which were everywhere all over the roads, many of which sat in place as testament to their mistake for a day or longer since tow companies were way overbooked, I believe due to my intense paranoia of treating every car on the road as if it would spontaneously attack me if I got too close. Did not attempt to use the fireplace we weren't certain about, therefore possibly avoiding a fire problem that we might not have been able to get help considering our ice-locked driveway. So we were not a burden on the already over burdened emergency services, or anyone else, we did have some challenges but we handled them ourselves.  

In general I think that we did pretty well. We do plan on continuing to learn, and improve, should anything else interesting happen around here. Thank you so much for your very informative blog and for the good work you have done. Take care. - B.H. in Upstate S.C.

Joe Ordinary sent us the link to an amazing series of before and after flood photos, from Australia.

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More Nanny State Nincompoopery: Crossbows in legal cross-hairs. It seems that in Mount Prospect, they want to ban everything that might possibly be fun. That city (and Ohio as a state) sure has changed since the Blues Brothers days. Back then, we've been told, they sold awesome ex-police cruisers: "This was a bargain. I picked it up at the Mount Prospect city police auction last spring. It's an old Mount Prospect police car. They were practically giving 'em away." 

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If they can't do it legislatively in one fell swoop, then they'll do it piecemeal, by bureaucratic decree; ATF to Issue New Ruling on Monday regarding New Restrictions on Shotgun Importation. If you are going to a gun show this weekend, I recommend that you buy a Saiga 12 gauge (or two). If these do indeed become import banned then their market price will surely double!

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DIY Oil Lamp from Recycled Cooking Fats. (Thanks to Arthur for the link.)

"There is no moral argument that justifies using the coercive powers of government to force one person to bear the expense of taking care of another. If that person is too resolute in his refusal to do so, what is the case for imposing fines, imprisonment or death? You say, 'Death! Aren't you exaggerating, Williams?' Say he tells the agents of Congress that he'll pay his share of the constitutionally mandated functions of government but refuse to pay the health costs of a sick obese person or a cyclist who becomes a vegetable, what do you think the likely course of events will be? First, he'd be threatened with fines, imprisonment or property confiscation. Refusal to give in to these government sanctions would ultimately lead to his being shot by the agents of Congress." - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Friday, January 21, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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 wife and I own  a 50 acre place in Northern Maine that was originally intended to be a home-building site.  It is remote, quiet  and off-grid.  Along with an outbuilding/bathhouse I constructed,  there is also a 40 foot shipping container I set up as a  secure storage building/shelter.    The land  has  plenty of water nearby  and the entire property is wooded in White Cedar (weatherproof/rot-proof) Balsam Fir , Birch and Spruce.  Unfortunately over the years the location has became less ideal for us.  The  political climate (until very recently) is unfavorable ( taxes, government regulation, overall policies).   The economic situation was bad before the current recession, now parts of Maine  remind me of what I saw in East Germany after the wall came down.   Because of this, I abandoned the project about four  years ago and moved most of our  belongings to the Western United States. 

Why We Went Back

I work as an independent contractor  all over the US.  This year I managed to get  a short contract within a 2 hour drive of the Maine property.  My wife and I were carrying minimal gear with us from  Montana  (See Survival Trip, a 10% Test, archived in Survival Blog).   We planned to stay on the acreage part-time during the work assignment, then remain there afterward for at least a month. 

We wanted to make no major purchases during our stay, so the big question was:  would we be able to live there (essentially camping out) with what we brought with us as well as what was 'left behind' on the property?  After a  three to four  year absence,  I could not remember exactly  what equipment and supplies were there.   Considering this, I began thinking:  what would happen if we  had to return to this place to try to survive in  an unplanned emergency? I knew I did not have a complete survival set-up in Maine.   I also knew the high taxes and poor  (anti-business)  economy made it a bad  retreat choice.   However,  if we were 'stuck' in the northeastern US during a crisis, returning to the 50 acre property seemed the logical solution.   The land  was paid-for, and it did have natural resources.   We also had friends there we could trust.    Plan A in a crisis would be to get back to Montana, Plan B called for returning to my home state of Missouri.  Maine was plan C.  With our travel lifestyle, maybe Plan C would be all we had to work with, someday. 

 My return to the property last Summer could not be defined as a 'Survival Emergency'.  We had enough resources to return West.  In Summer 2010 it was still relatively safe (but expensive)  to travel across the US.  I decided to think strategically and  look at things  as if I had  to  remain in Maine  for an indefinite period of time.  As per  my previous article, we had already loaded our trailer with survival gear and attempted to travel from Montana to Texas during the blizzard of 2010. Now having  left Texas to work  in Maine, I saw re-occupying the land as another type of  'Test'.   Anyway,  despite the economy the fishing is pretty good in Maine, lobster was $4.50 per pound  and we were technically on vacation.  We also had good friends living there, or should I say trying to live there, suffering under the heavy taxation and oppressive government.  There was one final practical reason:  The property had not been occupied in four years.  The road and  existing structures needed maintenance.  

Doing Business in Maine

Four years ago I moved to Montana.  Returning to Maine, my first regret was that I had transported  some of the heavy, easily replicable items out west four  years ago.  About  10% of the 'stuff' I moved at that time:  pry bars, hammers, chains, shovels, and splitting wedges could have been left behind in Maine and duplicated in Montana for probably less cost in both time and money.  Now I needed the tools that were over 2,000 miles away.  I had other things I owned (and needed), but were impossible to carry around.  For example:  my  5000 watt generator, the clothes washer,  the bench grinder, and the welder were all  sitting idle in Montana.  In Maine, it has been my experience that  new (or even used)  tools are relatively expensive compared to the Mid-west or West.  .

When you try to buy used stuff,   people in the Northeast don't tend to bargain at sales, often refusing to sell an item on a whim!   For  example, I saw a beat up circular saw at a garage sale for $20 (firm).  In Missouri, one would have been embarrassed to put $5.00 on such an item.  One person refused to sell me some of the scrap wood he had piled in his yard in preparation for burning.  On the retail side,  the nearest lumber store claimed to be out of chimney parts  (even though the computer said they were well-stocked).   They did not look very hard to find the items, or offer to order what I needed.  The clerk at the lumber store told me that people don't buy stove parts 'during this time of the year'.  'When do they start thinking about heating with wood, when the first  snow falls?' I thought.  There were other such personal experiences occurring on an almost daily basis.  My prior visits to  the Northeast prepared me for such 'customer service' but,  returning 4 years later, I could see things were getting worse.   

Another war story:  A friend of mine tried to pay cash in advance to get a large  propane tank filled (he owned the tank).    The company refused to fill it without my friend completing a credit application (social security number, Drivers License Number, etc.)   for the cash-up-front fill! This and other experiences  proved to us  that it was expensive and troublesome enough to get what we needed in a non-emergency (on a 'good' day), what would have happened if I we were really stuck with  no reliable transportation,   and needed additional  tools or supplies in a collapsed economy?   We won't count on it  in the Northeast!

  To be fair, there are some bargains to be found in the Northeast.   When I was in downtown Boston MA, I loaded my pickup with Craftsman hand tools a lady had put on the curb to throw away..     Apparently a relative died and she was cleaning out the basement.   I had just been passing by at the right time

  We found good, used furniture just by driving around an getting what was left at curbside.   Watch out taking stuff  from a dumpster, I was almost for arrested picking out a sheet of plywood that was being  thrown away.  I also almost cried at the sight of #2 2x6x8 lumber in another dumpster  at a construction site (they would not give me permission to take these boards that were destined for the landfill). 

What I Stored in Maine

Fortunately I did leave some basic things on the property. Here are some of the following items I was pleased to find 'left behind' .  These were stored in the 40 foot shipping container.  :

  1. Bow Saw (2, one over 30 inches)
  2. Ax (1)
  3. Dual-fuel gas lantern (2) (the generator on one lantern failed-I had no replacement part)
  4. Cast Iron Cookware (cheap china stuff, but better than nothing)
  5. Plates, knifes and forks.
  6. An old hammer.
  7. Chain Saw cutting oil (two jugs)
  8. 5 gal Gas Can (2)
  9. Propane Cylinder, full (!) (2)
  10. Log chain.
  11. Rope, various lengths. 
  12. 5 gal Kerosene Can ½ full. 
  13. Large inventory of Screws, Nails, Paint, wire, hinges.
  14. Loping sheers (anvil loppers).
  15. A hand Scythe.
  16. mouse traps (a very welcome find)
  17. rat poison
  18. Strike Anywhere Matches in Plastic Bucket
  19. 5 gal buckets, food grade
  20. Plastic Mixing  Bowls
  21. Splitting Maul (2)
  22. Hatchet
  23. Various Books and Magazines (However, No reference materials or dictionary, no owner's manuals)
  24. sharpening stone.
  25. Cleaning supplies: bleach, tri- sodium phosphate, soap and shampoo. 
  26. Electric/Electronic parts:  copper antenna wire, power cords, replacement plugs, outlets conduit
  27. Co-axial cable, connectors.
  28. Sledge hammer, small hand sledge.
  29. Garden Rake
  30. Broom
  31. Leaf Rake
  32. A mattock. 
  33. Carpentry Saw, rusted and dull.
  34. An Anvil, made from a piece of rail road track. 
  35. Coleman Fuel. 
  36. Some 8 foot lengths of ½ inch concrete reinforcement bar.  Some angle iron, and misc. scrap metal.
  37. 30 ceramic-wire-closure type beer bottles and gaskets (more on that later)
  38. Wheel barrow
  39. 50 gallon water container for water transport from a spring nearby. 
  40. Two Plastic barrels for rain water collection. 
  41. Contractor Grade garden hose. 
  42. Gas Camper Stove

Along with the above list, we had left a gas stove/oven, a propane heater, and a hand washing device plus clothes wringer. 

We  did not arrive empty-handed.  I use a four-wheel drive Toyota towing an insulated 5 x 8 foot cargo trailer (modified for camping use).  We travel with firearms, carpentry tools, 700 watt generator, sleeping bags, cold weather gear, wet weather gear, auto mechanic tools, come-along, SW radios, first aid and medicines, propane heater,  computers, weather radio, gloves, insect repellent, chain saw, electronic repair kit, head lamps, spot light (LED), Sure-fire light, mosquito net, extension cords.  

Among the food items 'left behind' in the shipping container were  the following:

  1. Lentils, beans and rice.  Some wheat. 
  2. Small jar honey.
  3. A fifth of Ever-clear.
  4. One 2-liter can Olive Oil, unopened. 
  5. A few miscellaneous items: salt pepper and ramen noodles.
  6. One standard container of salt, iodized. 

The Olive Oil was in good shape, considering that it was 3 years old and had been exposed  to extreme heat and cold.  Based on this experience, I feel Olive Oil in metal cans store well.  I plan to stock up with greater confidence. 

Ramen Noodles did not store well in the open.  They had a petroleum after-taste when cooked, the probably absorbed fuel smells from being stored  in the closed shipping container.  The lentils, etc seemed okay and even sprouted. 

The salt turned into a solid cylinder after three years in the humid environment.  In the future I will be more careful to store in three or four plastic bags with a roll of toilet paper in the outer bag. 

I was very surprised at what I forgot I had.  For the future, I took  a detailed video of the interior to better plan what I need if I return.  

First Priority:  Reclaiming the Area

The  Leaf Rake, Loping sheers (anvil loppers), mattock  and Bow saw were necessary tools.  Our first job was to get  rid of the three-year accumulation of leaves and saplings efficiently.  This work helped  prevent fire damage, rodent infestation, and, most importantly clears the area where one can see  (not to mention find lost items).  It was a psychological boost  getting the area cleaned up.  I plan to always make sure these tools are in good working condition and may duplicate items in case of breakage.  Anywhere we go, they will be high priority.  Why use an Ax to cut brush  into burnable pieces when one can use the anvil loppers?  It's not 'mountain man' but I found it safer and more practical.  Sure, I used the chain saw a lot to cut firewood, and brush but these hand tools worked just as well, especially close to places where one risked damage to structures or plastic drains. 

A Note On Cutting Wood

The long, 30 inch bow saw was used extensively to cut standing dead  firewood up to 4 inches into usable lengths about 50% of the time. Except for camping I never thought much about the routine use of a bow saw  until observing the German Wood-Cutter.  The German woodsmen  are masters of the Bow Saw.  Gas is expensive in Germany, over $8.00 per gallon and they can't run a chain  saw during certain times of the day due to local noise ordinances. Thus, they plan their work and are careful to not waste fuel.  During chain saw work I have observed a German step over marginal wood and say “Not worth the fuel.”  I learned to use the technique of reversing the Bow Saw and holding the wood with two hands-working the wood over the saw instead of the normal method.  You put one end of the saw on the ground and brace it with your foot, steeping on the inside of the saw so your knee projects through the opening between the blade and the handle.   You can cut short pieces of wood without a saw horse using this technique.  It seems to go faster since you are using both arms.  It is more dangerous. 

In Maine there were no noise restrictions (yet) but sound carries for miles around here.  I could hear someone hammering at least two  miles away.  I don't like the idea of calling too much attention to my location even in a non-emergency.  A local official investigated my operation when he heard my generator (I had to pay for a building permit after he showed up).   The skills and tools necessary for a 'low key'  means of cutting wood such as the bow saw could prove essential in the  future, even if one owns  a chain saw. 


I had brought an 18 volt battery powered circular saw, drill and LED light (all using the same battery) as well as a car charger,  three AC chargers, several 18volt batteries and a small (700 watt) generator.  With the generator, I  charged three batteries at once.  The 18 volt circular saw for me  was one of the most convenient off grid carpentry tools  to have.   A regular AC powered saw would have been okay, but it would require running  the generator at the same time.  I kept trying to buy a used A/C saw, but they proved too expensive.  The saw, drill and work light batteries can be charged anytime one is running the generator for other uses, such as at night with the laptop computer or radio.  I have used solar and wind in the past, but this was not practical in our situation, at that time. 

Small Problems Add Up

I ended up buying a good chalk line and new chalk.   My 25 foot tape failed  and needed to be replaced.  The hand saw (rusted after improper storage)  was taken to a re-sharpening service about a two-hour drive away (they took forever to get the job done. What would have happened in a collapsed economy?)  The lumber store told me they get few orders for re-sharpening.  I thought:  'What are people doing, buying a new saw when the old one gets dull?' .  Doing without  measuring tools would have slowed  things down too much.   I plan to duplicate them.  Sharpening saw blades was an unforeseen problem and must be addressed in the future.

After I built a couple of saw horses, The carpentry work went pretty smooth for the most part.  I  re-learned that protective eye wear and clothing are a must in a remote location after a few 'mistakes in judgment'.     I could see how the use of protective equipment, including boots and gloves would be a strict rule in a collapsed economy with a lack of medical care and increased risk of infection, not to mention being unable to work due to injury (or worse). My chain-saw helmet, Kevlar chaps, and ear protection were critical. 

We had barrels to catch the rain, but needed to be covered with screen wire.  It was not pine needles or sticks that caused trouble it was the mice that my wife found floating at infrequent intervals.  I don't think the wood mice will contaminate the water if removed in a timely manner.   We don't drink the rain water.  But,  my wife is from South America where all rodents (and lack of sanitation/medical care)  mean life-threatening disease. 

What I Really Regret Not Having Left at the Maine  Property

Moving 'stuff'  is heavy, slow and expensive.  Fuel was relatively cheap during this trip, but what  if gas were to hit European prices of  $8.00 per gal? What about No Gas Available?  One has to weigh the risk/return of transporting 'stuff' vs. stocking in place and risking theft or vandalism on an unoccupied property.  I now will adopt the strategy of stocking things that, if stolen, the loss would not be monetarily or psychologically devastating.  Things such as a prized firearm, stored data,  expensive short-wave radios are transported.   Cooking and eating tools, gardening tools, even some guns are, to me worth the risk.  I have to keep in mind the extensive snow fall, and the possibility of having to walk  the 2 mile private road to the property.  This list is both what I had mistakenly  removed, as well as items that I wish that I had on the property that I would need to purchase. 

  1. A hunting rifle.  A cheap one would have been better than no rifle or  trying to transport one's best rifle all over the country.
  2. Extra ammo.  I had only a small amount of ammo at the property.  A large store of ammo could have been hidden somewhere. It's way too heavy to transport. 
  3. A large selection of tools, including a complete socket set.  I had one with me, but I would have felt better  with another set at the property.  Harbor Freight stuff would be better than no tools at all and I like high quality tools.  Again think: Walk-In. 
  4. Spare Bow Saw Blades. Buy many!
  5. Two or three circular saw blades.  Metal cutting blades. 
  6. Motor Oil and Air and Oil Filters. 
  7. A grease gun, and supply of grease.
  8. Chain saw engine oil.  A dedicated spare chain saw gas can.
  9. Spare Chain Saw Chains and extra parts.  (Again, I brought these heavy items with me to Montana.)
  10. Chain saw files, at least 10. 
  11. Spare parts for the Gas Lanterns. (as previously mentioned I did not have an extra Coleman gas lantern generator. I did have a few mantles.  I will buy more.  
  12. A kerosene heater.
  13. More propane tanks, at least four.
  14. Malt Extract, yeast and hops. For making beer.  Hops do not store well without refrigeration. 
  15. Wheat, Beans and Rice.  
  16. Canned Meat.  We brought a supply of dried elk meat from Montana. 
  17. Vitamin C (However there are plenty of apples around during the right time of year) A root cellar would be a "Must-Build: just to get a supply of fruit during the winter. 
  18. Garden Seeds.  
  19. Extra Work Clothing
  20. Work boots  (I had at least two older pairs in Montana) 
  21. Extra Kerosene Can, 5 Gal.  Tip: have your non-preparedness-minded friends give you all their empty charcoal lighter fluid plastic bottles. Store extra Kerosene in those. That way you wont have your eggs in one basket if a 5 gallon container gets punctured. BTW, the same principle applies to fifths versus half gallon liquor bottles.


What I Had to Buy or Have Shipped (What I Could Not Do Without)

I had a high quality (Montana Canvas) canvas wall tent (12' x 12') that I really missed not bringing.
A friend of mine did a huge favor boxing the canvas-only and shipping it to me from Montana.  I built an exterior frame out of white cedar and spruce poles. I bought locally a plastic tarp for a rain fly and sewed-in a spare stove gasket.  This allowed the 5 inch stove pipe to project through the existing stove gasket of the canvas (through the roof) , then out of the rain-fly forming two seals.   It rains a lot more here in Maine than it does in Montana.  The rain fly is a must.    The stove was a cast-iron second-hand model bought for about $50.00 (one of the few good deals I found in Maine). I built a raised floor out of chip-board and shipping crates.  This made a big difference in giving us a warm, sheltered  living space.  

Notes on wall tents:  1.  get a good quality tent (montanacanvas.com).  2.  Use a big stove and make sure you use sheet metal screws at each stove pipe section.  Screw the pipe to the stove as well.  The high wind will balloon the tent, and pull your stove pipe apart if you don't do this.   If you stare at the stove pipe during the highest wind it will not come apart.  When you leave, that's when it will come apart.  Put an aluminum shield around the stove. 

Another tool I bought was a 18  volt angle grinder.  The property is three miles from the ocean and even that far one gets excessive rust corrosion.   One day I was reading the fine print on some exterior grade wood screws that recommended rust-resistant screws within 5 miles of the ocean. That recommendation mirrored my experience.  The angle grinder allowed me to wire brush corroded parts, saw blades and other metal tools.  I used a lot of silicone spray and Liquid Wrench and rust resistant primer.  These are stock-up items  I will add to my list, as well as preventative measures. 

I hate to admit this but I failed to bring a good carpenter's hammer.  This was a serious error in judgment.  The hammer I had left on site was probably 50 years old and the handle broke after a few weeks of heavy use.  I bought an East-wing with the stainless handle during a trip to  nearby (sales tax free) New Hampshire.  I feel extra tool handles will be important in Maine, there are no hickory trees even to make one with.  Even Oak is hard to find. 

I also neglected to bring heavy work boots.  I will always carry this essential item in the future.  It was amazing how fast jogging shoes fell apart after a few weeks of  work. I purchased a good pair of steel toe logging boots, but winced at the Maine  sales tax (Montana has no sales tax). However:  I  also can't afford an injury (who can?).     Again, I have no one to blame but myself for this oversight. 

I ordered off eBay two propane lanterns (used-reconditioned) at a good price.  I refilled the small propane cylinders myself. 

Beer Making

On a lighter note, I did bring beer making supplies.  The beer bottles mentioned earlier can be re-used forever.  The replacement gaskets are re-used many times.   One word of advice:  making beer on an open fire requires a bit more planning.  Be sure the wood is dry, or your final product will have too much of a 'smoky' flavor.  If I stayed over the winter, a root cellar would be necessary to keep things from freezing.   Come to think of it, staying over the winter would require insulating the container and installing a wood stove. 


Good friends were our greatest asset.  My best friend living close by  is a master gardener who provided us with plenty of fresh vegetables.  A propane powered refrigerator or freezer would have allowed us to take full advantage of the surplus, not to mention a root cellar, even if we did not start a garden.    The other good friends we have cultivated over the years gave use moral support, great dinners (and dinner conversation), books and plenty of friendly advise.  Our friends in Boston loaded a hard drive full of excellent home building and survival documentaries for our evening's entertainment. 

Getting Cleaned Up

One of the structures I built on the place was a well insulated bath house. It is heated by propane and also has served as an emergency shelter.  I know outside campfires are and inefficient use of wood, but we used the stainless steel basket out of a washing machine supported on rocks.  With a large supply of dry brush, scrap wood or wood not 'worth' burning in the stove we heated 10 gallons of bath water much quicker than using the stove in the tent, especially on hot days.  We used a separate fireplace  for grilling steaks and outdoor cooking.  Again, I cut small branches with the Anvil Loppers.  You don't have small sticks flying up in your eye as  with an ax or hatchet. 


Lessons Learned About Retreating

  1. Don't assume you can carry everything with you.  Pre-position supplies and hope they don't get stolen or otherwise destroyed.  The shipping container is completely vermin proof as long as you keep it closed.  Have plenty of toilet paper, plastic bags (the 2-gallon size for maps and books when using under wet conditions), soap, rice, beans, oil and bleach.
  2. Have at least one or two 'working guns' stored, it may be all you have to use  in an emergency.  I use Mel Tappan's definition of Working Guns.  This is admittedly hard to do in a humid, coastal environment. 
  3. Really think about what you want and need for an extended period.  Be honest with yourself.   It's better to get it now if you think you will need it rather than think you will  improvise or do without. 
  4. When you provision your retreat, don't forget to oil and grease the tools. We live three miles from the Atlantic Ocean.   I spent too much time removing rust from tools.  Before leaving three years ago I could have greased the tools and upon return,  used Coleman Fuel or gasoline to wipe off the grease, then use the rags to start fires later (or in a real pinch re-use the grease soaked rags later to wipe down the tools again.  For this reason I also (plan B) stored the used motor oil (in plastic oil bottles marked 'used') when I changed the oil in my truck.   A very good friend suggested cosmoline, which is apparently still available.  [JWR Adds: Since used motor oil is carcinogenic, if you must resort to using it, be sure to wear plastic or rubber gloves when apply or removing it!]
  5.  You still need friends. I can't emphasize this enough.  
  6. I really, really need to purchase the necessary tools to sharpen drill bits and hand saws.  In a real emergency there is no way one could have the time or money to 'outsource'.  In fact, getting it done via  a sharpening service in New England 2010 was time consuming and expensive.  I believe a saw sharpening shop would be very valuable in a collapsed economy, as well as bulk saw blades for bow saws,  hack saws, etc. 
  7. There are many things one can make out of wood, but now is the time to experiment.  If you have an electric drill, a  chain saw  and a few boxes of wood  screws it's amazing what one can put together out of pieces of scrap wood, saplings  and standing dead lumber.  This  includes drying racks, chairs, benches, temporary scaffolding  etc.  If you can't afford exterior screws, get the interior ones, they seem to  last quite a long time.  If you can't recover the screws from the wood burn it in the fire and sift out the screws later (This approached is based on a  story my grandfather told about people in the mid-west 100 years ago,  burning down houses when they moved to recover the (more valuable) blacksmith nails) I tried this with scrap, broken  furniture that   I did not want to disassemble.  It worked. The fire often does not seem to affect the screws, unless already bent or abused.   
  8. Everyone who reads survival blog  probably realizes you can't store regular automobile gas for any length of time (how long will  fuel stabilizer work anyway?) .  This is a weak link when one depends on a chain saw for firewood and yet also   would like  to prepare for shortages.  I mentioned this problem to one of my German  Friends who happens to be a Forest Ranger and expert woodsman.  He said  they have a dedicated chain saw gas (pre-mixed or regular)  over there that will store for about two years. He said it was an 'alkylate petrol'. Brand names are: Green Cut, Motomix, Aspen, Oecomix, Clean Sprit, CleanLife. I contacted Stihl which sells the Motomix brand.   At this writing, the Stihl representative said it was 'unavailable' in the USA  (then I found out you can buy it in Canada).   My German friend  told me it is about $18.00 per gallon (pre-mixed).  I could see storing  about 20 gallons per year in the most extreme circumstances.  The 20 gallons per year figure assumes no gasoline available on the market for mixing with the stored oil.  I would sure sleep better at night with a supply of this 'special stuff' around.  In addition to this 'special chain saw fuel' they use  cheap Vegetable Oil for routine chain lubricant instead of regular Chain Bar Oil.  
  9. The canvas tent and stove combination worked well  until the weather stayed below freezing day and night.  It then became very hard to keep the tent warm under these conditions.  I made sure a supply of split, dry white cedar was available each morning.    I will need to build a permanent structure if we plan to stay during  winter (or return in the winter).  A possible solution is to insulate part of the shipping container, and modify it for a 'efficiency apartment'.  An advantage to this approach would be that no one would know for sure what was inside the unit, once the doors were closed.   With insulated chimney pipe being $100.00 a section in Maine,  I would camouflage the  pipe with a ventilator fan during our absence). 
  10. I ended up buying a lot more rope.  We  also would go beach combing,  which was a source for free short lengths of usable cordage.  Would there be intense competition for this 'trash' during a period of hyperinflation or material scarcity?   I have made rope out of the white cedar bark here using primitive weaving techniques.  It does work.
  11. Finally, I want to say something about 'camping' stuff'.  Many Germans, by tradition,  discourage talking at the dinner table, with the saying 'Eating is Eating and Talking is Talking'.  This strangely reminded me of  Camping equipment!  Camping is Camping and Survival is Survival. If I visit the place for one or two days I will be camping.   For real in-place retreat survival  I found few recreational camping supplies or equipment practical.  Cast Iron, Canvas, Big Heavy Lights, Heavy Work Clothes, Full Size Shovels, Leather, Thick Goose Down Comforters and 30+ inch bow saws (you get the idea) were the rule for us.  We did however depend on the $1.00 fold up toaster quite often. 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation  on the Maine Property

The shipping container had originally been placed on a foundation of crossed  logs (cribbing).  Over the 5-6 years since placement,  it had sank about 8  inches on one end.  I decided to level the container and place a more permanent treated post and beam foundation under the structure.  I first hired a backhoe (a reliable  neighbor who moved there from New Hampshire)  to dig holes 4 feet deep  on 4-foot centers under the container.  I then rented a 20 ton jack.  After two weeks of careful lifting and shimming, it was ½ inch above level (I had brought a survey instrument).

A Safety Tip:  Don't try to jack up a shipping container all at once,  to avoid a crush-injury (or worse) lift maximum 1-2  inches (3+ cm)   per day and redundantly reinforce everything. Rope the jack so it won't fly toward you if it springs out unexpectedly.  I know this from experience.  This was my second shipping container project.  Poor judgment lifting a 40 foot container in Missouri nearly cost me my leg. 

 When the container was completely lifted to spec,  I then placed 6x6 treated posts in the holes and used rail road ties as cross-pieces.  Again, this was all done off-grid with the available hand tools.  The survey instrument was a restored model from the 1950s (no laser).  The only thing that really bugged me about the project was that if the container fell on my arm or leg (or worse) it would be a long time before someone came to check on me in that remote part of the woods.  Carry a cell phone or radio within reach if you try this alone.     

Summary and Conclusion

There are a lot of problems in the Northeast.   I don't want to have to retreat there long-term. But things changed, bringing me back  due to work opportunity.    My wife and I at least had a place to go to that was paid for, relatively secure and had a small network of friends.  Most importantly,  it was close to where we were working  at the time.  I did not go to the 'retreat' as well prepared as I wanted to be,  and the retreat was not as well equipped as it should have been.  However, I learned a lot about what I needed, and what I 'thought' I could do without .  I can use this information no matter where I go.   For me this experiment was a worthwhile set of lessons that I had to re-learn and reinforced what I already knew.  It gave me the experience to set (or re-set) priorities.   The project  reminded me of how important it is to always be asking oneself the questions:  how can I  be more prepared?  What obvious things am I missing in my preparedness program?  I learn more from these real-world experiences than reading a ton of books  after I make the mistakes then read the books  it is much better understood for some reason).    Anyway,  will one ever have the perfect conditions to travel to one's refuge  in an emergency?  Conditions for finally moving to one's retreat are never ideal.     We  can only try to do our best, improve our condition and learn from our mistakes---while we have the time and resources to make them. 

Many people feel the need to be prepared for TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situations, and I am one of those people. I do not know what leads other people down the path to preparedness and preparation but the answer for me would just be a simple case of awareness because of the close to home disasters that have happened in my lifetime. My father (a Vietnam veteran) taught me to always be reasonably prepared for any situation because you never know what can go wrong, and he led by example by keeping food stores, first aid and medical supplies, and emergency kits around the house.   While I have never lived in a collapsing country warring within itself, or a country falling apart due to full economic collapse with food shortages and people rioting in the streets, my little area in Bullitt County, Kentucky has seen its fair share of disasters. Some manmade issues and others caused by Mother Nature, but in all cases those who were well prepared fared far better than those who were not.  

* November 1991 a train carrying 9,000 lbs of explosives, 90 cluster bombs and multiple highly flammable cars crashed through the rail bridge and into the Salt River authorities immediately evacuated the surrounding area (about 1,000 people) and sealed off entrance to the area. Luckily the bombs didn't explode and the disaster was contained to just the burn off of some chemicals, but people were misplaced from their homes until the area was considered safe.  

* January 1994 a record snowfall of 15.9" came down overnight trapping an unprepared city in their homes, closing down schools for over a week, halting business operations for almost as long due to the city being totally unprepared and not having adequate equipment to clear the roads. My family, nice and toasty in the house with a fully stocked pantry, while others walked to the store because they couldn't move their cars. Neighbors knocked on our door asking my father to take them to the doctor, the store and many other places because he was the only one around our area with 2 four wheel drive vehicles that could manage the roads without the city clearing them.  

*May 1996 an F4 tornado tore through multiple parts of Bullitt County wiping out homes from Brooks all the way through to Taylorsville. Electric was out for almost a week with many residents leaving for hotels or locations, my family was able to sit tight with lanterns, camp stoves and food stores already prepped for such emergencies.  

*February 1997 massive flooding shut down large areas of Louisville along the Ohio River, Shepherdsville along the Salt River and many other parts of Kentucky. 19 people lost their lives due to being unprepared for arising situations. The city again fell down to lack of planning having misplaced the gates to the flood walls in Louisville. Shepherdsville did not fare much better evacuating the city proper which was 9ft deep in water.  

*January 2007 Train derailment in Brooks, Kentucky causing chemical spills and the local government to prompt a recommended 1 mile radius evacuation (my home was in the two mile zone and we had to shut off the heat to stop it from pulling in fumes). The effects of this one are still noticeable from burned out trees along the tracks to the fenced off staging area where they cut the train cars up to haul off.   In all of these cases, the city government responded within a reasonable amount of time, giving what resources they had to help with the situation and then within a matter of days the Governor calling the areas disaster areas and getting federal assistance down to those in need but in my case we were home, going about our normal prepared lives thanks to my dad for planning ahead. I had the ability to witness these scenarios from relative comfort due to a little forward thinking and now I find myself trying to preplan when it comes to my family's safety. And I think about the fact that things could have been much worse in each of these situations, it could have been the catastrophe like Katrina where the government and FEMA fell down on the job.  

Building on his principles and those thoughts I have started to learn more on my own, which is what has led me to sites like SurvivalBlog.com and SurvivalCache.com and many others and it has opened my eyes even further to many ways of being prepared that had never crossed my mind (BOBs, Bugging in, food storage and preservation and a plethora of other things) that I have started to use in my prepping. I have started reading books like the US Army Survival Manual (FM 21-76) and that SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman and building the different kits I have been reading about and trying to speak with some of my friends to get them more prepared for situations.   Here are a few things I have learned living through these situations and prepping for multiple other scenarios:

1.        Water is a must. Find a corner in your house and stock a few gallons or a couple of cases of bottles, rotate them out every so often with a fresh supply. Have more than one way in your house to obtain water if necessary: i.e. water purification tabs, Katadyn filter, knowledge of making your own filter or just plain boiling it if necessary.

