February 2011 Archives

Monday, February 28, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

Our family has raised about two dozen laying hens each year for several years, and we felt pretty confident in our poultry capabilities.  Learning more about meat breeds of poultry, we felt it was a good time to try our hand raising some of these birds to evaluate their value and quality.  Cornish cross chicks are well known for their rapid, almost freakish growth rates, so we found a large, reputable source online and ordered 50 of their male chicks.  We had to wait almost a month for the male chicks, because of availability – everyone seems to want the males which grow faster than the females.  Finally, the birds arrived. Inside the box, only 3 of the 50 chicks had died in transit.  In the next 24 hours, 30 more of the birds died, despite our best efforts with proper watering and heat.  The directions shipped with the birds and found online were followed religiously.  When we called the supplier, they indicated that losing this many birds is actually normal, and they agreed to ship us 35 more birds as soon as more males were available.  Not wanting to wait to late into the summer, we agreed to take 40 more female chicks as replacement.  The company was very easy to work with and shipped all the new birds to us free of charge.  For whatever reason, only two of the females died during the two days after we received them – a much better mortality rate. We could tell the males from the females right off in their behavior and size after one week.  The males were much more excitable, agitated, and larger.  They also got themselves stuck in places and needed help at times.  The females were very docile. 

Our setup consisted of two large vinyl kiddies’ pools with waterers and small feeders.  Heat lamps were suspended over the pools and were very important to the chicks.  We kept them in the pools for about 3.5 weeks inside our shop until they were feathered out and large enough we thought they would survive outside in the coop.  During these 3.5 weeks, another 10 chicks died – mostly females and most of them were “smothered” – literally smashed as the chicks milled together in tight groups.  It was clear these birds were very dumb, much more so than our laying hens.  By the third week the chicks were growing rapidly and becoming voracious eaters.  We began controlling the amount of food they received and the amount of time they had the food.  These birds will try to eat themselves to death, and care must be taken to keep a regulated food intake.  Another issue we had with these young birds is keeping their water clean.  All birds are messy, but these seemed to be clueless and dull. 

Raising these chicks required daily maintenance and frequent checking. We hadn’t expected the need these birds required of constant access to food.  We have a single, large three gallon feeder for our two dozen laying hens which was more than adequate.  One of these three gallon feeders was required for each dozen meat birds, because of their focus and aggressive eating.  We built two large, trough feeders about three feet long each to provide more food during the feeding hours.  We had to staple chicken wire across the food trough to keep the birds from lying in the trough while they ate, and soiling the feed.  The big male birds (noticeably larger and more pushy for the food) would plop themselves in the feeder, lie down, and just eat.  The trough could only accommodate 2-to-3 birds like this, so we put wire mesh across the trough which discouraged this behavior. The next problem with the feeders was that birds would literally push their heads, then bodies up under the wire mess at the ends and get themselves stuck under the mesh while eating.  So, reinforcement of the mesh was required.  Now, all the birds could literally lie down at the trough and eat to their heart’s content.  Most of the birds literally rubbed all their belly feathers off to bare skin by laying down so much as they ate.  Giant, dumb, eating machines.  Letting the meat birds out to scratch in the yard wasn’t a good option for these birds – they weren’t very interested and couldn’t find their way back in at night like the laying hens always did.

During August and September we catch a lot of salmon and sturgeon during the fall Chinook runs of the Columbia River, and would occasionally throw the carcasses in to the chickens.  Many of the birds would pick at the fish, though the biggest birds didn’t move far from their place at the trough.  We didn’t throw fish in often mainly because of smell and because it is a risk to dogs to get salmon fluke poisoning.  One idea we tried was to suspend a carcass about two feet over the birds on chicken wire to encourage “maggot production”.  The wire mess allowed the maggots to fall down into the birds, providing a very high protein diet supplement after about a week.  This is definitely a strategy for a single guy, because the wife wouldn’t let this move beyond the experimental phase once she found out about it (smelled it). We occasionally have predators around the chickens, and keep a large live-trap at the coop.  During these 10 weeks we caught 2 raccoons, 2 skunks, and several field rats.  None of the chickens were lost to these animals. 

One morning I found a dead, half eaten chicken in the middle of the coop.  It was not clear how it had died, or how the predator had gotten in or out.  The next morning, another dead chicken in the middle of the pen.  I was worried about a big rat or something, and then found a lot of bird droppings under one of the trees near the coop.  I figured it was an eagle, which frequent the area but had never bothered the chickens before.  A third chicken was dead on the third day.  That evening, just at sunset, I heard a large commotion out at the coop – the birds were freaking out and huddled under their covering.  I raced out with the dog and a huge, great-horned owl jumped just over my head and lighted in the tree above – an impressive and spooky silhouette in the sky above.  The chickens were terrified and all worked up.  It was an exciting experience, but obviously required something be done.  We had a large piece of “deer netting” – light plastic one inch mesh that we cut and draped over the chicken coop, wire tying it to the top of the coop’s 6-foot tall fencing.  The owl did seem to have one incident trying to push through the mesh, but we never lost another chicken and after a few days the owl seemed to move on.  Interestingly, the owl never bothered with the laying hens that were adjacent to the meat chickens and uncovered in their coop. Only occasionally would a bird die for unknown reasons. 

We had large coverings for the birds in bad weather, and purchased them in July so we would have nicer, warm weather for them here in Oregon to grow and butcher them before colder weather set in.  We ended up butchering them ourselves early in October.  The butchering process was a great learning experience for us and our kids, too.  There are several people available in the area with fancy plucking and scalding equipment for rent – about $100 per day; however we wanted to try it by hand, and see how inexpensively we could raise these birds from chick to freezer.  Instead of a killing cone, we would wrap each bird in a towel, and use two bungee cords to hold it against a section of chain-link fence.  The feet were tied together with a loop.  These big birds were quite docile and easy to handle for the most part.  Two of us working together easily wrapped and strapped them in no time.  I did the killing with a knife to the throat.  It seemed quick and humane.  With the birds strapped we could leave several of them to bleed out for 5-10 minutes.  Another technique we used was to put the birds into an old feed sack with a corner cut out for the head.  This worked well but wasn’t any faster than using the old towel.

Scalding the birds was also easy to do with our double-burner propane stove outside.  With a rolling boil, the larger birds took about 16 seconds to get a good scald.  Scalding was most important to prevent tearing the skin while plucking.  Plucking the birds was great fun.  With 4 of our children helping we averaged about 15 minutes per bird to pluck them clean.  Another thing we tried was to make a fancy plucker.  I cut the bottom out of a 5 gallon bucket, and drilled ¾ holes all over the sides of the bucket.  Into these holes we pushed rubber ‘fingers’ we purchased through eBay, and a whole chicken could be inserted into the bucket, and while holding the head and feet at either end of the open bucket, we’d quickly pull the bird back and forth through the rubber fingers to pluck off the feathers.  This actually worked really well for 90% of the feathers, but didn’t save much time in the end because it took more time going back over the bird to get the other 10% of the remaining feathers.  It was a fun try, though. After plucking the older kids helped butcher the birds.  We also skinned some of the chickens instead of plucking, because many of the bigger birds had work their belly skin thin from so much “belly eating”.  Skinning the birds was much faster than scalding and plucking, obviously.  Butchering the birds took another 10-15 minutes each and was fairly straight forward.  To clean and butcher 40-50 birds takes most of a day, and it is very labor intensive.  In the future we plan to rent the equipment and do more birds to take advantage of the larger volume of birds.  It was a good practice and learning experience for our family and in that sense was invaluable.  We all had a great time and it was a great science project.

For the 50 birds, we originally paid about $2.15 per chick.  We used a total of 18 bags of feed at $11 per bad, or about $200.  We ended up with about 40 birds averaging 8 lbs each after 11 weeks.  All of the big male birds were 10-12 lbs each, and about 10 of the females were smaller at 6-7 lbs.  All in all we were pleased with the size of the birds.  Our reading on the internet said we should see 10 lbs birds after 8-10 weeks, but our actual experience was not this good.  We did not experience any of the health problems or leg issues that many people have reported with these Cornish cross birds.  We calculated that each bird cost us about $9, or about $1 per lbs, not including costs for setup, feed trough construction, etc. We canned and froze our birds, and the meat quality is excellent.  Very good quality, in fact we believe better than what we would buy in the store on all accounts.  Canning the birds required a lot of additional work.  We were very pleased with our experiences and in the end results. 

Our final conclusion was that we would only raise meat birds ourselves if in more dire circumstances.  Chicken is fairly inexpensive to purchase, already cleaned, although of lower quality.  With a young family to feed, quantity is often precedent over quality.  The main complaint we had with raising our own birds was the high maintenance and big mess.  These birds eat a lot and make piles of refuse.  While good for the garden it was not pleasant.  These birds were of low intelligence and took daily effort to take care of – having to remove their food for their own health was a daily chore in the messy pen.  The cost savings was negligible in raising our own birds.  Raising 100 birds or more at a time would be a good way to make the financials work out, but would also significantly increase the daily maintenance and workload.  And the butchering would be significant as well.  Our best idea for getting large quantities of chicken meat for the best price was to buy the rotisserie chicken at Costco and to can it.  A whole chicken for $5 already well cooked and ready to just bone and can is the cheapest, easiest, and tastiest means for putting up a large amount of meat for the year.  Knowing we can do it ourselves, though, is priceless.

I've noticed Sam's Club is carrying large (#10 size) cans of chicken and other foods. I looked for expiration dates and could not find any. There was a series of numbers. I've heard those numbers reveal the dates. Could you tell me how to read or decipher them? Thanks, - Laura C.

JWR Replies: This has been mentioned before in the blog, but is bears repeating. It's important to have a Julian Calendar (since some packers use Julian dates) and a hard copy of this chart showing how to decipher date of pack codes from various canners and packers. Print them both out and keep them in your Key References Binder.

OBTW, if you don't already have a Key References Binder, then start one! I suggest that you use a sturdy 2" ring binder and a thick stack of archival page protectors. To start filling your binder, search the SurvivalBlog Archives using the search phrase: "references and hard and copy". You'll find lots of articles like this one. It is best to also save as many of those references as you can on your G.O.O.D. Kit memory stick.

If your binder eventually overflows, then split it into two binders: One for the workshop, and one for the kitchen. Oh, and be sure to include those binders in your "Last Minute Grab and Go" list. For any references that will be frequently used in your shop or out in the boonies, you might want to print them on HP LaserJet Tough Paper. (It is waterproof.)

Hi All,
I'd like to contribute some details on my preparations in a region where tricky geography, difficult society, and extremely difficult legal issues can make planning difficult. As for tricky geography, Long Island is essentially a 100-mile long 23-mile wide (at its very widest) 'no outlet' roadway prison stuffed with nearly 8 million people. Take a peek at the Wikipedia page about the island to get the idea. We are east of New York City with its 50 million people in the immediate 35 mile radius. When things get Schumeresque - there is very little most residents will be able to do except flee or misbehave. I expect lots of both. I expect that anyone close to the city will flee West over the crossings, and many will flee east to somewhat less populated areas. The suburban sprawl will become untenable quickly without outside intervention - which scares me even more than unrest.

That said there are some regions that can be found that offer some protection. Were my family not near such a region we would already have left. We plan on leaving within the year in any event.

When I mention difficult society - this is an integrated area consisting of de-facto segregated communities (realistically, just look at the make-up of public schools and see that it determines what your community make up is like in most areas). There is a mix of illegal aliens, poor, working class and upper class residents mainly divisible by determining distance to the coastline. A satellite view of the region can show how crowded the neighborhoods are. Even the 'middle class' to 'upper class' neighborhoods have homes generally on less than 1/2 acre. If you are fortunate enough to live near the coastlines - you are surrounded by upper-middle or wealthy neighbors - and although I hate to generalize, I will. Most of them work in offices in New York City and push paper for a living. Therefore they couldn't change a tire on their BMW if their lives depended on it. These people are completely unprepared. Good honest middle class, working class and more modest people in the area are much more capable of self sufficiency but are in such proximity to one another that during a crisis I can't imagine things going smoothly. They are also unprepared.

As for legal difficulties - pistol licensing on long island is insane - a 'sportsman' license takes 6-9 months to get, costs hundreds and doesn't entitle you to carry. You can be disapproved for vague reasons.

A pistol license is not required for long guns on Long Island, however you have onerous laws to comply with to bring a rifle west of Nassau County. New York State effectively extended the [expired Federal] assault weapons ban. Pre-[1994] ban rifles and magazines are pricey.

My preps follow a certain proviso - we have to bug in. There is no reasonable way for our family to bug out at the onset or during a crisis. We have very small children and the logistics of safely bugging out are nearly impossible. Luckily, we are in an area that is likely to be bypassed by the horde due to great geography. We are also in a defensible area that can be blocked off to vehicle traffic with 24 hour neighborhood cooperation.

As for preps - food, water, shelter, heat and protection are primary, followed by general supplies and niceties.

FOOD: We have a one year supply for our family plus several unexpected knocks at the door. It is comprised of 6 gallon food grade buckets, Mylar lined C02 evacuated oxygen absorbed Rice, Beans, Red Wheat, Oats and Corn, with a huge emphasis on rice because it is so available now. I've laid in buckets of additional honey, sugar, salt, and long shelf life groceries including various pasta, canned tuna, and much more. There is a large emphasis on white rice. I also stored Ziploc freezer baggies on top of the mylar bags so that I can readily distribute packs of rice as charity. We also have several cases of freeze dried meats, veggies and fruit - although the storage generally favors carbs and protein. I consider the vermin proof buckets in my basement our 'strategic' food supply. In addition we have a substantial MRE supply - for protein to balance out the rice. I favor purchasing cases of meat only entrees like meatloaf, meatballs in sauce, sloppy joe, etc - to put atop the rice or pasta. This system works for me - but has some drawbacks. When the rice comes within a year of my protected expiration ( I'm banking on eight years of storage life ) I will have to donate the entire lot and likely restart. I would love to find us in that position in eight years because it means we forestalled the crisis. I think trouble cometh within 12-18 months or sooner.

We also have tactical MRE bins with complete MRE meals. Also I have a large supply of MRE crackers, peanut butter, cheese spread etc - because they make great highly transportable and mostly complete meals in themselves. With little kids I need some variety so I've stored deserts and sweets too. Our food stores are located in three different parts of the house as well.

WATER: On city water - our initial plan is to store as much water as the situation allows - in our bathtubs using hurricane liners I've purchased. We also have several dozen cases of bottled water and 6 5 gallon coleman camping containers which I rotate every three months. We have purification tablets, a Katadyn pocket, and ... a 13 foot 2800 gallon swimming pool which can be used as a tank. When covered it stores nearly 18 thousand pounds of water. Furthermore I've set up rain barrels at the gutters on the high side of the house. We also have a bucket of pool shock. There is a well on our property and I can get to the water with a rope and bullet bucket but have not tested it or the water yet.

SHELTER: We have good trees on the property and a wood stove - as well as a backup I got on ebay. That provides heat and cooking as well. Additional stove rope seals, compound and venting pipe have been stored as well.

PROTECTION: After much thought, I got a pistol license on Long Island. I'm fearful of knocks at my door when TSHTF from the police to collect my guns (.45, 9mm and .22) - but I will just have to take that risk. As for long guns - an AR-15 with Eotech 557 and 4x fts magnifier, a POF .308 with a 4-12x scope, a Remington 700 in .308, my trusty Benelli nova shotgun, and a Marlin Papoose .22. Several extra boxes of ammo are stored. Furthermore - I have several guns in place that I envision for my neighbors in time of need including an SKS and some pistol caliber carbines. I do try to gently nudge some neighbors to prepare - but not too often and not too hard. I don't want to stand out too much--that is OPSEC.

GENERAL SUPPLIES: Gasoline preserved with Sta-Bil. It is rotated for cars and the generator. Also we keep our cars' fuel tanks at least 3/4 full as a rule since 9-11. For solar power I've rigged up a small solution - as we are on a tight budget. Essentially 750 watt inverters powered by two deep cycle marine batteries charged by two 80 watt solar panels and a charge controller. This gives us power for light, comms, battery charging, the fan on the wood stove, and a touch more.

Two sets of FRS radios - one set in an ammo can, in case of EMP.

A multitude of NiMH batteries, chargers for both 110 VAC and especially 12 volt [DC to DC charging]. A multitude of disposable batteries of all types.

Medical supplies suitable to my situation. I won't provide detail, but suffice it to say I keep everything from antibiotics to anti-radiation thyroid [KIO3] pills for the kids.

Hand tools of reasonable quality and many kinds and repair materials, plastic sheeting, duct tape and screen material.

Non-hybrid seeds, gardening supplies and tools, and fencing materials to keep the deer and other critters out.

LAPTOP COMPUTERS - can be powered by solar for education and entertainment. CD-ROMs and other media for the same purpose.

BOOKS - I've bought plenty, including The Encyclopedia of Country Living . I'm presently drooling over my copy of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.

CAMPING SUPPLIES - Speaks for itself. Loads of these for fun and emergency.

INVESTMENTS: Silver and Gold - well - I agree they are important but cannot afford that yet. Perhaps during the crisis I can trade silver from other people in exchange for food, batteries and other things in barter.

FAITH: Loads of it. As a Jew from Long Island I keep to the first testament and don't eat pork. I do believe. I love G-d. I know that HE is the Giver of the Law. And I do my best to either obey or atone.

It is noteworthy that the world would not be in this mess if we followed His Commandments. Even following most of those ten would likely keep the planet out of trouble ...

Well, that is about it. In this area I believe that any further large scale prepping is not warranted and not the best investment. I also want to keep the entire setup as portable as possible. When we move - I believe I can trailer most of my logistics to our new home. I can really delve into self sufficiency at that point.

Warmest Regards from New York, - David

Fake Silver Coins/Bars/Ingots ARE on the market in U.S.! This includes some useful videos with tests for fakes. (Thanks to Nic for the link.)

Reader "Firecracker" notes: Paul Krugman (Nobel prize-winning Princeton economist) recently spoke to students at The University of Oklahoma.  The local paper had a very short article about his speech. The last line in the article sums it up pretty well: “We’re eating our seed corn,” he said. “We are very far from being over the financial crisis.”

Items from The Economatrix:

Royal Canadian Mint Now Saying It's Difficult Securing Silver  

War, Martial Law, And The Economic Crisis  

What You Need To Know About Buying Silver Today

Gold $2,300, Silver $150 and Looming Stock Market Crash  

Middle East Mirrors Great Inflation Revolutions Since 1200 A.D. (Thanks to Mark G. for the link.)

Bobbi, South Dakota notes: "Six weeks ago, I could buy canned Progresso brand soup (ready to eat) for $1 per can. Yesterday it was $2.29. Gasoline (10% ethanol) was $3.06 four days ago. It is now $3.36. The "Cheap" white bread was regularly on sale for $.79 for a 24 ounce loaf. Now it is $.99 (as a "Hot Buy") for a 16 ounce loaf. Navel oranges are still $.78/lb, but those in the latest batch are very small and even slightly green. Cucumbers and peppers are $1 each, head lettuce is almost $2 per head, and tomatoes are out of our family's reach at upwards of $3/lb. Thankfully we have lots of garden space and plenty of seed!"

China's Inflation Exceeds Target for Fourth Month, Adding Rates Pressure.

Thousands protest against high food prices in Delhi

Frequent content contributor C.D.V. sent this: Stagflation 2011: Why It Is Here And Why It Is Going To Be Very Painful

F.G. sent this: Census: Near-record level of US counties dying. JWR Adds: Of course some of the mentioned "dying" counties in the northern plains states that are de-populating might actually make good retreat locales. Low population density has its advantages!

   o o o

Randy F. sent a link showing that CBS News is finally catching on: Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF. (But of course they don't tell the whole sordid story.) Here is a bit of background on why the BATFE conspirators felt they needed to boost their "traced to U.S. gun shows" numbers: WikiLeaks exposes true origins of Mexican cartels' weaponry (Hint: It's not due to the "mythical" gun show loophole). Oh, and for the unvarnished truth on the scandal, read this: “Project Gunwalker” scandal is breaking wide open. The actions of the BATFE are absolutely despicable. For law enforcement officers to become law breakers for the sake of justifying their own budget is reprehensible. That rogue agency should be shut down!

   o o o

Joe Huffman (of The View From North Idaho blog) discusses the poor prospects for any attempt to step back to traditional agriculture: We cannot go back.

   o o o

Jon in New York sent this tale of liberal urban angst: A climate-change activist prepares for the worst.

“Our obligation to promote the public good extends as much to the opposing every exertion of arbitrary power that is injurious to the state as it does to the submitting to good and wholesome laws. No man, therefore, can be a good member of the community that is not as zealous to oppose tyranny, as he is ready to obey magistracy.” Reverend Samuel West (1730-1807) Colonial Preacher and Patriot

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

During the winter of 2007 Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado had a major winter event in the form of a blizzard and a wide ranging ice storm.

Saturday morning came and no weather, by that afternoon, Eastern Colorado and Western, Kansas was in a full blizzard and ice storm. Within hours the ice was over 3 inches thick on power lines and was popping power poles in every direction. Then the wind picked up and we went black and quiet. The storm took down cell towers, radio towers, internet towers, emergency communication towers.

The small rural communities were shut down. No vehicle gas, no grocery store, no trading at all. Everything was closed, banks, grocery stores, and convenience stores. They had no electricity.  They had no way of selling anything.

We work in agriculture, so we had to be prepared. We are also home canners and put up a years worth of food in jars and our freezers. Our town was able to keep the water on because of diesel engines. They were also able to keep our sewer on because of diesel generators. We were able to cook because of propane grills. We were cold in our homes.

There was a shelter opened with generator heat, but no blankets, beds, or toilet paper, they asked that you bring your own. They also asked that you clean out your refrigerator and bring it to the shelter for food for the group that was there. We were trapped in an 8 mile radius because of down power lines on the highways. We were stuck for 3 days and went without electricity for seven days.

Means of communication was almost non existent. We did not know about the shelter which was two blocks from our home because we were able to still work with generator power, and it was warmer at work than home. There was no central communication in our town. We had no idea what was going on in the world, our town or our area. We did not know how long we were going to be without electricity. Cell phones did not work; radio was out in our area. We had no land line phone or Internet. Our news was received at the post office window from handwritten posts. Most of those were people looking for other people or looking for firewood or a generator.

One day we came home from work and noticed everyone on our block had a new gas generator. We asked the neighbors where they got theirs and found out our county commissioners had asked a large box store to send two semi loads of generators to our county. They sold them at the courthouse steps, first come with $1,200 plus tax, no checks or credit cards accepted.  We didn’t get one; they were gone by the time we got home from work. Many people did not have a five gallon gas can and there was no where to get gas as all the pumps were down. Our local farm coop brought out their bulk fuel truck to help fill the gas cans. Cash only and only five gallons at a time.

It took over four years for our electric company to finish replacing electric poles.  Our electricity comes from a coal fired plant and with the blizzard, the train tracks were shut down for three days. It was a good thing that the electricity was off or they would have run out of coal. No trains across Western Kansas or Eastern Colorado for three days. No freight, no passengers, no movement.

When the local grocery store reopened, they had to close the next day because the store had a run on fresh vegetables, meats, water and most everything else. Milk was gone in ten minutes; people were hoarding thinking it was going to happen again tomorrow. The store was empty faster than a truck could get in to replenish the store shelves.

What did we do for seven days? I cooked on the propane grill with my cast iron cookware. We pulled out every quilt we owned and piled it on our beds. We had a battery operated clock and we used our kerosene lanterns. We rounded up our flashlights and ate our food that had been canned in the summer. We got cold, took hot showers and dived under the covers. We got tired of being cold and we called around to find a hotel room even if it was 150 miles away, they were all full. We went to work and did our jobs.  We were paid electronically, but could not find out if it actually made it to the bank or not. We had no way of getting cash. We stayed at home and did not go to the shelter as it may have been warm, but who wants to sleep on a concrete floor with people they don’t know. We tried to find a radio station, use our cell phones, find a newspaper and waited for the electric company. We watched as our trees were trimmed off the electric lines and watched as most all of our trees fell over with the ice. We were lucky our small town was able to keep on our water. Our pipes did not freeze. We communicated with our neighbors. We gave food to those who had none. We thanked God for heat on night six from a very expensive rented generator. We told our kids to remember this storm and always be prepared. We found out we rely on electricity way too much.

We now keep our gas cans and propane bottles full. We installed a wood stove and keep firewood. We have a gas generator for the freezers and refrigerator. We keep water on hand. We continue to can our garden and can up meats and other items. We continually work to have our life as it is with electricity even if we have no electricity.  We keep cash on hand as well as dry good items, like flour, popcorn and toilet paper. We are working to have two years of supplies.

Did FEMA ever show up?  Yes, eight days after the storm, and that was after electricity was restored to our town.  Did the National Guard show up?  Yes, four days into it with cases of water for the residents. They gave one case of water to each household that they could get to. The National Guard stayed at our high school for three weeks, there was no school in session. They patrolled our town day and night, they helped with people rescue, water distribution and passing out information.

Many people in the county were out of electricity for over a month. They were able to survive because they still live off the land and depend on their selves to help themselves.

The two things we learned during these seven days were: we had a lack of communication locally and world wide, and lack of heat. We installed a wood cook stove and are looking into other means of communication.

There was no run on the gas pumps or the stores in our small town because there was no way to exchange money for product. When electricity came on in the large regional town, everyone that could get to town was there. Then there was a run, everyone was looking for the same thing. The first to go was small propane bottles for gas grills. The next thing to go were all forms of heat, generators, inverters, gas cooking and heating stoves, wood for fireplaces, extension cords and accessories, batteries, matches, small electric heaters to hook up to generators. Other things like, flashlights, toilet paper, ice scrapers, gloves, blankets, cast iron skillets, metal spatulas, kerosene lanterns, hand can openers, crackers, popcorn, soda, cheese in a can, bottled water, paper items, bread and lunch meat. The large grocery store had no electricity for three days, but because people were hungry they bought what they could and then complained that it was spoiled, the milk, cheese and meats were not good, they had no refrigeration for three days, but people still bought the items. People complained that the shelves were empty even though they knew there was no transportation for three days, in or out.

When electricity was restored to our one regional town, people from three different states came from far and wide, which meant people were driving 100’s of miles to come to this one town. Vehicle gas was in short supply; firewood went for a premium in a few tree country. Batteries were non existent. There were lines at the fast food restaurants, and banks, water and ammo disappeared. Three days and people were hungry, cold and wanted a change.

There were also those who wanted someone, anyone, to come fix this problem and give them food, water, and heat. They didn’t care who it was, they just wanted their life as it was before the storm and only in their home. They would not go to a shelter, but expected someone to provide them with their lifestyle. They had no provisions.

Hospitals, long term care homes, prisons, sheriff departments, all were on generator power. Schools were not in session. Businesses were closed; city and county offices were closed. Banks and ATMs were closed. Convenience stores, gas pumps, grocery stores, restaurants, closed. No pizza delivery. No street lights, no noise, just dark silence.

The amount of reliance we have on electricity is amazing.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

While the quantity of FRN currency and coins on hand at a bank branch certainly makes or breaks one's ability to withdraw one's funds in a "run" situation, the overriding factor of which most depositors are completely unaware is that only checking accounts are "demand" accounts, meaning that you have a legal and immediate right to all of your money when you demand it. If you read the account disclosure fine print for your certificate of deposit (CD) or savings account, you will find that the bank is under no obligation to return your money when you ask for it, but only within the number of days specified in the account agreement (contract).

In practice a good bank will make every effort to return your funds when you request them, but in the case of a bank run or other situation that leaves them short of cash or even actual funds, the provision buys them with the time to acquire what they need to repay you from another bank or ultimately from the Federal Reserve.

So if you are concerned about being able to get your money out of the bank in a pinch, you need to keep it in a checking account. In that case even if your bank lacks the cash to honor your check you at least have the alternative of trying to cash it somewhere else. Above all, stay vigilant: Better to be a month too early than a day too late. Cheers, - Kevin W.


One of the best plans is to have money stored at your home, retreat, vehicle. Understandably not everyone is in a position to do this but something is better than nothing. I would recommend 100 of each of the bills. 100 x $1 ($100) 100 x $5 ($500) 100 x $10 ($1,000) 1000 x $20 ($2,000) plus $200 in coins. This creates a total of $3,800. This may seem a significant amount however WSHTF this frees up valuable time to get on the highways, escape the city and head to wherever it is you have planned. You won't have to try and get money from the bank or have to worry about paying increased gas prices along the way and it may help bribe your way through a road block. Just think what it is going to be like with millions of people across the country/world trying to get access to their money. The banks will simply close up and ration the amount you can have, if any at all.   - L.H.

Mr. Rawles,  
I recently have been going through the PCM/ECM/ECU vehicle engine/transmission control module nightmare. And it is a nightmare. Dealers typically won’t warrantee or allow return/refund on the vehicle computers unless they perform the diagnostics first. That’s a couple hundred bucks right there, before you get to buying the computer – which in my case for a 10 year old truck was $480, before sales tax. Then you have the labor to install it. Oh, and only the dealer can program it.  

So I started snooping around on Google.  Using the search terms “remanufactured PCM” and “remanufactured ECM” I found dozens of links to companies which sell preprogrammed vehicle computers [from wrecking yards] for all makes and models. And they are “plug and play”.  Meaning that a reasonably able person could put one in themselves.   And the prices seem to run about $150, rather than $500 or more.   All the caveats posted by earlier contributors about multiple computers on a vehicle, and other factors, still apply.   I only wanted to point out that there are other sources besides the dealers.  And their return policies, warrantees, and delivery beat the pants off the dealers to boot!   As always, caveat emptor – perform your own due diligence- YMMV.  - The Homesick Idahoan (Still behind enemy lines)

Thanks and God Bless for your wonderful blog. You do mankind a great good every day your site is up and passing information to the masses. Please keep it coming.

I find it a rare and surprising occurrence when my real world work experience and professional knowledge actually prove some use to the on-going threads found at SurvivalBlog. Since I'm a career Maitre' de in fine dining restaurants, it really isn't surprising; I seriously doubt anyone will be worried about wine vintages or the proper service of escargot after TSHTF. However I was pleasantly surprised after I read Andrew D.'s post on Forever Preps. I found his info extremely helpful, since I quickly added a few amendments to my master prep list, with many valuable links.

I must disagree with Andrew on his candle substitute option, the paraffin oil cartridges. I have chosen, purchased, and used dozens of varieties of paraffin oil cartridges, and the lamps that burn them, throughout my 25 year career and in my experience they would be next to useless in a survival situation. They work well for what they are, which is a simple light source used to provide ambiance. They give virtually no use-able light and generate very, very, little heat. Mainly, because they are not meant to do so and they cannot be opened or adjusted, since the tiny wick is part of the sealed self contained unit. I once had to purchase small penlights for my entire waitstaff due to the ineffectiveness of these items with dim room lights, much less total darkness. These units are inexpensive, well sized and store well, but unless you can rig an alternate adjustable wick, which I don't recommend, or transfer the oil to a proper lamp or lantern, I can't see recommending this over candles or larger containers of oil. You don't need the extra bother. However, I still trust candles as the ultimate back-up lighting. I live in the deep south and have also had candles melt to nothing in storage, so I tried a trick from a local candy vendor. This guy makes and sells Roman candy, i.e. taffy, from a horse drawn carriage even during the hottest summer days. To keep the candy from sticking and mal-forming when it's soft from the heat, he would roll a stick in several layers of over-sized waxed paper and simply twist the ends. I tried this and it works well for tall candles and tapers. However the larger and detailed candles may mal-form a bit upon hardening and lose details. Plastic wrap will also work, however it may stick to the re-hardened candle a bit. Thanks. - W.N.

I was tickled to see that SurvivalBlog was named as a recipient of a Stylish Blogger award by Judy of the Consent of the Governed blog.

This is a great exercise in fun and mutual back-scratching. Of course, as with any of these blog awards, there are rules. The “rules” that come along with this award designation are (1) I must divulge seven things about myself, and then (2) pay the Stylish Blogger Award forward to fifteen other blogs.

So here are seven things about me…

1.) I'm so secretive about the location of the Rawles Ranch that many of my friends don't know where it is. Nor my literary agent. Nor my book editors. Nor the movie and television producers. They simply don't have a "need to know" unless they come to visit. (And if you are wondering, no, I don't make them wear blindfolds.)

2.) I have a mania for collecting and restoring 1930s to 1950s vintage All-American Five vacuum tube AM-Shortwave radios that can operate on both AC and DC.

3.) I no longer rent table space at gun shows. But I still prowl the aisles at shows as far away as the SAR show in southern Arizona.

4.) Our family has a morning Bible study six days a week. I have found that it is an edifying way to both educate my children Biblically, add to my own knowledge, solidify our relationships, and prepare ourselves for turbulent coming events.

5.) I watch the movies Big Trouble in Little China and Groundhog Day at least once a year.

6.) Many of the plot details and the dialogue in my novels come to me in dreams. When get to a point where I'm stuck in writing, I just suggest to myself that I dream it, that night.

7.) I cannot ice skate or roller skate. (Thankfully, that is rarely required as a survival skill.)

Here are my Stylish Blogger Award honorees (in no particular order):

Old snipers never die. They just get better equipment.

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Reader Joe V. notes: Info World (via Ask Woody) revealed that solid state flash drives are nearly impossible to erase.  Joe's comment: "I guess that means 'hammer time.'"

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Mark H. mentioned the Time Travel Cheat Sheet. (That information would of course also be useful for a total TEOTWAWKI.)

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Luke in Pennsylvania sent a link to the U.S. Army's Preventative Maintenance magazine searchable database. Luke says: "It's usefulness in supplying relevant information depends upon your choice of search terms. For example with the right words, I found articles on: M4 bolt lug shearing and M14 maintenance.

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Jonesey in Alberta, Canada alerted us to an article that underscores the need for rural retreat security: 5,000 pigeons stolen from Fraser Valley farms

"And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.

For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. " - Jeremiah 21:8-10 (KJV)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm scheduled for a one hour interview with call-in questions from listeners tomorrow (Sunday, February 27th) with Michael Ruppert's Lifeboat Hour radio show at 9 p.m. eastern time. Please feel free to call in to the show if you have any preparedness questions that would be of interest to the majority of listeners. If you miss hearing the show, it will be available post facto as a downloadable podcast.

The SurvivalBlog.com Archives 2005-2010 for Kindle has just been updated to be more user friendly.

New features include:

  • Table of Contents
  • 700+ broken links fixed
  • Search Function (Tested thusfar on a Kindle 3 running v3.1 -- not guaranteed to work with earlier Kindles)

Note: Those of you who have already purchased the Blog Archives ebook, send an e-mail to: kdp-support@amazon.com with this info:

"KDP Team, Please update this ebook on my account. [insert the e-mail address of your Amazon account here] ASIN: B004OL2XQ0"

If the Search Function still doesn't work after you've updated to the new version then try the following:

  1. Update to the latest version of the system software on your Kindle.
  2. Wait for the Kindle to index the archive, which takes about one hour. (This is because the file is 21.2 MB.)

Anyone ordering the Archives for the first time (from February 25th onward) will get the improved version.


OBTW, you don't need a Kindle to use the mobile reader Archives. You can download one of Amazon's free Kindle ebook readers.

Want to buy a Kindle? There are several versions available.


Stay tuned for release of the HTML and PDF version on CD-ROM for PC and Mac laptops. After a brief glitch, it is back in Beta testing. Again, thanks for your patience.

We eventually plan to create another version for Sony, Nook, iPad and other readers in epub format. If any SurvivalBlog readers have personal experience and can recommend truly functional epub creator software, then we'd appreciate your advice. (Contact Sebastian Rawles via e-mail.)

As your storage foods--both wet-pack and dry-pack--near their expiry dates, I recommend that you consistently donate them to a food bank.

This approach has several advantages:

1.) You will be charitably helping the less fortunate.

2.) Food will not be going to waste.

3.) Your own larder will be stocked with fresher, more nutritionally- complete foods.

4.) You can take a tax deduction for your donation. (Be sure to get a signed receipt.)

If you are concerned about OPSEC when making donations, then drive 40+ miles to a food bank in a neighboring county.

Keep in mind that most food banks will not accept food that are out of date. So keep close track, and donate the foods at least six months before their marked expiry.

If for some reason you do lose track of an expiry date and have to discard foods, then I recommend that you save the containers. This has multiple "gains":

1.) It provides you containers that you can re-use. As I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, steel cans have umpteen uses, even if you don't own a can sealer.

2.) It reduces your OPSEC risk. (There will be no labeled cans for your trash collector to see.)

3.) Grains and vegetables can be composted. (Do not attempt to compost any meat food products.)If this is done gradually, some expired storage foods can also be used as livestock food supplements. But remember to rehydrate foods first (soaking them in water), and dole them out on small quantities to avoid any gastric distress.

Dear Editor:
I read your article on dairy goats, and would like to share some of our experience with dairy goats.  The article paints a two gallon a day picture, but it does not tell the whole story, and anyone reading it, I feel, should know there are drawbacks.  We had two goats for over a year and a half, and it was great, with five kids, and three of them under the age of four, we went through the full gallon a day that the two goats provided us.  it was a good experience, and the milk was fantastic, I couldn't believe it, I liked it more than cow milk even. 

However, the two goats stripped every square inch of bark off all of our trees in the yard, as high as they could get.  They are voracious eaters, and quite a few of our orchard trees had to be cut down, as they peeled them almost overnight it seemed.  They destroyed trees and our one mulberry tree that we worked diligently to get growing.  They also pushed with their horns on two of our windows to the point of breaking, and replacing the windows was not cheap.  Also, we found out that the mountain laurel leaves are toxic to them, as our oldest daughter at the time was feeding them to the two goats we had.  We eventually left them to the local 4H, and have since taken on chickens, to go along with our bee hives that we have had for over three years now.  Also, they need milked at least once, preferably twice a day, and on the days where it was 10 degrees out, and a foot of snow, the wife seemed to think that it would be best if I were the one doing the milking.

Goats were good and bad, and I hope people can at least see that it's not as simple as it appeared in the article I read.  I would get goats again, and definitely in a SHTF scenario would get them, but for now, until the SHTF I would stay away from them.  In total, the cost was no better than buying milk at the store, it came out about even.  However, knowing the quality of the milk we were getting made it worth doing. - Paris

The latest trend: "Mob Robbery" of convenience stores.

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US Government. Software Creates 'Fake People' on Social Networks to Promote Propaganda

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A reader in Heidelberg, Germany wrote to ask me about where to get outdoor survival training and where he could meet fellow preppers. I recommended doing a web search for local "adventure sport" clubs, like this one near Mannheim, Germany. There, folks will surely get some good hands-on training, and very likely meet other people that are preparing for "Das Ende der Welt, wie wir sie kennen."

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I stumbled across a "Mom and Pop" eBay store with an interesting inventory: The Survivalist Emporium

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F.G. flagged this piece about Nanny State Nord: Sweden mulls legality of the baseball bat.

"The right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of oppression, if they are strong enough, whether by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable." - Ulysses S. Grant

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hi Jim: 
I have been reading SurvivalBlog.com for several months now and have found it very interesting.  I purchased a 640 acre farm in 1970 in the Little Clay belt in Northern Ontario and started from scratch.  I was 25, not married and knew no one in the area when moved from a large urban city, six hours drive away.  It was daunting and I learned a lot of lessons the hard way.  Since I used up all my cash I also had to work out to make ends meet. Here are some of my thoughts in no special order:

1.  Treat your neighbours well.  It will pay off big time.  I had a field plowed when I could not.  Hay cut etc, etc.  Of course I helped out when I could.

2. I read entries by your readers about having livestock.  Depending where you live--I had to feed six months of the year--you have to grow and make feed.  This takes equipment, knowledge of hay varieties, proper storage and manure handling, et cetera. A good book in this regard is Feeds and Feeding by Morrison. In this regard selection of animal type can be very important esp. for a small scale farm.  My choices would be: 

Beef: Highland Cattle.  This breed came from Scotland and is very tough and can stay out side year round as long as they have a good wind break.  The cows are very good mothers, very protective and in case of an animal attack all the cows will gather the calves together and circle them.  I worked with a chap in the mountains of British Columbia who had a small herd and he said they would eat almost any vegetation. 

Dairy: My choice would be a Jersey cow.  They are on the small side, gentle and give milk that has a high fat content.  This is good of course for butter and cheese. 

Sheep: I liked the breeds that did not have wool on their faces.  Much easier when it came time to shear. 

Chickens: My vote goes for Red Rocks.  While they don't produce as well as egg-only breeds they are tough and I can keep them producing for three years.

3. Since I lived in a cold climate it is critical that once the weather turns cold to use the correct grade of diesel fuel.  In cold weather summer diesel will turn to jelly when it hit minus 30 C and colder.  If you have to start you tractor every day as I did you will need a block heater, a battery heater, thin engine oil and hydraulic fluid.  Also, make sure your injectors are in good condition and your glow plug works. 

4. Have a good dog.  I had wolves, bears, lynx and other critters around and the dog would let me know if something was poking around (people as well)

5. If you are going to purchase property make sure you ask if you own the mineral rights, any easements, water rights.

6. Have your water checked on a regular basis.  Also, have a test done to check trace minerals (esp. before you buy property) .  In the area where I lived there was a problem of natural occurring arsenic that caused the government to close many wells.   

The good news was that my jump from the big city went so well.  I learned many skills and made great friends and would not change the course of action I took.  While I was there I got married and the two girls had an education that most do not now have.  Also, I produced all my own meat, eggs, fruit and veggies.   If you are interested the Little Clay Belt is located 150 kilometers north of North Bay.  The main town (5,000 population) is  New Liskeard also known as Temisking Shores and is located at the top end of Lake Temisking on the Quebec border. 

I can get two cuttings of hay per season and close to 2,000 lbs of barley per acre.  Other farms in the area grow canola, oats, peas, wheat and some have tried out short season fodder corn. - P.H.

Note from JWR:

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

In a world where everything normal has been turned up-side-down and chaos and anarchy may be the order of the day, we will have to adopt a "security first" attitude.  Where our attitude today may be "trust but verify", our attitude post-TEOTWAWKI should be "verify then cautiously trust."  Whether it's dealing with a stranger in person or talking over the radio, we should exercise extreme caution and be on guard against providing information that someone with ulterior motives can use against us.

In a situation where a few people have provisions to sustain life but most people do not, there is a ready-made hostile environment for those who are prepared.  As soon as people consume what food and drinkable liquids they have in their homes and whatever they can manage to get from grocery and convenience stores, they will begin to realize the gravity of the situation.  And when they realize that the government isn't going to come to their rescue, they will begin to panic.  At that time, many people will feel justified in stealing and even killing to obtain food and water.  Desperate people who have never experienced hardship and who have always had everything they wanted can quickly become treacherous and ruthless in their pursuit of life's necessities.  Even people who were formerly your friends may be willing to do whatever is necessary to take what you have, whether by stealth or by force.

Many people will gather all of their guns and camping gear and head to the nearest lake or river where they will set up camp and stake out a "piece of water" and hope they can find food somewhere.  Others will just prowl around looking for someone who has what they want.  They will beg, trade, steal and eventually kill to get what they want.

It then becomes a matter of intelligence (information) gathering; to figure out where there is food and water and what it would take to get it.  The more intelligence that can be obtained about a target, the easier it is to take it down.

It may very well turn into a virtual "fox hunt" with you being the fox and the Golden Horde being the hounds trying to find the fox and his stash of supplies.

In that sort of environment, security is paramount.  An integral part of overall security is intelligence gathering.  Every bit of information your foe can gather about you enables them to formulate a plan to take what you have. If they can learn details about your "retreat", your level of security, your habits and your capabilities then they have a better chance of defeating you with the least amount of risk to themselves.

A sobering thought is that if people know that you have food, water, fuel for heating, lighting and cooking and they have none of these things, they will be willing to risk everything to get them.  They will also discover, sooner or later, that they cannot carry all of that stuff to their house, if they even have a house.  So, ultimately, the conclusion they will come to is to eliminate the current occupants so that they can just move in to your house.

You may not think of your house as a retreat.  That's because we currently don't have anything to fear from those around us.  If that changes, then our natural reaction is to withdraw from our surroundings and become wary and defensive.

A retreat compound is defined as an enclosure containing a house and outbuildings etc.  You may or may not have a fence surrounding your property.  If you do, your fence probably is not the type that would keep people out if they were determined to enter the property,  Whether you property is already fenced or not, a minimalist compound can be created by defining the perimeter of your property with a fence of other obstacles or with early warning devices and by "hardening" your defenses.

In military terms a "hard" target is one that has tight security and substantial defenses and a "soft" target is one that has neither security or defenses.

A hard target is one that would be difficult to successfully attack and a soft target is one that would be easy to successfully attack.  For example, as  it relates to terrorists, a hard target would be a nuclear power plant and a soft target would be a school or shopping mall.  The nuclear power plant has security measures such as a high, electric fence with razor wire on top and flood lights lighting the fence and perimeter and, defense measures such as armed guards with attack dogs patrolling the interior.  Schools and shopping malls have nothing to deter or to impede terrorists.

In order to harden your retreat you would strive to make it impossible or at least difficult for intruders to enter the property.  Since that isn't possible for most of us, the next best solution is to have an early warning system to at least alert those in the retreat of an intrusion.  There are commercially made systems available if money is not an issue.

The most expedient and economical solution is the old "wire and tin can" method.  This is simply small food cans or aluminum beverage cans strung on a wire and suspended a few inches above the ground. Large pebbles or marbles placed in the can.  When someone trips over the wire, it shakes the cans and the marbles rattles in the can.  Aluminum beverage cans  may be the best choice since they have a smaller opening in the top which would help to prevent the marbles from bouncing out.  You could also run the wire under the hole to make it even less likely that the marble would bounce out. punch a few small holes in the bottom of the can so that rain won't be caught in the can which would muffle the rattling sound.

The time to begin planning your defensive measures is now.  Don't wait until Schumer knocks on your door to start making plans because at that time there will be many other things to attend to and it will be difficult to concentrate on things like that.

Make a diagram of your retreat including all outbuildings, trees, pump houses, raised bed gardens, retainer walls etc.

After you have your diagram, the first thing to do is to walk the perimeter of your property and study your retreat from all angles.  Put yourself in the place of an attacker and think about how you would lay siege to that retreat.  Then think about measures you could take to thwart such an attack.  

As you think of things that you want to incorporate into your security system, write them down in list form.  If six months pass before it happens, you will not remember everything you thought about doing.

Things to consider:

1) Visibility:  What can you see from the various parts of your perimeter? Could people in the house see you; could you approach the house without being seen; what can you see inside the house; can you see exterior doors; can you see beyond the house on one or both sides; can you see outbuildings and can you tell what they are being used for.  You should also go through your house and look out each window to determine the parts of your retreat that cannot be seen from inside the house.  These blind spots will require additional attention.

2) Cover and Concealment: "Concealment" is defined as any obstacle that conceals you from view but would not stop a bullet from hitting you if you were hiding behind it. Examples of concealment would be weeds, a bush or even a thin wall.  "Cover" is defined as anything that provides a measure of protection from bullets.  Examples of cover would be a rock wall, a large tree or even a ditch.

Are there any items of cover or concealment on your retreat that an attacker could take advantage of i.e. weeds, brush, trees, old vehicles, farm equipment, raised bed garden, unused structures; what could an attacker see from behind each of these.

Consider removing weeds and bushes that provide concealment.  Also consider removing old vehicles and unused structures from the property and moving farm machinery to an area where it would not benefit an attacker.

Write down, in list form, your observations and ideas for hardening your retreat.  

Once you determine where your strong defensive areas are and where your weak areas are, draw out on your diagram where you would put your early warning systems.  Your early warning systems should first be located in the most likely avenues that an intruder would take to get to the house and also the most vulnerable sides of the retreat.  You may want to draw those in red or otherwise indicate that those are the most important.  After that, draw in other early warning stretches to construct if you have enough wire and cans.  Avoid simply running a straight line of wire around your property.  Take advantage of existing objects to attach the wire to such as fences, power poles, clothes line poles, etc.  If you have enough wire and cans,  consider running staggered and overlapping stretches.  Be sure to draw out each one on the diagram so you have as little as possible to think about when the time comes.  Cans can also be wired to bushes and existing fences to provide additional coverage.

Next, identify the areas of cover that an enemy would likely utilize.  Determine what advantage he would have in taking that position.  Also determine what action you could take to defeat him in that position.  For example, if he is taking cover behind a tree, is there a position of cover that you could move to where he would be exposed?  This information will aid you in determining the defensive positions for you defenders.  In the case of a tree, where the tree is barely wide enough to conceal his body, he will be partially exposed if two defenders can move to each side far enough to form a 45 degree angel to the tree.

Consideration can be given to rendering a position of cover untenable or at least uncomfortable.  A wooden stand-off can be made of old lumber and secured to the back side of a tree to prevent some body from being able to get close enough to the tree to be concealed.

In the case of a berm or low wall where an attacker would have cover only when laying or kneeling behind the object, broken bottles could be strewn in that area.

If you have a wood pile, consider moving it (when the time comes) into you back yard or other position near the house.  This will help prevent it from being used by an attacker as a position of cover or for a means of ambush on a group member retrieving wood.  The wood pile could also be used to construct defensive positions or to camouflage their purpose.

If you have blind spots (areas of your retreat that cannot be seen from inside the house) give special consideration to how you can make it difficult for an attacker to take advantage of that.  One possibility is to mount a mirror or a wide angle rear view mirror on the outside of the house next to a window so that you can look out the window at the mirror and see down the side of the house where the blind spot is.  Mount it as high as possible so that it isn't as likely to get knocked off.

If you have places in the outer part of your retreat where you don't normally need to walk, you could dig random holes about a foot wide and a foot deep.  If an intruder manages to get past your early warning system at night, he may step in a hole and fall, making a noise. [JWR Adds: All defensive measures on your property that might cause bodily harm should be taken only after a complete societal collapse. Otherwise, you might be sued by an injured trespasser. We live in a litigious society!]

Determine where your defensive positions will be on all sides of the house.  Do not use windows as defensive positions because you don't want your windows broken out,and you don't want to frame yourself as a target. Your defensive positions should be outside of the house.  Ideally, each position should be such that the defenders can be re-supplied from the house and also to enable them to retreat into the house if necessary.  Ideally, each defender should be able to see and communicate with at least one other defender.

Assign each defender a permanent position so that there is not confusion about who is going to what position.  A cache for each position should be maintained in the house near the closest door leading to the respective positions.  The cache should consist of the firearm assigned to a given member, ammo for that weapon, a hat or cap to shade the sun and a tactical flashlight.  In cold or rainy weather it should also include appropriate attire.  The idea is to minimize the time spent getting people to their assigned positions and to ensure that they arrive with everything they will need.

If you have a position that has only short ranges because of a solid wall or buildings close by, this defender should be assigned a shotgun since they are most effective at close range.

Use whatever materials you have on hand to build or enhance a defensive position.  Burlap sacks from pinto beans and rice could be filled with sand or dirt to enhance a position.

Your vehicles can be positioned so that they provide a defensive position.  Park them close to the house so that your position can be on one side of the vehicle.  Try to position vehicles so that they are close to a door in the house for easy access.  The engine compartment and wheels provide the best protection from bullets.  If vehicles are left a distance from the house, they provide a position of cover to an attacker.

Ensure that there is sufficient coverings over the windows to prevent light from candles and lanterns from being seen outside.  This is an indicator to potential attackers that someone lives there and that they have provisions.

A defender should be on guard duty 24/7.  This is not a happy thought, but it is imperative unless you live in a remote area where you are sure there are no other people.  It will be especially difficult if there are only 3-4 competent members to rotate shifts.  The night shifts will be the most difficult and especially in the winter.  You can't see or hear well enough from the inside the house to be effective and therefore the night guard will need to spend most of the shift outside the house.  The ideal position for the night guard would be on the roof, however, most of us don't have easy access to the roof without using a ladder.  Also, constant walking on the roof will damage the shingles causing the roof to leak.

The most dangerous time of day for an attack is at first light.  That is the when the attackers can see where they are going and that is when the members of the retreat are either still asleep or are thinking about breakfast and changing guards. [JWR Adds: This also explains the long tradition of pre-dawn and dusk "Stand To", in armies around to world.]

The aluminum can cans on your early warning system will reflect moonlight.  This can be both a benefit and a disadvantage.  The disadvantage is that it might enable an intruder to see the early warning system and to avoid it.  To prevent this, spray the back side and top of the can with flat black spray paint.  Do not paint the side facing the house.  If light reflects off the cans toward the house, you will be able to see if someone walks between you and one of the cans.

When you are speaking to a stranger, never provide information about yourself, your family or your situation.  If a stranger comes to your retreat asking for help, be cordial and help to whatever extent you can or are willing, but be suspicious of them and do not let your guard down.  Regardless of how congenial they are and how desperate they may seem, don't become complacent.  Even if they are genuine, they are still on an intelligence gathering mission, whether they realize it or not.  Like a stray dog that learns where to get a hand-out, they are making a mental note of what kinds of supplies you have and what they might expect to get from you in the future.

Never assume that what you see is all that there is.  While one person is talking to you at the front of the house, several others could be approaching the house from behind or even from all sides.  Or, others may be watching from a distance to see what your reaction is to the person approaching the retreat.

Any time a stranger approaches your retreat, all defenders should be alerted to take their positions while two members deal with the stranger.  Everyone should maintain their positions until the stranger leaves and is well clear of the retreat.

Do not allow a stranger to approach the house.  Stop them a distance from the house.  The closer they get to the house, the more intelligence they can gain.  One member should go out to them and see what they want.  Another member should observe from a short distance.  This member should be armed and capable to deal with the stranger in the event it is a trap.  If you decide to give assistance, do not tell him/her what provisions you have and do not allow them to follow you.  The  member talking with the stranger should retrieve the supplies while the other member continues to observe them.

Be on guard about answering any questions they might ask about the retreat or the occupants.

If any of the defenders see other strangers, the entire retreat should be alerted to a possible attack, including those dealing with the stranger.  If it is a matter of seeing other people observing from a distance, the stranger should be questioned to get as much information about their group and their intentions as possible.  Intelligence gathering is equally important to you as it is to an adversary.

In the foregoing situation, the person coming to your retreat could obtain a lot of intelligence about your situation such as how many people are there, if they are armed and, if so, the type and number of weapons, whether the security in and around the house is tight, relaxed or non-existent, what supplies you have and where they are stored.  They can also get a close-up look at your defenses and security measures.

The information that that person takes away from their encounter with you may make the difference between having your retreat assaulted or not.  If they noticed that security was tight and that the retreat is hardened, they may just move on and look for an easier target.


You can't have too much wire.  In addition to lots of wire for your early warning system, you will need wire for many other projects.  It's a good idea to have various gages of wire since different applications require different gage and strength wire.  Your early warning system should have wire that does not reflect light and that is strong enough that it won't break if somebody trips over it.  Army surplus stores carry military trip wire that comes on a wooden spool.  Half of each spool is green to blend with grass and half if it is yellow to blend with sand or fall leaves.  It is designed to be used with booby traps and illumination flares. 


Ideally, each retreat should be equipped with enough long guns to arm each person who is competent enough to handle one effectively.  Handguns should be reserved for only close quarters combat.  A shotgun should only be assigned to those members who understand the advantages and limitations of the weapon and who have had experience shooting one.  A shotgun is an ideal weapon for repelling attackers as long as the person using it understands the effective range of each type of shell and uses it accordingly.  Shotgun shells come in a variety of loads, from small lead shot for bird hunting to a 1 oz. slug for hunting big game.  Bird shot is useful at closer ranges, generally out to about 25 yards.  

Various sizes of larger shot are also available, from BB to 00 Buckshot.  The larger the shot, the greater the effective range.  The ubiquitous 00 Buckshot can be effective out to about 50 yards depending upon the brand.  A shotgun slug can be accurate to 100 yards and beyond and it is effective at whatever distance you can hit the target.  Shotguns are faster to engage a target than a rifle because they don't require as precise of a sight picture, unless you are using a slug.  The drawbacks of shotguns are: they have a limited cartridge capacity requiring you to reload them frequently, the shells are large and bulky making it difficult to use in a situation where you need to carry a large amount of ammo, and having the right type of load in the gun at the time when you need it.

Someone using a shotgun in a defensive situation should be very discriminating and conservative about his shots.  Where it would not be unusual to go through 100 rounds of ammo with a carbine in a firefight, the same amount of ammo for a shotgun is a lot of ammo.


With no electricity, most after dark activities will be conducted by lamp, lantern or candle light.  One huge exception is security.  A flashlight is a must for night time security.  Another must is to have a flashlight with a push button on/off switch that can be manipulated with one finger.  When you are on night watch duty, you will need to be able to use a flashlight with your weak hand while maintaining a firing grip on your weapon with your strong hand.  The weak hand holds the flashlight in alignment with the barrel of the weapon while supporting the fore end of the weapon with the back of the wrist.  If you hear or see something that leads you to believe that someone is approaching the retreat, the weapon is aimed in the direction where you think the intruder may be and the flashlight is then turned on just long enough to determine if there is someone there, and if so, to determine if he is a threat or not.

In tactical situations, you need to be able to turn the light on and off quickly.  The only time you use the light is to briefly check a suspicious movement/noise.  Each time you turn the light on, you identify your location to a potential enemy and you also compromise your night vision.  For that reason, the light should not be on any longer than necessary and, after you turn it off, you should move to one side or the other if possible.  If an enemy decides to shoot at you, he will shoot at the light.  If the light goes off before he shoots, he will try to shoot where he last saw the light.

It's difficult to imagine having too many flashlights.  I think the average retreat with 5-6 adults should have at least 10 flashlights, six or more of which should be the tactical variety since every defender should have one.  Any flashlight can be used for doing chores where a lamp or candle is not practical, but the tactical flashlights should be reserved for only security purposes.  Also, the best light for doing chores is a head lamp which leaves both hands free to work.

Flashlights often get broken or the switch malfunctions.  For that reason it's a good idea to have enough spares to allow for some loses.  Currently, flashlights are cheap, unless you are talking about Surefire or Streamlight.  While these lights are great tactical lights, they have one drawback: they use expensive, odd size [CR-123] batteries.  And for the price of one of those you could buy 10 less expensive flashlights.