2.        In every situation the necessities are the first to go at the store so keep your pantry stocked with a minimum of three days of food. If you have some unused space in your house stock 3 days worth outside of your normal use foods. Look for items with at least an expiration date 1 year from the time of purchase. Can goods will last a couple of years past but keep track and rotate out when food nears its expiration date. MREs, camp food, and other non perishables make great items.

3.        Have a plan. It is no good to have yourself fully prepared for TEOTWAWKI if your family has no clue of what is going on. What are you going to bug out and forget to take them with you?

4.        Keep lists, organized lists. Know what is in your emergency gear, your bug out bag, and the food stores you built up. Know how to use the gear you add to your emergency set up, it may  look cool be a totally awesome survival tool but if you don’t know how to use it, well then it’s totally pointless.

5.        Add a map to your emergency kit and know how to use it. Your GPS may be able to get you anywhere you want to go, but it’s useless if you don’t have the power to operate it. Maps have a much longer track record and work without having to be charged up. Also have a localized map and have multiple evac routes highlighted out of your neighborhood in case your chosen route is blocked (I lived on a dead end street as a kid and when the tornado came through it blocked the only road out).

6.        If you have a generator, then have a stock of gas/fuel piled up to run it because if the power is out then the pumps at the station up the road are not going to work to get gas.

7.        A good knife can be your best friend in any situation.  And you are only as sharp as your knife so keep it sharp and take care of it.

8.        It is always better to have something than to have nothing at all. With that motto I have put together a few small pocket size survival kits and I keep them at home, in the vehicles and in my pack. For the most part they are nothing more than a small can(Altoid’s breath mints can) that I put razor blades, a basic first aid set up/ burn cream, Band-Aids, butterfly closure, antiseptic ointment, some fishing line with hooks and split shot sinkers, snare wire, matches and a lighter plus some cotton wadding as tinder.

9.        Do not store all of your gear together. If your home is hit by a tornado, a flood, fire or whatever can happen if all of your gear is stored together and that part is destroyed you have no recourse. Have stuff stored between the house, garage, shed at least one stockpile may survive the situation.

10.    Never underestimate the desperation of those around you. Do not let anyone know you are building up stockpiles, because you will be the first place everyone around you turns in case of emergency.

11.    Build your own emergency kits. There are many styles out there for sale and many of them include good, quality tools and survival items. But you need to tailor them to your own needs, I have not seen any kit that covers everything I want in a kit (and I like adding multiple ways to start a fire). Plus you can usually build them out of better tools that you pick cheaper than buying the whole kit together.

12.    Learn multiple weapons systems. Know the AR-15/M-16 system and the Kalashnikov because they are prevalent in the present era and you will find them far more common than you believe. Don’t rely on just knowing how to breakdown and maintain your pistol, or one style of shotgun because you may not be able to find ammo for those.

13.    Research, learn, practice you may have all the skills necessary but if you don’t practice them then they won’t be of much use.

14.    Remember paying off your debt as part of your preparation. The credit card companies, banks, loan companies have their info protected in bunkers made to survive all but total annihilation. So unless it is a total TEOTWAWKI situation then they will come after you after things return to normalcy. Just pay it down now and you will not have to worry about it in the future.   This is just my .02 and what I am doing to prepare my family. Be safe, be prepared, keep your powder dry and your spirits high.  

Mr. Rawles:
I'm planning to raise up a big batch of chickens this Spring and Summer, just for meat. (I'm traveling next Fall, so I won't be wintering over any laying hens.) I plan to butcher the whole flock in September. Is there anywhere I can get just roosters, for a reasonable price? Thx, - Pat B. in Arkansas

JWR Replies: Yes, I recommend Murray McMurray hatchery. They sell reasonably-priced chicks via mail order. They have umpteen breeds and ordering options available. You can select all roosters, and all heavy breeds, for example. We've been Murray McMurray customers since the early 1990s, and we've been very happy with their service. In our family, the Murray McMurray catalog is by far the most heavily-thumbed catalog at the ranch house. It is also the source of hours of dinner table debate each winter, as we decide what to order for the following Spring shipment.

Hi Jim, 
I'd like to make a short response to the blog regarding "Archery Equipment for Those Living in Gun-Deprived Locales".

As a lifelong archer and hunter myself, there are a couple of things I think should be pointed out in so far as archery relates to survival.  One of the biggest advantages an archer brings to the table in a confrontation or survival situation is stealth and camouflage.  By necessity, we have to be closer, better camouflaged, and more stealthy than when hunting with a firearm as we are now pitting our skills against an animal with physical senses superior to our own, and often an uncanny "sixth sense" about anything out of place in the woods.  I found my archery background extremely beneficial while serving as a sniper in the U.S. Military for this very reason.  

While I generally maintain that archery is for procuring food and disposing of large dangerous predators, I would also have to agree that a strategically employed archer could be of value in perhaps initiating an ambush, or a sentry removal situation (Only with a proper broadhead ~which I will discuss in a moment~ and a neck shot, which would equate to a virtual decapitation), however anything beyond that I would have to question it's wisdom.  That being said of course, you fight with what you've got, cultivate the skills to make the most of it, and stack the deck in your favor everywhere you can (may want to keep a short sword handy as well, for up close ;)

The supplies are not expensive, and store indefinitely for repairing / replacing arrows, however be sure to learn how to tune your bow yourself!  Lay in a supply of extra strings & cables, and consider investing in a bow press.  These presses are not that expensive and it is almost impossible to do much work without one. (They will also provide a possible barterable skill). 

Regarding bows there are many good brands and models, but they are like a good gun, not cheap, however you'll get what you pay for.  Research it carefully because it is kind of like getting married, and if you change your mind afterward, it can cost you an arm and a leg.  I and my three sons all shoot Hoyt bows, however I am very seriously considering switching to the new Matthews (easier maintenance, better customer service if needed, etc).  

One very interesting bow I have come across recently is made by LibertyArchery.com.  I can't find one to hold myself, but when I do, it may very well follow me home. The concept is brilliant, I see so much application for it in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.  I would encourage you to check it out, it looks like it would also negate the problem of shooting from kneeling or any other "close quarters" related issues.

On a final note, chose your broadheads carefully, there are many and if you would like a recommendation,  I have switched from the Muzzy (which I loved), to the Rage Broadhead.  Look at the dangerous game video footage on the maker's site and you will see why!  When they set the soda can in the wound channel, equate that to the neck shot on the very bad man who wants to hurt your loved ones, and it shines a whole new light on the word "ventilate".   Take care and God Bless.  - Sheepdog Dan

Mark T. suggested: No Surrender on Debt Ceiling. Here is a key quote: "...as one senior Chinese banking official recently noted, in some ways the U.S. financial position is more perilous than Europe’s. 'We should be clear in our minds that the fiscal situation in the United States is much worse than in Europe,' he recently told reporters. 'In one or two years, when the European debt situation stabilizes, [the] attention of financial markets will definitely shift to the United States. At that time, U.S. Treasury bonds and the dollar will experience considerable declines.'”

Frequent content contributor Sue C. sent this: The Eight States Running Out of Homebuyers

San Francisco pension costs jump $20. Has anyone done the math on the long-term sustainability of their pension plan? What happens in 15 years, when veritable legions of policemen, firemen and city workers retire on six-figures, annually? This same scenario will surely play out in all of the cities across America that have overpaid workers.

Hooray! House GOP Lists $2.5 Trillion in Spending Cuts. Now if they'll just stand firm on not raising the Federal Debt Ceiling...

Items from The Economatrix:

The Great Depression II  

Let 'em Go Bankrupt  

Anthony Bolton:  "Gold Is The Only Commodity To Buy" 

Devvy Kidd:  True State Of The Economy--You Better Be Darned Scared

'Explosive' Food Prices the Biggest Risk: Analyst

Gallery: Your favorite products - now 20% smaller

Reader Nick L. wrote: "My wife noticed something the last time we were shopping at Superstore (A chain of grocery stores in Canada). 40 lbs. Rooster Brand AAA Scented Rice was "on sale" at $25.98 with regular price listed as $28.97."

Inflation Growing in Emerging Markets

Oil to exceed $150 a barrel, ‘probably go over’ $200 warns investor

Global food price index surged 25% in 2010

Gas Prices Up for Nearly All; 70% Expect $4-A-Gallon Gas by July. This might be a good time to top off the storage tanks at your retreat!

VOA: World Food Prices Expected to Stay High or Keep Rising

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy's magazine ban bill (H.R. 308) is getting a fairly chilly reception in the House of Representatives. As of January 20th there were just 53 co-sponsors who are predictably nearly all Democrats. (Bills with "popular support" often get more than 200 co-sponsors.) Meanwhile, in America's heartland the demand for full capacity magazines is greatly outstripping supply. (Just try to find a dealer with any Glock or Springfield XD magazines on the shelf!) The gun shows this weekend are going to be packed with buyers. Mrs. McCarthy will learn that "308" has a much different meaning to American gun owners: .308 is a caliber, and we are buying lots of it. Yes ,ma'am we are buying lots of ammunition, and lots of magazines. I predict that the end result of Rep. McCarthy's efforts will be that her bill will never make it out of committee and she will be named Magazine Saleswoman of the Year. That would be sweet and fitting. Dulce et decorum est!

   o o o

Speaking of magazines, don't miss Commander Zero's recent comments. I concur! It is better to be a decade early than a day late! A pile of magazines is better than money in the bank--especially with mass inflation on the horizon. And keep in mind that you can't shoot a burglar with a silver dollar. (Well, maybe with a Wrist Rocket...) Oh, and be sure to read Tam's post over at her View From the Porch blog, where she nails NPR for soliciting a shill pseudo "pro gun" debate participant.

   o o o

The 21st Century: A New Golden Age for Pirates

   o o o

Siggy mentioned a natural hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate (HSCAS) fertilizer that is mined in Utah, sold under the trade name Azomite. OBTW, I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: Get your garden soil analyzed, folks. (Your State Agricultural extension office can put you in touch with a local soil lab.) Choosing the right fertilizers and adjusting the pH could mean the difference between garden soil that will keep your family nourished in The Crunch, or starvation!

   o o o

Some fitting tributes to the late Aaron Zelman have now been posted over at the JPFO web site. His legacy lives on, and he is greatly missed!

"Three-fifths to two-thirds of the federal budget consists of taking property from one American and giving it to another. Were a private person to do the same thing, we'd call it theft. When government does it, we euphemistically call it income redistribution, but that's exactly what thieves do -- redistribute income. Income redistribution not only betrays the founders' vision, it's a sin in the eyes of God." - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Thursday, January 20, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

At any retreat or home base a garden is vital to help supplement your stored food supply with fresh fruits and vegetables. In the past decade a disorder has been rapidly occurring in the bee pollinator populations that can put the viability of your garden in jeopardy.  Unless you adapt to prepare for this phenomenon and its possible affects upon bee populations, your garden can have serious short comings come harvest time.

Pollination is the process in which a pollen grain (produced by male portion of a flower) is deposited upon the stigma (female portion of flower), the pollen grain grows a tube down thru the style to reach a ovary in the pistil.  Once there, fertilization can occur thereby producing a seed.  For example every corn kernel on a ear of corn has a pollen tube (silk) which has grown down to each individual ovary to bring about fertilization to produce a seed (i.e. no pollination = no seed).

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear.  This phenomenon was named for the sudden collapse of North American honey bees in late 2006, (similar collapses have been seen in Europe, India, Brazil and Taiwan).  The reasons for this collapse are not known as of yet but the major factors seem to be from either a virus, Varroa mites and / or a fungal parasite called Nosema.  There is no known remedy for this as of yet but scientists are busy working on the issue.
“The phenomenon is particularly important for crops such as California almonds where honey bees are the predominant pollinator.  The crop value in 2006 was estimated at $1.5 billion.  In 2000, the total U.S. crop value that was wholly dependent on honey bee pollination was estimated to exceed $15 billion “ (Morse, R.A.; Calderone, N.W., The Value of Honey Bees as Pollinators of US Crops in 2000. Cornell University (2000). Honey bees are responsible for the pollination of approximately one third of the United States crop species, (see below).  It has been suggested that when honey bees are absent from a region, that native pollinators may reclaim the niche, it is assumed that these species are going to be better adapted to serve those plants (assuming that the plants normally occur in that specific area), but new research puts this suggestion in jeopardy.

Penn State researchers have found that native pollinators, like wild bees and wasps, are also infected by the same viral diseases as honey bees and that these viruses are transmitted via pollen. (Their research is published on December 22nd, 2010 in PLoS ONE, an online open-access journal).   These findings not only show that European honey bees along with native pollinators in North America are affected by CCD but also raise biosecurity issues because pollen is currently being imported into many countries thru ought the world to feed honey bees used in agricultural pollination.   This disorder is also spreading rapidly due to Beehive rental and migratory beekeeping (moving and renting bee hives thru ought North America ) .
“Since 2006 more than three million bee colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died”, for example in 2008/2009 there was a loss of 28.6% of managed beehives,  and in 2009/2010 there was a loss of 33.8% of managed beehives in the US.

How does this affect my philosophy on surviving TEOTWAWKI?
Your gardens will have to be adapted for the possibility of planting vegetables, fruits and seeds that are either pollinated by wind, self pollinated, pollinated by a species that is not affected by CCD or to be pollinated by hand.  Also some plants which are pollinated by bees but in which the editable portions are not affected by pollination (for example the carrot) would be eliminated by this scenario but their seeds are included.

Lists of plants and their pollination methods are long and can be found at the following links.

Wikipedia's List of crop plant pollinated by bees


Iowa State Pollenizing Data

Some of the more common plants that are pollinated by bees in which the fruits or seeds are used for food stuffs are:

Common name

Latin name


Commercial product of pollination


Abelmoschus eshculentus

Honey bees and solitary bees



Allium cepa

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Apium graveolens

Honey bees, flies and solitary bees



Beta vulgaris

Honey bees, hoover flies and solitary bees


Squash, Pumpkin, Gourd, Zuchini

Cucurbita spp.

Honey bees, Squash bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Citrullus lanatus

Honey bees and solitary bees



Coffea spp.

Honey bees, stingless bees and solitary bees



Cucumis melo L.

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Cucumis sativus

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees




Honey bees



Fagopyrum esculentum

Honey bees, and solitary bees



Glycine max, Glycine soja

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Linum usitatissimum

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Gossypium spp.

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees

Seed, Fiber


Malus domestica, Malus sylvestris

Honey bees, Native bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Persea americana

Honey bees, stingless bees and solitary bees



Pyrus communis

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees


Peach, Nectarine

Prunus persica

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Helianthus annuus

Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees



Pimenta dioica

Honey bees and solitary bees



Prunus armeniaca

Honey bees, bumblebees, flies and solitary bees



Prunus spp

Honey bees, bumblebees, flies and solitary bees



Prunus dulcis, Prunus amygdalus or Amygdalus communis

Honey bees, bumblebees, flies and solitary bees


Plants that are pollinated by wind or self pollinated.

  • Some common self-pollinators are:
    • Tomatoes
    • Lettuce
    • Peas
    • Beans
    • Eggplant
    • Peppers
    • Endive and Escarole
    • Barley
    • Wheat
    • Oats
    • Cowpeas
  • Some wind pollinators include:
    • Sweet corn
    • Beet

For those who raise their own beehives you may or may not have experienced this phenomenon in your beehives.  If you do have your own beehives there are signs to watch out for.  A colony which has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by all of these conditions occurring simultaneously per the Canadian honey council ("Discussion of phenomenon of Colony disorder collapse". Canadian Honey Council. 2007-01-27)

  • Presence of capped brood in abandoned colonies. Bees normally will not abandon a hive until the capped brood have all hatched.
  • Presence of food stores, both honey and bee pollen:
      • Which are not immediately robbed by other bees
      • Which when attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed.
  • Presence of the queen bee. If the queen bee is not present and the hive died because it was queen less it is not considered CCD.

Symptoms that may arise before the final colony collapse are:

  • Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood,
  • Workforce seems to be made up of young adults
  • The colony members are hesitant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup.

The Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium (March 1, 2007) offered the following tentative recommendations for beekeepers noticing the symptoms of CCD:

  • Do not combine collapsing colonies with strong colonies.
  • When a collapsed colony is found, store the equipment where you can use preventive measures to ensure that bees will not have access to it.
  • If you feed your bees sugar syrup, use Fumagillin.
  • If you are experiencing colony collapse and see a secondary infection, such as European Foulbrood, treat the colonies with Terramycin, not Tylan.

Other possible remedies include:

  • Switching to native bees (suggested before Penn state research was revealed, see above). or
  • Using disease resistant bees (if any become available in the future).

If you are concerned about the prospect of your plants not being pollinated, or wish to increase the chances, you can always hand pollinate your garden (or selected plants).  On flowers that have only one or other sex, locate the female flower; remove a male flower (male flowers will have a stamen, which is a pollen covered stalk that sticks up in the center of the flower. Female flowers will have a sticky knob called a stigma inside the flower, sitting on top of the pistil, which will eventually become the fruit once fertilization occurs). Carefully peel off the petals of the male flower, leaving only the stamen which is covered in yellow pollen. Take this stamen and rub it all over the pistil of the female flower.  On plants with “perfect” flowers (male and female parts in same flower) simply take a brush, remove pollen from stamens and rub on stigma.  While this is a very laborious process it will guarantee that your plant gets pollinated.

In conclusion, whether or not CCD will get worse, will correct itself due to natural events or man will find a remedy, it would be best to recognize the problem and prepare for the possibility that your food supply might not only be in jeopardy from other humans, but from natural processes themselves.

JWR Adds: Needless to say, dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees are easier (and at safer ladder heights) to hand pollinate than standard varieties. And, thankfully there are other insects that can pollinate (albeit inefficiently), such as Mason Bees, wasps, and even flies.

A lot of time and effort is placed into most preppers' survival plans, or at least the ones who intend to survive: bug out bags, radio communication, firearms, food storage and, a personal favorite, etcetera. However, many of us forget two of our most important assets to survival; our feet. Foot care isn't just something for your podiatrist to worry about. Perhaps, it's so mundane and simplistic that many of us don't even think about those two guys down under doing all the stepping so they may find this surprising; your feet will make or break your entire survival plan.

Have you thought about how much you use your feet? It may sound stupid, but take a moment and think about your survival plan and include three painfully large blisters on your feet after your first day walking because you didn't take the proper precautions. You won't be going anywhere quick; blisters are painful and, if you took the moment I suggested you take for reflection, you've realized you use your feet a lot. Diabetics need to be especially careful about their feet because they are more likely to have adverse effects from foot injury.

In the military, they are very fervent about foot care and with good reason. In a combat situation, you need to be able to move: jump, run crawl, etc. In a SHTF scenario, who knows what will be required of you at any given point. However, the fact of the matter is if you don't learn proper foot care, you'll be sitting this one out.

Basic Foot Care

1. Buy boots that fit: Your boots are one of the most important things that you'll wear. You need to make sure they fit right, and do the job. More on this later.
2. Change your socks often: Your feet are nasty after roughing it for miles in the same socks. If you don't believe me, walk a 12Ks tonight and, upon returning home, take your foot out of your boot, place it to your nose and take a whiff. When you wake up, you'll agree. Keeping your feet clean keeps them healthy.
3. Keep your feet dry: If your feet get wet, change socks as soon as possible. You don't want to be trudging around with wet feet due to the increased friction it will add on your skin and therefore giving you blisters.
4. Use foot powder: This goes with 2 and 3 but it deserves its own category. Foot powder will help keep your feet clean and dry. Therefore, it's a good idea to stash a couple  bottles of it in your survival gear.
5. Insoles: Not necessary but a good idea for more support and comfort. Remember, walking is hard work, and your feet have to carry you and all your gear; treat them nice.


Blisters are perhaps the most common foot ailment. Usually blisters are caused by friction. They are bumps on the skin that are filled with fluid. Excessive friction or rubbing to one portion  of your foot, for example your heel, will cause a blister to form. Usually, this is from wearing poorly fitting or unbroken in boots or shoes, poorly fitting socks, etc. It is important not to pop blisters, especially if they are smaller as this could lead to an infection. Large blisters should be  drained using a sterile needle (hopefully you have a few in your medical supplies.) If you need to lance and drain a large blister, do not remove the layer of skin because it will keep the blister somewhat protected from infection.

I know you're  all tough dudes and dudettes. You'll want to push through the pain, it's just a little blister after all, it can't really hurt you. Unfortunately, friction blisters need time to heal and continued friction on the area will only continue to break down the skin and bring more fluid to the area thereby increasing the chances of infection. Blisters become infected by the introduction of outside bacteria.  The blister will show symptoms of becoming more painful, swelling, and reddening. and you'll notice a thick fluid filling the blister.  Also, infected blisters lead to foot ulcerations which are extremely severe.


1. Cover it:
I speak from experience when I say Moleskin is a lifesaver, not to mention it's cheap. If you don't have Moleskin because you don't take my advice seriously, you can make use of gauze or a band-aid or even duct-tape if you're feeling especially industrious mixed with a little lucky and perhaps a dash of MacGyver. The important thing here is to add padding to remove the friction from the blister.

2. Clean it:
Clean the area with disinfectant something or other. Alcohol or iodine are especially useful, for disinfecting (remember not to use iodine if you have a shellfish/penicillin allergy or at least check with a real medical person about your allergy to see if it's affected by iodine) however, use whatever is clean and available.

3. Pierce The Big Ones (As mentioned before, only advisable on large blisters)
With a sterile needle, pierce the side of the blister and allow the fluid to drain. This will ease some discomfort and also will allow healing to begin. It is important not to rip the skin off but to place the loose skin back over the injury so that it offers some protection.

4. Finish up:
Apply antibiotics if you have them, or else just make sure the area is clean and bandage it up. If you absolutely must push on, make sure that your bandage allows for little or no friction to the area in question. Remember, bandages like to come off and so it's important that you apply the bandage well and securely so that it won't come undone while you're walking and reintroduce friction to the area. Changing the bandage every day or so is helpful to maintain cleanliness.

If your blisters become infected, there is a chance that they may turn into foot ulcers. ( As mentioned before, diabetics need to be especially careful because they're more susceptible to adverse foot conditions.) A foot ulcer is literally an open sore. They can become increasingly deep and even stretch into other fundamental parts of your feet: tendon, nerves, bones, etc. Foot ulcers that are left untreated can become abscess and even become gangrene. Try surviving TEOTWAWKI after that awesome amputation performed by none other than your father-in-law who you feel only survived the SHTF because he wants to make your life even more miserable post-collapse.

It is important to make sure your footgear fits well and does the job you're asking it to do. Boots are not the place to get stingy with your money because in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, those might be the last pair of boots you find in a long time that fit correctly. I'm not saying you need to spend $500 on a pair of boots or anything crazy like that. You do need to ensure that your feet are comfortable and there is no discomfort with your footgear. If you must, bring your mom along so she can do the toe-push thing and make sure your toes are up there. Since she's there you could also try on pants so she can grab and shake the front of your pants while asking loudly if the crotch fits; just an idea. If you have a specific type of arch (normal, high, or flat) and need extra support, buy insoles.

There are several different kinds of boots out there for you to choose from, as you may have guessed. Also, there are many different accoutrements that come with these boots: steel toe, water proof, etc. Obviously the most important factor is fit. I don't know about you but I'm not going to lug the extra weight around by having steel toes, either. I'm sure someone will avidly dispute my reasoning, talking about how to protect your feet but then not wear steel toes. However, steel toed boots are made for impact protection, not hiking. I've had a pair of Bates combat boots for years now, issued to me by Uncle Sam none-the-less, and never have I had an instance - in the military or out - where  I thought they needed to be steel toed. [JWR Adds: The only exception to this is getting a dedicated pair of boots just for wood splitting and shop work, in warm or cool weather. Never wear steel toe boots in sub-freezing weather.] If you live up north like I do, it would be a good investment to get another pair of boots specifically designed for winter. You can find awesome Gore-Tex, waterproof boots for reasonable prices. Break all your boots in right when you get them, don't wait for SHTF before you take them out of the box.

Your feet are important. You should be adding foot powder, extra socks and moleskin to your survival supply regardless. Make sure you own a good pair of boots that you wouldn't mind wearing for a long, long while. Remember to check out insoles if you know you need them or think they would make trudging around more comfortable. In short, make sure you're taking care of your feet so they can take care of you.

Ireland as a retreat environment   We’ve all heard about the economic disaster that has recently befallen Ireland. The banking crisis has hit hard the country that less than five years ago was the third-richest nation per capita in the world. Unemployment is rising fast – almost 25% of under-25 year olds are out of work. And the economy is now effectively controlled by the terms of the recent IMF and EU bailout. So why consider Ireland for your survival retreat?  

1. It’s conservative. The Irish Constitution begins by invoking “the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred” and continues by “humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial.” This is rhetoric, of course, but it isn’t just rhetoric. Homosexuality was only legalised in the late 1990s, and abortion is still illegal. The Constitution guards the family as “the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.” It “recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved,” and promises to “endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home” (Article 41). The Constitution also identifies the family as “the primary and natural educator of the child ... and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.” It promises that “parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State” and that “the State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State” (Article 42). There aren’t many European countries that offer this degree of protection for the family or for home schooling.

2. It’s largely rural. One quarter of the population lives in Dublin, the capital city. There are also large populations in cities such as Cork, Limerick and Galway. The midlands are under-populated – in fact the current population of Ireland is around half that of the mid-nineteenth century. Where we live, on the edge of the Dublin commuter belt, most country houses have an acre of ground and almost everyone is, unconsciously, a “prepper,” keeping hens and growing a large vegetable garden. The annual national agricultural festival – the Ploughing Match – attracts visitors interested in all aspects of country living. Last year over 180,000 people attended the three-day event. That’s a huge percentage of the national population interested in paying to see exhibitions of bee-keeping, home butchering and ploughing with traditional implements!

3. It’s citizenry is armed. Guns are relatively easy to obtain, and the licence is renewed every three years. Students in Trinity College Dublin can join the university rifle club for an annual fee of €4, for example, and on that basis qualify for a licence. It’s reckoned that there is one gun for every dozen or so people.

4. It’s defensible. The price of a castle is close to the cost of an average family home. I’m not joking: take a look at this recent offering to the market. Ireland is a small island on the edge of Europe, with a history of conflict, a tradition of national defence, and the real potential for agricultural self-sufficiency. Come join us!  - C.G.

There is a website that I just found out about that lists all of the auctions in your area.  I am not affiliated with them at all, but I will be looking into it more.  It is called www.auctionzip.com.  Plug in your zip code and mile radius and it will come up with a monthly calendar of upcoming auctions in your area.  I have attended an auction house in my area a couple of times that receives truck-loads of surplus, camping, hunting, tools and outdoor gear; and that auction house was listed.  The website showed their auction schedule and examples with photos of the items up for bid.  It also had a link to the web site for each auction house.  

You never know what each week trucks will bring, but two years ago there was a bundle (28) Blackhawk holsters, Serpa style, spanking new.  I bid but was outbid because I am a cheapskate, but the other guy got the holsters for $220.  That is less than 10 bucks apiece for $35 dollar holsters.  Seems to be a great place to get some gear that we all need.  But just by looking at this website I found out that there are Food auctions that are only about 20 minutes away and they sell sides of beef for fractions of what you would pay in the store.   However, buyer beware. You need to thoroughly look at the gear and make sure that there is not a defect that you can’t live with.  There aren’t any returns.  - K.A.J.

Reader Steve C. sent this: Camden, New Jersey Lays Off Half of It's Police Force. Steve's comment: "The second most dangerous city in the United States just laid off half its police force and nearly a third of their fire department. This is in a state where honest folks can barely own a gun without breaking the law and getting sent to prison. Anyone still in that city, if not the whole state, with any sense should vote with their feet, now!"

   o o o

Alex M. forwarded this: First burials as Australian flood crisis deepens

   o o o

Several readers sent this: Women searching far and wide for o.b. tampons after they mysteriously disappear from store shelves.

   o o o

Eastern Oregon Mystery: Investigators baffled as wheat fields wither

"Despite the miracles of capitalism, it doesn't do well in popularity polls. One of the reasons is that capitalism is always evaluated against the non-existent, non-realizable utopias of socialism or communism. Any earthly system, when compared to a Utopia will pale in comparison. But for the ordinary person, capitalism, with all of its warts, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with our everyday needs and desires." - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

Water, gotta have it.  In a world that has become limited or shut down completely there will never end the need for water on a daily basis.  Disruption to the supply from the local water company will wreck havoc on every single person and family within hours.

The immediate need will be toilets:  You come home from work, the kids from school and everyone heads to the same place after the car ride home.  Waters out.
Did you remember to pay the bill?  Pipe bust?  Water Company going maintenance?  Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter/ Can’t flush but that one last time with the water still in the tank, after that tank water is gone, the toilet just becomes a chair.   The waste piles up, what are you going to do? Well, with a little thinking ahead and having installed a rain collecting cistern, or by today’s more common name “rain barrel” that situation might not be anything more troubling than filling a container with water from the barrel and bringing it to the toilets reservoir tank.  After that it just becomes another chore. Beyond toilets staying flushed how many other functions in the daily human lifestyle require water?  Nearly everything.   

Now many people have a get-out-of-town mentality in the event of a major crisis no matter what the cause, be it an approaching hurricane, heavy storms, earthquake or even depending on where you live man made events such as riots, some kind of nuclear, chemical or biological attack.  It might work for a person to have “I’m outta here” such plan, I hope so if that is the course of action to be taken, but every time I have seen it, whether in real life or in a movie, everyone just gets stuck in one long traffic jam.  Look at most highways during a holiday weekend, and that is just the people that went away for a couple days.  Being stuck on a highway ramp with my family, as a horde of enraged rioters makes their way through the jammed up cars is not where I would want to be sitting. So, maybe you stayed home to hunker down, or maybe you turned back after attempting to leave, or maybe you made it to your hide out until whatever happened passes.  Now the water is off, or if at that undisclosed secret location there was never piped in water to begin with.  Now what?

Every single situation is possible; look at Haiti right now even over a year after their big earthquake, for instance.  An island with constant rainfalls and tropical.  Collecting water falling free and clear from the sky for use in human waste sanitation, cooking, drinking and cleaning should be a no-brainer.  Yet filthy water illnesses are popping up all over the place.  Why?  Because the people in Haiti are not taking responsibility for themselves or showing an ability to put in effect a practice that has been with human civilization since the beginning: Collecting and storing water for use later along with basic sanitation practices.  Bathing and drinking from waterways that have open sewage running off into them is not the best means for staying healthy or even alive.

If our forefathers, dating back to the first time a hoe stuck dirt could figure out how to do it, there should be no reason why we cannot.  Back before there was a city Department of Water people had to collect the rain in containers.  A home container could be just a couple hundred gallons, while a municipal cistern could be an underground cavern holding thousands of gallons of water.

Anything watertight and bowl shaped can become a cistern: a bucket, large basin, and those plastic storage bins that are available at nearly all the big box stores. But for easy of modification, durability, and storage capacity, I’m going to use the 55-gallon food grade plastic barrel, commonly blue in color.  These can be found at many reclamation/recycling plants.  I found a great source in my area just by web searching “plastic drums” with my county’s name.  Also you can check on Craigslist, I’ve bought several from there, but for my purpose of making rain barrels to sell, the Craigslist ones were to beat up, customers don’t like that.  But for someone making them for their own use they would be fine. The best place for water collecting is at the gutters of your home, or lacking gutters where the water runs off the roof the heaviest.

With an average size house, just one rainfall of merely 1/4-inch is plenty enough to fill your barrel. A 1 inch rainfall on a rooftop of 1,000 square feet will shed over 600 gallons of water.  So even if your home or safe house is smaller, you’re most likely going to be able to fill several rain barrels in one rainfall. Several barrels can be linked together beginning from the one that does the initial rain water collecting with readily available PVC fitting parts which are extremely inexpensive; giving each point of collection a vast reservoir potential of hundreds of gallons.  This may be exactly the storage ability you will need in the most extreme cases and may have to garden and raise your own crops. 

Barrel position ideas:
At a gutter downspout
Where water freely falls from an overhang
At a position under the gutter where a hole has been cut in the gutters span
In the open collecting free falling rain, perhaps with something like a funnel on the top to expand the collection area

     Another good use would be as a small scale water tower for use in outdoor shower stalls and as water with pressure to an outdoor sink maybe used for cleaning game, vegetables, or washing dishes and cookware.
     All that would have to be done is build a platform high enough to produce some pressure and hold over 400 pounds of full barrel weight without falling over or collapsing. 
     Paint the barrel black if you’re able to help the water warm up in the sun, the water will get warm anyway but black doesn’t reflect the sun’s rays back as much as other colors.
     Run a hose adapted with a shower head and there you go, impromptu shower to keep you and yours feeling human.
     There really are so many ways and situations, every use will have to depend on location, situation, blending in with the surroundings, and in some cases secrecy.

Most common uses:
Filling buckets for car washing
Keep plants alive during an extended period without rain
Save your yard and garden green during water restriction Ordinances
during droughts
Soaker hose for garden watering
Fill water pails
Emergency water for toilets during an outage
Just to use less treated water, save money while saving a limited resource.*

     Now for use as drinking water there have to be precautions made.  Drinking straight from a barrel may or may not be a risk.  Each person will have to assess the situation.  Risks include poisoning yourself, waterborne bacteria, and dissolved pollutants that entered the barrel while flowing to the barrel.  
     At the very least run water through a clean cloth. 
     Have some kind of water tester, a filter system that can function with limited water pressure. 
     A means to kill what’s in the water that can kill you such as: plain chlorine bleach, iodine, boiling, etc.
     That is a completely different article and should be researched by the user to fit their individual needs.
     Anyone drinking water untreated from a rain collection barrel assumes all risks themselves.

What do you need? Materials list:
A food grade 55 gallon plastic barrel (Avoid clear or translucent barrels if possible, as they promote algae growth when used in direct sunlight.)
1 - ¾ copper no kink spigot
1 - ¾ watertight metal connecter (used in electrical conduit).  Don’t even try the plastic version; spend the extra maybe only 50 cents.  Threads on the plastic one will not even survive the installation process.
Teflon tape
1-1½ PVC elbow -threaded
1-1½ conduit locknut
Some means to screen out leaves, other debris and insects, namely mosquitoes.

     That is the minimum needed to create a single standalone rain barrel.
Compete step by step plans are available on Amazon.com and at Scribd.com.

     There are many plans out there on the internet; I experimented with several before deciding they were all garbage that wouldn’t last any real length of time during real world usage.  So with that I created my own plans from scratch.
     American ingenuity is not dead.

What makes my plans different is:
An all metal spigot, inside and out even with a closed top barrel
And when built is ready to use immediately in a multi barrel system using a connecting section of PVC as short as 4”.  

Make a small business by making these:
     I used these plans as a means to create a garage business, and so could any other industrious survival/preparedness minded person.
     Also by doing so you’re helping your neighbors get ready “just in case” without them even knowing it if they are of the –that will never happen to me- crowd.  You can label it “going green” or “conservation” and “plants like rain water better than tap water” as selling points, it doesn’t matter as long as people feel good about it and the side affect is of having that much needed resource available at a time of need.  And of course conservation is always important, no one will argue against that.

I grew up in South Louisiana, so seafood was a staple of the family diet. Shrimp, Crabs, Fish, and Oysters were easy to come by, or at least it seemed that way as a kid because we ate seafood two or three times a week. Fried Shrimp and Oysters, Crab Stew, Shrimp Gumbo, baked Flounder or grilled Redfish, it was all good and those meals made for many a great family memory. However, as much fun as we had watching our mothers and fathers and grandparents cooking those great Cajun dinners, as kids we had infinitely more fun catching as opposed to cooking the seafood. Those lessons are just a part of this brief tip sheet, which hopefully will enable some of you and your family to enjoy fresh filets of fish roasted over a campfire when you are ready for a change from MREs and beans.

Times have certainly changed over the past 40 years. One thing that has changed greatly is the legal means of harvesting seafood. As a kid, I helped the grownups run gill nets and drag a 210-foot saltwater seine in the surf. We also set trotlines in freshwater and saltwater, used Oyster Tongs in the bays and estuaries, and set crab traps in shallow brackish water and right off the beach. The old trusty rod and reel was fun, but to make a pure meat haul nothing beat a gill net, seine, crab traps or trotlines. While gill nets and seines are now illegal in many states (with the exception of bait seines), I have still have a functional seine net stowed away in storage for the day that might come when survival trumps game laws. I realize that most people will not have the great fortune to have inherited or otherwise still own a good gill net or seine. If you do, you are extremely lucky – guard them like gold because they are expensive. If not, then you really do need to think about taking one of several possible routes to obtain this material to supplement your family’s survival chances and pleasure quotient if that terrible day ever comes when all you have left is canned beans.

As mentioned previously, a good gill net or seine is expensive. If you afford to buy a 100-foot gill net or 150-foot seine, by all means do so. You will want the net to be made of braided nylon, not monofilament. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is longevity of the net. You will want the mesh to be at least 2 inches stretched for a pure fishing net, or much smaller for a bait seine or shrimp seine, maybe ½ to 3/4 inches stretched. A proper seine or gill net will have lead weights on the bottom rope to which the net is attached, and wooden or Styrofoam floats on the top rope, depending on when the net was made. A gill net is used by fastening both ends of the net to sturdy poles that are anchored in the water. You always want to set a gill net in water that will be near chest-deep at high tide, and always where there will be tidal movement. A great place to set gill nets is near inlets where fresh water meets salt water. A net set overnight can easily yield enough fish to feed a hungry crowd for several days. I remember one early winter morning running a gill net with my grandfather and taking 30 big Flounder out of the net.

As far as being able to really put a mess of good fish in the cooler, nothing beats a large saltwater seine (usually deployed from the beach, as opposed to lakes or bays). It takes 3 or 4 people to manage the net, depending on the surf. You will almost always need at least 2 people on the deep end and sometimes 3 will be necessary. In rough water, it could take 5 people to handle the net, especially if you hit a school of Redfish or a large shark. The way to maximize your catch with a seine is to be methodical. The people dragging the leading (or deep) end should head out from the shore at 90 degrees until the people at the shallow end are in knee-deep water. At that point, the team should begin dragging the net parallel to the shore. The team should drag the net for at least 200 yards before angling back in to the beach, unless you get hit by a school at which point all hell will break loose and you will want to get that net on the beach as fast as you can. A good team should be able to make 3 or 4 drags in about 3 hours. I can tell you that it is possible to catch enough fish in one drag to make you put the net up. I remember many times as a kid where 3 drags yielded over 100 Speckled Trout, several Redfish, and the assorted Shark or Stingray.

Enough on gill nets and fish seines. After you have cleaned your fish, you will always want to use the heads for crab bait. 2 or 3 crab traps properly baited with fish heads and placed in brackish water with moderate tidal movement can easily bring in 2 or 3 dozen crabs per night. That’s enough for a feast, especially when used in a gumbo.

Now for my one of my favorite foods - Oysters. Oysters are a great treat when prepared properly. When eaten fresh, they are hard to beat. When cooked right, they are impossible to beat. They are a great source of protein and vital nutrients. The problem is they are difficult to gather. Oyster Tongs are essential. With a pair of Oyster Tongs and a small boat, it is possible to harvest enough Oysters to feed whole family several times. However, it is difficult work akin to digging post-holes. In fact, Oyster Tongs resemble post-hole diggers. You can gather Oysters by hand, but it is much more difficult and dangerous due to the very sharp edges of the Oyster shells and the fact that some of the best Oyster months (the “R” months) are in the fall and winter when the water will be cold. Like fishing for Crabs, your best results when looking for Oysters will be in salt water that gets influenced by fresh water inflows. Shallow bays near freshwater inlets are usually fertile Oyster grounds. In a good area, you will usually be able to see the Oyster beds at low tide. Mark the spots by throwing old fishing floats with weights attached, and return at high tide when the beds are accessible by boat and load up on Oysters. 

The main point to remember in your quest to prepare for being able to harvest seafood in difficult times is to think creatively. Man has been gathering seafood for as long as we have lived near oceans. Even Gerry-rigged saltwater trotlines fashioned from old nylon rope or clothesline and curtain hooks can be effective if deployed and baited properly.

Lastly, here are a few essential items to add to your stockpile to be able to effectively handle cleaning and preparing your saltwater catch without wasting valuable meat. These items will prove almost irreplaceable, so consider having more than one, especially since they are cheap.

  • Filet Knife – most important knife to own
  • Oyster pry-knife – you can catch all the oysters you want but without this tool, you will be limited to eating them steamed
  • Crab cleaner -especially useful to obtain lump meat when you have many dozens of crabs to clean. This one item can save hours when cleaning crabs. This item can be made from 2x6 boards and flat iron and angle iron attached to heavy duty hinges. Rather than giving a long explanation of how to build one, I will describe the one my grandfather made and that we used often. When laid fully open on a table top, the two boards lay end-to-end, connected by the hinge in the middle which was bolted to the flat iron/angle iron mounted on the end section of each board. On one board, the flat iron piece was mounted to the end section. On the other board, the angle iron was mounted so that one of the 45-degree angles came flush to the flat iron when the board with the angle iron was raised upright from the table. Crabs can be par-boiled, shelled and halved, than placed so that the iron mashes out the meat when compressed.
  • Steel-mesh fish cleaning gloves – a lifesaver, literally. If you happen to take a deep stab from a hardhead catfish barb when heading it for crab bait, you could die from the infection without proper antibiotics. These gloves can save your hands from incredible damage when cleaning or working with fresh seafood like Oysters and Crabs. 
  • Monofilament Cast Net – essential for catching small bait fish, and highly effective for catching shrimp in the right location in the fall.

If you live near saltwater or even if you don’t, consider adding these items to your arsenal of tools so you will be prepared to gather some great seafood to supplement the family diet if times get bad enough to have to rely on your stash of dried and pre-packaged foods. Your health and well-being will be greatly enhanced by being able take advantage of what God put in the oceans for us to eat.

Here is some moron more on Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy's recently-introduced magazine ban legislation. I studied the bill's wording and I learned:

  • The bill defines large capacity ammunition feeding devices as “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition” (This is nearly the same as the now defunct 1994 law, but it does not exempt tubular or otherwise non-detachable magazines.)
  • For Post-Enactment Devices: Prohibits the transfer, possession, or import of a large capacity ammunition feeding device manufactured after the date of enactment of the bill .
  • For Pre-Enactment Devices: Prohibits the transfer or import (but not possession) of large capacity ammunition feeding devices manufactured before the date of enactment of the bill. This is a huge difference from the 1994 ban, which allowed the transfer of any "pre-ban" magazines or belts, under a grandfather clause.
  • As Sebastian at the Snowflakes in H*ll blog pointed out, the ban includes any magazine that holds more than 10 cartridges, even if it is a fixed tubular magazine. (The only exception is for .22 rimfire.) So this effectively bans transfers of even pre-1898 antique Henry, Model 1866, Model 1873, and Model 1892 Winchester rifles (and replicas) with long magazines! Ditto for Colt Lightning rifles and many other pump and lever-action guns. And ditto for Astra Broomhandle Mauser pistols with integral 12 or 20 round magazines. All these guns would be "frozen" from any transfer until the death of their owner, whereupon the guns would become contraband.
  • It also includes fixed tubular magazines on shotguns. It is noteworthy that many shotguns with ostensibly "7 round" or "8 round" tubular magazines actually have 12+ round magazines if you use the stubby Mini 12 gauge shells. (And remember, it will be the notorious "shoelace squad" BATFE that will be enforcing the law, so any guesses on how they will define the magazine capacity of your shotgun?)
  • It includes belts and links as "large capacity ammunition feeding devices". It also requires that any magazines or links produced after the ban goes into effect must have a serial number marked. (Yes, marked on each magazine, belt, and link.) For disintegrating belt links (those ubiquitous little black steel tabs) this would create a manufacturing nightmare for military contractors! Could you imagine stamping or engraving a unique serial number on each of the hundreds of millions of links that are produced each year? How would you fit that many digits on the curved surface of a 3/4-inch long 5.56mm M249 SAW link? Micro-stamping, perhaps?
  • Unlike the 1994-to-2004 Federal ban, there is no 10-year "sunset" clause. This law will be permanent!
  • The term "Transfer" is not adequately defined. Let's say you were to allow someone in your family or a friend shoot your rifle or pistol with an 11+ round magazine. Then that could be construed as a felony "transfer", even if you are present during the target shooting session.
  • The absurdity of this bill can best be seen when you consider that it will also control the magazines, belts, and links used for registered Class 3 full-auto guns. Who would ever want to buy a $7,000+ registered machinegun if the only magazines and belts available for purchase are limited to 10 round capacity? (The guns themselves could still be transferred with a $200 Federal tax, but the magazines, and belts could only be transferred if they held 10 rounds or less. And to be legal, any belts assembled from links after the bill is enacted would be limited to 10-round length. That is absolutely ludicrous.)
  • The "transfer" portion of this law opens up innumerable opportunities for inadvertent law-breaking. What about a soldier who accidentally brings home an M16 magazine in his TA-50 dufflebag? What about someone who bids on buying the entire contents of a storage space with a lapsed contract? If they bring home a box that includes just one 11+ round magazine, then they will have committed a felony with huge fines and a possible 10 year prison sentence.
  • There is no exception in the law for magazines belonging to retiring servicemen or peace officers.
  • There is no exception in the law for sales of replacement parts to keep magazines in repair. So if a magazine gets dented or breaks, then it becomes permanently useless.
  • Most importantly: There is no exception in the law for passing down magazines, belts, or links within a family, as gifts or bequests. Once you die, then your 11+ round magazines will become contraband, and any subsequent possessor could be charged with a felony. Your heirs might as well tuck your magazines in your casket.

Please contact your congresscritters and insist that this ill-conceived bill be vigorously opposed!

Jim –  
I’ve been growing food in the city for over 30 years. I addition to the standard  crops of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans I’ve spent these decades focusing on:

1) What grows well in  my climate?
2) What can I grow/store for the winter? 
3) What will we actually eat? 

I’ve always kept good records of what I grow but I’ve never tracked exactly how my food I pull out of the dirt each year. So in 2009 I bought a commercial hanging scale like those in the supermarkets for my backyard patio to weigh heavy crops like tomatoes and squash and a small kitchen-counter scale to measure things like salad greens, peppers, and broccoli.  

I live outside a big city in the Southwest; my growing areas measure about 1,000 square feet. I have a lot of problems with shade from my 2-story house and neighbor’s trees so my yields are not as good as they could be. The climate is Zone 21 on Sunset Magazine’s chart and gives me favorable growing conditions overall but we are susceptible to frost in December, January, and February. We produce food 12 months of the year even during the colder months. Following is an exact record of what we harvested in 2010:  

  • 88 ears of sweet corn
  • 70 lbs summer squash
  • 28 lbs winter squash
  • 93 cucumbers
  • 50 lbs tomatoes for the table
  • 6 lbs green tomatoes after frost for stir-fry
  • 3 quarts canned tomato sauce from oversupply of table crop
  • 4.75 lbs dried navy beans
  • 1.5 lbs dried lima beans
  • 16 lbs sweet red chili peppers
  • 55 lbs of baby mixed lettuce
  • 61 lbs peaches
  • 8 lbs nectarines
  • 3 lbs pears
  • 6 lbs broccoli
  • 3 lbs garlic
  • Continual harvest of kale throughout the year.
  • Fresh basil from June to December
  • Rosemary, sage, and thyme throughout the year.  

We pick sweet chili peppers, salad greens and kale all year long. The winter squash and dried  beans are stored for winter meals. Our four peach trees are different low-chill varieties that ripen from mid-May to mid-August so we have a steady supply during summer without being inundated. They are still maturing so I expect that yield to increase to about 100 lbs/year. The two pear trees are only three years old and I expect about 10-15 lbs per tree once they are full size. I also have two apple trees that are just starting to bear fruit. I do two plantings of heirloom tomatoes (April and July, both from home-grown seedlings) so we pick from June to December.  

All our food is organically grown and allowed to mature to maximum ripeness before harvesting. This assures not only peak flavor but maximum nutrition as the food grows slowly. Pricing my harvest against what’s charged at local markets requires a bit of estimating but works about to about $1,000 per year. I produce my own compost – a local landscape company supplies me with unlimited grass clippings and dried leaves that they would otherwise have to dump. My soil is very deficient in potassium and has virtually no phosphorus so I spend about $200 per year for bone meal, kelp meal, and other amendments that I order in 50 lb bags from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. I also use one 50 lb bag per year of organic balanced fertilizer from a local farm-supply store to boost nitrogen for the heavy-feeder crops like corn. I don’t save seed  (but I could under survival conditions) so I spend about $50/year on seed, mostly because I’m always ordering new varieties that I want to try. The fruit trees were mail-order from Bay Laurel Nursery which has the best selection of low-chill varieties in the country.   Jim, I hope this helps your readers understand just how much food (and money) can be pulled out of a small backyard garden.   - J.P., a Country Farmer Stuck in the City  

Scientists warn California could be struck by winter ‘superstorm’. (Thanks to John H. for the link.)

   o o o

Lily mentioned a very useful piece over at the Paratus Familia blog: TEOTWAWKI and Aging

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Court Victory for California Gun Owners! But meanwhile, in Occupied New Jersey, a court battle drags on: Traveling Man's Gun Arrest Appealed to Supreme Court. (A hat tip to Ryan M. for the latter link.)

"There are several methods of conflict resolution. First, there's the market mechanism -- let the highest bidder be the one who owns and decides how the land will be used. Then, there's government fiat, where the government dictates who gets to use the land for what purpose. Gifts might be the way where an owner arbitrarily chooses a recipient. Finally, violence is a way to resolve the question of who has the use rights to the coastline -- let people get weapons and physically fight it out. At this juncture, some might piously say, 'Violence is no way to resolve conflict!' The heck it isn't. The decision of who had the right to use most of the Earth's surface was settled through violence (wars). Who has the right to the income I earn is partially settled through the threats of violence. In fact, violence is such an effective means of resolving conflict that most governments want a monopoly on its use." - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Good News! It took many moons, but the archiving project for the early years of SurvivalBlog posts is now complete. You can now use the "Search" box at the top of the right-hand bar to search every SurvivalBlog post, all the way back to the blog's launch in August, 2005. Thank you for your patience.


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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

Disclaimer:  This  article represents the opinions of one individual.  Keep in mind my views are more extreme than the mainstream.  For example, I am anticipating significant worldwide financial upheaval in 2011, which could include any combination of collapse and bailout of European economies (Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, or Italy); devaluation or collapse of the Euro; loss of faith in the US Dollar as a worldwide trading tool (note that Russia and China recently agreed to price trade deals in their sovereign currencies, not dollars); further “bailouts” and “Quantitative Easing” in the US Economy;  and widespread municipal bond and municipal pension collapse.  None of this may occur, or only a small and isolated portion; however, all the things listed would further bias silver prices higher.

The successful silver investor in 2011 will need good discernment to separate fact from fiction.  Silver has historically been among the most volatile of investments, and although we sit near $31/oz. today, it could be $8 or $80 in six months.  Silver should be only a small portion of an overall investment strategy.  Having said that, in the last four months of 2010 my stocks returned around 9% and my SLV ETF, which I entered in late August, returned 41%.

Although I am invested in the SLV ETF stock I have stopped adding to that investment and am buying the physical metal instead.  Reasons why are below.

Resources I use, with comments:

  1. The Silver Bear Café:  A good clearinghouse for a variety of (sometimes hilarious) commentary on precious metals investing, Federal Reserve issues, general investing issues, etc.  They also have updated prices and sell silver. 
  2. Zero Hedge Blog:  Another blog which is updated daily with silver and financial articles.  The comments, if you have time, can be enlightening.  These are the folks putting out those funny talking bears videos.
  3. Survival Blog:  Although many articles are geared towards surviving societal and financial collapse, they frequently link to articles on silver investing and appear convinced that silver is headed higher.
  4. KITCO:  I run this in the background when the markets are open:  continually updated quotes, including the gold-silver ratio, charts, etc.  I have not bought silver from them.
  5. APMEX:  I have purchased bullion from APMEX and was very pleased with their service and shipping.  They charge a 3% premium for credit card orders.  Their selection is second to none.  I highly recommend them.
  6. Lear Capital:  they have some of the lowest spreads and cheapest bullion prices on the web; although I haven’t used them, I love their prices on Canadian Maple Leafs.

I also have found pawn shops and antique stores to be sources for economical silver:  some operators appear open to negotiation and/or ignorant of the true value of their wares. (I recently bought 20 2009 BU Silver Eagles for $500 from a pawn shop!)  Remember, though, caveat emptor:  Be ready to walk away from dealers who are unwilling to negotiate.
My main holdings are in one-ounce American Silver Eagles, although I have no bias against generic silver rounds like Engelhard, APMEX, or Sunshine Minting.  Call it a personal bias, but I don’t have much interest in junk silver or mining stocks.

What I'm Anticipating from My Silver Investment:

  1.  I plan to at least double my money from my entry point of $19. on the SLV ETF and $27 (dollar cost averaged) on my physical holdings.
  2. I do not plan to add to my SLV or FGDCX silver and gold funds.
  3. I do plan to continue to purchase physical silver (not gold) as long as the gold-silver ratio stays above 25 and the price per ounce stays below $50.
  4. I would start liquidating my silver purchased at $25 if it breaks above $60 or the ratio drops below 25.
  5. My goal is to own 500 ounces of physical silver.
  6. My best guesses for 2011 target price per ounce are:
    1. Low price (no political and minimal financial upheaval):  $42/oz.
    2. Mid-point price (QE3, failure of one or more European economies, bankruptcy and default of 3-5 midsize American towns): $55/oz.
    3. High-point price (collapse of dollar, collapse of Euro, widespread financial upheaval): no limit to how high it could go, easily over $100/oz.


My Opinions on the Various Rumors About Silver:

  1.  The Gold-Silver Ratio has been around 16:1 throughout all of recorded history.  It is out of whack right now, being as high as 60:1 earlier in 2010 and sitting at 46:1 at the end of 2010.  Silver is totally underpriced right now:  if the ratio reverts to its historical norm, with gold at $1,425 per ounce silver should be around $90 an ounce right now.  This is the one paradigm I most believe in.  Given the manifold industrial uses of silver, including applications in medicine, solar power, electronics, and computing, I don’t see how silver’s price will not slowly continue to revert to its historical norm.
  2. A major bank has a tremendous naked short position in silver: buying physical silver will create a short squeeze and cause parabolic, explosive upwards price appreciate in silver:  I rate this a big fat maybe.  It sounds too good to be true and thus doesn’t pass the smell test:  it sounds too conspiratorial.  But, then again, a Major bank just took a position in 80% of the copper reserves in Europe (as a hedge against their silver short??!!) so we’ll need to wait and see.
  3.  The SLV ETF is nothing but a Ponzi scheme; since that “major bank”  is their custodian, and we know “major bank” lies about their naked short position, it stands to reason that the SLV ETF also fudges their numbers and does not have the physical reserves they claim they have.  As such, SLV holders are going to be left holding an empty bag.  Possible, but doubtful.  Although there is historical precedent:  isn’t our $1 deposited into the bank allegedly loaned out to 4 other people who have a claim on it?  Still, I’m not selling my SLV or gold mutual funds over this rumor.
  4. Based on #3 above, you must hold your physical silver in your possession and not take the word of a custodian.  Although I’m not convinced about rumor #3, I do believe in the power of an ounce in my hand.  If we get into a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation, having silver in hand to barter can mean the difference between getting out of trouble or letting trouble get the better of you.  Some of my holdings are in ½ ounce rounds, just in case I need a loaf of bread post-EMP.
  5. Silver and precious metals in general are just the latest bubble.  The bubble will burst soon and silver will go back to $4 and all the silver bugs will be toast.  Although I don’t deny that the price can go down, and that I am psychologically prepared for a 50% correction to $15 an ounce, I just don’t see it.  Go ask 20 of your friends and family if they have bought silver or gold in the past 6 months, and you’ll likely get 19 puzzled looks.  Also, silver is not tulip bulbs or insertdomainnamehere.com:  it has a millennium-spanning role as currency.

In closing, although I do not advocate taking a second mortgage or liquidating a 401(k) to bet the farm on silver, I am very bullish for 2011 to replicate the returns of 2010.  I hope these thoughts and opinions can serve as a springboard to further research and success in your silver investing efforts.

The wonderful thing about the Internet is how many viewpoints and perspectives there are out there that can save a person a lot of time trying to articulate his own.  And I found one that suits me and mine.  If you haven't taken the time to explore the SurvivalBlog.com do it.  I have barely scratched the surface and have found so many interesting things.  I generally download or copy and paste the stuff that I think has value and add it to my growing digital library.  That's actually another project that I encourage.  I have multiple digital folders divided by topics and some loose files that I have yet to definitively categorize.

At any rate, I read an article submitted by someone discussing as he ponders the need to retreat or not and why or why not.  His main point is that he has faith in the indomitable American spirit and that the apocalyptic TEOTWAWKI event will not be as some expect; rampant cannibalism, mass gang take over, catastrophic disappearance of modern technologies and comforts.  You can read the article on SurvivalBlog.com and decide for yourself. 

Don't get me wrong, I still believe that The End Of The World As We Know It is upon us.  I just think that because the world we live in changes every day, each day is the beginning of the next World As We Will Come To Know It.  My goal is to be ready to meet that new world and continue to exist through survival practices.  Remember the Rubicon philosophy that survival isn't as much about staying alive by returning to a primitive life style, but continuing to live comfortably with new (old) learned skills.  Being prepared means not panicking when others do.  Encouraging those we know to be ready (without completely divulging too much information about our prepared status) so that they may "survive" as well.

I am about half way through the novel "Patriots" authored by the same James Rawles, the guy behind the survivalblog.com web site.  In the beginning, as he sets the scene for the impending event, he introduces two individuals that are to explain what happened in their countries in the eighties and nineties when their respective economies experienced rampant triple digit inflation.  One of the characters was from Argentina.  Well, I was in Argentina in '81 and '82 and experienced that event.  I mostly talk about being there during the war, Malvinas or Falkland depending on your preference.  When I got in country one U.S. Dollar exchanged for about 1,500 pesos.  When I left it was about 20,000 pesos to the dollar.  Do the math.  They had already devalued their currency by lopping off two zeros.  The confusion was trying to know the difference between goods priced with a difference in value of 10 X.  There were 10,000 pesos worth 10,000 pesos "law" and 10,000 pesos worth 100 pesos "old" and so on.  Coin currency became so worthless that I was able to acquire quite a collection picking up discarded coins thrown into the dirt.  We found them everywhere we walked in the country dirt roads.  Can you imagine using a $100 bill to pay for a $1 item?  (Note: In this case it was pesos)  That's what was happening before I got there and it continued beyond the year and a half I was there.  By the time I left we were living on less than half of what we started with at about $90 US per month.  I still remember getting $1,000,000 peso bills from the bank.  Yes, one million pesos, about $20 US.  Okay, so now my point. 

That nation weathered the economic storm with a war thrown in.  It was difficult and almost impossible to get goods from other countries for the consumer markets.  (Not such a bad thing if it were to happen to us. It would mean less foreign goods bought and maybe a return to US making products for US.  Hmmm, more local jobs, less unemployment, less dependence on outside countries.)  There was always food.  I guess the food producers who make a living producing food figured out that if they didn't make food for the rest they wouldn't survive either.  In more rural areas people who had a little plot of land had gardens, raised a pig, a goat, a cow.  Buses and trains moved, people rode them, cars were used and people drove them.  That means that there was fuel, all of which was produced in country.  We never had a loss of electrical power, water or other utility services.  Restaurants were open and I remember going to the Argentine version of El Polo Loco to get roasted chicken and cold cuts to make sandwiches at the end of a long day.  Merchants plied their wares.  There were no riots, no massive crime waves, and certainly no cannibalism.  The people were and are basically good and no matter how screwed up the government and economy was they persevered.  We will do the same.  I believe we will do better because since the beginning of our history we have been a nation that overcomes adversity, finds a better way, has more resources, and gets things done.

No doubt there will be shortages, crime, and bad people taking advantage of a bad situation, lack of lots of stuff, and even death.  But, we have to remember, the greatest majority of Americans are good, law abiding, somewhat religious, hard working people who will not just roll over and give up.  Those that have no will to work and continue to live outside the norms of society will become the desperate that will go away naturally or with a little help from the majority.  Government may break down but it won't disappear completely.  Its power will become more localized, not such a bad thing.  Law may get bounced around but I believe it will survive on its own and may get somewhat simplified on the local level.  Hands may get bloodied but eventually they will just get dirty as we learn to do for ourselves and band together with others doing the same.  The important thing to remember is that being prepared so that you don't have to act or react out of desperation leaves you with many more options than the alternative of doing nothing and becoming a victim.

Being able to exist with your morals and values in place can be most easily accomplished by doing what we are doing.  I am encouraged by how much more mainstream "survival-ism" has become.  Hundreds of web sites, television shows (Apocalypse PA on the History channel, The Colony) radio talk shows hosts, and on and on.  When I talk to people these days, friends and acquaintances, I am less likely to be looked upon as some kind of Ted Kaczynski or a Jeremiah Johnson want-to-be.  Maybe it's because I don't have a beard or because more and more people are starting to get it.  And the more and more who do begin to make me think that in the event of a societal meltdown, for whatever reason, there will be more people less likely to panic.

When we talk about TEOTWAWKI it always seems so "end of times" and final.  But just as every day becomes final a new day begins.  Taking on the challenge of getting prepared for that new day has a tendency to be somewhat overwhelming.  Most people will start, do some investigating, buy a few things, and then get disheartened or disinterested and simply stop.  Their day of preparation comes to an end and they go about their merry way never giving thought to the next day that they aren't prepared for. 

Survivalism is a combination of knowledge, skills, opportunity and desire.  Survivalism is living out of the ordinary and usually in an extreme situation.  Survivalism is like a diet.  A real diet requires changing your life style to accommodate the goal (of weight loss or better health).  Survivalism first requires becoming a "Prepper" with the goal of changing your life style so that surviving in abnormal conditions becomes second nature.  It becomes a mindset that directs you each day to be better prepared than the day before.  It is not a onetime activity that you can say you have completed and now sit back and wait for something to happen. 

I have been at this preparedness thing for more than nine years and have learned that there is no end to being prepared and no final step that says that you have arrived. 
Everyday should have one or two activities that help educate or enlighten you to the possibility of an End Of The World As We Know It event.  Check out a new web site, read and do what others have done or are doing and incorporate that knowledge and experience into your plan.  Learn a new skill; knots, fire starting, marksmanship, cooking outdoors, impromptu shelters, water purification techniques, living without electricity, etc.  It's really about doing something.  Meeting the challenge of life changing events head on and conquering them.  Not losing to that which would compromise your morals or standards of normal life.

So, lest anyone think that I am truly panicked, I am not.  However, I am more, now than ever, convinced that it is still better to "expect the worst and hope for the best."  It is always better to be prepared years in advanced than to find yourself unprepared a minute too late.  And never, ever think that you know it all.

I ask you, "What are you doing today to be better prepared?"  Myself, I will be going to Svendsen's Marine Supply to pick up some PRI-G.  If you are curious to know what it is, do some research on the web.   I will also be adding to my digital library, inventorying my reloading supplies and survival equipment, scheduling some more range time, planning some outdoor activities for practicing, reading the hundreds of downloads and trying some of them out, reprioritizing my needs, and continuing to spread the word.  I hope that you are doing something similar. Spread the word!

Greetings Mr. Rawles,
In the ongoing chaos of the Tunisia revolution we are able to watch a real life SHTF scenario being played out. Well worth the time to observe and learn from. Even though the head of the government has fled, it’s body is still alive and flailing creating havoc. The resulting chaos has caused breakdowns in food distribution and security as evidenced by the following quotes in the Washington Times. I thought it interesting that how quickly the neighborhoods have formed their own militias to protect themselves.

The following are some quotes from a Washington Times article:

“Ordinary Tunisians concentrated on two key needs Sunday — food and security.”

“Many scoured the capital for food. Most shops remained closed Sunday, others were looted, and bread and milk were running short.”

“Overnight patrols were being organized in both wealthy and working-class neighborhoods.” 

Regards, - Ralph N. from Washington State.