I am a firm believer in standardization and redundancy where possible.  I try to buy as many electrical devices as I can that utilize AA batteries.  That way you just buy one type of battery and it works in everything from flashlights to radios, to beard/hair trimmers.   And you don't have to guess how many batteries you will need for each device.  For $50 at Costco you can get a lot of AA batteries and if you use a flashlight only when absolutely necessary, they will last a long time.

Tactical flashlights should always have fresh batteries in them since it is critical to be able to see as well as possible if you are being attacked at night.  As the batteries in the tactical lights begin to lose power, they should be changed to a utility light or head lamp where maximum output isn't critical.

Now is the time to begin collecting cans.  I recommend saving aluminum beverage cans and a good assortment of food cans, especially the larger sizes food cans.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation we may find several uses for them and the availability will be limited at that time.  In addition to making improvised cook stoves as I outlined in my previous SurvivalBlog article "Off The Grid Cooking", they may be useful for repairing or fabricating other things.  For example, I recently built a rocket stove from materials that I had on hand.  To make the outer shell of the stove I cut the bottom out of a popcorn tin and attached it, end to end, with another popcorn tin using metal cut from food cans and riveted to the popcorn tins.  With the exception of the electric drill to drill the holes for the rivets, I made the outer shell using only hand tools and improvised materials.  It would have been more difficult to make using a hand drill, but now impossible.

I know that storage space is a problem for most of us, however aluminum and steel cans can be stored in the attic where it is normally too hot to store most things.  Bottles and jars will also store just fine in the attic with the exception of canning jar lids.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, we will not be able to run to the store every time we need something.  We will have to improvise with what we have on hand.  We may have to make repairs on the house (especially the roof), bike tires and inner tubes, clothing and anything else we use frequently.  We may also need to make something from scratch such as a holster, sling or a knife sheath.  We may even need to fabricate something completely unique.  For that reason, it is advisable to have on hand a good assortment of materials to work with.

For those of us who plan on "bugging in", there will be a lot of work to do in a very short period of time if the bottom falls out over night.  A lot of that work will require tools and various materials.  Since we may not have electricity, I recommend acquiring some basic hand tools if you don't already have them.

Some of the projects on my list of things to do are: 1) move the wood pile to the back yard and use what "T" posts and fencing I have to build a fence on the back side to discourage thieves; 2) put up an early warning system; 3) build an outhouse; 4) dig a small pond in a natural drainage to catch rain water.

All of these things requires tools.  I have compiled a list of items that I want to have on hand to accomplish these tasks.  I have also included other items that I think would be good to have on hand.

  • Wire (lots)
  • Hanger wire
  • Brace and Bit (old style hand drill)
  • Drill bits
  • Wood saw
  • Pruning saw
  • Tree limb loppers
  • Axe
  • Hacksaw
  • Hammer
  • Sledge hammer
  • Screw drivers
  • Pliers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Diagonal cutters
  • Good quality tin snips
  • Vise grips
  • Pop rivet gun & rivets
  • Files
  • Crescent wrenches (2)
  • Shovel
  • Assorted length deck screws
  • Assorted nails & tacks
  • Roofing nails
  • Assorted cotter pins
  • Large hinges
  • Utility knives
  • Propane torch with extra bottles of propane
  • Paracord
  • Clothes line cord
  • Rope Lamp cord
  • Heavy weight fishing line
  • Caulking gun
  • Indoor/outdoor silicone caulk 
  • Tubes of Liquid Nails or construction adhesive
  • Heavy gage clear or translucent plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Flat black spray paint
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Assorted leather
  • Leather punch
  • Leather lacing material
  • Rivet setting punch & anvil for leather work
  • Assorted length rivets
  • Extra bicycle tubes
  • Tube patch kit
  • Foot pump
  • Miscellaneous lumber

A good place to look for many of these items is your local Habitat For Humanity Thrift Store and hardware store discount bins.  Amazon has brace and bits but they can often be found at antique stores too.  Make sure that they work well before you buy them.

If you should happen to have a window broken out, you will want the heavy gauge translucent plastic sheeting to replace it.  It's hard to heat a house with a window out.

I fully endorse what others have said about 2 liter bottles.  I would include gallon and half gallon juice bottles.  They are great for storing sugar, rice, corn meal, black eye peas, baking soda and other things that you don't purchase in large enough quantities to put into 5 gallon buckets.  Also food from a 5 gallon bucket can be transferred to plastic bottles for immediate use making it easier to access the food and still keeping it sealed.

These bottles are also good for giving food or water to someone passing by.  Because of the flat shape of the half gallon juice bottles they would be good for UV light sterilization of questionable water.


I have determined to stop giving old clothes to the thrift stores.  In a full grid-down situation, we here in the southwest will be hard pressed to get enough water to drink and cook with let alone for washing clothes.  I suspect that we will have to wear a set of clothes until we can't stand them any longer and then dispose of them.  And we may only get a bath when it rains.


I have been stocking away Lava brand bar soap.  Lava soap was more common years ago.  It is impregnated with bits of pumice and was typically used by mechanics to cut grease and oil off their hands.  It lasts forever because it doesn't generate gobs of suds like other bar soaps do.  For that reason it takes less water to rinse the soap off.  And the pumice would probably feel pretty good if you hadn't taken a bath in months.  The only place I have found it lately is at a Dollar Store.   

[JWR Adds: The preceding article might at first glance seem to be a rudimentary approach to retreat security to folks that are advanced preppers. Concertina wire, trip flares, night vision gear, infrared illuminators, and electronic intrusion systems are all great, but just keep in mind that they aren't in everyone's budget. And your preparedness timetable may be shorter than you think--so those goodies might not be available at any price. So it is important to know how to revert to the "old school" approach that Chino describes.

I recently took a job that requires a short automobile commute of about ten miles into a nearby small city of 60,000. After a few months I finally got around to packing a ‘get home’ kit to store in my car. The city in question has very few routes out of it. My normal commute is on a highway that travels through a marsh/wetlands area. The other possible routes are along surfaces streets that lead out of the downtown area through very bad neighborhoods until breaking into suburban areas.

In the event of a large scale emergency or ‘unrest’ in the city there would be a simultaneous flood of workers out of the downtown area which would tie up all routes out of the city. My plan is to attempt to drive out of the city on the highway route and possibly abandon the car if the gridlock becomes too bad. Then proceed on foot through the wetland and forested areas adjoining the highway.

For my job I am required to dress ‘business casual’. These types of clothes will not hold up well in a trek through marshland and if I was forced to walk home through the city these clothes would attract unwanted attention. With this in mind the kit contains a pair of Columbia brand hiking boots, two changes of socks, change of underwear, Underarmor long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, ski mask (as a hat in cold weather/towel in summer), a pair of gloves, poncho and a change of pants. Changing into a new set of clothes would be my immediate priority once I got to my vehicle.

For hydration and energy on the route home the kit contains four bottles of water and a Datrex 2,400 calorie bar. Many of the items in the bag are wrapped in black plastic bags. These bags will be useful in keeping items waterproof when moving through marshland area. The kit also contains a headlamp for hands free light. Even though the walk is only ten miles there is a possibility of having to camp out in the forested areas on the route home. For that reason the kit includes an emergency blanket/bivy, Coleman Strike-A-Fire Fire Starters, Leatherman Micra multi-tool, compass/whistle/thermometer combo and matches. For hygiene I included tube of hand sanitizer and Band-Aids.

As a previous article mentioned the kit contains cash (small bills) and assorted coins for possible use in payphones. After years of living in the city I realized that the sound of jingling coins can bring unwarranted attention. With that experience I learned to wrap and fold the coins in a piece of paper so that they do not touch or jingle. For protection if I am forced to go through the city the kit contains a Buck folding knife and pepper spray. Although not packed in the kit itself my car contains maps of the two adjacent counties and an umbrella. As time goes on this kit will undergo constant tweaking based on seasonal needs and based on a test run of the strategy in the near future. Once I get home safely a whole new plan goes into effect.

Wishing You All The Best,- G.M.B.

James Wesley,
I have been trying to take the blinders off my wife’s family.  While they are not ready to don tin foil hats with me yet, they definitely don’t think I am quite as eccentric as I was before.  A failing economy can do that for people.  I did have an interesting conversation with my Sister-in-Law though concerning banking.  She is a branch manager of a bank;  a very large banking institution.  I don’t want to say the name, but as of 20 minutes ago, they have over 24,000 branches and ATM locations around the world.  I asked her a couple of questions.  What is the average amount in a savings account in her bank?  And how much money does the bank have on hand on a given day?   

The numbers shouldn’t have surprised me, but they did.  The average amount in a savings account is about $1,200, but she said the numbers are really skewed as there are a few accounts that have lots, but most only have enough to keep the account open.  She said that most just keep the account open so they have a place to cash their checks.   The more shocking answer, was the total amount of cash on hand [for all of the tellers].  She said that the average that she keeps on hand is $16,500 in paper, and about $2,000 in coins.  She said that twice a month they would double the cash on hand to accommodate pay cycles.  So the most that this bank will ever have available is about $35,000.   

Given that people with money have their pulse on the economy, they will know when it is time to pull their money out.  If just one or two were to show up at my Sister-in-Law's bank to cash out.  That’s it.  In less than two minutes her bank will be empty of paper cash funds.  Sure, she can call in and have a truck bring more in.  But if every bank is in a similar situation, will any banking institution, no matter how big, be able to keep up with demand?  The answer is no!   I am sure that there are bigger banks with more money in the metropolitan areas, but there are also more people and that creates more risk of pandemonium when the coffers dry up.   

The short answer is: Keep a good balance or options with your wealth.  Have cash, silver, ammo, food, etc.  You will not be able to pay your house payment in 7.62 Ball just yet, but when/if that time does come, I doubt the bank will be asking for a payment anyway.  If nothing else having physical wealth (tangibles) that is at your house/retreat/cache/safety deposit box, whatever, is going to be more important that the 3% interest that you might be getting at the bank. 

If, God forbid, something should happen to you and your assets are in the bank, when you die the State and Federal Government will take a very large portion of that “already been taxed” money and “allow” your heirs to have the rest. But if it is in silver/gold/ammo/guns/other tangibles, then it just changes hands.   Thanks, - A.K.J. in North Carolina

Most computerized gas engine vehicles built before 1996 (OBD-I) have a permanent computer memory module called a Mem-cal or PROM (programmed read-only memory) which can be stored indefinitely or used as-is from a parts house or junkyard. OBD-II vehicles, generally 1996 and later, all use the writable E-PROM which requires a specialized program and equipment to re-write. Also, the newer the OBD-II vehicle, the more computers it is likely to have. However only the module(s) for the power train are mission-critical. E-PROMs are more delicate than the older PROMs and sometimes require "re-flashing" to restore functionality. Obviously, the older style would be preferable in a grid-down situation. - Dave B. in Texas


Greetings JWR:
Thanks for all your hard work on SurvivalBlog, I look forward to reading it every day.

This is regarding Jim S. in Ohio's letter on EMP prepping his 2006 F250 Diesel. There are multiple modules on the vehicle that would need to be purchased, "flashed" and stored for EMP "Disaster Recovery", just to make the vehicle run. Many of these modules are vehicle specific due to calibrations, and would need to be "flashed" by the dealer at an additional expense.  To do this properly, one would work closely with their Ford Service Center to procure the proper parts and arrange to have them installed and flashed.  Once tested and verified, you could reinstall the originals or keep the new working pieces and store the originals in EMP protective cases/containers with the tools needed to replace them. The saving grace in Jim's case is the F250 Diesels did not have the Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS) keys, I believe that started in 2008 for the F250.

This would require additional key programming and another "interrogator" as it is nothing more than an antenna, and possibly subject to EMP itself. You can find the interrogator coil in a plastic "halo" surrounding the shroud on the ignition switch.  Ford vehicles use different models of PATS over the years, each is specific to the vehicle model and year.  Each key has a specific code (128 bit or 3.402823669209e+38), which must be programmed in to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) by the user, or dealer - depending on the version.  Without the proper key type and code, there is no fuel or spark initiated at start up - it just cranks.

My recommendation for PATS type vehicles is to use the two factory keys to prepare three additional keys. Keys 1 and 2 are the factory keys and get locked in a safe - do not use them. Key 3 is used as your "daily use" key.  Key 4 is your "EMP Event" key - treat it accordingly and store it hidden, inside the vehicle. Key 5 is a non-PATS key, cut twith teh intent of opening the doors, unlocking the steering and running accessories. It is stored where accessible (home, work, wallet).

If and when the 3rd key gets lost or destroyed, the 5th key (or a rock) is used to gain access to the vehicle and the 4th key is used to get you home. Later, keys 1 and 2 are used to add an additional key.

Notice "add", since not all vehicles let you remove keys. This is a potential security issue as the person with that key could still operate your vehicle, just not to make new keys.

Should our region be hit with EMP, I have a flash programmer that can be used to install a custom tune which removes PATS, all limiters/codes and allows me to run on substandard/alternative fuels.   This is my cost effective alternative to purchasing a specific, EMP resistant vehicle.  This will work for file corruption, but not for a total PCM failure. Thanks, - Fred in Washington

Some pointed observations by Tam over at View From the Porch blog: "Armorer" ≠ "Gunsmith". I agree wholeheartedly. FWIW, my favorite real gunsmith is John Taylor, at Taylor Machine in Puyallup, Washington. He is a master gunsmith that can do things like re-line barrels or make replacement cylinders for revolvers from scratch. For example, I once sent John antique (pre-1899 production) 7.63mm Broomhandle Mauser pistol that was an absolute disaster, and he sent me back a perfectly-functioning gun that was re-bored to 9mm Parabellum, equipped with an OBI detachable 20 round magazine, and completely restored (with bluing expertly done by Mel Doyle.) This is a gorgeous gun that I'm sure someday my grandchildren will quarrel over when its time to divvy up the inheritance.

   o o o

G.G. sent this from The New York Times: The Rich, the Famous, the Armed. When gun-hating Mayor Bloomberg took office, he inherited a decades-long scandal of favoritism in issuing firearms permits. He hasn't done much to reduce the problem, and there is evidence that he is now personally intertwined in the scandal, with his own instances of permit favoritism and nepotism. Apparently Bloomberg wants those evil guns "off the streets", except for those owned by special people.

   o o o

More Schumer from Mr. Schumer: Senator wants to mandate background checks for all gun sales. Perhaps someone should tell the Senator that private commerce between private citizens that live in the same state (intrastate) is outside of any Federal jurisdiction created by the interstate commerce clause. (Thanks to Bryan E. for the link.) Oh, and in a related article, we learn that Mayor Bloomberg is a co-conspirator in Schumer's schume scheme. That is hardly a surprise. Those of us that live in the boonies west of the Rockies are amazed how much clout a handful of New York millionaire Democrats wield in national politics.

   o o o

Sue C. sent us this: 4,500 Chinese escape Libya by sea; Americans stuck.

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Kevin S. sent this: Rivers in the sky Atmospheric bands of water vapor can cause flooding and extreme weather  

"As the state grows, one’s sense of self-ownership is destroyed, liberty is traded for "security," the human spirit diminishes, and the citizenry increasingly thinks and behaves like dependent children." Eric Englund, in an essay titled Income Taxes, Obesity, and Other Maladies of Nanny Statism, 2005.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

As a self-confessed budgeting fanatic, I’ve constrained my prepping budget on a monthly basis where I spend in one month what I made the previous month.  For example, I spend money in February that I earned in January, and so on.  Given the uncertain times, I never want to be “on the hook” with paying for things with “future money”. 

So confession out of the way, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start with your preparations.  I know all about the rule of 3, etc., but when it comes down to it, there really are a lot of choices.  Furthermore, when you begin to adopt a more preparedness-focused lifestyle, it can become overwhelming how many things need to be rotated on a regular basis.  Being married to a spreadsheet (and a wonderful, Godly woman), I’ve solved this problem by myself using some complex Excel functions that scan my “lists of lists” for a “Y” or “N” in the “Rotate” column, cross reference it with the “Rotation Days” column (this column contains the number of days that an item can sit before being rotated), and then adds to this information from the “Costs” column, which contains up-to-date information on the costs of the rotated item (e.g., 50 AA batteries).  This information is then compared against the dates in the “Date of Purchase” column, which is finally compared against “Today’s Date”.  All told, this allows me to open up the spreadsheet and see a forecast of items that need to be rotated, how much they cost, and when the rotation needs to occur.
But enough of that.  The title of this entry is “Forever Preps” because I enjoy making up words and also because all of this time and effort spent on rotating supplies really makes me appreciate the preps that I have that can be stored indefinitely, without ever really thinking about them again.  Please note that I’m not saying that these preps never need to be checked for damage, integrity, etc., I’m just saying that they last forever when stored and/or cared for properly.  This saves me a lot of headaches, and will probably be of great interest to like-minded preparedness readers. 

Furthermore, I’ll make the argument that one could even start preparing for the future with only Forever Preps, just because they are often the simplest and cheapest forms of preparedness available.  They are also a lot less intimidating to new preppers.  Think about this – is it easier to have a storage plan for gasoline, which has a very short shelf life, or salt, which is the quintessential Forever Prep?  Nothing is a substitute for a comprehensive plan, but this might get some people out of their desk chairs and into prep mode.

Here’s a list of my 15 favorite Forever Preps, and I’d love to hear from the readers of SurvivalBlog about their favorites as well.  Where appropriate, I’ve tried to include as much third party validation of the shelf life, and of the uses, of these Forever Preps.  Finally, of course, the assumption is made that all of these Forever Preps will be stored in the ubiquitous “cool, dry place”. 

Forever Prep #1: Salt
It’s ultra-cheap, doesn’t take up much space, and you can’t live without it.  In fact, entire wars have been fought over this now common mineral.  While most of us have enough salty foods, table salt, canned goods (tons of salt in there!) and other ways to get salt in a short-term emergency, unless you leave near a salt mine or ocean there’s no way to easily produce it by yourself if the Schumer hits the fan.  
I buy salt in solid block form (like a deer lick) and table salt in boxes (Kosher salt) or in other containers, such as the one pound canisters.  I transferred much of the table salt I’ve accumulated into glass mason jars so that moisture can’t get in and turn the granular salt into a solid block.   Some plain white rice stored in the jars will prevent this as well (and consequently will be preserved forever, although at questionable nutritive value).

By using 6 teaspoons of sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 1 liter of water you can make your own emergency rehydration drink in the event you pick up a diarrhea-inducing disease or parasite.  This small step can save your life, even in a short-term disaster.  Dying of a lack of salt is not a pleasant way to go, and is sadly a grisly part of why all of those people are dying of cholera in Haiti.  Salt can also be used to sanitize instruments for surgery and a host of other applications.

For a fascinating list of about 70 other uses for common table salt, check out the Saltworks web site.  Everything from brightening your colors to removing tattoos is covered!

Forever Prep #2: Honey & Sugar
I put these two Forever Preps together because they are similarly awesome.  Everyone knows that 2500+ year old honey has been found in the Egyptian pyramids and it still flows and tastes great today.  While honey contains certain micronutrients and other retreats that sugar does not, they both are sweet, calorically-rich, and are certainly some of my favorite Forever Preps.  It’s very important to have sturdy containers for these for long term storage, such as metal 50 cal ammo boxes or the like, so that rodents don’t get into them.

What most people don’t know is that aside from being delicious, honey and sugar both have antibacterial properties can be safely used to treat wounds in emergency and everyday situations.  Emerging research is confirming what people around the world have known for a long time – sugar and honey are effective antimicrobials and can take on even the toughest antibiotic-resistant bugs.   I personally know of a doctor that worked in Haiti after the earthquake that instructed the Haitians to create a paste out of sugar, a resource plentiful in the otherwise impoverished country, to treat wounds as opposed to waiting for traditional antibiotics.  This was especially important in Haiti, where uninformed Haitians would often split a single prescription’s worth of antibiotics among family members, doing more harm than good. 

And in case you wanted more reasons to stock up on these Forever Preps, here’s a list of alternative uses for sugar, which covers everything from trapping cockroaches to removing paint residue. 

Forever Prep #3: “Dry” Bleach
This has often been covered by various sources on SurvivalBlog, but so-called “dry” bleach (pure Calcium Hypochlorite) lasts forever.  If you go a little crazy and buy two 25 lb boxes of it from a big box store, you can make a solution that can purify about 4 million gallons of water!  And, by the way, this Forever Prep is also very cheap (about $45-$50 for 25 pounds) and takes almost no storage space. 

You must store dry bleach extremely securely if you have even a remote risk of an unauthorized person gaining access to it.  A child or pet could be fatally poisoned by only a small amount of calcium hypochlorite.  You could also get sick if you don’t use it appropriately to purify water with the correct chemistry.  I store my containers in their original packaging in a metal locker, with high visibility instructions and warnings all over the inside of the locker and secured to the buckets themselves in waterproof plastic sleeves. JWR has posted the correct mixing ratios for use. (See the SurvivalBlog archives.)

And although the list is much shorter, here’s a list of 12 things you can do with bleach from Reader’s Digest.  It’s interesting to me that so far Salt, Sugar, and Bleach can all be used to prolong the life of cut flowers.  Not exactly a TEOTWAWKI priority, but hey, if the world doesn’t end at can at least be beautiful at your retreat location!

Forever Prep #4: Most Hand Tools
Unless you live in a very humid or salty environment, basic hand tools will last practically forever.  My favorite hand tools are made with all steel (e.g., Estwing) or steel and fiberglass construction.  Although often beautiful, I don’t care much for wooden handled tools simply because they are more prone to breakage.  I’m sure at least one reader will make the argument that a tool’s handle can be easily replaced if it’s broken, but remember that I don’t want any additional things to worry about, so the less prone to breakage the better.

Basic hand tools, such as a hammer, file, saw, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, crescent wrenches, pliers, and the like, can take a real beating and be useful in a myriad of ways before, during, and after a disaster.  They can help construct defensive or offensive structures, act as force multipliers in an attack, and even used in medical situations.  I know a missionary orthopedic surgeon in Africa that frequently puts a few of his all-steel woodworking tools through an autoclave sanitizer prior to operating, because in the end, a hammer is a hammer, whether you’re hammering bone or wood, and a good Estwing costs a lot less than a comparable “surgical” hammer. 

There’s really no reason not to have these crucial Forever Preps, because in addition to a practically indefinite shelf life, they are also useful in your everyday life for fixing things around the house.  I keep a big set at home, a set in the car, and a set at my retreat location.  The tools that are stored at my retreat are put away into watertight plastic storage containers and wiped down with a coating of oil before storage.  With this Forever Prep I have triple redundancy, and indefinite shelf-life. 

Forever Prep #5: Non-Perishable Skills
Yes, yes, I know.  Many skills, such as marksmanship, are perishable.  But some aren’t.  There’s a reason for the idiom, “it’s like riding a bike” – some skills really are persistent.  I’m pretty sure that now that I’ve been camping regularly for 20 years of my life, that I’ll retain some of those skills even if I don’t camp again.  I know how to sharpen a knife.  I know how to read.  I know how to cook.  I know how to dress in cold weather.  The list goes on and on.  So whenever I’m looking to acquire a new skill, either for prepping or leisure (usually both!), I try to opt for the non-perishable skills.

Learning how to garden, or learning how to care for the preps you already have (e.g., chainsaw sharpening) are likely skills that will stick with most of us for a very long time.  Even taking a basic Spanish course at a community college will leave you with some permanent knowledge.  And if you don’t know how to ride a bike, please do so, because a bike is still the most efficient form of transportation that humans have come up with yet. 

Forever Prep #6: Books
A natural follower of skills, books are another great resource that lasts forever when stored properly.  Certain books, such as first aid manuals or detailed atlases of an area, do need to be rotated every so often, but other books contain “non-perishable” knowledge.  I look at my books on country living, backwoods survival, chemistry, physics, and food preparation, and marvel about the generations of knowledge that are consolidated for me in a few square feet of space on my bookshelf. 

There is also a strong entertainment value in books, and something can be stored for all ages that will provide invaluable relief from the stress and boredom that can occur as part of a grid-down situation. 

My favorite book of all is the Good Book, which I keep extra copies of in waterproof containers for distribution in the event of an emergency.  That’s the Bread of Life I’m talking about people, and it’s ultimately far more important “charity” for your neighbors than food or water (although those are still important).  My best case scenario is being able to offer physical help in the form of food and the like, and at the same time be able to offer spiritual help in the form of a Bible.  In the words of someone wiser than me, “people have to know that you care before they can care what you know”.

Forever Prep #7: Ammo
With ammo prices going through the roof over the past decade, ammo is looking to be an excellent long-term investment for a variety of reasons.  First, my favorite, while it should be inspected periodically if it’s stored properly it can last forever.  Second, we all know that bullets will be in short supply and certainly not easily procurable in the event of a large scale disaster.  They are valuable for security, hunting, and possibly barter. 
Finally, with the continued War on Terror, whatever your political persuasions may be, the US is going to continue to need lots and lots of bullets.  Several sources (including this one from 2005) state that the US military uses over 250,000 rounds per bad guy killed in Afghanistan.  Again as of 2005, the US was using 1.8 billion rounds a year and forced to procure some ammo from our Israeli allies because domestic production can’t keep up. 
As unrest such as that presently raging in Egypt continue (which I believe will be the case), ammo will only become more and more expensive.   Buying it in quantity and buying it now is a safe bet for this vital Forever Prep.

Forever Prep #8: Gold and Silver
There are a lot of very smart people out there that can make the economic case for investing in physical gold and silver as part of your preparedness plan and general retirement portfolio.  I’m not going to do that.  I’ll just state that, unlike paper money or any other form of currency, Gold is valuable because it doesn’t tarnish, it doesn’t decompose, and it, well, lasts forever.  Silver may develop a patina over time but is otherwise also indestructible.  I don’t necessarily agree that physical Gold and Silver are the best way to go with your entire retirement budget, because, just like I like to have an edge on inflation, I also like to have a hedge on the economy doing well for the next 30 years.  But whatever your opinion on it, Gold and Silver are excellent Forever Preps because you can buy and store them little effort and their value ultimately won’t ever go away.

Forever Prep #9: Water Filters
I store water in plastic jugs with a preservative in them, but they still have to be rotated.  The great thing about purchasing a high quality water filter is that its ceramic filters are chemically inert, and unless physically damaged should last indefinitely until used.  I only have a backpacking water filter right now, but that combined with my stored water, dry bleach, and knowledge of local water sources makes me feel pretty good.  You know what else feels good?  Knowing that if I don’t touch that water filter for another 40 years it will still be in great, usable shape. 
As a caveat, please note that water filters with moving parts (e.g., most backpacking filters with a pumping action) may need to be inspected and/or lubed at some point.  My filter is gravity fed, just like the Big Berkey systems, so no moving parts = excellent Forever Prep. 

Forever Prep #10: Propane
I’m going to be totally honest here.  Most of my camping appliances are white gas (a.k.a. “Coleman Fuel”) which stores,  unopened, for about 10 years.  I’ll likely hang on to it because of its superior performance in cold weather, but I’m also looking to expand my arsenal with a host of propane devices. 
Why?  Unlike white gas, propane lasts virtually forever, and there are many indications that the price of propane is set to skyrocket with the coming economic recovery (as will all petroleum-based fuels).  Another reason the price will go up soon is because of decreasing overall demand.  Normally when demand decreases so do the prices, but I don’t think this will be the case for propane.  Propane requires some infrastructure for delivery and storage, so if demand drops sharply it may become harder and harder to procure.  It’s also an environmentally-friendly fuel, and a large number of devices can be powered by propane, including generators, heaters, golf carts, and even leaf blowers!  How great will it be to get a large propane tank (or two!) and have them stored away as a Forever Prep. 

Forever Prep #11: Baking Soda
Here’s another overlooked common household item that is useful for a ton of different things, is very cheap, and stores forever.  Baking soda’s most obvious uses to a prepper are, in my opinion:

  • Making baking powder (baking powder has a limited shelf life once mixed)
  • Fire extinguisher for grease fires or any fire, really
  • Cleaning
  • Toothpaste (works great and stores forever, unlike toothpaste!)
  • Degreasing
  • Deodorizing (nice for obvious reasons but could also have tactical value; smelly people make poor ambushers)
  • Scouring
  • Cleaning waste water pipes (flush 4 tablespoons down with hot water to clean pipes)
  • Relieving stinging and swelling from insect bites and/or Poison Ivy
  • Management of heartburn and acid reflux (1/2 teaspoon or more in ½ a glass of water)
  • When added to water baking soda will make beans softer and more digestible
  • Add to boiling water when scalding (de-feathering) a chicken to make the process easier
  • Trade or barter

Again, many extremely valuable uses from the humble baking soda.  The trick with it is to store it in an airtight container that is NOT vapor-permeable.  Glass Mason jars with the lids dipped in wax work well for this.  All plastics are at least somewhat permeable and can result in your baking soda taking on the flavor of the container or worse, other smells around the container.  I store mine in glass mason jars with the lids dipped in wax, and then I place 12-16 jars at a time into old 20mm shell cases I buy from a local GI Store.  The inside of the case I line with foam to prevent breakage. 

Forever Prep #12: Vinegar
Wow, if you thought the other Forever Preps were versatile, vinegar should also be on your list!  Vinegar for long term storage does best in glass containers, although plastic can be used as long as the container retains is original factory seal.  It can be used for cooking, preserving food, relieving sunburn, doing laundry, cleaning and more!  To list them all here would take too long, so here is a link to a list of 131 ways to use Vinegar.  Vinegar is also cheap, readily available, and fairly easy to store.

Forever Prep #13: Paraffin Candles
Most people will say that candles have an indefinite shelf life.  Well, I can tell you that assertion is patently false.  Candles have an indefinite shelf life if stored in a cool, dry place, but if they aren’t you are taking a huge gamble with your preps.  Allow me to share two examples from my own life. 
I used to have a 36 hour, wax-based “survival” candle in the back of my car with an emergency kit.  After two or three years had gone by, I went to use the candle on a camping trip and discovered that not only had the candle melted, but its contents had actually mostly evaporated and all that was left was a waxy mess and a few stumps of a wick!  Additionally, my wife and I stored candles (emergency and decorative) in a storage facility that wasn’t climate controlled.  After a few months we moved and went to retrieve them and, guess what?  The candles had all melted on to one another and ruined the box they were in.  Not exactly Forever Prep material!

After some research, I discovered the miracle of Liquid Paraffin.  It’s wax in its liquid state, so it’s already melted and placed into airtight containers so there’s no risk of it evaporating away.  You can buy it in bulk from many places online.  However, the cheapest avenue I have found is to buy bulk boxes of liquid paraffin candles from restaurant supply stores.  It’s the same candle featured in “survival” stores, but much cheaper to buy by the case.  In fact, a case of 36, 50-hour candles (a combined 1,800 hours of burn time!) can often be had for about $70-$90. 

Just do a web search for “restaurant liquid paraffin candles” and you’ll end up with a host of wholesale suppliers.  My favorite kinds have the built-in extinguisher that will snuff out the flame if the candle tips over.  Bonus tip: place a lit candle in a one quart mason jar with sand at the bottom to have a virtually windproof source of light.  If you want to get really fancy, you can include a lid with holes punched in it and use a piece of piano wire or clothes hanger as a handle.

Forever Prep #14: Paper Products (toilet paper, Ladies' Stuff, etc.)
Easy to store (keep it dry!), cheap to buy, and completely innocuous to nosy neighbors that might find it in your basement, paper products are excellent Forever Prep material.  These are everyday items that will be impossible to find once your local store runs out of them, and there aren’t too many ready “natural” replacements for quilted toilet paper or disposable lady products.  They are also useful for a number of reasons.  For instance, Maxi-pads are usually sterile (or close enough) and can be used effectively as emergency first-aid bandages to stop heavy bleeding.  Tampons actually work really well, too, especially if you bundle several of them together.  Paper towels can be used for cleaning up messes, first aid, filtering sediment from water, fire starting, personal hygiene, makeshift coffee filters, home-made baby wipes, a skinning aid (grab slippery chicken skin with a paper towel and it’s much easier to hold on to!), a desiccant for storing herbs (wrap herbs in dry paper towels and place in the sun), etc., etc., etc.  You’ll be amazed at what you use them for in an emergency.  Paper products also make great insulators in a pinch – that’s why homeless folks are often seen with newspapers stuffed into their clothes, in order to trap more hot air around their bodies.
Here’s a list of what I store and why:

  • Toilet Paper.  Buy it on sale at a big box store.  Ever used leaves or bark?  Not fun.
  • Paper towels.  See above for more uses than you can shake a stick at.
  • Feminine hygiene products.  You have to be careful when storing the pads that have the moisture-absorbing gel in them, because moisture can seep in from the air over time, rendering them useless.  Just use the bucket method of storage, just like you would for wheat or other food stuffs.  A 5 gallon bucket with a gamma seal lid, and a thick Mylar bag inside with an oxygen absorber will make those types of pads last virtually forever.
  • Disposable baby diapers.  A big case for charity or use by my neighbors.  These also have the desiccant gel in them, so must be stored appropriately.  Remember that babies use the bathroom upwards of 10 times a day, and if you’re having an emergency that means that is a TON of washing that you won’t want to have to do.  If your prepping plans must include the care of an aging relative, buying the adult diapers en masse may also be a good idea, just in case.
  • Picnic Supplies.  Not totally paper, I know, but a good supply of paper plates, paper bowls, paper cups, and plastic utensils are essential for a short- to medium-term emergency, especially one that requires the quarantine of an infected individual.  Sure you’ll have your Forever Prep “dry” bleach to sanitize things, but wouldn’t it just be much easier to use disposables that can be incinerated or put into thick trash bags instead?  This means less contact with potential pathogens, less precious water required for cleaning and rinsing, and less time spent on cleaning, so you can attend to more important needs.

Forever Prep #15: Jesus
Talk about non-perishable!  Everlasting life?  By definition the most important Forever Prep you can get.  It’s free, lasts forever, requires no storage space, is communal, and is guaranteed to make surviving any disaster with your sanity intact a much rosier prospect.  Jesus never said that he came to make our lives easier, more comfortable, or cheaper.  He came to give us Life, and Life to the full!  What difference does it make if you survive the end of the world as we know it on earth, but haven’t prepped to meet your maker at the real and certain TEOTWAWKI – the end of your earthly existence?  Enough said.

So there you have it, my list of 15 Forever Preps.  Things you can get today that will last until you need them, no questions asked.  I hope this helps someone out there, and can spur some more ideas.   Let me know if you have some Forever Preps yourself – I’ll gladly add them to my list of lists, with a big “N” in the “Rotate” column!

Thanks for the great blog and everything you do for us.   I was at my local Ford dealer getting some work done and ask the service manager about computer modules for my 2006 F250 diesel. He told there are three different modules; engine, fuel and transmission. I ask how much they cost and he told me “a lot” but they are fairly simple to install, basically unplug the old and plug in the new one. What he told me next I hadn’t thought about and had not read; the computer modules must be programmed to work. Also if you get one from a junkyard and plug it in it will still need to be programmed. So if anyone is thinking about getting backups for EMP events you still need to store a computer that can program the modules for newer vehicles.   Do you know if this is correct? Is there any way to remedy this problem short of buying older vehicles? I guess this is exactly why you tell us to get older vehicles! - Jim S. in Ohio

JWR Replies: In most cases the CPUs that you store can be pre-programmed to match your particular vehicle before you put them in storage. This will be a bit expensive and time consuming (requiring swaps and tests), but it sure beats storing a computer to program them, post facto!

I had to smile when I saw your comment about Fiskars products yesterday.  A recent experience pushed my Fiskars lopping shears ("loppers") up to the top of my favorite tool list.

During a lull in this ridiculous winter, my kids and I cleared a small area of my land to make room for some fruit trees we're planting this coming season.  The vast majority of the stuff we cleared was between 1" to 2" in diameter. It was not really big enough for firewood, but big enough that it seemed a shame to us to just waste it.  So in the space of a few hours we took my two Fiskars loppers and "lopped up" this small stuff into close to a face cord worth of small firewood or large kindling, depending on how you want to view it.

I kept thinking about OPSEC as we did this. Except for our own voices, we barely made a sound as we worked. The loppers were quieter than any saw, and in addition my seven-year old daughter could easily help using the lopper (and believe me she was thrilled to be helping) while a bow saw would have been impossible for her.

After that day I got online and ordered a bunch of replacement blades for my loppers for potential post-TEOTWAWKI use.

Thanks for your work, - F.S.

Reader B.C. wrote to mention: "It has occurred to me that preparedness should also include how to cook for the crowd that shows up at TEOTWAWKI. I just came across a page with links to recipes for cooking for 20 or more people."

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JRH Enterprises is having a sale on new third generation Pinnacle auto-gated PVS-14 night vision units. All of these have a adjustable gain and a five year warranty.  The standard Gen 3 unit is now on sale for $2,895. And for the first time JRH is putting on sale their upgraded (Gen 3+) version of the PVS-14 for $3,275. (I have one of the latter here at the ranch, and I love it. With a Picatinny rail mount adapter it is very versatile--I can use it both as a weapon sight and as a monocular.

   o o o

I'm scheduled for a one hour interview with Michael Ruppert's Lifeboat Hour radio show at 9 p.m. eastern time Sunday, February 27th. Please feel free to call in to the show if you have any preparedness questions that would be of interest to the majority of listeners. It will also be available post facto as a downloadable podcast.

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STRATFOR analysis: Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth

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Bill Buppert recently posted a review of the Leatherman MUT tool, over at his ZeroGov blog. (OBTW, Bill has an interesting collection of famous oratory video clips at his site.)

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

For those of you on your retreat property and wanting to add sustainability to your food supply, I present this article to give you an overview of goat-keeping.  Why choose goats?  The advantages of goats are manifold:

• Goats are smaller, therefore require less feed, space and fencing than a cow.

• Goat milk is less allergenic and more closely resembles human milk than cow milk.

• Dairy goats typically produce two quarts to a gallon of milk per day – a usable amount for a family, especially if no refrigeration is available.

• Goats kid (give birth) five months after breeding, so you can have a year-round supply of milk and meat fairly easily and inexpensively. 

• Goat manure comes in convenient pellets – much easier to clean up and use for compost or mulch than cow pies.

How to Choose Your Dairy Goat
Let’s start with breed selection.  There may be a certain breed prominent in your area, they may do better in your climate or just be more available.  See if that breed will meet your needs.  Here are the basic dairy goat breeds:

Saanens are pure white and used in many commercial and small dairies.  They are calm and bred for good milk production.  They need fences well-attached at the base as they have a tendency to burrow under them.

Toggenburgs came from Switzerland.  They are tan-colored with white and black highlights.  They are adventuresome and tough with a typically short lactation period – a good thing if you do not want to milk during a long-cold winter.

Alpines are my favorite breed.  They have long lactations and many will continue to give milk year after year with only one or two breedings.  I can attest to this fact because my dear Helga, grown when I bought her, was never pregnant in the 14 years she lived with us, but she gave milk enough for my children, orphan lambs and a few calves. 

Nubians are a large breed with distinctly large hanging ears.  They were originally a meat/milk breed, but now are mostly known for rich milk production. La Manchas are a milking breed from Spain, with miniature ears and weigh about 130 pounds.

Nigerian Dwarfs , an African breed, are small with rich milk.   Easier to fence and feed than the larger breeds. Crossbreeds are excellent for hybrid vigor and to develop characteristics you prefer.  We want medium to small goats with rich milk and long lactations, so we are using Nubian/Alpine/Nigerian crosses in our herd. 

Once you have a breed in mind, start looking at animals.  Around here (the Pacific Northwest) Craigslist is a great source if you are careful!  Plan to buy at least two goats, preferably already acquainted – they are herd animals and need companions to thrive.  You want a healthy, bright-eyed doe with a shiny coat.  Her udder should be large and well-attached under her back belly with two large nipples that squirt milk straight down.  Watch her being milked to be sure she can be handled.  Her legs should be straight, her tail should be up in the air and she should like humans.  However, if goats are used to a man, they may have a bit of trouble adjusting to a woman and vice-versa.  Our Nubian lead goat, Dee-Dee, adores my husband, talks to him and follows him around.  Luckily, our milking doe, Zella, was reared by a woman.  Zella loves me, comes off the hillside if I call her and would rather spend time with me than the herd.  Our 14-year-old son is able to milk her, but he spent a lot of time winning her over with carrots and apples before she was comfortable with him. 

With each goat you purchase get their date of birth, breeding, number of kids, any kidding or health problems, when she was last wormed, etc.  If she is bred, be sure to get a good estimate of the kidding date.  Stay far away from runny noses, respiratory noises and anything that makes you think a goat is unhealthy.  Expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $300 per goat.  We paid $45 each for our seven brush eaters, which includes a fine Nubian doe and a Nigerian Dwarf doe.  Watching Craigslist we were able to purchase three large well-bred Alpines for a total of $125 because the people couldn’t take care of them. 

I have transported goats in the backseat of my car, but nowadays, we use the pick-up with a canopy, tossing one of the dog cushions in the back with some hay to nibble during the trip.  Be sure you have a safely fenced pen and shelter all ready. 

Food and Shelter
We got back into goats when we found that our retreat property was heavily infested with poison oak.  Goats are browsers more than grazers, so brush like poison oak, blackberries, scotch broom and other noxious weeds are delicious to them, as is tree bark and most of your flowers, garden vegetables and fruit trees.  Good fences are a must.   We use welded cattle panels about 5 x 16 feet costing about $24.00 each to fence off our gardens and orchards, topped with deer tape to a height of about 6 feet.

Our herd roams free on about 30 acres with a creek and mountain as natural boundaries.  At night they are locked securely in a well-ventilated barn for protection from predators. We built sleeping stands out of plywood and blocks to keep them off our damp ground.  Five or more goats cuddle on each stand.

Our goats forage year-round along the creek and hill.  They receive regular supplements, mineral blocks and occasional hay if we get snow.  Most goats will be on hay – a mixture of grass and alfalfa seems to produce the best milk - but fresh feed is highly desirable.   Goats will not touch dirty feed so be sure your feeders are off the ground.  We mix our own grain from bulk oats, whole wheat, split peas, flax, kelp and molasses.  Always provide plenty of clean, fresh drinking water and wash the container often.

The most common killers of goats are domestic dogs.  Do not ever leave your herd at the mercy of anyone’s dogs, including your own.   We have one dog that we trust around the goats at any time and one dog that we keep an eye on whenever we bring a new goat around.

Liquid Gold – Start Milking!
Realize that milking is a twice-a-day-365-days-a-year chore.  We share milk with a neighbor and she milks whenever we are away.  Milking every twelve hours is best, but we milk at 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. because it suits our schedule better.   If you have never milked before, the best way to learn is from an experienced milker.  Here is a description of the process: The milk goat is placed in a stand, usually wooden with a slot for the neck that can be closed at the top to keep the goat in.  A pan of grain with cut up fruits and vegetables is placed at the front of the stand so the doe can eat while you milk. You come alongside the goat and sit on a stool that gives you adequate reach as you face the udder.  Loose hairs and soil are gently brushed off the udder area so none can fall into the milk pail or jar.  To begin milking, you place your thumb and first finger about two inches above the bottom of the teat.  Squeeze these fingers tightly together to capture the milk in the bottom of the teat.  Then bring your middle, ring and pinkie fingers around the teat one at a time to push the milk out and into your container.  Release your thumb and the teat fills with milk so you can repeat the process.  Nothing came out?  Try again.  Most children and adults are able to catch the system and rhythm of milking in a few minutes; they just need practice to strengthen hand and finger muscles. 

One method is to milk into a seamless stainless steel bucket.  This allows you to use both hands, saving time.  However, if your goat tends to kick or move around, or if you have weaker hands, I suggest using a pint or quart jar.  You hold the jar with one hand, milk with the other and change hands as you go back and forth between the teats (goats only have two; cows have four).  Goat teats are larger and easier to milk than cow teats.  When the flow slows down, massage the udder for 20 seconds or more and she will drop more milk.  Massaging is the key to maintaining and increasing production.  If you watch a young kid nurse, you will see it butt the udder like a punching bag to get more milk let down.  Massaging is a gentle version of this. Immediately put the milk into clean jars and place in the refrigerator.  Three things can put an off-flavor in your milk:  strong weeds, dirty containers, and nearness to a buck.  Watch the diet of your milk goat, keep milk utensils spotlessly clean and keep that buck far away from your milker during breeding season.

Flowing with Milk and Honey
So what do you do with all that milk?  I love to drink it warm within a few minutes of milking, which the teens find pretty disgusting!   They mix their chilled goat milk with a little vanilla or hot chocolate powder.  Their new drink is a blend of oranges, milk, egg and some sweetener for an Orange Julius type drink.  Very tasty.  We also make kefir and yogurt, use it in pancake batter and bread dough, chowders and other dishes.  In the past I have made goat cheese, which seldom got beyond the curd stage because cheese curds are delicious.  We also use milk and eggs for the dogs and cats so we are not dependent on store-bought kibbles.  I have experimented with leaving the goat milk out to replicate a no refrigerator scenario (like most people in the world experience daily!).  The milk clabbers – that is, it gets a bit thicker and tangier day by day.  After about three days it has the consistency of cream cheese with a tart flavor.  Whereas pasteurized, homogenized store milk will rot, clean raw milk will be usable warm or cool.

Adding a Buck
Keeping a buck (intact male goat) is not for novices.  I’ve had goats for several decades but this is the first time I have kept a buck.  We are doing it for sustainability reasons.  It will not be practical to take the goats to a buck in another town if gas becomes too expensive or travel becomes hazardous.  My husband and I considered the pros and cons very carefully before taking this step.  A buck means extra fencing, working out breeding plans so you have a consistent milk supply.  Your goat herd can triple with one round of breedings, so we discussed what to do with the offspring.  We decided that we could handle a smaller buck with good milkers in his pedigree.  Wanting richer milk for calories and a higher fat intake also influenced our choice.  When we saw a Nubian/Nigerian Dwarf cross for sale on Craigslist, we were pretty sure we had found our herd sire.  Cappy (Cappuccino) is currently five months old and already capable of breeding all but our tallest does.   Be fully aware of the bizarre habits of bucks during breeding season!  Even our cute young buck does things too gross to describe in this article that make him appealing to does in heat.  

Caring for the Kids
Having a buck brings babies in five months.  And goats can seldom have just one; twins and even triplets are not uncommon.  Called “kids”, nothing is cuter than newborn goats!  We try to keep our animals in as natural a setting as possible, so our does will stay with their kids for the first week while the colostrum (first milk with special antibodies and nutrients) is used up.  The second week the kids and mothers stay together at night, but separate for part of each day so we can begin milking.  This saves us from having to bottle-feed kids several times a day.  Doe kids that are going to be saved for milkers will be kept on the mother for 12 weeks, but young males will be castrated in the first few weeks (they are capable of breeding at 2 months!) and weaned at 6 weeks.  The best tool for castrating is a side-crusher.  We bought ours from Premier1 Supplies for $94.00 and printed off instructions from the internet.   All kids are disbudded (have their horn buds burned off to prevent horns from growing) at 2 to 3 days old.  We do not have horned goats and the two cannot be mixed because goats establish their pecking order with head-butting.  We bought a Rhinehart X-30 disbudding iron for $70.  The other tool needed is a pair of hoof trimmers for about $30.  If your goats have hard surfaces to walk on, their feet will wear down naturally and little trimming is necessary.  Have an experienced goat person help you learn these techniques.  You will be a pro in a short time.

Goat Psychology
What you will love about goats:  they have lots of personality, coupled with high intelligence.  What will drive you crazy about goats:  they have lots of personality, coupled with high intelligence.   So if we leave the property gate open for a few minutes because the goats are grazing elsewhere and we will be “right back”, you can count on the goats being out and over the hillside for an adventure in the blink of an eye.   If you store your hay in the barn with a simple latch, they will open it up, same for your chicken coop, your yard with the prize roses, and any other area that contains food or interest to them. On the other hand, the night that Dee-Dee refused to go back to the barn and was insistent that the herd spend the night in the garage near the house, we are pretty sure some sort of predator was waiting in there for goat dinner.   

Learn More
The best source of information about dairy goats is visiting people who have them.  Most of these dedicated goat-lovers enjoy teaching a newcomer the ropes.   I use Pat Coleby’s “Natural Goat Care ” book because I prefer natural remedies.  Amazon has lots of goat-keeping books, read the reviews to find the best ones.  Your local County Extension office should have free information about goats, as will 4-H goat clubs.  There are excellent web sites with detailed information about every imaginable goat situation.  I make herbal remedies for the few illnesses the goats have, mostly related to parasites.  We prune our friend’s honeysuckle as a safe and effective wormer which the goats devour eagerly. 

Home Business
Having a safe, healthy supply of fresh raw milk helps me care for my children in the best way possible.  We sell extra milk for $6.00 a gallon, but others sell it for much more.  So goats can be a home business as well.  Products can be milk, wethers, young does, buck service, etc.  Others make goat milk soap for a niche market.  I hope this article piques your interest in adding these capricious creatures to your survival plan.

Happy independence to all of you Preppers!

I am a two-year every day reader of the SurvivalBlog, and going through most of the entries that people write I have noticed that the majority of people believe that in a post SHTF scenario we will be faced with daily battles with marauders trying to take or food and goods. This brings people to the assumption that they must only stock up on only ammunition and firearms. As we all know as readers of this blog that when SHTF we will not have grocery stores or any of the facilities that we take for granted as of today. We will be forced to live of the land and retrace our roots and enlist the skills that our forefathers had for generations.

I see many post on the importance of quality firearms and keeping them well maintained, but I rarely ever see a post on the importance of stocking up on and using good quality tools and equipment. "You're only as good as your equipment" that is something I was told by my grandfather and father for as long as I can remember. I grew up on my families farm in northern Connecticut. We mainly were a vegetable farm but started taking on livestock as a hobby some years back. Everyday we use tools to fulfill or chores and duties around our farm. Whether its to plant or fix the equipment, we use or tools every single day. In a post SHTF situation we will not have a local Tractor Supply Store or Sears & Roebuck to go and pick up a new hammer or axe every time we break the handle. What you have is what you will be forced to live with for as long as things remain the way they are or you can barter a neighbor for theirs. In my years of farming I have generally found that a well maintained older tool will out last and function ten times better than most new light weight (cheap to maintain cause plastics easier to work with than forged steel) heavy duty models. This has always been the case, until my fiance got me a new axe after my main one broke this winter. 

As odd as it may sound my father and I are lumberjack hobbyists. Once a month we pack a lunch and head to the woods looking to find the perfect tree then take it down the old fashioned way with our axes. This wood will then become fire wood or if the wood is of quality it may become a mantle piece or a coffee table. So after breaking my main axe and only having a few small axes, hatchets and mauls left I was getting antsy on finding a replacement. I went to local stores such as the Tractor Supply Store and Sears & Roebuck, and didn't find any of there tools up to my standards, this frustrated me being that our monthly date in the woods was coming up soon. Then my Fiance brings me this light weight fiber glass foreign job called the Fiskars 28" Chopping axe the day my father and I had set a date for the woods. She swore by this company being that she is a seamstress and uses there scissors everyday and also uses their Reel Mower to mow the grass around our house and barns. During the walk through the woods I got nothing but sly remarks and under the breath snickers from my father. He had his double bit Michigan style axe made by Vaughan with a beautiful hickory handle and I had this gray and orange hollow handled axe with an almost parkerized looking head. We got to the tree and my father insisted I took the first swing, and upon my fourth or fifth draw back I realized I loved it.

Now the point of my post here is not to tell you how fun filled my day with my father was cutting down trees, but for the first I have found a well quality modern tool that stands up to everything I can throw at it. When going and looking at the prices of the Fiskars brand products I have found that anybody can afford these tools even on the tightest survivalist budget. After being so surprised with the quality of the axe I finally took a look at my fiances Fiskars Reel Mower she has been begging to show me. Now being a farmer I try to get everything done in the fastest most consistent manner as possible, so when I mow I mount a 70" mowing deck to my Kubota. Until now this Reel Mower was just a tree huger novelty my newly gone-green fiance had been begging to show me. After looking at this mower I found that to the survivalist and post SHTF farmer and retreat owner this is the closest thing to a gas powered mower you can get. This Reel Mower has everything from adjustable blades to change the height and perfect spacing between the deck and the blades so sharpening the blade could quite possibly be a thing of the past with this mower.

Since receiving this axe I have gone ahead and replaced my splitting maul with the 28" and 36" Splitting axe, picked up a 14" hatchet and an axe and knife sharpener all manufactured by Fiskars. These high quality axes all have fiberglass reinforced handles advertised as indestructible. I also purchased their innovative rain barrel system that separates the leaves and debris from the water which can be linked up to numerous barrels for as much free water storage as your budget will allow. The water out of the system is almost drinkable as it is, but I have taken it a step further fitting two Brita water filters to the end of the hose where the water enters the barrel. This ensures the water is safe enough for my animals to drink from, along with my family on those hot summer days.

if you haven't heard of the company Fiskars, you may have heard of their sister company Gerber. These two companies both use the same quality materials and are both baked by a lifetime no-nonsense warranty. With all these quality features and materials whether your in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation or just want quality tools to get the job done without having to sacrifice all your money Fiskars seems to be the way to go. - Christopher R.

JWR Adds: Since I'm a Finnophile (I love everything made in the land of SAKO and Valmet), I have a weakness for Fiskars products. I not only have several pairs of their scissors, but also some of their axes, splitting mauls, and brush axes. I even have a Fiskars-made Valmet rifle bayonet. But I bought that more as an investment than anything else, since they are incredibly scarce.

Hi, Jim:
Every few weeks I buy a couple cases (of 24 cans) of canned wild Alaskan salmon canned by Bumble Bee selling for $1.99 per can (a 14.5oz can), and a quality gold tinted tapered can. Recently it has had a 2015 expiration date. In my estimation, wild salmon is an excellent unadulterated protein source with a lengthy expiration date, especially when compared to canned tuna (with traces of mercury) and canned chicken.   

Well, yesterday I went in to the same discount supermarket (the kind of no-frills market where you bag yourself and pay extra for the bag) and went straight for the salmon.  It was there at the same price but they had changed brands.  So I checked expiration date: 2012.  Yikes.  I looked closely at the can: poor quality, not evenly coated and some apparent rust at edges where can meets lid.  Then the kicker: It was marked both "Wild Alaskan Salmon" and "Product of China"   What the h*ll are the Chinese doing fishing salmon in our waters?  How can this be?  needless to say I left without buying any.  You really need to pay attention to the details, these days. - John E.

A reader wrote to ask: "Dr. Koelker, you explained what each of the antibiotics is good for, but one major concern was unaddressed. In a TEOTWAWKI situation we may be faced with having to treat gunshot wounds. And just as likely, if not more so, we may need to treat serious lacerations, such as accidents with sharp, dirty tools. I think, as am I, the readers of this blog might be interested to know which antibiotics are the most effective in preventing infections if/when we sustain such wounds."  

Doctor Koelker Replies:  As usual, such answers come in a short and a long form.  At the moment I won’t address details of wound cleansing, closing, cauterizing, likelihood of infection or fatality, etc., etc. 

Here is the short answer: The microbes that are likely to have been introduced into a wound determine the choice of both prophylactic and/or treatment antibiotics.  When antibiotics are given before a visible infection is apparent, the assumption is that the wound still contains bacteria in low numbers (most of which have hopefully been washed away by appropriate cleansing). Killing off these remaining microbes should prevent infection in most cases – although prophylactic treatment is not always effective.

Where do these germs come from?  This depends on the body part that was penetrated, the environment, and the source of the projectile.

Injuries that pierce the skin carry the risk of contamination from common skin microbes, primarily staph and strep germs.  When orthopedic surgeons place pins and screws in bones, they pierce the skin.  Despite careful antisepsis, perhaps a few bacteria might still be introduced into a bone, where infection can fester, causing permanent damage, limb loss, or even death.  Though in a surgical setting the risk of infection is low, the potential consequences of infection are so high that prophylactic antibiotics are standard – one dose before surgery, and one to several doses after surgery.  The intravenous antibiotic Ancef is most commonly employed (which is most similar to cephalexin, see below). 

Of the available oral antibiotics previously discussed, the best choices would be cephalexin, Augmentin, Avelox or Levaquin.  Less potent alternatives, if the former are unavailable, would include the erythromycins (including clarithromycin and azithromycin), tetracyclines (including doxycycline), or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX).  Amoxicillin, penicillin, and ciprofloxacin are much less likely to be effective.  Normally IV antibiotics are preferred due to their immediate bioavailability and high blood concentration.  If oral antibiotics are used pre-op, they should be given on an empty stomach with water only, about two hours prior to surgery.

The other large class of potential contaminants is that of intestinal bacteria, especially gram-negative bacteria and anaerobes.  If the source of contamination is external, as an explosion in a cesspool, a person might live without surgery.  If the source is perforation of one’s internal organs, death is likely without emergency surgery. 

But say surgery is an option, or you’ve cut your hand deeply while cleaning out a septic tank – you’ll probably need a combination of antibiotics to avoid or treat infection.  The first should be either ciprofloxacin, Levaquin, or Avelox, whichever is available (ciprofloxacin is the only inexpensive generic in this class).  Second line alternatives for these would be Augmentin or TMP-SMX.  Additionally, metronidazole should be added to cover anaerobic bacteria.  Basically, the same antibiotics useful for diverticulitis or other intra-abdominal infection are indicated for intra-abdominal wounds. 

Lastly, we seldom think of tetanus except to get vaccinated when we’re injured.  If you haven’t been immunized in the last five years, then do so now.  The new TDAP vaccine includes immunization against diphtheria and pertussis as well.  If a wound is deep or contaminated with rust, treating with metronidazole (or penicillin) may decrease the number of tetanus-toxin producing Clostridium tetani bacteria, but these antibiotics do nothing to counter the toxin that has been produced, and which may cause muscle spasms that constrict the airway.  Without immunization, risk of death is very high.   (Doctor Koelker is SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor. She is also the editor of ArmageddonMedicine.net.)

Pierre M. sent: CDC: Deadly Superbug “C-Diff” Spreading

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Avalanche Lily spotted this: Since D.C.'s handgun ban ended, well-heeled residents have become well armed.

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Patricia F. flagged this: Why Does Texas Have Its Own Power Grid?

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A reader suggested HP LaserJet Tough Paper for printing key references that might be used in the field. It is not paper. Rather, it is a plastic material that can be laser printed. It is waterproof, so it would be ideal for printing specialized maps and pages for field notebooks.

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Mike in Texas mentioned: "If you need soil, fertilizer, or garden amendments, never pay full price. Lowe's, and many other major retailers, take 50% off for any kind of broken bag. Check frequently because I'm told they accidentally break bags almost daily. I even have my local Lowe's store call me when they stack some up."

"The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another." - Milton Friedman

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Kindle-version of the SurvivalBlog.com Archives 2005-2010 is now available for $9.99, via the Amazon.com store. It is more than 7,000 pages long and text-to-speech enabled. It also has more than 20,000 links to external web pages from your Kindle reader. (Available only if you are connected to the Internet while reading.) Anyone with a Kindle can download a free 700 page (10%) sample of the archive, for a "test drive".

Meanwhile, for folks with laptops, we are nearing release of the 2005-2010 archive of SurvivalBlog on CD-ROM (in both HTML and PDF). Both file formats will have links to external sites as well as all of the blog's static pages. It will sell for $19. It should be orderable at our Cafe Press store within two weeks. (To explain: there was a production glitch in the recent Beta testing that caused a delay.) Thanks for your patience.


I'm scheduled for a one hour interview with call-in questions from listeners tomorrow (Wednesday, February 23, 2010) on EMPact Radio. Please feel free to call if you have any preparedness questions that would be of interest to the majority of listeners. If you miss hearing the show, it will be available as a downloadable podcast.


Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

I enjoy reading SurvivalBlog each morning as I prepare for my day. I have only been a reader of the blog for six months, and enjoy all the varied insights. So I feel compelled to share some of my experiences. Let me start off by saying I was raised in a Christian preparedness household.  Both my parents suffered through the Great Depression as children and my mother was deeply impacted by the possibility of being hungry and cold again. As a teenager in the mid-1970s I remember we had a basement full of Neo-Life brand long term storage food, thousands of pennies in ten pound cans, water, silver, gold, but no guns or ammo that I knew of.  I have been involved with long term provisioning all my life.  When the fuel crisis hit in 1973 my mother was sure it was the beginning of the end of America (she was an avid reader of the “The Ruff Times”). As it looks like we are nearing the end of life as free Americans I’m ashamed to say that I gave my parents a hard time over their “crazy” desire to provide for us “come hell or high water”.  

I have been blessed to have had two great careers, first as a financial planner, and then as a commercial Pilot. In both situations my employers invested large sums in training me. In every instance there are rules to follow. Every six months we fly the simulator and practice every possible type of emergency and hazard with the aircraft. When a problem comes up in real-time, there is never a hesitation. We have trained to respond without pause so we are ready. How can we approach protecting our families any other way than to plan, and practice?
  Growing up I was paying attention to what my folks were doing, and these are the lessons I’m sharing now. Even though things never really broke down the way my parents expected, their planning didn’t go to waste.  The food, barter items, and silver all got used or saved. If nothing else they are great investments that have had excellent returns. Their planning did no harm, financially or strategically to our family in fact we are still benefiting from decisions they made 40 years ago.

[JWR Adds: People who bought gold in 1975--soon after it was first re-legalized in the U.S.--and who have held on to it since, have done very well. Gold was selling for $145 per ounce in October of 1975. When I last checked (February 19, 2011), it was $1,389 per ounce. That is a 1,043% gain. For comparison, if someone had just left their earnings in cash (so-called "mattress money") in 1975, it would have lost about 75% of its purchasing power by 2011. ($145 worth of groceries in 1975 would cost $593 in 2011.) Granted, stocks on average listed in the DJIA have seen a gain of 850% since 1975. (But of course you could have picked a bad stock like Pan Am Airways--now worth zero, or a more consistent blue chip stock like GE.) But the beauty of gold is that it provides both a long term hedge on inflation and insurance against a full-scale currency collapse, which we may soon experience. When that happens, nearly all U.S. dollar-denominated investments will suffer tremendously.]

 So you want be prepared? My mother would say get your financial house in order.
 Myrtle’s Rules:

  1. If you do have to borrow, get the shortest term possible. The Highest payment you can afford, will force you to buy fewer things that you don’t need. Get you out of debt quicker with less interest = lowest total cost. This forces you to live by a budget and to waste less on impulse purchases.

Example: When we bought our present home in 1991 we took out a five-year mortgage. The payments were almost out of reach and we barely qualified for the loan. We did little for the next 60 months but make sure the bank was paid on time. It was tough. My young children did not think it was cool that we drove 5 and 7 year old cars (that were paid for) and had no television.  We paid off the house in 1996 right on time and then transferred the title to a “Family Trust” to remove it from our personal estates and ownership. It’s hard to imagine a situation where the house could be taken from us, other than non payment of property taxes.   By the way we paid less than $12,000 in interest to the bank!

  1. Don’t worry about saving until you are out debt.  This is a big issue. Get your home (retreat) and cars paid off; otherwise you are just renting them from the lender. Once your house is really yours the freedom it creates is unbelievable! I know about all the tax advantages from mortgage interest, and savings in your 401k with employer matching. In eight years most people can be debt free. Then you will have ability to save and invest most of your earnings. It’s amazing how fast you can create wealth when your partner isn’t the bank.
  2. Stay married: this is a big factor that defeats many of the people I counsel. I observe countless examples of unhappy dissatisfied people blaming their spouse for all the problems.  I’m not a marriage counselor but I sure get tired of hearing it’s the other guys fault. Grow up. If you are looking for someone else to make things right in your world you will end up broke and alone. Be a team; involve your partner in your plans and prayers. You want to prosper during the coming times? Plan together…you can’t do it alone.
  3. Buy Silver: Metals are the future and paper is paper. A gold coin that may be worth $5,000 USD in the future is not a good medium of exchange.  Silver dollars and silver rounds are about $30 each right now and will be very practical for commerce down the road.
  4. Plan for the worst, Hope for the best. Yes, I have a few guns, and plenty of ammo and the best offense is a killer defense (no pun intended) but I pray that we will never have to take a human life. I know this sounds naive but as a family we want to minister to the needy, it will be much tougher after we’ve put a few holes in them.
  5. Be generous with your time: giving of yourself is not the same as writing a check. Our tithes and offerings are a command, but true giving as a form of worship that means giving of your physical self. If you need further explanation: read a chapter of Proverbs every day, it is a wealth of practical knowledge and wisdom.               (31 chapters/ 31 days: coincidence…. I think not)
  6. Learn a new skill: One new hands on, sore back, stiff knees dirty nails skill every year, when you know enough to teach it to another you’ve got it. NOTE: we will need many more diesel and small engine mechanics down the road. We have raised a whole generation that can’t find the dipstick.
  7. Partnerships don’t work: A week seldom goes by that someone doesn’t ask me to underwrite, finance, partner with, or otherwise join in some grand scheme. My wife and I made a deal when we got married …. No partners. I am married to my partner, Period. No others allowed. Think about the difficulties of communication in your marriage. My wife and I have a great marriage and we still after all these years still have miss communication. We have the same goals, ideals, morals and yet there are still days we fail to connect. Throw another family in the mix… their needs, problems, differing belief system and you can see why 98% of all business partnerships fail within two years.

Not enough for two. Partnerships evolve because someone has some cash and the other party has the skill, idea, or product. So from day one there is a disparity in expectations for the parties involved. The investor wants a Return on Investment (ROI) and the inventor/worker/labor wants a paycheck.  A new business that is run very well with a skilled bookkeeping normally won’t turn a profit for two years, so you just multiply the problem with two families trying to eat out of the same trough. In the great book by Michael Gerber “The E Myth” he describes that the desire of owning your own business as follows:
10% dream (idea) everyone has an idea it’s the entrepreneur in us.
10% technician (i.e. the product, service or goods) we all want to work for ourselves.
 80% management. No one wants to do this Job!
We have learned the hard way it’s difficult to wear all the hats that make a small business prosper. Early on I was forced to become a manager, I still don’t like it but I have come to embrace it as the most important part of every business venture.

Good enough to do alone. Most partnerships start because you are unwilling to take the plunge alone; you want to dilute the downside risk. I say if it’s a great project and you’re confident of its chances then raise the money and do it with the partner your married too. Following this rule has saved us many broken relationships, including our own.
What is your exit strategy? People are always amazed when I ask this question. Most reply, “I’m just getting started, how would I know?” If you are going to start something you need to have a plan how to end it. When we start a business we always have a plan to get out, a huge success or a big bust, we still have time limits as well as financial benchmarks to tell us where we are and when to move on, sell, or liquidated.

TIP: Service businesses that don’t have a physical location (brick & mortar) are very difficult to sell. Think in terms of resale value.
Over the last 30 years we have started (or bought) and sold more than 15 businesses. Most were great success (11). A few were bombs (3). One was just more trouble than it was worth. While doing all this we had other income and I had an employer that provided our healthcare coverage. No small thing, not needing to pull income to meet living expenses from a new enterprise. This gave us the time to correct our mistakes and get the right employees trained and in place. I would encourage each family to start and operate a small home business making something. It will teach your children basic business skills, the value of their time to make (Money) while you sleep.

Note: Parents as the Boss and children as "paid help" works best.

I realize this article is merely Business 101 for most readers, and you may question whether it has a place on SurvivalBlog. The feedback I get from many people is that they know they should get better prepared but they just can’t afford to. I have seen a few partnerships prosper and survive long term, but they are few and far between.  Partner with your family, create some prosperity together, you will be richer for it.

The first step in preparedness is your heart and relationship to the Savior, the next is your finances.

To lead in times of trouble, be gracious in times of peace. I say you can’t afford not to.

For many people funding your survival cache/ preparedness stockpile has to come out of your budget. Whether you work for someone every day, draw a pension check or work for yourself you have to find a way to fit your projects into the limits of your paycheck. And with Uncle Sam taking a larger share at every turn it seems to be getting harder to find those extra nickels to put to use. Once most of us pay a house and car payment and then monthly utilities and food there is hardly enough left to worry about buying ammo, additional firearms, food stores or gear unless we put it on credit or save up for our purchases.   Over the last few years though I have found there is another way to supplement not only your income but to build your survival stores easier and less expensively: The Underground Economy, whether you have heard of the idea, see it every day and don’t try to use it, or take full advantage of it, it is available. There are many ways to make a few extra dollars to put to use to help out your dwindling bottom line.  

Let’s look at a few of the ways to make extra money in a pinch:          

Mowing your neighbor’s lawns. Yeah this one could be suited to your teenage son looking to make a few summer dollars or it could put a couple of new rifles in your cabinet over the course of the summer. In almost every neighborhood you look at you see more than a few homes with the grass standing a little taller than those around them, or one with pretty bad "weedeating" done around the edges and those are all possible side jobs where you could earn from $25-50 for a few minutes of work depending on the area and the size of the yard. And all you use is your mower (some people will even let you use theirs!!) some gas and a little sweat. Almost everyone that pays you will pay you in cash.        

Craigslist. There are multiple ways to make money on Craigslist.org. It is virtually like eBay just with no bidding and no fees to pay for selling your item. And if you don’t have an item to sell you can cruise through the free stuff and you might get lucky and find people giving away: old cars, scrap metal, aluminum, firewood, furniture,and more. These are all free for the taking and you can turn around and cash in at the recycler or the junkyard. Or you could sell or stock up the firewood, or sometimes take the other stuff out to the local swap-meet and make a few bucks with it.         

Flea Market: Most locales have a flea market or a swap meet in which you can get an outside spot on the weekends for fairly cheap and set up a table full of stuff that you can sell or in some cases trade for something else that you need. My local flea market charges $8 a day for a spot outside and there are not too many restrictions on what I can sell, being in Kentucky even person to person firearms sales are okay so long as you are not trying to be a full time dealer and selling multiples at a time. (Disclaimer: I deal only in Kentucky and I do not know about elsewhere. Check with your state and local laws for restrictions as to what you can and can’t sell.) Some people set up at the flea market as a business getting a Tax ID so they can purchase bulk items to take there.     

Fairs, Festivals, Bazaars: Now some of these can be tricky to set up at because some of them require you to have a sales tax ID and some do not. If you have a sellable item that you wish to set up with you can make a ton of money, I have witnessed a friend sell out of 500 cases of sunglasses over a 3 day festival which is far better than he does on a weekend basis at the flea market, but he has to keep track of all sales since he buys the glasses in bulk with a tax ID. One of my mother’s friends has set up at craft faires over the years and makes very good money with homemade cards, handcrafted wares and other little items that she or her husband makes.         

Classified Ads: Many areas have some sort of classified ads, some may cost money to sell your things in but many have free sections and with the advent of the internet there are many classified sites popping up online that will let you sell your old stuff off for free. One of them I use is www.kyclassifieds.com. Just like with the flea markets since this is Kentucky, firearms are bought and sold off of this web site on a person to person in-state basis and it can be a good way to find firearms and ammunition less expensively than going to a gun shop or a big box store. Last year I picked up three SKS rifles for less than $200 each from there.     

Forums: With a little digging around on Google or one of the search engines you can find forums of like minded people who will sell, trade and barter with you for items you need or they need allowing you to build up your cache or trade off extras to garner something you need more.         

Yard sales: take a Friday and Saturday in good weather and make a few extra bucks sitting in your own yard. Or you could get a spot in the Corridor 127 Yard Sale which is over 600 miles long. They are also a good way of finding things to take to the Flea Market to turn a profit with. I picked up five boxes of rifle cartridges last year for $2 a box. They were in a caliber that I don’t use but I figured I could make a little profit. After checking online to see what they were I managed to sell them for $12 a box at the flea market. Check with your local authorities first though, my town requires a permit to set up a yard sale and we are only allowed four per year.         

Gun and Knife shows: Every couple of months gun and knife shows pop up around the area and much like a flea market you can get a booth for a price and you can set up and sell off your “collection”, buy new pieces, or trade for things you want. For some of these you must have a dealer license, some you do not. Again, consult your state and local laws. One option is to just walk around many of these shows as a trader. I notice many people who do not want to pay to set up will walk around with a rifle over their shoulder, or a knife booklet in their hand and they will “wheel and deal” without spending any set up money for a table. This works very well in some markets.  

These are just a few of the ways I have found to bring in a little additional income to help out with the stretched budget. You can also consider these as skills to practice now for use in a post SHTF or TEOTWAWKI world in which bartering or trading will be the way to garner the things that you need when a currency has not yet been re-established. You can also make some very valuable connections with like minded individuals when you learn the ins and outs of some of these methods, I have made some very good friends setting up with people over a summer at the flea market each weekend, and while you might think that people out there selling would hold information or not be friendly to their competition I have found quite the opposite to be true as I have found many people willing to help me learn how to sell more or sell better.  

All in all, the Underground Economy is a very viable way to supplement your income and to earn the extra money to spend on your projects. In the three years that I have really started trying to prepare I would not have been at all able to put five guns in my cabinet or 3,000 rounds of ammunition on my shelf without finding an alternate source of funds to assist me outside of the household budget.

The best part of learning these methods, is that they are all cash based and in many cases you can find gold, silver, coins, ammo, guns and survival gear far less expensively than you could purchase them in a store, a market exchange, online or from one of the mass market retailers.

JWR Adds: Of course keep all of your sales and purchases legal, and keep track of the requisite taxes.


I have been playing with the numbers based on the population figures and wanted to give you this update.

I did a study of the total land under cultivation in 2002 (rather than just the potentially arable land, and not including grazing land).  42 of the 50 states exceed the figure of 245 people per square kilometer.

[JWR Adds: States with less than 600 people per square kilometer of active-worked farm land might pull through a societal collapse, with plenty of sweat and by God's grace. But anyone who is planning to survive whilst living in a state with a higher population density is probably in trouble. You must prepare to be very well-armed and deeply provisioned in order to hunker down in total isolation through two winters, sheltering through a major population die-off. Dr. Hugh's table (below) clearly illustrates the over-population of the eastern states and California that I've warned about for many years. ]




Sq. KMs
of Farmland


Pop. per Sq. KM
of Farmland
WY 498,703 13,366 37
MT 909,453 21,903 42
ND 634,110 15,220 42
SD 761,063 16,997 45
NE 1,729,180 17,924 96
NM 1,855,059 16,997 109
KS 2,715,884 18,311 148
IA 2,936,760 12,593 233
OK 3,493,714 13,134 266
ID 1,341,131 4,597 292
CO 4,506,542 12,091 373
TX 21,779,893 50,606 430
MN 5,019,720 10,971 458
AR 2,710,079 5,640 481
MO 5,672,579 11,512 493
UT 2,316,256 4,481 517
OR 3,521,515 6,644 530
AZ 5,456,453 10,237 533
MS 2,871,782 4,249 676
KY 4,092,891 5,254 779
NV 2,173,491 2,627 827
WI 5,441,196 6,142 886
WA 6,068,996 6,065 1,001
IN 6,159,058 5,949 1,035
IL 12,600,620 10,701 1,178
VT 616,592 518 1,191
TN 5,797,289 4,520 1,283
WV 1,801,873 1,391 1,296
AL 4,486,508 3,438 1,305
LA 4,482,646 3,110 1,441
AK 643,786 355 1,811
OH 11,421,267 5,679 2,011
GA 8,560,310 4,249 2,015
VA 7,293,542 3,361 2,170
SC 4,107,183 1,854 2,215
HI 1,244,898 556 2,238
NC 8,320,146 3,515 2,367
MI 10,050,446 4,018 2,502
ME 1,294,464 487 2,659
CA 35,116,033 10,701 3,282
DE 807,385 216 3,732
PA 12,335,091 2,975 4,147
FL 16,713,149 3,940 4,242
NY 19,157,532 2,936 6,525
MD 5,458,137 811 6,728
NH 1,275,056 158 8,050
CT 3,460,503 139 24,883
MA 6,427,801 216 29,713
RI 1,069,725 23 46,509

Yes, the preceding is based on land in current farm production and the cited "245 people per square kilometer" is a worst case average. As was pointed out in some of the follow-up letters, if you have an area with higher yields per acre, such as rice producing regions, this figure can increase, but it should give us an idea of how bad the dislocations are going to be once the naturally produced fertilizer hits the solar powered air mover.

Important Note: I took out grazing lands, CRP lands, etc. and only had square kilometers of land under actual cultivation.  This is based on a USDA estimate since exact figures are not kept except on a county by county level.  This is why the "final" number is square kilometers is much less than it would appear to be on the surface. 

I know that here in Colorado for example a piece of land I am looking at -- 160 acres -- only has 10 acres under active cultivation.  The rest of the section is either open range grazing land or CRP land.

I then applied some math [on demographics] to the chart...

[JWR Notes: Some detail deleted, for brevity]

I ruled out the original colonies and adjacent areas.  (Those have the figures shaded light red.) I ruled out the states west of the Mississippi River but with population densities that are far too high for sustainable agriculture. (Those are shaded dark red.)

I evaluated the states west of the Mississippi that are adjacent to "basket case" states with high population densities, and shaded them yellow.

This leaves us with a list of  only 11 states (shaded in green) that would make a good retreat/relocation area, so long as you choose wisely within the state itself.

[JWR Adds: For example, Dr. Hugh rates Wyoming high on his list, but if limit your criteria to only areas that are in the milder climate zone west of the Great Divide, then that leaves only parts of the western third of Wyoming. Similarly, he rates Montana highly, but if limit your criteria to only areas upwind of nuclear targets and that are in the milder climate zone west of the Great Divide, then that leaves only northwest corner of Montana. He also discounts Oregon and Washington, but the eastern halves of both of those states are very lightly populated.]

The new [short] list is then:




Sq. KMs
of Farmland


Pop. per Sq. KM
of Farmland



Dr. Hugh



MT 909,453 21,903 42 2 1
WY 498,703 13,366 37 5 2
ID 1,341,131 4,597 292 1 3
SD 761,063 16,997 45 7 4
ND 634,110 15,220 42 8 5
NE 1,729,180 17,924 96 11 6
NM 1,855,059 16,977 109 15 7
KS 2,715,884 18,311 148 12 8
CO 4,506,542 12,091 373 10 9
OK 3,493,714 13,134 266 17 10
TX 21,779,893 50,606 430 13 11

Since I currently live in Colorado I plan to relocate sooner than later outside of the state if I can not find a suitable location within the state.  - Dr. Hugh

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Regarding people eventually mailing U.S. nickel [5 cent coins] in bulk, you had asked: "Is there a box manufacturer that makes a sturdy corrugated cardboard box that fits tightly into a Medium size Priority Mail Flat Rate corrugated cardboard box?" At ULINE you can get a box to fit nicely inside the corrugated Medium Flat Rate Box ("FRB1", with dimensions 11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2"). It is item #S-4517. It measures 10"x8"x5". These boxes cost 54 cents each in lots of 25. (OBTW, leave it to the government to make two "medium" flat rate boxes. The longer, narrow one, "FRB2", is made of thinner material.) 

I buy my shipping material from ULINE and find them to be prompt and accurate in filling orders. A human always answers the phone. Their order line is: 1-800-295-5510.

Of interest to preppers, ULINE also sells sand bags, plastic bags, burlap bags for storing green coffee beans, all sorts of storage containers, and rolls of "Faraday Cage" static shielding material. Take Care, - Bill at BallisticClipboard.com

JWR Replies: Thanks for that useful information. OBTW, I recently added that, as well as some information on fitting rolls of nickels into .30 caliber ammo cans in the latest edition of my static page on Nickels.

A reader wrote to ask: "I have talked to a local doctor who is sympathetic about giving prescriptions for antibiotics but he is concerned about the legalities of supplying anyone with excessive amounts of any drug.  Does anyone out there know the proper process to undertake this acquisition?  I'm not worried about buying stuff outright and am willing to use multiple pharmacies but he is worried about getting in trouble and wants to know the legalities.  Any wisdom you or your readers can share? "

Doctor Koelker Replies: Doctors prescribe long-term antibiotics for many different problems, including conditions as simple as acne, to those as complex as HIV disease.  In 20+ years of medicine, I’ve never had a pharmacy question the need for a prescribed long-term antibiotic, other than issues of allergy or cost.  In this era of mail-away prescriptions and pharmacy pricing wars, it is not uncommon for a physician to prescribe 90 days of medication, even an antibiotic.      

It also isn’t that uncommon for a doctor to write an antibiotic with the understanding that a patient will use it under certain conditions.  For example, severely asthmatic patients may be advised to begin an antibiotic every time they get a cold.  A woman with frequent urinary tract infections may keep a sulfa drug on hand for use as soon as symptoms occur.  A missionary traveling to Africa may be prescribed long-term ciprofloxacin for a periodically recurring prostate condition.

I spoke with a lawyer about this, and she doubted that specific laws exist that address this question.  If they do exist, they would likely be state by state.  More likely the issue would be one of opinion, or ethics. Would the state medical board (in charge of licensing) censure a doctor for writing long-term antibiotics?  This lawyer agreed with me that keeping a contract in your medical chart outlining the proposed use and limits of liability would be a good idea.  As a physician, I would not prescribe long-term antibiotics for anyone I could not trust.  The patient would have to agree to my conditions as well as regular follow-up for other medical problems.  Of course, it’s not likely that a prepper patient currently has an infection requiring a long-term antibiotic, though he or she may well have some other problem, such as hypertension or diabetes. 

One thing patients, physicians, and pharmacists must not do is practice deception or give the appearance of deception.  The medical record is a legal document and doctors must record transactions such as prescribing antibiotics, including the reason for doing so.  At least in my home state, doctors cannot prescribe for patients they have not seen personally, and must have a chart on file for every patient seen. Going to different pharmacies or physicians may spare the professionals the issue of questionable prescribing, but this puts the patient at risk of being labeled a doctor-shopper or drug-shopper.  You need to be above-board about everything.  If you want antibiotics for an end-of-the-world scenario, don’t say you need it for acne.  Broken trust is very difficult to repair.  And please don’t ask your doctor to lie for you by saying an antibiotic is for a medical problem that you don’t actually have. 

The lawyer also pointed out the ethics of individual versus government responsibility for crisis preparation, as well as the malpractice question, which would not be a problem if no harm had come.

Of course, a doctor could prescribe an antibiotic for TEOTWAWKI, but what happens if a patient decides to share his supply now with a neighbor suffering from a bad cough, and that neighbor subsequently suffers an allergic reaction and dies?  Who is responsible here?  Although it is currently illegal for a person to “share” antibiotics or other prescription medication, therefore putting the onus on the patient, it is not unreasonable to think the prescribing doctor might get snared as a deep pocket in a lawsuit - all the more reason to keep a contract in the patient chart specifying that the medication will not be used unless civilization collapses.

So again, the issue boils down to one of trust.  Would I trust a prepper patient to uphold the agreement not to use an antibiotic supply unless the current medical establishment collapses?  Like it or not, this is an issue to be settled between your physician and yourself, at least in this country.  Another option would be to travel outside the U.S. to obtain antibiotic supplies, but I have no experience in this arena. (Doctor Koelker is SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor. She is also the editor of ArmageddonMedicine.net.)

The short squeeze in silver that I recently mention seems to be on, in earnest. Check Monday's spot silver chart. That is a 31-year high.

KAF sent us a link to a great piece by Patrice Lewis over at WorldNetDaily: Connecting the dots to anarchy. (SurvivalBlog readers will recognize Patrice Lewis as the editor of the excellent Rural Revolution blog.)

Companies Raise Prices as Commodity Costs Jump. (Thanks to Daniel S. for the link.)

Anthony S. sent this sign of the times: Pan American Silver Shifts Assets to Canadian Dollars

John R. suggested this: Six Charts Which Prove That Central Banks All Over The Globe Are Recklessly Printing Money

Reader C.D.V. sent this: Federal, state and local debt hits post-WWII levels

Josh M. pointed us to a piece of hydrogen fuel cell technology that has finally made it to the consumer level: Powertrekk.

   o o o

Egyptian 'Net Killed By Intimidation, Not a Switch. (A hat tip to Wade B. for the link.)

   o o o

C.D.V. sent us this dire prediction: Scientists Warn of $2 Trillion Solar ‘Katrina’.

   o o o

Reader J. H. forwarded: Reports coming out of Christchurch, New Zealand, following a magnitude 6.3 temblor are thusfar a bit confused. Please keep the folks there in your prayers.

   o o o

Troubling news: Florida Police Obtain Warrant to Search ‘All Persons’ in Apartment Complex

"Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies." - Honore de Balzac

Monday, February 21, 2011

SurvivalBlog's traffic continues to grow. We now average more than 260,000 unique visits per week, and we are using almost two terabytes of bandwidth per month. (That is a lot for a blog that is nearly all text!) If we are going to set up an offshore mirror web site (as planned), then it is going to require a fairly capable server.


Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

Here on the Oregon coast we have included precautions for a Tsunami in our emergency preparations.  This last spring while on vacation on the north shore of Oahu we experienced some valuable lessons when the Tsunami alert was raised after the earthquake in Chile.  This experience has helped us and hopefully will provide food for thought for others.

We have family living on the north shore of Oahu, in Laie that we were staying with during our trip.  About 4am in the morning as I was sleeping on the porch, a woman knocked on the door to inform the family of the earthquake in Chile, and that a Tsunami warning had been issued for the islands.  Very few details were known, and no information on when the wave might arrive.  No alarms in the town were sounded, and most of the community didn’t hear any word.  Most communication was received word-of-mouth, since very few were listening to the media that morning.  Our family was notified by a friend from church whose husband worked for BYU-Hawaii. 

At first, the family was a little confused as to what to do.  Food and water were on hand, but no one knew if we would be allowed to drive to higher ground, or if we would be required to walk.  Our decision on what to take with us would have changed dramatically if we had to walk and carry our gear.  Higher ground was about 400 yards away, but with the jungle and farmland around, most of Laie would be concentrated a few areas.  The family’s original plan was to drive ~10 miles to a camp they frequented, so we quickly woke up their 5 children, loaded food and water into the family’s truck, made contact with friends and the 6 college students living in the first floor of the house, and were ready to leave in 20 minutes.  Having 4 adults to help with the readiness made a big difference.  Not being familiar with where the family stored their supplies made it a bit more difficult, but since my wife and I were visiting, we were already packed with our necessities.  We simply had to refill our water bottles, double-check our gear, and help with the little ones.

Now we were ready to leave by 4:30 a.m., however we also took the time to contact reliable sources of information to confirm details.  We didn’t want to run off in the dark without more of the story.  Internet and all communications were available, so we quickly got enough information to feel safe about staying home until about 7:30 a.m., when it would be light out.  This gave us a lot of time to review our status, notify friends and neighbors, and also to let family back home on the mainland that we were okay and that we had a plan.  We gave them all details to our plans.

By 7:30, there was more activity in the neighborhood, and most everyone in the community was notified.  Official media reports were publishing details, and at 8 a.m. the first community alarm went off.  We really appreciated the fact that personal networks notified us 4 hours before the first ‘public’ warning came in a form that everyone would know of.

Finally, we were off to higher ground.  The morning was beautiful and clear – already warm for us mainlanders.  As we were leaving town, we noticed a few police cars making patrols, and talked with neighbors who had already seen and reported some looting and mischief.  The roads were not busy, and many of the locals had reported to others that they were staying home to stick it out.  They didn’t want to leave their home.  A long line of about 12-15 cars had formed at the only local gas station.  There was no real indicator that anything abnormal was going on in paradise.  We were very glad we had more than half a tank of gas and that we wouldn’t be traveling far.

The main highways around Oahu all run on the periphery of the island.  Beautiful to drive along the water’s edge, but as we made our way to higher ground, we realized if a wave does much damage to that same waterfront highway, getting home again might be impossible for days.  Before we went far from home, we pulled over, thought it through, and decided on a new location – less than a mile from home.  This was one of the most important learning’s from our experience.  Bugging out must take into account getting back.

Our new location took us to a large ranch owned by a local church that the family was familiar with.  The grounds keeper had already opened up the property for the community to gather in and we easily found a good spot in an open field with 80 other vehicles and families.  It was a big, open field safely in the hills with a lookout to the ocean about 500 yards up the hill.

After parking we setup camp.  Our three most valuable items (besides food and water) were our canopy, lawn chairs, and board games.  The tropical weather quickly turned hot, and without the shade of the canopy, we would have been miserable.  Others without cover ducked under shade trees, or joined the bigger groups who were assembling large party canopies.  Even with shade, we went through water quickly.  The open field was great for playing catch and wandering around.  All the teenagers were busy texting and calling friends – without the phones the boredom would have been difficult.

First real emergency – the teenagers needed a bathroom.  For the boys, this wasn’t an issue with all of the trees and brush around the field.  For the women, it was a bigger concern.  The four of them went into the woods together and eventually found a spot secluded “enough” to be comfortable.  They reported many small groups and individuals roaming the trees looking for that elusive seclusion.  A small popup latrine or some other facility to provide privacy would have been very valuable to the group.  The hand wipes became very valuable at this point too – and are worth mentioning. After about an hour, most of the men were either asleep or were antsy to go back into town to get more stuff.  It was about 11am at this point, and all media reports were that we should expect the wave(s) to hit at 1pm.  We felt we had enough time and the risk was low that we decided to give it a go.  We took the pickup the three miles back into Laie, and loaded up lawn chairs, a full-size propane barbeque grill, and lots of food for dinner out of the freezer.  Extra water and toilet paper were also gathered.  It was interesting that more police patrol cars were in the neighborhoods, and many residents slowly going about their day.  We made several stops to pickup stuff for friends and neighbors, and to make sure surf boards, bikes, and other stuff was up on the second floor porches of all the homes we visited.  We were back on higher ground with the grill hot by 11:30 a.m.

The grill was a big hit, but quickly brought dozens of hungry kids and teenagers around, so we turned it off before cooking any food to avoid any disturbances.  We didn’t have nearly enough food to go around, and in the local culture it would have been rude not to invite even casual acquaintances to eat with us.  So we stuck to snacks we had on hand, and loaned out the grill to another large family group to use.

Here’s an interesting side-story regarding first aid.  About a dozen of the local boys, about 9 years old, spent their free-time catching scorpions.  They showed us a small water bottle with three of them inside.  A great diversion for the boys, but my thought was: “what if one of the boys was stung?”  The parents would have their hands full with a miserable child and little way to assist.  Having a remedy for bee or scorpion stings would be a valuable ingredient in an emergency first aid pack. Finally, as 1 pm came closer everyone made their way to a lookout point to watch for the wave.  It was hot now, and water was soon used up.  At least 150 of us sat around a single radio waiting for updates and passing the latest rumors.  The media had less information than many of the locals with families on the Big Island, where the wave was to hit first.  The public media was not much help.  Nothing was seen of note down in the ocean, other than a couple folks out surfing near Turtle Cove. 

Finally, when 1:30 p.m. came without any noticeable change in the seas, the media reported that 2 p.m. was the likely time.  Hilo on the Big Island hadn’t seen any significant wave show up, and many folks around us were ready to head home.

The men of our group loaded up the heavy gear and headed down to home by 1:45 p.m.  After unloading, about 2 p.m. the police gave us an “all clear” and we let the women know to bring the children down [from the heights]. We were all very glad that nothing significant had happened.  We had a great day in the hills with very little inconvenience.  The barbeque was the most disappointing part of the day.  The women had planned to spend the day at the Aloha Stadium Market and were disappointed they missed out on that, but we husbands figured the tsunami saved us several hundreds of dollars in canceling that plan.  We all learned some valuable lessons – including the younger children, and it was a great opportunity to better prepare for the next event.  In terms of gear, the only additional items we would recommend for a short “bug out” like this would be handheld [MURS or GMRS] radios, some form of privacy (tent, tarp, etc), and more to read. 

Hello All,  
We have another Medical Response in Hostile Environments Class scheduled. This class will be on June 10, 11, and 12, 2011.  It will be conducted at the historic Lafayette Hotel, 101 Front Street, in Marietta Ohio.  Marietta is on the Ohio River at Exit 1 off of I-77.  (This is a new location, so our web site may not yet reflect all the updates).  The Hotel is offering a special group rate but you must mention Medical Corps to get it.  If your flight brings you into Cleveland you can get a commuter flight to Parkersburg. (Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport ) which is only 15 minutes from the Hotel.  You may not need to rent a car since the Hotel offers free airport shuttle service. Restaurants, shops and entertainment are all within walking distance.   

Note: The last four classes have filled in two weeks or less so please send in your registration and deposit now if you are interested.  If you change your mind or have an emergency we will refund your deposit.  If you have any questions before you sign up, you can call (740) 434-5605 or e-mail chuck@medicalcorps.org or diane@sickbay.org.  You are getting this early notification in SurvivalBlog before the class is posted on the web site so the new June date will not be posted.  Please take the time to neatly fill out the registration form in legible print. Here is a list of links which may be helpful:  

Dear Mr. Rawles,
As always, I thank you for your work and send greetings and blessings to you.

I just switched from using Windows Vista to Ubuntu Linux 10.10 on my Laptop. First, I must say I am delighted at the ease of installation and how everything works immediately. Second, I am delighted that my Windows Vista partition of the hard disk continues to work just as it always had. No loss of data nor of function.

When I began using Linux, I looked into security and learned that there is no firewall immediately installed. It is easy and free to download and install one. I queried security from the "System - Help and Support" option at the top of the screen. It informed me about the gufw package. I clicked the highlighted link and it downloaded and installed it. Next I went to Systems - Administration - Firewall configuration and turned the firewall on.

Next, I tested the integrity of the firewall using the ShieldsUP! program. This was an eye-opener. It is probably even more essential to use with a Windows-based computer. It has options to test your ports, test file sharing, test all common ports, test messenger spam, and to see what your browser headings reveal about you. I am not a computer security expert and I am sure there are those that can provide a more detailed description of steps to take to secure your identity and your computer's integrity, but this seems like a really good start. - Mr. Bennington in Pittsburgh

Dear Editor:
Some SurvivalBlog readers are really into ham radio; some are not. I think you’ll all find this YouTube video link very interesting as it concerns various modes of digital radio transmissions that ham radio operators use daily and enjoy. It shows you, and lets you hear, what a digital mode is like if you come across it on your shortwave receivers, or your ham transceivers.

There are advantages in recognizing that what you’re hearing is a digital message, and knowing the type of transmission. If you have a shortwave receiver that can discriminate the frequencies you can even decode these messages with out the need of a license. You just cannot partake in the conversation in a reply. A high quality receiver with an audio output jack and a link between your computer sound card and free demodulation software such as Digipan and many others will let you listen in on virtually all of these types of digital transmissions.    

I hope you will find it interesting and education and even more so motivating to either get into ham radio, or to upgrade your license to become more active in to higher frequencies offered with the General and Extra class tickets. 73, - Mike H.


Dr. Hugh asked the question about population density in the US States.  Below is the answer. Since I couldn't finagle Wolfram Alpha to do this in people per square kilometer, I did it in square miles.

For reference:

If you convert Dr. Hugh's figure of 245 people per square kilometer to people per square mile and that equates to 634.5 people per square mile

Keeping that number in mind, I used this Wolfram Alpha equation, and learned:

Rank State Pop. Density
1 New Jersey 1,185 people/mi^2
2 Rhode Island 1,007 people/mi^2
3 Massachusetts 835.2 people/mi^2
4 Connecticut 737.7 people/mi^2
5 Maryland 590.7 people/mi^2
6 Delaware 459.6 people/mi^2
7 New York 410.4 people/mi^2
8 Florida 348.6 people/mi^2
9 Pennsylvania 283.4 people/mi^2
10 Ohio 281.7 people/mi^2
11 California 238.9 people/mi^2


230.8 people/mi^2


211.8 people/mi^2


202.1 people/mi^2

North Carolina

195.8 people/mi^2


180.8 people/mi^2
17 Michigan 174 people/mi^2


167.3 people/mi^2


154 people/mi^2

South Carolina

153.6 people/mi^2

New Hampshire

146.8 people/mi^2


109.2 people/mi^2


104.7 people/mi^2


104.1 people/mi^2


101.1 people/mi^2
26 Texas 96.05 people/mi^2
27 Alabama

94.19 people/mi^2
28 Missouri
86.94 people/mi^2
29 West Virginia

76.96 people/mi^2
30 Vermont

67.65 people/mi^2
31 Minnesota

66.62 people/mi^2
32 Mississippi

63.26 people/mi^2
33 Arizona 56.25 people/mi^2


56 people/mi^2


54.63 people/mi^2


54.53 people/mi^2


48.49 people/mi^2


43.04 people/mi^2


39.91 people/mi^2


34.87 people/mi^2


33.65 people/mi^2
42 Nevada 24.59 people/mi^2


23.76 people/mi^2


18.94 people/mi^2

New Mexico

16.97 people/mi^2

South Dakota

10.73 people/mi^2

North Dakota

9.75 people/mi^2


6.79 people/mi^2


5.80 people/mi^2
50 Alaska 1.24 people/mi^2

[JWR Adds: Readers might want to compare that table with the 19 states in my rankings of states, by retreat potential. BTW, the preceding table is so useful that I've added it to my Retreat Areas static page.]


James Wesley:
Checking the writer's conclusions, I found: 

In 1955, Japan had a population of 90,077,000.  Assuming that their amount of arable land was the same in 1955 as it is today, 43,620 square kilometers, then the population density is 2,065 persons per square kilometer or about 8.4 persons per acre.  This assumes that Japan was not importing any food at this time. 

In 1955, the population of China was 610,465,000.  Assuming that their amount of arable land was the same in 1955 as it is today, 1,385,905 square kilometers, The population density is 440 persons per square kilometer or about 1.8 persons per acre.  This assumes that China was not importing any food at this time. 

China and Japan do not have European or US climates and they do not have Western diets but the broad assumption that the land can support about 1 person per acre may not be true world-wide.  - Richard J.


Jim & Family:

I studied soils in school, as part of my Geology degree. I also studied Hydrology. Both aspects have a huge impact on soil fertility and thus carrying capacity. While I respect the basic effort involved in the carrying capacity list, its missing those crucial details. The reason that France and California and the Midwest have such amazing fertility and crop yields is they have the ideal balance of water and soil types. You can't say the same for many places which merely offer numbers which look good on the surface.

The ugly truth is the best places to grow food have the highest population density, as a rule. They will be fought over, should push come to shove. California is routinely fought over for water rights in the courts, and in bribes to authorize those rights or transfer them to the "right" person (holding the bribe). The book "Cadillac Desert" describes this well and is worth reading if you want to understand the Western States, Water Rights, land grabs, and dam building.

Generally speaking, Western Europe, south of the serious frost/snow areas of Scandinavia (which lacks good soil thanks to the glaciers carving it away), is the place in the EU for best rainfall, for soil fertility, and for best crop yields. Largely: France and Spain. The UK goes up and down that scale due to excessive summer rains killing crops with molds and pests. They can have great years. But they can also have terrible years. France is more consistent. Morocco tends to lack the better rains and dam sites so its often too little water. Spain varies due to rainfall like England, only to getting to little rather than too much.

Of all the places on Earth with the best combinations of rain and sun, the USA [is the largest single region that] has the best, period. The USA is the swing producer of food for the planet. It is what will back our currency once the oil is mostly traded in Yuan/Renminbi.

Its up to us to insure that moral and ethical men and women govern our nation. I am sure it seems like a very distant goal, considering modern times, but we must persevere.   Sincerely, - InyoKern

Along The Watchtower reports on the COMEX's severe shortage of physical silver for delivery, amid strong open interest (OI) for March contracts: Wow! If a higher than normal percentage of buyers demand delivery, then the market will implode. There is already short squeeze in progress. The COMEX governors are likely to resort to drastically raising margin requirements to near 100% in an attempt to cool the market. (As precedent, they did this back during the Hunt Brothers silver short squeeze, three decades ago. Silver was then approaching $50 per ounce, and the COMEX hit the brakes hard.) A repeat of that sort of draconian manipulation could briefly slam the price of silver down to around $22 per ounce. (If that occurs, look at it as a great buying opportunity.) They might also at some time restrict delivery, forcing buyers to accept cash instead of the physical silver commitment that they bought. The latter move will surely create pandemonium in the spot market, with silver likely to then spike above $55 per ounce.

A recent piece in The Daily Bell: Jay Taylor on Inflation Versus Deflation, the Possibility of a Gold Standard and Why the West is Failing.

Loyal news link contributor Sue C. flagged this: States That Ignored Warnings on Unemployment Insurance Face Reckoning.

Items from The Economatrix:

Forget Gold: Why Investors are Targeting Guns. [JWR Adds: Here in the U.S. my two most-strongly recommended modern guns for investment are the Steyr AUG-A3 (production just ceased after only a short run of a few thousand guns by Steyr USA), and the Saiga 12 gauge semi-auto shotgun (a strong candidate for a pending importation ban). The law of supply and demand is inescapable, so buy them soon!]

Lost Dollars (The Mogambo Guru)  

Many Riots in Arab Countries; Silver Explodes  

Inflation Makes a Comeback as Prices Rise for Food, Fuel 

Short Squeeze In Silver!  Could Be the Big One:  John Rubino  

Philly Fed Index Hits Seven-Year High as Inflation Builds   

Bill Changes Florida's Unemployment Benefit System  

Reader C.D.V. mentioned this: Inflation: It's Here. "This is an important topic because with an expanding money supply, one would expect to see price inflation, yet the official statistics reveal no substantial price increases. And that begs the question: Why not?"

Deutsche Bank on the Imminent Inflationary Outbreak in America. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Why Are Food Prices Going Crazy?

Cotton hits $2 a pound Cotton values surge owing to increased demand

Following Beijing's lead, news from Taipei: Prosecutors Office vows to crack down on food hoarding. (Hmmm... Could it be that double-digit inflation is on the horizon?)

A major failure in family OPSEC, up in Canada: Chilliwack man shaken after home invaders take $750,000 in silver. It doesn't rhyme, but remember: Loose Lips Invite Home Invaders!

   o o o

Ol' Remus mentioned a useful web site that will calculate the magnetic declination for most locales. Since the magnetic north pole has been shifting rapidly in the past 20 years do not trust the declination diagram that is printed at the bottom of your handy-dandy USGS or Ordnance Survey map, even if the map is just a few years old. It is most likely out of date!

   o o o

Another one of Bloomberg's corrupt and criminal mayors resigns. Mayor Adam Bradley is just the latest in a long string of disgraced mayors! There are an astonishing number of mayors in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) cabal that have been forced to resign from office, after being convicted of criminal charges. For the sake of accuracy, I believe that the organization ought to be re-named: Corrupt and Criminal Democrat Mayors Against All Guns Not Owned By The Government Or By Very Special People (CACDMAAGNOBTGOBVSP).

   o o o

Decentralizing the Internet So Big Brother Can’t Find You

"Ure's New Precious Metals Axiom: For each ounce of precious metal added, obtain four ounces of suitably packaged lead and keep it available for immediate delivery." - George Ure

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

Many people both on this blog and elsewhere in the prepping community have advocated some form of professional medical training prior to encountering a disaster situation.  While I agree with this sentiment, this article is meant to discuss the limits of some medical training for lay persons in a post-TEOTWAWKI scenario, as well as review the options and advantages of the various training programs available for lay people.  That my qualifications may be known, I am an emergency room RN, an EMT, and an instructor of the Wilderness First Responder and Advanced Wilderness Life Support curriculum, with experience in wildland fire and search and rescue.   

The biggest fallacy on this topic that I see routinely propagated is the notion of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training for use in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation.  While I agree that more people should have this training, it is really useful only so long as the larger medical infrastructure is intact.  Let me explain: CPR stands for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.  Think chest compressions and rescue breathing.  As things stand now, in a grid up world, CPR at best only buys time keeping the brain and vital organs alive until definitive care, in the form of defibrillation and advanced airway control and medications can be given and surgical stenting in some cases.  CPR is commonly used in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, with some effectiveness if definitive care is reached in a timely (less than 10 minutes) manner.  It is also used, with greater effectiveness in cases of drowning/near drowning and lightning strike.  These are the only instances when CPR can be expected to have any positive impact in a grid down situation, as cardiac arrest requires extensive medical infrastructure to complete the chain of survival.  CPR in cases of traumatic injury (gunshot, car crash, falls, etc) is virtually never successful.   

Not to take any thing away from CPR; if more people were trained and willing to step in and perform CPR when it is needed (patient is not breathing and has no pulse) today, when the grid is up, more people would survive sudden arrest and near drowning.  In a grid down situation, where there is no definitive care available, CPR has a virtually negligible effect on survival.  In cases where there are multiple casualties or hostile opponents attempting CPR only takes resources away from those who need them, either other patients or repulsing a hostile enemy.   

So if CPR is not the end all-be all of medical training for lay persons, what are our options?  I will review the most commonly available levels of training and their strengths, in a more or less ascending order.   First, basic first aid.  Commonly taught by the Red Cross in concert with a basic CPR course, these classes deal with stopping bleeding, dressing wounds, immediate treatment for choking patients, and recognizing more severe injury or illness that needs an ambulance.  This level should be considered the most basic level acceptable, in that it at least covers topics in addition to CPR such as bleeding control.  The class may be from 4-8 hours long, and is usually offered by the Red Cross several times per year for less than $100.  

Wilderness First Aid (WFA)

Next up the ladder would be a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class.  In addition to the topics covered in a basic first aid course, WFA introduces topics such as immobilization and treatment of bone and joint injury, penetrating trauma, basic wound care, and environmental emergencies and prevention such as heat stroke, hypothermia, dehydration, and others.  This class is usually 18-24 hours long (a long weekend) and is taught well by schools such as the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI), SOLO, WMA, Northern Arizona University, and others.  With great respect to the Red Cross for the things they do well, I do not recommend their WFA course, as I feel it is too short and does not adequately cover the topics.  Cost may be from $120-$300.  

Next up the ladder would be something along the line of the Outdoor Emergency Course (OEC), commonly taught to and required of ski patrol.  Covering the same information as WFA but in greater depth and detail and with greater emphasis on cold injury, OEC approaches the level of Wilderness First Responder, covered next.  

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) 

My recommendation for all serious preppers, the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) class is commonly taught over 7-to-10 days (80 hours) and emphasizes hands on practice and improvisation and medical care in difficult and remote circumstances.  It covers immediate life saving treatment for all types of traumatic injury, medical emergencies and first aid for cardiac, stroke, diabetes, neurological problems, and more, as well as a great deal of time on preventing and treating environmental emergencies like dehydration, heat and cold injury, burns, lightning, altitude, animal bites, and more.  Emphasis is on judgment, application of skills to difficult and remote areas, and improvisation, as well as extended patient contact time.  This last is in contrast to many other training programs for lay people, which assume a short length of time in contact with the patient before handing off to EMS.  Some programs also teach scene management, helicopter interface, and mass casualty scenes and triage.  The same schools which teach WFA also teach WFR, and cost ranges from $400-700, and is worth every penny.  


EMT-Basic (EMT-B). Usually 120 hours in most states, teaches the immediate treatment, stabilization, and transport of patients as part of a larger, intact functional medical system.  While this class places less emphasis on judgment and long term patient contact, it does go into greater depth of anatomy and physiology and pharmacology that does WFR, as well as covering obstetrical emergencies.  In rural areas you may have the cost of this class covered if you join your volunteer fire department.  Other wise local community colleges are the best place to find this training.    Wilderness EMT-B (WEMT) This class merely combines the curriculum of WFR and EMT, leading to state certification as an EMT-B and the knowledge and judgment of WFR.  Arguably the best of both worlds, this course is often taught over a one month period on location out in the woods or in a base camp somewhere.  Reputable schools include the WMI, Aerie, and Desert

Mountain Medicine 

Levels of medical training beyond this require more than 1 month or 1 semester of education, and commonly require field experience as well.  You can’t be a paramedic without first being an EMT.    For those with a background in medicine, but whose skills might not be useful in a wilderness or grid down situation, there are several “bridge” type classes available.  For people like dentists, nurses, paramedics, doctors, and others, classes like Advanced Wilderness Life Support take their current scope of practice and incorporate elements of improvisation and environmental emergencies.  Other similar courses include Wilderness Advanced Life Support and dedicated wilderness medicine expeditions taught by the WMI.   

Hopefully this information will help others decide what type of medical training is most appropriate for them.  Obviously my recommendation is WFA as a minimum for all preppers, WFR as the best most practical option, and WEMT for those who can afford the time and money or have a particular interest in the topic.  Perhaps in your retreat group of friends/family you have everyone as WFAs, several WFRs, and your medical team leader as a WEMT.  This has the added advantage of everyone speaking the same language of medicine and injury/illness prevention, which as we all know is better than any cure.  Lastly, the experience and knowledge of patient assessment and recognizing which patients have manageable problems at home with minimal resources and which problems represent true emergencies requiring specialized help will go a long way in any scenario, even with the grid up, preventing unnecessary trips to the ER and better informed, more productive (and perhaps fewer) trips to the doctor's office.

I love the work you are doing, keep it up!  I know since the early 1990s when we first communicated via e-mail I have turned hundreds of people on to your writing and your work and yours is still the most comprehensive and easiest to understand approach for newcomers to the prepping community.  

I really enjoyed the “Real Population Density” chart (List of countries by real population density (based on food growing capacity) link posted in your blog. But i would like to point out a couple of things that people need to keep in mind.  

The average size of a medieval peasant’s farm was five acres.  This supported an average sized family for back then – four or five people and lots of dead infants (from diseases).  

I know my direct ancestor who came to the colonies left a farm that was a grand total of ten acres in size.  And his family was considered rich, until Cromwell had the rest of those non-human Welsh/Catholics/minor nobility (three strikes against them) eliminated.  By then the youngest son (the cadet son) was in the Catholic colony of Maryland.  

The average sized family farm in the US through the late 1800s and into the early 1900s was around 40 acres.  Family sizes were larger because of sanitation advances. This was around double the size of the medieval family.  But the motive power was still human or animal just like in medieval times.  

So the medieval carrying capacity was around a person per arable acre of land.  The late 1800s saw this increase some but not much – larger farms but also a larger city population.  Part of the farm though was woodlot and pasture which was commons (village green, nobles forest land).  But roughly half of the 40 acres was farmed on average and while the standard of living had gone up you still had around one person per farmed acre as the supported population.  

If you consider (if my math is right) that each square kilometer is around 245 acres, this means that the sustainable carrying capacity of the land absent mechanization and GMO is 245 people per square kilometer if we assume a disaster that will eliminate the ability to use intensive modern farming techniques such as lots of petroleum derived fertilizers, large tractors, etc.  

That puts us down to country [rank] #192 on the list.  And if we eliminate the postage stamp countries we are left with the following list of countries as having (or still having) a sustainable carrying capacity in a late 1800s technological base.  (Note: I’ve eliminated the miscellaneous information in the middle. The column on the right shows the population density per square kilometer.) 

192 Romania 245
193 Denmark 244
194 Mongolia 241
195 Moldova 239
196 Sudan 234
198 Bulgaria 225
199 Togo 225
200 Turkmenistan 224
201 Central African Republic 219
202 Hungary 219
203 Zambia 215
204 Paraguay 214
205 United States 179
206 Belarus 177
207 Guyana 174
208 Ukraine 145
209 Argentina 144
211 Latvia 128
212 Lithuania 123
213  Russia 117
214 Niger   84
215 Canada 78
217 Kazakhstan 69
218 Australia 43

I would like to see somebody go through the same exercise with the United States, by state, and by population ranking. I am sure that the states that you have recommended (west of the Mississippi, sans California) are going to be the top ones on that list as well. - Dr. Hugh

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First again thanks and kudos for your interesting and illuminating blog. I would like to remind you and your readers about a web site that SurvivalBlog has mentioned before concerning seeds.

I checked the web site Wintersown.org and I sent them a [self-addressed] envelope with two ounces postage (by the way, they mention using two 44 cent stamps, but you only need one 44 cent stamp and one 23 cent stamp for the additional ounce). So, for about a dollar (including the stamp to send the [self-addressed] letter to them) here is what they sent to me:

  • Wildflower blend for full sun
  • Blue flax
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Celery sedano da taglio
  • Evening primrose
  • Rocket larkspur
  • Blackberry lily
  • Oxheart tomato
  • Rapa da broccoletti
  • Feverfew

Now I understand most of these are flowers but where are you supposed to buy your sweetheart flowers after TEOTWAWKI? [JWR Adds: Just keep those seeds away from your livestock pastures. Many flowers are poisonous to sheep, goats, and cattle.]

Most importantly, they have a seed exchange so that like-minded individuals can share and exchange seeds.

I have found other Internet sites where people will exchange seeds just for the asking and there are also local clubs. I am looking forward to getting a variety of heirloom tomato grown here in Pittsburgh for generations. Local seed exchanges are the most valuable because you know that the seeds are going to do well in this climate.

So thanks again and God Bless You. - Mr. Bennington in Pittsburgh

F.G. sent us a list of some regions not to live in: The 11 Most Dangerous Cities. Reading that list should make folks yearn to relocate to truly safe places.

   o o o

Mark Levin Goes Nuclear Over Obama Destroying the Country. (Our thanks to John R. for sending the link. This might be a good link to forward to your congrescritter's office.)

   o o o

At Clinton Speech: Military and CIA Veteran Bloodied, Bruised and Arrested for Standing Silently. And how would have the JBTs reacted if fifty people in the audience had simultaneously done the same thing? I predict that quite soon, protestors will put social networking to use. I consider shunning--either walking out of a speech or just silently standing and turning your back on a politician--to be a worthy and entirely acceptable form of protest.

   o o o

Troy H. sent a link to a fascinating piece on the growth of conservative, Libertarian evangelical churches in the Inland Northwest.

   o o o

Fight by states over Obamacare takes wing: Idaho House steps between federal mandates and constituents

"These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him:

A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." - Proverbs 6:16-19 (KJV)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Beta Glitch. :-( We've discovered that some of the 47 beta testers of the SurvivalBlog 2005-2010 Archive CD-ROM may have been accidentally mailed blank CD-ROMs by the publisher. Yikes! If your v0.5 Beta CD-ROM was blank, then please e-mail our archival guru, and we will put you on the list to get a free replacement copy. Our apologies! We are hoping to have the Version 1.0 CD-ROM orderable by everyone on or before March 10th. Thanks for your patience.


Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

Here is my review of the USSA Tactical Shotgun #220 course, conducted in December, 2010. I started out with about 850 rounds of #7 bird shot, 150 rounds of 9 pellet 00 Buck and 50 slugs. I should have brought more slugs as I wound up borrowing about 10 from one of the other students. When I was done, I had about 200 rounds of #7 birdshot and 50 rounds of 00 Buck and no slugs.

First let me get this out of the way; Those of you who know me, know that I am currently a fat, out-of-shape, somewhat crippled up, older man. This put me at a disadvantage against the performance of the other students. I was also using a inexpensive (read cheap) Chinese knock-off of a Remington 870 Express pump shotgun. One other student was using a pump (it was a Mossberg 590A1 that had been customized). All of the others, including the instructor, were using semi-automatic action shotguns of one type or another.

It was easy to see the difference in rate of fire and overall action between the pumps and the semi-auto guns. The semi-autos were out shooting the pumps at a rate of 3 to 2 or 4 to 2. Target reacquisition was also much faster on the semi-autos. So with all of this, I could not quite match the round count of the other students. I burned a tremendous amount of energy, just operating my weapon over the course of the training that greatly reduced my performance.

However, having said that, I consider the training to have been excellent. The instructor (Mike Seeklander) is a recognized champion in the Three Gun competition community and has a long career in law Enforcement and as a tactical trainer of Law Enforcement Officers. During the entire class he went out of his way to make sure that we understood the reasoning behind what he was teaching. He consistently stresses the importance of the “stay in the fight” mentality and how to cultivate it during training to help avoid the development of ‘range’ habits. A strong emphasis was placed on deliberate action during training to build the correct habits which are what we will fall back on under stress.

The classroom portion of the class was very short (2 hours out of about 24) and covered the basic admin and safety issues required for any firearms class. After which we retired to the range and began with zeroing our shotguns with slugs at 50 meters. The entire remaining portion of the class was practical hands-on shooting. This was done at a variety of ranges on differing types of targets.

One of the most challenging portions of the class was the final activity on the second day. We were taken to the Rogers Range, which has computerized pop-up reactive targets at close to medium range (I believe it runs from about 10 to about 30 meters) that can be computer programmed to pop-up in a random pattern, with between one (1) and six (6) targets popping up (this can been a real challenge when you have a 5 shot tube).