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

  • I just finished reading the novel Life As We Knew It, a 2006 "young adult" novel by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  It is a survivalist story.  An asteroid strikes the Moon, knocking it out of orbit and closer to the earth.  As a result, the earth's gravitational forces are changed, causing high tides, tsunamis, earthquakes and major volcanic eruptions.  The coastal cities world-wide are wiped out, weather patterns are completely disrupted, causing floods and droughts, terrible thunderstorms and blizzards and earlier, colder winters.  Food is scarce.  The story is a series of journal entries (along the lines of The Diary of Anne Frank) written by a 16 year old girl (Miranda) chronicling  how she and her family and neighbors experience the first nine months following the asteroid strike.  Miranda explores her many thoughts and feelings of coping with the disaster: lack of abundant food, death of friends, illness, work, personal religious views, her relationships with a very religious and a very secular friend, her brothers and mother. From the first page, this book was a gripping read, and very informative in the areas of stocking up, preparing for winter, and self-rationing of food.  They nearly starved to death.  The story was rather depressing to me.  It makes one examine how prepared they would be physically, emotionally, and spiritually in event of a long term disaster.  Would I survive?  I found myself pausing often and wondering how my beliefs lined up with Miranda's actions and if I would do the same or differently.   I hope we never have to go through any times such as these of which I've read about recently: major natural disasters, economic crash or war. I just hope and pray that God will continue to have mercy on us all. Our nation is overdue for some serious discipline from the Almighty Father.  I'm done with reading survivalist fiction for a while.  I am now more than fully aware of the possible grid-down causing scenarios and their aftermaths.  Its getting a bit heavy for me.  So for the next few weeks I am going to concentrate on becoming more knowledgeable and skilled in practical living. Therefore,  I will be concentrating on non-fiction preparedness and homesteading books, some history, and homeschool topics.

  • Echoing my preceding statement, some of the young'uns and I have started watching Homesteading for Beginners DVD series. These are three excellent educational videos produced by Mark and Erin Harrison, in Wisconsin. This is a young Christian homeschooling family with five children. Their DVD series deals with the basics of Homesteading. Nearly all of the teaching segments includes participation of their children. It is wonderful to see them all working together and sharing in the bounty of their efforts. They cover topics like milking a cow, making home dairy products, raised bed gardening, canning, butchering livestock, meat canning, making homemade noodles, baking bread, sprouting, root cellaring, making homemade vitamins, maple syrup production, and much more. Most segments are accompanied with instrumental Christian music: guitar, banjo and violin. Much of what they know they learned from their Amish neighbors. A trailer of their first DVD is available on YouTube. Their web site is: HomesteadCommunityPost.com. I will have a few more comments after I've finished watching all three of their DVDs. So far, I find them to be wonderful and very informative. Our Young'uns are enjoying watching the Harrison's children doing all of these activities.

  • I just read How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier. This is considered a classic book on outdoor survival skills. I highly recommend it. Oh by the way, the edition of this book that Jim bought several years ago has a unique green rubber cover that feels very strange in your hands. (A bit of a novelty, but I suppose it does make the book more durable.) Jim was disappointed that it was printed in China.

  • Jim and I are still watching Northern Exposure episodes on DVD once every few nights. Don't look for any great outdoor survival lessons in the show, but it can be depended upon for plenty of humor and witty dialogue.

Sue C. suggested this: The Black Swan Events of 2011?

RVL sent: Record $14 trillion-plus debt weighs on Congress. The article begins: "The United States just passed a dubious milestone: Government debt surged to an all-time high, topping $14 trillion — $45,300 for each and everyone in the country."

Thomas Sowell: Honest Answer to Government Woes is Bankruptcy

Wait for complete package on debt crisis: Merkel

Weak Dollars and Strong Commodities? (Thanks to John R. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Homelessness Increases As Help Decreases  

10 Things That Would Be Different If The Federal Reserve Had Never Been Created

Chinese President Hu Disses the Dollar; Says U.S. System is a 'Product of the Past'

China's control of rare-earth metals poses risk to U.S. solar future.

   o o o

Rourke spotted this: Inexpensive perimeter alarm. Keep in mind that those units are NOT weatherproof, so they should be installed in weatherproof enclosures, and buy plenty of spares!

   o o o

The Queensland Floods: Next shock will be high food prices

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James C. recommended this videotaped interview with Dimitri Orlov: "America Will Collapse". It should come as no surprise to SurvivalBlog readers that Orlov predicts very high crime rates and that country dwellers will fare better than urbanites. He calls the collapse unavoidable, and urges people to prepare and develop a sense of community.

"Since it's not considered polite, and surely not politically-correct to come out and actually say that greed gets wonderful things done, let me go through a few of the millions of examples of the benefits of people trying to get more for themselves. There's probably widespread agreement that it's a wonderful thing that most of us own cars. Is there anyone who believes that the reason we have cars is because Detroit assembly line workers care about us? It's also wonderful that Texas cattle ranchers make the sacrifices of time and effort caring for steer so that New Yorkers can have beef on their supermarket shelves. It is also wonderful that Idaho potato growers arise early to do back-breaking work in the hot sun to ensure that New Yorkers also have potatoes on their supermarket shelves. Again, is there anyone who believes that ranchers and potato growers, who make these sacrifices, do so because they care about New Yorkers? They might hate New Yorkers. New Yorkers have beef and potatoes because Texas cattle ranchers and Idaho potato growers care about themselves and they want more for themselves. How much steak and potatoes would New Yorkers have if it all depended on human love and kindness? I would feel sorry for New Yorkers. Thinking this way bothers some people because they are more concerned with the motives behind a set of actions rather than the results. This is what Adam Smith, the father of economics, meant in The Wealth of Nations when he said, 'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interests.'" - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Monday, January 17, 2011

Today is Martin Luther King Day in The United States. While his civil rights goals were admirable, he was a documented chronic plagiarist. Because of that mar on his record, I don't think that he is worthy of remembrance for a national holiday. My suggestion is that the holiday be replaced with Dr. Walter E. Williams Day. In my estimation, he is a man that is much more worthy of admiration. In his honor, all of SurvivalBlog's Quotes of the Day for this week will be quotes from Dr. Williams.

Just as I anticipated, in the wake of the Tucson shootings, the mainstream media and the congresscritters are on the war path! Mayor Bloomberg has the propaganda machine running overdrive with this week's Bloomberg Businessweek cover story.  The cover of the Jan. 17, 2011 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek is midnight black with nothing but a Glock 19 pictured and the words "The Killing Machine" in white boldly superimposed over the gun.  The article summary states "America's Gun - How Glock became the weapon of choice for U.S. cops, gun enthusiasts, and mass killers/psychopaths like alleged Tucson gunman Jared Loughner."

A recent article in Politico outlines the draconian terms of congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy's recently-announced magazine ban bill. (The bill will be formally introduced on January 18th.) According to Politico, the new law would not just permanently ban the import or manufacture of 11+ round magazines, but it would also outlaw their sale or transfer--even those that are obtained before the law takes effect. This flies in the face of a heretofore fairly uniform feature of American jurisprudence: the grandfather clause. This will set the bill up for an almost certain court challenge. Leaving dealers and private citizens holding millions of un-sellable magazines in effect constitutes a "legislative taking" that is wicked and despicable. (With the exception of drug bans, grandfather clauses are considered standard practice in the U.S. for laws restricting everything from R-12 Freon to pre-building code houses, to live cheetahs to machineguns to elephant ivory.) Could you imagine a law that said that it would be illegal to pass down to your grandchildren a family heirloom piano, just because it had ivory keys? That is effectively what Rep. McCarthy has proposed, for what she calls "high capacity" magazines! (OBTW, they are more accurately called "full capacity" or "standard capacity.")

Last week, Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman said: "We should all agree there's no earthly reason to have a 30-shot magazine." Well, Senator Kaufman, I'd like you to come huckleberry picking with me, out here in grizzly bear country. Or go walk a patrol with some American infantrymen in Afghanistan or for that matter with the Guardian Angels in Dallas, Texas. Then you will indeed see an earthly reason to have a 30-shot magazine! Meanwhile, veteran gun grabber Senator Frank Lautenberg was recently quoted as saying: “The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly.” How about stopping a charging bear? Or stopping a charging meth addict? These legislators are out of touch with reality. Please contact your Senators, and insist that they kill any new "gun control" legislation before it ever makes it out of committee.

A magazine ban would limit us to neutered 10-round (reduced capacity) magazines. So what am I supposed to say to a charging brown bear or grizzly bear? "Time out! Wait, while I reload."

The ban is being drafted by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who is absolutely clueless about firearms terminology. (She thinks that a barrel shroud is a "shoulder thing that goes up"). In an interview with NPR, Rep. McCarthy said: "We're not dealing about guns here. We're dealing about a piece of equipment that goes to the gun. I think when you think about just common sense here, large capacity clips that can basically, in my opinion, be weapons of mass destruction, should not be available to the average citizen. They will be available to our military. They will be available to our police officers." Oh I see, only "trained professionals" should have access to them. We, the lowly peons should not be entrusted with coercive force.

As an aside, hearing the ignorant nabobs in congress and the mainstream media talking about banning "clips" that can hold more than 10 "bullets" makes me cringe. I find this akin to hearing George W. Bush mispronouncing the word nuclear as "nuke-you-lur", or hearing Congressman Hank Johnson pontificating on the risk of a "capsize" of the island of Guam because of overpopulation.

These politicians seem very intent on "closing loopholes" and enacting what they call "reasonable" "reforms" (read: restrictions) on our rights. What is really going on is that the legislators want to deprive the citizenry of effective modern arms, but retain them for The Powers That Be. Also beware that there are legislative threats at the state level. For example, read this: Reactionary Gun Laws Being Proposed in South Carolina After Tucson, Arizona Shooting. Be vigilant. Contact you legislators frequently, or our liberty may slip away.

Just in case a magazine ban becomes law, I recommend that you immediately stock up on your lifetime supply of full capacity magazines! Also, be prepared to legally transfer, by means of a dated document, the majority of your magazines to your children and grandchildren, before any new ban is signed into law. Do an inventory all of your 11+ round magazines, and make detailed lists in separate "Completed Transfer of Magazine Ownership" documents for each child. Have each witnessed by two adults who are not members of your family, and then have the documents notarized. Unless your children have this equivalent of a Bill of Sale, they won't be able to prove that they legally owned their magazines before the bill becomes law.

Again, please regularly contact your congressmen and senators, and express your concern about this issue.


One of the parts of SurvivalBlog that I enjoy the most is when folks contribute their real life experiences after going through some sort of hardship. Reading the examples from others helps me to fine tune my preps. Let me participate by providing my observations from the ice storm, amusingly titled Snowpocalypse 2011, that hit Atlanta recently. The roads were impassible due to the city's lack of snow removal equipment, and pretty much the entire city was stranded in their houses. What would've been a blip of a storm in the north ended up crippling this city, and everything ground to a halt.   I started creating this list of observations for myself, but decided to share. Here they are, in no particular order:  

• The statistic I've frequently heard of "every family has only three days of food on hand" always sounded like bunk to me. Who goes grocery shopping every three days? Shopping once a week seems more realistic, so I figure a week's supply of food is in everyone's home. However, consider the pattern where Family A typically shops on Mondays, Family B shops on Tuesdays, Family C on Wednesdays, etc. Imagine what happens if the stores are closed for three days in a row, like they were due to this storm. Everybody that missed their typical shopping day now has to go, and the stores were cleared out. That, plus the expected panic buying, happened here. Imagine, say, 40 feet of shelving without a single item of food on it. I saw photos. It was real.  

• Injuries exponentially increase stress, especially if it is impossible to get to a doctor. A family member developed a wound that needed seven stitches, and I had no way of making that happen for five days. I've recently purchased a skin staple gun.  

• No matter how deep your larder, chances are excellent that you will not have something very important when you need it. In my case, it was antibiotics. I had topicals, but I needed something more significant because the above-mentioned wound got infected. Mentally prepare yourself for the idea that you won't have everything, and when you do discover that you are missing something, the idea won't come as such a shock.  

• A routine is a powerful thing, and three days without the ability to leave the house is enough for cabin fever. It would have been much worse without Internet or television, and even that got old after visiting all of my usual web sites. Have something to read. Have a lot to read. I personally suggest studying some sort of skill during your normal work/school hours, then having fiction or entertainment to read during your normal off hours. It helps keep a semblance of a routine.  

• Keep enough of your regular food for at least every other meal. My wife and I feared a power outage, so we ate all of our typical "Sunday fancy meal" foods from the freezer in succession, and it made me sick.  

• Expect typical governmental lunacy. Some of Atlanta's main streets downtown weren't touched for days because the roads themselves belong to the state. The city said clearing the roads was the state's job/expense, and the state said that since the roads were downtown, they were the city's responsibility. So nothing happened.  

• People who make poor decisions during normal circumstances will continue to make poor decisions, only now the impact will be worse. Despite repeated pleas by the local government not to drive, folks went out anyway, and got stuck or crashed. Some were killed. Those stranded/abandoned cars prevented the few plow trucks the city has from clearing the roadways. Also, the crashes were so frequent, the police said they would respond to accidents only if somebody involved was injured because they were overwhelmed by the volume. If no injuries took place, you were on your own.  

• Your family is just as stressed as you are. Don't be at each other's throats. If you've been with your spouse long enough, you know what will make him/her happy, even if it is just a small gesture. Do them. Such efforts will pay dividends when the crisis is over, too.  

• Those with alcohol will drink it, to the point where it was treated like a mandatory vacation. I frequented an Atlanta-based message board online, and was surprised to discover how many people posting said they were doing not much more than spending the entire time drunk. I would say that 65% percent of the posters said so. I don't have anything against alcohol, but decided to spend the duration sober, if only to stay sharp. If the huge tree in my back yard fell on the house due to the ice load, I didn't want to have to evacuate my house while inebriated. WTSHTF, I would expect the same sort of people to react in the same manner, at least until they run out. See my point above about the people with poor decision making skills. In this case, they knew the ice would eventually melt, and things would go back to normal. When it is TEOTWAWKI, these folks might make some unpredictable choices.  

• A job that can be worked from home is a huge benefit. I racked up hours even though I wasn't able to get to the office.   • Ice is the great equalizer. Traffic was snarled, cars abandoned, making roads impassible. Everyone should have chains for their vehicles, even if they live in the south and own a 4X4. A recent news story said that 49 of the states had snow. It can happen anywhere. My four wheel drive was parked because I didn't have chains. I live on a slight hill, and a neighbor of mine had his car slide down the hill. Bear in mind that no one was in it at the time, as it was parked and the doors were locked. It just slid away. He managed to run after and catch it in time before it hit another car. If anything, this observation should reveal just how slippery the roads were.  

• Down here, some houses are poorly insulated compared to northern levels, and many heaters weren't be able to keep up when the weather got record-breaking cold. Be prepared for the idea of wearing outdoor clothes indoors. A co-worker of mine had her furnace fail because of the stress load. She spent three days freezing (temperatures were in the teens) because the service technicians weren't able to get to her. An alternate source of heat would've saved her a load of turmoil. Keeping her equipment maintained would've been a good idea, too. She confessed that she skips the typical service checks to save money. Guess that didn't work out so well.  

• Unless you are very fit, everything will be sore as you are forced to vary from your daily routine. Have pain reliever ready. I'm a black belt, and consider my balance exceptional. That said, I still slipped and fell on the ice. It can happen to anyone. My training included the ability to take a fall and not get hurt, so I came out ok. Not to say that I wasn't sore, of course. I'll take sore over a broken bone any day. The news reported of one poor gentleman that fell and was killed.  

• Have enough preps in your home to last at least a couple of weeks, even if there is a store within walking distance of your house. Depending on the circumstances, even three blocks will be an impossible distance. I read stories about locals who fell on the ice and broke bones. Also, not only will the stores get cleared out by panicked buyers, some employees were not able to make it to work so the stores couldn't open, and in other cases, resupply trucks were not be able to restock due to the roads.  

• Services, such as mail or trash pickup, stopped. Public transportation didn't run, schools were closed. I haven't had mail for an entire week, and UPS and FedEx suspended deliveries completely. That's a shame, because I had some stuff on order that would've been nice to have. Banks were also closed, which ended up no big deal because not only could you not get to them, few stores were open anyway so you had no place to spend your money. A town north of here had a boil water advisory, for whatever reason. I wonder how they got the word out if people were without power. A Berkey, with a policy of using it regularly instead of just emergencies, would probably be pretty useful for those folks.  

• Local television newscasters couldn't get in to the stations, and were posting their on-the-scene news reports online by using the video capture provided from their iPhones.  

• Emergency services were also compromised. An ambulance is nothing but a big car, and in some circumstances, they weren't able to get where they needed to go either. I saw a fire truck, with chains on, stuck. The crews were using shovels to clear a path under the wheels, one foot at a time. Slow, hard work.  

• A retreat is useless if you can't get to it. Pre-stage your preps there, if you have one, but have something to fall back on at your regular home. You might find that you have to dive into those reserves unexpectedly.  

• Fortunately I never lost power or water/sewer, though some did lose electricity. If the lights had gone out in mass quantities, with impassible roads and well below freezing temperatures, people would've died all over the city. There would've been no way to extricate them from their homes, and if the outage was wide spread enough, no place to put them.  

• There is one bright spot in the story. In my area, neighbors relied on each other, communicated, and provided assistance to each other. My neighborhood has a Google message board, and if anybody learned any useful knowledge, it was passed along to the group. I highly recommend setting up one of these, no matter how big your community is. Our group is populated by a wide variety of socioeconomic levels, and it still works. Even if no useful information is conveyed, the gallows humor passed along provided a great stress reliever and offered the "We're all in this together" attitude.   Hopefully this list will provide value to someone. Stay safe! - John C. in Atlanta

Dear Editor:
This letter is a primer for new preppers in South Africa. The reason for this is simple, we don’t have the equivalent of a SurvivalBlog in South Africa and our family and confidants have had to find out the hard way where and what to buy. (Subtle hint to a South Africa-based prepper looking for a home business)

That said, this is not to be considered a definitive resource for the South Africa prepper, it is a list of known suppliers to us that we have purchased from, specifically for reasons of preparing. We have never had a hassle with these suppliers. Most suppliers are in the Gauteng area, but there are a number that are national, you will need to maintain your own OPSEC, as none of these suppliers knowingly supply the local ‘prepper movement’. We typically use reasons of self-sustainability, Camping/off-road trips, farm security or one of our own businesses if the situation/reason fits, if any direct questions are asked. We find giving an impression of ..... (choose one of the above) without outright lying is best, people make up their own stories. Lets jump into the list. This is in no particular order, as it flows. All of these suppliers will ship to you if you cannot find a local supplier.

Plastic Food Grade Containers.
Trim Plastics supplies a whole range of food grade plastic buckets. We have found the rectangular 10 and 20 litre containers to be perfect for storage as they can stack higher (7 high for 20 Lt and 12 high for 10 Lt.) They use less space in storage and seal really well. I think it’s the corners that assists with the strength. Unlike elsewhere in the world we do not have the luxury of free buckets, as they are typically scrounged by staff working in a ‘free bucket’ environment. (Cash or EFT)

Glass ‘canning jars’.
Consol jars are similar to the Mason jars in the US and Canada. Consol jars are often free for the taking in many older homes. It’s the seals that are hugely expensive. We have found the most cost effective solution is to standardise on a single size jar (Cross & Blackwell Mayo jars for example, get your friends to collect for you) and then purchase a few boxes of single use lids from www.bonpak.co.za the lids are 1/20th the cost of Consol seals. These can often be reused if the seal is still perfect. Note: We have not used these for pressure canning. Stick to Consol Jars and lids for that. (Cash EFT and Cards)

Your Local Fresh Produce Market is a great place to get bargains on in-season veggies for a canning exercise. We use AppleQueens at the JHB Fresh Produce Market. We plan a trip in once every second month and all spend part of the weekend processing at a fraction of the cost of buying elsewhere. Don’t go to the trouble of getting a buying card, the prices are not much different from the market floor or a wholesaler. Fresh produce markets also have a host of supporting businesses (for farmers) where you can get bulk packaging, bulk catering items and growing resources like seedling trays, ties, bulk seed (Hybrid) and irrigation systems. etc, so take your time and see what is available. (Most stores are Cash Only)

Find your local Co-Op and purchase your bulk grains like wheat and whole mielies (Corn) there. Typically sold as Boer Koring or just plain Wheat, you will be paying about R200 per 50 Kgs. The same goes for mielies  but you are almost certain to get GMO Corn, unless you grow your own. (Depends on the store) Your Co-Op is also a great place to get veterinary medication at a good price. They also sell disposable syringes, gloves, needles and multi-use ‘sharps’. I have tried the multi-use sharps (B Co injection) it’s a bit more painful than the single use needles, but they work.

Dry Ice, find your local Ice-cream factory and buy from there.

Heirloom seeds
Contact the guys at www.livingseeds.co.za. We have had great service from these guys, all their seed is grown in South Africa and it’s a good local business to support. There is also a lot of useful info on keeping your seed pure from season to season and generally being self-sustainable. (EFT and credit card)

Beans and Lentils
Akhalwaya’s is a great place to buy bulk storage beans, lentils and spices. If you are outside of Gauteng then do a google for your local spice wholesaler. Spices, oils, beans, wheat, rice and the like are available there. I always leave with more than I planned to buy. (Cash and EFT)

Oils and Chemicals
Rebound Chemicals. These two ladies provide a great service and supply a wide range of chemicals at rock bottom prices. Food grade oils (Coconut, olive etc) and chemicals for making soaps and detergents, they will even supply you with recipes if you would like to start a home based soap making business. (Cash and EFT)

Another edible oil supplier is Pridon, they also have no web site, just e-mail Graham at pridon@isat.co.za (016 365 6073) they supply in bulk and are a good place to lay in your edible oils or Pomace olive oil for soap making. (Cash and EFT)

Essential Oils

www.essentialoils.co.za a great range and one of the most cost effective suppliers. We have been using them for years. (Credit card and EFT)

Off grid power. We use two sites/suppliers www.sustainable.co.za and www.redrhino.co.za  They stock all one needs, the service and prices are by far the best we have found. A self-installed solar geyser (hot water system) from Red Rhino is cheaper than taking advantage of the Eskom rebate with a more expensive dealer installed system, as long as you are handy and can do-it-yourself. (Cash, EFT and credit card)

Solar water pumping. www.allpower.co.za this is a great locally made solar (PV) pump that can be repaired by most handymen. It uses commonly available spares in most motor spares shops. Proprietary parts are freely available from the manufacturer at a low cost. Well worth the investment. Get a spare controller board in case of a lightning strike, as well as extra diaphragms. (The system comes with a free set, replace every 12-24 months). I really like the fact that this system is user serviceable, important in a SHTF scenario. We used their Gauteng based dealer www.sunlec.co.za and are extremely happy with their service, they delivered onsite (120+km) and even supplied couplings that were not charged for to suit our unique installation. (Cash and EFT)

Security, we use a number of suppliers here. Oh, I’d give an eyetooth to be able to shop in the States but we need to maintain OPSEC locally and work with what we have. Maybe the Dollar will crash one day soon and we can get it on the cheap...)

For Mil Spec gear to drool over http://www.msequipment.co.za prepare to flatten your wallet, this site can hurt. (Cash and EFT)

Mil Spec Clothing and tents www.armystores.co.za they do postal orders which is cool. (Cash, credit card and EFT) Another option which we are exploring is to purchase a bolt of Mil Spec Camo material to make clothes on patterns. We are waiting for our first order to be delivered. Just find your largest haberdashery and say you need it for a bush camp that you are setting up.... Mmmm could very well be true, depending on how you interpret it.

Second-hand reloading kit at reasonable prices (New as well)  Try Craig at the Blunderbuss Tel 011 867 0370 Fax :  011 867 0369 E-mail : blunderbuss@telkomsa.net  (Sorry they have no web site) they also stock a range of militaria, however we have found their Military clothing to be a bit steep on price, but they do have some really cool original WWII stuff. They are a great resource for spare mags and additional (old and new) Mil Spec kit. If you need something rare or unusual they should be your first stop. (EFT, Cash and credit card)

Pick up brass at your local range or purchase brass from their shop depending on the range. We pick up everything that we can lay our hands on and put it in storage, you never know when its barter value will go through the roof. Also lay on some extra dies in common calibres and make sure you keep loading data for all of them.

As an aside, most larger gun shops have a large collection of spares for firearms. (They break-down and/or weld-up most of the weapons handed in by gun owners that did not want to go through the hassle of the new Firearms Control Act) You can often sort through crates of spares and mags looking for the peaches.

Reloading Components.
Contact www.questbullets.com for limited range of superb quality locally made rifle bullets at a good price. Don’t phone Oom (Uncle) Petrus, he prefers email. For any other components buy them cash from your local gun shops in staggered amounts and please stick to the law. (Credit card and EFT)

OTC Medical supplies.
We get some from www.dischem.co.za and some from www.clicks.co.za. Both of these national pharmacies require a verbal ID (Name, address and ID number) when ordering basic over the counter (OTC) medications. Create a pseudonym that you can easily remember, they don’t ask for a visual ID. Don’t buy your first aid kit supplies here, rather check out one or both sites that are mentioned below.

Online suppliers for medical kit and hardware that we have used with great success are. www.yms.co.za (They also supply security related products) and www.myomed.co.za

Hand powered equipment and antique tools.
Find your local smallholders' livestock auction. Typically held on a Saturday in rural / Peri-urban areas. These auctions most often have a flea market attached to them that sell all manner of things. Get there early and browse the flea market. We have found some real gems like hand powered grain grinders, scythes and old wood working tools.

For anything else keep a watch on www.gumtree.co.za, at www.bidorbuy.co.za and at www.junkmail.co.za those three sites will often turn up an item that you are looking for. If it’s not urgent and the price seems a bit steep, the seller will often re-list at a lower price, if it’s up for three weeks you could probably negotiate quite nicely. Regards, - Joe Ordinary Voortrekker

Pierre M. sent a link to a fascinating blog written by a wife and mother who lives deep in the interior of Alaska: The Last Frontier. Their main access to the outside world is via bush pilot flights. The blog is posted only sporadically, since they have to fly in the gasoline to run their generator. Now that is remote!

   o o o

Leading computer expert warns of cyber attack on National Grid. (Thanks to Dave B. for the link.)

   o o o

From Chris S. comes a news account of YOYO time: Brazil Mudslide Survivors Carry Food, Water to Those in Remote Village.The mudslides have reportedly taken 600 lives.

"The essence of exchange is the transfer of title. Here's the essence of what happens when I buy a gallon of milk from my grocer. I tell him that I hold title to these three dollars and he holds title to the gallon of milk. Then, I offer: If you transfer your title to that gallon of milk, I will transfer title to these three dollars. Whenever there's voluntary exchange, the only clear conclusion that a third party can make is that both parties, in their opinion, perceived themselves as better off as a result of the exchange; otherwise, they wouldn't have exchanged. I was free to keep my three dollars, and the grocer was free to keep his milk. If you think it's obvious that both parties benefit from voluntary exchange, then how come we hear pronouncements about worker exploitation? Say you offer me a wage of $2 an hour. I'm free to either accept or reject your offer. So what can be concluded if I'm seen working for you at $2 an hour? One clear conclusion is that I must have seen myself as being better off taking your offer than my next best alternative. All other alternatives were less valuable, or else why would I have accepted the $2 offer? How appropriate is it to say that you're exploiting me when you've given me my best offer? Rather than using the term exploitation, you might say you wish I had more desirable alternatives. While people might characterize $2 an hour as exploitation, they wouldn't say the same about $50 an hour. Therefore, for the most part, when people use the term exploitation in reference to voluntary exchange, they simply disagree with the price. If we equate price disagreement with exploitation, then exploitation is everywhere. For example, I not only disagree with my salary, I also disagree with the prices of Gulfstream private jets. By no means do I suggest that you purge your vocabulary of the term exploitation. It's an emotionally valuable term to use to trick others, but in the process of tricking others, one need not trick himself. I'm reminded of charges of exploitation Mrs. Williams used to make early on in our 44-year marriage. She'd charge, "Walter, you're using me!" I'd respond by saying, "Honey, sure, I'm using you. If I had no use for you, I wouldn't have married you in the first place." How many of us would marry a person for whom we had no use? As a matter of fact, the problem of the lonely hearts among us is that they can't find someone to use them." - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Today we present a guest article by Dr. Cynthia Koelker, a name familiar to SurvivalBlog readers. She is the author of the book 101 Ways to Save Money on Healthcare.

Plague.  Yellow fever.  Cholera.  Diphtheria.   Diseases which evoke images of death and despair.  
Though less likely to transmit a fatal illness, would you open your door to someone with hepatitis, strep throat, or methacillin-resistant staph?  What about a person suffering from vomiting, diarrhea, a cough, or lice, or a fever?  Are you immune to measles, polio, and whooping cough – and would you even recognize these conditions?  How will you know if someone is going to come down with influenza in the next day or two?

Before antibiotics, before anti-virals, before immune globulin, societies used quarantines to protect their populations.  As early as the Middle Ages quarantines were imposed on potentially infected ships to reduce the risk of plague spreading to port cities. 

What will you do if someone shows up, seeking shelter?  Can you trust a child who appears healthy to be free of disease?  Does loving your neighbor as yourself require you to put your entire family at risk? 

In times of scarcity, when the marvels of modern medicine are unavailable, medical quarantine offers a possible solution.  The term quarantine applies specifically to apparently well people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease, and therefore may (or may not) become ill.  (For an obviously ill person, isolation procedures should be enacted, a topic for a future article.)

Almost every transmissible disease has an incubation period during which the person is infected but not yet showing signs of disease.  Quite often, a person can be contagious for one to several days before exhibiting symptoms.  Blood borne infections in asymptomatic individuals can sometimes be transmitted months or years before the infected person becomes symptomatic (as in HIV), hence the need for universal precautions.

In recent years the Haitian orphans provide an example of how the U.S. treats potentially contagious immigrants.  Though not quarantined in the usual sense, per the CDC even the apparently healthy children were all examined for:  bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, dengue fever, malaria, leptospirosis, tuberculosis, syphilis, intestinal parasites, Giardia spp., and Cryptosporidium.  They also had their immunization status checked and updated for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, rubella, polio, hepatitis A and B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, meningocococcus, pneumococcus, and varicella (chicken pox).

Lacking the means to do any of this, what constitutes a reasonable approach to strangers seeking help?

For the purposes of this article, I’ll assume those seeking to join your group are not suffering from any apparent signs of infection including fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, runny nose, peculiar behavior, or visible rash.  Again, lack of apparent infection does not guarantee health.  Certain illnesses such as chicken pox and influenza are often highly contagious even before symptoms have developed.  With other microbes, such as strep and typhoid, occasionally a person will develop a carrier state where they are able to transmit an infection but are not themselves infected.  In other cases an infection may be subclinical, that is, too mild to detect, as in the case of a toddler with infectious mononucleosis. 

The above reasons are the basis for quarantining apparently healthy individuals, isolating them from your established, (hopefully) healthy group, until sufficient time has passed to convince you that the well-appearing newcomers are, indeed, most likely healthy.  Even then, this cannot assure that an asymptomatic carrier is not in your presence, but the risk decreases as evidence of prolonged wellness accumulates.     

Quarantine measures depend on potential routes of transmission:  airborne, droplet-borne, direct contact, vector-borne (mosquitoes, fleas), fomite-borne (doorknobs, clothing, equipment, toys, or other inanimate object), food-borne, and feces-borne.  Blood-borne infections should not be an issue without exposure to blood or other body fluids.  (Warning: don’t have sex with strangers.) 

Ideally the quarantine area will be a separate building from your own living quarters, such as an outbuilding, garage, empty house, or barn.   If you choose to offer a room within your home, choose one vented to the outside, without ductwork connecting to the rest of the house.  Make sure the room has a negative pressure by leaving a window cracked, so the air flows into the room from the remainder of the house rather than vice versa.  If you allow newcomers within your home, have them fold their arms across their chests as you lead them to the quarantine room, to prevent potential contamination of walls, doorknobs, and other surfaces. 

Food utensils must be kept entirely separate.  Do not offer to wash dishes nor remove waste.  When offering food, do not touch a potentially contaminated dish with your own utensils.  If this occurs, either leave them with the quarantined population, or sterilize them (by boiling or with a 10% bleach solution.)
A 5-gallon bucket with attached toilet seat and sturdy disposable bags is adequate for waste disposal, preferably with an adequate supply of sturdy disposable plastic bags until the quarantine is lifted.

Who should be quarantined?  The answer could be anyone outside your group who wishes to join you.  Of course, this will depend on several factors, including known epidemics, length of time since societal breakdown, potential resources of newcomers, etc.  Even a few days of separation are better than none at all.  People from unvaccinated populations may pose a greater threat than those likely to have had standard immunizations.  No matter how long you wait, you may not know if an asymptomatic carrier is in your midst. 

How long to impose a quarantine?  Many latent viral infections will manifest themselves within a period of 3-5 days, and most within 10-14.  A three-week period of wellness assures against most transmissible infections, though such a prolonged period may impose hardship on both host and guest.  Certain viruses such as infectious mononucleosis and hepatitis A sometimes have an incubation period of 6 weeks before symptoms occur.  Anyone over the age of 30, however, is presumed to have had mono whether they’ve ever exhibited symptoms or not.  A table at Wikipedia, culled from other sources, lists incubation periods of common illnesses.

Most illnesses are not truly airborne, but rather spread via droplet contamination of surfaces including hands, doorknobs, utensils, and tools  (TB, anthrax, and influenza may be either airborne or droplet-borne.)  It is not likely you will become infected by standing across the room from a person as long as you keep your hands to yourself.  If you do touch something, do not, repeat, do not touch your face until you have washed your hands adequately.  The mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth are the primary entry points for most contagious diseases. 

If your newcomers still appear well at the end of whatever quarantine period you’ve chosen, don’t neglect to do a rudimentary physical exam.  Check their hair for nits (lice eggs) and their skin for rashes.  Ask about known infections, including sexually transmitted diseases.  Keep your ears open for a cough, or wheezing, or abnormal behavior.

This brings us, perhaps, to the point of turning someone away.  Before you even start down the road of quarantine, you should have a plan in place.  Will you turn away a child?  A slow-moving grandmother?  A hard-working adult?  Will your decision be influenced by the potential contribution of the newcomer?  Would you welcome a carpenter with lice?  What about a gourmet cook with herpes?  Or a doctor with shingles?

If I were a layman considering a post-Armageddon scenario, I would update my immunizations now, beginning with those protective against diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis, chicken pox, pneumonia, and influenza.  Although other illness such as yellow fever, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis are rare in the United States, immunizations are available.  See the American Academy of Family Physicians recommendations for a list of vaccines and associated costs. 

Note: Family quarantine will be addressed in detail in my upcoming book, Armageddon Medicine.

Learning to help yourself is a process, but an easy place to start is with my book, 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care, which includes dozens of sections on treating yourself affordably.  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.

Dr. Koelker has recently started a new medical blog on surviving 2012 and TEOTWAWKI at www.armageddonmedicine.net.  She welcomes your questions, comments, and critiques.

I would like to bring you and your readers a synopsis of the floods in Australia and their probable scenarios; firstly I have a first hand view through sandbagging and seeing friends through rising floodwaters, so I have a strong viewpoint. Around where we were in Brisbane east side , the water rose very quickly, the house where our friend  is on a flat concrete slab, the water rose within 2 hours about 3 feet ! The house was saved along with much prayer.

It is estimated that seven billion tons of water has been dumped on Queensland !

Let me explain, Brisbane had floods in 1974, the city then was more like a very large country town, the population was a little over 1 million people, there was very little high rise then, the previous flood peaked  at 5.45 meters and put  6,700 homes under water contrast that with today 60,000 homes  and last week over 100,000 people had no power. The peak this time was about 1 meter lower I think.The devastation this time was over a much bigger area.

As of now 28,650 properties were still without power, sewage plants are not functioning, 75% of the state is has lost crops such as avocados, which happen to be very sensitive to having their feet wet,  they stress, prices for capsicums, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli will skyrocket, the states sugar cane crop is under water, $500 million worth is wiped out. Two growers in Chinchilla have lost $20 million between them.

For many of the farmers are getting wiped out, this will be the end for many of them, in this part of Queensland most of the nations crop of sweet potatoes , zucchinis ,cucumbers, macadamias mangoes and lychees are grown.

In Queensland  beef prices can only go one way up! Livestock can’t get to market because the roads have been destroyed, also 200,000 tons of wheat and barley have been wrecked. Mines need to be drained and supporting infrastructure needs to be completely re built or replaced, in the mean time though countries around the world that rely on Australia’s coking coal will go elsewhere to get it, its estimated that Australia  loses 100 million every day the mines can’t get their product out.

When will the rail roads be up and running again? when will the large produce markets be up and running again ? what about the road networks ? no one knows !

Add to all that, some of the mining companies like Energy and Easternwell have reported damaged or non-operational rigs.

There have also been looters at work, they row along in small dinghies jump onto a roof of a flooded house, prize away some roof tiles and get into the roof space stealing peoples money and valuables stored there in safety and make off with the goods, people have enough heartache to contend with without having these low-lifes steal all they have left.

My wife thinks I am too harsh (I think the cops should shoot a them,  then hang him up on a pole with a sign around his neck  saying “LOOTER”) how many will loot after that? Not many I suspect.

Also there have been some instances of women being sexually molested in evacuation centers ( reminds me of Katrina )

I saw people come  in canoes or boats with what they considered their most valuable possession , one woman came in make up with all her diamonds and jewels with a mink coat, another woman with a short statue of eastern origin, and another guy with a old bottle of whisky , amazing to me, I guess under pressure we all will take what is most valuable to us.

My family had our 72 hour kit, our Bibles and our pets, we were ready and we are doing well, ( much better than almost all we know ) lots of people laugh at us and think we are nuts, not any more though.

It seems to me that the country is in for a rough ride around the world because of the loss of the floods,  people are now losing their jobs in other big cities such as Sydney or Melbourne, friends of ours have been laid off because the banks call centers and marketing firms have closed because of the Queensland head offices are under water.

Thanks to SurvivalBlog my family has a heads up and are miles ahead, I see many totally unprepared for food shortages ahead, this has greatly impacted this country and will effect many more areas in other states.

So in the meantime, I would encourage anyone, have your bug out bag (BOB) ready and food and water for at least 12 weeks as a minimum.

Cost to Make Penny and Nickel Rises for US Mint. It now costs the U.S. Mint 9.22 cents to produce a nickel! Build your pile now, before the coin composition changes! (If you dawdle, then you'll have to sort coins. And once the base metal value exceeds 2x face value, nickels will be driven out of circulation by the general public.)

Illinois Lawmakers Pass 66 Percent Income Tax Increase

Ben S. was the first of several readers to send this: Housing Market Slips Into Depression Territory

Items from The Economatrix:

S&P, Moodys Both Warn On US Credit

Hard Times In Illinois  

Long Shadows Cast Over US Economy 

FDIC Friday Follies: Regulators Shut Small Georgia Bank; Third This Year
Stock Indexes Gain For Seventh Straight Week   

#1 Son forwarded me this: In Nuclear Silos, Death Wears a Snuggie

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Some news from Israel for the Orchestrated Institutional Stupidity Department: IDF collecting settlers' weapons

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Avalanche Lily flagged this one: “Food riots in America? You’re crazy…”

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P.J. sent this: Living large: Home going up in Highlandville to be one of country’s largest. This "one-family house" has some veeeery interesting specifications.

"Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." - Nehemiah 4:14 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

With the rising number of people aware of the need to prep for survival in the coming times there are so many needs that must be addressed. When putting together a survival group, people draw from a diverse group of people and try to match talents and skills of the members so that they may cover a very large array of needs. There are so many steps one can take to prepare for or understand certain skills which could prove useful should their network be lacking of certain skills. One of the ones nearest to me is medical care!

So you don’t have a nurse, paramedic or doctor in your network of partners. What do you do when someone is faced with ailments typically treated by someone’s physician? When there is no one to give advice or prescribe medications, what are your options for hope of surviving even the simplest of things? We all have within us the capacity to adapt and handle certain emergent situations and there are field guides and how to books and manuals that can come in very handy as a reference on how to treat many different ailments. In many article I’ve read on the subject it seems there is something I have not read enough of!

I have been a patient of the healthcare industry and I’ve worked in administration. I am trained in emergency medicine but for years I have not graced the establishments as a patient! Years ago I was opened to the wonderful world of preventative medicine! I took to it quite quickly as I began to expand my knowledge in how the things we do and ingest affect our health. I’ve had bad experiences with doctors who are so eager to prescribe that they don’t often take enough time to really fix the problem as many medicines simply mask the symptoms.

This is in no way intended to persuade someone to ignore the advice of their doctors and go without the care they have been receiving. They are simply helpful suggestions that I have followed for many years with great success myself and my children. The healthcare industry serves a great purpose to society and I am very fond of the emergency medical service. However, if your ailment comes from within and is not a result of an accident etc., there is a large possibility you can get to know your own body and keep yourself in such great health as to survive much longer without the care of physicians.

Here are a couple of the things I live by that have kept myself and my girls in pristine health even when others around us are sick and flus, colds and bugs are spreading among others! My not work for everyone and you really have to work on knowing yourself and your body for these techniques to work at all. The better you know your body the quicker you know if you’ve been infected with a bug or virus and the quickest action you take in preventing it from taking control of your system the better chance you have to keep from being sick at all!

Apple Cider Vinegar
I’m sure many people are thinking “yuck” right about now! However, this is one of the greatest defenses I can offer you for keeping what is going around from taking grip of your health! I am very aware of my body and I know quite quickly when something is not right. Yes I know I am not a doctor, and cannot diagnose myself with a sickness, but I have common sense enough to know when others around me are sick. When I start with a single symptom I am likely to be getting it soon!

Strep throat for example! I went from no symptoms to a fever and sore throat within hours one day and I knew I had been exposed to it. I was pretty sure what was going on. I immediately started taking straight vinegar as often as I could handle it. It burned quite a bit going down my sore and irritated throat. I did not treat the fever at that point because I knew that was simply my body reacting to the infection that was trying to take over my body. Well, I’ve had strep throat before and been to the doctor, so I know it is not uncommon to have the discomfort and symptoms for a week or more. However, being aware enough and by taking immediate action, I was over any and all symptoms with vinegar alone within 48 hours of the initial symptoms.

Common Colds and Flus
Germs are always in the air especially when we are in public places and when you live with a large number of people it can spread and re-spread in-between them and sometimes you can even get it again after being well for a week or more because others are getting it at different times! I have found that mixing the vinegar with honey to taste and drinking with hot water as a tea can prevent any germs from setting in! Years ago I finally got my daughters to do this by coming up with my special “honey cocoa”! It had no cocoa but the name put them at ease as they hated the vinegar alone. It became a ritual during the cold seasons especially. May not work for everyone but I cannot tell you how long it has been since myself or my children and had a cold or the flu and we do not get any immunizations for the flu! While germs and viruses are being passed even in our own homes we manage to escape untouched by the ailments! I’ve not managed to convince too many people of it but when you are in a WTSHTF situation and cannot get to a doctor, preventing a sickness from taking place gives you far better chances than having a sickness get so bad that you need antibiotics when there are none!

Local Honey
For those that suffer from allergies like pollen and other things that they typically seek treatment for or end up with drainage and are miserable there might be hope! There have been many articles in various magazines and web sites about this. The Google search engine is your friend! You will find many more uses than I will list here! If you take a tablespoon of local honey everyday it almost serves as an immunization to the allergies typically present in the local environment that the honey came from. This is thanks to the wonderful bees and cross pollination! I don’t know how many people it will work for but I do know it has worked for many people that have tried it including myself. You do have to be disciplined enough to do it each day and it doesn’t take effect overnight. It may take weeks or months before you can be in your environment that typically gives you allergic fits before you feel you can breathe easy and avoid the drainage and sometimes resulting sicknesses from all of it!

There are many more ways to stay on top of your own health and prevent many sicknesses from ever taking residence in your body. I will not list them all as I feel the above are the two most critical factors in my being able to maintain the health of myself and my daughters. However, there is a world of information out there and I would advise anyone to read books, articles and everything they can get their hands on about natural healing. I will say one thing I am doing myself, taking herbology classes! I am a novice practitioner of this already. I use herbs, essential oils and natural remedies as often as possible, as I am not a fan of pharmaceuticals. I don’t recommend anyone stop taking their medications. I am simply suggesting it may prove useful in the days ahead, if you no longer have access to medications, and you need to rely on Mother Nature! Even if you choose not to do or learn these things I would definitely advise that you take the time and effort to compile reference books on the subjects and have them in a safe waterproof place. One day they may be more valuable to you then you know!

One other little helpful bit of information that I would like to share even for now is the importance of getting water! I’m sure everyone has read of the greater success one will have if they conquer their addictions to anything before that time comes. Many people are hooked on sodas and drink very little water. Lack of water can cause quite a few ailments that people attribute to sickness but can be curtailed by staying hydrated. Just a couple I have read about; fatigue, headaches, nausea, and hunger pain, the list goes on and on. Definitely another topic worthy of research!

Good luck to all of you. Get to know yourself, because no one can possibly know your body better than you do yourself!

In 2006, I left my job of 20+ years as a maintenance mechanic and construction designer, my wife left her job of 10+ years in real estate, and we cashed in a pension and a 401(k), to buy a small farm. At the time we were deemed crazy. We thought so too and to this day can’t really put a finger on the exact reasoning.

This farm was one of the last small agriculturally-zoned properties in the area. The rest is sub-division. It was only five acres, but had a large 8-stall horse barn with a large loft & a half-acre pond. We fenced extensively to utilize all the property and over the next three years we got by with giving tours to schools, groups and individuals, and selling various farm related items. Over the past four years we have had virtually every animal known to a farm. Hereford bull, Angus heifers, goats, pigs, sheep, quarter horses, a pony, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, quail, doves, pigeons. Also, ferrets, chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, gerbils, a hedgehog, a dozen dogs and even more cats.

We had to buy hay 12 months of the year, but we were able to make arrangements with three beer micro-breweries to pick up their spent grain after brewing and also with a few produce stores that would load up 32-gallon cans (which we dropped off daily) with their waste fruit, vegetables and greens. No charge for anything, but we had to supply the cans. They didn’t fill up their dumpsters and everyone saved money.

Everything was going smooth until the end-of-summer, 2008. We had that noticed things weren’t quite right in our previous lives (my wife was in real estate), and this was verified in early fall, when we had a visit from someone who had a unique (for us) idea. This person was an owner of an investment firm and had scheduled a tour with his family to “see” the farm. What really was being “seen” was us. Later, we were asked if we would like to join/form a co-op of sorts where a few people with an initial investment and monthly fees could have a supply of fresh meat and eggs and in the case of an “emergency” would have a retreat.

I got the co-op part but the retreat part? Retreat from what? Growing up, I was a big-fan of end-of-the-world movies and books. Movies like “On The Beach”, “The Day The World Ended” (watch it first, then comment) and “The Last Man On Earth” with Vincent Price. “The Last Ship ” was a favorite book later, too. Then we were told about what was going to happen in the beginning of 2009. He told us unless the Fed stepped in somehow, we would have just one of the big three automakers left, if that, banks will fail and inflation and shortages would come. This was in late September of 2008.  My vision of a TEOTWAWKI situation was more nuclear war or even monsters, before the real one, a financial “Rome’s about to be surrounded!”

We thought about this a few days and agreed. Though this co-op set-up only lasted a few months, people lost interest in it to make it not worth our while, we were now permanently “Preppers” and had a tremendous head-start. We started our own personal storage program for food and supplies, but given our location in the suburbs of a very major Midwest city, this was futile at best. Too many people! Too many had the knowledge of what we had and where we had it. My head about imploded after I read "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" by Mr. Rawles. (I’ve since read "Patriots", which if I had read it earlier, would have really gotten me freaked!)

These major eye-opener(s), coupled with Glenn Beck and the endless doom and gloom on the History Channel and others (ABC even had one) we had been watching throughout ‘09, we knew we had to Get Out Of Dodge sooner, rather than later. This process was to be expedited by others. We had our own web site for the tours we had been giving, and still had some information on what we may had going on, though nothing saying we were prepping. At the time we had some links to other useful sites, etc., but then I added Glenn Beck’s and one for a non-hybrid survival seed company we really liked. wrong move! This definitely must have sent up red flags somewhere, somehow. A few weeks later our world was suddenly invaded with anonymous threatening letters and notes saying they’re going tell our suppliers of beer-grain and produce that our animals were being treated poorly, complaints to the police, township, county (Health, Zoning, Building), and state department of agriculture. All of a sudden everything we were doing was deemed "wrong"!

Pop-in visits asking for a look around became common. Picture taking from the other sides of the gates, also. Now, we were located on a corner property on a well-traveled 2-lane road with a 30-mph limit. Joggers, walkers and bicyclists were common. Never a complaint! They would stop at one of our gates to chat. We gave tours and had an open gate policy at first and kept the place cleaner then the typical acceptable conditions of a farm in the area. Anyway, all the, “You didn’t get a permit for this,” “You can’t do that,” and, “Someone said you did this,” were new to us. We had checked on what we could and couldn’t do on the property before we purchased it. You read the list of animals we had or had at one time or another. Some of these “officials” had even been at the farm earlier in friendly times and used to say “Keep up the good work,” and, “Wish more people were like this,” and came back with their kids on the weekends!

Was it a coincidence that things changed when the web site stuff was added? We don’t think so. Our not believing in coincidences in the first place had nothing to do with reaching this conclusion. Were we paranoid? Read on. This continued and escalated. We had an excellent relationship with our local County Sheriff (we were in an unincorporated semi-affluent, McMansion area which was converted from farms over the years, with few holdouts. Ours were probably the first cows you would see driving out of the major city nearby). He told us things behind the scenes he was aware of and things we should do to protect ourselves. Trust me, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you what he said. We had been finding broken glass, bottles, shards of metal and such in our pastures and walkways. For instance, based upon what was said, on Easter Sunday, my wife and I installed 99 eight-foot solid fence panels on our roadside perimeter existing fencing. Just the start. Next were infra-red security cameras, motion-activated lighting and alarms. Firearms were a non-issue. But that is a subject for another time.

In April, 2010 we started looking for a new farm west of the Mississippi. My wife was originally from South Dakota, but we settled on SW Minnesota. I hate flies and mosquitoes, so cold and snow half the time is wonderful to me. I have issues with sustainability in a lot of South Dakota, but they'd probably say the same about me.

The day in June, moving the animals was the epitome of the Schumer we were in. Just blocking only half the street on an early Saturday morning, loading a dozen cattle and two dozen goats in a really residential neighborhood. The things that were said to us and our transporters showed how Godless the area was becoming. Idolatry and hypocrisy rule. We moved our whole operation 500 miles away. We took a major monetary hit on the “city” farm (just to get it sold and done with), but sold it in six months, paid off all major debts, and bought the new farm outright. The new farm is four times the size of our old one, and is self-sustainable for both our family of five, our ten dogs and the farm animals. We had a lot of help from a God-send of neighbors to get us going.

After all the harassment we put up with, not one civil or criminal complaint was ever filed, so motivation and individuals personally involved is unknown. We believe everything is done for a reason. Our lives are being steered in a certain direction, but let no man tell you which direction you must go. Only God knows which direction you must go. We never pray to God to ask Him for anything. We pray to God to thank Him for everything. Remember, God helps those that help themselves (and others). Not those that “help” themselves (and not others). Get it? Here’s a quote I like from the recent movie, “Legion”: “Maybe God’s just tired of all the bull**t.”

Get Your Schumer Together. Sell your junk, buy tangibles, pay off your debt, make peace with your maker. Pass it on. Do it now. Maybe it’s not too late to get it right.

Right before graduating a rough four years of high school (full of mischief, mostly harmless), sitting with my Dad at the kitchen table weighing my options: go full-time at the car dealership I was working at, do the ol’ work your way through college or the military. A World War II Vet, he said to me, “Son, it has and always will be better to know a little about a lot, rather than a lot about a little.” Within a week I joined the Marine Corps. Four years later I met my wife of 24 years. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Everything happens for a reason. Semper Fi.

Dear James,  
I read much of your blog site and started to get prepared two years ago when the financial crisis first hit.  Now, while staying dry enough, I am surrounded by flooded towns and washed out roads and bridges.  So much of what you have written is of value here right now.  I thought you would appreciate an on-the spot report.  Now my friends are scrambling and I don’t look like such a fool.     

We in Jandowae have potable water but our nearest neighbouring town, Dalby was trucking in a million litres a day.  Even locally I have seen some gastrointestinal infections and am grateful for good water filtration equipment.  We have needed our battery operated radio as there have been frequent blackouts, the bug out bags are ready in case we get more rain upstream and evacuation is needed, and it is a comfort to have sufficient food for a year and a good supply of heirloom seeds to plant as soon as the water goes down as they expect food prices to double in the coming months as more than half of the state has been underwater with massive stock and crop losses.  I even bought a spare house to have more land to cultivate and storage room, and I think we are going to be glad of that. (I live in the shop.)  

Everything that seemed common sense and intuitively correct is coming true – we are all so interconnected and interdependent that without a functioning road network, no one can get anything in or out.  Livestock cannot get to the slaughterhouse or meat or milk to market or processed and packaged goods back to the country.  Many large towns are out of fuel, and no one anywhere can get bread or milk. No one.  The bakeries are out of flour so can’t even bake any.  There has been panic buying and shop shelves are stripped bare, but you can still get the odd treat like chocolate at our local store.  There are only a few of us in my town who can go to work as most men I know are truck or transport drivers, farmers with paddocks and sheds under water or coal mine workers. (The mines have shut down as both rail and roads are washed out and there is no way to get the finished product to the ports or export. They are losing $100 million every day in exports, and Australia supplies half of the world’s supply of coking coal).  When the holiday pay runs out, many will be unable to meet their mortgage payments and with food costs about to go through the roof, there will be widespread hardship.  

I have enough issues with my store and looking after the unprepared that I am so glad all our personal needs are well looked after.   

I also look at the big picture, the months of recovery ahead, the isolation which will continue for a very long time and the huge inflation we will be dealing with and it has all happened just as you predicted.   It is still unfolding tonight as the capital city, Brisbane, loses 3,500 businesses, 20,000 homes and many kilometers of roads and bridges. You probably saw what happened to people in the Lockyer Valley when a wall of water went through the main street of Toowoomba, (where we do most of our shopping), and then down the mountainside, washing away houses.  Many were stuck on their roofs and no one could rescue them because it was too large a scale of disaster and torrential rain continued all the next day, which hampered rescue efforts.  We are pretty good at handling disasters here in Australia, but at the moment, the resources are stretched very thin. When things get this bad, we have to be able to take care of ourselves and each other.  

Thanks once again – the amount of stress that I don’t have on account of listening to you and acting on your advice is fantastic. - Karen in Queensland

Who is guarding the hen house? Secret underground room at Border Patrol agent's home may have hidden illegal immigrants. (Thanks to M.O.B. for the link.)

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Joe P. recommended this page: Homemade Firearm Cleaners & Lubricants. I've mentioned "Ed's Red" in the blog before, but their site has even more formulas. I've added it to my Links Page.

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Reader Art R. liked this one, over at The Art of Manliness: An Introduction to Off-Roading.

"Well, in the first place an armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. ... But gunfighting has a strong biological use. We do not have enough things that kill off the weak and the stupid these days. But to stay alive as an armed citizen a man has to be either quick with his wits or with his hands, preferably both. It's a good thing." - Robert Heinlein, Beyond This Horizon, 1948

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice Doggie!' while you are looking for a rock." - Will Rogers

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

As energy prices soar and the dollar loses value, people are purchasing firewood for the future. Heating oil is a grade of diesel, propane is an oil by- product and with the rise of over twenty cents a gallon in just a few weeks, people are planning ahead where there may not be any fuel to warm their homes. Those with electricity are starting to look at any solar power possibilities, meanwhile, the big oil corporations have bought up many of the solar-panel producing companies!

Firewood providers in our area are getting orders to bring customers as much firewood as possible- the customers will take all the wood they can provide. (And, of course, the providers like to be paid in cash...) The customers are saying that next year -and beyond-, heating oil will be too expensive to heat their homes with.  Add to that the uncertainty of any oil being available for our rural area. Firewood will also cost more due to fuel for delivery trucks as well as the chainsaw maintenance, which includes bar oil and gasoline.

Natural gas is not available in our area, and many rural folks use propane. Rising in cost, our recent fill up cost us over $700, and that was with a price break of filling over 200 gallons! ($2.15 a gallon.) Typical fill up rule is to fill to 80% to leave room for expansion and for safety reasons. We have propane ‘on-demand’ water heating and are looking to improve on that system with firewood .  We live on a mountain; in winter there is no delivery. We can fill our own small portable tanks, a bit hard to use with a major home hookup. Firewood it is!

We heat and cook with  wood, using our ‘Pioneer Maid’ air-tight stove. It works great.  It is Amish made, available from Lehman's or from Obadiah's in Troy, Montana. We had it delivered to a local hardware store.  They used a forklift to set it into our truck; when we got home we used our tractor to lift it out onto a dolly with wheels.  That dolly was pre-tiled to compensate for any further moving of the stove, it went right into place. Wheels, what a concept!

Consider purchasing extra stove pipe to replace or repair yours in the future, along with spark arrester-tops, chimney brushes and creosote blocks or powder. If  you can afford it,  buy stainless steel chimney pipe which costs quite a bit more but will last a long, long  time.

Have a safe way to get up to your chimneys to clean them out with chimney brushes.  Roof ladders come to mind, if you don’t know anyone with a “cherry-picker” extension on their truck!

We located our woodshed(s) uphill from our dwelling location, that way everything can be downhill when bringing wood into our home.  We purchased a large wheeled wood-hauling cart that is wonderful to use from Harbor Freight as well as a black plastic tub that slides well in snow.  It takes at least eight months to dry or “season” firewood, with it being stored under cover with open sides all around. We do hang tarps during winter months to block the weather from wetting the wood. The best strategy is to have at least two years of wood stored, we rotate by having two woodsheds. If you can, purchase your firewood, saving ‘your’ wood until other wood is not available. If times get challenging, you will be glad of this strategy!

We save the scrap from our woodpiles in old construction buckets under cover. It is great fire starter along with pine cones and needles! The caution here is the creosote potential.  We use “Safe Lite”natural fire starters made by Rutland.  (Pine needles in fall, are also good for bedding your raspberry bushes!) We save newspapers when thrown out at the post office. (Black & White papers are better, since color pages have cadmium, etc.,) You’ll have to use your creosote powder remover more often as well as clean your chimney pipes more frequently. One thing; we tended to burn our stove pretty hot, and ended up needing a few more bricks to have on hand to replace the ‘liners’ in the stove firebox that cracked.

Here at our center, we are planting trees for the future.  Tamarack and others are sold through our county conservation district and we found hardwood species through Lawyer Nursery. We are fortunate that we have enough downed trees (and diseased) trees that we do not need to cut live trees. Our thought is the small nursery trees have a better chance of surviving the days that are here.

In our experience burning Ponderosa Pine and Western White pine is like trying to burn wet cardboard! Here is our order of preference for the N.E. Washington Rocky Mountain Foothills:
1) Western Larch (Tamarack,)
2) White Birch,  
3) Douglas Fir  
4) Aspen
5) White Fir.

A combination helps to cook with Birch and Tamarack, but of course, for heating, you will use what works! In our area a cord of Red Fir a.k.a. Douglas Fir is $125 per cord. Western Larch (also known as Tamarack) and Birch sell for $145- $150.

Attached is a composite list from several sources on common firewood ranked by heat produced, (BTUs= British Thermal Units) per cord of wood. A Cord is wood stacked four feet wide, four feet high and eight feet long.  Please note we do not have some of the exact BTU ratings for some species, (“u/a”) but they are categorized just the same.  Google Search “Firewood Characteristics”, U. S Forest products Laboratory, also see:  Hearth.com,  and the Firewood rating chart.

“*” denotes  Overall  rating of combination Split-ability, Ease to start, low sparking, and how hot fire burns: 

Common Firewood Species

Very High Heat  =  25 - 27   Million  BTUs

Million  BTUs  per cord

Apple .....  Fair*


Black (sweet) Birch.........Excellent*


Blue Beech........Excellent




Hombeam (Ironwood).......Excellent


Locust, Black.......Excellent




Oak, White.......Excellent


High Heat = 23 - 24   Million   BTUs


Ash, White.......Excellent




Birch, Yellow.......Excellent






Maple, Sugar........Excellent


Oak, Red.......Excellent




High to Medium Heat =  20.8 - 23.5 Million BTUs


Maple, Red




Pine, Yellow.....Good






Western Larch (Tamarack)......Fair


Medium Heat = 19.5-20.3


Birch, Paper.....Excellent


Birch, White........Excellent


Birch, Grey.......Excellent


Black Cherry






Fir, Douglas......Good




Maple, Silver.....Good






Sweet Gum......Fair




Medium to Low Heat = 15 - 17.9 Million BTUs




Cedar, Red.....Good




Ponderosa Pine.....Fair


Box cedar


Low Heat = 12 - 14 Million  BTUs












Englemen Spruce.....Poor


Fir, Grand.....Fair


Pine, White, Western.....Fair


Pine, Norway


Pine, Lodgepole






Supplies for Firewood Users

If possible, have two chainsaws, with extra bars and chain, a way to sharpen those chains, and a supply of bar oil, fuel mixing oil, and gasoline.  We also have a couple of splitting mauls, ($28 at Wal-Mart, Big R farm and ranch stores have them too.)  Add steel wedges, and repair manuals for your brand of saws!  We use a sledge hammer (our ‘finishing tool’) and bow saws with extra blades. (Avoid blades that are not made in Europe!)  Get extra wood handles for replacements.  For a good Axe: www.snowandnealley.com  They’re in Maine and they offer a lifetime guarantee.

As mentioned above have at least two quality chain saws. Husqvarna (made in Sweden) and Stihl (made in Germany) are the most popular in our area. We personally have a “Husky”(for Husqvarna) and old McCullough, which the local small engine repair shop calls a “museum piece”. Most saws come with 16 to 24 inch bars. Our advice is to buy the  longest bar that will work on your model. That way you don’t have to bend over as far to cut the firewood up, reducing back strain.  Have extra bar oil, fuel lines, spark plugs, carb re-build kits, and learn which files work to do your own sharpening/ Be sure to get Kevlar safety chaps, eye and ear protectors.

Try to find non-alcohol added gasoline. This saves on the fuel lines and carb gaskets.

There are fuel preservatives for both gasoline and diesel fuels.  For your stored gasoline, PRI-G is an excellent product. They also have a diesel life extender product called PRI-D   We were told by our small engine repair business, preservatives keep the fuel for up to two years, although the product label doesn’t say that. The author of the book No Such Thing As Doomsday says that it will store even longer! Add it to fuel you are storing longer than four months. The experts recommend storing this fuel with preservative in the equipment over winter, rather than running them dry for storage.

Have a ‘two-crew’ cross cut saw of good quality. See Traditionalwoodworker.com, or Crosscutsaw.com. (The last manufacturer in USA).  There is a $4 manual that is a handy reference. For someone who reconditions and sharpens crosscut saws: Jimscrosscutsaws.com.  Definitely non-electric!

Have some wire rope to drag trees out of the forest so you don’t have to haul out the cut up logs. If you don’t have a tractor a four wheel pickup can sometimes work if not muddy. A Peavey tool with the attachment to lift the log off the ground is great to have as well, they are referred too as ‘log-lifters’. Or “Back-savers!” 

We hope that this is a very useful bit of information to help you in the challenges we may face in the coming years.  Please pass it along for others!

We are living ‘ Inspired’, hope that You are too!

The following is mostly for the benefit of SurvivalBlog readers who live in Israel, but other readers might find it of interest.

Here we go again! Hizb'allah has apparently taken down the somewhat western-aligned government in Lebanon. I want to put not only Israeli readers on warning to have some extra supplies on hand but also collect bedding and blankets to be ready to accept people into your home seeking refuge from the north along the Lebanon and Syria borders. This time around it is important even for people living in the merkaz and possibly even south of Jerusalem to be on alert since the Hizb'allah has been re-equipped since the last rocket war with a far larger arsenal especially of longer-ranged weapons. Stocks now include mobile launcher SCUD ballistic missiles. I don't think much anymore of the Iraqi WMD migration to Syria but keep NBC precautions in mind anyway.

If not equipped ask if there are still stocks of subsidized gas masks for the whole family at the post office -- now designated by the Interior Command as the new mask distributor. Atropine injectors for nerve gas are no longer issued in the package. Hotels keep stock of masks for all visitors. Find out now who is in charge of your community bomb shelter if you do not have one in your home. Volunteer to help clean out cluttered or overloaded shelters especially in your own home. Most community shelters are either a hardened basement in a public building or purpose built shelter which is used by community groups. If their is a drainage or maintenance issue with your community meklat (bomb refuge) addressing your city or area council is probably the fastest way to get repairs done. You should have grab-n-go bags if you do not have a shelter in your home with a minimum of toilet paper, your gas mask, a trash bag, 2-4 liters of water, ready to eat food, and a AM/FM radio to listen for bulletins on army radio and other stations. Home shelters and some public shelters can be pre-stocked if you know the keeper but anything in a public shelter will end up being shared.

Lastly, I ask readers worldwide to address our creator and keeper and pray for peace. Shalom, - David in Israel     

Greetings Mr. Rawles,

While I believe Survivalblog readers are by-and-large sharp gold-buyers as opposed to naive gold-sellers, I thought I would pass along the experience my local bullion dealer had with one of those "We Buy Your Unwanted Gold!" outfits that came to town last weekend. They specifically solicited numismatic coins and of course promised to pay top dollar.

Following the normal modus operandi, this company ran full-page ads in the local paper on Saturday and Sunday and rented space to set up shop in a local motel. Add to this the travel, lodging, and salary expenses of their employees and I'm certain it cost them several thousand dollars to run this weekend's operation, so you know they're making a killing. But how bad a killing?