I do not recall the amount of time that the targets were up, but we had 10 seconds to reload between rounds.

At the beginning of the class, Mike told us that shotgun combat was a matter of “shoot and reload, shoot and reload”. The Roger's Range exercise drove this home as nothing else in training could. During that exercise every deficiency that you or your equipment have will be clearly manifested. It was an extremely useful exercise. I fully intend to try and get the management to let me do that one on my own at the Rogers Range in the future after I improve my equipment. Another of the useful things in this class was the use of buckshot at different ranges against both paper and pepper-popper targets to help us get an idea of the spread and relative power of a load of buckshot at short and long ranges. Every one in the class decided after those exercises to include slugs in their basic load out.

The practical exercises included training on the differences between cover and concealment, effective use of the cover available in the battlespace you find yourself in, the value of preplanning the cover available in your usual areas and how to use a vehicle for effective cover.

Once again, very useful training. And for me specifically, knowing that even with the deficiencies that I currently have, I can perform these tasks.

On the final day of the class, we ran the ‘shoot house’, which was one of my personal ambitions. We were taught to use deliberate rather than dynamic movement techniques and to make maximum use of ‘cover, time and distance’. One interesting point about the shoot house exercise is that it will give you a new appreciation of the effects of stress on your mind and body during a gun fight. For me personally and for many people I know, that kind of a more realistic type of training environment seems to convince my body that we are doing the real thing and my limbic system behaves accordingly, with the adrenaline dump, the distortion of perceptions and the whole nine yards. This was the first time that I had personally experienced auditory exclusion. While everyone else’s shots were loud to the point of deafening, even with my electronic ear muffs, I could barely hear my own.

I did learn that [equipment] quality has a huge impact on usage. The majority of my problems during that class were related to the weapon operation problems that I experienced.

One last word on equipment; one of the students was using an optic (I believe it was a Trijicon RMR Dual Sight 9.0 MOA Amber Dot. He graciously allowed us each to try it and it was a tremendous aid in rapid target acquisition and getting a good shot off quickly. It is definitely something to think about. In summary, I found the class to be a valuable learning experience and a smashing good time. I look forward to taking it again some time in the future.

Mrs. R.J.,
I rejoice to read of your plans to prepare. It's good to know you're in Arkansas. The Christians at Ark Haven believe that is a protected area for many reasons, physical and spiritual.

Three generations on one piece of property is definitely getting back to the old ways. Two acres is great -- focus on compact crops and animals; Jeavons lists crops by square foot yield and calorie count so you can be sure you're getting the correct amount in his book "How To Grow More Vegetables" (read it free here). (And yes, it appears this free book is acceptable with copyright laws.) Each person can live on less than 5,000 square feet (perhaps less) so two acres ought to be plenty of food, with surplus to be charitable with, or to sell.

You said, "I have read many of the stories on SurvivalBlog but have yet to read a one from someone on a very tight budget" but I recall seeing several articles just this year on preparing with a tight budget. Use the Search box to check the blog archives, you might find what you're looking for.

You said, "We want to add some how-to books to our library..." The following web sites have so many free books, it's more than you can possibly read in the next year, perhaps in your lifetime:

A friend with high-speed internet and a thumb drive could bring them to you.

You said, "We are interested in special growing lights..." Before buying those, and using more electricity, consider an earth-sheltered greenhouse, which costs little to build and uses no electricity or gas, even in frigid northern Idaho. Also check out Eliot Coleman's books from your library (or use inter-library loan); he is successful year-round in snowy Maine, using unheated greenhouses.

You said, "We (...) don’t know when or how we can add the grinders, expensive water filters or the solar power we will need." Grinders: There are plans online for simple pipe-based grinders. I found this one. Water filters: Here's a short article called "Five ways to purify water without fuel or purchased filters." There are a sixth and seventh way in the comments under the article.

Solar power: Use less.  I believe our family could get by with just these rugged solar LED lanterns  at $15 each and perhaps a water pump. Those in poorer countries say that electricity is one of the easiest utilities to get rid of. But if you cannot get rid of it, then Sunelec has gotten costs down to almost $1 per watt. Even with low cost panels, rebates and incentives, I estimated that the payback rate was still seven years. There are other ways to save, such as raising animals (instead of buying meat).

See also the book: Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning

I highly recommend you read about Permaculture. Permaculture's emphasis is on letting God's designs in nature do as much of the work as possible. It's about working smarter, not harder, and once established most gardens take care of themselves without much costly input or labor. The best book I've found is "Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture" Don't let the name throw you (like it first did for me), it's not new age earth worship; just solid advice.

Also learn about seed saving; it's not as easy as it sounds, there are some technical details you should know.

You can grow some of your own herbal medicines. This is another field which New-Agers have taken over, but it need not be that way.

Consider learning about animal trapping and wild foraging; this knowledge would pay off quickly. Take some of the seeds from the wild plants for your garden; outsiders will believe you are growing weeds :-)

You might consider building a survival community such as Ark Haven is trying to do. There's strength in numbers, and you can bring in specialists (doctors, vets, carpenters, skilled shooters, etc.) who can round out the skills you'll need to pull through.

Lastly, continue to bank on the promises of God. I like to recommend reading Matthew 6:19-34 out loud. It has a stronger emphasis when you read it aloud. Same with Habakkuk 3:17-19 and Nahum 1:7. It's as though half of the Bible is written for times like these.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight paths. Be not wise in your own eyes but fear the Lord; turn away from evil." - Proverbs 3:5-7

Sincerely, - C.D.V.


Thanks for the blog. I'm a huge fan, and your blog is literally a rock-solid anchor for me and my family during all this turmoil.

I took "Rick in Kentucky's" claim that he could get $190 worth of nickels into an ammo can as a challenge. My ammo is flat green can has yellow paint on it which reads as follows: "200 CARTRIDGES, 7.62 MM, NATO 0 M80..." I took out a full can that I have where the coins are arranged laying down, dumped out the rolls, and started stacking vertically as described by Rick. It was quite a trick to insert the last one in the corner of the bottom row. But it works out! 4x12 x2 high x2 dollars each = $192 dollars and 45.9 pounds. Wow, I could easily see where there is even a slightly dented ammo box that it would be impossible.

One could get away with adding [loose] individual nickels to bump up the value, but certainly not to the $200 threshold, and of course, then the can's contents would no longer be all rolled coins. - Jeff in Colorado Springs


Hi James,
Regarding the letter about fitting more nickels into a standard U.S. 30 Caliber ammunition can. One reader wrote that he could get $190 worth into a can.

I have been experimenting trying several stacking methods and I found one that I like the best.  I stack the nickel rolls vertically (on end, standing up) four to a row across the width of the ammo can.  (Think of like stacking one shotgun shell on top of another.) Each of the two layers takes 11 rows of 4 plus one odd row of 3.  That makes 47 rolls per layer equaling 94 rolls total.  I've tried everything to squeeze the last roll in on each layer but it just won't go.  Interestingly, it makes it easier to pull the rolls out having one roll missing per layer.  This makes for $188 of coins per can.  I call this method "the standing shotgun shell technique" of coin roll stacking/packing, LOL.

What I like about this system is that when you open the can, you are able to immediately see what's in the can; that there are 4 standing rolls across, and 11 columns of 4 plus one odd column of 3. It's great, because at a glance I can tell how many are in the can and it's very easy to count.  Using the other method, it's a lot like guess work, particularly if any bottom layer has odd numbers by not stacking directly one on top of another..  It's also very easy to pull a roll straight up and out.

I tried prying that last coin roll in to each layer and couldn't do it, but I'll happily settle with 94 rolls per can equaling $188.  It amazes me how versatile the ammo can is, and what a great idea it is to use these containers. Thanks for all your good work. - M.

JWR Replies: Thanks for doing that experimentation, folks.

Loyal reader "OSOM" ("Out of Sight, Out of Mind") pointed us to an eloquent piece by Bill Bonner (of The Daily Reckoning) titled: "Where to Be When Black Swans Appear" OSOM's comment: "This is a great introductory article for those folks who don't yet read SurvivalBlog."

Daniel H. flagged this evidence of flight from the U.S. Dollar: China sells $34.2bn of US treasury bonds.

Jon R. mentioned this at The Daily Reckoning: The Food Crisis is a Dollar Crisis

The latest FDIC Friday Follies: Regulators shut two small banks in Georgia; makes 20 US bank failures this year. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Rising Wholesale Prices Spur Inflation Concerns  

How To Fake An Economic Recovery  

UK: Shock Rise in Unemployment as Workers Hit by Wage Cuts 

Oil Rises to $104 Amid Middle East Tensions  

China Rice Laced with Heavy Metals

Reader Lynn G. sent a link to a web page on nuclear EMP.

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Attention SurvivalBlog readers in Colorado: Reader James A. just alerted me that Classic Mustangs in Denver, Colorado recently bought 100 U.S. Army surplus CUCV diesel pickups and Blazers at auction. (I assume these came from Fort Carson, Colorado.) They are offering them either semi-restored (with custom paint jobs and engine block heaters) or essentially "as-is" with their original CARC paint..

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John B. sent this: NRA-ILA :: Senator Grassley Presses BATFE On Project Gunrunner

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Reader Pierre M. spotted this: Jeffrey on Socialism's Trajectory: Obama's HHS is Bigger than LBJ's Government

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Attention SurvivalBlog readers in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington region: Razor wire at a bargain price.

"Fathom the odd hypocrisy that Congress wants every citizen to prove they are insured, but not that they are citizens." - Ben Stein

Friday, February 18, 2011

Today we present an article by Dr. Cynthia J. Koelker. Regular SurvivalBlog readers will recognize her as a frequent contributor to SurvivalBlog and the editor of ArmageddonMedicine.net. She was also just named SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor.

Assuming your personal physician will help you stockpile antibiotics for TEOTWAWKI, which should you request?  Is there a logical reason to have amoxicillin on hand rather than doxycycline? 

Here’s what I would suggest and why.
No antibiotic is effective against every type of microbe.  Certain ones will kill aerobic bacteria, others are used for anaerobic bacteria, still others are effective against resistant strains, and certain people are allergic to or intolerant of various antibiotics.  The following are all generics, running about $10 for about a month’s treatment.

  •  Amoxicillin is the old standby for most respiratory infections (probably most of which are viral and don’t even require antibiotics).  It is excellent for strep throat and some strains of pneumococcal bacteria.  It is also safe for children and pregnant women.  It is well-tolerated, causing little stomach distress or diarrhea.  The drawbacks are that some people are truly allergic, and many bacteria have developed resistance to amoxicillin (especially staph) through overuse among both humans and animals.  Anyone truly allergic to amoxicillin should substitute erythromycin or another antibiotic. 
  • Cephalexin works on most of the same bacteria as amoxicillin, plus is stronger against Staph aureus, which mostly causes skin infections.  It rarely works against MRSA (resistant staph), however.  It is also well-tolerated in children and is safe in pregnant women, causing few side-effects.  Like any antibiotic, it carries the risk of allergy.  People who develop anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergy) with amoxicillin probably should not take cephalexin, as there is a good 10% cross-reactivity between the two.  If I had to choose between stockpiling amoxicillin or cephalexin, I would choose cephalexin.  The combination drug, amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin), is as strong against staph, but more expensive and harder on the stomach.
  • Ciprofloxacin is useful for anthrax (which I’ve never seen), urinary tract and prostate infections (which are very common), and many forms of pneumonia and bronchitis.  One of the more important and selective uses of ciprofloxacin is in combination with metronidazole for diverticulitis.  This potentially life-threatening infection usually (or at least often) requires two antibiotics to resolve.  (Levaquin and Avelox are a bit stronger than ciprofloxacin and could be substituted for this, but are much more expensive.) Ciprofloxacin is not used in women or children unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk, although the risk of joint damage (seen in animals) appears minimal.  Taking ciprofloxacin by mouth is nearly as effective as taking by IV.
  • Doxycycline is useful in penicillin/amoxicillin-allergic adults for respiratory infections and some urinary/prostate infections.  It is avoided in children and pregnant women unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk (of permanent tooth discoloration in children under the age of 8).  Doxycycline is sometimes effective against penicillin-resistant bacteria.  If I were limited to either doxycycline or erythromycin, I would choose erythromycin for stockpile.
  • Erythromycin is useful for most of the same infections amoxicillin is used for, and thus can be substituted in penicillin-allergic patients.  However, erythromycin tends to cause the intestine to contract, often causing cramps or diarrhea.  (This property is sometimes used to help patients with conditions that impair intestinal motility.)  It can be safely used in children and pregnant women. 
  • Metronidazole is an unusual antibiotic used for very specific infections.  It is aimed primarily at anaerobic bacteria, primarily those found in the intestine.  It is also used for certain STDs, including trichomonas.  As mentioned above, it is very useful in combination with ciprofloxacin (or SMZ-TMP, below) for diverticulitis.  It is the only inexpensive antibiotic effective for Clostridium difficile (c. diff, or antibiotic-related) colitis.  It is also effective against certain amoeba.  This drug is not used in children unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk.
  • SMZ-TMP is a combination drug of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim.  The latter antibiotic is used mainly for urinary infections.  The sulfa component is effective against many respiratory bacteria and most urinary pathogens, although ciprofloxacin is somewhat stronger.  The main reason to stockpile SMZ-TMP is due to its effectiveness against resistant staph (MRSA). 

Of course, only the most understanding fellow-prepper physician is likely to prescribe all these in quantity.  The list can be narrowed a bit, by dropping doxycycline (since erythromycin covers most microbes that doxycycline would kill, and can be used in young children) and amoxicillin (because cephalexin covers most amoxicillin-sensitive bacteria and has the benefit of effectiveness against staph aureus). 

My top five antibiotics would therefore be:

  • Cephalexin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Erythromycin
  • Metronidazole

Of these, SMZ-TMP and ciprofloxacin have the most duplicate coverage, as do cephalexin and erythromycin. Since the intolerance of erythromycin is much higher than is allergy to cephalexin, I would favor cephalexin.  Ciprofloxacin is stronger for intra-abdominal infections than SMZ-TMP, and is less likely to develop resistance.  Although its use in children is a bit of a concern due to the question of joint pain (although this is rare), I would favor ciprofloxacin over than SMZ-TMP, even though SMZ-TMP is effective against MRSA.  However, when the use of antibiotics is severely curtailed, antibiotic resistance will also decrease, and therefore MRSA will become less of a concern.

Therefore, my top three antibiotics to stockpile would be:

  • Cephalexin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Metronidazole

Using these three alone or in combination would cover around 90% of the infections physicians commonly encounter, as well as several less-likely threats (including anthrax and C. diff).

About The Author: Cynthia J. Koelker, MD, SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor is the author of the book 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care, which explains how to treat over 30 common medical conditions economically, and includes dozens of sections on treating yourself.  She also hosts the popular medical prepping blog at www.ArmageddonMedicine.net.

Mr. Rawles:  
Like the ridiculous commercials touting Internet stock trading in the recent past, today the sheeple are treated to commercials extolling the wisdom of investing in gold, all the while the economic world is apparently heading for a meltdown of epic proportion.  As an ardent fan of your novel "Patriots" and a daily reader of your site, I must question the wisdom of investing in either physical gold or rolls of nickels as one will not be able to eat either. And frankly, if someone appears at most doorsteps offering either as payment for goods or services after the proverbial SHTF, I would believe said traveler would more than likely walk away disappointed and still hungry.  I believe in the wisdom of investing in tangible goods that can be used in some form or fashion along the lines of food, ammo, etc.  How many folks even know what they are looking at when presented with shiny, gold jewelry as an item of barter?  Let's face it, the average person has little or no knowledge or means to determine the value of shiny baubles and coinage while true tangibles can quickly be assigned value in today's world and tomorrow's.  Furthermore, I must admit the amusement of picturing said travelers hauling ammo cans full of nickels around while wondering what it was they left behind which could have helped put a little food in their bellies either thru trade or application. Respectfully, - Jon in New York

JWR Replies: You are mixing two concepts: survival preparedness and investing. For more than 10 years I have warned people that they need to get their "Beans, bullets, and Band-Aids" squared away before ever thinking about doing any hedging with metals.  Food comes first!

I'm also on record as stating that common caliber ammunition will be a better barter item than silver coins in the event of a severe crisis.  You can't eat precious metals, but ammunition will be recognizable and sought after because it can both help provide self defense and be used for hunting. Furthermore, I'm a strong advocate of investing extra funds in silver rather than gold. Just read the "For an Ounce of Gold" chapter of my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse".  I first drafted that chapter in 1990. My position hasn't changed appreciably since then. Here is a brief except:

Next, Kevin reported on his transactions.  "I got an entire buffalo hide in really good shape for 10 rounds of .30-06.  I figure that it'll help keep us warm up at the LP/OP next winter.  Another guy traded me a small Bearcat scanner--one of the portable ones the size of a walkie talkie--for 20 rounds of .45 ACP.  It runs off of batteries, and we have plenty of ni-cads, so I thought, 'why not?'  Not many people have any source of power nowadays.  I figure that's the only reason the guy was willing to sell it so cheap.  I also got a pair of Belgian white rabbits--a buck and a doe, for 25 rounds of .22 long rifle.  My mother would be proud.  She'd say that I got 'Such a deal!'  The cage for the rabbits cost a lot more, though.  For it, I had to give up a whole 50 rounds of .22 and three pre-'65 silver quarters.  I think it’s amazing what a few silver dimes or quarters will buy." 

After a pause, Kevin said, "I feel sorry for all those people I knew who bought one ounce gold coins as a 'survival hedge.'  I can see now that a full ounce gold coin is too compact a form of currency, and it isn't easily divisible.  I suppose that people who bought the gold coins minted in the one tenth of an ounce weights are more fortunate.  What would a full ounce of gold buy?  That Corvette that we saw advertised?  A half a dozen cows?  Maybe.  It certainly wouldn't do much good for someone trying to buy day-to-day necessities.  It’s pretty apparent that our stock of .22-rimfire ammo is a lot more useful as a store of value and as a means of exchange."  [End quote]

For those that already have their survival preparations squared away, some hedging with metals is indeed appropriate.  The alternative is to watch our savings consumed by currency inflation. We cannot store our net worth in the form of food. Unless the economy is totally destroyed and doesn't come back within a generation, then metals will have utility. But again, it will be silver, not gold that will be better for barter. The chances of a total, multi-generational "wipe out" are microscopically small. That is just about the only situation where metals investing would be folly.

On a related note, SurvivalBlog's poet laureate "George Gordon" just forwarded me some commentary by Gary Gibson posted over at Whiskey and Gunpowder that echoes what I've been recommending for three years: Gold, Silver, Copper, Nickel and the Slow Death of Money. And today I noticed this new article: Today’s Best Investment…Rhymes With Pickles. So it it is clear that I'm no longer a lonely voice in the wilderness that recommends socking away some Nickels as a hedge on inflation. Wake up, folks! Nickels are already worth 145.35% of their face value. I can't think of many other investments with that sort of assured gain, starting on Day One.

The mass inflation that I expect in the next few years will quickly destroy the purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar, and will quickly propel the value of Nickels to thrice their face value, and beyond. In essence, when paper money starts to become worthless, then even base metals will be seen like precious metals. The alternative is holding paper currency that is not even suitable for toilet paper, because it is unsanitary. At least for as long as you can continue to obtain Nickels at face value, they are a good investment. That is abundantly clear.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

Thank you for your hard work on the blog. I did some thinking and research today concerning the Federal budget and want to share what I found with you.

How much does the Federal government spend and how do we put this into context? There are several ways to look at this data. First, one can compare the dollars spent today versus those spent in 1962. Using the data from supportingevidence.com, I found: The government spent $106,821,000,000.00 in 1962 (106 billion dollars) according to http://federal-budget.findthebest.com/detail/64/1962. However, adjusted for inflation this would be about 700 billion dollars. The government spent $3,552,000,000,000.00 (3.553 trillion) dollars in 2010. This is 33.25 times larger, accounting for inflation. One might ask, are things 33.5 times better now than in 1962? Are we getting more or less for our money? Is health better? Are we more secure? Are we happier? Are we closer to God?

Still, there are several differences between 1962 and 2010 that we need to take into account. First, the population is bigger and second the GDP is bigger. Accounting for population, in 1962 the government spent about $3,800 per person, adjusted for inflation while in 2010 that same figure was $10,250.00. One could argue that there should have been a savings of scale. Things should be less expensive buying in bulk. We don’t need more warheads, for example to protect the population but we do need more roads. Unfortunately there is not a savings of scale regarding retirement benefits (as in Social Security). Anyway, the government is spending 2.7 times more per person now than in 1962. This is somewhat better but still begs the questions of whether we are 2.7 times better off now and whether we needed to spend $3,800 inflation-adjusted dollars per person even back in 1962.

Finally, we can look at the budget compared with GDP. In 1962 the Federal Budget was roughly 18% of the GDP whereas in 2010 the budget is fully 25% of GDP. Projections are that it will again fall to about 22% of GDP but that assumes lower spending, increased productivity or both. A major assumption is that the size of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will shrink as the “Baby Boomers” die. We are currently seeing a major argument in Congress concerning the size of the budget and what gets cut and what doesn’t. It is clear that any way you look at it, pure dollars, inflation-adjusted dollars, dollars per citizen or size of the budget as a percentage of the money we make, that there has been a gargantuan growth in the budget. Some of this is inevitable because of the aging, retirement and health care costs of a disproportionately large segment of the population, but I would still maintain that there is a huge part of this spending that has gone to

1. Services that we don’t need

2. Complete waste

3. Inefficiency and bureaucracy

4. Services that should not be part of a Federal Budget

As for myself, I plan to:

1. Advocate for cuts on the local, state and federal levels that I personally see as meaningful and appropriate and ethical

2. Re-evaluate my own personal budget to look at my own expenditures and income to see if it is consistent with my ethical and practical values

3. Keep in mind that simply making more money, or spending less, or even preparing for TEOTWAWKI won’t necessarily make me or my family happier, wiser or closer to God.

And to that end I need to work more directly on those aspects. - Mr. Bennington in Pittsburgh

Brett G. sent this: John Hussman: Stocks Too Expensive, Correction Due

Frequent content contributor John R. recommended this analysis by Monty Pelerin: Faking Our Way to Sovereign Bankruptcy

Karl Denninger reports on the collapse of the MERS house of cards: MERS Caves

Items from The Economatrix:

Dim View of Housing Market Weighs on Economy

A Tipping Point is Nearing

Oil Prices Fall on Economy, Supply Concerns  

Bartering, Inflation & Growing A Garden

The latest from Gonzalo Lira: Ballsy or Crazy? Where are We on Inflation and Hyperinflation. (Be forewarned that Mr. Lira uses some crude language.)

Reader Brett G. sent us a snippet from an e-mail that he received from a friend who lives in Alaska: "[Rapid price inflation is] really happening up here [in Alaska], overnight: $3.91 [per gallon] for gas $4.89 [per pound] for butter and that was with it 'on sale'. Milk is $3.89 [per gallon]. It had been $2.99 [per gallon] until this week. Plant seeds! Get ready. Tomatoes will be $7.75 per pound soon, but people just aren't listening. They will be so un-prepared..."

Stacy C. sent us a television news piece on unprecedented food price escalation.

World Bank:  Food Prices at "Dangerous Levels"   

Brett G. highlighted this piece: UK Inflation Surges to 4%, Highest Since Nov. 2008

UK:  Official Statistics Hide True Increase in Cost of Living  

Can the U.S. Sidestep Growing Global Inflation?

Consumer Prices in U.S. Climb More Than Forecast

I'm scheduled for a one hour interview on EMPact Radio on Wednesday, February 23, 2011. Please feel free to call in to the show if you have any preparedness questions that would be of interest to the majority of listeners. If you miss hearing the show, it will be available post facto as a downloadable podcast.

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Reader Troy H. mentioned a fascinating Wikipedia page that is presented in tabular form: List of countries by real population density (based on food growing capacity). That table is food for thought for anyone that is considering emigrating. Notice how far down the list that the U.S., Canada, and Australia are positioned. OBTW, I should mention that the Wikipedia table doesn't give sufficient credit to some of the less populous island nations, to reflect the food value of their offshore fisheries, bird rookeries, feral pig herds, and the tropical fruit trees scattered on ostensibly "non-arable" land.

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Huge solar flare jams radio, satellite signals: NASA. (Any readers that live in a rural region without light pollution and north of 47 degree latitude should be on the watch for aurora borealis displays for the next few nights. And perhaps shortwave listeners may finally get some decent propagation, as the ionosphere emerges from many years in the doldrums. Thanks to Gary U. who was the first of several readers to send the link.)

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CampingSurvival.com has added the Wise Food Storage Packets to their inventory. These are nitrogen packed and have a 25 year shelf life and are efficiently packed in rectangular 5 gallon buckets that can be stacked. These foods are offered in increments from 56 servings up to 4,320 servings, with competitive pricing.

"The people don't like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars. You will find that is so, sir." - John Steinbeck, The Moon Is Down

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

I have read many of the stories on survival blog but have yet to read a one from someone on a very tight budget. That leaves those of us with tiny incomes at a disadvantage and feeling vulnerable. For about two years I have had a small voice inside me telling me to fill my storehouses with food for the coming famine. As a Christian and minister I believe that voice is God and He wants His people to be ready. Although Many Christians think we are crazy and don’t believe they should have to worry about storing foods for times of famine because they are sure God will provide for them. One pastor told me that God wasn’t telling her to prepare so someone else must be going to prepare their food for them. I pray she is right but felt God had me pass on the information to her.

My husband and I are both disabled and live on a modest $20,000 a year. Late last year we moved out of our double-wide mobile home and let one of our sons take over the payments and move in. We moved to the other end of the two acre property to care for my husband's parents who both have COPD. He does all the driving to get them to their many appointments as well as takes care of their home and property. We live in a 16x20 shop building that we are slowly turning into a cottage. We have put in a bathroom with sink and toilet but need a little more room to put in the tub and shower. We are planning a tiny kitchen this spring and a built-in porch for extra storage. We gave away most of everything we had to make this move. Now we understand more of why we felt so strong about getting out from under the payments of the double wide.

When we lived in the mobile home we had nothing left for food or groceries each month. We were lucky to be able to buy our meds. Of course we are still spending a lot each month on things for the cottage and still have to watch our pennies. The crazy thing is that we did have chickens, goats and pigs to breed and sell. Unfortunately my husband got sick with an intestinal parasite that was eating away at his insides. The health department told us that most people don’t realize they have this until it is too late and they die. We traded our animals for an RV that is worth three times more than the animals were. We are planning to add some chickens this spring though. We had more animals than we could afford to feed through the winter before. We know to be careful to not let that happen again.

We started working on the existing root cellar when we had a couple of warm days. It is small and very wet with a sheet metal door that wouldn’t hold up to a big storm if we needed it to. We cleared the cement roof and plan to seal it and the build a shed on top of it for extra storage. We plan to use as much used materials as we can to keep costs down. We have to clean out all the old jars of food with rusty tops and clean, dry and seal the inside to get it ready for new shelving and stored home canned food from the garden as well as from the grocery and club store.  Once we finish that, we are planning to find someone to dig out a new storm shelter beside it. We are sure there is a neighbor that will charge a minimal fee to dig it for us. We also have one that plows our garden at no charge.

We plan to have the new shelter dug much deeper and as large as we can get away with in the place it is. After much research into earth bag building and other inexpensive types of building materials, we settled on cinder block walls with double thickness and with plenty of inside walls to help hold up a foot of concrete of roof on top of it. After our research, we found that the price of the cinder blocks was much more affordable than any of the other materials we looked at. We will seal up the concrete walls, floor, and roof to help keep it dry and tight inside. Before we back fill all the dirt on top and around our new constructed cellar, we will place thick plastic around the walls and roof as an extra moisture barrier. We are looking at the possibility of building an underground home here instead of just a shelter from the storms. With the heat waves we had last summer, we feel that it will be much easier to keep cool than the above ground cottage we are in now.

We will make two ways to enter and leave the new cellar, with both of them hidden to keep us safer in times of social upheaval since we live just outside the city limits. Inside the new shelter we will build plenty of bunks for the family that will join us when the time is at hand. None of which is very far away. In each bunk we will place egg crate mattress toppers with bedding sealed in space bags until they are needed. The bathroom will have a shower and at least two porta potties for back-up. We already have one. We hope to actually put in a septic system below the bathroom so we can use RV toilets when we can afford to add them. We plan to make a kitchen area as well as a living area and large pantry. We will also add a battery room for when we can add solar power. In this room we hope to have a place for freezers and a fridge that will run off of a low circuit. Not sure yet if this is possible. [JWR Adds: See the SurvivalBlog archives--search on "phototvoltaic" for details.] We did find some affordable solar power kits on Amazon.com. This was awesome news for us get before we even start the building.

Our large pantry will house plenty of food as well as medicine and wipes for washing up. We will also stock up on plenty of seeds for replanting the garden as soon as it is feasible. Although we would sell this place when his parents are gone and find a retreat that is more secluded, we feel that getting started now is very important. If we sell later, it will be worth more money that will help pay for what is needed for the new location. We never know how much time we will have to rebuild if we sell out. We don’t want to be caught without a place to keep us from harms way if the worst case scenario should actually happen.  We plan to do a lot of fishing this year so we can have lots of fish in the freezer. We are working on a couple ways of double sealing frozen products to keep them from getting freezer burnt and make them last longer.

We are planning to check out our locale army surplus store and see what is available to add to our preparedness. We have no guns or ammo as yet, and don’t know when or how we can add the grinders, expensive water filters or the solar power we will need. We do have a large construction grade gas generator that has come in handy when the power was down for an ice storm in 2009. We were prepared to use it again this year but so far haven’t needed it. We do have our eyes on a propane generator but the price is so far out of our reach. We at least can put in the wiring for solar electricity while we are building. I would love to have the plans to build the stationary bike charger though. If anyone wants to send them along to the blog for all who want to use it. We like having something to look at as we read plans for putting something together though. If there are any resources out there, please let us know.

We have already started on the food storage and will need to find a cool dry place for the five gallon buckets to be stored soon. We are also considering a couple other places on the property to place small cement block dry storage areas for extra food storage. We want to add some how-to books to our library on home canning, animal husbandry, storing food and water safely, and anything else we feel will be useful in any situation when we need to supply our own food completely, in the event that we can’t buy it. We are interested in special growing lights and are thinking about putting in an extra room for this.  

In a pinch, we can sell the motor home and some gold jewelry for the more expensive things we need. We are hoping to have some extra veggies to sell this year as well for a little extra cash. We are also looking into buying some produce and reselling at a fair market value for extra cash and to help others who can’t afford grocery store prices with inflation. Thanks to the person who wrote about buying from produce sources and reselling, we feel this will be a big help to us and any customers we can bring in.

In preparation for the coming hard times, we are also losing weight and doing what we can to eat healthier so we can be more physically fit. We have made some very important lifestyle changes in the last few months and have endured some jabs from family members about living in a shed and such. If they only knew what was coming!  After talking with our sons here and there, we have actually seen that they are more receptive because of the changes in the weather affecting our food supply. My mother has been ready for this for some time. People who watch the news and see what is actually going on the world can see that change is coming. Even if all that is ever affected is the weather going crazy and affecting our food supply, then at least we will be ready for that. However, this is not all that I expect to see happen in our very near future.

Another thing I find that is relevant to this blog and feel that your subscribers would want to know, is that many of the Christians we know have had visions and dreams of the coming famine and destruction of our country. I have not met one that can put a time on this happening, but believe we can look at God's word as guidance to help us get prepared for what is coming, no matter when it arrives. My own visions have been of devastating destruction throughout the United States. Famine and sickness abound in those that survive. Many Christians don’t understand the need for being prepared since they plan to be "raptured" or taken care of by God Himself. If you are a Christian and are reading this, I pray you will see this as a warning from God to be prepared before it is too late and food is too high to afford, or it is completely removed from our grasp. It is important to trust that God will help you in your time of need, but you also need to be listening when He is speaking to you--even if He is speaking through someone else. Pray about what your hearing or seeing instead of letting religion keep you from being prepared for the famine that is coming our way very soon. We can all see clearly the signs of the times and know in our hearts that something big is coming our way. Be ready.

Survival is bred into many of us, but at the same time, others have to learn it. My husband and I grew up working in the family gardens and raising chickens and other stock. We have a leg up compared to some. Of course we are looking forward to learning to can food from the garden this year as well as learn to safely dry foods and pack them in a way they will stay fresh for at least a year’s time. We also are planning to work on water tanks that will be just under the surface to collect rainwater which will have pipes that run down to the bathroom and kitchen as needed. We will also look into different methods of filtering the water to make it drinkable and usable for cooking.

As yet we haven’t planned to put any gas tanks underground but are trying to at least keep our tank filled in case there is a shortage sooner that we expect. We get great gas mileage in our older car and will pay it off this year and that will give us a couple hundred dollars extra each month to work with. We will be ready for TEOTWAWKI no matter when it comes. I pray others begin to open their eyes to what is happening around the world and how it will affect us. In doing so, they will then see the need to have extra food on hand for those times when the store shelves are empty and no food can be bought. I pray they also see the same need for water storage as well as medicines and other necessities.

I'm looking to try and wake up some of my family members and have an idea, but may need a little help to execute.  My issue is one of gaining someone's attention without turning them off. 

With several of my friends and family members I was able to buy them a copy of "Patriots" and their frame of mind was one that was open to jumping in.  I know several others, my brother chief among them, that, were I to give him an entire book, it would be overload and I'd lose him.  Obviously I've spoken with him, as far as I was able to push without pushing him away, but I feel I need something else.

I've seen some authors make the initial chapter of their book available and I'm wondering if you have done, or would be willing to do, this.  The opening of "Patriots", especially given the current economic reality, it extremely compelling and I think would make an excellent hook.  It would be small enough so as not to intimidate, but I can easily see someone reading it and saying "what happens now?"

Anyway, I understand if that's not something you're open to, but I thought I'd check.

Thank you for all that you do! - Steven F.

I read on your blog where you said that you can fit $178 worth or nickels into a standard U.S. .30 cal ammunition can.   Well, I've been able to stuff $190 worth into every can so far. I don't know why others can only get 89 rolls while I can get 95 rolls into the same space. Might I suggest stacking them directly on top of each other instead of letting the next row rest in the previous rows' valley. Visualize stacking them not like a rack of pool balls or bowling pins, but rather like a brick of AA batteries. Whether it is paper or plastic roll of coins,you will get the same results. Also, these ammo cans full of nickels might offer some degree of ballistic and gamma ray protection so that's something to think about as well if you're doing any critical 'remodeling' at home with regards to clandestine storage issues.

An OPSEC issue to be concerned with is the disposal of the empty cardboard nickel boxes. Around here, I burn them to get rid of them. Slipping them one at a time into the trash can at the gas station is another discreet way to get rid of them. Don't just throw then into your trash only to be discovered by a snooping neighbor or worse, a criminal type.  

Also, I am able to secure $1,000 worth every week from now until I say uncle from two different banks that I utilize. For free. A piece of cake. What most people don't realize is that the change warehouse where the retail bank orders its change from, (typically Loomis or Brinks,) charges the bank per box delivered. This is why you have to be careful and feel out your bankers and your tellers before asking for anything in quantity. Once you build up a good rapport with them, they are more likely to acquiesce to your request. A box of doughnuts on a cold Friday morning or a $10 cake could save you many times that in cost per box of accumulation. Be smart and use your tact and diplomacy and it will go a long way here.

My advice to anyone starting out to accumulate is to start out small. Use multiple branches. Ask the teller for $20 worth of nickels at first. Do that for a few weeks and when you feel comfortable enough, just say that you want to get more if possible. This is the key moment because if they say yes and then arrange to get them for you, then you're home free. If they mention a fee per roll or box to continue supplying you with nickels, just say that you were curious and that's okay, you didn't know about the fees and just continue to get your 10 rolls a week from that branch while continuing to work on softening them up for free boxes someday. Eventually they'll probably start ordering some boxes for you for free. Remember, it's totally up to the employees at the bank whether to charge you fees or not so like I said earlier, have patience and use your tact and diplomacy to get them on your 'side' and you should have no problems getting as many nickels as you want.  

Curiously, at both banks, they were more concerned that I was going to return them en-mass someday as they obviously don't want to be 'stuck' with a boatload of returned nickels. I just smile as I think to myself, "Like that will ever happen!"  I reassure them by telling them that I am saving the nickels to take to Vegas someday in my RV. It draws a curious smile and nary a second thought from them as they know us gambler types have some strange proclivities!  

Folks, I agree with James Rawles. Trading worthless fiat paper currency for hard metal currency with real metal value is obvious. I have told five friends about this and they are now all accumulating nickels. Lucky for me, they live in other states so I don't have to compete with them for boxes at the banks. One of my friends just sold one of his spare cars and put the proceeds in nickels. And he's very tough to convince about anything!  

My advice is to have strong resolve, patience, and be courteous to the tellers. Never lose sight of the fact that they are doing you a favor that they do not have to do, and you should be well on your way to massive nickel accumulation! - Rick in Kentucky

Pierre M. mentioned: The Worst Hyperinflation Situations of All Time. JWR Adds: I often slip a Zimbabwean $100 Trillion bill inside the front cover of autographed copies of my novel when I send them as gifts. That serves as a reminder that mass inflation isn't just in the realm of fiction.

Thanks to Kelly D. for spotting this: World Bank: Food prices at "dangerous levels" World Bank report says food prices are at "dangerous levels" after rising 29 percent in a year

Evan D. suggested this piece: Collective financial insanity – FDIC backing $5.4 trillion in total deposits on pure faith – US banking operating with negative deposit insurance fund and massive debt leverage. The greatest Ponzi scheme known in the financial world.

David B. sent us a link to news article about a bank run: Ivory Coast rush to withdraw bank cash. JWR Adds: My personal theory is that the recent banking instability was caused by the Côte d'Ivoire cancer cluster! Here is what happened: thousands of female millionaires, all with esophageal cancer, and all of whom simultaneously withdrew beau coup bucks to send charitably to American recipients that they found through the Internet. :-)

Items from The Economatrix:

US Plans to Wind Down Fannie and Freddie  

Regulators Shut Down Banks in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and California.

Engineered Economic Collapse Approaching; Budget Cuts Will Only Accelerate the Inevitable  

Losing Faith in Paper Money (The Mogambo Guru)  

Long-Term Gold Target $2,000 or Higher  

A portent of the future? Hunting down the hoarders to rein in prices, the Chinese government turns to unconventional measures. Our thanks to Don V. for the link.

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Man, 84, Survives Five Days Lost in Desert. (Thanks to readers Steve H. and John T. who both sent that link.)

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Reese sent this: Climate Change May Cause ‘Massive’ Food Disruptions

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Lee in Tulsa mentioned that announced chapter 11 bankruptcy of Borders Books means that they are closing 200 stores. Lee recommends: "Check to the store closure list to see which stores in your area are closing and find some bargains for your survival library."

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?" - Jay Leno

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

My son who is 15 years old recently got into Airsoft and started to amass a collection of replica looking, fully functioning and firing Airsoft rifles and pistols.

I had planned on enrolling him in a Hunter's Safety course soon as he is of age but the more I watched him and his buddies play Airsoft in the bush like a rag-tag wild bunch I decided to take action.  This was a good way to train them to be soldiers.  Mostly because it was out of fear of some of the younger children getting seriously injured, since those plastic pellets hurt [and a great risk of eye injury]s.  I told them that I would treat them like soldiers and adults as long as they acted the part.  That little bit of respect given them was enough to make them attentive and more mature acting then some of the recruits that I’ve had to deal with in the past.

a) The first thing I did was break them down into two teams that were roughly equal in both ages and sizes.
b) Then, just like instructing recruits it was weapon basics and Immediate Action (IAs) on the rifle. (Almost all of them had Airsoft M4 look-alikes.)  I covered the Load, unload, and make safe, clear weapons for inspection.  Then more advanced drills like IAs for obstructions and so forth.
c) After I was confident that the 11 year olds could remedy stoppages as well as the 15 year olds then it was small section tactics.  Section sized advance to contact, moving and covering and the final assault of a position.  After the advance, I taught them defensive positions and ambushes.
d) In our neighborhood most kids are military brats so they all had Dad’s or Mom’s old field uniforms, I made sure they had ballistic eyewear, Being in Supply it was my gift to them.  Then we went into camouflage and concealment.

Now when they wage war on each other there is no such thing as one-sided matches.  Some would say that I should not be teaching kids that sort of thing, but I played war as a kid and I believe it prepared me for a life in the military; it has been that way since the dawn of time.  Mostly I trained them how to safely handle a weapon and how to perform escape and evasion, valuable lessons if and when the Schumer hits the fan. 

In the beginning of summer I took my son on canoe trip, I packed my bug out gear and made sure that he did the same, everything that he would need.  All of the equipment was divided equally and even though he is only 15 and not fully-grown, he did a commendable job of keeping up with the old man on portages. 

Once we were deep in Algonquin Park I started to teach him actual bushcraft such as fire starting. We did not use a match the entire weekend.  It was fire steels; he needed to know that over a long period that matches and lighters would be in short supply.  I taught him tracking, or should I say the basics of tracking.  It takes a lifetime of experience that makes you good at tracking.  What woods to use as kindling, what wood to use for as smokeless as a fire as possible, how to knock off pine knots to burn.  We brought our wrist rocket slingshots and he was able to bag both a squirrel and a grouse so I taught him how to skin and clean each plus how to clean a fish.  That turned out to be a welcome change from the MREs that we had brought with us.

When we were prepping for our canoe trip, I bought a couple topographical maps and taught him how to read the lay of the land from a map.  I got him to research the available crown land surrounding the park to see if there were any viable options for camping on public land.  A mini orienteering course was put on for his benefit.  I taught him the basics, like how to take a bearing, follow a bearing.  Using back bearings to get home.  The more advanced stuff will come, like calculating magnetic declination and triangulation on a map to find your location.

I have been a sheet metal worker, plumber, electrician, oil burner mechanic, combat engineer.  I worked in a cabinet shop, framed houses and on rejoining the military a Supply technician.  Little by little, I have been trying to teach my son that it is best to be a jack-of-all-trades and like many kids whose parents remember the Great Depression and rationing of World War II, I know the value of making a little go a long way.  So we work on our bicycles together, I would rather show him once how to do something so he will know how to do it himself.  In addition, it is a lot cheaper then paying someone else to do something.  Now that he’s in high school his interests have been the shop classes, I totally encourage him to take wood shop, welding and small engine repair seriously and made him aware that home economics is a must.  I might have told him that girls dig a guy who can cook.

When my son seen the items coming into the house bought through eBay and his interest peaked when it came to prepping.  I made a master list of items we need for long-term survival and when I am not on the laptop he will surf the internet looking for great deals.  His best find was a case of food grade 6.5-gallon pails without lids.  We promptly went to Mountain Equipment Co-op and bought enough Gamma Seal lids to cover them.

Right now, our goal is to start accumulating ammunition and teaching him how to strip and assemble the weapons, we have at home.  Presently, case lots of  7.62x39mm ammo are relatively inexpensive so I’ll be able to get him sighted in on his own SKS and get him to practice using the stripper clips to reload.

The basement is starting to look more like a supply depot but that is all right.  It is all about keeping it organized and to know what you have, where it is and how to use it.  Right now for his punishment when he does the normal teen angst I make him do the laundry in the new “Wonder Wash”.  Some serious hand cranking on a Saturday morning without access to Internet, PS3 or hanging out with his friends is almost in line with child abuse in his mind but it teaches him a couple valuable lessons.  1) Don’t screw up, and 2) Know how to do laundry by hand.

One part of the basement is our home gym.  Lots of free weights, being military physical fitness of mandatory and it is great father son time together working out.  Because we are living in married quarters on base, going on a rucksack march is nothing out of the ordinary, so out of the 20 to 30 guys doing that at night for PT, my son gets a chance to don his ruck and practice carrying all his gear.

When I began prepping, I kept it a secret but now that he is all in, I feel a lot better about it.  It is still our little secret but it is good to know that we are doing everything we can increase our odds when TEOTWAWKI comes.  Family is first in my book, but now I know of six kids who are fully weapons trained and have the basics of field craft down. 

This winter I have him going with one of my friends who has a trap line to learn more about wilderness survival then I have time to teach him.  I should also mention that I have two daughters that are grown up.  I did my best by them as well. They know what to do if they get in trouble: run like mad, split up from friends and gather in a pre-arranged Rendezvous Point at a specific time.  My oldest daughter is an awesome angler and always shows up her old man when out on the river.  When they were little I always had them going out with us deer hunting and they have watched us field dress and skin many deer without the slightest hint of squeamishness.  They are "girly girl" now but I know they have a solid foundation to build on.

So all of you parents out there, it is never too early to start your children off on the right foot.  Even if it is just exposure to new things.  Get them to help in the garden, or to go on an evening walk…do fun things like identify trees and plants and tell them what they are used for or feed them venison, or muskrat or beaver once to make them aware that not all food has to come from the super market.

JWR Adds: As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, Airsoft and paintball are fine for learning some aspects of camouflage and small team tactics. The fatal flaws of both, however, are that:

1.) Since paint balls and Airsoft pellets have hardly any penetration beyond five yards, players start to subconsciously equate concealment with cover.

2.) Because Airsoft pellets and paint balls only have limited range, people start to subconsciously think of anything beyond that range as "safely out of range" (for maneuver in the open.)

If you can regularly remind yourself about those shortcomings and adjust your training regimen accordingly, then you'll find that they provide somewhat worthwhile training. But it is essential that you integrate high velocity ballistic realism. This means declaring anyone that blatantly stands up in the open at 50+ yards "dead meat." Ditto for anyone that mistakenly takes "cover" behind bushes or small trees. Always remember: concealment is not cover!

Dear Mr. Rawles,  
I also have a suggestion for DIY fire starters.  I have been making these for several years and they work great for fire pits etc. I would caution about using them to start a cooking fire though, due to fragrances and color dyes.

We use a lot of 4” and 6” pillar candles in our house. We don’t have small children, so an accidental fire is not a very big concern.  I used to throw out the candle butts and decided I’d like to somehow recycle them. So now every couple of months I make fire starters.  I keep an paper shredder right by the kitchen table so I can deal with junk immediately. I also shred anything that has our address on the envelope or the addressed back covers of catalogs.  I save all of the cardboard tubes from our toilet paper rolls and from paper towels. The toilet paper rolls are the perfect size. I cut the paper towels rolls in half. If you want a smaller size just cut toilet paper roll in half and the paper towel rolls in quarters.  

To assemble the fire starters, I melt the candles in a double boiler. You conceivably could also melt it in pot right on the burner, however, you absolutely cannot walk away from the stove if you use this method. The wax can burn and catch fire quickly.  When the wax is melted I pour it into a large mixing bowl that has some shred paper in it. Mix the wax and shred with a spoon or if you let it cool sufficiently you can use your hand. When the wax and shred gets cool and thick, fill the tubes with the mixture. Let cool for several hours and store in aluminum foil and plastic storage bags. They will keep indefinitely. And the only “extra” cost to me is the foil and storage bags.   Thank you for this excellent site that jam packed with information.   - Okie Ranch Wife

Mr. Rawles,  
With the low profile purchase of nickels now a desire of many folks, I have had fun in purchasing them in "bricks" [boxes of rolled nickels.]   

I go up to the bank teller window and ask if they have a brick or two available for purchase. Many times I receive a positive response. (I have a Military Intelligence background and know how to keep a secret while avoiding a direct answer.)   After the purchase many times the teller inquisitively asks why I need so many nickels. I look at her with a twinkle in my eye and lean over whispering and ask her a question. “Can you keep a secret?” And she usually gets very serious and leans toward me and whispers, “Yes I can.”  Then I stand upright, look her in the eye, wink, smile, and say “So can I”, and turn around and walk away.  Have fun out there. - CH 

Mr. Rawles:  
Your reader on the east coast is fortunate; I have been banking at the same local bank for 16 years and have a substantial amount deposited in the institution. For the last four years I have been buying $20.00 worth of nickels every other week when I cashed my check. This Saturday when I went to pick up my nickels I was told that I could only have three rolls and there would be a .10 charge per roll. I suspect that word is starting to get around about nickels. SurvivalBlog readers should get their nickels before it is too late! -   Jim from Illinois

Dear Sir,
After reading A Tale of Two Hurricanes by N.D., I thought I would share some lessons that my family and I learned from Hurricane Ike. First off, I became turned onto the prepping mindset about a year and a half ago. I have been trying to get my father thinking in this mindset and he recently read "One Second After" by William R. Forstchen which seems to have truly sparked something inside him. I plan to let him read my copy of your novel "Patriots" as well.

Well we live in the “country” northwest of Houston. Most people remembered all the hoopla about hurricane Rita and how that turned out to be nothing but an inconvenience and a stress headache. All of our neighbors had no thoughts of evacuating and getting stuck in the traffic from Houston, they just stocked up on a few provisions and called it good. My family did the same thing. We got a couple of cases of water but not much else. We have always had a well stocked pantry with what I believe to be a month or two of food at full rations so there wasn’t any worry of starving.

We prepped our property for the high winds by borrowing some sheets of plywood from a neighbor to cover our windows to protect them from flying debris. Dad used the storm as an excuse to cut down some trees that he had wanted to get rid of. We took out a very large one that could have removed half of our house including my bedroom if it were to come down during the storm. Then we cleaned everything out from under the stairs so we could cram in there in case there was a significant threat of a tornado hitting us. (Stairs are usually the most framed part of a house and thus the most structurally sound place to be in case of a tornado, in less you have a basement.) We were “all set” for what was sure to be a disappointing storm.

Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island at a little past 2 a.m. on September 13th, 2008 as a strong category 2. In most cases a category 2 hurricane would not be considered too bad for someone who has gone thru some of the weaker storms like Rita. However Ike was different. Looking at the radar, it seemed to take up most of the Gulf and had a strong eye. The storm didn’t really hit us until the early morning hours but the eye came within 9 miles of our house. I woke many times to lightning and the roof creaking. That morning the sky had a greenish color and the wind was still blowing the rain almost sideways. A quick look outside revealed about a dozen trees had blown over or lost large limbs. Our entire neighborhood was without power.

 After the storm calmed down, we went out for a drive to survey the damage in our community. Every one of our neighbors had trees down and almost half of them had some sort of roof damage. There were trees that had taken out the power lines and fallen unto the roads making them impassable. Luckily there were some good samaritans out with their chainsaws clearing the roads enough so cars could pass one at a time. The entire town was without power and the gas station up the road had the covers blown off of the pumps and had sustained damage.
Living without power was not too bad for us. We just pulled out the Coleman stove and lantern from my Boy Scout days and got to work clearing the damage. My Mom however was not very happy. Even though it was much cooler than it usually was at that time of year, the 80 degrees, humidity, and the lack of power and communication with the outside world was more than she wanted to stand. After the first night she took off to my older sister’s house about an hour inland to stay with her. She came back the following day to bring us a little 1,500 watt Honda generator and about 5 gallons of gas. The generator had just enough power and fuel to keep the contents of our refrigerator cool.

My dad sent me out with four 5-gallon gas cans and told me to find someplace to fill them up. I drove my truck to the next town and found that the grocery store’s gas station had gas but even more importantly they had power. Most gas stations had thousands of gallons but no way to get it out of the underground tanks. There was a line on every pump about 50 cars long when I arrived. It took three hours for me to make it up to the pump where there was police officers posted to obviously keep everything in order.  Lucky there was not a ration in place so I was able to fill up all the cans and my truck. As I left the lines were around 200 cars long and things were beginning to get tense as pumps shut down [due to depleted tanks] from such rapid use. I passed several other gas stations on my way home and they were rationing gas to 5 or 10 gallons with just as many cars lined up. When I finally made it back home Dad wanted me to take his truck and get it filled up too, but I told him it was too dangerous and we would have to just make do with what we had, which was about 60 gallons combining what was in the cars and cans. The following day, Mom came back from my sisters with more fuel, a new generator, and a window A/C unit which she bought. The generator is a 5000 watt 7,500 peak brand name with a pull start. It has a 220 volt plug and two 110 volt plugs. Dad and I cut the main breaker so we wouldn’t back feed into the power grid and then took some wires from a 220 volt extension cord and crudely shoved them into the electric dryer socket. We couldn’t run the central air conditioning but we could run the window unit mom had bought (which of course went in her room), the refrigerator, and the lights as normal. We just had to be mindful of how many things we could turn on at once. The generator was locked to the house with a heavy chain and padlock and we always turned it off before night. When there is no power for miles around, a running generator at night is like a “come steal me!” sign.

Another problem that was arising about this time in the neighborhood was human waste. Our neighborhood is remote and everybody has about 5 acres. Because of this we do not have city sewer but instead an aerated sprinkler system. Without power the pump can’t spray the treated liquid waste and the tanks become full in 2-3 days. Toilets begin to back up and smell occurs. For us, everything was fine once the generator was going. We did have to go to some neighbors houses to do some emergency electrical re-wiring so they could get their septic systems working.

Our street was without power for more than 12 days. Part of the problem was a power line went down in the woods behind us and since that line only serviced five houses it was not at the top of the priority list. Luckily we never lost water although we were extra cautious and made sure to boil it before consuming.

Lessons learned from all this:

  1. If it is going to be a big hurricane, then evacuate early. It isn’t worth all the trouble if you can leave in time and trust your neighbors to watch your property, but take your papers and valuables with you.
  2. Have a working generator. We now have ours and had a proper hookup installed by an electrician after it was all over. Make sure to run your generator bi-annually and store it for long-term storage following your user’s guide. For us, that is running it dry with stabilized gas in it.
  3. Have plenty of fuel beforehand. We keep our cans filled with Sta-bil gas and rotate them regularly.
  4. Of course be prepared with all of your usual preps. Food, water, first-aid, etc.
  5. With a hurricane, it is very important to protect your house from damage as much as possible. Cover windows, brace large doors like the garage doors, remove trees close to the house, and remove anything in your yard that could become a flying object.
  6. Have a pump system designed to get gas out of underground tanks. There was just a recent post about how to make your own in the blog. You might be able to let your local gas station owner use it in exchange for some fuel. It’s a win-win. He can still sell fuel and you can get what you need.

I think the most important thing to remember during a disaster like this one is to be courteous and helpful to your neighbors. Get to know your neighbors beforehand and pull together after to clean-up and make repairs. Ike brought all of us on our street closer together. This country is threatened by many different types of natural and manmade disasters, but with a hurricane you know it is coming. Get prepared.

Five Reasons Investors are Going Crazy for Farmland. (Thanks to Don W. for the link.)

Frequent content contributors Sue C. and C.D.V. both sent this: Housing Crash is Hitting Cities Once Thought to Be Stable. "Few believed the housing market here would ever collapse. Now they wonder if it will ever stop slumping."

J.M.A. mentioned this essay over at American Thinker: A Tipping Point Is Nearing

Pierre M. pointed us to this: Roubini’s Next Crisis Is Scary Food for Thought: William Pesek

Geithner Quietly Tells Obama Debt-to-GDP Cost Poised to Increase to Record. Here is a quote: "It’s a slow train wreck coming and we all know it’s going to happen. It’s just a question of whether we want to deal with it. There are huge structural changes that have to go on with this economy." (A hat tip to C.D.V. for the link.)

21 Signs That The Once Great U.S. Economy Is Being Gutted, Neutered, Defanged, Declawed And Deindustrialized

Robert Gottlieb (my agent) flagged this news article: Borders Books eyes store closings and liquidations

Items from The Economatrix:

"Get Ready For Margin Collapse" Goes Mainstream   

Oil Falls as US Supplies Outweigh Mideast Tensions  

Gas Pump Prices Highest Ever for This Time of Year

Major Food Distributor Sysco: "Immediate Volatile Prices, Expected Limited Availability, and Mediocre Quality at Best" "Now might be a good time to hit the frozen foods (or fresh produce if you’ve got a vacuum sealer) aisle at your local grocery store and stock up on your favorite fruits and veggies, as there may be a severe supply crunch coming in the next couple weeks lasting perhaps several months. Why pay premium prices later when you can prepare yourself today, before the rest of the country gets wind of it."  

La fine del mondo come lo conosciamomeowner? Italy overwhelmed by Tunisian boat people. And a related news story: Tunisians vote with their feet, flee the country

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J.B.G. suggested this: Home Invasions: Side Effects of the Drug War Mexico's war against the cartels is spilling over the border in the form of home invasions, kidnapping, and murder.

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I've previously mentioned the Gerber Omnivore flashlight. It is a white LED flashlight that is designed to be able to use size AA, AAA or CR123 batteries. The new 50 lumen version of the Omnivore looks promising. I'll buy one or two for some tests here at the ranch and post a review.

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From Sue C.: Egypt echoes across region: Iran, Bahrain, Yemen

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Preparing for the Worst in Wisconsin: Walker Says National Guard could Respond to Unrest, as State Employees Learn of his Budget Proposal

"What this country needs are more unemployed politicians." - Edward Langley, American Artist (1925-1995)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

We all understand from reading SurvivalBlog that having information and learning how to survive and thrive are going to be the keys to survival post-TEOTWAWKI.  You need to start gathering that library now. There is an extensive list of suggested books and materials to obtain posted on the blog.  Purchasing those at even discount prices from Amazon.com or other discount book sellers can still run into quite a bit of money. 

Our local public library support group, Friends of the Library, have a twice a year discount book sale that my husband and I attend.  It fills the entire basement of our main public library, which covers an entire city block. Not only are books sold at this sale but also magazines, books on tape, DVDs, puzzles, music, etc.  Prices for hardback books are $1 and 50 cents for paperbacks.  Prices for DVDs and other items vary depending on condition.  One half of the basement contains “better” quality books that may be marked a bit higher, anywhere from $2 to $5.  But even these were listed for half off yesterday when we attended.  As an added bonus, if you become a Friend of the Library for just $10 a year, you get first pick on the evening before the public sale begins. 

The books are organized into subject categories and within the category organized by author’s last name.  For instance there are sections on religion, politics, mystery, science fiction, poetry, gardening, cooking, etc.  Within a span of less than three hours we walked out of there with four large canvas grocery bags stuffed to the brim for about $40.  My husband and I each went armed with the list off the blog and split up upon arrival to accomplish our task.  I was happy to say that we were able to claim at least a dozen books off the list and many more. 