Well, their ad said they would pay up to eight times face value for 90% silver coins. It's been over two years since I've heard an offer like that and I certainly wouldn't take twice that much on my silver now. As I recall, about a month ago you wrote you were quoted about 22x face to buy, and APMEX is selling bags at over 21x face today.

But it gets worse: My dealer gave his wife two gold coins, a certified MS63 1924 $20 Double-Eagle and a certified MS64 1932 $10 Indian, and sent her down to get an offer. These two coins have a combined wholesale value of $3,200. How much did they offer her? $2,200 - about 10% over spot and a thousand dollars under wholesale. When she thanked them and said she would have to talk to her husband first, they gave her a special "go right to the front of the line when you come back" card, so you know they just couldn't wait to get their hands on her merchandise.

The people who run these operations are no more than con-men. Only they know how many of my trusting neighbors they took to the cleaners and how many tens of thousands of dollars they robbed from our local economy last weekend. Hopefully this report will help send the message to keep away from these operations and only do business with honorable local people whom you know and trust. - Kevin W.

Regarding your question, WBT is one of the 30 or so stations being added to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) Primary Entry Point (PEP) network by the end of this year. Under the EAS's older sibling, the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), 33 stations served as PEP stations. These stations could receive an emergency message from the president and relay it to the other stations in its area. The PEP stations were generally the old 50,000 watt AM powerhouses because of their wide reach. The requirements for a PEP station are as follows;

- Diesel backup generator with fuel sufficient for 30 days of continuous broadcasting without commercial power - Land line, satellite, and HF radio connectivity to FEMA Operation Centers - Special EAS Encoder/Decoders (ENDECs) with unique EAS codes - Generally located just outside of major city area for survivability - Fallout shelter, on-site food, and special lightning protection (the new PEP's don't have to have a fallout shelter.) - The station must be kept on-air at all times - even through changes in ownership or bankruptcy

WWL is a great example of this setup in action. It alone remained on air during and after hurricane Katrina, and its signal was simulcast over other frequencies in the area until the other stations could get back up and running.

I have a list of the original 33 stations, but a list of the new ones evades me (heaven forbid an informed populace, although I suppose you could start with WBT.) At night most of these stations can be heard over several states. In addition, many of these stations employ a directional signal at night that could be overridden if needed to really get a message out. One station, WLW, has the ability to broadcast with 500,000 watts (!) and used some of that power to send messages to the troops in Europe during WWII, and to Cuba during the cold war.

In the interest of information, here are the original PEP stations, their frequency, city of license, and broadcasting power. All except a couple of these are AM.

  • KALL 700 Herriman UT (50,000 W day/1000 W night)
  • KBOI 670 Kuna ID (50,000 W)
  • KCBS 740 Novato CA (50,000 W)
  • KERR 750 Polson MT (50,000 day/1000 night) KFLT 830 Tucson AZ (50,000 day/1000 night)
  • KFQD 750 Anchorage AK (50,000 W)
  • KFWB 980 Los Angeles CA (5000 W)
  • KFYR 550 Meneken ND (5000 W)
  • KIRO 710 Vashon WA (50,000 W)
  • KKOB 770 Albuquerque NM (50,000 W)
  • KKOH 780 Reno NV (50,000 W)
  • KOA 850 Parker CO (50,000 W)
  • KTRH 740 Dayton TX (50,000 W)
  • KTWO 1030 Casper WY (50,000 W)
  • WABC 770 New York NY (50,000 W)
  • WBAP 820 Mansfield TX (50,000 W)
  • WBAL 1090 Baltimore MD (50,000 W)
  • WBZ 1030 Boston MA (50,000 W)
  • WCCO 830 Minneapolis/St Paul MN (50,000 W)
  • WCOS FM 97.5 Columbia SC (100,000 W)
  • WHAM 1180 Rochester NY (50,000 W)
  • WHB 810 Kansas City KS (50,000 day/5000 night)
  • WKAQ 580 Catano PR (10,000 W)
  • WLS 890 Chicago IL (50,000 W)
  • WLW 700 Cincinnati OH (50,000 W)
  • WMAC 940 Macon GA (50,000 day/10,000 night)
  • WQDR FM 94.7 Raleigh NC (100,000 W)
  • WRXL FM 102.1 Richmond VA (20,000 W)
  • WSM 650 Nashville TN (50,000 W)
  • WSTA 1340 St Thomas VI (1000 W)
  • WTAM 1100 Cleveland OH (50,000 W)
  • WWL 870 New Orleans LA (50,000 W)
  • WYGM 740 Clermont FL (50,000 W)

Regards, - Dan. L

Inflation Flies Up, Up, And Away  

Downsized! More and More Products Lose Weight

News from India: Onion prices make Mumbai investors teary-eyed. "Vegetable prices jumped 16% in the week to Dec. 25 from the preceding week and were up about 60% from the comparable week last year. Onion prices, meanwhile, soared 23% week-on-week and were up a staggering 82% from a year earlier."  

Super Big Gulp fan says 7-Eleven duping the public out of 4 ounces

JPMorgan: Surging Food Prices Fueling Global Inflation

Atlanta Stores out of food?

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Update from Steve Quayle: Mountain House Food Alert, None Available, 92% Dealers Cut. Please patronize SurvivalBlog advertisers first!

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Reader T.H. invested some time and created a map of "Potential U.S. retreat locations by distance from cities". Then #1 Son got busy and created a corresponding map of America's Interstate highway system. I just posted both maps to my Recommended Retreat Areas web page. T.H. included a proviso: "Note that the areas 300 miles out are shaded green. I did not include any Canadian city data, so the northern tier states may not be accurate. For example, the proximity of Calgary, Alberta would affect Montana."

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A reader in California recommended this blog post: Flying with a Firearm

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman

Thursday, January 13, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

What kind of person are you and how does that relate to surviving the end of the world as we know it?

I am far from completely prepared for TSHTF scenario but I am working hard on it.  I do a lot of reading and research on the subject and one of my toughest areas has been in finding other like minded individuals of which I would be able to trust in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation!  I never really realized how difficult this could be.  In my close circle of friends there is but one that is even close to being like minded on what is in store and the benefits of preparing or it!  As we began discussing plans for a bug out many things have come out that caused me great discomfort and lots of thought.

People are introduced into groups or you find people of like mind hoping the gather together the right mixture of people with different skills and experiences to give your group the highest probability for survival in a worst case scenario.  When introduced to several different options I keep coming back to the same annoying little voice in my head that tells me the people you plan to survive with had better be people with the same values and priorities as you have or you’ll pay an ultimate price!

If your children are the most important thing to you in the world I urge you to scrutinize your choice of survival comrades with the most scrutiny you can possibly muster!  When times are so bad that people are killing others for their food and resources people are in their gravest state of desperation.  It is at these times that the true nature and core of a person will escape the inner reaches of themselves and come out with great force.  So how can you be sure who the people are and determine their values and convictions are acceptable for your survival scenario?

"You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday.  You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity." - Barbara De Angelis

So what better way to really get to know the personal convictions of a person than by their life relationships!  If someone is a completely selfish person, who would sacrifice others for themselves instead of working as a team, there should be major warnings in their life circumstances that can make you aware of their mentality.  So what behavior patterns should you watch for and avoid?  To everyone the list will be different but I have some set ones that I watch for in people and try my best not to involve them in my children’s lives…let alone place them as a trusted partner in survival!  Here is my list:

Lack of Integrity:  failure to hold steadfast to adherence of moral and ethical issues

You probably already know many of these people.  They don’t often show immediately but through their actions you can see their lack of integrity.  They are typically unfaithful in their marriages or maintain relations with people who are married.  They often bend the rules to suit themselves.  In relationships it may be rationalizing that since they are unhappy or their girlfriend/boyfriend is unhappy they are somehow excused from the commitments of marriage.  In work they may cut corners and deceive to line their pockets rationalizing that someone is going to do it and it might as well be them.

Arrogance: overbearing pride typically evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors

You can typically spot this character soon after meeting them if not before.  They believe they are God’s gift to the universe and strongly believe they may not always be right but they are never wrong.  These people can be more harmful in dire circumstances as they may rationalize how trading another’s safety for their own makes perfect sense as they are superior and should be saved at all costs.  They often have troubled relationships as they push their opinions and ways on other people as their way of thinking and their way of doing things is the only right way in their mind.

Explosive personality: easily agitated toward the point of explosiveness

These individuals are a little harder to recognize as they wouldn’t want people to know their mannerisms.  In time of knowing someone you may be faced with stressful situations and it is how they handle these situations that may portray this character flaw.  Post TSHTF we will be inundated with high stressful situations and the last thing you want for yourselves or your children is someone present that becomes explosive instead of assertive and calm during these situations.

Lack of accountability:  takes no responsibility in their own choices or actions and is not willing to suffer the consequences of those choices and actions.

Everything just "happens" to this type of person.  When things don’t go right they are just unlucky.  When they get fired from their jobs it is because someone has it out for them…..not because they were late eight times in the last month!  They don’t spend time contemplating their decisions as they have no intention of being held accountable for them.  The repeat the same mistakes because they don’t feel their actions caused them.  This person can be easily spotted as the person usually is a woe is me and complaining individual that would rather complain about everything happening to them then take control and do something to improve their situations.

Lack of commitment:  inability to commit to a path, idea or person.

A long list of life partners, girlfriends, boyfriends, jobs, addresses and much more make this person easy to spot as well.  They are people who get into jobs for a quick buck with no intention of staying.  Or the man/woman that starts a relationship with someone who they have no intention of being with.  They simply hop from job to job, bed to bed and so on with no conviction or care of the havoc they leave behind.  You cannot trust this person with your life or that of your child as they may well change their mind and leave you stranded.

“The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

Now here is where it gets a little tricky!  Some people do have the capacity to change their behaviors and develop and stick to new ones.  However, someone that repeatedly makes the same mistakes is likely to continue to repeat them. 

Remember that the people you plan to survive with are people you will have to put the trust of your own safety and the safety of your children in.  As parents it is hard to trust anyone with our children but if we are very selective it is possible to find others that value children and have great personal convictions that they would be prime candidates you could trust with the life of your child should yours be lost in post-TSHTF chaos.  Always make sure the people you plan with have the highest integrity and responsibility for their actions.  It is these people who you can trust.  They do not willfully lie, cheat or steal and if ever they do they will immediately confess their errors and accept the responsibility and consequences for their actions.

It is definitely not an easy task to find the right people!  Good luck to all of you!

Hi Jim,  
If I buy a handgun on AuctionArms.com and have it shipped to a FFL will the authorities know it is registered under my name?  

Thank you,   - John G.

JWR Replies: The following applies only to SurvivalBlog readers in the United States: Well, considering that by law, final delivery of a gun bought out of state means that you must fill out a Form 4473 that will be kept on file permanently with your dealer. Also, an Instant Background Check will be required. So, yes, you will leave a paper trail. (Although it isn't "registration", per se.)

However, if your state law allows it, then I recommend that you buy your guns from private parties who lives in your state, and pick them up in person, paying cash, or sending a US Postal Service Money Order in advance.  That will minimize the paper trail.  You should find private sellers through AuctionArms.com, GunBroker.com, GunsAmerica.com, or at local gun shows in your own state.

And, needless to say, stock up on original factory made full capacity magazines immediately after you determine what model pistol you will be buying. There are already rumors of another ban. If one is enacted, you can expect the prices of 11+ round magazines to triple or quadruple!

I just want to add a few comments on Archery as a means of self defense from someone who is no overwhelming expert on the subject, but has had a hand in Archery since childhood. So I put something together to assist those forced to use a bow in self defense. Bows can be swift, silent, accurate and deadly, and in the right circumstances, may be preferable to a firearm.  

Let me state at the very beginning that shooting wooden arrows out of most modern compound bows should not be done and usually will result in the splitting and shattering of the arrow, hopefully not directly into your arm and hand. It is possible to match a much higher draw weight than you think you are capable of, if the bow has a cam on it. The cam allows for a much greater let off in the muscle/force needed to keep the bow string fully drawn. As the bow is drawn, the draw weight increases to a peak and then "lets off". The let-off is usually between 65% and 80% of the peak weight.  This results in the equivalent of eliminating 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the force needed to draw a bow at a certain point so that it becomes easier on the muscle/bones of the archer. More technically, the cam system maximizes the energy storage throughout the draw cycle and provides let-off at the end of the cycle and has less holding weight at full draw. A traditional type of bow has a linear draw force curve - meaning that as you draw the bow back, the draw force becomes increasingly heavier with each inch of draw. So it's easier at the beginning and harder at the end. So you store very little energy in the first half of the draw stroke, and much more energy at the end of the draw stroke where the resistance is heavier. The compound bow may reach its peak weight within the first few inches of the draw stroke, and the weight remains flat and constant until the end of the cycle where the cams "let-off" and allow a reduced holding weight. This manipulation of the peak weight throughout the draw stroke by the elliptical shape of the cams, is why compound bows store more energy and shoot faster. The design of the cams directly controls the acceleration of the arrow. Bows can be had with a variety of cams, in a full spectrum from soft to hard (harder gives more speed).

Overall, a modern cam results in using a larger draw weight, a faster arrow, more accuracy, a flatter trajectory and with more penetration.   High draw weight bows require a heavier, stiffer arrow shaft.  So while they will generate more energy at the target, they may not generate much faster arrow speeds.  Lower draw weight bows can use lighter, more limber arrow shafts. International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) standards allow 5 grains of arrow weight per pound of draw weight. So a 70 lb bow can shoot an arrow as light as 350 grains.  A bow set for 60 lb, must have at least 300 grains and so forth.  Surprisingly, when set for IBO minimum standards, many bows are only marginally faster in the 70 lb version vs. the 60 lb version.  Since a 70 lb bow must shoot the heavier arrow, the savings in arrow weight offsets the loss of energy storage during the draw stroke.  A properly set-up 60 lb version of most bows will perform within 10 fps of the heavier 70 lb version.

The average bow of 15-20 years ago was barely able to reach 230 fps, and even at that speed many bow hunters got clean pass-thru’s on large game like Whitetail Deer. Today the average bow is shooting over 300 fps at 70 lb draw weight. This means that even bows in shorter draw lengths and lower draw weights will still provide plenty of velocity to penetrate the ribcage of a Whitetail Deer and other large game. A modern single cam bow with a 50 lb peak draw weight will still send arrows out at well over 220 fps. If you plan to hunt larger game like Elk or Moose, or if you plan to take shots from longer distances, you will need additional kinetic energy for complete penetration. A 40-50 lb draw weight should provide sufficient energy to harvest deer and a 50-60 lb bow weight will provide sufficient energy to harvest larger elk-size species. Unless you're planning to hunt huge animals, a 70 lb+ pound bow really isn't necessary. Penetration is most often expressed as kinetic energy (KE) and should be available with purchase of  the bow or by calculating it.  The measurable  “power" of your bow is its total kinetic energy output. This depends upon just two variables: the mass of the arrow and the speed of the arrow.  Kinetic energy of an arrow can be found by using the formula KE=(mv²)/450,240 where m is the mass of the arrow in grains and v is the velocity of the arrow in fps.  As a provided example, if your bow shoots a 400 grain arrow at a respectable 250 fps, your actual kinetic energy or "power" will roughly be equal to 55 1/2 ft-lbs. More than enough to take out a man.

Easton's Kinetic Energy Recommendation Chart

<25 ft. lbs. Small Game (rabbit, groundhog, etc.)
25-41 ft. lbs. Medium Game (deer, antelope, etc.)
42-65 ft. lbs. Large Game (elk, black bear, wild boar, etc.)
>65 ft. lbs. Toughest Game (Cape Buffalo, Grizzly Bear, Musk Ox, etc.)

Bleed out is that fact that due to the cutting diameter of the blades on a broad head, more vital organs, arteries, tissue, etc. is often cut on the way through the flesh. This usually results in a faster bleed out of the target than is usual with a bullet. According to the information I have seen, when a bullet goes through the human body, the wound channel often closes back up. With a broad headed arrow the cutting action has left a much larger wound channel that cannot close back up as efficiently, and thus more blood escapes the body at a faster rate. Arrows do not have even remotely the shattering effect on bone that bullets do (making people on drugs physically unable to move a shattered limb) but can, in a certain way, can put a person down as efficiently as a bullet. This appears to be true in my own personal experience with deer but it is tempered with the fact that I have also figuratively knocked deer off their feet with a deer slug, which is not going to happen with an arrow.  

Psychologically, if you shoot an individual with an arrow, you have just got “medieval” on them and the shock of seeing an arrow sticking out of their body will likely put an end to the confrontation. Modern man in North America and Europe is just not psychologically prepared for being impaled like they used to be. Every time that arrow is moved, it creates some severe internal damage and pain and creates confusion and hesitancy in the mind of the target. Many who are shot with a bullet often don’t realize that they have been wounded until later. If a 2-½ foot long piece of aluminum or carbon fiber is sticking out of someone, they will realize it even if it is just a hindrance to their natural body movement.  

Bows are not a close-in weapon (they should have a range of at least 100 yards) due to the fact that your enemy can usually close with you faster than you can load, draw and aim. If they are shooting at you, you will need some solid cover. It is possible to get accurate shots from the kneeling position, but too often the knee interferes with the bow limbs and tracking a target. Chances are you are going to have to stand and present a full standing side silhouette to your opponent. Bows are great a shooting a target from ambush (even within your darkened house) and for keeping your location a relative mystery. After your initial shot(s), as they are closing in on you from 15 yards (or so), throw the bow down and draw your pistol, your going to need it.  

Thus it is possible for a bow to give power out of all proportion to the individual shooting it (just like a firearm) and you can be as sure of taking out the “target” as surely as people have done for the last several thousand years. - A.T.

G.G. sent this item of interest, from Popular Mechanics: Rise of the Preppers: Survivalists Get a Makeover Can disaster preparedness become a lifestyle without turning into survivalism?

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Magnetic Pole Shift May Close Airports

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Peter King's silly gun ban idea. Beyond ludicrous... How can you create an exclusion zone that moves?

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Just as predicted: Here They Come For Your Money – Dozens of States Are Raising Taxes in 2011

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Sean B. sent us another testament to the protective value of "mass": Credit Protection: Bouncer's cards stop knife blows. JWR's comment: Body armor provides decent protection from knives as well as bullets, from most angles. Not much help for neck slashes, but it might save you from jabs to the chest and abdomen.

"Rome remained free for four hundred years and Sparta eight hundred, although their citizens were armed all that time; but many other states that have been disarmed have lost their liberties in less than forty years." - Niccolò Machiavelli, The Art of War

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ray X., a SurvivalBlog reader in Wyoming has compiled a lexicon, with translations for Californians who are visiting Wyoming, or vice versa. Note: This doesn't apply to conservatives who are fleeing California. (Since they already speak the language of Wyoming.)

In California In Wyoming
Diverse or Lifestyle Choice Sinful and Perverted
Arsenal of Weapons Gun Collection
Delicate Wetlands Swampland
Undocumented Worker Illegal Alien
Cruelty-Free Materials Synthetic Fiber
Assault and Battery Attitude Adjustment
Heavily Armed Well-protected
Narrow-minded Righteous
Taxes or Your Fair Share Coerced Theft
Commonsense Gun Control Gun Confiscation Plot
Illegal Hazardous Explosives Fireworks or Stump Removal
Nonviable Tissue Mass Unborn Baby
Equal Access to Opportunity Socialism
Multicultural Community High Crime Area
Fairness or Social Progress Marxism
Upper Class or "The Rich" Self-Employed
Progressive, Change Big Government Scheme
Homeless or Disadvantaged Bums or Welfare Leeches
Sniper Rifle Scoped Deer Rifle
Investment For the Future Higher Taxes
Healthcare Reform Socialized Medicine
Extremist, Judgmental, or Hater Conservative
Truants Homeschoolers
Victim or Oppressed Criminal or Lazy Good-For-Nothing
High Capacity Magazine Standard Capacity Magazine
Religious Zealot Church-going
Reintroduced Wolves Sheep and Elk Killers
Fair Trade Coffee Overpriced Yuppie Coffee
Exploiters or "The Rich" Employed or Land Owner
The Gun Lobby NRA Members
Assault Weapon Semi-Auto (Grandpa's M1 Carbine)
Fiscal Stimulus New Taxes and Higher Taxes
Same Sex Marriage Legalized Perversion
Mandated Eco-Friendly Lighting Chinese Mercury-Laden Light Bulbs

Hi James,
I thought I would pass this one along: Intestinal Parasites May Be Causing Your Energy Slump. This article talks about intestinal parasites, many of which are found in our drinking water, and their effects on chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is one good reason for people to start using their Berkey filters on a regular basis and also start cleansing their bodies of these parasites.

I have my filter in the closet, but after reading this I think I will put it on the counter and start using it to filter my tap water. I never thought there was a link between fatigue and internal parasites. After TEOTWAWKI it would be even harder to maintain personal hygiene with no running water and public sources of water will quickly become contaminated with these and even more deadly parasites. Considering most prepared individuals would be doing a lot of physical labor at their retreats as well as performing guard duty the last thing one need is more fatigue. Regards, - Eric

Let me introduce your readers to propane and the many possibilities it offers your planning and TEOTWAWKI preps, that you will likely never have thought of before. Over the last number of years I have carefully thought out and planned a “system” if you will of key pieces of equipment which all operate on a single, inexpensive and highly efficient and large mobile fuel storage system. Naturally, I have the standard wood stove and gasoline operated family vehicle(s), but what is most interesting is some of the items I have been working on and extensively testing/ using on the side.    

1986 Chevrolet 3/4-Ton Pickup on Dual Fuel    

I have recently finished building my ideal Bug out vehicle (BOV) and a number of other very interesting and related items of interest which all fit in with a "one fuel system" for my preps.    I own a customized flat tan-painted 1986 Chevrolet/GMC pre-CPU or fuel injected 3/4-ton 4x4 pickup truck with a long bed on 33 inch high performance tires. It has the very tough NP 205 transfer case. This truck has a manual transmission without the hydraulic clutch (easier to repair), 4 inch suspension lift, custom built heavy duty roll bars and light bar, custom built heavy duty Front bush guard, bumper/ grill guard made from oil field drill stem. My spare tire mounts directly in the center of this heavy duty grill guard. All of this is great and the many features and modifications are too many to mention. But what is interesting about this truck are the most recent modifications which have the greatest impact on this trucks ability to be a high performance BOV. I have recently had this truck;s fuel system modified to a "dual fuel" system. The truck now runs on propane and gasoline.

Directly in the front of the truck bed, I have a 230 liter propane tank mounted between the roll bar mounts. It sits just out of sight below the top of my truck box. With the pull of a manual cable  just above my left knee while driving, I can switch between gasoline and propane in a moment's notice, moving from my 150 liter reserve of gasoline between my two twin gas tanks, to my 230 liters of propane and back again.

I specified manual "IMPCO" brand propane controls installed as opposed to easier to use electronic controls which are slightly more convenient to use but that are less reliable and have the potential to "fry" during an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) event. The system is old school and has been used and tested in many thousands of vehicles for about 30 years. My mechanic tells me that the fuel efficiency difference between gas and propane in a Chevrolet/GM 350 engine with a manual transmission is hardly noticeable and not a concern. The difference in power is also barely noticeable from my findings as well. However, the savings in cost for me are substantial which I will explain near the end of my posting. 

As a side note, my truck starts and runs much better on propane than it ever did on gasoline even in the coldest months. The last thing I’ve done is to ensure an adequate level of EMP protection is that I decided to purchase a GMC 3/4 ton pre-1987 vehicle. You see, 1987 was the first year Chevrolet and GM introduced electronic fuel injection. Although more fuel efficient than a standard carbureted engine, they are vulnerable to EMP as they are CPU/ Microprocessor controlled.

Even though it was a pre-1987 model it came standard with a high energy ignition (HEI) system which is prone to vulnerabilities and issues during an EMP event. I’ve recently had my mechanic swap the HEI ignition system out for the older style points, rotor and coil ignition system which can be easily fixed or replaced with spare parts stowed away in a Faraday box under the seat of the truck. The total cost for all of these brand new ignition parts and complete system was less than $150. A spare set of replacement condenser, points and coil will run me less than $90. In the event of an EMP, I have the ability to quickly replace these parts within minutes while on the road and I’m back up and running. My fuel capacity would take me well over 1,500 kilometers with a single fill up.  

Propane Heaters      
I did a fair bit of research into propane heaters for use in a home, cabin, tent, etc. The two models of heaters which I settled on were infrared radiant propane heaters made by "Mr. Heater" brand. The first one I bought was a "Big Buddy" portable heater which I can run off 1 pound propane "camping" bottles or a 20 lb barbeque tank or larger if I really wanted to. Currently I use a 20 lb propane tank with this heater in my home office which happens to be an atrium which tends to get a little cold in the winter otherwise with this heater. This unit is an 18,000 BTU per hour unit and can easily heat my un-insulated atrium/office from -20 degrees to + 20 degrees Celsius in under an hour.   The second heater I purchased was a 30,000 BTU per hour wall mounted/free standing with included legs heater. Currently I have this heater mounted to wall on the main floor of my three-storey 8 bedroom home and it heats my entire home even on the coldest night thus far. I am presently running this heater from a 20 lb. barbeque tank and find that I have to refill or swap out tanks about every 48 hours.

My heating costs are approx $150 per month at this point give or take a few dollars. In the event I need to bug out, I can simply grab the heater off the wall and go. Both of these Propane heaters have all the stamps and badges of approval from both the Canadian Government and the US safety agencies. They both use a catalytic conversion process which vaporizes or burns all the dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) from the burning process. I run three separate CO detectors in my home and none of them have ever registered a single reading thus far except one day early on when I had a very small propane leak from a poorly threaded propane hose line to which my alarm promptly let me know that it was "Sniffing" propane. The main advantage to these units is that they don;t require an exterior vent. Unlike your furnace which sends a plume of wasted hot exhaust into the atmosphere, these units send that clean, moist and very hot air into your home as opposed to wasting it. When the heater claims 30,000 BTU per hour as its output rating, its likely much higher when compared to the output rating of your furnace or wood stove simply due to the fact that its a vent free system and not wasting significant amounts of hot air by pumping it out the chimney stack as a byproduct.

In deciding on the generators to own and use, I did a lot of research. I wanted to have a mid-sized generator (5,000 to 7,000 watts) that could run nearly all of my home systems at the same time if need be.( Well pump, sump pumps, furnace, a few lights, fridges, deep freezes, washer and dryer et cetera.) This unit also had to be easy to start, use and move around in the event my wife or children had to use it for whatever reason. In preparation for this I had a generator backup electrical panel installed next to and in conjunction with my current grid power panel. Basically, the power goes out, you flip a big switch on your power panel disconnecting you from Utility power, and fire up the generator. Using this type of panel eliminates the risk of a "back feed."

The generator I settled on was a dual fuel (Gasoline and Propane) 5,000 watt unit from Northern Tool for around the $700 price. It came standard with wheels and handles to move it around, an electric start battery system with a backup pull cord system and all the propane lines and fittings a guy needs to hook up to a standard 20 lb barbeque tank. I’ve tested it out numerous times with 100 lb propane bottles and 20 lb tanks. Everything seems to run very well thus far and my 10 year old son has no problem wheeling it around, hooking it up and operating it with ease after a little safety instruction.  

The second genset I have on hand is a Honda 2,000 watt inverted super quiet model. I purchased a propane conversion kit online for about $150 and within an hour had it converted easily to run off propane. Works like a charm off my 20 lb tanks.   The last thing I’m hoping to do and I have not had any success in finding any reliable information is to convert an ATV to burn propane as there doesn’t seem to be much information out there. If there is anyone that knows a reliable method or where to obtain information it would be much appreciated if they e-mail JWR a reply.  

I mentioned that I would get into the cost factor of the propane I use. I live in the country and there are many farmers who use mobile propane tanks mounted on trailers for irrigation and construction. I contacted my local propane dealer for more information. After a little discussion, here is what I found out:   My dealer leased me a brand new 1,000 gallon (3,600 + liter) propane tank mounted on a brand new 16 foot dual axle trailer for $260 per year. The trailer has a standard 2-5/16 " ball hitch and trailer brakes. When asked by my dealer what I was going to use the propane for, I told him I would be using it for a number of uses but mostly filling propane bottles and tanks. Because I didn’t mention it would be used to fill up my vehicle the rate was significantly less. He charged me only 40 cents per liter to fill the entire tank up ($1,400). Currently this is 60 percent less expensive than filling up my vehicle with gasoline at the pump and I get about the same mileage.

The benefits of using propane in these ways are substantial just to name a few:

  • Low profile purchasing. Unlike home gasoline tanks, propane tanks create no suspicion
  • Virtually unlimited shelf life
  • Large volume fuel storage on hand (1,000 gallons / 3,600 liters per tank) in most jurisdiction with no restrictions.

Propane offers mobility and bug out possibilities in a grid down situation where transportation legalities won't matter. A number of key pieces of equipment are available which operate using propane.   The possibilities with propane are endless and in my opinion its a far superior option for fuel and flexibility than gasoline or diesel fuels. The cost savings alone would make a person do a double take and reconsider all options.  - M.B. writing from the Frozen North

Hi Jim,  
Just to let you know, a TEOTWAWKI situation came to our town (Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia) two days ago.  Toowoomba is known as the Garden City, and sits at the top of the Great Dividing Range, at 3,000 feet above sea level.  After weeks of constant rainfall that soaked catchments of a drought stricken region, we received six inches of rain in an hour.

This deluge caused a flash flood (that has been since called an “Inland Tsunami”) that raged through the middle of Toowoomba.  The speed of the flood took everyone by surprise and cars and people were swept away.  Four people were drowned in the town.  I helped two friends who narrowly escaped drowning when their car was washed away and overturned.  A rope was thrown to them before they were washed away and another floating car hit them. We are now cut off in a city of 100,000 people, as Queensland faces the worst floods in its history.  Our capital city, Brisbane, is now facing its worst floods in over a 100 years.  The president of my local rifle club has heard his uncle and niece were drowned when the floods headed down the hill and washed away two other small villages.  Currently death toll is 10 with 90 still missing from the two villages.  It is truly horrific.  

Here are a couple of links to videos and photos.   

I crossed these waters further up the street in my 4WD Ute.  The water was not flowing as fast where I crossed.

This next one is at a high point of town near the Grainco Wheat Silos.  

Another video from down near Grand Central Myers. It all happened so fast – 30 minutes later this intersection was clear as you can see in the next video.

Here is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) news reports and videos.    

Thankfully I have been a follower of SurvivalBlog and had made basic preparations.  Our house was not affected by the flood.  I immediately went to the shops to top up on supplies. Shops are now running low on food.  The French Toast [milk and bread] Brigade had cleaned out the shelves the next day. Bottled water went on the first day.  We are now in day three, following the flood event.  My wife scoffed at me when I came home on the first afternoon. I can tell you the scoffing stopped the next day when she realised I was right.  

We have people staying in our house who can’t go home because roads and bridges are destroyed.  Thankfully we have supplies on hand to provide.   Our church has swung into action helping various people.   I am keeping a diary on the events and will forward a full story of events for you to publish soon.  

Please keep us in your prayers.   Kind Regards and God Bless, - W.J.


Hi Jim,  
I ran across this article today on the continuing devastating flooding in Australia including video footage and details of people swamping grocery stores with bare shelves. Thought you might want to share it on the blog.   Best wishes, - Steve C.

Frequent content contributor B.B. spotted this: Offshore Gold Rush: AngloGold, De Beers hunt gold under Atlantic

Eric Rosenbaum asks: Should the US Raise Its Debt Ceiling... or Default? The piece includes this: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner this week found himself in the unenviable position of representing the US government in the role of a delinquent credit card customer asking for a higher credit limit. In place of that line on a credit card account statement that reads 'available credit' insert 'national debt ceiling.'" (Thanks to reader C.D.V. for the link.)

G.G. sent this: Bank intervention as euro debt crisis deepens

Geoff L. suggested this piece by Mish Shedlock: Budgetary Delusions: Federal Deficit Charts from CBO Budget Projections

Items from The Economatrix:

Telecoms Lead Stocks Lower ; Europe Falls  

Ford Plans To Hire 7,000 Workers By 2012  

California Braces for 59% Blue Shield Hike  

14 Stats on How US Economy Has Collapsed Since 2007  

Stock Plunge Causes Riots in Bangladesh, US Next? 


Frequent content contributor C.D.V. sent us the link to an interesting (and beautiful) “heat map” which may aid is selecting retreat locales. It shows locations that are furthest in travel time from major cities.

   o o o

W.T. suggested this piece over at Grant Cunninghan's site: Firearms Lubrication 101. (Thanks to W.T. for the link.)

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Reader Jenn. C. mentioned an article that she penned for The Sarah Connor Charm School blog site: Survival Food Strategies for Real Food Minded Modern Warriors.

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One Poor Harvest Away From Chaos. (Thanks to Cheryl N. for the link.) 

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Another headline from Oz: Panicked residents strip shelves bare

"The United States and its leaders are stuck in their own Catch-22. They need the economy to improve in order to generate jobs, but the economy can only improve if people have jobs. They need the economy to recover in order to improve our deficit situation, but if the economy really recovers, long-term interest rates will increase, further depressing the housing market and increasing the interest expense burden for the US, therefore increasing the deficit. A recovering economy would result in more production and consumption, which would result in more oil consumption, driving the price above $100 per barrel, therefore depressing the economy. Americans must save for their retirements as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, but if the savings rate goes back to 10%, the economy will collapse due to lack of consumption. Consumer expenditures account for 71% of GDP and need to revert back to 65% for the US to have a balanced sustainable economy, but a reduction in consumer spending will push the US back into recession, reducing tax revenues and increasing deficits. You can see why Catch-22 is the theme for 2011" - Jim Quinn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

“Stop Look and Listen” – That is the phrase that used to be plastered on every railroad crossing sign from Maine to California. What is true for safety crossing the tracks is true for all of us in our daily lives.   The ancient Chinese curse is: “May you live in interesting times”. Well, I think we can all agree, these times are interesting, if not a bit scary.    Let’s give some thought about being aware – knowing where you are, what is going on, what your options are – regardless of the situation. At this moment, I am in my home, pounding away at the PC, I’m reasonably secure here, but out in the world it’s another story.   The threat level – for me – is relatively low.   Here’s a thought picture for you; you’re standing on a bull’s-eye on a giant target. There are concentric rings radiating out of that target and each ring has a name.  

1.)   “Bull’s-Eye” = You, your own personal space. No family, friends, co-workers, just you.

2.)   “Second Ring” = that’s where your family and friends, perhaps your co-workers, etc. are.

3.)    “Third Ring” = your town, or your local area

4.)   “Fourth ring” = your State (or Province, depending on where you live).

5.)   “Fifth Ring” = your Nation

6.)   “Sixth ring” = the World  

Each ring on the “target” has its own level of importance at any given time, and no matter how selfless, the Bull’s Eye is probably the most important to you, because, well it’s you and without you there’d be no reason to care about the other five rings – right?   The other rings will assume more or less importance as situations change. If you’re at home and an accident happens to a family member, your family might just be the most important thing in your life right then. If, however you’re sitting at home, and the “talking head” on whatever news program you’re listening to states that the Governor has just issued an Emergency proclamation regarding the distribution of heating fuel to the area, maybe Rings 1 – 3 are lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. (and no, Nina Totenberg of NPR, I don’t apologize for saying “Christmas”).  

National problems arise as do World problems, we must be aware of what is going on everywhere, at all times.   Being aware doesn’t mean being afraid, nor does it mean being anxious. Being aware means that you are informed about the things that are going on in your particular “ring”, and that you have at least some understanding about what you can do to either effect an outcome in that ring, or to cope with whatever changes may occur.  

What “awareness tools” do we have at our disposal, then?   Your own eyes and ears are some of the most important tools you have at your disposal Talk to your family, sit down and have a meal with them, find out what your “Better Half” did and heard today, or what the kids were subjected to at school; “Gee Dad, we had a speaker from the Socialist People’s Party talk to us about how great the world would be if we just dumped Capitalism”. Sock the info. away, maybe it’s nothing (did they also have someone with a Conservative viewpoint discuss how great a free market can be?); if not, maybe you might want to have a talk with the school Principal, and a little chat with Junior or Princess and give them some Fatherly advice about the real world.    

If you’re like me, you probably meet and talk with between three and twelve (or more) people every day. Talk to them, if you’re in the checkout at the local Super Mart (or whatever), strike up a conversation with someone in line, “hey, what do you think about the Mayor’s idea to have all firearms registered with the Town Police?”, or at the barber shop; “Gee, Bob, you’re on the Town DEP Committee why all the digging out near the old dump?”. You don’t have to go around snooping, but just keep your ears open, and who knows what you’ll pick up. Stock the information away, it may help in an emergency.   Keep an eye peeled when you’re around and about, “boy, look at all the traffic at the Air Base”, or “where’s my escape route from this theater if trouble breaks out”, or “if something serious happened, how would I get to the rendezvous point that my family has agreed to”  

Keep alert, and think “past, present and future” – “That wasn’t there last week”, or “a lot of traffic due to construction today, do I have an alternate route?”, or how about “better test my stored water supply when I get home”.   The various news media, Okay, I have to admit, most of the stuff on the major and local network newscasts – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and even Fox must be taken with a tablespoon of salt, but there are grains of truth everywhere, even in the most tainted of news reports. What area are they talking about --- any video? Why would the National Guard be training at the local Correctional Institution? Gold shot up to what price per ounce? Lock it away, share with your friends and other like minded individuals, the information may come in handy.   Radio/television, not news media. There are quite a few radio and certain television programs that you may finds worthwhile. I don’t want to sway anyone, but I listen to, (and watch) folks named Glenn, Sean, Rush, Bill, Ann and Mike. There’s a bunch more, especially local radio and television folks. Listen and learn from them, take them as they are, and use your own discretion when processing their information. You have a mind -----use it.  

The World Wide Web (WWW). All right, some stuff on the web is really strange, I personally don’t think that any “green (or gray or chartreuse) men” are coming to get us (Hollywood does, though). But there’s a lot of web sites, blogs, etc. just jam packed with information. Here’s a tip – Don’t believe everything you read on the web – if something strikes home, do some research, get some facts (no, “Wikipedia” is not 100% factual – but it is fun to read), it may be baseless, or it may be worthwhile. There are also a lot of web sites that have just the stuff that you need, or just the type of stuff that you can put together on your own. As an aside, I have a certain amount of food stored up “just in case” and it is a combination of web bought canned and freeze dried stuff, home canned – and great tasting – food, and store bought items. Use your own discretion when surfing, there’s a lot of junk, a lot of good and a whole bunch of ideas.   Books and magazines, Yes, I still read hardcover stuff, and you should too. I could have added “Newspapers” to that last item, but it’s harder and harder to find the gold nuggets hidden in the “dog droppings” in my local papers. - although if you have a local “Penny saver” you can find some news and a few bargains to boot. There are books on current events, history books that just may highlight remedies to today’s issues, magazine articles on the nuances of what’s happening now, and let’s not forget all of the training materials available out there. Most won’t cost a thin dime either, if you have a library close by. And if you want to part with some cash and purchase some readable stuff, there are book stores, online stores, or my favorites - flea markets and gun shows (for those who fear being tracked by “The Man”, it’s an all cash transaction, and nobody knows nuthin').    

Like minded individuals yes, there’s more of us around than you might believe. If you feel comfortable, band together for mutual support. Share information, talk, discuss, grow – become a “community” either actual or intellectual. There is safety in numbers.   So how do we use all of this information to keep ourselves “aware”?   The more we know, the more we will be able to come to terms with whatever comes our way. Knowing about our “Rings” will enable us to act and react to any and most outside forces. I say “most” because sometimes you just don’t see what’s over the next hill, but there’s always a chance.  

Keep your eyes and ears open your mind open and active, be prepared, plan, rehearse, and discuss issues with family and friends.   When something happens, use what you know – information, training, items at hand, knowledge, to take the best course of action for yourself and all other relevant “rings” that may be affected.  

Here are a couple of examples:   A huge winter storm knocks out power and all means of transportation in your community. What do you do?   Well, if you’ve done your homework, you just might need to pull out that old kerosene heater from the tool shed and fire it up and get the Coleman stove going. Do you have a generator? Great! no? get out the lanterns or candles, then go down to the pantry and pull out some powdered milk so the kids have something nice to mix with that can of hot chocolate mix in the cupboard, maybe open up some tinned chicken, boil some noodles, and make a nice filling supper. No electricity means no “idiot box” but if you have a radio (hand cranked or battery powered) you’ll be informed and have some music to boot. Sit down and read to the kids, or even better, play a board game. Oh yes, you might want to check on your next door neighbor, --- maybe.  If you’ve planned right, you’re warm, safe and dry until such time as the “powers that be” get the power flowing and clear the streets.  

How about this one:   A television news commentator reads a statement from the office of the President of the United States, in which he or she states that due to the worsening economic and political situation, she will be demanding that Congress grant her temporary “Emergency Powers” , making her a virtual dictator (did I mention the President says it’s only temporary).   You’ve been reading the U.S. Constitution, and you realize that this could be the start of something really bad for the American People. You’ve also kept up on several news blogs and radio programs that have been warning about a potential power grab by the Executive Branch.   Time to make a decision, do you:  
1.)   Send a strongly worded telegram to your local Congressman and Senator?
2.)   Head to Washington, D.C. where a protest is scheduled for the next day?
3.)   Gather your loved ones (along with several articles you have on your “bug out” list), and head for your rendezvous point?
4.)   Open that bottle of bourbon you’ve been saving for just such an occasion?
5.)   The list goes on.
6.)   And on.
7.)   And on.  

Be aware of what’s going on, don’t “just” worry about your own circumstances (food, shelter, gold coins?). Look at the big picture as well as your corner of the world, read, learn, absorb all you can.   When the time comes, be over prepared, over trained and over informed and you will stand a good chance of weathering whatever comes your way.

Just as I predicted, the headlines are already full of shrill cries for civilian disarmament. Never mind the fact that these were the actions of just one man who was mentally unstable. They aim to disarm the 99.9% of us law-abiding gun owners in the hopes of disarming the remaining 0.01%--the dangerous lunatics. This is something akin to the Hungerford Massacre, where the actions of one sick individual were used as the pretext to disarm an entire nation.

Most of what I've read so far is just the expected statist knee-jerk reaction. But there was one well-reasoned response. And, despite the fact that the perpetrator was a "left wing pothead", this story is being cleverly spun into blaming the Tea Party movement, Rush Limbaugh, and even Sarah Palin.

The latest news headline: Carolyn McCarthy readies gun control bill. McCarthy is definitely in the "never let a crisis go to waste" school of Democrat politics. That article includes copious unattributed opinion, including this:

"Gun control activists cried it was time to reform weapons laws in the United States, almost immediately after a gunman killed six and injured 14 more, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona on Saturday. Many said that people with a history of mental instability, like the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, should not be able to buy a gun — and no one should be able to buy stockpiles of ammunition used by the 22-year-old assailant."

"Stockpiles"??? At least from the initial news reports, Jared Lone Gunman Loughner was carrying around 75 rounds of pistol ammunition. That is less that the amount I shoot in just one session of target practice. And it isn't unusual for my family to go through 350 rounds of centerfire ammo and 400 rounds of rimfire ammo in just a day target practice. Do they expect me to drive 30 miles to town each time that I need 100 rounds of ammunition? That is absurd.

Next, no doubt, will be calls for a ban on so-called "high capacity" magazines. (These are called "full capacity" by those that actually understand guns. Anything else is a reduced capacity--neutered--magazine.) Jared Loughner used a Glock 9mm with a 31-round magazine and carried an identical spare as well as a 13 round magazine. But ironically, it was the length of the spare extended magazine that allowed a distaff private citizen to help disarm the gunman, as he was attempting to reload. Kudos to Mrs. Patricia Maisch. She obviously knew about guns. I owe her a couple of free books.

And they'll decry open carry and concealed laws as "too lax".

There will be calls for nationwide gun registration. (As if that would stop a lunatic.)

Some may even insist that everyone be subjected to a battery of psychological tests before being allowed to own guns.

And they'll claim that private party sales of guns (at gun shows) are somehow inherently evil and "under-regulated." ( Even though Loughner bought his Glock Model 19 at a Federally-licensed Sportsman's Warehouse store.)

And what about freedom of speech? This, they will imply, is the "root of the problem". Mark Potok of the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center blamed political campaigns with "vitriolic rhetoric" for the Tucson shootings. And there have already been calls for restrictions on political ads or editorials that include "threatening language or symbols". This leads me to ask: who will be the judge of what words or symbols are "dangerous" or "vitriolic"? Will it be some faceless commission or tribunal? This would surely create a chilling atmosphere of fear and prior restraint.

We had better be prepared for plenty of statist over-reaction to the Tucson shootings that will restrict our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights. It is a good time to both speak out and stock up. I recommend:

  • Complete the private party purchasing of your basic firearms battery. If your state laws allow it, buy guns only from private parties--either at gun shows or from newspaper/internet ads from private sellers. (If you buy through a licensed gun store, then it will leave a paper trail.)
  • Buy plenty of full capacity magazines. There is hardly such a thing as "too many." If there is a magazine ban, then prices will quickly triple or quadruple. So any extras that you buy will be a great investment. (One of the great things about American jurisprudence is the that to prevent challenges to new laws, there is almost always a "grandfather clause" that allows free trade in goods that were manufactured before a ban.)
  • Keep a low profile. When you write letters to the editor of your local newspaper about gun issues, do so anonymously. and when you buy any substantial quantities of ammunition, pay cash and don't leave your name. (Oh, BTW if you live in California, it will soon be too late for that.)
  • Pray for America. If this event gets spin-Meistered into America's Hungerford, then our liberty is in peril.

This week I've been busy homeschooling and house cleaning, so I've slacked off on my usual reading. Here are the current top-most items on my perpetual bedside pile:

  • Well, I haven't dug in to Survivors, yet. (It had been next on my list.) However, Jim was previewing its second season of the television series this past week, and as I was passing by him in the office, I stopped and watched the first ten minutes with him. The show was very intense and dramatic. So I am suspecting that the book is just as dramatic as the show. I'm presently not in the mood for that much drama. The Survivors novel will have to wait for another time.

  • Three nights ago, I was unable to sleep so I whipped out my LED Mini-MagLite and scanned my book pile. I picked up the book Tomorrow, When The War Began and began reading it by flashlight. This novel, by Australian author John Marsden was ostensibly written for the "Young Adult" market, but I think that most adults will reading enjoy it. Without giving away too much of the story, it is about a foreign invasion in the near future, and the beginnings of a war of resistance, a la the movie Red Dawn. This is the first book of a series of seven. It is a useful survivalist book with good information that anyone could glean from.  Since the book is written from the viewpoint of a high schooler telling of her experience during her country's invasion by a foreign power. There is a lot of high school drama: romance/pairing up, mild talk of fornicating behaviors, talk of drug use, etc.  The style of writing is mildly annoying to me, since it is a bit convoluted, especially in the first half of the book.  I personally don't recommend it for teenagers, because the culture described is not a lifestyle I wish to promote or expose our young people to.  I don't plan to read the rest of the series. There are better books out there to read.

  • Jim and I recently started watching the early 1990s television series Northern Exposure on DVD. It is a "fish out of water" comedy. This quirky show is about a young New York City Jewish doctor, who to fulfill a contractual agreement, reluctantly moves to Alaska to be a general practitioner in the fictional town of Cicely.(The outdoor scenes were actually filmed in Roslyn, Washington.) I really enjoy the witty dialogue between the characters. Jim and his late wife (The Memsahib) had missed seeing most of the series when it originally aired, because they had just moved to the wilds of Idaho, sans television. Fast forward 20 years, and Jim is again living in the boonies (after a brief stint in the corporate world), and he still doesn't have (or desire) a television. Despite the fact that the first season of the series aired in 1990, it holds up fairly well. There are few raunchy references, but no seriously foul language. It is definitely not a show for kids. Some of the characters in the show definitely remind us of our neighbors. The Rawles Ranch is in a very remote region, and believe-you-me, we have some neighbors that are real characters.

  • First thing in the morning, lunch time and in the evening, I check e-mails and do a bit of web and blog surfing. Some of my favorite sites to check regularly are Rural Revolution, Paratus Familia, The Drudge Report, World Watch Daily (Koenig International News), and Chuck Baldwin. I am very keen on keeping up with international and national news.

CPT Rawles:
Rolled [woven] cattle wire and green landscaping cloth strike me as something that could be whipped up into a do-it-yourself HESCO barrier. And then there's good old-fashioned Basket Weave from saplings. (which is still in the current US Army Engineer field manual, believe it or not)

To save on wire (i.e.: Eliminating the end panels on a HESCO that but up against each other), perhaps two parallel fences can be run with posts and filled in between them with rock, dirt, etc.

Also, I grew up on a farmstead in New England that was built in the 1760s. This was a somewhat unstable time with frequent "Visits" by hostile, indigenous neighbors. Every home up there had "Indian Shutters" as a result.  Since many new Englanders throw nothing away, these shutters were still up in our barn a couple of hundred years later. These were made of thick oak, wrought iron fittings, with a cross cut into them for a musket.

There was also a local community "Blockhouse" centrally located and stocked with supplies. - Jim in Virginia (Currently on an overseas deployment)

John R. pointed us to a piece by Mike Whitney: Printing a Recovery. While our politics don't always mesh, I'm in full agreement with Whitney on the re-animation of the credit bubble.

Also from John R., a piece over at Lew Rockwell's site by Terry Coxon: The Long Swim – How the Fed Could Become Insolvent

Silver Demand Surges Six-Fold in India and World's Richest Man Enters the Silver Market

B.B. recommended a well-produced video from Gold Core: GoldNomics - Cash or Gold Bullion

Reader B.J.G. flagged this item: Brazil Threatens Trade War Against US, China

John S. sent this: Portugal bailout talk weighs on markets

John R. sent this: Debt default fears will spread to US and Japan, warns Citigroup's Willem Buiter

B.B. suggested an essay by Eric Peters: Where We're Headed...

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The first hand account of Air Force One pilot Col. Mark Tillman's experiences on 9-11-01 are well worth the watch. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Troy H. suggested this National Geographic article: Seven Billion: By 2045 global population is projected to reach nine billion. Can the planet take the strain?

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson pointed me to this new product: The Rifle Integrated Power Rail (RIPR). Mike's comment: "I'm not a huge fan of having a lot of battery powered accessories on a weapon, but, if it's necessary, this centralized power supply looks like a sound idea."

"The universal practice of carrying arms in the South is undoubtedly the cause of occasional loss of life, and is much to be regretted. On the other hand, this custom renders altercations and quarrels of very rare occurrence, for people are naturally careful what they say when a bullet may be the probable result." - LtC Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, HM Coldstream Guards, 24 May 1863

Monday, January 10, 2011

I recently got an irate letter from an outspoken Peak Oil commentator who often stresses "community agriculture" and "sustainable development." He castigated me for "advocating a fortress mentality..." and "encouraging gun-buying..." I think that he meant those as insults, but I took them as compliments.

I am indeed an advocate of the fortress mentality, and fortress architecture. The two go hand-in-hand. As I pointed out in my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", modern American architecture with flimsy doors and large expanses of windows is just a 70 year aberration from a global norm that dates back many centuries. The real tradition in architecture outside of the tropics has always been to build homes with small windows, very stout doors, and lots of mass in the walls to absorb projectile impacts and to delay entry by evil-doers. Since 1945 we've been blessed to live a country that is relatively safe and peaceful. But don't expect that to last forever. Plan and build, accordingly.

Just look at the long history of the mote-and-bailey and castle in Europe and Fujian Tulou (Hakka) in China. Or look at the stout walls that are still the norm in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And consider the HESCO bastions that are almost always used by the U.S. military when deployed in any of the world's hot spots. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There is no substitute for mass. Mass stops bullets. Mass stops gamma radiation. Mass stops (or at least slows down) bad guys from entering a home and depriving its residents of life and property. Sandbags are cheap, so buy plenty of them. When planning your retreat house, think: medieval castle.

The fortress mentality necessitates adopting fortress architecture. Whether you turn yourself into a moving fortress (with body armor), or you decide to design fortress features into your next home, I recommend that you prepare for as many different threats as possible. If you cannot afford to build your house like a fortress, or if that would "stick out" where you now live, then at least add a combination vault/shelter basement room to your house. (Either via new construction, or by remodeling.) Several SurvivalBlog advertisers can supply the know-how and crucial components for such a project such as inward-opening vault doors, blast valves, and HEPA filters. These companies include: Hardened Structures, Safecastle, and Ready Made Resources.

The bottom line is that in the event of societal collapse, looters will prey upon those who are obviously weak and defenseless. Unless they are suicidal, looters will consciously pass by any well-defended retreats. Why would they go up against an Alpenréduit when they could instead go pick on some defenseless granny living in a veritable glass box, a mile down the road? Why would they risk getting ventilated by a group of well-armed Rawlesians who are standing behind ballistic protection--especially while living in a world without readily-available medical care?

Planning ahead for bad times isn't paranoia. It is prudence. An integrated national defense should start with every hearth and home, and proceed systematically all the way to national borders. This is the true and righteous fortress mentality. The Swiss call this an "intellectual defense of the homeland" (Geistige Landesverteidigung). Their well-armed citizenry and their extensive system of réduits (many of them very well-hidden) have kept them free and essentially independent for 720 years. We should learn a lesson from that.

Hey James,
I just got into SurvivalBlog after reading "Patriots" and "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" in consecutive nights. 

I have checked out  a lot of posts on many helpful topics so far.  I wanted to post a question on the blog if possible, or simply ask you.  What is the viability of using crossbows in the survival situations we are all talking about?  I am also interested in compound bows as well.  I live in a country where I cannot legally own firearms, though the mafia here do, but I can legally own a crossbow if I fill out a lot of paperwork and pass a background check.  Since it is the only option I am likely to go for it, but I would like some input/ideas/warnings from your readership, some of whom may already own them.

Thanks and Blessings, - J. in Taiwan

JWR Replies: My advice is to buy a medium draw-weight compound bow rather than a crossbow. This is because compound bows are much faster to fire repetitively than crossbows.

If you can afford it, there might be some utility in getting a compound bow for yourself, and medium-power crossbows for your wife and children. The latter require less practice, but can be kept "cocked" for brief periods. The key question for determining the maximum draw weight of a crossbow is: can they handle the task reloading, with a crutch. (Reloading tool.) Join a local hobby archery club, and choose the right equipment for your particular circumstances. Then practice, practice, practice.

Most modern arrows are essentially modular. The current trend is definitely toward carbon fiber shafts. You screw on plain target points for practice, bird points for garden defense, or various broadheads for big game hunting or self-defense. Some broadheads even have individually replaceable blades. Buy plenty of carbon fiber arrow shafts, spare heads, and spare fletchings. Any arrows or components that are excess to your needs might someday be valuable barter goods.

Arrows can also be used with some slingshots. So, if there is no paperwork required to own a slingshot and arrows, then that might be an even better option than a bow and arrows for those that strive to maintain a low profile.

Also check on the local legality of owning and/or carrying edged weapons, impact weapons, slingshots, flammables, Tasers, stun guns, and chemical irritant sprays. If you opt for a sword, then a Wakizashi (short sword or "companion" sword) is the best length for home defense.

I've heard so many stories from my readers all around the globe of this or that being banned. These laws vary widely from country to country, province to province, or even from city to city. Do your homework and stay legal. If all else fails, in almost all locales there is recourse to the humble cane or walking stick, which has been discussed at length in the blog. (Search the SurvivalBlog archives.)

James Wesley:
It is beginning to snow in Alabama.  In small towns all around, the grocery stores have been stripped down to the shelves.  People were buying food to cook in fear that they might not make it to the grocery stores when they need to.  Milk is all but gone.   

I went to the grocery store Sunday morning to pick-up a few doughnuts for our Sunday school class.  I saw one of my wife’s friends on the junk food aisle.  She is a single mom of two.  She said, “I have $40 to buy groceries to get us by for the next few days.  What do you recommend I buy?”   

We quickly developed a plan based on what her kids would eat and drink and under the assumption that the power will go down.   This was her shopping list…

1.       Pop tarts - She wanted a hot cereal for her boys; I said stick the pop tarts in an oven.

2.       Coca-Cola.  She said that she had to have caffeine.

3.       Bread.  She asked about sandwich meat. I recommended tomato, banana or peanut butter.

4.       She wanted milk.  I said good.  Asked if she had a cooler.  She said yes.  I said if the power goes out, stick it in the snow and throw the milk in it.  By the way, she bought a half gallon because there were no gallons on the shelves.

5.       She bought a few soups and cans of chili in case the power does not go out.

6.       She also got the ingredients to make vegetable soup from cans and potentially some cornbread.

7.        She was going to buy a case of water.  I got her to buy an extra case.  

Then she surprised me when she asked if she could cook on their natural gas stove.  I asked it got hot enough to boil water.  She said it did.  So we talked about cooking on the stove if she needed to and she only had to worry about the power going out and not having electricity to keep her fridge running.   So she bought some chips and Little Debbie cakes.  She said she had a popcorn popper on the wall that was given to her.  So she bought some popcorn to pop on her stove in her antique corn popper. 

We then talked about how to make snow cream and she realized that she had everything she needed to give the boys a treat.   After talking to her, she realized that she was in better shape than people with just electric heat and water heaters.  She has a gas stove and gas water heater.   I then invited her to church and I was surprised to see her and her boys sitting in our sanctuary.  I told her I was glad to see her.  She told me that she was confused about what to buy and prayed that if someone would help her she would go to church today.     

Being prepared to help others can pay dividends for our Lord.    By the way, she had $12 leftover from the $40.  Most of all, she does not have to worry about what the kids will do for food.  She has it all laid out.   - J.E.H.

JWR Replies: Coincidentally, I was recently sent a photo link that illustrates the immediate result of yesterday's ice storm warning in Trussville, Alabama: No Bread at Trussville Wal-Mart. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

Mention of all that soda pop and those high-sugar processed foods really makes me wonder. Do people really eat that way? We don't claim to have a perfect diet here at the ranch--yes, plenty of corn chips and even a few potato chips have passed through our portals without alarm--but we certainly eat a better diet than that young lady. Please, folks! For the sake of your health and your ability to perform physically and mentally when the proverbial Schumer hits the fan, adjust your diets:

  • Less refined sugar
  • Fewer processed foods
  • Little or no MSG
  • Moderate protein intake
  • Fewer carbohydrates
  • Wholesome oils (like coconut oil and olive oil)
  • Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Lean fresh meats, preferably either home-raised or wild game

And, guess what? If you buy healthy foods in bulk then not only will you have better health, but your weekly grocery expenses will go down!

Dear Editor:
There are many in the medical field who will dispute Dave the R.N.'s assertions in his recent post on fats and oils.

A recommendation that is more in line with the mainstream thinking is to store 3 liters (three quarts or approximately 90 ounces) of oils or fats for each person-month of preps.

The assumption is that everyday life will become intensely physical and a per-person calorie budget of 2,500 Calories (or more!) will be required.  Three liters of oil will provide 30-35% of calories-from-fat which is consistent with mainstream wisdom.  Other stored foods and supplementation with produced food might make some of the stored fats and oils a surplus.  The surplus will be a valuable barter or charity item. - Joe H.

Richard Duncan: A Catastrophic Global Economic Breakdown May Be Unavoidable!

Reader P.D. sent an article that is surprising to see from a mainstream media outlet like Reuters: Economists foretell of U.S. decline, China's ascension

Over at The Daily Bell: Peter Schiff on Why the American Economy Is Broken – and What to Do About It

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson mentioned this article at The Atlantic: How The Recession Changed Us. JWR Adds: Their use of simplistic "sand pile" graphs is disingenuous. They make the recession look like a discrete post facto event. It isn't! Traditional linear or stair steps graphs like the ones published by The Heritage Institute would have better served the truth.

Items from The Economatrix:

Confirmed:  We are Literally on the Brink of Catastrophic Collapse  

Not For Profit (The Mogambo Guru)

Terry D. sent a link to a fascinating interactive map, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. Terry suggested using this to your data set, when judging retreat locales.

   o o o

My old friend Fred the Valmet-meister sent a link to a great web page: Farming in the 1920s.

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California's mail order ammunition ban and fingerprinting for face to face buyers goes into effect on February 1st. One more nail in the coffin for the Citizens of a once-free state.

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Honey laundering: The sour side of nature’s golden sweetener. (Thanks to Cameron for the link.)

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Dr. Gary North recently posted a reminder that it is important to have your personal details removed from the Spokeo database. (It is wise to mark your calendar, to do this twice per year, since their data mining is relentless! Gary also mentioned that anyone with a Facebook account should crank up their privacy settings.

"What people did not realize was that war had started.  By 1 p.m., a few minutes after Molotov's speech, queues, especially in the food stores, began to grow.  The women shoppers in the gastronoms or grocery stores started to buy indiscriminately - canned goods (which Russians do not like very much), butter, sugar, lard, flour, groats, sausage, matches, salt.  In twenty years of Soviet power Leningraders had learned by bitter experience what to expect in time of crisis.  They rushed to the stores to buy what they could.  They gave preference to foods which would keep.  But they were not particular.  One shopper bought five kilos of caviar, another ten.

At the savings banks the people clutched worn and greasy passbooks in their hands.  They were drawing out every ruble that stood to their accounts.  Many headed straight for the commission shops.  There they turned over fat packets of paper money for diamond rings, gold watches, emerald earrings, oriental rugs, brass samovars.

The crowds outside the savings banks quickly became disorderly.  No one wanted to wait.  They demanded their money seichas-immediately.  Police detachments appeared.  By 3 p.m. the banks had closed, having exhausted their supply of currency.  They did not reopen again until Tuesday (Monday was their closed day).  When they opened again, the government had imposed a limit on withdrawals of two hundred rubles per person per month." - Harrison E. Salisbury, The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad

Sunday, January 9, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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 all started while reading Survivalblog. In an article about providing charity during a pandemic and not getting sick, Jim talked about putting food out where others could get it and then retreating to keep a safe distance between you and other people to keep your family from getting infected. While reading this article, I had an epiphany.

Instead of handing out some rice, wheat, oats or a can of spam, I could concoct a “meal”, a Home-Made Meal (Almost) Ready to Eat (HMMARE?).  My first HMMARE idea was to dump 1 cup of rice, a chicken bouillon cube, ¼ cup of chicken TVP and a ¼ cup of dehydrated peas into a Ziploc sandwich bag. It would be easy, just add three cups of water and boil, viola, a decent meal!

I joyously told my wife about my great new idea. “Yuck,” she said, “we can do better than that!” So she sent me back to the drawing board (although these days 'the drawing board' looks more like a Google search engine than an architect's table). I scoured the internet endlessly until finally I came across a web site where a woman had thoughts similar to mine, and had made what she called “365 meals”. She had taken the reserves that she already had on hand and combined them with a project that her church group had done in years past. They made “Soup in a Jar” meals to give as gifts during the holiday season. She adapted this idea and thought that if she could make 365 meals then she would KNOW that at least she had one decent meal a day for her family for an entire year.

This idea set my mind racing. My wife and I sat down and worked out a plan. We had several criteria that we wanted our meals to meet.

  • They had to be in a sturdy container (We live in earthquake country, so no glass containers for us.)
  • They need to be complete. You could add to them, but the recipe shouldn't require any extra ingredients.
  • They needed to be simple – so that our children could make them, in case the adults were incapacitated.
  • They needed to be good tasting, hearty and nutritious.
  • They needed to be capable of long term storage.
  • And, If possible they needed to use the supplies of food stuffs we already had on hand.

We quickly worked out what we could do to make this a better option for our family. We learned from the (now extinct) 365 meals web page that the host had used the recipe book “Gifts in a Jar: One Dish Meals”. I turned to Amazon.com and discovered there were several books in the Gifts in a Jar series, and we purchased the ones that looked most applicable (like: Gifts From a Jar: Soups, Chilis & More). We wanted to start simply with items we already had on hand, and make a few meals in our kitchen. The first recipe we made was chicken soup. The recipe called for making a soup “stock” and adding fresh carrots, celery and chicken pieces. We adapted it with dehydrated carrots, celery and chicken TVP and more water than the recipe called for to rehydrate the vegetables. (TVP is Textured Vegetable Protein; it is a cheap and long term solution for dehydrated protein in meals. Real dehydrated chicken is also available on the market, but at 5 times the cost. Although Textured Vegetable Protein sounds unappetizing at first glance, chances are, you've had it without even knowing it. Bacon Bits are TVP!) [JWR Adds: I don't recommend stocking storage foods that are heavy in TVP, because of the potential health consequences. Too much soy can be a bad thing.]

Now that we'd settled on a test-recipe, we had to figure out how, exactly, we were going to store them. We had a “Food Saver” vacuum sealer and that seemed like a good solution. Take out all the air and the meal should last a good long time right? So we gathered all the ingredients, had our children help with the assembly and made our first batch. The recipe said that the meal would feed 4 to 6 people and we had a family of six-two adults and four growing children, so we decided to double the recipe. Each meal was about the size of a 3lb. chub of hamburger (10” long x 8” in circumference). We made the meals until we ran out of ingredients, which yielded about 15 meals. After they were vacu-sealed we then set about to find another meal to make-we were on a roll!