In preparing for TEOTWAWKI don’t limit yourself to the so named books on the suggested list.  Look for other books that fit whatever your plan for survival post-TEOTWAWKI may be.  A few years ago we purchased an 85 acre farm with the idea of wanting to lead a more self sufficient lifestyle.  This was prior to formally “prepping” for WTSHTF.  We had already been attending these sales and acquiring books for that purpose.  We were pleased to find that in doing that we already had quite a few of the suggested books and DVDs.  We felt we were on the right track.

While much of prepping is learning how to be self sufficient in growing and preserving your own food, etc. it certainly is not all.  We realized there were other areas we also needed to focus on.  For instance, we recently bought a military grade diesel generator and already own a diesel tractor so a few books my husband picked up yesterday were on diesel equipment service and repair.  I found a medical dictionary, anatomy coloring book and Red Cross First Aid book as well as books on Lamaze childbirth, communicable diseases and nursing care of the surgical patient. I found several books on the end of peak oil and economics to educate myself about the issues and understand what signs to look for WTSHTF.  Because we have pets as well as livestock I looked for books on how to care for them myself as well as grow forage for the livestock.  We even found a couple of the Foxfire series books that were recommended by Jim Rawles.  There is no telling what all you may find.

But it is important to think long term for the future and what may come up.  My choices included pine needle basketry and the practice of dairying (although at this time we do not have any dairy animals) as well as more books on basic homesteading skills.  My husband selected books on making your own knives, arc welding, automobile engine rebuilding and maintenance and lead work for plumbing.  You may think that some of the information in these 50 year old books is outdated.  But remember that WTSHTF it will be those skills that we will have to relearn and use again. 

If you are not currently home schooling your children then look for textbooks, history books, math books, science books that you can use for that purpose for all age ranges.   Do not neglect entertainment for the family.  Puzzles, games, DVDs, music CDs , etc will help pass down time.  Buy inspirational and spiritual books for whatever your belief system is to help get you through rough times.  All this can be gained for just a few well spent dollars, dollars that can go to your other preparations. 

But there is another consideration in building your library.  In today’s world of iPads, Nooks, Kindles, etc. the day of old school “paper” books may be coming.  When the grid goes down people are not going to be able to access those devices.  My 15 year old daughter has her SAS Survival Handbook downloaded as a PDF on her iPhone, but when the grid goes down and she can’t charge it how will she access it?  Therefore we will be obtaining a paper copy of it in the future.  Two is one and one is none!  Even obtaining multiple copies of very useful books can be used as barter or charity in the future.  Put duplicate copies of books in your underground shelter or BOBs. 

I’ve always been an avid reader and thirsted for knowledge and envisioned having a vast library in my home.  Prepping has certainly cemented that want and need even more.  Who knows what a post-TEOTWAWKI society will do with its great literature?  We’ve seen recently the Egyptian people going so far as to ransack the Cairo Museum and attempt to destroy meaningful historic pieces of their culture.  The volumes of classical literature you store may be only a few that survive for future generations.

Mr. Rawles,  
I took your advice and, this week, bought a large quantity of [U.S. Five cent piece] nickels for investment. I thought your readers might want to know how surprisingly easy it was. I only had to contact two branches (in a major East coast city) of a large US bank. I have had an account with that bank for a long time, but I had no personal relationships there. The nice lady at the first branch said that she was happy to help but, because the branch had a small vault, she could only get me three boxes ($300) at a time. So I called a second branch, where another nice lady placed a special order for me for 70 boxes ($7,000 and about 1,500 pounds). They arrived in a couple days and bank employees helped me load my vehicle. There were no charges [above face value] and they would not even accept a tip.   

By the way, several [bank] employees were curious about my large order. (One of them asked if I was a poker player.) Although I have read advice about keeping explanations vague (or even providing misleading explanations), I saw no reason not to tell the truth. I thought the information might even motivate some of them to do the same thing. So I simply explained that there is more than 7 cents worth of nickel and copper in each coin, that I thought that the government would change the content for new coins, and that the old ones would increase in value.   

I enjoy your blog. God bless and please keep up the good work. - M. on the East Coast

JWR Replies: Congratulations on being a proactive investor! U.S. Nickels already have about 7.3 cents in base metal ("melt") value. That represents a substantial gain over the face value, without even waiting for an upswing in the base metals prices. In a few years you will probably be very glad that you hedged against inflation by buying Nickels. It has long been said that "silver is the working man's gold." By extension, Nickels are the poor man's silver.

But your nickels now, folks, before you have to sort them. (Once a new, debased Nickel is introduced and begins circulating side-by-side with the Nickels of the current composition, then the drudgery of coin sorting will begin.)

Hello Mr. Rawles,  
Thanks so much for your efforts, they are appreciated.  SurvivalBlog has been a great help to me preparing for inevitable events.  

Your suggestion to consider what you will be hunting is dead on.  I have hunted small game, as well as large for 35 years.  I have hunted in West Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas.  I have hunted squirrels, rabbits, turkey, grouse, ring necks, geese, ducks, Bob White, doves, quail.  #6 works well on squirrels, rabbits and small birds like grouse and quail.  I have taken several shots at turkey with #6 inside 30 yards and did not carry any of them home.  I have found with the large birds like turkey, geese, ducks, and ring necks #4 is about as small as you can go and be successful.  Here in Florida we do a lot of hog hunting on big ranches.  In the orange groves we carry rifles and big caliber pistols, .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum.  When hunting hogs in the [closed canopy] "hammocks", I carry shotgun loaded with 00 buck. My son prefers slugs.  Some of these hammocks are like hunting in jungle so you keep that shotgun mounted [to your shoulder] all the time.  In the dense foliage, the slugs and 00 works much better where as lighter shot loses a lot of steam.   

If you have never hunted small game in the area that you live, I highly suggest that you find some farmer that will let you.  You will need to learn the habitat that suits each species in your area and the tactics need to successfully fill your game bag.  

I own a several shotguns but I have three favorites, Remington 870 and 11-87, Browning BPS pump.  All three use choke tubes and I have a full set for each.  All three are high gloss "sportsman grade" with blued barrels.  I think they are beautiful guns, which causes them to be left in the safe when hunting in foul weather.  For home defense I have the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500, both are improved cylinder bore with 20" barrels and we have used these successfully to hunt hogs in the hammocks.  They are both "marine grade" stainless and work well in foul weather.  

I have had some exotic shotguns but most of the time they got left in the safe so I ended up parting with them.  Remington has built and sold a pile of 870s and about as many 11-87 shotguns, parts are plentiful and easy to come by.  I have had one 870 for about 30 years, I have put thousand of rounds through this thing and have yet to have used any of my spare parts.  I highly recommend the Remingtons, since they are relatively inexpensive, are easy to work on, and extremely durable.  The Brownings run a close second.  I know guys who say the same thing about the [even less expensive] Mossberg 500s.  

I store a lot of 00 buck, #3, and #7.5, roughly 500 shells of each type per gun.  My son stores a lot of slugs for defense.  I make him keep these segregated to avoid accidentally picking them up and shooting them in one of the guns with choke tubes.  I have seen choke tube-equipped barrels destroyed with slugs.  

This may be helpful, but it is not the right solution for everybody.  If you have never hunted small game learn now, while you still have time.  You will fail if try to learn this quickly when you are hungry.  Hunting small game is not as easy as it may seem.  If you are hunting an area that is under a lot of hunting pressure, small can be just as illusive as big game.  If you have never used a shotgun but think you may need one in TEOTWAWKI (I know I will need my shotguns) then get one know and start learning to use it.  Though shooting rifles, shotguns, and pistols are all similar, I taught my children that all three are different disciplines of the same thing. 

Shotguns work differently than rifles, they move heavier loads slower over a shorter area.  Lead times on moving game are much greater than for a rifle.  You will also need to know the effective killing range for each load of shot.  Flying geese can shrug off #7.5 shot at 45+ yards where as they drop like rocks with #2 or #3.  Shoot a turkey at 25 yards with 00 buck and you get turkey nuggets, shot the same turkey with #4 and you have a fine meal ahead.  Shoot quail or dove with #4 you may have some meat left on the bird, #7.5 leaves these smaller birds pretty well intact.  Shoot a hog with #7.5 he will probably run over and remove your leg for you, but shoot him with 00 or slug and you will put him down for good.  

My 2 cents worth, hopefully it will help someone.   Thanks again,  - C.D.P.

Mr. Rawles,
After reading J.V.’s article on “Packing your Bug Out First Aid Kit” I feel the need to comment on his approach to anesthesia. Anesthesia as practiced today is safe and effective due to the training and equipment modern medicine provides. The technique of "open drop" anesthesia, which is what J.V. describes, was utilized until the mid 1960s. Aspiration, anesthetic overdose leading to respiratory or cardiac collapse occurred in major hospitals at an alarming rate. Current anesthetic death rates run at 1:30,000 cases, while in the late 1950s (a comprehensive study out of Boston) showed anesthetic mortality of 1:1,500. This poor outcome was in centers with the finest equipment and training of the time. What J.V. proposed is completely untrained individuals using diesel primer to attempt this technique on injured friends and family. I am a board certified anesthesiologist in practice for 20 years and I would not even try this if I had a bottle of medical grade diethyl ether and diesel primer is not pure diethyl ether. It contains petroleum oils that if inhaled could cause an acute lung injury. This would be just as fatal as an anesthetic overdose, just not as quick. 

Anesthesia is not a binary state of awake or asleep but rather a continuum. To perform a safe anesthetic of this type you must be able to vary the depth of anesthesia in relation to the surgical stimuli. There are time lags between administration of the anesthetic agent and its physiologic effects. Not understanding this aspect alone could cause someone inadvertently kill another by overdose. Being a prepper and an anesthesiologist, I have spent some time attempting to build a reasonable medical kit. Given the facts above, I have focused on local infiltration and regional anesthesia as the techniques of choice in the event of the end of modern medicine. Regional anesthesia focuses on blocking specific nerves using the injection of local anesthesia. There are some significant advantages to this technique:
First, the patient stays awake. Being able to talk to your patient is the best way to assess how they are doing. Second, you provide post operative pain control. Third, the equipment is portable, small and light. Regional anesthetics require a needle, syringe and local anesthesia. Local anesthetics such as lidocaine, bupivicaine and tetracaine are inexpensive, non addicting and not controlled substances. While regional can be an effective anesthetic for many surgical procedures, it is not well-suited for cases involving the chest, neck or head. However, in these cases, serious injury would most likely be fatal in a grid down situation.  Performing a regional anesthetic takes years of practice and training. 

I would caution readers that regional anesthesia is technically difficult and in untrained hands dangerous. While prepping is about being prepared, there are limits. If you are thinking about how to live in a grid down situation you are also accepting that medical care will rapidly slide back to the 1860s where most gunshot wounds resulted in amputation for the lucky and death for the rest, infant mortality was 10% – 15% and everyone knew someone that had a wife die in childbirth. Life will be brutal and short.

My best advise on how to prep fro m a medical standpoint is get all your vaccines up to date, have some antibiotics on hand, have some basic medical supplies, live healthy, pray hard and let the folks you care about know you love them.  If the grid goes down, most of the medicine provided for the seriously injured will be love, prayers and compassion as you watch them die.  You just can't prep for the skills and missing infrastructure that medicine requires. - Dr. John F.

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

  • I got sidetracked from my planned queue of review books to read the autobiography Fingerprints of God by O.A. Fish. One of our readers sent it to me, thinking that I might enjoy it. O.A. reminds me that yes, God can ask us to do projects that would be impossible to do with just our own knowledge, wisdom and expertise. But through our daily petitioning and dependence upon Him, He will perform miracles. He will bring the people into our lives through divine appointment who are willing and able to perform the tasks to complete projects. God called O.A. and his wife to build a Christian camp on their property in North Carolina. Each chapter tells of how God brought one person after another to help in all the various aspects of building and running a camp, from building the house, digging the lake and pond, clearing brush, and even lawyers to help with finances, permits and taxes. Each of these people heard the story of what God was doing and how God led O.A. to them. They also caught the vision of the camp, offered their services and gave God all the glory. Some of you may ask, "Well, what does this have to do with SurvivalBlog topics?" My answer is: If we have a close daily walk with the Lord Jesus Christ from Nazareth (His correct title), then the Holy Spirit will guide us in every difficult situation we may encounter in our lives, now and in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Now is the time to develop the ability to hear His quiet voice guiding us! I do recommend this book. The Holy Spirit definitely guided Jim and I to meet each other much the same way as He guided O.A. Fish to build his camp.

  • Jim and I are slowly working our way through the Northern Exposure television series episodes on DVD. We are now starting into the second season. This is definitely not a show for kids. We enjoy watching it mostly because there are several characters that remind us of the real-life characters that live nearby us, here in The Un-named Western State (TUWS). The dialogue is witty, but there are a disturbing number of moral lapses portrayed, often without corresponding consequences. That is disappointing.

Produce prices skyrocket with freeze in Mexico, Southwest. Stock up on dehydrated veggies, now!

Sid C. sent a link to some more about those fake Morgan Silver Dollars made in China. This television news piece mentions a couple of key indicators that you can use to detect fakes.

G.G. sent this: White House Expects Deficit to Spike to $1.65 Trillion

Goldrunner: The Golden Parabola

F.G. flagged this one: Will Chocolate once again become a rarefied luxury?

SAA Joe mentioned: U.S. Corn Reserves at Lowest Level in More than 15 Years

J.D.D. spotted this: Alan Simpson: U.S. Deficit Is 'a Disaster'

Great news for Swiss gun owners: Swiss voters throw out gun law reform. I'm sure that Pro Tell members were instrumental in rallying this vote for liberty. (A hat tip to M.O.B. for the link.)

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Some SCA types muse about WWIII and societal collapse in a rousing filk ballad: Serious Steel. Despite the reference to "The Crunch", I can't claim to have had any influence on them. If anything, I think that they've been reading S.M. Stirling's excellent "Dies the Fire" series rather than my novel "Patriots". (Thanks to Alan B. for sending the link.)

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I just heard that Ready Made Resources now has in stock a small supply of "Just In Case" seven day food supply units from Mountain House. These are great to include in your bug out tote bins. They are  $129.95, shipping paid. I don't need to tell you how scarce Mountain House foods have become in recent months. The supply on these particular units is so small (just 15 cases), that they are not listed on the RMR web page. Call them for details: 1(800) 627-3809.

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Pierre M. suggested this news story: South Korea chaos after 'heaviest' snowfall

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Readers in Canada will be happy to find an Ontario-based dealer with products available without the Customs Canada hassles normally associated with mail orders: Providence Supplies.

"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is 'not done'... Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness." - George Orwell

Monday, February 14, 2011

Great news! The recently-completed SurvivalBlog archives database will allow us to produce an archive CD of all of the SurvivalBlog posts from 2005 to 2010. It will be fully searchable, and will be provided in both HTML and PDF. Effectively, it will emulate SurvivalBlog offline, on your PC or Mac. With this CD-ROM, you'll always have access to the SurvivalBlog archives, even if the Internet is not available. And if you are on-line while using the CD-ROM, then the links to external web sites (from both HTML and PDF) will be fully functional.

The amount of information on the archive CD-ROM is immense. The HTML file has 44.6 megabytes of text and the PDF is more than 7,200 pages long! (So I don't recommend printing a hard copy.) The new CD-ROM should be orderable from our Cafe Press store within a couple of weeks. (Please be patient.)

The Archive CD-ROM project is now in Beta testing. I'll post an announcement once the CD-ROMs are orderable. The price should be around $20. Subsequently, we also plan to produce annual update CD-ROMs, with additional bonus materials.

There is a disturbing trend in American law enforcement and in our courts: They have been enforcing nonexistent laws, misapplying laws, arresting people who are obviously innocent, and arresting people on suspicion that they might be thinking about doing something illegal. This is similar to the policing philosophy in England, where police often preemptively detain people and seize household goods "for the safety of all concerned". In my estimation, this is just one notch below arresting folks for "thought crimes" (a la Orwell's novel 1984) or "pre-crime", (a la Philip K. Dick's novella that became the movie Minority Report.)

Here are some recent examples:

  • In 2006, Ward Bird of Moultonborough, New Hampshire was legally carrying a firearm on his own property when he warned a mentally disturbed woman trespasser to leave his property. She later filed charges against him and he was convicted of "Criminal Threatening." (The jury was not allowed to hear about the woman's mental history nor her long history of filing frivolous lawsuits.) His sentence was later commuted, but he didn't get the full pardon that he deserved. As a convicted felon he can no longer vote or own a gun for the rest of his life.

The most recent article about Rev. Henry bothers me for several reasons:

1.) From the report, all of the guns seized seem to be perfectly legal, and the largest number of any category seem to be .22 rimfires. (I counted 54 of them listed.) This is hardly some would-be mass murderer's arsenal.

2.) The report listed all of the guns by serial number. So they obviously ran traces on them. But there was no mention of any of the guns being stolen or in an illegal
| configuration.

3.) Since when is being a clergymen incompatible with being a gun collector? If it were, then they'd have to defrock more than 70% of the ministers who live in the southern and western United States.

4.) Why did the police lay out just the black guns from Henry's collection for the press photographers? (I guess that the majority of guns with wood stocks looked too mundane and nondescript, hmmm?)

5.) Why would the guns and ammo even be seized at all, without a criminal charge or even reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime had been committed?

6.) Why do the police so consistently store seized guns by tossing them in garbage bins, resulting in lots of dings and scratches? Would they treat someone's collection of Meerschaum pipes, antique radios, or Hummel figurines the same way?

7.) What exactly constitutes "too many" guns? (Where I live, 230 guns would be considered "a real nice collection", but in Texas, Rev. Henry would just be considered a novice collector.)

8.) Since statistically cars kill more people than guns each year, then why is a big collection of fast cars cause for admiration, but a large gun collection cause to suspect the worst? (Unless, of course you are an anonymous millionaire.)


I urge SurvivalBlog readers to be vigilant. If you see or hear of incidents of "pre-crime" policing going on in your community, then speak up about it quickly and vociferously. Cell phones equipped with built-in video cameras are now ubiquitous, so film everything if you witness a questionable encounter with law enforcement, or have one of your own. Offer to help with the legal defense of those that are wrongly accused. Write letter to the editor of your local newspaper. If the "pre-crime" policing trend is allowed to continue, we can kiss the Fourth Amendment goodbye. We must be just as steadfast about the Fourth Amendment as we are about the First and Second Amendments!

I also urge law enforcement officers to show restraint when in doubt about the innocence of a suspect. You never know when you are going to push a wronged person the wrong way. You might end facing a Brian Christine, or a Gordon Kahl, or a Joe Stack, or a Carl Drega. Whether they are right or they just feel that they're right, sometimes people are willing to stand up and fight to the death if they believe they've been wronged.

James: Some of your SurvivalBlog.com posts recommend storing 500 rounds per shotgun, but does not mention which types of shells.

How much should I stock of the following: Slugs, 00 Buckshot, #7-1/2 birdshot, #8 birdshot.

How many of each? Any other 12 gauge ammo type?  Also, what shotguns do you use?   Thanks for publishing a great blog! -  Jim B.

JWR Replies: The ratio of shells that you store all depends on where you live.  Do you live in duck country?  Quail country?  Rabbit country? Deer country?

If you live in duck country, then you should buy mostly #2 or #3 birdshot. (I used to use #4 lead shot, until steel or tungsten shot became mandatory.) In grouse country #6 birdshot should be your priority to stock. I like to keep a lot of the #6 size shot on hand because it can also be used to shoot rabbits. The #7-1/2 or #8 birdshot is preferred by most shooters for grouse, doves, ptarmigan, and pigeons, but I generally use #6 birdshot because of its greater versatility. (I've also found that my Saiga semi-auto shotguns are not reliable with smaller shot, but they cycle exceptionally well with #6 birdshot when the gas port is set to "1"--wide open.) I do have a couple of cases of #8 shot 1-ounce low base loads that I keep on hand for garden pest shooting, but that is mainly when I don't have a .22 rimfire handy.

I generally prefer #4 Buckshot for self defense--not 00 or 000 Buck. I only have about 100 rounds of 12 gauge rifled slugs, since rifles are more appropriate than shotguns for deer hunting here in The Un-named Western State. BTW, I'm planning to test the new Hexolit slugs, once I find a stocking dealer in my region. That might become my preferred self-defense load, to alternate in my magazines with buckshot.

FWIW, I do not recommend any of the exotic shotshell loads that are heavily marketed at gun shows and in gun publications. "Dragon's Breath" for example, is just an over-priced novelty item. I do have a few tear gas "Ferret" rounds, but I wonder if a situation that warrants their use will ever arise.

You asked about shotguns. I'm mainly a rifle shooter, so I don't own many shotguns. Here at the ranch, our family has:

  • A Remington Model 870 Marine (corrosion-resistant variant) 12 Gauge with a black fiberglass stock and foreend.

  • A Remington Model 1100 "Youth" 20 Gauge.

  • Several restored Winchester Model 1897 12 Gauge. All of these are 1898 production, so they are Federally-exempt antiques.

  • Several Saiga 12 semi-autos. Some of them are waiting for the forthcoming Kushnapup bullpup stocks, while one is about to be converted by Tromix Lead Delivery Systems into a folding-stock gun. (Since left-handers cannot use bullpup shotguns.) All of our Saigas will soon be fitted with Monster Brakes that I ordered from Carolina Shooter's Supply. The barrels will be cut and the brakes will be high temperature silver-soldered on by a gunsmith, yielding a 18.5-inch barrel length when completed.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First thank you and thank you again for your wonderful web site. I feel I have learned so much by reading it. I developed lots of important ideas good not only for emergencies but for more "mundane" preparedness.

I want to share with you and your readers how I make simple and inexpensive fire starters for the fireplace, grill or campfire.

I get a pound of Gulf Wax [canning paraffin] ($3 dollars per box) and melt it in a mason jar in a pot of boiling water. I then take finely shredded office paper (free) and stuff it into egg cartons until they are about 3/4 full. Then I top off each compartment with the melted wax. I can make about thirty of these with a pound of wax.

They light easily and burn for about 12 minutes. They give off a lot of heat and I can start even slightly damp wood with them.

I compared the heat given off by fire starters with sawdust and drier lint by seeing how long I could hold my hand over the flame. The paper ones won hands down (no pun intended). Plus, I don't worry about synthetic fibers from the drier and I don't worry about wood preservatives or coatings in my saw dust. This is a must when starting my grill.

The cost is about ten cents each. Of course it would be less with waste wax from candles. I've heard crayons work too.

God Bless, - Bennington

John R. sent a Seeking Alpha article with some confirmations of my warnings to SurvivalBlog readers since 2006: Derivatives: The Real Reason Bernanke Funnels Trillions Into Wall Street Banks. Here is a quote from the article: "Of course, Bernanke tells the public and Congress that the reason we need low interest rates is to support housing prices. He doesn’t mention that $188 TRILLION of the $223 TRILLION in notional value of derivatives sitting on the Big Banks’ balance sheets is related to interest rates. Yes, $188 TRILLION. That’s thirteen times the US’ entire GDP, and nearly four times WORLD GDP."

Some insightful commentary from Charles Hugh Smith: Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham, Phase II

Imprisoned economist Martin A. Armstrong opines: The Egypt Crisis Will Engulf The Arab World, And Then Spread To Europe.

Items from The Economatrix:

MetLife Profits Fall 74% as Derivatives Loss Widens  

We are happy to welcome our newest advertiser, Missouri Storm Shelters. They have some innovative designs (pre-fabricated, bolt-together, and poured concrete), competitive pricing. They ship their metal shelters nationwide.

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Finally! Atlas Shrugged (Part 1) will come to theaters on April 15th.

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A recent post over at the Paratus Famila blog, is great reading: Country Wisdom.

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Curiouser and curiouser: The leaked campaign to attack WikiLeaks and its supporters. (Thanks to David D. for the link.)

"Americans are in the process of ruining themselves. They are transforming assets into liabilities, trading the real wealth that was built up over generations for the quick fix of debt. The ‘equity’ they own in their homes has fallen to its lowest level since the government began tracking it in 1965. The asset – the home – has been replaced by mortgage debt." - Bill Bonner (Editor of The Daily Reckoning)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brother, Can You Spare a Terabyte? I'm still searching for an offshore server where we can house a mirror site for SurvivalBlog. The plan is that it will be automatically updated daily, fully mirroring the blog. Our current dedicated server in Utah (with the fine folks at NetFronts) works great. It is currently humming along nicely with 99%+ up-time, processing about two terabytes of SurvivalBlog bandwidth monthly. NetFronts has exceptional customer service and I have no plans to change my relationship with them. I anticipate that a SurvivalBlog mirror site will use just a fraction of the bandwidth of that used on our primary server. The goal here is to have redundancy in case the blog site is maliciously hacked, or it is shut down by a misguided bureaucrat who can't understand the First Amendment. Ideally, the mirror server would be located in a stable country that does not have close ties to the U.S. government. Perhaps in Finland, Switzerland, Sealand, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Thailand, an island nation in the Pacific, or a nation in the southern tier of South American countries. Please let me know of you know of a company with server space that is available inexpensively. BTW, I am not presently looking for a mirror site in the U.S. or Canada. (My thanks to the several readers that have offered.) It is a question of priorities: I need to get the offshore mirror set up first.


Today we present another three entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

The contents of a bug out first aid kit should not only contain band-aids and other such dressings for minor wounds.  The bug out first aid kit should also contain a vast amount of items in various classifications to be discussed below.  The use of these items has been historically documented, however care should be used in their administration and these items should be used only as a last result when no other means of medical care are available.  Persons should use these items if death is imminent and the risk of using these items would not sufficiently out weigh the potential benefits of their use.

During a survival situation, regardless of length or severity, one must constantly use what is commonly referred to in the military as operational risk management (ORM) goes through the steps to determine if the risk outweighs the potential benefit.  This type of determination can best be envisioned by determining whether one should bug out or hunker down in place.  Every single aspect of survival must be weighed to determine if the benefits are greater than the potential risks, this includes advanced medical techniques.

One of the first most important things that anyone can have in their bug out bags (or more specifically in a unit standardized location on their person) is a quick application tourniquet.  These range from varying styles and applications, though my preferred one is the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT).  These can be had for anywhere from $15 to $20 from various web sites and various police supply stores.  Items such as these are extremely effective when used in an ambush situation where someone has sustained a wound to the extremities.  Ideally the injured person would be able to place this on himself and continue to put lead down range.  Remember what I told you last time, the most effective preventive medicine is overwhelming, well-aimed firepower.  Another way of stating this is if you kill all of the enemies you will not have to mop up as many bodies and blood of your comrades as if you didn't defeat them.

Another thing that everyone should consider, as I previously mentioned, is a surgical kit.  These can be had from numerous sources on the Internet.  Be sure to get something that is stainless steel and can thus be sterilized with high temperature steam, such as that found in a dishwasher.  I do not recommend using a dishwasher a a sterilization method in a Rule of Law situation, however it will suffice if that is the only means of sterilization around.  Ideally I would boil the stainless steel surgical instruments in water over an open flame for one hour.

Along with a surgical kit every bug out medical kit should contain some spray bottles of Diethyl Ether, also known as Diesel Engine Starting Fluid.  This was originally used as early as 1846 as an anesthetic.  This will be of untold importance when the need arises to handle appendicitis (to be covered in a later article), Caesarean section deliveries , and even the resetting of broken bones.  Hand in hand with the Diethyl Ether should be some extra large coffee filters, at least two packs.  One simply places 10-15 coffee filters together and sprays the ether on them for approximately 2-3 seconds then immediately places it over the nose and mouth of the individual to be sedated, allowing them to breathe in the fumes.  This will allow for a numbing effect similar to that of modern anesthetics. [JWR Adds This WARNING: Please see the many warnings about ether that have been published in SurvivalBlog! Ether and chloroform can be very tricky to use, with a high risk of accidentally killing your patient. Ether is also very flammable, and it has some of the same un-even dosing and side-effect issues as chloroform. I would recommend it only for someone with current training in anesthesia, and only as a last resort if no modern anesthetics were available. Also note that engine starting fluids sold commercially are not pure Diethyl Ether. They commonly include other fractions including petroleum ether (naptha), unspecified "petroleum oils", and heptane. They should not be used medicinally!]

Survivalists should be cautioned against the use of Chloroform as an anesthetic.  Although it is effective as an anesthetic it also has some unfortunate side effects that are difficult to manage in a kitchen table surgery scenario.  Side effects include intense vomiting, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, headache, confusion,  cardiac arrhythmias, kidney and liver damage. [JWR Adds: See the preceding warning. It has also been identified as a carcinogen.]

Survivalists should also have the books mentioned in previous articles, Emergency War Surgery, Ditch Medicine, and the U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman handbook.  This books will prove invaluable when dealing with problems ranging from splinters to abdominal eviscerations (guts hanging out).  One should also be well versed in various surgical techniques that may become vitally important.  Various techniques to study would be appendectomies, cesarean sections (discussed in a later article), tooth extractions and treatment of gunshot wounds in various parts of the body.

The bug out medical kit should also contain some sort of anticoagulant/blood stopping devices.  Many such devices are readily available both online and at police supply stores.  These devices range from Hemcon, Quik-Clot, Celox and Zeolite.  There has also been some progress shown in some of the potato based products, however these have yet to be released to the civilian market.  Something to consider when using a hemostatic agent such as those listed above are the need for both water to minimize heat transfer, gloves to prevent the person using the agent from getting burned, and the need to surgically remove the particles once the bleeding has been stopped and operational time permits.

I would highly recommend the survivalist from using hemostatic agents except in the case of sever uncontrollable bleeding to the neck, face, or head.  These agents are not to be used, under any circumstances, in the chest or abdominal area as they may interact with the lungs and/or be absorbed by the organs in the stomach area.  For most cases of bleeding on can use a tourniquet and be just fine, however hemostatic agents are useful in the neck, face, and head provided the airway is still intact and the airway will not absorb the particles.

Every bug out medical kit should also contain a basic complement of medicines.  Whether the medicines have expired or not will have some effect on them, however most medicines can be equated to nuclear materials.  The FDA recommends medicines to expire in half the time of their half life.  That means that if you double the time the FDA states the drug is to expire after manufacture it will be half as effective (more or less there is a little more involved than this, but this is just a dummied up version to illustrate a point), if you expand that time frame out again it will now be ¼ effective.  So on and so forth throughout the life of the medicine.

Some medicines to consider would be anti-histamines such as Benadryl, sudafed, and dramamine.  Pain relievers such as Motrin, Tylenol, and Aleve.  Cough medicines such as Dimetap, Guaifenesin, and Dextromethorphan.  Also one should include at least a 3 month supply of any medicines they take on a regular basis such as heart medicines, cancer medicines, asthma inhalers and any other medicines taken on a regular basis.  One might also consider the benefits of including such medicines as are beneficial in the treatment of nuclear exposure. 

Medicines for the treatment of anthrax exposure include ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin, and doxycycline.  These medicines have efficacy for treatment of plague, tularemia, brucellosis and Q Fever.  Medicines for the treatment of Ricin poisoning include activated charcoal (which has many other uses in an end of the world medical sense).  A good web site to consult in regards to symptoms and treatments for many CBRNE agents is the eMedicine library.  Another good resource is the Army web site for CBRNE training.  One will notice that in addition to the distance courses offered online they also offer the opportunity for civilians to attend the classroom based courses for a minimal fee.

This list is not an all inclusive list, however it is designed to give the survivalist ideas that not most think of when it comes time to organizing a survival medical bag.  Due to the very nature of survival and different mindsets and preparedness/knowledge levels individual kits will vary greatly.  As stated previously the individual survivalist (or survival groups) must evaluate their own ORM and determine what types of items they would be most likely to use in the event of a complete breakdown of the health care system.  They must then determine what is beneficial, or potentially beneficial to them and load up the supplies accordingly.

It should go without saying, however given the current state of the entire world's IQ I feel the need to emphasis that any medications or tools included in the bug out medical bag should be known backwards and forwards.  The survivalist should strive to understand not just the intended uses of such items, but also the side effects, alternative uses, possible interactions and means by which the devices work.  One should endeavor to understand all the finer aspects of the molecular interactions that medicines have on the body, for each medicine used.  It is instrumental not just for the individuals survival but also for that of the group.  The survival medic must endeavor to learn all they can about anatomy and physiology, molecular biology, pharmaceutical biology, neurobiology and pharmacological interventions for common diseases and injuries.  Being a survival medic is a life of constant, never ceasing learning and understanding of the greatest system of them all, that of the human body and it's interactions with the world we currently or may in the future live in.

If you are reading this, it is because you are already aware of many of the events that you may think could be the catalyst for TEOTWAWKI.  Many think it will be something that quickly turns the whole world upside down and causes the Golden Horde to attack your retreat, threaten your family, steal your food supply and rape, pillage and burn the neighborhood;  all by tomorrow night. It's something envisioned on a national rather than regional or local scale. Some attempt the overwhelming task of preparing for the national event.  More prepare for the regional or local event.  Most prepare for nothing.  They are soon to be the fabled Golden Horde, but it's unlikely that they will do so by tomorrow night, justification for those who do nothing.

In today's world, it's easy to become an alarmist, emulating "Chicken Little."  Riots, Police Actions, Political Upheaval, Food Production Crisis', Energy Crisis', Stock, Market Crisis, Peak Oil, etc., etc., etc.. Everything is a crisis;  if you are an Internet surfer, you've been  exposed to many more crises that never hit the mainstream media.  Most promoting these 'crises' are doing it for the money.  A few are doing it because they know it's coming and they don't want to be alone and unprepared when it happens; they just don't know when, or in what form it will occur.

'Survivalists' / 'preppers' are a special breed, but many have focused on TEOTWAWKI to the point that their creditability is sometimes lost in their enthusiasm. Some get obsessed to the point, they don't enjoy the other parts of their lives. Their friends, relatives and associates may think they've lost their minds, as it gradually, or immediately, becomes a way of life to them.  I know this applies to me. I write this article as a personal attempt to bring a little reality to the table, and thereby focus on the attitude and mindset that controls most of this.

The likely events that may ultimately cause TEOTWAWKI simply will not occur instantaneously or overnight, but are rather a series of smaller events in succession; unless it's a EMP blast, or an asteroid impact and pole shift.  Instantaneous or overnight events are regional or local in nature, like a Katrina or an earthquake, a dirty bomb or a riot in Egypt. They are devastating to those that are in them, but not to the general  population of the areas adjoining the devastated area. They are a shorter term disaster, and preparation for those types of events is something that is a short term, finite duration, event. Those events are life changing for those immediately affected, but again, not for the population as a whole. By their very nature, they are easier to prepare for than a true TEOTWAWKI scenario.  Some will die, but most will likely live. There will be some looting, a few shootings, some arrests, a few will go hungry for a while, but most will live and to most  it will be just a bad memory.

For that reason, the shorter term, regional or local events, are the ones that people can get their minds around; as these are the events they see on tv, but seldom, if ever, in their own home town. They can't relate to and picture them actually happening to them, where they live. In Egypt recently, some that I know, made up all the reasons why they'd  be ok if they just stayed away from the demonstrations. If they don't get involved, they needn't prepare for anything.  The rest of the country is okay, they say. They also believe that someone else will help them if they just stay out of the frey.  Still, some will be a little prepared, and most will not be prepared at all.  In the US, the unprepared are still involved in American Idol, Dancing With The Stars or some other form of entertainment which justifies their denial and therefore no reason to think about what those crazy  'preppers'  are doing. After all, look at Egypt, it's all back to normal now.

Those who envision and see the reasons for the ultimate national disruption are the ones that people think are crazy. I'm one of those. TEOTWAWKI will be on a national and likely a world wide scale. -- But, it will start small; a little here, a little there until a series of seemingly small events kicks it all off.  It will be exactly  like the frog in the pot, who is positive he's just sitting in a recreational hot tub with a thermostat that will keep it below 106 degrees.

Here are a few "Reality Checks":

Peak Oil: It doesn't mean we'll run out of oil by Friday. It simply means that fuel and everything else will get more expensive. The question here is how much, how soon. Nothing to go crazy about today,  but without planning for it, it will affect everything in your life, unless you're independently wealthy. Try to picture anything in the room that you're sitting in that was manufactured and got to you without oil being used somewhere in the cycle. There is nothing.

Food Shortages: You'll have steak, a baked potato and salad this week and next. It will quickly  become much more expensive because of Peak Oil and all that it brings:  more expensive fertilizer, farm machine operating expenses, processing and delivery expenses,  etc, etc, Droughts, floods, climate change and all the rest of the 'crises' will also cause shortages and subsequently higher prices; maybe even limited or no availability. That doesn't yet mean you won't be able to get it, if you're independently wealthy. Grains are up 70% in 2010, (both cows and people are grain fed) and the U.S. reserves are at an all time low.

Civil Unrest: Most riots are short lived. Nothing to worry about, just keep your head down and keep a low profile. But wait, maybe the riot is caused by empty fuel tanks at the gas stations. Maybe it's caused by empty store shelves because of high fuel prices or lack of fuel availability for trucks. Maybe it's caused because of higher taxes and decreased services -- fewer cops and higher crime. Or perhaps other causes? Today, it could be almost anything, but likely because of lack of something.  Again, not a problem if you're independently wealthy.

Yellowstone Volcanic Eruption: What happens when the ash has spread throughout the mid-west and southwest from border to border a five million people are dead, and the rest are slowly suffocating while they are out searching for fuel and food or water? Not a problem if you are independently wealthy and have built and provisioned a underground bunker in Kansas. But have a way to get there before the ash settles.

Hopefully, I've made my point.  Anything can happen, and the likelihood of something occurring that could be catastrophic to you and yours becomes greater every day because of population, weather, the economy and politics.  You may have noticed that I kept writing: "unless you're independently wealthy".  All that wealth does is give you a little bit of time. It's not the end-all cure-all for your future problems. The facts are that "it" , whatever "it" is, may not be available at any price, get it now or plan to do without it. Get some junk silver while "it" is still available, but before hyperinflation makes it too pricey. Slow methodical preparation is the answer. Just don't let it become obsessive. You can still watch American Idol, just do your daily preparedness task first.  Let Mr. Rawles get you started. Make your own lists as he recommends, and do it now. You won't be sorry. Whether it's local or world-wide, you're in the pot and the thermostat is broken. 

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
In August of 2005 Hurricane Katrina had slammed into the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi.  I really don't need to tell you the destruction and subsequent aftermath of that storm as it is well documented for all to see.  We had lived in New Orleans for sixteen years and had moved to Houston five years prior to Katrina so were used to living in hurricane alley. We thought….

September of 2005, a month later, the Houston area was threatened by Hurricane Rita.  Rita was the fourth most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. The paranoia at the thought of it hitting Houston after the devastation of Katrina was intense in the Houston area. The local government started to issue evacuation orders for the coastal area's three days prior to the forecast landfall date.  There were no planned evacuation times or schedules so everyone got on the road as soon as they were packed up.  People as far as fifty miles from the coast were evacuating because the local leaders never came out and said who was most at risk.
We work in the Medical Center in Houston and live 39 miles north of there, commuting across Harris County and through downtown Houston. I was ready to go whenever we got released from work but my wife being a nurse would be held longer even though she was not doing actual patient care. I was anxiously monitoring the traffic which was getting worse by the minute while waiting for her, I finally told her we had to leave or we were not getting home at all. Our usual commute on the way home is an hour and a half. This time it took us three hours only because I took every back road and side street I knew of to beat the mad rush on the freeway system which was rapidly turning into a parking lot.

We have several friends that evacuated and spent twenty or more hours stuck on the freeway. They told many tales of woe about their experience’s out there. There were gangs from the inner city traveling up and down the shoulders of the freeways causing hate and discontent.  Water and bathrooms were nonexistent.  People in recreational vehicles had people knocking on their doors to see if they could use the bathrooms. Every neighborhood off the freeway had people coming in to see if they could get something from the people that lived there. Some areas had sheriff's deputy's block the exits from the freeways so that people couldn't get off and wander through their area's. One of my friends finally put his pistol on the dash in plain sight just as a warning to people walking up and down the freeway begging for anything they could get.

My wife decided to go to the store and get some odds and ends the day before Rita was to make landfall. She came out of our subdivision and made a left hand turn before realizing the traffic jam that was still on the road. She called me in a panic back home because the road was full of people just sitting in their cars waiting to get out. I told her to go see what she could get and I would guide her home. She went to the Kroger in town and it looked like a store that had been plundered. There wasn't anything much worth buying left.  I guided her home on some back roads and the lesson here is to learn as many routes as you can to your destination. You never know when it might mean sitting on a freeway for 10 or more hours and making it home to get your preparations done.

Hurricane Ike
Fast forward three years to September 2008. Once again the Houston area is under the gun from a major hurricane. This time because of the near miss with Rita officials are taking a less frantic position. The storm is supposed to hit to the west of Houston in a farming region of the gulf coast. The officials do call for the evacuation of just the immediate coastal areas but by all accounts are not worried by a direct hit on the greater metropolitan area.

Getting home was no problem. Many people that went through Rita said “to hell with it” and stayed home thinking we wouldn't get the worst of the storm and were not going to spend the time sitting in traffic again. The local officials made it abundantly clear that the storm was only going to graze Houston.

We were safe at home when the storm veered north, straight at Galveston Bay.  That night it roared ashore and cut thru a wide swath of the area that was supposed to be spared.  We lost power in the wee hours of the morning. The next day we woke up to still no power and no water (our water company is on the same circuit as our neighborhood).  Fortunately the storm was followed by an unexpected cool front and made for a beautiful day.  I won't go into the damage to our property.  I set up my Honda 2000 generator and plugged in the portable television and refrigerator and waited for the power and water to return.  About 8 p.m. the power came back on and we were all excited but, it went out two hours later.  By the third evening we were wondering when it would come back on. Thank God for being having bought the generator for our small truck camper.

I was getting cabin fever three days into this, and wanted to go up and check on our fifth wheel trailer up at the lake. We knew there were trees down and power was out across the region but decided to run up and see for ourselves. Thankfully there was no damage to our rig.  When we got home we went over to the neighbors for shared supper and to socialize.  While we were gone that afternoon,  a band of men (read thugs) from the subdivision were going around checking to see who had generators.  The story went  that the power went out the second time because someone had their generator hooked up to their house and when the power came back on it “back fed” through the main lines and killed a power worker.  So these guys decide to take it upon themselves and check everyone's setup. One particular and well prepared, gentleman was the given the wrath of the gang.  The sheriff was called and told “he had to go over and disconnect this guy's generator or we would never get power back”.   The poor man was told he should be prepared to “protect” his property.

The power did not come back on for a week. There was no food in the grocery store, if people got power they were not sharing and water was still an issue.  Generators were being sold for three and four times their normal price.  Gas was still four dollars a gallon if you could get it with the gas stations not having any power and being sold out quickly if they did. Getting gas supplies in took days as the refineries in the area were without power also.  The lines for "free" food and water were tremendous. People that didn't even need it were going to get it. We were prepared and had bottled water and food in the pantry.  The cooler than normal weather we had been blessed with helped keep a bad situation from becoming worse.  If the normal heat that follows a hurricane had arrived it would have been a different tale for the Houston area.   When I finally was able to get to the web I learned that power in my area was going to be out for another week at least.  Fortunately, our local Wal-Mart had gotten some larger generators in and we were able to purchase one that is tested bimonthly to be sure it is “up and ready”

The news media was really funny. They would have a story about where you could get something and then at the end say “Check our web site for times and locations”. There were four million people without power, how are you going to check the web site if they even saw the broadcast?  The local news was all about the aftermath. We did not get any news beyond our local area and really didn't think much of it. When we finally got national news we found out that the economy was collapsing.  We are now preparing for a different type of disaster….

In hindsight, we are much more prepared now.  We have the means to protect our home and are constantly supplied with food and water. The whole experience was  very eye opening and we have been preparing for any eventuality ever since. WTSHTF in your everyday life you find out just what your made of. There are tons of things I will do different next time.  But don't under estimate what your “neighbor” will do and stealth is the word in preparedness. They will take what you have and not look back.

Dear Sir,  
I’ve been making “permanent” candles for years, using empty cat food cans, pipe cleaners, and store-bought paraffin wax. The cans are quite stable and, because of their volume, the wicks don’t “float” until they’ve been burning a long time. Rotating candles solves that problem. The wicks don’t burn up – they wick – unless you touch them and knock the built-up carbon off them. If that happens, you can easily repair them using lint from a clothes dryer – a good thing to have anyway. The candles must be fed to keep ‘em burning and to adjust the flame; the wax is the consumable. I’ve had many candles last literally years, and I always have ‘em handy, with some spare fuel, for emergency lighting. With inverted ceramic flower pots, they also make decent small-space radiant heaters, and will warm up a can of soup in a pinch. Hope this helps.   Thanks and best wishes,   - Rick O. in New Mexico


Greetings Mr. Rawles,

A fairly low cost alternative for low level lighting is the solar LED pathway lights. Just place them in the sun during the day, and they are good for several hours during the night. Just remove the charged batteries when they are not needed, or add a simple switch to turn them off and on. With minimal soldering skills you can replace the white LED's with red, to make them easier on your night vision. Blessings, - M.I.A.

Using candles as lighting tools should be considered as a last resort. A much better option would be a small capacitor with a solar charger, powering LED lights. I have been to too many residential structure fires that resulted from improper use of candles.  Often the candles pollute the inside of the house, so the occupants open windows, allowing winds to blow combustible fabrics into contact with candle flames. Usually I have seen this during periods of high-wind related conditions, that have blown down electrical utilities, thus leaving residents to figure out how to deal with the mess themselves. - "Split Hoof

Pierre M. sent: Egypt Crisis Puts Spotlight on Weakness in US: El-Erian

A few industries are bucking the trend and doing well in the recession. The newspaper article from Montana highlights one: Bitterroot Valley ammunition makers see ever-growing demand. Don't miss the comments on buyers' concerns about "the world falling apart", near the end of the article. (A hat tip to Mara for the link.)

More mainstream media feel-good journalism: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The World's Battle With Inflation But Were Afraid To Ask. From their standpoint, inflation is a good thing. As if we're supposed to feel good about being robbed, gradually... Memo to Mainstream Media: Please don't sprinkle me with water from a toilet bowl and try to tell me that its raining.

Items from The Economatrix:

Global Credit Contagion on the Verge Again   

Gerald Celente: Official Unemployment Rate is an "Official" Lie  

10 Reasons Why it Has Become So Soul-Crushingly Difficult to Find a Job in America Today

Which Currency Will Crash First?   

3.9 Million Americans Ran Out of Jobless Benefits in 2010

"Word" mentioned some Kalashnikov training videos by a former Spetsnaz soldier who knows his stuff: Saulius "Sonny" Puzikas. I should mention that I take exception to his advocacy of taping magazines together, end-to-end. When you drop to a prone firing position (as you often must, if you value your skin) then there is a huge risk of either fouling the downward-facing magazine with mud, or bending its feed lips. Bad idea!

   o o o

Fred the Valmetmeister flagged this interesting article: Feds: Mobster fugitive captured in rural Idaho.

   o o o

Mark. G. in Michigan sent us an article from the Harvard Medical School web site that echoes what you've already seen in SurvivalBlog: Drug Expiration Dates - Do They Mean Anything?

"And the word of the Lord came unto him [Elijah], saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan." - I Kings 17: 2–3

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

I have been an avid SurvivalBlog reader for a couple of years now, and I have been a lifelong prepper, although never like I am now.  Through this blog and other excellent sources, I have gained immeasurable information and comfort, and the feeling that by the grace of God and diligent effort, I am finally obtaining a level of preparedness which ensures a very good chance of providing safety and security for my family and me through whatever the future may bring.  Though I have made many personal preparations, I don’t feel that I have done enough to help others prepare, which is why I decided to submit this article.
Over the last 3 years I have reached the conclusion that most of the problems in our society are caused by a lack of thinking about the future and then planning for it.  This is true for individuals, for families, local and national governments, and for humanity as a whole.  Although our individual preparations such as storing up “stuff” for the future are extremely important, these are only one part of our responsibility.  It is, of course incumbent upon us as responsible individuals to prepare individually for TEOTWAWKI, but it is just as important to try to prevent that event from occurring in the first place.  Those who think that TEOTWAWKI will just be some exciting adventure will be sadly disappointed.  It will definitely be challenging and doing things for ones’ self can be extremely satisfying, but all in all it would be far better if we can avoid experiences the worst case scenarios.

There are certainly many things that could necessitate the preparations that we (the preparedness community) are all making.  These include natural disasters, war, chemical or industrial accidents, pandemics, food production failures due to too much genetic manipulation, floods, fires, climate change (if there is such a thing), EMP bursts, nuclear war, meteor showers, financial meltdown, zombies, aliens, or crazy bird attacks.  Some of these could be an inconvenience; others could throw us into TEOTWAWKI, others are not even remotely realistic.

A Key Concern:
Personally my biggest fear is a national or even international monetary collapse caused by the United States debt and monetary policy.  Let’s face it, our government has been borrowing and printing money from thin air to support our collective spending habit, and it is bound to reach a boiling point sooner or later.  Such a monetary collapse would completely upset our comfortable lives of extreme specialization, simplified trading via our currency, and an almost infinite array of goods and services virtually at our fingertips.  Moreover, it would throw our society into complete chaos almost overnight.  Let me pause here to provide some background about myself – I have almost 15 years experience as a law enforcement official for a large agency in a large metropolitan area.  I have had countless opportunities to witness what people will do when they are pushed against a wall, be it physically, emotionally or financially.  People who are otherwise well mannered, generally reasonable individuals are capable of horrific behavior.  The group I am most concerned about is the ever growing entitlement class.  These people generally have poor upbringing, low education, a low level of practical skills, and are therefore not generally very capable of taking care of themselves.  Due in part to their own shortcomings, and in part to our willingness as a society to continue supporting them they are stuck in a mode of expecting and demanding that things be provided for them at the expense of someone else.  I will expand a bit more on this later on.  Suffice it to say that these are the people that will cause the major portion of the civil unrest that will certainly follow a monetary collapse.  One needs only to look at the examples of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or the L.A. "Rodney King" riots for a small sampling of what we can expect.  The difference in the complete monetary collapse scenario I am worried about is that law enforcement had virtually inexhaustible resources at its disposal to restore order and protect the innocent citizens in these cases….not at first to be sure, but in both of those cases backup poured in from other agencies in nearby and even far away jurisdictions to provide relief for the first responders.                    

Even with all this backup assistance, particularly in the case of New Orleans it was weeks before order was restored.  Now imagine if civil unrest simultaneously occurs in every large and medium sized city across the country.  There simply will not be enough police to protect everyone from those who feel that they are entitled to whatever they need, irrespective of who it belongs to.  Many officers will not report to work, as they will be busy protecting and attempting to provide for their own families.  Many other officers who are less dedicated than they should be will figure “what’s the point, I’m not getting paid for this anyway.”  I have heard that sentiment under far less exigent circumstances than a total monetary collapse.  Understand that if money is no longer any good, many police officers will not report to work, and good people everywhere will have to rely on themselves and each other for their mutual defense from the unsavory elements of our society.

Strategy 1. Getting educated and staying informed:

If you are reading this blog, you are well ahead of the curve.  Be encouraged that you are being joined by more people every day.  The question is, will enough people start educating themselves and then work to change the problems before things spin out of control and we reach a state of TEOTWAWKI?
Learn the issues - political, monetary and social, they are all related.  Study and understand the events that have taken place to get us to the point where we are.  Find out what caused our current problems.

Read articles on the internet (as I mentioned this blog is a great start), read books, and talk with people who know more than you do.  Listen to talk radio every time you get in the car rather than listening to music. Philosophize on your own, with careful consideration; you can reach many truths which are self-evident.  Watch the News, and for anyone that hasn’t figured it out yet, the most reliable source of television news is FOX News (the cable network, not necessarily your local affiliate station).  If you only have time to watch one News program per day, then I suggest the Glenn Beck Program.  Although it is not exactly a pure news program, it will inform you of a lot of the current events, but also teach you about the unreported stories that no other show reports, about history, it will expose conspiracies (real one’s not the crazy alien ones), and even help you build your own faith.  You will also gain encouragement by watching this show.  Don’t take any one source and believe it without questioning.  Do your own research and reach your own conclusion.

Learn the skills to deal with the problems that you can foresee, both the self reliance skills as well as the investing and monetary skills.  Learn to make the very best use of your funds, and squeeze the most possible value out of a dollar.  Learn how our government system works, who is responsible for what, how it is arranged and so forth, so that you can do your part to help effect political changes.
Share what you learn with your friends and neighbors.  Don’t go crazy forwarding every article you read to everyone you know, if you do then they will just start deleting them without reading them.  Instead pick and choose the best ones and selectively direct the information that you find to the person that you know will get the most value from the information.

Strategy 2. Changing our political course, cutting out our collective government waste:

So what can we do to prevent the monetary collapse I am so worried about?  Government must shrink in a huge way if it is to survive.  I am not endorsing the complete dismantling of government, only proposing that it be limited as our founding fathers intended, especially at the federal level.  Primarily the federal government was established for our common defense from foreign invasion.  There are several other constitutional responsibilities of course, but they are miniscule by comparison with all the roles that the government has illegally assumed. 

As a people, we have become too comfortable and too lazy.  We have come to rely on the government for far too much.  I know this might upset a few people, but we need to each be willing to sacrifice whatever it is that is dear to us that is being provided by the federal government.  If that is Medicare or Social Security, we must be willing to give that up.  If it is department of education money going to our local school system, it needs to go to.  If it is government assisted housing, endowment for the arts, college grant money for our kids, tax refunds for having more children than our neighbors, whatever our own special entitlement program may be, it needs to go, regardless of how painful it is.  It is easy to point at wasted money that benefits someone else and say eliminate that, but it requires real moral character and sacrifice to give up our own favorite program.  If you are reading this and thinking that you have paid into social security for your whole life and you deserve to keep it, then please consider that the money you paid in is gone.  We have spent it long ago on other things – this is the collective fault of all of us, not just the politicians who sign the checks.  Remember we the people are the government… the bosses in this society.  Yes the politicians were reckless and irresponsible and deserve to be prosecuted for what they have done, but at the same time we have hired them over and over and over to continue doing it.  Some of us have been directly responsible by voting for them, and some of us indirectly by perhaps not voting against them, or by not paying attention to what they were doing.  For those of us who were paying attention all along and consistently voted the right way, we are guilty of not doing enough to educate our friends, neighbors and co-workers about it and by not crying foul loud enough.

Once we come to the realization that we all collectively got ourselves into this mess, we must resolve to get out of it, but we must do it without doing so at the expense of someone else.  I have heard many theories that we can simply never pay the money back to the Chinese and the others that we have borrowed from.  I have heard lots of people say that we can simply inflate the currency and pay it back in inflated dollars, which is the path our politicians seem to be taking currently… of course it won’t ever be paid back because despite this tactic, they are still spending and borrowing more than they are repaying.  This is morally reprehensible.  We borrowed this money from other nations and from little old ladies in the form of government bonds and it is our responsibility to pay it back.  We must demand this of our politicians.  If they want to keep up the spending and avoid repayment of our debts then they are not worthy of managing the money and resources of this great nation and must be fired immediately.  It is our job to understand exactly who we are voting for when we go to the polls.  Voting for the [D] or the [R] is not good enough - there are lots of bad apples, and a few good apples in each group.  We must also notify everyone we know every time a politician makes or embraces a reckless fiscal policy.  Whether it is at the federal, state or local level and we must tell that politician how displeased we are with him or her.  Emails to their offices are good, letters and faxes are better because a staff member must handle a piece of paper rather than just hit the delete key.  Phone calls and personal visits to their offices are best because they know that people are really watching what they are doing.  When we take time out of our hectic lives during regular business hours to contact them they know we are serious.  Attending a town hall meeting or a Tea Party rally is a very powerful way to get their attention.  These events usually receive news coverage too, and the larger they are, the more coverage they receive.  If you get there and the place is too full to get any more people inside, then don’t feel like you missed out, hang around anyway and take comfort that you helped get the message across by your presence.  When the place is standing room only, again the politicians know that people are watching their every move.

Strategy 3. Putting all Americans to Work:

If we get our spending under control, then I am convinced that we can work our way out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.  Yes it will be an uphill climb, yes it will take a generation, but I would rather work very hard and sacrifice for the rest of my life rather than leaving this massive debt problem to the next generation, and if you are reading this blog then I suspect you would too.  Once we eliminate the government programs that encourage people not to work by providing them with enough to make them comfortable in their poverty, they will find ways to become self sufficient, and by working they will begin to contribute to society by creating wealth – goods and services that can be consumed by their neighbors.  Perhaps all these newly created goods can even be exported to other nations to help with the trade deficit that we have.  Moreover, all the government employees that are administrating these myriad spending programs can then also devote their skills and talents to innovating and producing in the private sector as well.  Then instead of being net tax consumers, they will become net tax contributors and assist in repaying our massive debt instead of adding to it.

I mentioned the trade imbalance we have in the United States; this brings me to my next point.  One thing that we can and must do as individuals if we are to reverse the financial mess we are in is to buy American goods.  I know you’ve heard this before, and I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, but I have made a concerted effort to do this for over a year now and the more you do it the easier it gets.  Yes sometimes (although not always) you end up paying more for a product that is American instead of Chinese, but if you help to keep one of your neighbors employed then they will have more money next week to come and buy something from you, keeping you employed.  This keeps everyone earning and paying taxes so that we can repay the money that we owe to so many debtors.  Sometimes it’s very difficult to go to a big box store such as Home Depot or Target and find things that were actually made in the USA; Wal-Mart is particularly difficult.  I make it a policy that if I am looking for a luxury item and they don’t have an American made one, then I pass on it, and look for it on the internet instead.  I have had great success locating web sites that sell USA made products using Google, and I have really enjoyed my experiences with all of them.  Here are just a few I have found:

I also recently found a grain mill that is made in Montana by a small company.  I am saving up my money and look forward to ordering one in a couple of months.  Buying USA made goods is extremely important, but if you haven’t noticed a common thread in all my strategies yet, I need to point out that it is just important to get your family and friends on board doing the same thing!

Strategy 4. Individual preparedness:

I won’t spend time here going into all the things that each of us can do to prepare our own households because there are thousands of articles on this site and others about that already, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of that individual preparation.  In case all of the above strategies fail and we do arrive at one stage or another of TEOTWAWKI, we should be simultaneously preparing for it, even as we continue to carry out these other strategies.

Strategy 5. Encouraging our neighbors to prepare:

Why is this so important?  As I mentioned previously, most problems in this world are caused by a lack of thinking ahead and making preparations.  All the social chaos that I am concerned about that will follow the monetary collapse would be avoided if everyone was prepared, or even if most people were prepared.  If everyone has the things they need stockpiled and a plan in place to take care of their families for an extended period of time, then no one will have any reason to panic when the lights go out.  We will have cooler heads, which will allow us to develop plan B to get our society operational again.

As many of us have experienced, it is difficult to come right up to someone and tell them that TEOTWAWKI is coming so they need to start saving their beans, bullets, and Band-Aids, because if you do then many people will think you are crazy.  There are many tactful approaches that you can take to introduce this concept gradually to your less informed friends and neighbors.  I have found that most people these days are very concerned about the economic direction of the country right now, and since this is a more realistic problem to them than a nuclear war or a pandemic, it is easiest to approach them on this basis.  I usually start by feeling a person out about their financial situation, often by sharing something about my own situation.  You don’t have to tell them you are poorer than dirt or anything, you can say something like “boy the prices of clothes sure are going up lately”.  If they share your sentiment then you can introduce the basic concepts of how our monetary system works and what causes inflation.  Next you can point to the moves being made by our federal government and the Federal Reserve and educate them to the fact that massive inflation is imminent.  Once you get to this point it is a very simple leap to get them to understand that buying extra goods right now is a way for them to save money, and almost everyone is looking for ways to save money these days!  Of course these conversations may happen one at a time over an extended time frame.  I usually don’t tell people that I have piles of things stored away for a rainy day immediately, I say something like “every time I go to the grocery store I buy 2 of anything that is on sale, because I know I’ll use it sooner or later and I would rather get it cheaper now”  then I explain to them that the more I have in pantry the more I have found that I never need to buy anything until it goes on sale, and never paying full price means  I have more cash available to buy sale items!  I have many friends that have said “I could never do that, I don’t have a single dime to buy anything extra”.  At that point I loan them one of my books like America's Cheapest Family or Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family.  Sometimes if they have a Kindle, I give the book as a gift.

For those that you really care about – perhaps a close friend or family member -that just refuse to do it, there are other ways to help them get prepared.  As we all know saving up piles of stuff is by no means all there is to preparation.  Probably the second most important thing to do is to learn new skills, or some would even say that gaining skills is the most important thing to do.  You can invite a friend or family member to learn a new skill with you such as working on an engine, sewing or mending clothes, going on a hike in the woods, gardening, canning, woodworking, doing some basic machine work, doing some home repair or improvement, helping to tend to animals, taking an EMT class at a local community college, or any number of other important skills.  Of course the best skills to concentrate on are those that you can do with limited raw materials and whether you have electricity or not - in case of the worst scenario, but all self sufficiency skills are important.  Even if the total society collapse never comes, at least you will be able to save money by doing some of these things for ourselves that in our modern world we tend to source out to someone else.

Strategy 6. Preparing to be charitable:
No matter what we do to get others more involved and to become more prepared, there will still be those who don’t listen.  Some of them will certainly perish if TEOTWAWKI comes, either by their own inaction or during altercations with each other, with police, or with prepared persons and groups who they will try to rob and steal from.  Others will pick themselves up, be resourceful and become productive members of society and outstanding citizens.  Still others will be able to make it, and will want to do it without stealing from or hurting anyone else…..they may be very willing to work hard but they will need some help initially moving into the new era that will ensue.  It is for this group that we should prepare to be charitable and helpful.

We should prepare to be charitable, but we need to understand why the government’s “charity” give away plans have failed so miserably.  Things like government housing, welfare, disability payments, food stamps, and all the other myriad “social benefit programs” have just encouraged people to stay in them. 
Benjamin Franklin said "I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer." I have personally observed this effect on people over my lifetime.  What Mr. Franklin said was very insightful, especially considering he didn’t have the benefit of observing the wildest government giveaway charity system that the world has ever seen, like we are able to see.  All these government programs, even when well meaning have been ineffective because they fail to address the long term problem and create more dependency and irresponsibility than existed making the “charity” necessary to begin with.

We should prepare to share to meet someone’s immediate needs but it is more important to help them achieve long term security and self reliance skills.  For example, plan to give away enough potatoes for this week’s soup, but also enough to plant to grow a whole row of potato plants, and a shovel to plant them, and some of your time teaching the needy person how to raise the plants.  Be prepared to share raw materials as well as valuable life skills with those who are prepared to learn.
Bartering can be charitable too.  For example, let’s say TEOTWAWKI hits - you are an older person with some resources like tools and property, but you can’t do everything for yourself because of physical limitations, then taking a plot of your land and sharing it with a needy family who made no preparations, but have the ability to work could be very beneficial to all parties.  Any reasonable self respecting person would be far happier with an arrangement like this instead of just having things given to them anyway, so in the long run you are encouraging them to be self sufficient, but making sure their self esteem is not destroyed either.

If you have a large home, especially one that is owned free and clear, and have made a lot of other preparations already, then you could consider sectioning off an area now as a separate living area for that family member that just refuses to prepare.  It will be far easier to do it now than later when building materials may be much more difficult to come by.  In many cases, this will also be infinitely better than sharing one living space with your extended family, especially under the stressful circumstances that TEOTWAWKI will bring.  It will be good to have that extended family close by for mutual cooperation and defense, but you may all want some space at times too.  If the worst never happens then you have created an area you can rent out or use as a guest area for the mother in law when she comes to town, and you have added value to your property, which is quite likely a better and more responsible investment than keeping the worthless green paper that we call money.

Final Thoughts:

These strategies only work if you implement them.  The first strategy, educating yourself and studying are very important, but no more important than the second strategy of affecting the political change.  If you spend all your time educating yourself and never get to any of the other strategies, and everyone else does the same thing, then TEOTWAWKI will come for sure because things will continue to deteriorate as we all sit around just reading books. 

I am implementing my multi-pronged approach across the board, devoting a reasonable amount of time to each part whenever I can.  It makes sense, just as it makes sense to build your food storage evenly with not only wheat, but beans, honey, meat and vegetables too.  If you only eat wheat for the rest of your life your body won’t get all the nutrients it needs.  Similarly, if we don’t try to change the future for the better and encourage the rest our community to prepare, educate themselves, and learn good moral principles, then what is the point of surviving, unless you are planning on being a hermit and never interacting with anyone in the future after TEOTWAWKI.

A dehydrator is a great way to preserve meat for long term storage. Until the power goes out. Maybe you've built a solar dehydrator. Great! But what if you live in a climate where humidity and rainfall  make dehydration a real challenge? Stored food will run out eventually; at least for most of us.

No matter how stocked up and well prepared you may be, the time will come when it becomes essential to preserve meat. In a survival situation, a recently killed hog or buck must not be wasted, and cannot be easily preserved. Thousands of years ago, man figured out that salting and smoking meat could retard spoilage and improve flavor. One old-fashioned and time-tested method is the salt barrel. Packed in a barrel of salt, meat will last almost indefinitely. However, salt is a commodity like anything else: unless you have access to an unlimited supply of it, the salt barrel is a very resource intensive method of food preservation. Meat is often salt cured and smoked, but by itself, that is more for flavor than actual preservation. Ironically, the relatively low temperatures at which meat is smoked actually encourages the growth of one very serious pathogen: Botulism.

Unless your post-apocalypse plans include the manufacture of Botox for the beauty-obsessed survivalist, you don't want botulism anywhere near your dinner. Even for modern medicine, Botulism is a dangerous illness. Without expert medical care, it would almost certainly be fatal. Botulism is the body's reaction to a bacterial toxin. Unfortunately, only two things kill the bacterium that produces botulinum toxin: heat and nitrites. Potassium nitrates and nitrites have been used at least since the Romans to safely cure meats. As an Italian butcher in Siena told me: “We've made meat this way since before the Romans got here. I won't say it makes you any smarter, but it keeps you strong.” Potassium Nitrate, or saltpeter, is naturally occurring. Modern curing salts contain Sodium Nitrate, which yields a more consistent result.

Nitrites are the actual curative agents. Nitrates degrade into nitrites over time, which makes Nitrates work better for long-term curing as their breakdown offers continual protection against botulism. If you are concerned about the supposed carcinogenic affect of Nitrites: there are more Nitrites in a serving of spinach than in a whole cured salami. Botulism is a much greater danger.

To effectively preserve meat in a survival situation, you need only have two things: Salt and Sodium Nitrate. With these two ingredients, you can produce an unbelievable variety of cured and preserved meats that are ready for long term storage or immediate consumption, and eaten “raw” or cooked.

In this day of internet access, curing salts are a few clicks away; but curing salts are very susceptible to moisture degradation. This makes them unsuitable for long term storage. Ironic, considering that their only purpose is to preserve meat for storage. Fortunately, curing salt can be easily made with common ingredients. By the end of this article, you will know how to make curing salt, use it in a basic meat cure, and understand the meat-curing process.

You will need:
-Instant Cold packs containing Ammonium nitrate.
-Baking Soda
-A Large Pot
-Clean Water
-Table Salt
-Cheesecloth or other light cloth
-Meat: Pork, Beef, Game. Anything but poultry.
-Optional: Sugar, any spices.

To Make Curing Salt:

WORK ON THIS ONLY OUTSIDE. This process will release large quantities of ammonia gas. You will need several instant ice packs, a means of boiling water, baking soda, and table salt. First, you need Sodium Nitrate. Begin by carefully cutting open the cold packs. The pellets inside are Ammonium Nitrate. Do not do this in advance, because ammonium nitrate will draw water from the air. It may be illegal to obtain large quantities of Ammonium Nitrate because of its association with domestic terror plots. That you want it for a purely benign purpose is not necessarily important to the Feds. But there is no law against stocking up on cold packs. Dissolve 80 grams of ammonium nitrate pellets into 150 mL of water (about 1/5 of a gallon). Filter this through a coffee filter or fine sieve into a pot containing 84 grams of baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate).

Boil this down until its volume is reduced to 100 mL. This removes the ammonia. You really do want to be outside for this. After it is reduced, remove from heat and leave it to dehydrate. You will be left with something resembling salt crystals. You may want to dye it with food coloring or natural dye, so that you don't confuse it with regular salt. Sodium nitrite is harmless in small amounts: it is dangerous in the quantity that would be ingested by someone mistaking it for table salt.

Now a calculator may come in handy. To make curing salt, you simply mix table salt with the Sodium Nitrate you have just distilled. You want the mixture to be about 6% Sodium Nitrate and 94% Salt. Nice round number? No. But this is the proper ratio.

To Make a Basic Meat Cure:

Mix ½ pound of table salt with ¼ pound sugar and 5 teaspoons of the curing salt. The sugar is more for flavor than preservation; it is not necessary but highly recommended. Brown Sugar may also be used. Also, feel free to use any spices that are available. Obviously, this is not a high priority in a survival situation, but if you happen to have some spices, this is a good place for them. Black Pepper is always good.

The Basic Curing Process

This will work with virtually any meat. Pork is ideal. Fatty cuts of beef will also work well. Just remember: the leaner the meat, the dryer it will be. Duck actually is fantastic cured, but I do not recommend you try to cure poultry. Ever.

Once you have your cure prepared, pour it in a non-metallic container.  To minimize waste, it is helpful to put the cure in the pan a little at a time. Prepare the meat by cutting it into a size that is easily handled. Dredge the meat on all sides in the cure. Just enough to coat it. Gently shake off any excess cure. Seal the container and place in a cool, dark place, turning every day or two. When the meat is firm to the touch, not squishy, it is ready for the next step: Dry Curing or Smoking.

First: Thoroughly Rinse the meat. Get all the cure off of it. It has already absorbed the flavor and the salt of the meat. After rinsing, dry it off.

You really have two options here. The first is to smoke the meat. Just hot- or cold smoke the meat until done. This adds flavor and helps to preserve it, but is not as effective for long term storage as dry-curing.

To dry-cure the meat:
Wrap it in cheesecloth. This is to discourage insects. Hang it in a humid, cool environment. 70% humidity and 55 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Humidity may be increased by placing a container of salted  water near the meat. Somewhat paradoxically, higher humidity actually yields better results. It may slow the curing process a bit, but in the absence of sufficient humidity, the outer surface of the meat will dry and lock moisture in, causing spoilage. A cellar or even an uninhabited cave is an ideal curing chamber. An unused refrigerator will work as well.

Depending on climate conditions, size, and type of meat, this can take anywhere from a week to several months. A ham should be cured for six months; a pork belly or duck breast only needs a week. It is ready when it has reduced its weight by a third, or just feels “cooked.” You may cook the meat after it is cured, or eat it as is. You can store it by leaving it to hang in the curing environment. It should last almost indefinitely, and add flavor and variety to your diet.
Even leaf fat or back fat from a hog may be cured in this way. Especially in cold climates or a situation where high levels of activity must be sustained, cured fat (or lardo, as the Italians call it) can be an excellent source of energy and fat soluble vitamins. There is some evidence to suggest that the chemical structure of the fat is changed by curing: the chains are shortened, rendering a healthier fat.

A little bit of white mold may grow on the outside of your meat. This is not a problem, as it actually prevents harmful molds. If you see green molds, discard the meat. For this reason, it is helpful to practice and produce small batches of cured meat so that if one goes bad, there is always another right behind it. Like any other skill, if you master the process of dry-curing meats now, then you will be prepared and confident if a crisis situation arises. And you can stock up on cured meats just as you would any other food item.

Obviously, no one food solution will work for every situation. I hope that this has provided one more tool in your preparedness arsenal. With a little practice and a little luck, you will be able to cure and store meat in all kinds of survival situations.

Mr. Rawles:  
I ran a recon/sniper unit in Viet Nam.  We had first generation starlight scopes and tweaked M14s and we shot the dickens out of the bad guys.  I was tasked with keeping a critical part of Hwy 1 open and would often do road security taking a jeep with a borrowed xenon searchlight to provide additional infrared (IR) support for my snipers. It would cast shadows at 500 plus meters and you could not see it with the naked eye.  

Many of us have more prep to do than budget to spend... but being able to see at night can literally amount to life or death. An inexpensive Yukon Gen 1 device (under $200) with a $40 Brinkman 3Meg Searchlight (comes with a yellow, red and blue plastic filter) and eight 4" x 4" sheets of red and blue cellophane ($2.99 per roll at Hobby Lobby) will create a situation where you can light up your surroundings (no visible light) to make sure the bad guys are properly welcomed.  

Powering up the Brinkman (with the blue filter and cellophane sheets), you do not see anything but a soft blue/red (barely visible at 10 feet) haze, yet you can see into and behind bushes, trees and all other types of cover at distances far enough out to make a difference.  The down side is that with and active IR emitter you do become a target for other night vision devices (unless they shut down due to overload... which the Brinkman will provide if they are looking at it directly)... unless you have a standoff.   Several of us are working on mounting the Brinkman (multiple locations) with remote directional turning  and on/off switch so we can activate, point and take action and not be in any light splash or reflection.  

This combination works almost as well as the equipment I used 40 years ago in Viet Nam.   Just wanted to pass on a good solution. - David R.

Hi James,
Regarding River's advice about strapping a water heater: He is correct about the value of doing this, but I would advise anyone considering this task to do more than just nail a strip of plumbers tape around the water heater.

As a 40 year native of Southern California (yes, I am looking to escape) I am better acquainted than I would care to be with earthquakes and what they do. I am also a general contractor. California's requirements for bracing water heaters can be annoying, but they do exist for good reason. Anyone looking at bracing their water heater should at least take a look at what California requires. A web search will turn up a number of methods. A good page is provided by the State of California.

Note that a water heater needs to be held from moving both forward and backward. Water heater manufacturers generally specify a minimum distance to the wall. In my experience water heaters tend to be anywhere from 3" to 6" away from the wall. That's a lot of room to rock. A nailed-in strap will be pulled out of that wall within three or four rocks of the hot water heater tank.

At the very least, brace the back and use lag bolts for that strap.

Consider purchasing a California earthquake strap kit. They are produced in large quantities and generally cost less than $20. They come with directions and lag bolts. They come with enough strapping to run full loops around the water heater and instructions for adding bracing in the back.

Just my experienced two cents. - Tom in Southern California

There has been a safety recall announced on .45 Automatic ammo with the following brand names and product numbers: American Eagle® (AE45A, AE45N1, or AE45A250), Champion™ (WM5233), GoldMedal® (GM45B), Hi-Shok® (45C, 45D) and Federal® Personal Defense® (C45C, C45D).

The recall applies only to the following Lots: 38X628 through 38X765 and 38T401 through 38T414.

If you possess ammunition from any of these lots, or have questions concerning this warning, please contact Federal at 1-800-831-0850 or 1-800-322-2342 and ask for Product Service. Federal will provide replacement product and will cover the cost of returning the recalled ammo.

Several readers sent this: IMF calls for dollar alternative. Non-Dollar SDR bonds could replace the US Dollar in some international trade. This may hasten the demise of the US Dollar.

Fiscal Insanity: Here we are in the midst of a recession-cum-depression and the Federal government is swimming is a sea of red ink. They've amassed a National Debt that exceeds $45,500 for every man woman and child in the nation. But now Vice President Joe Biden is pushing for a $53 billion Federally-funded high speed rail system.

Air Force Dad sent this: Fed's Warsh Quits; Bernanke Adviser Questioned QE2

The tightening of the screws: Cash for gold buyers regulated under proposed Washington [State] law. I expect that the "45 Day Hold" provision will push down the buyer's bids by 10%, to hedge their risk of a declining spot price for gold. So who loses? The private seller. Politicians need to learn about unintended consequences, and when to respect private commerce! Mrs. Asay may be a Republican, but she certainly isn't one of the libertarian variety!

Items from The Economatrix:

Why Another Financial Crash is Certain  

Bernanke Says Unemployment Will "Remain Elevated" 

Over at Zero Hedge: The Great Global Debt Prison  

Billionaire Fund Manager Tomas Kaplan on Gold  

Pricing the World in Gold: Four Charts  

Is This the End of America?  

Some commentary from novelist Stephen Hunter: Why 33 rounds makes sense in a defensive weapon.

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Nicholas S. sent this news item from The Washington Post: In Pepco territory, blackouts mean more home generators, more noise complaints  

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Ol' Remus (one of the web's most entertaining bloggers) recently had a link to Kellene Bishop's article: Forever Foods and More.

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O'l Remus also mentioned: "The reservoir of bees is dwindling to the point where ratios are dangerously out of kilter, with the US reaching the "most extreme" imbalance. Pollinated crop output has quadrupled since 1961, yet bee colonies have halved. The bee-per-hectare count has fallen nearly 90 percent, reports Ambrose Pritchard in his article, Einstein was right - honey bee collapse threatens global food security, at the Telegraph UK."

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." - Dietriech Bonhoeffer

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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. 

Survival is a mindset.  The most valuable item one can have is knowledge.  One area of preparedness that gets reams of attention is the firearm.  The debate over which type, caliber, and capacity is endless.  Some of this is based on opinion, while other on experience. Yet with all the hoopla about the importance of firearms and ammunition, you never see much about care and cleaning.  I’m not going to throw my hat in with the hundreds of “experts” on firearms out there in the preparedness community, but I do want to talk a little about the importance of protecting your investment.   High quality firearms are an investment.  The investment purpose of firearms, for the serious survivalist, is not a hefty return on the investment.  The purpose of this investment is to provide safety (the ability to provide) and security (the ability to protect).  

Starting with the basics, you need a good cleaning kit.  Most “gun-people” have a kit, somewhere between a tackle box and a Craftsman rollaway, made up of bits and pieces we’ve accumulated over time.  Understand, you don’t need to have a rollaway to be able to take good care of your firearm.  Most sporting goods stores will have universal gun cleaning kits that are reasonably priced.  A good universal kit, meaning rifle-pistol-shotgun, can be bought for around $10.00.  Is it the equivalent of an armors kit?  No, but it will get the job done.  Here’s my building block approach, you’ll need the following:  

  • A small plastic tackle/tool box:                            $5.00
  • A universal gun cleaning kit:                                $10.00
  • Bore brushes for the calibers of your gun(s):       $5.00
  • Bore swabs for each caliber:                                $5.00
  • One bottle of powder solvent:                              $5.00
  • One pack (250 count) of .30 cal. rifle patches:    $5.00
  • One squeeze bottle of gun oil:                              $3.00
  • One package of pipe cleaners:                              $2.00  


On the high end, you’ve spent $40.00.

Now let’s look at a few things you have around the house that fits nicely into the kit:

  • An old toothbrush.
  • An old bath towel, cut into quarters.
  • Q-tips (several).  

Before you begin, make sure the firearm is UNLOADED!   Every year we will read of an account where someone was killed while cleaning their firearm.  Unload and make sure the ammo is well away from the cleaning area.  This is two-fold.  One, the gun can’t go “boom” unless it has ammo and two, cleaning solvent can cut thru the sealant on your ammunitions primers thus making your ammo useless.   

Here’s the purpose for the items in teh forefoing lists: The tackle box holds everything together.  This common sense approach keeps me from having to search all over the house to find my gun cleaning equipment, I just have to search for the tackle box!  The universal kit will contain cleaning rods, a handle, and in many cases a patch jag, brushes, solvent and oil (compare the contents). 

These rods are screwed together to the desired length of the barrel you’re going to clean.  Attached to the end of the cleaning rod are brushes, patch jags, and barrel swabs.  The solvent is used to dissolve the powder residue as well as removing lead and copper fouling, a by-product of firing the gun.  The patches are used to “dry” the barrel of the solvent and clean the aforementioned fouling from the barrel.  I use the bore swab to push the patch down the barrel (if at all possible, clean from the chamber end); this forms a tight seal and removes more fouling than a jag and patch (A note of caution:  Make sure you clean up and account for the solvent-soaked patches.  These are deadly poisonous to a chid. As we all know “If it gets in their hand…where does it go?) 

Following the manufactures recommendation, you can now concentrate on cleaning to rest of the firearm.  Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and an old toothbrush are excellent for cleaning frames of both revolvers and semi-auto pistols.  The cut-up towels make for a good cleaning mat as well as a cleaning rag.   I could write a book on the nuts and bolts of cleaning the individual weapons but for the most part, I wanted to give you a rundown of what you need to be able to provide basic care for your investment.   

JWR Adds: Use great caution where you use Q-Tips, since they can shed "fluff" that can bind up small gun parts.

I have learned WSHTF, that after dark, subdued lighting is mandatory. A complete conversion of a home into a cave is not my idea of living so my thought is to choose one often used room and black out the windows with black plastic, duct tape and heavy curtains. Hang a thick blanket in front of the room's door and specify bright lights out before any one enters or leaves that room.

The rest of the home would be dimly lit. With preferably one, no more then two at a time candle-like devices behind heavy lined curtains.

The thinking behind this is that a lot of other folks in urban settings will be hunkered over candles and oil lamps during grid down time So you are blending in with the majority.

Tea candles are drip free and easy to manage if left in one spot. [The wicks tend to shift if lit and moved].

The candles can be easily by removing the metal wick holder, turning it upside down an fitting it in a 5\32-inch hole drilled near one end a 3\8-inch thick 8 inch long board held in a vise [orthe hand if you are carful]. Using a ice pick push out the old wick stub and enlarge the wick hole.

Insert a new slightly thicker cotton wick holder and push and pull it till it sticks through about 1 inch. Remove the wick holder from the board and using a pairof smooth jawed pliers grip near the hinge and gently crush the little nipple on the upper part of the wick holder till it holds the wick snugly.

Scissor off the bottom of the wick so that the holder and wick sits upright in the little metal pan.

Get wax from old large discarded candles or other sources, chip off wax with a 1\2-inch wood chisel and rubber mallet into a metal 11.5 ounce coffee can with a formed pouring spout. Use the lowest gas setting of the lowest gas fire and position the can of wax chips in a double boiler. (The can inside a larger pan of water). Never, ever leave the melting pot unattended! [Since fires can easily result.]

Place the tea candles to be filled on newspaper. When about one-half of the wax in the can has stared to liquefy, slowly fill the tea candles cup to the rim.

Turn off the gas burner and leave the can on the burner it will cool slowly. But keep the wax liquid for a long time.[never allow the wax to get so hot it smokes danger danger]

Once the tea candles have set up, add more wax around the wick to top them off. - Axman

JWR Replies: Wax tea candles are available in bulk for as little as 12 cents each, if you buy them 200 or more at a time. And as you describe, they can be re-filled.

All the normal safety precuations for open flames must be observed when burning tea candles. One advantage of these is that they are much less likely to tip over than tall candles. But keep in mind that nothing is ever foolproof! I recommend that you position tea candles in the middle of a large ceramic plate or a steel pie tin. (Old plates and pie tins are usually available from thrift stores for less than a dollar each. Use these mis-matched pieces instead of your matching kitchen china, and you will get along better with your spouse!

I've been reading SurvivalBlog for about a year and participated in this year's Ten Cent Challenge. Just thought I'd throw in a quick comment about the recent post, The Golden Hours by Brad H. A much better way of tranferring fuel by siphon is to spend a couple bucks on a "jiggler" type siphon which allows the user to start a siphon without the risk of getting fuel or other noxious liquid into their mouth. [JWR Adds: A siphoning slurp can mean a trip to the Emergency Room, or worse!] At my place of work, we use these to defuel our vehicles for maintenance, and they work wonders. We frequently drain 50-gallons of fuel from a tank in a matter of minutes. Essentially, they are one-way valves with a glass ball providing the valve function. Each "jiggle" of the valve lifts a bit more liquid past the ball until a gravity siphon is established. God Bless,   - G.R. in Texas

R.F.J. mentioned this over at the Makezine web site: How-To: Ultralight camp pot from Heineken "keg" can

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I heard from Ulysses Press that my novel "Patriots" is about to surpass 100,000 copies sold. (This is not counting the 30,000+ copies sold of the older Huntington House Publishers edition.) It is now in its seventh printing, and still ranked around #600 of the more than three million titles sold on Amazon.com. (That ranking is unsusual for a novel that has been out for more than two years.) Meanwhile, my nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" has 110,000 copies in print, and is now in its 10th printing. It is ranked around #250 on Amazon.com. For that book, there are now nine foreign publishing contracts in place to produce editions in eight languages. Thanks for spreading the word about my books!

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Rick H. flagged this: Eritrean officials panicked by events in Egypt

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Reader M.M.S. sent this one: Storm aftermath: Some gas pumps idle due to depleted supplies

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Another video from The Patriot Nurse: Top Five Antibiotics for SHTF Storage

"It's not the years honey, it's the mileage." - Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

We've reached the milestone of 2,000 days of SurvivalBlog posts, with nary a pause. There are also now 2,000 archived Quotes of the Day. My sincere thanks to the many readers that have e-mailed me their favorite quotes. (And please keep them coming!) I hope that you enjoy them. I suppose that once I've posted around 3,000, I ought to publish a book of quotations.


Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

I want to relate a story that happened to me this past week that I think will be instructive for many SurvivalBlog readers.

My journey into prepping started about a year ago, when my eyes were opened after reading a contrarian economist's books about the fragile state of our economy, and the impending implications that will inevitably result if our world continues to operate on tomorrow's dollar and with a Nanny-state mentality. The very same day I finished his latest book, I went to my local bookstore to find similar titles that could augment what I'd already read.  This is how I came upon your book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".  I've since gone on to read "Patriots" (which took me only a couple of days - I couldn't put it down!) and rarely is there a morning that I don't peruse your latest blog updates after my morning Bible devotional and prayer time.

Despite all the reading and planning I've put into ensuring the safety and security of my family's future over the last 12-18 months, my experiences over the last two days have served to remind me that, even if you think you have everything squared away, there's always danger in resting on your laurels.

While driving through a rougher part of my city's downtown core, a pleasant senior citizen rolled up beside me in his minivan and motioned for me to drop my window.  I hesitantly lowered the passenger window a crack, only to hear the old fellow tell me that I had a flat on my rear passenger-side tire.

I proceeded to turn the radio down, flick the noisy heater fan off, and sure enough I heard the unmistakable "crunch-crunch-crunch" of my SUV's right-rear rim, grinding away on ice and asphalt as I crawled up the street, scanning the road for a safe place to pull over. On a side street, in front of some seedy apartments, I parked my vehicle beside an empty curb, turned my four-way flashers on, and got out to inspect the damage.  The sidewall of the tire had been completely obliterated, the friction from driving a mere six blocks on a flat had ground a white ring into the black rubber and nearly severed the tire into strips of uselessness.

Not only was this horrible timing (I had an appointment on the other side of town, about 20 minutes away), but I had to desperately go to the washroom. (I was going to hold it until I arrived at my appointment).

Note: In times of emergency, it's imperative that you not only keep your powder dry, but keep your bladder empty!

To top if all off - My cell phone had just died literally 30 seconds before my silver-haired informant pulled up to inform my of my lack of a working fourth wheel, and my car charger fro teh cell phone was useless as I had somehow burnt the fuse out for the cigar-lighter and couldn't use it to charge my phone.

All I could do was quickly lock up my vehicle, stow away out-of-sight any valuables I had (a video camera, files for work that contained sensitive private information, and numerous other emergency tools and gear that were worth a good chunk of change), and make my way as quickly as possible to the nearest washroom.

As an after thought, I grabbed a handful of random change from the concealed cup holder in my center console, thinking I'd use this at a pay phone to call a cab, or to postpone my next appointment, seeing as my phone had turned itself into a paperweight due to my lack of foresight the night before.

Note: If the grid is up, charge your phone and use it!  When this fails, make sure you've got some dimes or quarters stowed away in your glove box.

Well, wouldn't you know that nobody observes pedestrian crossings in this part of downtown.  So I stood there, or rather, squirmed there for what seemed like an agonizing amount of time (likely only a few seconds) until oncoming vehicles slowed down to let me cross to the diner that had just closed five minutes before I walked up.  (I know, what a day this is turning out to be, hey?)

[Details on an agonizing search for a restroom deleted, for brevity.]

I get back to my SUV and start packing my attache case with aforementioned valuables, because my plan now is to hoof it with my business dress shoes, in ice and snow, all the way to a useable phone at the first establishment that will let me make a call.  This, after all our recent snowstorms that have blown through and dropped 3 and 4 foot snow drifts on the side of the roads.  (The stuff you Americans are getting this week is courtesy from my local weather man, and a big low pressure area stretching from Texas to New York).

So typically the unwritten rule in this part of town is that nobody will let you make a call, or use a washroom, because if you live nearby you're probably homeless, a drunk, or a drug addict.  At this point, I'm hoping they think at worst that I'm a nice drug dealer, at best that I actually am truly down on my luck with the circumstances at hand and I do really need to use their phone--to call a cab--not to book a drug deal.

The lady at the liquor store said it was okay so I dialed a local taxi dispatch center.  They say five to fifteen minute pickup time.  I say perfect, as this will get me to my appointment on time and on with my day.

And with not a moment to spare, up pulls my friendly neighbourhood Turkish cab driver, who regales me with stories of how crazy it is to live in Turkey, how his Somalian cab driver friends had it even worse before coming here, and how he hates the snow.  I don't blame him.

Now, why the whole story about a flat tire and how does it relate to prepping?

Here's what I had thought:

  • I thought I knew where the spare tire was in my vehicle (under the back covering in the SUV's trunk).
  • I thought I knew where the jack and tire iron were located (back right side of the trunk space, behind a removable plastic covering).
  • I thought I knew I could get a tire changed in just a few minutes and be on my way.

Here's the problem: Upon closer inspection - none of the above items were where I thought they were.  It took me 10 minutes to realize the spare tire was under the trunk, removable only by inserting a rod into a mysteriously-located opening and turning clockwise to lower said spare tire to the ground.

Did it have air? Was it even installed properly by the previous owner? Where was this blasted rod I'm supposed to have?

After my wife picked me up at the office (I never did go back to the SUV until today), I spent a good chunk of time on Google figuring out where the jack was located and how this rod worked and where I could find it.

(Turns out, an SUV elf had hidden them beneath my rear bench seats, and then neglected to tell me about this...)


1)  If I had practiced changing a tire in this particular car, even if it was merely visualizing it in my head with vivid detail, I would've had the muscle memory to rely on, instead of trusting my faulty noggin's faculty for recalling needed-facts when I needed them most.

2)  If I had imagined such a simple scenario (getting a flat) in my SUV instead of stocking away beans, bullets, and Band-Aids in preparation for armed conflict with invading nations, or mutant zombie biker hordes, or green-lizard-aliens, then I might've actually remembered where the jack was, where the tire iron was, and where that confounded spare tire release rod was located.

3)  If this had occurred on a middle-of-nowhere country road, I would've been in a lot more trouble, as my phone had died, I was under dressed for the weather (business attire is stupid in cold weather, even if you're in business).

At the end of the day, no amount of emergency winter shovels (I have two, one large, and one small foldable one similar to the U.S. Army's entrenching tool), no amount of get-home-gear in my bug-out-bag (which is stuffed full of food rations, water, fire kit, med kit, spare clothes, winter coat, gloves, survival gear, knives, hatchet, kindling, tarp, rope, etc. etc. ad nauseam), the spare jerry can of gas, the tool box full of tools (bolt cutters, socket set, wrenches, pliers, wire cutters, hammer, crow bar, duct tape, etc), the set of gas masks with NATO NBC filters encased in an air-tight cylindrical storing containers... Absolutely none of these would've helped me get my vehicle back up and running.

I could've been stranded on a side road, a long hike to a major highway, in shoes that barely keep my feet warm when the heat is on in my vehicle.

Even worse - my wife could've been driving my vehicle that day, with our young daughter, and she could've had to deal with this on her own. I'm glad this all occurred, because now when I look back at the situation, I realize that I made a few critical errors:

  • Not charging my cell phone every day before going to bed.  This should be a SOP.
  • Not dressing for the weather (it was -35 Celsius with wind chill that morning) or at least keeping a spare set of winter boots in the trunk
  • Not knowing where my critical tools were for my vehicle
  • Not understanding how my vehicle's spare tire system operated

The first two items are common sense, which sometimes isn't so common and is in short supply.

The latter two items could've been prevented by being prepared, this being accomplished by ensuring that I make it a habit to practice simple things like changing a tire on your own vehicle.

This week the price was a few postponed appointments with clients, a $32.30 cab fare, plus a $7.70 tip, and a lost afternoon the next day as I proceeded to change the tire now that I knew what I was doing.

Next time, it could've been a much steeper price.

No doubt, any criticisms from yourself and your readers is warranted. And the stupid thing is, I know better.  My job in getting my preps squared away has inadvertently prevented a number of scenarios over the last year. Some of them were things that we never even saw coming. (Thanks for God's providence!)  You think I would've never had something like this, a simple flat tire in the dead of winter, get me off track. But it did. And it can happen to you if you don't practice, practice, practice. Hopefully somebody else benefits from my mistakes here.

Hi Jim and Lily,
Thanks for all you do.  I am a registered nurse and have always tried to keep a fairly extensive medical kit along with my BOB in the car.  One of the things I keep is a OTC rescue inhaler, sold under the brand name "Primatene Mist".  It is epinephrine (adrenalin), plain and simple.  No one in my family has asthma, but I keep it for emergencies, including an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting etc.  I decided to get a new one the other day as mine was quite outdated.  Wal-Mart still has them.  There is not a note on the box (by the FDA): "This drug will no longer be available OTC after December 2011".  Stock up now folks, but I would not buy multiples at one time, that would be a red flag for sure. Best Regards, - Julie under a Snowdrift in Oklahoma

Mr. Rawles:
I will be 75 years old in July. The enclosed check for $200 should cover my [Ten Cent Challenge] 10 cents per day for almost 5-1/2 years [$200 divided by $36.50 = 5.479 years]. Thus, I 've secured a lifetime membership to the age 80. If I do somehow live to age 80--unlikely due to my health condition--and the current Obama administration has not finalized the complete destruction of the United States and your SurvivalBlog still exists, then I will extend my lifetime membership. Regards, - Ralph T.

Jeff in Virginia and Yishai both mentioned this: WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on price. Count this as further evidence that Peak Oil is reality.

Michael Pollaro writes in Forbes: America, poised for a hyperinflationary event?

Air Force Dad sent us this: US Dollar Index: Momentum selling could be swift and steep. As Quantitative Easing (monetizing the National Debt) continues, look for plenty of downward momentum in the USDI.

C.D.V. sent: 10 Ways Weather is Wreaking Havoc on the Global Economy

Items from The Economatrix:

9% Unemployment Rate is a Statistical Lie  

US Bank Closures Continue Rapid Pace as Four More Fail    

Asian Demand for Gold and Silver Will Cause Much Higher Prices   

Homeowners Face "New Normal" In Housing Bust  

71% Las Vegas Homes Underwater Financially  

The new SurvivalUK.net blog site is growing rapidly. I recommend that preppers in the UK bookmark it and check it often. I've just added the site to the SurvivalBlog Links Page.

   o o o

In his new Vlog, Tom of CampingSurvival.com shows the new packaging for commercial MREs.

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There are some great new posts over at Granny Miller's Blog. Her ewes are lambing early this year!

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Freeze Dry Guy has announced a special for February: Dehydrated Whole Eggs with a 25 year shelf life, packed six #10 cans per case. Yield: 576 eggs. These are packed to less than 2% residual oxygen to provide for long term storage. The ingredients are simply whole dried egg, non-fat milk, vegetable oil and salt. $199 per case (or less, in quantity), and free shipping to the Continental United States!

"If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability." - Henry Ford

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

I’m a neurosurgeon, and I had the opportunity to spend a couple weeks in Port Au Prince, Haiti last year, arriving just two weeks after the earthquake in February. This was a great opportunity to serve people in need, but I also benefited from seeing WTSHTF firsthand. I brought in a team of three doctors and two nurses , along with one former Marine turned pastor (for security).

When a missionary flight company said: “We can get you in if you can be here day after tomorrow, but we can’t guarantee you a flight out,” a wiser person might have said “no, thanks.”  But I said “We’ll be there.”  The flight in was on a private jet, donated for use by a NASCAR driver. On board, we had pizza and propped our feet up in the leather recliners. We knew the party was over as we approached Port Au Prince. Not only could we see the smoke from the burning bodies piled up in one location, and the harbor full of warships and one massive hospital ship, but we could also see the planes landing before and behind us. As we taxied off the runway there was already another plane touched down at the far end of the strip, and two others behind him making an approach. The US Air Force was controlling traffic and they didn’t have one accident despite the incredibly high traffic volume. The airport was absolutely packed with containers, cartons and bags of supplies.  Most of them were unsorted and useless. The pilot handed us a case of water bottles as we got off the plane.

I’m sure most soldiers have seen as many guns, tanks and helicopters as I did in Port Au Prince, but I had never seen so many people openly armed before. U.N. and U.S. forces predominated, but there were also Haitian police and other forces I couldn’t identify. Nobody carried just a handgun. Traffic was snarled, and there were wrecked cars and debris in most streets. In some areas of town there were still unburied bodies. The last few survivors were dug out while I was there. There was no power but there was pretty good cell phone service, which was great as I was able to use the internet to look up some of the odd diseases I was treating.  AT&T provided free Internet/text service to subscribers, which was most helpful.

We had coordinated with a large local church, and were able to set up camp in the walled yard behind the church itself. The area was guarded 24/7 by the church youth group (older teens) who were not armed but wore military type uniforms. US troops made regular patrols, and one patrol gave us some water bottles and additional MREs. I have a great photo of me and my girlfriends: a couple of female lieutenants armed with M4 Carbines. All I had was a scalpel and a multi tool. I recommend stocking up on weaponry now in case we find ourselves in a similar situation in America. That multi tool looked pretty small compared to the carbines everybody else had.

The biggest issue in coordinating response to this disaster was a total lack of leadership and organization. Sadly, we had the same problem in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina (I live and work about 350 miles from New Orleans, so was involved in the refugee management also).  We spent our first afternoon in a Haitian hospital. Conditions were miserable. No power, no clean sheets, very limited medical supplies. No one was in charge. The French were snapping orders to everyone, but getting little done. A team of EMTs from Utah was trying to help, but didn’t know what to do. There were some US surgeons doing amputations and abdominal explorations but they were so overworked they couldn’t leave the operating room to see what was going on in the wards. There were supplies, but no one knew what was available or where it was. People were dying there from lack of care. I decided we would be better off setting up a community clinic as I didn’t think conditions were conducive to neurosurgery, and the massive crowd of people outside the hospital compound suggested that there were lots of others needing attention.

A team of Brazilian disaster response specialists were also staying in the church yard with us. Brazil has a network of primary responders, including doctors, nurses, EMTs and even an architect to inspect the buildings for safety. They rotate the teams every two weeks, overlapping the departure of the members so that the new team can be adequately briefed. They have standard supplies (pre-packed bug out bags) and equipment. Some of the individuals staying with us had also been to Indonesia after the tsunami. They made us look bad!

We flew in with our “bug out bags” and as many medical supplies as we could carry. I brought a backpack with two scrub sets, 5 changes of underwear and socks, 3 t shirts to wear underneath the scrubs, a hat, a silk mummy bag (very light), tent, 10 complete MREs, a bag of mixed granola and dried fruit, instant coffee sticks, propal sticks, several 16 oz water bottles, water bottle with filter,  flashlight, matches, multitool, bug spray, and basic toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, small towel, nail cutter, saline for contacts).  I also carried a compact video camera. Please note I didn’t have any of the fancy equipment recommended in some survival literature, though we did have a couple hours access to a generator at the church each night, which I used to charge my phone. I didn’t miss much, but if I was packing again now, I would add an inflatable pad (I did inherit one when one of the Brazilians left, but that ground was pretty hard before that), an extra set of scrubs, a couple more t shirts and some laundry soap! We had a group set of walkie-talkies, but they were useless out in the city and failed us on several occasions. The rest of my backpack and a bag were filled with pre-sterilized surgical kits, dressing supplies and medications, mostly antibiotics and pain medications.

Between the Brazilians and the very organized church we were staying at, we managed to set up some good quality clinics with one running daily in the church yard and another in different refugee camps. We did some wound management, but most of the problems we were seeing were related to poor sanitation and lack of clean water on the streets.

Just our group of six saw more than 1,200 patients. We had translators and nurses from the community. The translator I worked with the most was an attorney, volunteering his time. He and his wife and their two small children were living in the backyard of their house because it had not been checked for structural safety. Despite that disruption, he cheerfully sat next to me for hours each day, translating patient complaints and my responses.  Order was key to our success, as we had hundreds of patients responding at each site daily. People were easily angered, and we had near riots at one camp over the medical line, and several times over water distribution as the church was also running an industrial sized water filter and distributing water. One of these was stopped only by the pastor, who went chest to chest with the loudest of the agitators and backed him down. Survivalist books that tell you that attitude is everything are correct, as that pastor had no weapons, just his authority (though I’m sure God’s protection was helping as well).

As this was not Haiti’s first disruption, most people were used to living without power and had generators or candles. All the houses in town had high walls, topped with broken glass or barbed wire. Windows were covered with iron bars or heavy shutters. Houses had heavy iron gates (usually solid), and the vehicles pulled up inside the gates before the occupants would get out.  We were cautioned to remain very alert when traveling in town and never to leave the vehicles. The vehicles did not stop in the back streets to avoid traps. The back streets were dirt, and homeowners often added cement bumps in front of their houses to slow traffic. We mostly traveled in the back of two pickups. One of them always had to be parked on a hill and rolled to start. The other had no headlights, but someone in the front seat would carry a flashlight and shine it out in front as we approached intersections at night. We did travel at night several times to the pastor’s house to shower (generator and cistern), and he would call ahead so someone would be ready to open the gate and we would not stop in the street. He said a car had been attacked nearby when stopping to open a house gate, and the occupants killed.

We had not brought all the medications we needed, as we didn’t expect to see so many kids with parasites and fevers, and ladies with vaginal diseases. Most of this was from poor living conditions and bathing in unfiltered water. There isn’t much worse than giving calcium tablets to sick kids because that is all you have. I took the former Marine, and went to the University of Miami hospital which was set up at the airport to see if we could get some supplies. Disorder reigned there also, though it was certainly better than the Haitian hospital. Despite the stacks of supplies, we couldn’t get anyone to agree to let us have some. After talking to several people, we got permission to get “a couple” bottles of children’s Tylenol, which was better than nothing. Visiting the supply tent, we talked the teenage volunteer out of a case of Tylenol which was put to good use. We then tried the US Army without success, but we were referred to a warehouse run by the World Health Organization. After we made it past the armed guards, the first clerk told us we needed an account there, and even if we had one the supply delivery would take a week. Happily we found a sympathetic supply officer, who listened to our story and asked how many patients we were seeing, and then twisted our story slightly and wrote that we were from Miami Hospital on the form. After all, we had just come from there. He told us to come back that afternoon. I was crushed that we couldn’t find a ride that afternoon, but the next morning he loaded us up with antifungals, parasite treatments, and even medications for high blood pressure and diabetes.  It was like striking gold! God bless that guy that bent the rules to get the supplies out to the people.

Psychological preparedness in the responders was very important. One of the doctors with us was convinced she would get sick if she drank anything but bottled water. When the bottles ran out, we all began drinking the filtered water from the church. Sure enough, she got sick (and even fainted). The rest of us did not. On the other hand, the former Marine and I were able to liberate supplies, because we went in unwilling to take no for an answer (when Miami wouldn’t give me what I needed, I said sweetly “How about a couple bottles of children’s Tylenol, at least?” and got a yes).  I found it was very difficult to manage even the small group I brought with me once they were all under stress. If you plan to face TEOTWAWKI with a group, make sure you get to know each other well before the event, and establish a clear chain of authority.

Water containers were at a premium, both large to get water from filtration sites and small bottles for drinking and refilling. Tarps were also like gold. People were building shelters from rags and sticks. Thanks to the international response, there was plenty of food, but distribution sites were crazy and there was rioting, so going to get it was pretty risky. It would have been better to have stocks at home. Homes in Haiti were already fortified before the quake, so for those that didn’t lose their houses security was already set up. Because the power wasn’t reliable before the quake, most middle class people had generators at home, as well as rainwater collection systems and cisterns. If you live in a city and plan to stay in case of an American economic collapse, I would strongly consider you figure out how you are going to collect and store water. Even if some public services remain, water delivery may not be reliable.

There were two principles that I observed in this disaster. First, people in this situation behaved in one of two ways. Some rose to the occasion, volunteered to help others, shared what they had and remained calm. Others sunk to crime, anger and violence. I was amazed by the church members who remained faithful and were praising God right through this disaster. Many of them spend hundreds of hours helping us in clinics, passing out food and water and risking their own lives. Second, organizational and leadership skills are absolutely critical in disaster response. The U.S. Air Force took charge of traffic control at the airport, and as a result it was flawless. In the hospitals and streets, however, no one was in charge. Many people with wounds went without antibiotics, while crates of them sat unopened at the airport.  Though there were plenty of doctors around, it was very hard for individuals with wounds to reach them. I saw a completely unset leg fracture three weeks after the earthquake in the clinic behind the church. She couldn’t get through the crowd outside the hospitals! People couldn’t get medications for their chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes, and there was little available at the hospitals (but the WHO warehouse had a stock). 

Tarps were selling like gold. Food was available, but it was dangerous to go get it. People were washing in contaminated water and spreading disease. Having someone in charge would have made a huge difference, but the Haitian government was not prepared and with the large international response everyone was doing their own thing.

As we face “rolling power outages” here in Texas this week, due to freezing weather and snow storms, I am amazed more people don’t realize how close we are to the edge. Preparedness, both practical and psychological, should be a priority for all Americans at this point. I was able to fly out of Haiti, thanks to the U.S. Air Force, but if it happens here, there won’t be a midnight flight out.

As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, U.S. Five cent pieces ("Nickels") should be considered a long-term hedge on inflation. I recently had a gent e-mail me, asking how he could eventually “cash in” on his cache of Nickels. He asked: "Are we to melt them down, or sell them to a collector? How does one obtain their true 7.4 cents [base metal content] value?" My response: Don't expect to cash in for several years. I anticipate that there won't be a large scale speculative market in Nickels until their base metal value ("melt value") exceeds twice their face value ("2X Face"), or perhaps 3X face.

Once the price of Nickels hits 4X face value, speculators will probably be willing to pay for shipping. By the way, I also predict that it will be then that the ubiquitous Priority Mail Flat Rate Box will come into play, with dealers mailing Nickels in $300 face value increments. The U.S. Postal Service may someday regret their decision to transition to "Flat Rate" boxes for Priority Mail with a 70 pound limit.

Once the price of Nickels hits 5X face there will surely be published "bid/ask" quotations for $100, $300, and $500 face value quantities, just as has been the norm for pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver coinage since the early 1970s. (Those coins are typically sold in a $1,000 face value Bag (weighing about $55 pounds), or a "Half bag" (containing $500 face value.) Soon after the current Nickels are dropped from circulation, we will see $300 face value boxes of Nickels put up for competitive bidding, on eBay.

An Aside: Nickel Logistics

Nickels are heavy! Storing and transporting them can be a challenge.

I've done some tests:

$300 face value (150 rolls @$2 face value per roll) fit easily fit in a standard U.S. Postal Service Medium Flat Rate Box, and that weighs about 68 pounds.) They can be mailed from coast to coast for less than $25. Doing so will take a bit of reinforcement. Given enough wraps of strapping tape, a corrugated box will securely transport $300 worth of Nickels.

The standard USGI .30 caliber ammo can works perfectly for storing rolls of Nickels at home. Each can will hold $180 face value (90 rolls of $2 each) of Nickels. The larger .50 caliber cans also work, but when full of coins they are too heavy to carry easily.


Since late 2006 it has been illegal in the U.S. to melt or to export Pennies or Nickels. But it is reasonable to assume that this restriction will be dropped after these coins have been purged from circulation. They will soon be replaced with either silver-flashed zinc slugs, or tokens stamped out of stainless steel. (The planned composition has not yet been announced.)

By 2015, when the new pseudo-Nickels are in full circulation, we will look back fondly on the days when we could walk up to our local bank teller and ask for "$20 in Nickels in Rolls", and have genuine Nickels cheerfully handed to us, at their face value.

Death, Taxes, and Inflation

It has been said that "the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes." I'd like to nominate "inflation" as an addition to that phrase. For the past 100 years, we've been gradually robbed of our purchasing power through the hidden form of taxation called inflation. Currency inflation explains why gold coins and silver coins had to be dropped by the U.S. Mint in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively. Ditto for 100% copper Pennies, back in 1981. (The ones that have been produced since then are copper-flashed zinc slugs, but even the base metal value of those is now slightly greater than their face value.)

Inflation marches on and on. Inflation will inevitably be the impetus for a change in the composition of the lowly Nickel. Each Nickel presently has about 7.3 cents in base metal ("melt") value, and they cost the Mint more than 9 cents each to make. You don't need a doctorate in Economics to conclude that the U.S. Mint cannot continue minting Nickels that are 75% copper and 25% nickel--at least not much longer.

Without Later Regrets

Don't miss out on the opportunity to hedge on inflation with Nickels. Just like the folks who failed to acquire silver dimes and quarters in the early 1960s, you will kick yourself if you fail to stock up on Nickels. Do so before they are debased and the older issue is quickly snatched out of circulation. The handwriting is on the wall, folks. Stop dawdling, and go to the bank and trade some of your paper FRNs for something tangible.

I am glad that something has posted such a thoughtful essay on the merits of and moral questions involved in sniping after a collapse.

I am not a sniper, but I regularly compete in High Power shooting events and have learned a lot. The first thing I learned is my .308 is marginal at 1,000 yards.To get there I use very expensive Berger bullets and my groups are twice as big as the guys using 6mm or 6.5mm bullets. At a 1,000 yards some of the favorite cartridges are .243, .308, 6.5 Creedmore, 6.5x287, .287, .260 Remington, 6.5 Lapua, 7SAUM, et cetera. The 30-06 is still in use as well. I have never seen anyone with a .300 Win Magnum at these competitions. The barrel life and recoil put it right out of the game. Even the somewhat mild .308 is considered a heavy recoil rifle when shot prone for a 70 round match. In NRA High Power matches muzzle brakes are not allowed and neither are suppressors. Since lighter recoil equals long range accuracy the magnums are not very popular in this kind of shooting. 

The most affordable and fast way to get in the long range shooting game is to just do it. Many new shooters like the Savage bolt actions, they are inexpensive, accurate and easy to work on. Combined with a SWFA SS scope a reliable, precision .308 can be had for less than $800. The .308 is still one of the best choices due to ammo availability, and a barrel life that exceeds 5,000 rounds. (I have heard of 300 Winchester Magnum barrels losing their accuracy after only 800 rounds.) Don't expect to do well at a 1,000 yards with an 18" barrel. Longer barrels give higher velocity.

Once you have your new rifle, bipod (I like the Harris 6"-9" with notches FWIW), rear bag and a mat to lay on you are ready for your first 500 yard prone competition. Check with your local ranges to see if they have anything coming up. You may want to contact whoever is in charge and let them know you are a new shooter and you might need help "getting on paper." They will be glad to help you get started. In my area the matches usually cost $15. From a hundred yard zero come up about 10 MOA and that should get you on paper at 500 yards. Expect to not do very well your first time, you are there just to have fun and learn a few things. If the shooters go somewhere to eat after the match is over that is when your true education begins. Ask questions and be humble. Make contacts, network, and be a good friend. 

The High Power matches are on a known distance range so it allows the shooter to focus on reading wind and on sending a perfect shot. To learn to shoot on an unknown distance range will take a lot of time with this program and a lot of practice. This means hand loading ammunition, practice using your mil-dots, practice reading mirage and a million other things. I have learned a lot from Sniper’s Hide and their online tutorials. It is cheap and much more informative than any book I have ever read.

Shooting is a perishable skill. To be proficient in long range shooting means integrating it into your lifestyle. It is not enough to become a Rifleman, constant maintenance is needed to remain a Rifleman.  Here are some more links that I think are of value to the long range shooter:

Rifleman's Journal

LBS Files Reference Pages


If you are new to handloading here is a good way to get your feet wet. You might be surprised how accurate this ammo is. The only thing I do differently for long range is weigh rather than measure my powder charges. Regards, - Nathan C.

The Daily Bell ran this interview: Richard Maybury on the Collapse of the Anglo-American Empire and What It Means for You

Eric K. sent this: China Raises Rates to Counter Accelerating Inflation. Eric's comments: "Three things of note in the article: 1.) They mention a report due next week that will show a 5.3% increase in January for consumer prices. 2.) They are starting a campaign to crackdown on speculation and hoarding. 3.) The Chinese inflation is largely driven by rising food costs. Their formula for calculating their inflation is different to the one used to calculate ours. For one, our CPI numbers does not include the increase in food prices. The Chinese are raising interest rates to curb their inflation and our government is printing more money to curb our so-called deflation.

The latest from Dr. Housing Bubble: Foreclosing on the red carpet – Hollywood home goes from $1 million to $377,000. With the termite infestation and he graffiti, is it really worth $377,000?

Items from The Economatrix:

More Confident Consumers Break Out Credit Cards  

Dow Closes Higher For 7th Straight Day

Layoffs Become Rarer Even With Unemployment High  

Longest Dow Win Streak in Three Months  

Jobless Rate Among Veterans Highest In Five Years  

Reader J.B.G. sent this: 18 Cities Whose Suburbs Are Rapidly Turning Into Slums

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Frequent content contributor C.D.V. sent this: We Are Witnessing the Collapse of the Middle East. "If Egypt should fall, it will mark the beginning of the end for what little remaining stability there is in the Middle East." Can you imagine an enormous Lebanon-like Zone of Chaos, all the way from the Sudan to Tajikistan and from Morocco to Pakistan? I can. It seems that the $55 Billion+ that that we've "invested" in stability in Egypt since 1974 sure didn't buy much, did it?

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F.G. recommended an owner's review page on shortwave radios that is useful is sorting the wheat from the chaff, when shopping for a used radio on eBay or at a ham. radio swap meet. F.G.'s comment: "By and large, other than very high end professional grade receivers, the older portable and table top radios are of much higher quality construction, and have better listening fidelity. Prices on clean, well maintained, used SW radios continue to climb for that very reason." JWR Adds: My favorite portable world band radio that is in an affordable price range is the Sony ICF-2010. Used ones can often be found for bargain prices. Now that I'm 50 years old I thus qualify as being on the cusp of curmudgeonry. So my passion is for older, relatively EMP-proof AM/shortwave vacuum tube radios (like the Zenith Transoceanic and the Hallicrafters SW-38E), but I must admit that the sensitivity and extra features (such as a BFO) found on the later transistor SW radios necessitates owning one or two. My advice: Buy one of each, if you can afford them.

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I just heard about a family-owned gun, ammo and accessory shop in southern Idaho that has a great inventory--particularly full-capacity magazines: Armageddon-armory.com. They also do some mail orders.

"Foreign aid: A transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries." - Douglas Casey

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today, February 8, 2011, marks the 10th anniversary of when I fairly accurately called the bottom of the silver market. That was when silver was $4.55 an ounce and I stated that it might bottom at around $4.25 per ounce before the inevitable rally. The actually bottom was at $4.18 per ounce. Since then, silver has been in a confirmed bull market cycle, increasing in price by more than 610%. (When I last checked, spot silver was at $29.35 per ounce.) For those that took my advice, congratulations. And for those who have been dragging their feet, don't worry: The bull market in silver will likely continue for another five to eight years. Just buy on the dips. What will be the top? $60 per ounce?, $100?, $200? That all depends on how quickly and how thoroughly The Federal Reserve banking cartel and the U.S. Treasury destroy the U.S. Dollar.


Today we present another two entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

The three main factors in determining who lives and who dies WTSHTF are situational awareness, overcoming inertia, and dumb luck. The first two you have some control over. The third is always going to be beyond your control, except for Divine intervention, so don’t worry about it. If you are at mid-span on the Golden Gate Bridge when Al Qaeda sets off a nuke in San Francisco, or “The Big One” hits. In such cases, acceptance of God’s will is all you have to do to prepare.