Our next meal (Untested by our professional taste testing children) was Ham Hock Stew. My wife and I thought it sounded wonderful, but our children disagreed. As before, we altered the recipe to fit our storage needs and made a few. When we were sealing the soups we noticed that the dehydrated carrots that were called for in the recipe were poking through the Food Saver Bags! We were crestfallen-how had our brilliant plan been foiled by a dehydrated vegetable? Just then we remembered that we had recently been gifted with an impulse sealer  and 250 Mylar bags (A member of our church said he bought it, never used it and no one in his family wanted it, so he thought I would put it to good use-boy was he right!). It didn’t draw a vacuum, but we could overcome that by using oxygen absorbers; and the Mylar bags were much thicker than the Food Saver Bags (7 mils instead of 4). I knew that food stored in opaque storage containers kept food longer due to the deteriorating effects of sunlight, and these Mylar bags were sure to keep the sun out.

We decided that the bags were too large (11” x 13”) so we cut them in half length wise and that was a perfect fit. We then transferred most of  the Food Saver pouches to the new Mylar bags. After making 30 or so meals we decided to try one out. Our kids wanted the Chicken Soup but we wanted to know if they would like the ham hock stew...they didn’t like it…..THEY LOVED IT!

Since we had doubled the recipe we expected to have a little left over…boy were we wrong. There was enough to feed Sherman’s Army! We all had our fill, and there was enough left over for me to have lunch the next day, and freeze enough for dinner for our family again! (Guess we really didn’t need to double those recipes after all).

With this success under our belt we expanded, we ended up making about 12 different recipes and a total of 175 or so meals (since we doubled most of them we didn’t need as many). We took this idea to our friends and family and it was an instant success! After a few YouTube videos on the subject (Food Storage Secrets, 365 Meals or Making 365 Meals and others) we have demonstrated this method of food storage for over two years now, including several Church groups who have made upwards of 8,000 meals! (I guess we put that gifted impulse sealer to good use, huh!?) And I have had at least 50 other inquiries from individuals and groups wanting recipes and advice on how to make this work for them.

After having personally been at these 8,000 meal making groups we have learned a few things to make this process fun and inexpensive. Here are the FAQs:

  • The cost of each meal varies due to the ingredients but they average about $4.00 each.
  • An impulse sealer isn’t required but makes it a lot easier. (We still have some Chicken Soup in a Food Saver bags and they are doing well.)
  • You will need to do some conversions to make sure you have the items you will need in bulk. This is the one that I used. But a good way to do it was to see what the FDA label said were in a package (Unit size vs. number in container.)
  • The more hands you have to process the meals the better. It’s easier to make two hundred meals for fifteen families, than fifteen meals for one family.
  • An assembly line makes it all work very easily.
  • It’s hard to tell exactly how long they will store, but most of the dehydrated items purchased say they will store for up to twenty years, and that sounds good to me!
  • You can tailor your meals for your dietary needs and personal tastes (No/low salt, gluten free, etc.)
  • With all your items on hand and with enough helpers you can make about five hundred meals in two hours.
  • Because of their light weight, they ship quite well. They are great for gifts.
  • A 16oz plastic picnic cup with its bottom cut out makes a great funnel/opener for the Mylar bags.
  • Go to the dollar store and buy a few sets of measuring spoons and cups, you’ll need them.
  • All of our now 200ish meals store under our son's twin size bed.
  • Meals we’ve successfully made: Split Pea Soup, Chicken Soup, Ham Hock Stew, White Rice and Chili, Mac-n-cheese, Black Bean Chili, Pasta Fagioli, and Chicken and Rice.

Our food stores are varied and deep but our TEOTWAWKI 365 meal plan is to have a simple breakfast, of oats or grains, a hearty lunch/supper of our bagged meal, and a dinner of breads and snacks. I know that having one meal a day does not a full food plan make, but to know for sure that you have at least one meal a day for an entire year takes the guess work out of your planning, although the very best benefit is peace of mind.

I'm sharing this food storage concept with SurvivalBlog readers in the hope that it will inspire you to move ahead and get your meals set aside. If  there is enough interest I will be making “Meal Kits” in the future. If you'd like to contact me with questions, to purchase a full list of recipes and instructions for the soups mentioned here, or to purchase emergency preparedness supplies, please visit my web site: FrostCPR.com.

I suspect many today might think that the words ‘practical’ and ‘Christianity’ don’t seem to fit in the same sentence. In many minds, practical is what one does Monday through Saturday to get ready for hard times on earth, having to do with nuts and bolts and clothes and food and fuel and power and…well…things. Christianity seems to be what one does on Sunday, in a church. That may be the version of spiritual life that has emerged in our nation’s culture over the years, but it is certainly not the version of life the founder of Christianity had in mind—it fails to acknowledge the sovereignty and rule of God over all things, and it will certainly do no one any good in the times to come. So…permit me to share some rules for practical Christianity—something so elemental to preparation for the times in which we live that I would go so far as to say that getting this right is the single most important thing you should undertake—the first thing, the most important thing, and the best thing you should do. Everything else you might do to prepare depends and builds upon these foundational principles. If you get this right, your odds of getting everything else right skyrocket; if you get this wrong, you could get everything else right and still end up in a very bad place.

These practical steps are ‘denominationally neutral’—there is no plug for one denomination or another. In the days to come, true Christians will probably drop their denominational differences (persecution tends to have that effect). If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if you believe the Bible is His Word to us, and if you strive to obey Him daily, then we will all be agreeing on much, much more in the coming days—whether we expect to or not.

1. Get the Cross Right: Understand what the Cross means and pick it up—every day.  This term ‘Cross’ can be sort of ‘church-speak’, and while it is the essence of Christianity, it doesn’t make sense to many people—many Christians, actually. I say this because of the current state of Christianity in the world; if it did make sense to most Christians, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in at the moment. And  ‘getting the Cross right’ does not mean simply going to church; too many people equate ‘going to church’ with real Christianity. Church is important, but it isn’t a substitute for spiritual life. Actually understanding the Cross is pretty simple. You can understand it by just looking at the life of the Founder. He gave up everything He had so as to obey His Father; He sacrificed His life so others might live. He put away what He was entitled to so as to set an example for us. The Cross involves a breaking; it means we come to a point in our lives when we really, truly realize to the depth of our soul that we have failed as a human being and can in no way succeed; that we have failed in some way that reflects such horrendous discredit on ourselves that there is no hope that we can continue to live unless God gives us His nature and lives His life in us and through us. This typically results in a dark night of the soul, accompanied by a cry of agony and desperation that cries out in remorse, anguish, and despair. If you have uttered such a cry, you will know what I am talking about; if you haven’t, you won’t. If you are lucky, you will see yourself as God sees you (and be affected by that understanding for the rest of your life). How will this apply to your preparation activities? Practically speaking—stop seeking to have things your own way; stop seeking your own ‘rights’, and look to find instances where you might help secure the rights of others (I mean really, after seeing what we look like through God’s eyes, no one could be prideful again). Recognize that before you can truly live in this life, before you can truly be productive in the sense that you will produce good for others besides yourself, before you can take the right steps to prepare for the coming fight, and before you can really do anything that pleases God, you have to come to the realization that you are not in charge; that you are not even capable of being ‘in charge’—of your life, or anyone else’s life; and that our natures are, in fact, such that if left to ourselves, we would muddy the baths of angels. And why, lastly, is all this important? Why is this eminently practical? Because we are coming into a time when warriors are required. The coming fight, however, is not about freedom, or constitutional liberties, or the right to own guns. No, the ground on which we’re fighting and will fight is spiritual—the enemy of freedom and liberty is also, coincidentally, the enemy of your soul. Every one of you who reads this blog feels this, deep down. Every time you read of another encroachment on freedom, an intrusion into previously sacrosanct rights, or some new abuse or trampling of human dignity, something in you twists in anger; you cry out against it. Why? Because the fight we’re in is spiritual, because these things affront your spirit, and no amount of political or prepping efforts will avail you if you have not prepared first spiritually. Not recognizing this is a spiritual fight, and just stocking up and learning skills (all quite important, mind) without first understanding and applying the Cross is like stepping into a boxing ring against a powerful (only once-defeated) opponent—he’s got a baseball bat, and you’re wearing a blindfold…good luck.

2. Men—Cowboy Up. Men need to be the spiritual leaders in their family. A man who needs to be nagged by his wife to lead spiritually will let down his side in the bigger battles to come (because remember, the fight we’re in now is spiritual, and will only get more so). This is important because this is the way God structured our society: it doesn’t mean men are more or less important, it is just that leadership in the home is the role God has assigned to men, so as to maintain the symbology He has put in place so we could know Him. Men—you need to lead your families spiritually by reading them sections of the Bible each day. You need to speak to them about what you read (which means you need to be able to hear from God what He tells you to say). You need to be able to handle the Word of God like a master re-loader handles his re-loading equipment; like some master gardener handles their garden; like some master electrician can whip up a DIY alternate power source. And I mean every man, not just some minister or pastor. This means, practically, that every man needs to be able to answer the tough questions, and every man needs to be setting the example for their family with their own life. And this means every man needs to know the Bible better than anyone in their family…and it means then that you need to humble out, and it means that if you are doing things you ought not to be doing, knock it off, ask God’s forgiveness, stop doing those things (that’s what ‘repent’ means), and start learning the things He wants you to learn and doing the things He wants you to do. You won’t make one lick of progress toward understanding the Bible unless you are willing to line up and do what it says to do. No one said this would be easy, but any home with a man in it who isn’t leading spiritually isn’t firing on all cylinders. Any family that hopes to prepare, led by a man who thinks this ‘spiritual stuff’ is just a crutch, or something not manly enough to deal with, will get rolled over when the enemy’s big spiritual guns are rolled out (remember the baseball bat and the blindfold). And remember, gentlemen…you can’t be the spiritual leader in your homes unless you have first executed step one, above.

3. Obey the Word. This phrase, ‘the Word’, is what Christians mean when they are referring to either what they read in the Bible, or what God actually tells them to do (yes, Virginia, God still speaks to people today). Typically God speaks to people through His written word, which is why it is so important to correctly handle it. If you were zeroing your battle rifle for 100 yards and you didn’t know how to ‘correctly handle’ the settings on your sight, you really wouldn’t make any progress with the exercise now, would you? If you were building an alternative energy source and you didn’t ‘correctly handle’ the principles of electricity, you’d suffer the consequences. Well, the Word of God is a tool He’s given us to be able to (a) obey Him the right way, and (b) live our lives so that we can benefit others. But you can read the Bible and talk about it and spread it around, but if you don’t actually do what God tells you to do, you’re wasting your time. Obedience is that actual thing that helps us understand what God is telling us in the Word; this is why people who have absolutely no intention of actually obeying God read the Bible and can’t make head nor tail out of what it says. Warriors need to obey their commander, and in this upcoming spiritual fight, God is the commander, and if you want to fight in this upcoming fight, you had better learn how to obey Him. Obey in the small things first, and soon He will give you more critical tasks. Obedience is critical—and that means you need to humble out and get a right sight picture of where you stand relative to God—and that takes us back to step one, above.

4. God is God. It seems that somewhere, American Christians have gotten the idea that waving a flag is tantamount to worshipping God…and I think that is because most people who might call themselves Christians are actually worshipping America (this is because it is easier than executing step one, above). At the bottom of that slippery slope one sees that there is the tendency to simply worship any construct or political system that provides them a required lifestyle or level of convenience or freedom to engage in a preferred activity. America should not be God, the Constitution should not be God, and I would even go so far as to say that one’s efforts to prepare should not be your God (and by ‘God’ I simply mean ‘that which is most important to you’). In any fight, one needs to see clearly whom you are fighting. In a dogfight, typically the first one who sees the enemy has an immense advantage; in any sort of combat, seeing your opponent clearly is critical. Not having a clear picture of God will keep you from clearly seeing the real opponent in these days. Our opponents are not ‘the Progressives’ or the gun control fanatics, or ‘the evil left’. No…our opponent is the enemy of souls, the deceiver of nations, the hater of your heart. Adjust to that fact and stop swinging at illusions. Accurately place God in the scheme of things, and you will accurately comprehend your enemy. But if you continue to worry about the restoration of constitutional freedoms and rights and all the other things ‘guaranteed by the Founding Fathers’ without first executing step one, above, then you will be playing into the hands of the enemy, swinging at moonbeams, and sooner or later, you’ll get that baseball bat in the head when the enemy rolls out his big guns and everyone recognizes the fight as spiritual. You’ve heard it said, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” Well, focusing on surface political and national issues is bringing a knife to a gunfight. Don’t be caught without the appropriate spiritual weapons.

5. Life isn’t the sine qua non of existence. If you are continuing in a relationship of obedience with God, then you should not fear death. Rather, you should fear He Who consigns souls to hell (that would be God). Death isn’t the enemy; loss of freedom isn’t the main threat. Denying God is that which we should most fear. Practically speaking, how might one deny God? Let’s put it in terms we can understand. Let’s say you have a Dad who’s the greatest Dad in the world. He’s taken care of you, raised you to be an honest, hard-working, true man or woman who knows what love and truth and beauty and obedience means. So one day someone comes along and asks you to engage in an activity that you know would upset your Dad, something which would be against all the principles for which he stands. If you go ahead and engage in that activity, such would be tantamount to denying your Father. ‘Render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s.’ No man can force you to deny God if you have already come to that place in your mind where you would rather die than do so.  One doesn’t get to that place easily. You can only get to that place by realizing that your life is less important than your faithfulness to your Father in heaven (presuming, of course, that you have executed step one, above). Now, I am not advocating that you run upon the nearest sword that happens to present itself so that you can become an instant martyr. No…I am telling you that the product of a solid relationship with God in which you are obeying Him on a daily basis (after you have accomplished step one, above) will be a firm, unshakable determination to die or suffer hardship rather than to disobey Him, or be forced to engage in an activity or adopt a philosophy or adhere to any policy or principal that requires you to disobey God’s rules, nature, or commandments. Another product of that close relationship will be God’s hand on your life, shepherding you through the days such that when the time comes for you to perhaps give up your life before denying Him, it will be an instance that He has arranged, and it will be for His glory, not yours. This re-adjusted mindset may result in some dramatically different approaches to your preparations. Consider—how would your preparation activities change if you were to ask yourself, “How will God be glorified by what I am doing?” (this term ‘glorified’ can be ‘church-speak’: it simply means, for example, “How will God get the credit; how will God’s excellence and wonderfulness be made evident to people; how will the people affected by this thing I’m doing realize that God is the one who made it all possible, and thank Him and not me?”). Everything you do to prepare—every gun you buy, every food item you store, every balaclava you procure—needs to be done with the objective in mind that somehow, someway, people will sooner or later, because of what you are doing, thank God (not you).

6. Dropkick the World. Once upon a time, a man had two dogs, a Red dog and White dog. He would tell everyone who came to visit that he loved that White dog and really hated the Red dog. Oh, and how those two dogs would fight each other. The man would tell his guests that he always wanted the White dog to win, and sometimes that White dog did (usually when guests were around), but most other times that mean ol’ Red dog would just get the upper hand. Now, twice a day that man fed the Red dog a huge porterhouse steak and once a day he fed that White dog just three small garbanzo beans and a Ritz cracker. Well, pretty soon, you can guess who was winning the fights—yup, that mean ol’ Red dog. So the point of the story here is that those two dogs are in each of us. The Red dog is that thing in us—our human nature—that wants to do the bad stuff; the White dog—God’s nature (presuming again you’ve executed step one)—is that which is trying to get us to do what’s right. When we put into our hearts the garbage that comes from the world—the philosophies, the entertainments, the ethics, the value systems, and the general mindset the world has (the ‘world’ being those things opposed to God), we’re feeding the Red dog and starving the White dog. Better we starve the Red dog and feed the White dog; read the Word every day; dwell on what God is doing through His body on earth; associate with others who are accomplished in performing step one, above; read solid books that accurately and in an honoring way depict the wonderful things God has done in human history; stay away from movies and books that dishonor Him (Hollywood being what it is, that narrows the field down a bit). Now, you won’t be able to come completely out of the world—I’m not advocating you join some sort of monastery (you can’t have an M1A in a monastery, I’ve heard—that would cut it for me). You will need to have some familiarity with what is happening around you to make some sense of the days in which we live—but don’t starve the White dog in doing so.

7. Love what God loves (hate what God hates). Imagine a little boy who looks up to his father and wants to be ‘just like his Dad’. Well, what do we see in little boys who have this desire? They do what their Daddies do; they love what their Dad loves, and if their Dad somehow expresses distaste for something, you can be sure that little boy will walk right up to it and give it a kick as well. What does God love? God loves truth, and justice, and righteousness (another ‘church-speak’ word that simply means doing what is right in God’s sight—which means that to do righteousness you need to know what God considers right, which means you need to understand His Word, which requires executing step one, above); He loves mercy, and a humble and contrite heart—this means a heart that knows where it stands in the great scheme of things, and owns up to and is deeply sorry for the rotten things it has done in its past. He loves compassion and He loves defending those who cannot defend themselves. He loves protecting the innocent and the weak. He stands against evil and does not give way before it. And God hates, too (oh yes He does, absolutely, positively, make no mistake—you can read it in Psalm 5 and elsewhere). He hates sin, and He hates those who sin; he hates injustice and tyranny and murder and rapine and all the evil things men do...and evil men. And He will one day come back and His robes will be dipped in blood from all the death and destruction He will deal out upon men and women who are opposed to His rule (my suggestion is to be on the right side of that coming fight). So in your daily life, begin to make a habit of doing what your Father in heaven does; uphold truth and justice and do righteousness and hate those who do iniquity. Keep yourselves from idols—that is, keep yourselves from anything that might get to be more important in your life than obeying God.

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And so…

Do you want to be a warrior in this fight? Do you want to take up arms with your heavenly Father, to do what you can to fight on His side? Do you want to identify with others who have a devotion to a mission so intense that they would be willing to die for it? God is not so concerned about restoring the Constitution; He is not so concerned about restoring the principles of the Founding Fathers. He is concerned, though, about individual hearts being so tuned to Him that every person functions as if they were part of His own body here on earth. It may be that the outcome of this coming conflict results not in some rejuvenated American nation but in a completely new world, with God actually ruling and reigning on this earth (which might impact your food storage plans a bit). Prepare well—God says that those who see danger and prepare to avoid it are prudent. But remember the most important aspect of preparation. Warriors in this fight will know how to use these practical steps (for they are weapons); they will know how to take orders; they will know where and how they fit in the grand scheme of things (for such is the true definition of humility); they will know the voice of their Commanding Officer, and they will do what He says—regardless of cost.

The tragic news on Saturday of the shooting of a congresswoman and a Federal judge in Arizona was quite troubling. (At last report, six dead and 13 wounded.) Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona was killed and Representative Gabrielle Giffords was badly injured but is expected to recover.

Who is the suspect? Jared Lee Loughner, age 22. His YouTube channel makes him appear to be a certifiable flag-burning lunatic, and possibly a mind control subject. His list of favorite books included: "Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp, Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno." Somehow, I expected to see: "The Catcher in the Rye" on the list.

So what is he? A communist? A neo-Nazi? Or is just your basic Looney Tune? And what about the name Loughner? (Loner? Lone gunman?) Or Lugner? (That is German for "liar".) This whole episode is surely going to prompt plenty of Conspiracy Theory style speculation.

The sad truth is that we live in a world where there are loonies and radicals (and looney radicals--the most dangerous sort) wandering the streets. The world is a dangerous place.

One part of the Arizona tragedy that will surely be overlooked by the mass media is that the outcome would have been much different if we had a better-armed citizenry. If there had been several private citizens present armed with guns, then the assassin might very well have been stopped before he had the time to shoot so many people. At least Arizona has reasonable gun laws. (Open carry is legal, as is Vermont style no-permit concealed carry.)

I suspect that Mayor Bloomberg and his band of fools will try to use this tragedy as an excuse for more so-called "gun control". Most likely they'll ask for another magazine ban (a la the idiotic 1994-2004 ban), since the shooter reportedly used a pistol with an extended magazine. They might also use this to denigrate Vermont-style concealed carry.

T.&.P. sent this item: Legislation proposes Utah adopt a gold-based system. Similar legislation has been introduced in several other states.

Blame the U.S. Mint for Lack of Silver, Don't Blame Customers (Thanks to Alec N. for the link.)

Reader M.E. sent this: Seven Reasons Food Shortages Will Become a Global Crisis

Richard S. recommended this piece at the Economania blog: UK Preppers.

Siggy like this one: America’s 10 worst years start right now

Items from The Economatrix:

Regulators Close Florida Bank; 1st For The Year  

Slow Growth In Jobs Shows Challenge Ahead   

Bernanke:  4-5 Years To Reach Normal Unemployment. Does Helicopter Ben honestly think that we will print our way to prosperity! 

EU Plans For Bondholder Haircuts Unsettles Debt Markets  

Permanent Student Loan Debt Bondage Racket

For anyone who is grumbling about the cancellation of the BBC television series Survivors, there is now a petition to get Season 3 reinstated.

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Another reason for OPSEC: Cop Slain for gun collection. (A hat tip to David N. in Tennessee.)

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent a useful article with relevance to EMP protection: Bonding and Grounding C4SIR Facilities.

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I recently got a lengthy heartfelt letter from a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee that I'll quote just briefly: "The number one lesson I have learned [as a DMV employee] that I want to share is that GDP really does mean, General Dumb Public.  When TEOTWAWKI begins, the collective mental breakdown and anguish of those still living huddled in the corner of 'the box' is going to be horrible and unimaginably destructive.  I don’t pity them in any regards, just the distance we have fallen morally as a nation.  Seeing the rampant stupidity in my fellow constituents and the stocked pantry/hidden blunder busters at home, I can’t help but feel a little dead inside.  I grew up in a different America and I’m not sure if we can ever return to that.  And as controversial as it sounds, this nation is ripe for the judgment.  America is a rebellious house and a catharsis of Biblical proportions is at our doorstep."

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Kevin S. suggested this: How To Completely Erase Your Hard Drive

"1) David Berkowitz, Ted Bundy, Richard Speck... 2) what about them? 1) Serial killers. Serial killers only have two names. You ever notice that? But lone gunmen assassins, they always have three names. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark David Chapman... 2) John Hinckley. He shot Reagan. He only has two names. 1) Yeah, but he only just shot Reagan. Reagan didn't die. If Reagan had died, I'm pretty sure we probably would all know what John Hinckley's middle name was." - Mel Gibson, in the movie Conspiracy Theory. (Screenplay by Brian Helgeland)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

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 Safecastle.com (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 CampingSurvival.com (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.

Fats are in important and often neglected part of the diet, especially when it comes to the typically carb-heavy foods typically stored.  Grains like wheat berries and rice along with beans are a cornerstone of any preppers dietary thrust. This provides an overabundance of carbohydrates and some proteins. And when it comes to animal-based protein, I often see information on how easy it is to raise rabbits for protein, and with good reason. They propagate quickly and are easy to butcher and don't take up much space. The problem with rabbit is that it's almost devoid of fat. In fact, if you eat solely rabbit, you will eventually die of "rabbit starvation" no matter how much you gorge yourself, due to rabbits lack of fat. The point is, we need fat to live.  

But if I Eat Lots of Fat, I'll Get Heart Disease!
While the mainstream dietary advice for the last 30 years (the governments food pyramid for example) tells us to eat low fat, and that eating fat makes you fat, and that eating fat will "clog your arteries",  this is patently false. This all started back in the 1950s with Ancel Keys's Seven Countries Study. Dr. Keys sought to make a connection between saturated fat and heart disease. The problem with that famous study  was that he had data from 22 countries, he just took the data from the countries that agreed with his hypotheses.  It's on this faulty study that the Lipid Hypotheses was born, and we started down the low-fat trail. Likewise false is that eating fat will raise your triglycerides. In fact, eating a diet high in carbohydrates like grains raise your triglycerides. I eat a diet very high in fat and no grains whatsoever, and my triglycerides at last measure were just  44. Dietary consumption of fat has little to do with your cholesterol level. In fact, your cholesterol level has little to do with heart disease. And here's another little fact: about half of all heart attack victims have completely normal cholesterol measures.

Eat the Right Kind of Fat
But first, what kind of fat should we store? Well, we could stock up on vegetable oils like canola or corn oil. They're plentiful and cheap. The problem is, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in vegetable seed oils are the bane of human health — they actually cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, aging, thrombosis, arthritis, and immunodeficiencies. Fats that keep you healthy are natural animal fats. Some of the benefits are: Improved cardiovascular risk factors, stronger bones, improved liver health, healthy lungs, healthy brain, proper nerve signaling, and a strong immune system. Fat is required to assimilate vitamins A, D, E, and K. So throw away the canola, corn, and soy oil. Stay away from anything that contains polyunsaturated fats. These oils are very unstable, and have almost no shelf life. Once ingested, they bind with cells and interfere with every chemical reaction in the body. The results are hormone imbalances, inflammation, and all kinds of illness.  As heart disease rates increased the last 50 years, the consumption of saturated fats was going down, not up, but the consumption of vegetable oils was increasing.  I stopped eating vegetable oils about  years ago. So let's get reacquainted with pasture-fed butter, lard, and tallow products, and other traditional saturated fats like coconut oil. But can we store high quality animal fats for later consumption?  The answer is yes. Here are some  ways to preserve fats (and your health).

Coconut milk/oil
One of the simplest ways to store fat is canned coconut milk. Coconut milk is full of medium chain fatty acids. I mix it 2:1 with water and use it as a substitute for milk in protein shakes when I'm out of my raw goat milk (frequently in the winter months since that's when the goats are dry).  Coconut oil has a long shelf life of two+ years.  And besides being able to cook with it, Coconut oil is medicinal as well.  It has  renowned and powerful antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial effects. In fact, it's been shown to be effective against the "superbug" MRSA.  Recent experiences in wound care show that coconut oil worked well in healing wounds where other methods had failed.  It's also being used to improve the cognition of Alzheimer's and dementia patients. It's full of beneficial medium chain fatty acids the body needs. Lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut oil, is very beneficial and rarely present in the human diet, except during breast feeding. Breast milk is full of Lauric acid. And let's not forget that breast milk is about 43% saturated fat. This highlights the fact that saturated fat is good for you, not bad. Coconut oil also makes a great skin conditioner.  I get mine from Nutiva. It's organic and of very high quality. Shipping is free too!

Ghee is pure butterfat, and can be stored for up to 10 years if properly prepared. In fact, 100-year-old Ghee is highly valued in India and fetches a very high price. Such ghee was often kept in Temples in large vats and families often pass on aged Ghee to their next generation to be used as medicine. Ghee is rich in easy-to-digest short chain fatty acids and vitamins A, D, E & K. It also contains 3% linoleic acid which has anti-oxidant properties.. It is about 65% saturated fat and 25% monounsaturated fat with about 5% polyunsaturated fat content. Its saturated fat is primarily (89%) made from those easy-to-digest short chain fatty acids and it contains 3% linoleic acid which has anti-oxidant properties.  It has a high smoke point which makes it great for cooking. That high smoke point means that it does not produce damaging free radicals. Ghee is suitable for people who are sensitive to lactose as the heating procedure used to clarify the butter removes the lactose content. You can buy Ghee, but it's easy to make your own. Simply take a couple of pounds of butter, heat you oven to 250 and place the butter in a pan (I use an old fashioned iron skillet) and let it cook for 2 hours. At the end of the two hours, carefully take the pan and spoon out the golden-clear liquid, leaving the milk proteins behind. As you are spooning it out, strain though cheesecloth. Mason jars make a good storage container for your ghee.

Tallow is rendered from beef. Lard is rendered from pigs. While I have no experience with Lard (other than the bacon fat I save for cooking eggs), fat from beef suet is a method I do use. I buy high quality beef suet (the fat from around the kidneys) from my local grass fed beef supplier for $2.00 a lb, (although at times you can get it free). To render to tallow, just chop it into cubes of about 1/2" square and put it in a slow cooker. I do this outside because it can smell up the house a bit. Periodically scoop the clear liquid from the top. Mason jars or food grade plastic buckets make a good storage medium. I used a large bucket that used to have coconut oil in it. I was told by the butcher that it would store frozen almost indefinably.  If thoroughly dry and in a sealed container, can keep as long as 30 years. Tallow can also be used to preserve meat. Just fry the meat and pack in a container, like a mason jar. Then pour enough tallow over the meat to seal it in, much like pouring wax over freshly made preserves. This can preserve the meat for at least 6 months. Another great way to store fat is to use your tallow and make pemmican.  Pemmican is what the plains Indians lived on during the winter and on long hunting trips. It consists of lean beef (or buffalo), beef tallow, and sometimes berries mixed together in a one to one ratio of beef and fat. A great thing about pemmican is that you can literally live on it for very long periods of time. Although conventional wisdom would tell us that a lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, it is in fact caused by a lack of fresh meat. The "limeys" who avoided scurvy by eating limes at sea, were actually on a very heavy processed grain diet with no meat. This is a controversial point to be sure, but it explains the Inuit Eskimos, who have no access to fruit and are scurvy free.

There are many good sites on the 'net for learning how to make pemmican. You can also buy grass-fed pemmican from US Wellness Meats.  Pemmican can be stored for up to 20 years!  It's storability makes it the ultimate survival food. So, as you are making your preparations for food storage, don't neglect fats. They are necessary for survival and should form a central part of your food storage plans.

The following is a document that I have developed for our retreat. Obviously your mileage may vary. These guidelines are based on our area, family connections, our previous preparations and many other factors. Feel free to use them as a starting place for drafting rules for your own group.

Retreat Rules

It is not the goal to have a burdensome and complicated set of rules. However, there must be some rules so that everyone is on the same page. In the event of “Retreat Activation”, the survival of any one of us depends on the survival of the rest of us. We should act accordingly at all times.
Rules will be altered, added and deleted as needed to keep things as simple as possible while maintaining order and cohesiveness. If you feel a rule needs to be added, deleted or changed, please let me know. All suggestions will be taken under advisement. Some may be accepted, others may not.
The purpose of the retreat and the preparations are to strive to survive a disaster or a breakdown in society.
While we are not a religious group, the Ten Commandments will be our guide in dealing with others. As far as the first three commandments go, your soul, your God, your choice. Choose carefully.
It is expected and demanded that you do not talk about the retreat, our plans, preparations, activities, etc. with anyone outside the group. Our lives may depend on others not knowing about us.  If the retreat is compromised, you could go somewhere else; I have no choice but to stay here.
If you decide to leave the group, we expect you to still not discuss the retreat with others. To do so would be potentially putting our lives in jeopardy.
If you are asked to leave the group (very serious thing) you will take your provisions with you. We also expect you to honor your pledge to maintain our privacy.
I will make all final decisions. It’s not that I don’t trust you, you wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, but this is my home. Please respect that and I pledge to make decisions that are in the best interest of all involved.

Admission to the group is by invitation only.  Individuals or families may be suggested and recommended by any other member. Operational security must be observed.  Not everyone will be accepted. All recommended people will be considered for an interview. Most interviews will be informal and most people will not realize they are being interviewed. Most interviewees will be asked to come and “camp” with us for a weekend. Everyone will get to meet them and make an assessment.
There is no one qualification to be admitted but rather many traits that are desired. Skill sets are a large, but not primary, factor in the acceptance of someone. The ability to get along with others and respect others even when they do not agree is a large factor.
Race or religious beliefs will not be a factor in selection.
People will only be selected that we would trust with our lives.
The ability to get along with everyone else and willing to carry their own weight and then a little more are traits that we are looking for.
Again, the final decision to admit anyone to the group will be mine.

Retreat Activation
The retreat would be activated in the event of a national emergency such as nationwide or regional power failure, major earthquake, war, extreme civil unrest, etc. It is not a vacation home or a place for you to go to if you lose your job or your spouse kicks you out.

Banned Activities
This should not even need to be said but in order to make everything clear, the following items are banned:
Nothing illegal is allowed. We can’t take the chance. Penalty: Immediate dismissal! Law enforcement will be contacted if necessary.
No firearms, ammo or weapons are to be brought to the retreat that are deemed to be illegal by the state, local or federal law enforcement. While you may or may not agree with the law or the interpretation, it is still the law and you must abide by it.
No racist, skinhead, Nazi, religious zealots or the like will be allowed.
Illegal drugs are not allowed.
Alcohol consumption is not allowed. You could need to use a firearm at any time. Everyone depends on everyone else being in full control of their facilities at all times.
Tobacco smoking will not be allowed once the retreat is activated. Use caution until then.
Fighting or heated “discussions”. Respect the opinion of others.
No talk or plan of subversive activities will be tolerated.

Water conservation
Once the electricity is out, water conservation will be very important. While cleanliness and health go hand in hand and are very important, there will only be a certain amount of available water. Use it sparingly.

Expect to use an outhouse or latrine. Feminine products and toilet paper is not to be placed in the pit of either. Place it in t