For those who are lucky enough to not be killed immediately when disaster strikes, how you have trained yourself to handle the first two factors will make all the difference in the world. The first two of these factors are well known and accepted. Believing and accepting what has now become inevitable should motivate the serious survivor. There are three parts to being adequately prepared:

First: Acceptance of the seriousness of the situation. Most of us are already there or you wouldn’t even be reading this. You have to accept the probability that there will be a major crisis befall our nation in the near future.

Second: Initiate Preparations: Having accepted the first premise as a literal fact, you must start as soon as possible to “put away the things of a child” and start behaving as a responsible adult. This means beginning to acquire those supplies that will give you and your family the very best chance of surviving the impending collapse.

They are: Water; Food; Weapons; Medical Supplies; Transportation; Fuel; Shelter; Skills.

Third: A Backup Plan. The third level of preparation is distinct from the first two. If you have already taken care of the first two parts, this will be supplemental to your plan. If not, this will offer your best chance of surviving the crisis. You have to put yourself in the best possible position to to take advantage of what I shall refer to as “the golden hours” which occur at the very beginning of any crisis. The “golden hours” is a concept that has gotten very little, if any, ink in all the survivalist literature, both real and fictional.

Anyone familiar with emergency medicine is aware of the term "the golden hour”. This refers to that first hour following an injury until the initiation of medical treatment. In most cases, the ability to get the patient into a medical facility within the first hour raises the chances of survival exponentially.

The same will be true of those last minute preparations an alert person can make who recognizes the magnitude of the impending crisis in its’ earliest stages. As in most things in life, the majority of the population will not be able to process and accept the severity of the crisis until it is too late to do them any real good. In other words, most people won’t recognize “it” when “it” first happens. And most of those who do get a glimmer will in all probability delay acting, and that delay will most probably be fatal in any real TEOTWAWKI scenario.

Even for those few who do get a sudden dose of clarity, most will also fail absent prior planning.

Why are almost all last minute actions doomed to failure in major crisis situation? Because by the time the average person realizes there is a real crisis, their ability to mitigate the effect will be so severely compromised as to be almost useless to them. e.g. if you need a six month supply of food to survive, it is too late to acquire it once the trucks have stopped running and the markets have been emptied.

Think of it this way: You, having been jolted out of your American Idol reveries, finally decide the national and world situation dictates you order a years worth of freeze dried food for your family. You immediately place your order. You are informed that due to the increased demand, there will be a delay of 60 days in shipping. Being aware that all suppliers are experiencing the same delays, you go ahead, place your order, and hold your breath. You are now at the mercy of fate for at least 60 days. 59 days into your waiting period TSHTF. No food is shipping. No trucks are running. You now find yourself in the worst possible position, appreciating how serious the crisis is, and unable to do anything about it, except for those golden hours I mentioned earlier.

Effective preparation requires forethought and planning, but forethought and planning are not sufficient in and of themselves to keep you alive in most long term crises. Thinking and planning are only a prolog to action. “Think; Plan; Act” needs to become your credo.

The concept of “the golden hours” encompasses at least two aspects of survival preparation. First, as a supplementary action for a person who has already made some preparations, and second, as a last ditch back up plan for those who foolishly waited too long to start their preparations.

There are basically three approaches to preparation from which to chose, and these three approaches will encompass virtually the entire population, whether they want to be there or not:

Approach Number One: Preparations made well in advance of a crisis, which provide the very best chance of survival whatever the crisis might be;

Approach Number Two: Preparations made in the last golden hours at the very beginning of a crisis supplemental to a preexisting survival plan, or as a second best alternative, but only for those who are smart enough to quickly grasp the situation and act decisively thereon;

Approach Number Three: Attempted preparations that are made too late to provide any security to those poor individuals too unaware or slow witted to anticipate and/or recognize the crisis for what it is.

The place you do not want to be is in the third category. Being in the third category will in all probability get you and your family dead in very short order in a TEOTWAWKI crisis.

So what kind of planning will help you take the maximum advantage in the golden hours? Here are a few a examples, and I want to stress these are just my own examples, and how I have addressed potential problems for my own family. You might have totally different priorities, but regardless, the better you can position yourself to take advantage of the golden hours, the better your chances are of surviving.


I have assessed the potential threats to my own families transportation as being a fuel shortage crisis and/or an EMP attack on the U.S.

We have an 1992 GMC 2500 Sierra 4x4 which is our primary G.O.O.D. vehicle. I keep it well-maintained and topped off all the time. (For those of you too young to remember the 1973 gas crisis, you missed what can only be described in the words of our “Dear Leader” as a really good “teachable moment”.) Being well aware of the probability of a major natural disaster (I live in earthquake and wild land fire country) and to the impending economic collapse, I have taken other precautions so as to cover as many bases as possible.

EMP Preparations:

(For those readers who don’t know about electromagnetic pulse (EMP), do a web search. This is something you need to know and understand.)

Being aware of the possibility of an EMP attack on the US, I have acquired spare electronic control units (ECUs)--also known electronic control modules, CPUs, or simply "computers") for all of our vehicles, and secured them in an EMP shielded Faraday cage shielding metal can along with the necessary tools to swap out the units, and printed instructions for doing the job for each specific vehicle. Each vehicle also has a Chilton’s Manual on board.

The easiest way to ascertain the part you need is to call the local dealer parts department, give them your year, make and model, and the VIN, and they will be able to look up your part and give you all the specifics. If you feel the price from the dealer is too high, then get on Ebay and find and order your part from a wrecking yard. Some newer vehicles have more than one computer, but the one you need is the one that controls the engine/fuel/ transmission. I have not ordered the computers that control the cabin heat and gauges as, quite frankly, in a G.O.O.D. situation I really don’t need to know my mpg, mph, etc. I just need the vehicle to start, run, and get me to where I need to go.

The units are stored under the seats of each vehicle in a Faraday cage. The Faraday cage container is made by first wrapping the unit in some kind of non-conducting material: rubber, plastic bubble wrap, anything that is non-conductive. Next, wrap the whole thing in duct tape. Then wrap the whole with two or three layers of aluminum foil, and then another layer of duct tape. It is important that each successive layer completely covers the each prior layer. Then insert the whole into a steel ammo box, along with the instructions and change out tools. If the time comes you need to open and use it, don’t forget to first ground the ammo box and yourself.

A possible alternative solution that I have not elected, at least not yet, is to own and maintain as your principle G.O.O.D. vehicle one which was manufactured before 1986, as those vehicles did not have computers or other electronics that are susceptible to the effects of EMP.

Fuel Crisis Preparation:

For most of us it is impractical (not to mention unsafe) to store large quantities of fuel. We are 300 miles from our retreat location, which is located in another state, and under normal conditions it takes us about six hours to get there. However, keeping in mind the value of the golden hours, I am fully prepared to take advantage of those hours. I did this by acquiring two 55 gallon steel fuel drums from a local distributor, and a 12 volt fuel transfer pump with hose and nozzle from Ebay. I don’t keep the drums full, but rather readily accessible for loading in the truck and a quick trip down to the local all hours gas station.

Those who recognize the crisis for what it is should have enough lead time to make last minute purchases of critical supplies, such as fuel, medicines and food. One problem for most people is they have not positioned themselves to take advantage of those golden hours for immediately acquiring a last minute emergency fuel supply. The additional hours they might have to waste acquiring portable storage containers could easily lose those critical golden hours.

When I see on the 11:00 PM (or whenever) news what I deem sufficient information to make the final call that the crisis is really starting, I will load my drums into the truck and drive to my local CardLock station and fill up. (I just joined a local CardLock station for this very purpose.) If I didn’t already have my drums, I would either have to wait until the next morning to go out and try and acquire some drums or fuel cans, or if it happens during the daytime, go out and try and acquire some before I head to the fuel station. This means that by the time I can get to the gas station it could already be pumped dry, rationed, confiscated or requisitioned by the government for the “common good”.

By having the necessary containers already on hand, we will be able to beat the rush, and be literally hours ahead of the masses which will by then be approaching a full scale panic mode.

The point is, I have put my family in a position to be able to act quickly and decisively to take advantage of those golden hours at the very beginning of a crisis, thereby increasing my family’s chances of survival. By anticipating a need, I have made a plan and acted upon it. When TSHTF I now have in place not only a plan to make use of those golden hours, but those items needed to fulfill that plan.

Costs? The fuel drums were free from my local fuel oil and lubricants dealer. Mine originally held methanol alcohol. I purchased a nifty little 12 volt fuel pump, complete with hose and nozzle that I can screw into the barrel bung, attach to my truck’s battery and will deliver up to 20 gallons a minute. “Little” is a relative term. The whole pump and hose system weighs in at 39 pounds, but it is smaller than a regular service station fuel pump, and a lot more portable and, since it is being carried in the truck, the extra weight doesn’t bother me.

The cost of the pump was less than $150 on eBay. Don’t have $150 to spare on an emergency fuel pump? Try a simple siphon hose costing a couple of bucks. Every vehicle we own has a 20' section of 3/8" I.D. clear plastic tubing. Why clear plastic tubing? Because I have never acquired a taste for petroleum products. Keep in mind the tubing needs to be small enough in diameter to get past the “unleaded fuel” barrier in the mouth of the filler tube which is now a standard in all modern vehicles.

In addition to the two barrels I also have five 5 gallon red plastic gas cans. Best price I found for these is at Wal-Mart which, while anathema to left wing ideologues, is most often the prepper's best friend. Between the 25 gallon tank in my GMC; the 110 gallons in the drums, and the 25 gallons in the gas cans, I have now provided my family with yet another benefit: options. A military maxim states “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This is why the more options you can provide yourself, the better off you will be in a crisis.

Medical Crisis Preparation:

What holds true for fuel, also holds true for last minute medical and prescription acquisitions. Have a friendly doctor write you some undated prescriptions for antibiotics and for several months worth of your regular prescriptions can be a lifesaver. If you don’t have a relationship with a physician that would allow you to acquire these, check out the SurvivalBlog archives for an article on veterinary pharmaceutical equivalents.

Remember the golden hours rule. Be prepared to pay cash or write a check for the necessary drugs, as you probably won’t have the luxury of time to negotiate with your insurance company. Wal-Mart and other competing chains offer $10 prescriptions for a 90 day supply. Try and acquire prescriptions for at least 180 days on hand. Tell the pharmacist you are going on a trip out of the country if they question you.

I was discussing survival preparation with my best friend many years ago when he was in medical school, and he commented that very few people understand that civilization is only about one micron thick. The very same germs that killed our great grandparents are still alive and thriving in the dirt just outside our window. The only reason they don’t kill us now is we have magic bullets in the form of antibiotics, vaccines and pain controllers that keep them in check. Take away these and we will die even quicker than our antecedents because as a civilization we have lost so many of our natural immunities.

Our nation functions on a continuous re-supply system for medicines and food. All of this is kept in motion by an increasingly high tech system of computers and coding. It all works because of a myriad of interconnecting symbiotic systems. For example, most pharmacies (including those in hospitals) only keep about a three day supply of drugs on hand for their normal patient load. If anything in the supply chain breaks at any juncture the whole chain grinds to an immediate halt. Overload a hospital with injured disaster victims and the medical supplies will be gone in less than 24 hours. Without resupply, and a steady supply of power from the grid, modern medicine reverts back to the 1800s in just a few days.

The weakest link in our entire social construct is our total dependency on computer driven data, and the computer’s total dependency on an uninterrupted flow of electricity. Shut down the grid for a day, and things get very bad. Shut down the grid for a month, and the result will be catastrophic. Shut down the grid for a year, and the estimates are that, absent outside assistance, 50% to 70% of our population will die from starvation and disease in that first year!

There was an article on the net last week about there being approximately 26 million insulin dependant diabetics in the US. If the supply system stops, absent a backup supply, the majority of these people will die within 90 days. How can they prepare for this situation? A little forethought and preparation can give a diabetic a chance of at least surviving long enough for the restructuring of the supply chain.

The whole plan keys on two points: 1.) Having sufficient insulin stored away to keep a diabetic alive for an extended period of time; and 2.) having a way to keep the insulin refrigerated and usable for an extended period of time.

For example: Humilin N, a common OTC insulin, has a three year shelf life if kept properly refrigerated. Humilin N comes in 100 Unit vials. One vial lasts a diabetic X number of days, depending on dosage. A diabetic can easily calculate how many vials they will need for whatever period of time they wish to prepare, up to 3 years, under refrigeration.

So, what is the most effective way to maintain refrigeration in the event of a grid collapse? Propane refrigerators.

Because we have two family members who are insulin dependent, we have prepared as follows:

Our RV, which is stored on site at our retreat, has a propane/electric refrigerator already installed. Additionally, and in my own penchant for redundancy in all things survival oriented, I acquired a full-size propane refrigerator for our retreat, through Craigslist

For those unfamiliar with propane refrigerators, let me say they are probably the most energy efficient appliance ever built. Energy companies don’t want people to know just how cheap it is to run a propane refrigerator. The amount of propane necessary to keep a full size refrigerator cold is about the same as a pilot light. We have a 500 gallon tank at the retreat and are adding another one this summer. With that much propane we can run the fridge for many years.

Note: If you are thinking about using your RV fridge as your backup insulin storage, remember to acquire the necessary fittings and hoses to fill your RV tank and also to attach it to larger external tank(s).

Another Note: Why is propane the preferred fuel for making long term preparations? Because, unlike gas and diesel, it doesn’t get old and it requires no treatment to stay usable. As long as the tank holds pressure, the propane is good. Additionally, when used to power a generator, there is no residue to foul and damage the filter and diaphragm which stay clean, extending the life of the power plant.

The existing current national disaster plan calls for the requisition, by force if necessary, of all existing food and drug stocks from outlying, lightly populated, rural areas, for transport to and use in more densely populated (read “voting bloc”) urban areas. This policy will, however, take a few days to implement. Once again, an alert and informed person will have golden hours they can use to their advantage. Make a list of your local all night pharmacies, markets and fuel stations. Then, make lists of what you need at each location, print them out and keep them handy. Use the golden hours to fill out your list.

Food Supply Crisis Preparation:

In times of disaster or emergency the demand for everything in our culture will spike, exhausting local existing supplies in less than a day. Our markets resupply daily. If the resupply stops, even for a few days, the effect of the resulting shortages will magnify. The time to go to the store is before the crisis hits or immediately upon recognizing it for what it is. Don’t delay! These are the golden hours. Go and shop immediately! Once the reality sinks in to the general public, stores will be cleaned out in a matter of hours.

I have prepared a shopping list I distribute to friends and family for either just before or just after a national emergency occurs or is announced. Once the truth sinks in to the general population, there will be a run on the stores. Re-supply to the stores will be either unlikely or irregular. If you have failed to prepare adequately before now, this may be your one and only chance to provision your family for an extended period of time.

I won’t bore you with my own list, but I will say that we have given it quite a bit of thought as to quantities and types of food we will acquire, and they are all easy to prepare, non-perishable foods needing no refrigeration. I have even gone one step further to prepare my family to take advantage of the golden hours. My wife and I regularly mentally map what foods are where in our local markets to assist us in making the best use of time in the stores.

When TSHTF, while I am down at the Card-Lock filling the fuel drums in the truck, my wife will be at the closest market filling the shopping carts. After the fueling is completed, I will meet her there to help finish up the shopping and loading the purchases in the SUV and to provide additional security. Hopefully it will not be needed as all of the foregoing last minute preparations should be taking place well before the masses even realize the severity of the crisis, in those “golden hours” which are the focus of this article.

In Summary:

Last minute preparations are not a panacea for a previous lackadaisical approach to preparation. But people should realize that even this late in the game there are still options to see them through a major, extended crisis. The sooner you start serious preparations the better chance you have of surviving what is most certainly headed out way.

The real key to your family’s personal survival is recognizing the true nature of the crisis before too many others do. Even a few hours lead time on the majority of the population can mean the difference, literally, between life and death. Those few hours are, truly, the golden hours.

Assumption: "If it snows or storms, I can work from home and telecommute."  Assumptions are not always correct. The major ice storms at the end of January and start of February 2011 prompted creating this plan for my husband and myself. (Or first backup plan was alternate transportation routes.)

Lessons learned day by day:

Day 1

When power goes out at the house, such as during the first day of the storm for about 6 hours, the only way you can work from home is by using precious generator  fuel or laptop batteries. Due to my husband's higher pay rate, he dialed in with the laptop computer while I managed the kids and lessons.

Lessons learned:
* if we want to be able to both telecommute, we either need to have two working laptops to connect with or be willing to give up generator fuel to use one desktop computer. Cost of fuel needs to balanced against the cost of extra lap top batteries and an additional laptop and the effort to keep their batteries charged.

Day 2

When the power goes out at your place of work, as happened on day 2 of the storm, you cannot remotely connect to the work site to telecommute. Husband's backup plan was a stack of printed calculations to review and then manually type up comments and e-mail back. Time to type and e-mail is a fraction of the time spent reviewing paper. I worked on technical documents but could not submit them for review. My work was done in the hope of billable results (paid upon acceptance) later due to the customer’s site being down (whole site dead, data centers on backup power, no one had e-mail or network connections).
For another site, data that I worked on through the web site was lost when the site went down for a while during a rolling power outage. There went half an hour of work.
Potential backup laptop we have borrowed from a friend is virus infected. Running virus-scans found at least three infections. Fortunately, we double-checked everything before I touched it with consideration of actually working on it. (Imagine the perceived reputation of working remotely if all work sent in is infected!)


Lessons learned:

  • Have a backup plan of means to generate billable time or payable work if everyone else’s network connections or computers are dead. The ability to do work from home is of limited value if you cannot send it for management review or customer acceptance. If their standard process is review through a tool like PleaseReview or Documentum, propose a backup plan of e-mailing documents so that days are not lost. If e-mail through work accounts are not available and e-mailing work files from personal e-mail accounts are not acceptable, have a backup location agreed upon in advance of where files can be securely uploaded and shared.
  • Have backups of all customer billable files saved somewhere other than methods through which you submit them. Save early and save often. If their system goes down and all data is lost, your only hope of recouping that time is having a backup to resend them. Copy and paste results into web sites or attach these files to e-mails or upload to their web site. Avoid working only in their web site or forms; if your computer or theirs goes down, all the work is lost.
  • Virus-scan everything thoroughly prior to use. Scan computers you receive at least three times to ensure that it is safe before using. Scan files you receive at least twice with two separate virus-scanners to prevent infection of your own machine.

Day 3

Husband has finished much of his take home work. I am looking for billable work through e-mail to customers. Crowd-sourcing web sites provide a fallback for burning some time and generating some (though less than usual) income.
My main customers’ systems are still shut down from massive electrical failure at site. This could create a problem because some of the work I do is customer surveys and satisfaction analysis. If I had had more information for software manual updates, there would have been more billable time for them even when working from home.
Secondary customer is up and running and accepting articles. I sent several articles written in the interim to a third customer.
Kids have finished all homework and are making progress through workbooks I had saved. This keeps them busy but not entirely occupied.  Interruptions cost quality of work.


  • Have more than one customer! The ability to be paid from more than one source meant that income flow wasn’t entirely constrained by one customer’s literally shut down.
  • Where possible, have a backlog of tasks or projects for which you can be paid if working from home. Conversely, have tasks that are not time constrained. Having a paid task that must be done on a certain date is worthless if you cannot complete it on time.
  • If you have children, then have a plan of how to keep them and you working at the same time. Then practice it on the weekends in imitation of how it may play out in real life. We’d practiced “power down weekends”, but that was closer to family camping inside the house. Mommy and Daddy trying to work on computers with them trying to do school work is a whole other scenario that needs to be practiced as well.

Day 4

Mailman makes it in and out. We’re well stocked, so getting to the store is a necessity. However, getting to the bank to deposit a check received in the mail is a major hassle. We found a solution: direct deposit through our credit union. Scan the check (our printer doubles as a scanner and fax machine), upload to web site, and deposit. Funds available next day for electronic funds transfer (EFT) bill paying.
I received other payments through PayPal and Amazon gift certificates. Paypal funds can be transferred to the bank account electronically. They could also be used for online purchases if we chose. Amazon gift certificates are great to order groceries or necessities from their web site; sort by items eligible for free super saver shipping and order sufficient volume to hit the $25-30 minimum for free shipping. The items arrive in a few days because the mail man still comes every day. And it is safer than trying to get to the store as well as convenient.
A few low priority documents and articles are submitted via the mail. A good supply of stamps and envelopes made this a practical backup plan when power is interrupted.


  • Have alternate means of payment available. Be able to bypass the bank.
  • Have ways to immediately convert these alternate payments into things you need and use.
  • Plan your business like your life for emergency situations; don’t have to go anywhere to get it all done.

Day 5

Power interruptions are short 5-15 minutes during Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) planned rolling blackouts to save electricity. This is in some ways worse than power out for 2-5 hours because it is easy to resume work after power comes back on, only to lose it again shortly thereafter.
The Uninteruptible Power Supply (UPS) is connected to wireless router and DSL router. We’re still connected to the internet while the UPS is running, and unlike a computer, routers don’t draw as much power. If that didn’t work, we could connect via the phone line.
Husband had to go into work to catch up on tasks that could not be handled remotely. Fortunately, he had safe routes in and out regardless of weather. Taking his laptop with wi-fi connection allowed him to work even while the train was delayed.

Lessons learned:

  • Laptops have built in battery backups. If the power goes out while someone is working on a laptop plugged in, the battery backup kicks in. The ability to continue working and at least finish the work and notify everyone that you will be offline shortly minimizes the disruption. 
  • Have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) connected to your desktop computers. This provides a short period to save work, preventing its loss. [JWR Adds: For the greatest practicality, a UPS should be too heavy to comfortably lift and carry more than a few yards. A heavy UPS means that that it has lots of batteries, which equates to a longer useful run time.]
  • UPS connected to home routers keeps home network up and running even when the local wi-fi shuts down from local power outage. Consider adding a UPS to your router if it is heavily used or connecting it to your computer’s UPS.
  • We retained our old modems in case faster network connections like wi-fi failed. Have a backup connection method.

Other observations:

  1. If you plan to telecommute, have multiple means to make connections with your customers. However, this must be balanced with data security and their corporate policies if any.
  2. Have these backup plans in place and agreed upon before they are needed. Trying to discuss these alternate data sharing methods on cell phones with limited batteries is not a good backup plan.
  3. As with any other power using appliance, have backup power sources that can fuel it.
  4. Have multiple methods to connect to the Internet.
  5. As demand on infrastructure goes up from a growing population but quality declines from lack of maintenance, expect interruptions of basic services like utilities. Then plan on how to function with both shut downs and interruptions.

Thank you for your interesting and informative web site and mission.  Just a few short thoughts on earthquake hazard, risk, and mitigation, since it's a pet interest of mine for some time and I come at it from a slightly different background than some.  I'm a southeastern US resident in an area about 300 miles give or take from the New Madrid fault zone.  My community is actually located in the second most seismically active area east of the Rockies, so I do have some personal investment in the topic.  Additionally, I have more than 20 years' experience in disaster services, so i've got both some practical experience and I've had some time to study and think about stuff.

Hazard is the potential for physical activity that can cause damage to structures and inhabitants.  Risk is the human behavior(s) that leads to greater or lesser damages given the particular hazard(s) discussed.  Mitigation is the action(s) taken to reduce risk and damage. 

The greatest danger for many families living in earthquake country is right in their own homes.  Gas-fueled water heaters are fairly unstable when lifted and pushed sideways, and since you already have a natural gas line, usually copper in the Central US, and a flame (pilot light), an unsecured gas water heater is like having your own family catastrophe waiting with your bath water.  Copper line breaks, uncontrolled gas bleeds out of the lines, and it ignites.  This was a problem in California and other western states in the past -- in areas that mostly require seismic shutoff valves today on natural gas lines entering occupied properties.  During, IIRC, the Loma Prieta earthquake, they discovered a few useful facts like this, including the follow-on treat that events that break gas lines also often break water lines, so you get a fire that you have little to no means to extinguish.  Turned out it was hard to open rolling sheet metal fire station doors too. 

Fortunately for those who don't live in places where building codes have caught up to physical realities as much as to political ones, it is simple and cheap to fix this potential catastrophe. Hardware stores sell, very inexpensively, "plumbing tape" or "hardware tape" that is basically thin, 1 inch or so wide strips of rolled sheet metal with holes every inch or so.  One simply takes this material, wraps it around their water heater at about 2/3 height of the heater, then nail it off securely to wall studs.   Shazam.  It won't fix all your problems, and there are lots of other topics we could discuss, but this is the first one I mention when I meet folks who live in or very near earthquake hazard zones.

This happens to be the bicentennial of the famous New Madrid series of quakes that caused 2 waterfalls on the Mississippi, church bells to ring in Boston, windows to rattle in D.C., and formed the largest land area lake in Tennessee by the Mississippi River basically flowing backwards for a while.  The eyewitness accounts are quite riveting.  The fact is that Eastern/Central US quakes cause shaking in a roughly 10 times larger area than in California simply due to the stiffer, older underlying rock.  Damages will likely be even greater geographically distributed because we have practically nothing in the built environment to protect people, and our people have no clue what to do to prepare or respond. 

With Best Regards, In Christ, - River S.

That was great post [by Mitch M.], many thanks to all who share their experiences on your blog. Nothing beats mentoring, even by internet!  However, I would like to share that RoundUp is a dangerous product and should not be used anywhere you plan to grow plants for food.  The following is an excerpt from an article at The Institute For Responsible Technology web site:

"Monsanto used to boast that Roundup is biodegradable, claiming that it breaks down quickly in the soil. But courts in the US and Europe disagreed and found them guilty of false advertising. In fact, Monsanto’s own test data revealed that only 2% of the product broke down after 28 days. Whether glyphosate degrades in weeks, months, or years varies widely due to factors in the soil, including pH, clay, types of minerals, residues from Roundup Ready crops, and the presence of the specialized enzymes needed to break down the herbicide molecule. In some conditions, glyphosate can grab hold of soil nutrients and remain stable for long periods. One study showed that it took up to 22 years for glyphosate to degrade only half its volume! So much for trusting Monsanto’s product claims.

Glyphosate can attack from above and below. It can drift over from a neighbors farm and wreak havoc. And it can even be released from dying weeds, travel through the soil, and then be taken up by healthy crops. The amount of glyphosate that can cause damage is tiny. European scientists demonstrated that less than half an ounce per acre inhibits the ability of plants to take up and transport essential micronutrients (see chart). As a result, more and more farmers are finding that crops planted in years after Roundup is applied suffer from weakened defenses and increased soilborne diseases. The situation is getting worse for many reasons."

Thank you Mr. Rawles for all you do to create awareness. Yours in Him, - Julie D.

I heard that Mark Harrison (the husband of Erin Harrison, who produced the excellent Homesteading for Beginners DVD series) was just involved in a freak accident that nearly cost him his life. While attaching some siding on a building under construction at their farm, a co-worker slipped and accidentally put an industrial staple into the back of Mark's head, stapling his hat to his head. The prongs of the staple penetrated one inch into his skull. One brain surgery later, it looks like Mark has a good chance of making a complete recovery. Please keep Mark and his family in your prayers! And if you've thought about buying any of their books, DVDs, or gear from their on-line store, then now would be a great time to do so. (They are surely going to have some huge medical bills!)

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

  • I'm in the middle of reading Joel Rosenberg's nonfiction book Epicenter 2.0: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future. It is noteworthy that social networking services like Facebook and Twitter have proven to be potent tools for planning uprisings in the Middle East. Jim says that they ought to have a local version, called Fezbook.
  • I just read two books edited by Abigail R. Gehring. They are titled: Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency. They have some beautifully detailed photos and the books cover a lot of subject areas, but they lack the greater depth of detail that is included in Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living.
  • I recently watched the movie Fiddler on the Roof. I think it will earn itself a place in the "classic films" category. Great singing and acting! I love the film. "Tradition!!!" It has some very emotional moments. Topol is a wonderful actor. Oh, and I must say that The Almighty Matchmaker made Jim and I a perfect match. :-)

Hillary Clinton calls historic meeting of ambassadors. Wow, 260 ambassadors and counsels in simultaneous transit! Something is afoot, folks. The bottom line is that the world's governments can print unlimited supplies of currency, but they can't print food. I anticipate that a regional war or perhaps even global war is just around the corner.

   o o o

Why America Should Be Driving on Natural Gas

   o o o

Ms. M. sent this article about "Generation Rx": Pharmacies Besieged by Addicted Thieves

   o o o

I just heard about an interesting new product, made here in the U.S.: The Flashlantern.

"The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; [therefore] shall he beg in harvest, and [have] nothing." - Proverbs 20:4 (KJV)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

I have noticed a frightening trend being used by many of the “survival seed” companies that have started up in the past several years. The same trend shows up on many “survival/ prepping” web sites. This is pushing the idea that in TEOTWAWKI one merely needs to open the bucket and have an instant survival homestead. That isn't necessarily so. Does buying the latest fancy rifle with rangefinder, laser pointer, and fancy toilet paper holder make you a marksman?

There is a range of preparations and skills necessary for running a successful farm or homestead. That is why our forefathers often screwed up and starved to death. If all the pieces are not there then the potential exists for failure. Today this is heartbreaking. In TEOTWAWKI this can be fatal.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I have killed more plants, lost more animals, and had more failures than I would have ever envisioned when I first started my hobby farming. I am a police officer by trade not a farmer. It shows. Right now I have a nine-day-old baby pot-bellied pig in a box next to me. He was born on an 18-degree day and his mother didn’t care for her first litter. When I found the six piglets in the nesting hut, they were already hypothermic. I lost the first in less than an hour while still trying to get Momma Pig to care for them. Once the decision was made to bring them in and bottle feed them I hoped they would be okay. I was wrong. My wife and I worked and fed day and night and gradually watched all but one of these precious little creatures die. This was with veterinarian’s and local expert’s tips. My one little boar seems to be doing well.

Losing the offspring was heartbreaking after caring for them. It is also expensive in lost revenue. Locally, the piglets run from $50 to $200. That means potentially $1,000 lost from my profits already this year. Today that is lamentable. Tomorrow it may be deadly. What if this litter was one from my Yorkshire sows that was going to supply meat for my kids? There is a learning curve involved here. Now is the time to be making mistakes not in TEOTWAWKI.

The Garden of Eden in a Bucket group would have you believe that these skills can be learned and preparations made after the fact. In truth this is too late. The time to make mistakes is now while you can still purchase food from a farmer’s market to replace your failures, not when your children are praying for their next meal. We must start today building our knowledge and skill base to handle the chores necessary to a successful homestead. We have to start the garden, plant the fruit and nut trees, and start husbanding the animal today in order to have the ability to do so when TEOTWAWKI comes. Perhaps it is because we are further removed from our food sources now that we must relearn the skills of the past. These are not innate abilities. They must be cultivated

A garden doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, work, skill, luck, and plenty of prayers. I have been growing a garden of one size or another from a few tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers for fresh use to three to 4 acre canning gardens that took full time work to keep up. Lack of experience is a big problem in the amount and consistency of harvest. Even experienced gardeners have bad years. The difference is that they usually have some harvest. Inexperienced gardeners often lose the whole crop. Gardening is a skill best learned by doing it not just reading about it.

In the beginning one must choose the location for the garden. This should be done based on soil type, drainage or water availability, and sunlight. Different parts of the country have different soil types and needs. Some are more acid or alkali than others. Did you realize that the soil will vary on your property? The south side of my yard is hard packed red clay with no real topsoil. Grass will grow but is severely affected by drought. To the north of the house is where all of that topsoil was pushed as fill when the lot was leveled and the house built. That is where we chose to put the garden. This location also provides good sunlight with no trees to the east, south, or west. We are in the process of planting fruit trees to the north side of the garden since this will not affect the amount of sunlight. This location provides good drainage and access to water. Right now that means access to hoses but hopefully this year we will install guttering on our metal roof and build a rainwater recovery system to provide for our needs.

When your life depends on it is not the time to start breaking ground on a garden. How are you going to do it? Are you going to use a shovel? Good luck. I have and it has been slow going with about four wide rows added each year. The ground was initially run over with a tractor with a tiller attachment behind it. That was probably a mistake since it just chopped all of the grass roots and rhizomes up and sprigged the garden with them. The tiller only cut about 8 inches through the sod. It was more like aerating the soil than prepping it for planting. I had to then resort to the shovel and rake to get my rows made. I use wide rows about 42 inches wide for planting. This allows me to reach the middle from either side but minimizes the area taken up by walk space. I would love to frame them in but have not had the money to do so. My rows are 36 feet long, and I have been able to break and cultivate about four new rows each year. Remember this is practice for not having the modern conveniences. This garden has been a learning process and is a long term prep.

As I said, I have had a battle with grass and weeds due to starting off wrong. Apparently I had done too good a job on that lovely lawn. I would have been better off spraying the area with Roundup first. I prefer to use natural methods but I do have to admit its effectiveness. Hand weeding and hoeing are tough on the back. It is better to kill of as much as possible first before planting. One can use chemicals to accomplish this. You must decide how you feel about them. You can also use a heavy layer of mulch to kill off the grass. This is slower and can have its own problems. I don’t recommend using hay for this. Hay contains the seed heads of grass stems. It can bring in more problems than it fixes. Use leaves, straw, or grass clippings in a layer at least four to 6 inches deep and be prepared to wait a few weeks to kill it off. Better is to lay a layer of newspaper or cardboard down first then cover it with your mulch. The great thing about this is that it improves the soil as it kills weeds and grass. Leave it alone and plant right through it if you choose. This method was touted by the great Ruth Stout who wrote several books about her “no-dig, deep mulch” methods. Doesn’t sound like it can be accomplished overnight does it?

I have tried a new approach this winter. I have the garden fenced off with “hog panels” and have it divided into two paddocks. The pair of pot bellied pigs is in one section and the four Yorkshires are in the other. Both share the area with four geese, a tom turkey, and assorted ducks and chickens. The pigs are constantly turning the soil over and working organic matter into it. Hopefully between the birds, sunlight, and freezing most of the weed seeds will be eliminated. There is not a sprig of grass to be found. This should be a viable way to expand a garden post Schumer. I feed them vegetable left-overs from the local fruit stand. They reward me by stirring in fresh manure daily. Any leaves, saw dust, and other mulches are thrown in for them to stir into the soil. I will have to report on the effectiveness of this method in the fall.

Notice earlier I said natural and not organic. Organic has come to be a USDA term for nothing. Organic produce in a major-chain store is no better than standard produce. They have subverted the word. I am talking about natural production methods like God intended. Composting, mulching, and fertilization should be accomplished working with not against nature. God knew what he was doing when he designed the system. It is when we try to act contrary to his laws that things fall apart. Leave any natural thing including stone alone and let the weather and the microorganism have their way with it and it will break down and return to a state usable by plants as nutrients. Compost is the best thing available for improving soil tilth and fertility. No man-made product comes close. The only problem is it takes time. Start now.

I mentioned the doomsday seed vaults earlier, and I know that it sounds like I am against them. Actually I think you are a fool if you don’t have something like them. Seeds for Security and Everlasting Seeds have wonderful products that give a security and peace of mind to any prepper’s future. They have put together seeds designed to maximize your food potentials in your survival garden. I keep a running supply of seeds that I rotate on a yearly basis. This way I have fresh seeds available at any time. I use a lot of open pollinated seeds now for safety. I can always save seed if needed and do so for practice each year. I do grow hybrids also. I know, I know, sighs of disgust. Get over it. Hybrids produce more crops for less work in most instances. They have been bred to give the most bang for the buck whether it’s disease resistance, taste, or vigor. Remember that being a hybrid is not a bad thing; it just means that the plant won’t reproduce true to form with all the traits that made you choose it in the first place. You can still save seeds from them they just won’t reproduce true in the offspring. You can still grow plants from them and they will share many of the original traits. Hybrids are good to have on hand early in the gardening experience because they usually have a vigor that exceeds either parent. As your skills improve you can work with the heirloom varieties.

Working a garden now also lets you learn what varieties you like the taste of. There are literally hundreds of varieties of tomatoes. Tomatoes are supposed to be bright red, period. Actually on the advice of a friend who runs a feed store I tried a pink variety, Arkansas Traveler, a couple of years ago and found it to be an instant favorite. It’s not as pretty, but it sure is good. An added bonus is that it happens to be an heirloom variety that breeds true. When do you start seeds where you live? What is the date of first and last frost and freeze? What varieties grow well on your soil? Will your family eat them? What diseases are in your area? Do you really want to wait to find out after the Schumer hits the fan?

Why haven’t you planted your fruit and nut trees? Are you waiting until after TEOTWAWKI to do it? Too late. The best time to have planted them is already gone but you can start today. The soft-fruits are the way to go for quick production. Brambles and grapes give a quick return for the investment. They will fruit quickly, usually within the first year or two after planting. Plums, figs, peaches, and blueberries usually take from two to four years to become productive. Hard fruit trees like pears and apples take even longer. Start with the oldest and largest trees you can afford. Dwarf trees mature faster than standard stock. Nuts are a long term investment. They may take twenty years to produce. When you plant remember to plan for the grown size of the plant. Also think about where the shade will fall so you don’t ruin your garden. Buy from a local nursery not the big-box stores. The local nursery will cost more but they will have varieties suited to your climate.

Do you have your pens built for your livestock? What about the materials to build them with, wire, wood, posts, sheet metal? Not yet huh? Okay do you have your medicines, wormers, milk replacers, and colostrum for emergencies like mine with the piglets? Not yet? See where I am going? I raise a variety of animals and have for several years and still got caught off guard with this last litter (didn’t know she was bred and she is pot-bellied after all). I had no colostrum on hand and had to wait until the piglets were almost a day old to get some in them. Do you think it will be easier to find these things after old Schumer shows up?

You need to plan now for what animals you want to raise, where you want them located, and how to care for them. You need to know how a ruminant’s stomachs (4) work. You need to know which plants will kill your goats (rhododendron family such as azalea). What is the gestation period for a pig? A rabbit? How long do you incubate chicken eggs? Ducks? Geese? What do you plan to feed these animals when you get them? There is a lot of effort required in keeping small stock. The time to practice is now. The time for mistakes is now.

This is the time to be learning and developing the skills necessary for a Pennsylvania homestead. No one on this forum would advocate buying a firearm now but waiting until the Schumer hits the fan to buy ammo and learn to shoot. Sweat in practice saves blood in battle. Start sweating.

Having served as a scout-sniper section leader in the United States Marine Corps’ Fifth Marine Regiment for two years from 2002-2004, I would like to share my thoughts regarding the application and role of sniping and long-range precision marksmanship (herein defined as shooting beyond 700 yards) in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.  Since the end of my enlistment I have had the opportunity to discuss emergency preparedness scenarios with the well-prepared, the well-grounded, and those that were neither.  Given my background the subject of sniping frequently comes up, and the sum of those conversations have led me to believe that there is a significant understanding gap between the popular idea and the reality of sniping and the ethical considerations that should, but usually do not, go along with that understanding.  After a discussion of the ethics of sniping, I’ll look at scenarios, provide an overview of marksmanship methodology, briefly examine sniping equipment and close with a few resources for further research.

No matter what you read on the internet, war and TEOTWAWKI are not the same thing.  War is inherently offensive, while surviving TEOTWAWKI should be inherently defensive.  Preparation is your best defense against becoming the dangerous parasite that poses the greatest threat to recovery after TEOTWAWKI.  If you have been caught materially unprepared, you should at least have worked to develop some knowledge or skills that will allow you to be a contributing member of a more prepared community, thus helping to ensure your survival without posing an undue burden on what functioning society is left.  As this pertains to sniping, we must consider the appropriate uses and consequences of strategically defensive sniping.

Sniping, at its core, is ideally the art of killing an enemy from a concealed position at a distance where they cannot effectively threaten you.  You are blind siding someone; it is the antithesis of a fair fight.  While conflict is about survival, all of us understand that the ends do not always justify the means.  For example, we can all agree that non-combatants should never be targeted or exploited, even if there is a potential gain to be had.  In a typical firefight the enemy poses an immediate threat to your life and the moral justification of killing that enemy is one that falls even within the established norms of a civilian society.  However, taking on the posture and therefore the mantle of a sniper removes both the immediate threat to your life and the clearer justifications that can be found in other forms of self-defense.

Each individual in our sniper platoon had to wrestle with this issue and come to their own decisions.  Our best snipers, and those who dealt most effectively with the psychological aftermath of war, were those who gave this and other considerations due and thorough  thought before they came into the platoon, during their training, and over the course of our deployed combat operations.  They approached their job professionally and rationally.  They were patient, grounded, smart, professional and lastly competitive.  These are the qualities of a sniper.  I am 5’8”, 150 pounds, when I was a sniper I wore glasses, and have always been a bit of a bookworm.  Being a sniper is not an image, and certainly not the image you see on television, it is a combination of skill and talent directed by determination and focus.  I am a Christian, and have always sought to understand my actions’ consequences to my relationship with God.  Ultimately He is the one we must answer to, and I do not believe that He would be pleased with my casually taking a human life.

With the immediacy of a firefight unavailable, a sniper in TEOTWAWKI must wrestle with the problem of threat identification.  At ,1000 yards through an eight power scope the gross details of a man are barely discernable - especially if there’s mirage.  Given that every other person carrying a firearm is not necessarily an enemy during TEOTWAWKI, it follows that it will be nearly impossible to determine whether or not an unknown person at long range is a threat.  Even assuming you observe them with a high-power spotting scope, the actions of a person at those ranges, particularly if they are unaware of your presence, are unlikely to reveal their morality or motivations.  If you can’t determine whether or not they’re a threat, and you haven’t been able to communicate that further approach will be regarded as hostile, you shouldn’t be killing them.  So, unless the person approaching is part of an armed war band that’s been burning and pillaging their way towards you (a la the situation depicted in the novel One Second After), you will never know if you’re killing a threat or a potential ally when you send that bullet humming downrange.

As I see it, sniping could justifiably be employed in a few circumstances after TEOTWAWKI.  The following four scenarios are not all-inclusive.  Careful consideration of your situation and the likely threats that you will face will help you to refine these ideas or add others.

  1. If you have a primary avenue of approach to your residence you could post notices along that approach.  Those notices should delineate measures that individuals can take if they want to approach without drawing fire.  Laying aside arms, getting out of vehicles, approaching in small groups during the day, etc. are reasonable precautions to demand from unknown persons.  This kind of “checkpoint oversight” is a reasonable circumstance for the employment of a high-caliber weapon capable of disabling a vehicle.  A sniper in a distant and concealed position could observe and cover by fire such a “checkpoint” without unduly compromising their safety.

2. If an individual or group makes a deliberately covert approach, then their motives are questionable.  They may pose a threat, or they may be trying to determine if you pose a threat.  Such a group, once spotted, may be engaged with a warning shot.  Their reaction will dictate whether or not further engagement is necessary

3. If someone in your group has been kidnapped or if a group with demonstrated hostile intentions has been located (i.e., the war band mentioned above), then offensive actions may be appropriate and a sniper can be used to eliminate leaders, sentries, lights, or other high-value targets before an assault or rescue.

4. Planned meetings with groups whose motivations are questionable could be covered by a sniper.  In such circumstances the sniper’s hide should be selected and occupied well in advance of the meeting.


Terrain Limitations
Sniping (the field application of long-range marksmanship) is only effective in terrain which provides long-range fields of view.  Grab a map, Google Earth, or get up and go look around; are there 700+ yard fields of fire around where you are/plan to be?  In many parts of the US, there are not, and the capabilities of a sniper rifle and the time spent learning how to use those capabilities are going to be wasted for want of a clear, long-range shot.  Mountains, deserts, and relatively treeless areas are most likely to provide this kind of terrain.  On a related note, do you have a 700+ yard range to train regularly?  Precision marksmanship is a perishable skill, and while taking a basic course will improve your marksmanship, you will not rise to the consistent level of skill required unless you have the room to train regularly.  So, before investing in the equipment and training necessary to become a sniper, ask yourself if you’ll ever have the space to put that gear and training to use.

While not many areas present the space appropriate for long-range marksmanship, I would argue that there is a much more probable place for equipment and training in the “designated marksman” (to use a military phrase) range of about 400-700 yards.  These ranges require a good firearm/scope/ammunition system, and descent training, but nothing as specialized as the 700+ yard “sniper ranges.”  400-700 yards is beyond the effective range of run-of-the-mill shooters equipped with small arms, and thus provides you with a meaningful ballistic advantage.  As a moral advantage, your ability to distinguish friend from foe is significantly better at these shorter ranges.  A semi-automatic .308, such as an AR-10 or M1A would be my weapon of choice for this duty. (I'll have more about equipment later.)

Terms to Know

Ballistic advantage: the positive difference in maximum effective range between your gun and your enemy’s
Caliber: the diameter of a bullet (in the limited sense of the projectile as opposed to the entire cartridge, though the term bullet is often used to refer to a cartridge) as a portion of an inch; a .50 caliber bullet is ½ inch in diameter
Cartridge: the assembled primer, case, powder, and bullet; often called “round”, and often mistakenly called a “bullet”
Foot-Pound: a unit of measure for force, used to describe the energy a bullet possess at a given range
Grain: a unit of measure for small weights; used to weigh bullets and powder
Hand Loading: making ammunition yourself from its constituent parts
Match Grade: ammunition made to very tight tolerances suitable for precision shooting
Maximum Effective Range: the furthest range that a weapon system can capably engage a target, not the absolute distance a bullet can travel
Mil: the distance between the center of one mil-dot and the next
Mil-Dots: the circles or ovals superimposed over the crosshairs in a mil-dot scope; used to determine range to a target
Minute of Angle: MOA is the angular unit of measure equal to 1” per 100 yards, so 1 MOA at 500 yards is 5”; used as a measure of accuracy or shot adjustment in precision shooting; a precision rifle should hold at least a 1 MOA group with match-grade ammunition
Mirage: The effect generated by heated air rising off the earth; easily seen over a road on a hot day
Sniper ammunition: used to refer specifically to match-grade military ammunition issued to snipers
TEOTWAWKI: The End Of The World As We Know It

Long-range shooting requires brilliance in the basics of marksmanship. A sniper rifle and match grade ammo do not a sniper make!  Professional instruction by a qualified teacher is imperative to mastering long-range shooting.  Front Site is one of several shooting schools across the country that offer precision shooting courses to civilians.  Beyond the basics, precision shooting requires an understanding of ballistics, wind, and the application of shooting formulae.  Wind and range estimation and adjustment are the most critical skills that a long range marksman can possess. And while these skills cannot be learned without hands-on training and practice a few things are important to know before you begin the trigger-pulling aspect of your training

Range estimation can be achieved through a wide variety of technical aids (mil-dots in a scope, a range finder, maps, etc.), but wind estimation is another matter.  While a wind gauge can tell you what the wind speed at your position is, it will not tell you what the wind is doing 800 yards downrange.  For those of you in hilly or mountainous country, the convoluted terrain can give you nightmares as you try to determine an adjustment for a shot involving multiple different winds.

Training in wind estimation is a relatively straightforward matter.  Keep a wind gauge and a copy of the Beaufort wind scale (see below) with you during your day-to-day outdoor activities.  When there’s a wind, use the Beaufort scale to estimate what the wind velocity is, then use the gauge to verify or correct your estimate.  Along with the environmental signs, learn how wind feels at certain speeds.  With training, you will be able to feel the difference between a 12 and a 14 mph wind on your cheek, useful if you live in a desert where there’s not much vegetation to indicate the wind’s speed.  As you are doing this watch your environment several hundred yards out.  Are the signs there the same as where you’re standing?  Is the wind blowing in the same direction at the same speed?  If not, what appears to be affecting it?  By observing, questioning, and practicing you will become adept at reading and understanding the wind.










calm; smokes rises vertically

light air



direction of wind shown by smoke but not by wind vanes

light breeze



wind felt on face; leaves rustle; wind vane moves

gentle breeze



leaves and small twigs in constant motion; wind extends light flag

moderate breeze



wind raises dust and loose paper; small branches move

fresh breeze



small-leaved trees begin to sway; crested wavelets on inland waters

strong breeze



large branches move; overhead wires whistle; umbrellas difficult to control

Range estimation is most easily done with a laser range finder, but that does have limitations.  Range finders don’t work well in foggy or rainy weather conditions.  Range finders designed to work at 700+ yards are expensive; beware inexpensive range finders designed for golfers.  Range finders’ greatest limitation is the fact that they require batteries.  If you have a range finder, enjoy it and use it to verify your other range estimation methods.  The most applicable range-estimation technique for precision shooters is using mil-dots inside your rifle or spotting scope to determine range.   In this a mil-dot equipped scope the mil-dots are the feint dots that run along the thin crosshairs. 

To determine range with a mil-dot scope, an object of known size must be measured in mils, broken down by tenths.  A mil is the distance from the center of one mil-dot to the center of the next.  Thus, the brown cardboard in the picture to the left is approximately 5.8 mils tall and 5.6 mils wide.  That size is computed in a formula (see below) and the range in yards or meters can be determined.

It is worth noting that with an 8 power scope this method becomes increasingly difficult to use past 700 yards due to the apparent size of the target with respect to the mil-dots and human error.  A more powerful scope and/or lots of practice can help compensate.

These skills are not easily acquired, and must be learned in the field.  Becoming a proficient long-range marksman requires an outlay of time and money which will only tangentially carry over into improving your tactical shooting abilities.  In short, don’t train to be a sniper and assume that your room-clearing skills will improve right alongside.

Shooting Formulae
Precision shooting requires math; sorry folks!  Calculating range to target, windage compensation, adjustments for a moving target, and compensation for other more obscure variables is accomplished through shooting formulae.

To use these formulae you need some basic ballistic data for the ammunition that you are shooting, which should be available from the manufacturer.  Needless to say, doing these calculations is time-consuming, especially if zombies ate your last calculator.  So, it is most efficient to perform these calculations ahead of time and compile them in ballistic charts which you can use for quick reference.  Many such charts can be found online, saving you considerable time.  While deployed in combat operations I kept a windage-adjustment chart taped to my sleeve for easy reference.

When referencing raw ballistic data or pre-compiled charts, be sure to take into consideration the circumstances under which the data was compiled.  For example, a military ballistic chart for the standard-issue M118 sniper round was compiled using a 24” barrel Remington 700 military sniper rifle (the M24 or M40).  If you happen to be shooting an M118 round out of a rifle with a 20” barrel your bullet’s muzzle velocity will be slower and subsequent performance with not match exactly with the published ballistic data.  This information may be available directly from the manufacturer if you cannot find it online.

Range-determination Formula
Ryds = (Hyds*1000)/Hmil
Ryds = (Hin*27.77)/Hmil
Rm = (Hin*25.4)/Hmil

Wind-adjustment Formula
Wmil = (((RYDS/100)*VMPH)/RC)/3.438

Moving Target Compensation
Ldft = ToFsec*SpoTfps
Ldmil = ((Ldft*12)-6)/((Ryds/100)*3.438)

Variable Key
R = range
W = windage
Ld = lead
H = height of target
in = (in) inches
yds = (in) yards
m = (in) meters
RC = range constant
V = velocity
ToF = time of flight
SpoT = speed of target

While much ink has been spilled over the comparable merits of various firearms, scopes, and calibers, there are a few things that most can agree on.  One is that you cannot skimp on equipment used for precision marksmanship; buy expensive, quality equipment.  Match-grade ammunition is what you want for precision shooting work.  Try out different brands and different loads for your gun as some guns respond better to certain loads.  Experienced shooters may want to consider hand-loading their ammunition; many champion competition shooters do.  A purpose-designed rifle needs to hold a 1 minute-of-angle group (1” per 100 yards range to target) out of the box; some excellent rifles are guaranteed to hold .5 or even .25 MOA, though you’d have to be a better shooter than I am to take advantage of such quality!  Scopes and the rings that hold the scope on the rifle are just as important as the rifle itself.  While I highly recommend learning to shoot on iron sights, a scope is a necessity for precision shooting.  Given our discussion of mil-dots earlier you’ll already have deduced that you don’t want to consider a scope without them (or some other equivalent integrated range-finding aid).

A few accessories that you’ll want to seriously consider: A cheek-rest if your rifle doesn’t come with an integrated variable one.  Being underfunded Marines, we made ours out of green duct tape, closed cell foam and moleskin, but some very nice ones are on the market.  Bipods are very useful and a worthwhile addition.  If you don’t have one you’ll want some kind of brace for the front of the rifle.  We used more closed cell foam taped into a pair of parallel braces on our rucksacks or butt packs.  Also a good sand-sock is used for propping up the butt of the rifle by the non-trigger hand while shooting.  This eliminates another source of vibration that comes from contact with that hand.  I made mine from a one pound bag of peas wrapped in a pair of socks.  It’s functional and survival-riffic!

I would recommend two rounds as top contenders for an anti-personnel precision shooting system: the .308 (7.62x51mm for you military types) and the .300 Winchester Magnum.  Smaller calibers, such as the .243 or .223 may have extremely high muzzle velocities, but their bullets lack the mass to counter the drift caused by wind and are thus inappropriate for long-range shooting.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are only a few descent contenders in the magnum round field; the .338 Lapua Magnum, .408 Chey Tac and the .50 BMG are the most widely accepted.  Major Plaster in the book The Ultimate Sniper analyzes five other magnum rounds against the .300 and discusses the deficiencies to be found in all of them.  The .338 Lapua Mag, .408 and .50 were not included on this list (though I believe they are discussed in his newer edition), and are large enough, expensive enough, and specialized enough that they are not truly suitable for a side-by-side comparison with the .308 or the .300 Win Mag. 

.308 vs. .300 Winchester Magnum
Off-the-shelf match-grade .308 ammunition is widely available, Match-grade .300 Winchester Magnum is also available, but in somewhat less variety.  Both rounds have quite a few excellent firearms which will chamber them.  They have a relatively flat trajectory, the ability to counter the effects of wind, and retain energy at long range (which translates into “stopping power”).  On this last point, a military M-118 173 grain .308 sniper round has 545 foot-pounds of energy at 1,000 yards, while a 200 grain Federal Premium .300 Win. Mag has 995 foot-pounds of energy at the same range.  Compare these to a 230 grain Speer .45 ACP pistol round, which at the muzzle has 404 foot-pounds of energy.  In other words a long range rifle bullet has more power when it hits its target a 1000 yards away than a standard pistol round at point blank range.

The .308 is the standard US military sniper round and can engage targets at 1000 yards.  However, Major J. Plaster makes a strong case in favor of the .300 Win. Mag in his book, citing superior energy at range and superior ability to counter the effects of wind.  The .300 Winchester Magnum pushes the maximum effective range of a good shooter out past 1.000 yards, but the ammunition is pricier, barrel life shorter, and the kick nastier than with a .308. 

Two primary choices present themselves when it comes to precision rifles: bolt action or semi-automatic.  While it is easier to make a bolt-action rifle more accurate than a semi-auto, there are quite a few tack-driving semi-auto sniper rifles on the market.  However, the semi-auto will cost more.  The choice here comes down to the rifle’s purpose.  A semi-auto can be used more effectively at closer ranges where volume of fire becomes more important, but using your $2,000 sniper rifle as a general battle rifle may not be a wildly effective use of resources.  It’s a decision you have to make based upon projected use and funds.


Closing thoughts and caveats
I believe that it is critical to keep morality in mind as we consider preparations for a possible TEOTWAWKI.  In the end, it is about more than simply surviving, it is about surviving and remaining the people we want to be.  When we pull ourselves back up by the bootstraps will you be able to look your grandchildren in the eye and recount what you did to survive?  When your Day comes, will you be able to do the same to God?

On a more technical note, there is a world of information on precision marksmanship and firearms/ammunition that I only alluded to or glossed over.  If you are considering pursuing this as a hobby, sport, or survival tool, then seek out quality information and qualified instruction – it will make for a shorter, easier, cheaper, and more enjoyable road.

The Ultimate Sniper by Major John Plaster, 2006, ISBN 1581604947
Front Sight’s 4-Day Civilian Precision Shooting Course.
Sniper Central: a sniping-oriented site with very polite forums; there is a great deal of very excellent information about ballistics on this site if you look for it
Sniper’s Hide: another site/forum for snipers and precision shooters
Long Range Shooter: another good site for long-range shooting

JWR Adds: I also highly recommend Darryl Holland's long range shooting school. His classes will be taught this year in Powers, Oregon and College Station, Texas.

Dear JWR:
Regarding the recent Cold Weather Patrol Tactics and Techniques article, just one note about condensation prevention from bringing a cold weapon indoors. Packing or leaving a heavy duty garbage or similar bag outside and placing your weapon inside the bag can greatly reduce condensation from the indoor climate. Just place your weapon completely inside the bag. I like to compress the opening in my hand like a balloon opening and instead of blowing into this opening, I suck as much air out as I can with my lungs. If two or more deep inhalations are required to remove excess air after manual compression of the bag, remember to close your hand around the bag opening to avoid the bag expanding. Once you are satisfied you have removed as much air as possible, tie the opening very tightly with a rubber band, tape or the bag itself. I have found this technique to nearly eliminate all condensation on the weapon as the metal warms to ambient indoor temperature, but the plastic bag will have some moisture on the outside.

I do not recommend the usage of heavy duty compression or vacuum bags if the weapon is your first line defense arm. Unless these bags have a rapid way to open and extract your weapon, I prefer the tear-away and cheap garbage bags to allow rapid rearming when needed. However, as an aide to the air removal, I have seen the usage of small hand pumps and even a small battery powered air mattress inflator used in a reverse role. - J.G.

JWR Replies: That is a good suggestion. Of course, once a gun fully equalizes to room temperature, it should soon be removed from the bag, so that any trace of moisture doesn't settle on the gun an induce rust.

Regarding the recent piece on eschatology and prepper Christian world views: We must suffer.

I'm not sure which is correct; post-trib, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-mil, whatever. But I know this: Some hold to pre-trib rapture simply because of an assumption that God won't let His children suffer. But that turns a blind eye to the unmentionable suffering of Christians in the world today.

The Bible tells us to expect suffering: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom." (Acts 14:22) Peter said, "Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). In other words it is not strange; it is to be expected. And Paul said (in 2 Timothy 3:12), "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

Two reasons to prepare anyway Two reasons it's not foolish to prepare even if you are pre-trib: 1.) You might be mistaken on your interpretation of the Bible. Do not arrogantly assume you are correct about a topic for which there is considerable debate amongst intelligent, godly scholars (applies to post-trib as well). Such hubris will only harm people. I'm hoping the rapture happens before the tribulation and living as though it won't. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. 2.) These might not be the last days. Don't assume that simply because many nations are headed for great difficulty that Christ is definitely coming. You'd have thought Jesus was coming any second during the last days of the Great Depression when the Dust Bowl consumed your food and Hitler was rising to power.

There are many reasons to think these days are indeed the last days. I'm 75% sure we're in them. It's the other 25% which bothers me: History is littered with great upheavals and all along they were sure it was the time to see Jesus. Even in Paul's day they were saying it was the last days (2 Thessalonians 2).

Yet I'm 100% sure America will suffer great poverty within my lifetime -- unless we have a mighty miracle. When we see winter coming we should prepare: "Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer..." (Proverbs 30:24,25 ESV)

Physically and spiritually James Rawles at SurvivalBlog.com is doing a great job teaching us how to physically prepare. One way to spiritually prepare is to start with many of the incredibly rich, free resources by Dr. John Piper. Start with the short videos, then listen to or read the other messages. Short video: America's Ugly Exported "Gospel" Short video: Why Did the Bridge Collapse? Where Is God? (My favorite!) The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God , Don't Waste Your Cancer,   Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain

Book that's now free thanks to generosity: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. (Both it and its study guide are free.).

More goodies: Essential Resources

The Bible can be deeply soul-satisfying in times of suffering, and I'm thankful for Dr. Piper's work in exposing these truths.

Meditate on your Bible Much of the Bible is written for hard times, and up until now we've been living in Disney World so it hasn't made as much sense. Half of the Psalms will pop off the page once things really start rolling. The writings surrounding the Babylonian capture are particularly applicable.

I suggest you start right now by reading Matthew 6:19-34 and Habakkuk 3:17-19 out loud. It seems to have a stronger effect when you read it out loud.

Also see Luke 12, the Psalms and Lamentations.

Memorize your Bible -- with some excellent help I'm really bad at memorizing Scripture, but I've got some crutches which work wonders. David said, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11) (Yes, I wrote that from memory.) One day I was worried about the bee colony collapse disorder when Habakkuk 3:17-19 immediately popped into my head. I didn't have to think, "What's that verse about food?" It just immediately came to mind. The Spirit kept me from sinning by reminding me of a memorized passage.

I've got the "Hide the Word" CD series because I'm really bad at memorization. (Free samples here.) They definitely work, and are worth their weight in gold. You can also get Seeds Family Worship, the Glory Revealed CDs, and this free scripture memorization series. Also see Amazon's and Google Shopping's offerings. Worth their weight in gold!

Trust God. Oh that more Christians would trust God in hard times! He suffered more than any of us so He understands suffering (Hebrews 4:15).

He knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8). He promised that if we seek first the Kingdom that food and clothing will be provided (Luke 12). George Mueller proved this with over 50,000 specific answers to prayer for specific needs.

One day He will deliver us from all suffering: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4 ESV) Amen! Come quickly Lord Jesus.

In summary, it's wise to prepare for both physical and spiritual suffering, whether you are pre-trib or post-trib. Even if nothing happens you'll still have goods left over to give to the needy. - C.D.V.

Dear B.H. in  North Central Idaho,
Your letter was well thought out and delivered and I agree with some of the statements you made.  However, I struggled with your claims on the eschatology of some of the religions you mentioned such as Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists.  Having many close friends in both those churches and knowing what they believe, I'm sorry sir, but they don't meet the criteria you assigned to them.  There are far more believers outside of those churches, and considered more mainstream, that believe in the Rapture.  The last time I spoke to my Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist friends they were preparing for a long hard ride through the Tribulation or any other catastrophe that might befall us.  Many of them are doctors, medics, teachers, and community volunteers who are out there helping their fellow man just as you suggest and they are doing it now--not waiting for a TEOTWAWKI.  I know because I am in the emergency medical field and a community volunteer and that is where I met many of them.  Might I suggest that rather than focusing on our differences we might instead focus on what we do have in common so that we might work together for the good.  "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and  a house divided against a house falls. " - Luke 11:17. Respectfully,- J.H. in Washington State


Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the recent article on SurvivalBlog entitled "How Your World View and Preparedness Mindset are Influenced by Your Eschatology":

Some readers may be interested to know that all three books recommended by B.H. are available (digitally) for free on Dr. Gary North's Freebooks page.

Avalanche Lily spotted this: Report Card on Obama's First Two Years. Those commodity inflation numbers look very troubling. What we are now witnessing is not so much commodities going up as it is the U.S. Dollar going down in purchasing power. If you haven't done so already, then start shifting out of Dollar-denominated investments and into tangibles! Don't overlook buying long term storage foods as both a hedge on inflation, and as a survival reserve for your family for times of scarcity.

Analyst Warns of 2015 Bank Crisis Amid ‘Upbeat’ Davos. “The fundamentals haven’t been addressed at all,” Wilkinson, a London-based partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman, said in an interview at the Hotel Morosani Schweizerhof. “The things that caused the previous crisis -- loose monetary policy and trade imbalances -- they’re actually bigger now than they were then.”

B.B. sent us the link to the latest from the NIA: Americans Will Flock Into $5,000 Gold and $500 Silver

Our friends in Appenzell, Switzerland at The Daily Bell posted this: Central Banks Now Creating Hyperinflation?

Items from The Economatrix:

Bernanke Warns of Catastrophe if Debt Limit Not Raised  

Egypt Diverts Media Attention From US Economy  

GOP Plan Would Let States Go Bankrupt; Prospect Rocks Bond Market  

Bernanke Speech Helps Push Stocks Higher

F.G. sent a link to some amazing photographs of the largest snow and ice storm to hit the U.S. in decades.

   o o o

Kayaker, 64, completes marathon paddle across Atlantic. (Thanks to Patrick T. for the link.)

   o o o

You may have heard of the documentary film "Far Out" that profiles Heimo and Edna Korth's trapping family who live year-round in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The documentary is again available at VBS.tv.

   o o o

Reader "InyoKern" wrote to recommend the IMCO Windproof Lighter from Austria. These were originally known as the "Trench Lighter" and date back to WWI. InyoKern's description: "It has the benefits of a Zippo but is lighter weight, quieter to operate, doesn't leak, and the flame can be separated from the housing to light a stove or fire like a match. They sell for less than $12."

"There is a difference between an 'optimist' and a fool. An optimist is somebody who looks at bleak facts and decides to make the best of the situation that they can. A fool is somebody who looks at bleak facts and decides to ignore them because they are too upsetting." - Matt Savinar, Editor of Life After The Oil Crash

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I noticed the great recent piece by B.D. on the importance of training. Here is a follow-up to that:

All too often as Americans we tend to focus first on the material side of things. That is, "I have to have the right gear to train with." No, not necessarily.

Proverbs 1: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Even for the non believers this is the best place to start when it comes to training and learning. A haughty spirit hinders proper learning. Unfortunately you see this all too often in training. Ego and pride issues in both men and women preclude many from getting the most they could get out of the instruction available to them.

Proverbs 15:33 says "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility." Humility. Interesting word you rarely see in our day and age. We want to be so "proud" of all of our achievements and accomplishments. Yet Scripture teaches us that God "resists the proud" and brings Grace to the humble.

I can't tell you how many times in the last 2 and 1/2 decades of training that I've seen people hampered by their pride and ego issues. Certainly I have not been immune to it at times also. Yet we don't learn with a closed mind. Yes, those new ideas might seem odd to you. Yes, they might be different from what you learned 40 years ago in the military. Yes, they may be different than what the police academy taught you. That doesn't mean they don't work!

Don't be afraid to "lose" in training. This one is going to be a real blow to the pride and ego'ites. You can afford to lose in training. Getting shot with a simmunition or plastic BB isn't the end of the world. Getting knocked out or having to "tap out" to a choke isn't the end of the world. Should you set out to lose? Obviously not! But my point is that it's training and -with the proper attitude- training is about learning - not competing. That's a different realm.

When you lose in training you should learn from that loss. Certainly their is going to be a "learning curve" with any new skill. Would you rather experience that learning curve in the gym or in the force-on-force shoot house or would you rather experience that "learning curve" out on the street in a real encounter?

However when your main concern is only winning, then often times you miss the important lessons being taught. Yes, some techniques you can "muscle through" with a smaller adversary. Often times when you fight someone your size or larger, that won't work. Meanwhile you've missed learning how to properly work the technique because you did it your way. Here again- pride and ego issues.

In training, allow yourself to get into a bad position or situation just to practice getting out of it. How often do you start a force on force drill on your knees with the opponents Airsoft or Simmunition weapon pointed at your head? How often do you start hand-to-hand practice with your opponent in back mount with a choke already sunk in? Impossible situations? No, just really tough situations. This is where the person that doesn't really want to face reality says "I'd never let myself get into that position in the first place." Yep, you and the tens of thousands that have already experienced it. Yet limiting your training to only the "best possible scenario" is like saying "well it will never rain so I don't need an umbrella."  You need to know how to react in unpleasant situations like this. Like Sonny Puzikas, a renowned trainer says "you can either think that you know, or you can know."

Training shouldn't be easy or set up in such a way to make us "feel good about ourselves." If your leaving your training sessions like that, I would submit to you that you need to bump it up a level. You should leave training saying "I need to work on (fill in the blank)." Now is the time to push yourself. Now is the time to get in shape. Now is the time to learn.

Back in high school I remember their was a lot of talk about "on the job training." For us as survivalists, "on the job training" won't always be an option. Learning how to most efficiently manipulate your weapon under fire is not very conducive to learning- or survival for that matter! For serious survivalists, we want to learn and experience as much as possible before hand to avoid "on the job training" during bad situations.

Good luck and good training! - Robert (from the Survival And Preparedness Forum)

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

Finding great self-defense weapons on a tight budget can be a challenge. There are tons of tactical weapons out there, but if you’re like a lot of us, the trick is finding something that you can afford.  If you’re one of those folks - this guide is for you.

Finding Your Gear

The used market is the place to look – prices are usually lower than retail.  Some states restrict advertising of certain kinds of used guns.  That makes it tougher, but not impossible to find stuff. 

Word of mouth and asking around (“know anybody that’s looking to sell something?”) can turn up leads.  Make friends in gun stores and get to know people. They’re often buying/selling/trading.

If advertising guns is unrestricted in your state, then pick up a local "shopper" advertising paper and/or check out the classifieds in the local newspapers.  Be persistent, be patient and when you find something you’re interested in, you can get on the ‘Net and check out the reviews.  An easy way to do that is to Google search the firearm you’ve got your eye on. [JWR Adds: I have found GunBroker.com, AuctionArms.com, and GunsAmerica.com to be excellent sources. The new GunListings.org page might also prove useful. To keep your gun buying both legal and private, at some of these web sites you can use an "Advanced Search" feature to limit your searches by State, and to only private seller listings. I strongly recommend that you buy only from private parties if that is legal in your locality. Of course consult your state and local laws first!]

If you’re not concerned about the paperwork involved with buying a firearm in a retail gun store, you’ll find that pawn shops and sporting goods outlets often stock used or consigned weapons at reasonable prices.  Some shops will let you try before you buy, or you can go to a commercial shooting range and rent guns that you’re interested in, before you lay down your cash.

A couple of thoughts about “paperwork” – the forms you fill out and the info you give whenever you buy a gun at a gun store. First, the government tells us that the info you give to get their permission to buy the gun (the instant criminal background check) is required by law to be destroyed.  Maybe they do, maybe they don’t – either way, you give them the info, fill out the Form 4473 and register yourself. The 4473 has to be surrendered to BATFE on demand, or when the store goes out of business.

Second, every gun that is sold retail for the first time, along with the buyer’s name, address, etc., is entered into BATFE’s E-trace system; and that is made available to any LEO or police department that subscribes to it.  In other words, you’re registered with your new gun. If that’s okay with you,then happy shopping!

Cheap Shotguns:

Shotguns are the definitive fight stopper. Devastating out to about 25 yards or so, there’s something inspiring about the sound of a 12 gauge racking a round into the chamber. The good news is, for $200 to $300 can find you a very serviceable gun. Tactical models, special finishes, stocks, and slings all raise the price quickly.

What you don’t want

Double barrels, single shots, and anything other than 12 or 20 gauge.  Double barrels look cool but they are slow to reload and only have (surprise!) two shots.  Singles go bang half as much and suffer from the same slow reload drawback.  Experts like Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch can make a single run almost like a semi-auto. But you ain’t Clint Smith.

What you do want

Late model guns from Remington, Mossberg, and Winchester are probably your best bet – The Remington 870, Mossberg 500 and Winchester 1300 all have their fans. The 870s I own have been completely reliable. Ditto my 1300.
Pump shotguns are plentiful on the used market.  They are relatively cheap, easy to use, reliable and have a stout kick.  When you shoot one – keep that in mind – it kicks.
Pumps are generally less expensive and finicky than semi-automatics. What to feed them? Another good debate topic (and oh, how gunnies love to argue!). To keep it simple, buy plenty of double ought buck for social work and bird shot (# 7 or 8) for practice. Bird shot is currently going for about 20 cents a round.
Shotgun shells in 12 or 20 gauge are common now and will likely be easier to find than any other gauge when the stuff hits the fan. I know .410s are popular, especially among the Taurus Judge 5 shooter crowd and the derringer community.  To me, it’s still a boutique round. But, you pays your money and takes your choice.  I’ll take a 12 or a 20, thanks.


A rifle, effectively used, is usually the best thing to take to a gun fight. For our purposes, we are only looking for a semi-automatic military type rifle. Why?
Good ones can still be had for cheap and they offer a level of durability and reliability far beyond their low price. Military weapons are built tough for a tough job – warfare. That translates into a tough dependable weapon in any situation – always an advantage.
Bolt actions are less desirable because of a lower rate of fire compared to a semi-automatic. Should you get into a firefight, you want to have all the firepower you can muster.
On the other hand, bolt actions like the Russian Mosin Nagant can be found for less than $200, and they fire a potent 7.62x54 round.  They also may have an accuracy advantage.
There are few affordable semi-auto military rifles on the open market for less than $400.  Except the venerable SKS.  The SKS come with a WWII-style wood stock (no "fancy-smancy" black plastic stuff on these), a crude (but effective) safety that blocks the trigger, usually some kind of canvas olive drab sling and a 10-shot magazine. If you were only going to own one rifle, this one is worth serious consideration. Developed in Russia in 1944, it enjoyed a short life as a front line battle rifle and was replaced three years late

r with the AK-47.  SKSes were then used by nearly all the old Soviet bloc countries, other communist countries like China, and client states like Vietnam and Cuba.  It is still used in insurgencies around the world. Capable of firing 10 rounds of 7.62x39 ammunition (roughly the same ballistics as a 30-30 round), they are loaded by inexpensive stripper clips or one at a time.  It is reliable as a quartz watch, virtually unbreakable, cheap to feed, easy to maintain (it can be, like most army guns, disassembled without tools), reasonably accurate and common on the market.

The AK-47 beats the SKS in firepower (30+ rounds versus 10).  It is lighter, faster to reload (mags versus stripper clips), and in military guise, has full auto capability. It is renowned as one of the most reliable (read, unbreakable) rifles in the world. The good news is that both are commercially available in the US (the AK being a semi-automatic only here). But the AK is a good deal more expensive - $600 and up. In contrast, I was recently able to find a couple Chinese SKS’s for $175 each.
The 7.62x39 round has been used to harvest deer and other medium game. SKSes are sufficiently accurate with standard sights to take game out to about 150 – 200 yards. At this writing it is runs about 27 cents a round. Cheap enough to practice with.
The stripper clip can be a very fast way to reload the rifle, assuming you practice and have a strong thumb. 
In short, if you’re looking for a powerful, multi-use, affordable, tough rifle, the SKS is the one to beat.

Beyond the SKS, prices go north. Next in line, price wise, might be an AK copy – variants sell under different designations. For example, a desirable used Mak 90 (a 1990s Chinese AK, stamped receiver, sporter AK with an awful looking thumbhole stock) can be had for $500 - $600. If you can afford one, go for it.
AR-15 clones, M1s, M-14s, FALs, FNs, etc., will cost you more. There are better rifles, but there are none at a better price point than an SKS.  At the end of the day – all of them go bang when you pull the trigger.  Nobody I know wants to stand in front of one!


Loved and hated, the Ruger Mini-14 has been around since the 1970s and it is a durable semi-auto that has controls like Garand type rifles of yore (the M1 and the M14), [but uses a short-stroke gas piston like an M1 Carbine]. It shoots the ubiquitous .223 round and it is worthy of consideration to anyone wanting a .223 fighting gun. They can be found around $500 on the used market.

Older Mini-14s (serial number 180,XXX and up) are known for their reliability and their fair to poor accuracy – 7 inch groups at 100 yards aren’t uncommon. On the other hand, that level of accuracy in a combat gun is acceptable and not much worse than the SKS or the vaunted AK-47s. Later models have had mixed reviews and are reported to be more finicky about magazines. A common fix is to use factory Ruger magazines exclusively.
Newer models (with serial numbers above 581,XXX) are claimed to be more accurate and reliable.
Mine run consistently and hit with acceptable accuracy – even though they’re 30 years old. An advantage I’ve found with mine is that they shoot steel case Russian .223 happily.  A lot AR-15s don’t.  In a survival situation, it would be an advantage to have a rifle that will digest whatever ammo you have or acquire. Finally, Mini-14s are low maintenance and easy to field strip – without tools. That’s a plus in unpredictable circumstances.

A final thought on rifles: When the curtain goes down on the good times, 7.69x39 and .223 ammo will then, as now, probably be around in quantity.


Handguns are easily concealed and easily used in a self-defense situation. Most gunfights take place at close range and this is where handguns do their best work.
I am a Glock shooter.  I love ‘em.  I also love 1911s (usually Colts – older models), and good Smith & Wesson revolvers (.44 Magnums are still “the most powerful [widely produced] handgun in the world” for this Dirty Harry fan!).  Why do I love Glocks?  I bought my first one in the late 1980s and it’s never let me down. Recently I completed an intense three-day shooting school – over a thousand rounds down range and not a single failure, not one, nada – that from my old Glock 17, the one I got in the 1980s.  They are ugly, they run, and they are accurate. They are also light, easy to conceal, clean, maintain, and nearly rust-proof. What’s not to love?
Used ones turn up in the paper at around $500. 

If you are one an even tighter budget, the how about a used P85 or P90 series Ruger 9mm?  $375.  Mine has been running since around 1985.  Sure it’s big.  Sure it’s ugly.  But it’s accurate and reliable.

Used Beretta 92s (civilian version of the Army’s official M9 sidearm) are around for $400.  Does it run? Yes.  Accurate?  Yes. Easy to maintain?  Absolutely. Remember that that 9mm ammo is relatively inexpensive and ubiquitous.

Before you turn your nose up at 9 millimeter pistols, remember we’re doing this on a budget.  Are there better calibers?  Probably.  But none cheaper to practice with.  There are excellent self-defense 9mm bullets available as well, which make the 9mm a serious combat gun. For the money, they are hard to beat.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing you can do after you get your gun is learn how to run it well – that includes safe handling and good marksmanship.  Good training will help you hone both. If you can’t afford training, consider one of the excellent training books by masters like John Farnam, Jeff Cooper, or Massad Ayoob.  There are some great training DVDs available for rent at Smartflix.  The advantage to DVDs is you get to see the tactics and techniques in action. [JWR Adds: Also take advantage of low cost training at the Appleseed Shoots.]

Weapons don’t make you a master.  You have to master your weapon.  While you might not have the latest tacticool gun, experts say that marksmanship is largely a matter of practice and good trigger control – regardless of your equipment.  As Clint Smith says, “Use what you got!” - J.M.

A few weeks back a young reader asked a question about preparedness and the coming tribulation.  I was surprised that you left out a third option in your response.  I tried to write a quick note but soon realized a comprehensive response or article was warranted.  So here it is.

Since the Second Great Awakening (a time of spiritual revival and activity) in the 1830s the Christian Church has embraced the theology of Pessimism.  This time of revival saw a clear shift in end times belief or eschatology.  The traditional and historical view of the Church was of Dominion Theology which is quickly making a strong return today through the Reformed Christian Movement.  Let's explore both thoroughly so we can understand how one's position of eschatology will ultimately define their world view and preparedness mindset.

In the 1830s, the spiritual culture in America was in upheaval and change.  Concurrently we saw the rejection of Dominion Theology and the movement to Theology of Pessimism.  Likewise, we saw the emergence of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints (LDS), Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) and Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA).  Coincidentally, all four now rely heavily upon Biblical speculation, new or post-Biblical prophecy and focus heavily on end times topics for weekly liturgy or rely heavily on apocalyptic content for their church identity.  We also saw the introduction of humanism at  the pulpit and in worship explaining today's flowery and repetitiously-hypnotic songs of worship which lead people to see Jesus as a “Therapist in the Sky” (self-focused worship like Two Footprints in the Sand” rather than the Conquering King of everything.)  Dominion Theology uses Psalms for it's majority of worship music.  The idea being that the Psalms are songs written by a warrior about God's strong nature and Dominion of creation.  Plus, singing God's own words back to Him in worship seems to make a lot of sense.

The commonality between the modern mainstream church, LDS, JW and SDA is the prophetic interpretation.  Its highly speculative without using standard rules of hermeneutics, historical imperative or Biblical interpretation (using the Bible to interpret the Bible).  They all include some form of Theology of Pessimism.  Why do I call it the Theology of Pessimism?  Because that is exactly what happens when you embrace that eschatology.  Let me explain.  If I were a youth football coach and I walked into the locker room and yelled at the kids every day telling them...”your nothing, you stink, you will never be a winner, your going to go out and get your butt kicked every day, we may win the game at the very end but your going to lose the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters.”  What kind of team do you think I would field?  Exactly.  A team with the understanding that no matter what it does it will lose, be irrelevant, be persecuted and tried and eventually need a “life raft” called the rapture to whisk them away to safety before the real bad stuff happens.  Wow!  What a message.  Come on people-come join the losing team.  Christ died for us but let's be a bunch of loser's and be Satan's doormat together! 

The Pessimism plays out in our world view and culture.  This is the exact reason the Christian Church of today is vastly impotent and useless in affecting our culture for Christ and has no cause for impacting future generations.  Why would someone be interested in a two to three generational plan of action when they continually are looking to the sky for an exit.  The modern church has a lack of generational  purpose and is waiting for the “Mother ship” to come take her away so why bother with high standards or pursuits in great education, pursuit of cultural victory by making good wholesome movies and music, art, government, a clear lack of generational mindset of positive change in our communities and culture for the long-term—all missing because of pessimism.

Furthermore, this subsequently manifests itself in our prepping.  We now focus inwardly on individual and family prepping at the expense of the world around us.  We have recently experienced this mindset first hand where the local Christian community is so inwardly focused in can soon be described as incestuous or inbred in its nature with a refusal to anchor or be a pillar of Christian action in the daily culture of our community.

Do you want to just survive or thrive?  Do you want to see hard or troubled times as the end of times or the opportunity to move the gospel forward and advance our Christian culture back to where it was in the days of old?  Are you prepping to be a self-sufficient island, hoping to outlast the looter carnage or are you planning with other preppers to be ready for commerce and trade?  To profit from the coming hard times by creating wealth and providing an avenue for a large hungry labor pool to create stability and peace or the opposite?

I pointedly say to Mr. Rawles that he has been a great leader in waking people up to the need to prepare but there seems to be a general focus upon isolation rather than a direct plan within a small town infrastructure.  My belief is to be in the small town setting, just outside or close enough for walking.  This way one can be active with the town marshal, help organize the churches, organize and improve farmer's market, create relationships and networks that will be ready to weather the storm.  Fact—we will need other people, that stinks.  Guess what?  We sin and they sin and all the other mess that goes with it is exactly where God wants us.  All the folks who are removed by distance and geography will soon regret it when fuel is too expensive or valuable to burn just so they can get to a market to get something they need.  Their well-planned retreat becomes an island of exile from community, commerce and fellowship.

Therefore, my position is that Dominion Theology is the organic world view of Christianity and the most appropriate world view for prepping.  Dominion Theology states that Christ is King, has dominion over all of creation, He is sitting on the throne and will not get up until His enemies are made His footstool (complete cultural and political dominion).  It also believes that the Book of Revelation means what it says when it was written for the early church (tribulation warning for churches of Asia minor in regards to Nero) and that prophecy was fulfilled and closed in A.D. 70 with the great harlot being destroyed and the Jewish temple de-constructed in Jerusalem (just as Jesus said).  We are now in the Church Age or millennium and that the “1,000 years” was not literal but symbolic of many generations.

Instead of trying to convince you with a lengthy dissertation, I will just recommend three books and throw out a clear challenge to do some study. The first book is to gain clear understanding of Biblical language and themes starting with Creation and ending with Revelation.  David Chilton's “Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion” does just that.  Next is to gain a clear understanding of Revelation and how Biblical themes, Jewish symbolism, worship themes and New Testament references lead us into a clear understanding of Revelation and not a disjointed and far-fetched speculation or fiction of end times.  I believe that David Chilton scored a scholarly victory with “The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation.”

The final and most difficult to find book is Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry's  “He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology (Third Edition: Revised & Expanded) ”--which has yet to be scholarly answered by the theological scholars of today.  The likes of Dallas Theological Seminary and others have been convincingly silent and can't or won't respond to the clear and definitive work by Gentry.  The Christian church made a left turn in the 1830s and its time to get back on track.  So the challenge is to read these and not be convinced of the falsity of Dispensational Pre-millennialism. 

In closing, why is this important to prepping?  It determines your world view and your prepping focus.  I say it is a mistake to “hunker down” in your remote retreat for several reasons.  Being close (walking distance) to a small town allows one to be influential in town politics, community activity and supportive of local commerce.  Also, it allows Christian fellowship in mature and formal settings. Specifically, when things go to Schumer and fuel is over $10/gallon you've just removed yourself from influence and positive activity if you live a long way out.

Do you have a plan to help organize local churches to feed, clothe, commune and minister to locals who will be looking for leadership?  Have you segregated yourself from them hoping they feed upon each other, thus limiting your charity to the the scarecrows that crawl by so you only have to give “until it hurts”?  In the Book of Acts the commitment was clear and complete. Do we consider charity limited to materials goods or does it include your time and energy?  As Christians, do we deny the employment of fellowship as charity just because we risk bodily harm being away from the retreat?  "Feed the poor" Jesus says. but modern survivalism says each to their own with a little for charity if they can make it past the killing time.  I say that is the wrong approach.

Yes, beans, bullets and Band-Aids for your family.  But a plan to be ready in the small town you influence will keep the hordes away from your property, maximize efficiency of charity, allow for pooling of resources and labor and set the stage for commerce, profit and thriving.  Rothschild said,  “When there is blood in the streets—buy!”  The clear message is to be ready for opportunity and use it for generational victory and not a temporary patch until the mother ship arrives.  Christianity isn't “Calgon take me away”- (an old soap commercial) but is “Freedom!”- (Mel Gibson from Braveheart)

Gloria Deo, - B.H. in North Central Idaho

I just wanted to add a note to a well-written article. In addition to wild plant collection, I would seriously look to ornamental plants in the landscape as sources of both edible foods and medicinal plants. I currently work at a botanic garden and have been identifying and eating wild plants as well as ornamental ones for more than 20 years. I also teach plant identification.

As your article points out, season is everything. I am confident that I could walk into the woods from May through September and probably not starve to death. Late Fall and Winter are different. However, I could survive for a much longer period eating the plants that have been planted throughout the neighborhood. While most were planted for their ornamental qualities, they also have edible or medicinal qualities.

Plants such as crabapples, serviceberries, barberries, roses, certain dogwoods, and a few dozen different perennial flowers are all sources of food that should be considered.  

As for the “yuck” factor that your friends have, it has been my experience that some people will never eat anything unless it comes from a grocery stand, or is prepackaged food. They have been so conditioned to believe that anything that has not been washed is going to make them sick. Most will not even give some of these plants a little taste. Or worse, some believe that it is beneath them to even try. If the Schumer hits the fan like a lot of the predictions out there, I can assure you there will be a quick, steep learning curve as to which plants you can do what with. Many will get sick, and some will die from eating the wrong plant or berry. Experimenting with the wrong plant can be deadly. And if you need food now, just walking into the woods with a book to start to learn how to identify which plants are good to eat and which will kill you will only accomplish a slower rate of starvation for yourself at best. Start learning how to identify them now. Learn where certain plants like to grow. Scout out your neighborhood and see where the best trees, shrubs, and flowers are at.

Learn how to use these plants. And most importantly, understand that “Edible” does not mean “good to eat”. “Edible” means you will not flop over dead if you do consume it. - Dan D. Lion

Mr. Rawles

Thanks for posting the article "Buy It Wholesale--Free Food Now and Free Food Later". It has given me much to think about. It also introduced me to Restaurant Depot. I discovered that they had a store an hour drive from me. Their on-line sale flyer showed that they had boneless skinless chicken thighs for just $0.85 per pound in a 40 pound carton. I can report that 40 pounds of chicken make 18 quarts of canned chicken. I canned it mostly in pint jars since there are just two of us. This is far less expensive than commercially canned chicken.

Everything the author said about the place is true. They have an amazing selection. I am sure we will make them one of our regular suppliers. Thanks, - R.A.


I have a concern with the recently mentioned "Multi-Lens TEOTWAWKI Vision System". I have not been able to find anything where they ask for a person's pupillary distance (PD). This is necessary to ensure the optical centers of the lenses align with the wearer eyes properly. If you have ever looked through a binoculars that were dropped and had the the internal optics misaligned that will give you an idea of what misaligned optical centers can do. A way to measure your PD is discussed here.

People purchasing that kit should be aware that they may not work for them if the lenses are designed for their particular PD. This is more likely to be an issue with the higher powers than with the lower powers. I would advise them to try them as soon as they get them. If they can't wear them for a day without eye strain of if they cause any double vision then they will not be of much help and should be returned.

I'd also like to mention that if you want to get your PD from your eye doctor ask them before the exam. Contrary to the link posted and this video it is usually recorded when fitting the glasses, not during the eye exam. - Eye Doc in Indiana

Directive 21 now offers Emergency Seed Banks, which each have 37,000 heirloom seeds that are non-GMO and non-hybrid (open pollinated).

   o o o

Eric H. found an incognito and space saving storage idea

   o o o

Reader Michelle J. recommended a site with maps and other geological information called Anyplace America. Michelle says: "It’s free, printable, and there are over a million different geological features that you can sort by feature, city, county, et cetera.".

"So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me." - Ezekiel 3:14  (KJV)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

With the onset of widespread severe winter weather over most of the continental United States, I thought it prudent to share my experiences with cold-weather small unit tactical operations.

A little about me: As part of my active duty Army career, I spent three years stationed in Alaska in a leadership position in an Airborne Infantry battalion.  During those three years, we spent a significant amount of field time in sub-Arctic conditions, my longest deployment being two weeks in a tactical field environment in the frigid interior at temperatures pushing -40 degrees.  Through these exercises, I learned a lot about what works for small units operations in snow and cold conditions (and a few very cold lessons learned about what doesn’t work!). 

As an aside, a lot of these techniques are discussed in the following military publications: U.S. Army Field Manuals FM 31-70 (Basic Cold Weather Manual), FM 31-71 (Northern Operations), and FM 90-6 (now 3-97.6) (Mountain Operations); U.S. Army Training Circular TC 21-3 (Individual Operations and Survival in Cold-Weather Areas); Marine Corps Warfighting Publication MCWP 3-35.1 (Cold Weather Operations); and Marine Corps Reference Publication MCRP 3-35.1a (Small Unit Leader’s Guide to Cold Weather Operations).  The Army manuals are very outdated; the Marine Corps versions less so.  My lessons will emphasize use of modern military clothing and equipment I have experience with.

For the purposes of this article, I’ve divided my discussion into three areas of emphasis: clothing yourself for cold-weather tactical operations, shooting in the cold, and small-unit movement in cold and snow.  Pull up next to your wood stove and let’s get started!

Staying warm when it isn’t

The principle way to stay warm in any environment is to stay DRY.  This doesn’t change when things go “tactical”.  A number of thinner base layers that can be donned and shed as conditions and exertion change work infinitely better than one heavily insulated garment.  The acronym to remember is “COLD”:

  • Keep clothing Clean
  • Avoid Overheating
  • Wear clothing Loose and in Layers
  • Keep yourself and your clothing Dry.

The civilian outdoors market has come a long way from cotton long johns and wool sweaters; the military finally has too.  Modern military cold –weather clothing consists of a variety of synthetic long underwear base layers (light-, mid-, and heavy-weight depending on conditions), synthetic fleece and loose-filled (“puffy”) insulating layers, and several variations of Gore-Tex type shell layers.

Let’s start with your moisture-wicking base layer, which is the one touching your skin.  Find thin (active-weight or silk-weight) synthetic long underwear tops and bottoms of a style that suits you.  Don’t wear cotton underwear under this or you’ve defeated the purpose of this wicking layer.  If you must wear underwear, find synthetic types.  Don’t forget to add thin synthetic sock liners to wick that funky moisture away from your feet too.  I’ve had good luck using antiperspirant (stick kind or a tin of antiperspirant cream if you can find it) on my feet to help keep them dry and therefore warm.

Socks are worn over the sock liners and are dependent on the type of footwear.  They can be synthetic or wool (Merino wool is very cozy and not itchy) but not cotton.  I would wear thinner socks in my insulated leather boots on warmer deployments for better tactile feel with my feet.  For really cold conditions requiring movement in pack boots (Sorels or equivalent) or the ubiquitous white vapor-barrier or “bunny” boots, a thicker insulating sock was required.  The key here is to change socks often when they become wet, and make sure your sock and boot combination is not too tight or you will restrict blood flow and get cold feet.

You may or may not need to add additional base layers on top of your wicking layer depending on conditions.  If you are sedentary or it is extremely cold (well below zero) you may want to add thicker long underwear on top of your moisture-wicking layer.  The key is to make sure you can get this layer on and off quickly as conditions and tactics change.  I would usually wear additional base layers on my legs since they don’t contribute as much to overheating, and had a ¼ zip pullover heavier long underwear top that I could add when my patrol was stopped and then lose quickly when it was time to move again. 

Insulating layers consist of synthetic fleece jackets and pant or fiber-fill garments.  The fleece garments are pretty basic: jackets and pants of varying fleece weights depending on conditions.  I had best success with full-zip jackets and pants with full-length side leg zippers so they could be easily put on and removed again based on exertion and conditions.  I rarely used the pants unless we were in our patrol base or otherwise halted for the evening, and never wore them on a movement.  The jacket would come on and off frequently throughout the day.  Fiber-fill (puffy) garments pack smaller than fleece but in my experience are not as durable.  They do seem to be a bit warmer though.  They are the newest rage in the civilian and military markets, but in this case the military got there first: there’s nothing wrong with the old M1950-style quilted field jacket and field pant liners!  Down has the ultimate insulating qualities, but I shy away from it for tactical uses because it has to be kept absolutely dry or it will not insulate at all.  This cannot be guaranteed in a tactical environment.

Last but certainly not least is the shell layer.  This layer should be non-insulated for maximum temperature flexibility and because all of your other layers are doing the insulating for you.  Fabric should be synthetic, with some sort of moisture barrier product such as Gore-Tex to let sweat escape but keep out precipitation and wind.  For the jacket a hood is a must and some sort of snow skirt to keep the white stuff out is a plus.  Pants are best with a full-length leg side zip to make layering changes easier.  You may also want to consider leg gaiters to keep snow out of your pants and boots.

Keeping your head and appendages warm and dry is just as important.  Most of your body heat is lost through your head.  I’ve used anywhere from a ball cap on warmer sunny days to beanies to full-face balaclavas (double layered!).  The key is to have them with you and easily accessible.  Again, no cotton allowed (the ball cap is okay).  Don’t forget sunglasses and/or goggles as conditions warrant.

Gloves almost deserve their own discussion.  For dry warmer conditions, a simple pair of fleece gloves will often suffice.  As the mercury plummets, add thin synthetic glove liners and a waterproof/breathable (Gore-Tex) synthetic shell.  Make sure you can fit your trigger finger into the trigger guard of your weapons with this combination!  As it gets really cold, it’s time to transition to a mitten system.  I say “system” because you still need to shoot and be able to use your hands when necessary.  Keep the glove liners on, perhaps a thicker liner glove.  Add loose-fitting thick insulated mittens with a long gauntlet to cover your wrists and lower arms, and make sure they slide on and off easily over your glove liners.  To shoot without losing your gloves, you’ll need to make a neck cord tied to the mittens; when you need to shoot (or otherwise use your hands), shake the mittens free and let them hang from your neck.  Be sure to shake any snow out of them before you put them back on!

Last but not least is your footwear.  In mild and cold conditions where there is little or no snow, tall leather boots with insulation and a Goretex type liner are best.  They need to have a good lug sole and make sure they are compatible with your sock system as discussed above.  If it’s icy, look for strap-on ice traction aids such as Yaktrax cleats or any other variation now on the market.  For cold conditions and deeper snow, pack boots like Sorels will be necessary.  Invest in an extra set of felt liners to allow them to dry.  Again make sure they work with your socks.  Vapor-barrier (VB or “bunny”) boots from military surplus do have a place in extreme cold conditions.  These heavily insulated rubber boots do not let any heat out nor any moisture in; the flip side is the sweat from your feet has nowhere to go.  I’ve had good success using these in extreme cold, but you must change your socks often or your feet will get cold and wet to the point of causing trench foot.

Two final notes on clothing: first, notice I emphasized in several places not to use cotton.  Simply put, cotton kills. Once cotton gets wet through perspiration or precipitation, it loses almost all of its insulating qualities and can actually conduct cold to your body.  Never wear cotton in the cold.  Second, in my experience I’ve actually seen more heat injuries such as heat exhaustion in cold weather than I’ve seen typical cold injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia.  People tend to be afraid of the cold and will overdress for it, particularly at the start of a long movement.  Individuals and leaders must understand that it is better to be a little cold before starting out than it is to be sweating during it.  Remember to stay dry!  Once a movement is underway, stop after about ten minutes or so to let people lose layers if necessary.  Conversely, once a movement is halted allow people to throw on that extra jacket or base layer to keep their temperature up.  You’ll still need to drink plenty of water too.  A last rule of thumb: once you’re wet it is hard to get dry, and once you’re cold and wet it is hard to get warm.

Putting rounds down range

In its most basic sense, shooting in the cold is just like shooting in any other weather.  But just like any other weather, there are certain tricks of the trade to make it reliable and effective.

The number one problem with cold-weather shooting is simply weapon handling.  Gloves significantly change things like trigger feel (again, make sure you can get a gloved hand in the trigger guard), and bulky layers change sight picture through iron sights and optics.  The best way around this obstacle is to – get ready – practice shooting in the cold.  Know the feel of your weapons in the cold as well as you do in the warmer months.  Know what gloves you can and can’t use, and practice doffing your mittens on cords as mentioned earlier.  Weapons may need modifications for cold-weather use; M16/M4-type weapons have the hinged trigger guard specifically to allow bulky gloves to reach the trigger (someone thought that one through)!  You can also buy oversized trigger guards for many weapon models.  Also practice getting a good sight picture while wearing winter clothing.  I have to shorten my M4gery’s stock one click in the winter and move my scope back a notch on the rail of my rifle to account for extra shoulder bulk, for instance.  Make sure to re-zero!

Petroleum products and metals behave differently in the cold, and your weapons are susceptible to this.  I have never had to change a part on a weapon in preparation for the cold, but you will see more failures (especially extraction) and a higher rate of parts breakage (small springs and firing pins don’t like -35 temperatures).  Conventional lubricants such as gun oil and Cleaner, Lubricant, Protectant, CLP a.k.a. Break-Free) can gum or gel as the temperatures head south.  This can lead to malfunctions as parts in your weapons’ actions move at different speeds than they’re supposed to.  Before winter weather sets in, disassemble your weapons and strip them completely of any greases and oils.  Then re-lubricate with lighter-weight products.  In the military, we’d replace CLP with a mil-spec lubricant product called Lubricant, Arctic Weight (LAW) that is much thinner than CLP.  For extreme cold weather, even this may not work.  I’ve seen success by completely stripping a weapon of all petroleum lubricants, making sure there is no moisture, and re-lubricating with a dry moly coating.

Moisture is the bane of modern weapons, especially when it gets below freezing.  Imagine an ice-frozen trigger or bolt when you really need to get a round off!  At best you have a failure to fire, and worst case you can destroy your weapon.  Of course we all make sure our weapons are dry before taking them out.  The biggest enemy of a dry weapon is changes in temperature and humidity.  Once a weapon is taken outside and allowed to get to ambient temperature, the metals are at a balance with the outside air and it’s moisture-carrying ability (i.e. relative humidity).  Barring getting precipitation in the weapon, they will not normally get moisture into the actions as the metal is the same temperature as ambient air and there is no collection of moisture on the components. 

The trick is to keep your weapon at ambient temperature.  If you warm your weapon (in a coat, tent, building, vehicle, etc.) the cold metal “sweats” or collects moisture from the air because it is colder than the indoor ambient air – think of a glass with an iced beverage in it on a hot summer day.  Once the metal “sweats”, it is highly susceptible to rust; if taken back into the outside cold without a thorough drying and re-lubricating, ice forms on the metal surfaces and will quickly freeze components together.  Believe it or not, the best way to prevent this from happening is to leave your weapons outside (covered and guarded, of course).  This is a hard habit to get into, but once your weapons are at outside ambient temperature, keep them there.

Shooting positions can also be modified for winter use.  Standing and kneeling positions can take advantage of walking or ski poles if snowshoes or skis are being used.  Hold the poles with your hand forming an “X” with the poles, and adjust the height of the pole intersection to rest the fore end of your weapon in the notch.  Voila, adjustable bipod for standing and kneeling shooting!  Prone shooting is a bit more difficult.  Bipods are useless and you can’t see much if you lay in the prone in 30 inches of snow.  This takes some thought and planning depending on your tactical situation and the amount of snow on the ground.  If the snow is fairly shallow, you may be able to prop your torso up on a pack to get your barrel over the snow.  This also works if you rest your elbows on a snowshoe perpendicular to your body.  Deeper snow requires some ingenuity: our snipers and machine gun crews used various lengths of sleds to achieve a shooting platform.  Either the individual shooter would lay in the sled to get in the prone, or a machine gun bipod or tripod would be placed on the sled along with belts of ammo to keep them out of the snow, and the crew would be in the snow next to the sled laying on packs or even sitting to get their proper height behind the gun sights.

If you use some sort of battery-powered optic, keep in mind that their use is severely limited in the cold.  First, battery life is very greatly reduced in the cold – sometimes 90% or more of their life is gone in extreme temperatures.  Extra batteries are a must, and re-warming frozen batteries can sometimes extend life.  Second, optics are very prone to freezing and fogging in the cold.  Regardless of how many batteries you carry or steps you take to prevent optics fogging, back-up iron sights are an absolute must.

The last pearl of wisdom regarding cold-weather shooting is a phenomenon known as ice fogging.  At extreme cold temperatures, air has a very low moisture saturation point.  That is, the same amount of water vapor in a given volume of warm air that would only saturate 10% of that air’s moisture-carrying capacity (10% humidity) can lead to up to 100% saturation in the same volume of very cold air (100% humidity) because of cold air’s reduced moisture carrying capacity.  For example, on a clear and cold night with no clouds, you can often see snow or ice crystals falling out of clear sky because the air’s moisture-carrying capacity has been exceeded, and excess moisture must precipitate out of the air to bring the relative humidity back to or below 100%. 

Why is this important in a tactical situation?  Because two things occur during these situations: people breathe and perspire, and firing weapons creates moisture as a byproduct of cartridge propellant combustion.  As a group of people moves through very cold air, they can leave behind a “trail” of ice fog that can be spotted miles away.  Similarly, people in firing positions can create a cloud of frozen vapor around them, giving away their positions and causing reduced visibility for them because they are trying to acquire targets through their own human-produced fog.  Firing weapons produces this same effect due to the inability of moisture and smoke to dissipate in the cold air.  There’s not a whole lot that can be done about creating a cloud during movement.  Spreading out and moving through trees will help conceal and dissipate it some.  When shooting, it will be important to relocate people after firing every few shots to prevent a distinct cloud from forming around them.  Shoot a few rounds, move a few yards – almost like a battle drill.  In heavy firing with a lot of people, the cumulative low fog and haze may end the battle because neither side will be able to see anything!

On tactical movement

Small-unit tactics also need some adjustment when the ground turns white.  The intent here is not to discuss cold-weather survival and bivouac routine, as this has been covered before; rather, this is how to move tactically and use cover and concealment in the winter.

Let’s start with the individual: walking is walking, but it’s going to take more effort and make more noise because you have more stuff.  This should be taken into consideration when you need to be silently sneaking through the woods.  Camouflage is also a little trickier.  We wore woodland pattern Gore-Tex parkas and pants under cotton overwhite parkas and pants (that were not intended to provide any insulating value).  If it was snowing or there was freshly-fallen snow on the ground and sticking to the trees, both the overwhite parka and pants were used.  If there was snow on the ground but it had disappeared from the trees, we kept the overwhite pants on but removed the tops to expose the woodland parkas.  If moving through thick brush or on rocky or barren terrain, we’d go with just the woodland parkas and pants.  Sometimes this would vary throughout the day as we moved from one type of concealment to another – you have to be flexible.

It is important to note the difference between concealment (hiding) and cover (behind protective barriers to incoming fire).  This has been often discussed here on SurvivalBlog but it bears pointing out a few key features about winter terrains.  Concealment via camouflage is primarily addressed above.  A final note on that is that a properly camouflaged person laying still in the snow is very difficult to spot.  However, snow is not cover!  Snow will not stop bullets, and ice is only marginally better.  A look at some of the ice fortification engineering data in the military manuals I listed bear this out: it is amazing how many feet of ice are needed to provide adequate cover from small arms fire.  Just as in the warmer months, your best cover are BFTs (Big Fat Trees) and BFRs (Big Fat Rocks). 

Snow depth and skill will dictate if you decide to use snowshoes or skis for over-snow movement.  Skis require great skill and are beyond the scope of this article, but snowshoes are easy to use and greatly ease movement in deep snow.  Individuals will need to size them based on their complete loaded weight, including pack and weapon, and practice using them before it’s truly a needed skill.  Some people use walking poles when snowshoeing; I do not as I prefer to keep my weapon at the ready.  If you are carrying a heavy pack in a relatively safe tactical condition, poles can be very useful.

Small-unit tactics have to be adjusted for winter conditions.  As discussed previously, shooting and moving create ice fog situations that have to be planned for, and methods for shooting prone in the snow have to be addressed.  A unique aspect of units moving over snow is the trails they leave, providing ample evidence of their whereabouts.  As such, traditionally spread-out movement techniques such as the fire team wedge, squad wedge, platoon wedge or vee, etc. are actually detrimental, as it is fairly easy to determine the size of your force from the snow tracks.  In snow movements, good old Ranger files are actually the preferred method.  Once a trail is made, any number of people can be following in the same trail and it is very difficult to determine whether the trail was made by two people or twenty.  By my experience, fire teams and squads would walk in a single Ranger file, a platoon would walk in three files (one per squad), and a company would often just follow platoon after platoon.  In other words, no more than three trails in the snow for up to 130 people.  This assumes contact is not imminent, because if it was we were not likely trying to hide our location or strength and were deploying into assault positions almost as we normally would. 

One other fine detail to be considered if movement is being made on snowshoes: what do you do with them during an ambush, assault, etc.?  Moving to your objective rally point (ORP) on snowshoes is often necessary, as is to break trail to your ambush or assault positions.  Once at these positions and during an assault or ambush, snowshoes are often a hindrance to ease of movement in a zone or built up area – try to move tactically between vehicles or buildings on snowshoes and you’ll see what I mean.  Part of the planning process will be to decide where to drop snowshoes (ORP?  Final assault or ambush position?) and who will keep theirs (Gun crews?  A single trail-breaking team with snowshoes that everyone else can follow without them?).  Another planning point to be considered in planning an over-snow tactical movement is warmth and rest.  It is one thing in warmer climates to chug some water and drive on the objective.  In the winter, it takes longer to move, period.  Stops during movement must be planned to adjust layers and socks, hydrate, fuel your body to keep warm, and generally just survive in the cold.  Further, during long periods of inactivity such as watch duty and laying in assault positions, provisions must be made for people to get up and move around lest they become too cold to do their assigned tasks effectively once that time comes.

In conclusion

Operating in the cold is difficult, but not impossible with proper clothing and practice.  It is a challenge to the individual and to leadership, but is not insurmountable and may be a key component of continuing to function and survive in a hostile or dangerous situation.  A study of winter warfare operations (Napoleon’s march on Russia, the Finnish holding off the Russians in World War II, The Germans in Russia – also in World War II) show that combat against an overwhelming force can be highly successful if cold weather is used as a tactical advantage.

We all have taken the time to discuss here the importance of making preparation for the the bad times to come, in the realm of food and water storage. We have picked our defenses carefully, planed routes of egress, but how many of us have prepared ourselves from a physical perspective? This in my opinion is really the cornerstone of any prepping, after all our mobility and endurance is seldom tested in the confines of modern society. Now I realize that not all people are at the same starting level of fitness, starting level of health, or other factors. That being said, let us look at what we can do to take each member of our family to their optimal level. This will not, unfortunately cover every possible unique situation, there after all too many variables. This is intended rather as a primer, a place to start out and for each person to progress as their situation, and abilities dictate.

The reasoning behind my motivation for this part of preparations, is that it seems to be the most under covered and a fundamental for survival. This is one of the preparations that will cross all situations. This covers more then just the mobility effects of being in better shape, but the host of other benefits for the body as a whole. The immune system will work better, you will be more alert and focused. The release of endorphins from this can stave off depression and will help with the manual workload that will be if things get really bad. So where to begin, start with taking a look at your current level of activity, If you run marathons as a hobby, congratulations, not only are you in superior shape but a bit crazy too. However if you sit and play video games all day long your thumbs are in shape, but maybe not much else. So lets start here with the people that are the least active.

1. Get moving. This is the start, even just getting out and walking will improve your base fitness.

2. Skip the elevator. This goes with point number one.

3. Skip the drive through. Fitness is more then just being active, its a way of life, plus when the end comes Burger King will be out of order.

4. Push yourself. Not too hard, but you want to make progress, if you start at only walking a few blocks, try to add to that each week.

Now this is just the beginning, but you have to start somewhere, and you have to push even just a little to make some progress. Talk to your doctor of course before you begin, just to be safe, they will probably be overjoyed in your interest in this kind of self improvement, and can direct you how to begin.

Dear Jim:  
Dino's home in Nassau County (Long Island) New York could prove to be where he will stay during the difficulties that "might" descend upon us. It might be impossible to bug out to his upstate property. Here's why.   The only connections to the US mainland from western Long Island are the following:

• The Throgs Neck Bridge to the Bronx

• The Whitestone Bridge to the Bronx

• The Triboro Bridge to Manhattan Island

• The Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan Island

• The Queens Midtown Tunnel to Manhattan Island

• The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to Manhattan Island

• The Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan Island

• The Manhattan Bridge to Manhattan Island

• The Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan Island

• The Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Staten Island (from Brooklyn) Now transit into the Bronx puts you on the mainland. However, any other bridge or tunnel simply puts you on another island (Manhattan or Staten Island) necessitating transit over another bridge or thru another  tunnel. Here they are:

• The George Washington Bridge to NJ

• The Lincoln Tunnel to NJ

• The Holland Tunnel to NJ

• The Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Staten Island New York has the two types of limited access highways.

There are "parkways" which accommodate only passenger cars due to the low overpasses and "expressways" which accommodate all traffic. Auto and truck traffic around New York is heavy 24/7 and any "event" will only add to the congestion.   Any disruption on the "parkways" would divert all traffic to the "expressways" causing massive tie ups. The same thing would happen if the "expressways" were disrupted. Total gridlock would be the norm.  

Thirty eight years of experience with these roads has driven this point home.   If Dino is lucky enough to make it to Staten Island, he still needs to negotiate either the Goethals Bridge or the Outerbridge Crossing to gain access to the mainland. If he succeeds in making it through the Holland Tunnel, he may have to cross the Newark Bay Bridge or the Pulaski Skyway.   Should Dino head east there are ferries to Connecticut from Orient Point to New London Connecticut. Their capacity is very limited.   Since all the bridges and tunnels around Manhattan and Brooklyn are critical "choke" points and necessary for all food/fuel supplies that must be transported into Manhattan, Dino may find it extremely difficult to make it to the mainland. Law enforcement will be monitoring these very closely, hence more delays.   In addition, the areas in New Jersey outside New York City are filled with refineries, rail yards, power plants and chemical plants.  

There is also a major airport (Newark Liberty) which sits hard by the 12 lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike.   Dino may have a real challenge reaching his retreat.   My best to you and the - Mrs. Jack  

Dear Editor:
I read with interest the letter regarding the need for first aid supplies and would like to address a few issues this gentleman and others might wish to consider for the next time an injury occurs. With all due respect to those who recommend buying lots of battle dressings and gauze, it is unlikely that one could truly buy enough to last for a prolonged TEOTWAWKI situation. While it is advisable to have adequate supplies on hand for most minor injuries, people would also do well to learn a few basics of first aid wound care and to consider other everyday options to supplement dressings for injuries.

Stopping bleeding (called “hemostasis” in medical jargon) is a first priority; keeping the wound clean is important but not at the sacrifice of hemostasis. Pressure is the key to stopping bleeding for first aid providers but another effective more advanced technique to decrease the amount of bleeding from a wound is to approximate the edges of the wound. This can be accomplished by pushing the wound from the sides to bring the skin edges together and then using something to hold them. For small wounds liquid bandages like New-Skin work but for larger wounds think tape, even if it’s duct tape (which would not be my first choice since it tears the skin when taken off but is better than nothing.) Take care not to allow the tape to circle an extremity completely because the non-stretchy tape is then a tourniquet. Once the skin edges are approximated put a sterile gauze over the wound and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Pressure needs to be applied steadily for a minimum of by-the-clock 15 minutes or longer if needed to stop the bleeding. If the first gauze becomes saturated with blood, do not remove it but reinforce with a heavier dressing and continue to apply pressure. This reinforcement does not have to be sterile; a clean washcloth or towel can suffice. Taking the bandage off the wound will remove the clot that has formed and cause fresh bleeding, increasing the amount of blood loss. Washcloths, towels and cotton items of clothing (cotton underwear and socks are the right size) can all be used to bandage wounds if the item is clean. It is preferable to have the dressing material freshly laundered using bleach in the washing process and dried on high heat in the dryer but if time will not allow this just go to the sock drawer and pull out clean items to use. Alternatively an item that works well and is usually found in any home with women in the child-bearing years is a sanitary napkin. Buy the ones that are individually wrapped which will keep them cleaner prior to use.

Once the bleeding has stopped, if no medical care is available for several days, wound closure using butterfly-type bandages can be accomplished. Make your own the right size with adhesive tape by cutting elongated wedges out of the long sides of the tape and placing the narrow area over the wound. Place one end over the skin on the far side of the wound away from you, pull gently until the edges of the wound are touching and then place the end near you on the near skin edge. This gives enough leverage to the tape to allow it to hold the wound closed. Suturing a dirty or contaminated wound virtually ensures that you will get infection but using butterfly closures allows enough space for drainage to occur and decreases the risk of abscess formation. Use more than one butterfly if the wound is long enough that one will not provide closure for the entire length.

In a situation where medical supplies cannot be restocked and professional medical care is not available an option to maintain a supply of sterilized dressing materials is to use a pressure canner for sterilization. Place clean dry bandage material folded loosely in a canning jar with lid and ring. Process it in a pressure canner at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes to approximate a medical autoclave. Use all of the appropriate precautions in use of the pressure canner, including letting the canner decompress to zero pounds pressure before opening the canner lid. To my knowledge there are no studies to compare the sterility of dry materials processed in this manner compared to a medical autoclave but in a TEOTWAWKI medical setting I will use instruments and supplies processed in this way rather than no attempt at sterilization at all.

Last but not least, please heed the advice of experienced hikers and wilderness experts. Don’t leave an injured party alone. They are better cared for with you there improvising than being left with no one to assist them if things take a turn for the worse. The worst situation would be for you to be stranded somewhere “out there” trying to get assistance and the patient’s condition to worsen when the injury could have been adequately dealt with using materials you already had at hand. - Ladydoc

About the Author: "I am a Family Medicine physician with over 25 years of practice experience, including several years in an Emergency Room setting.

As you know the Midwest experienced a large snow event this past Tuesday and Wed that left many people dealing with a large amount of snow and the associated problems that come with a large scale storm. I am fortunate that I was able to be safe with my family due to my preps however many were not as fortunate. This storm was predicted for several days and beginning as early as Sunday 1/30/11 the shelves at the local stores were getting thin.

By Monday night there was large swaths of empty shelves and staples such as Bread and Milk almost nonexistent. I was well stocked but I did stop to pick up a couple of things. It started snowing Monday night we opened on Tuesday to light snowfall but by 3 in the afternoon it was looking bad and we sent everyone home. My boss lives about 35 miles away in one direction I live about the same the opposite. I left when he did around 4 and I was home around 5:30 and by the time I got 10 miles from home it was bad! I ate dinner and was washing up when the phone rang it was our friends who have two kids and their power was out. We offered for them to come over but they insisted on staying home due to being allergic to our cat. We checked in with them a hour or so later and it was getting cold ( Keep in mind we were getting about 3 [inches of snow] per hour and had wind gusts of 50 mph plus.

I heard that my boss had slipped off the road and was stuck on a back country road. No tow trucks would come and get him and a attempt was made to get him but failed as there was zero visibility. I decided that my friends without power needed some help so I loaded up my generator, two jerry cans of gas, and a couple of space heaters. At least they wouldn't freeze! It was only a mile to their house but that was about the longest mile I have driven. Without four wheel drive I would have never made it. I got them hooked up and running and got home about 9:30.

In the meantime my boss walked to a farmhouse and in the process went off the road (he couldn't see it) walked through a farm field and luckily saw a porch light to guide him. Thank God for the kindness of strangers! I slept well and in the morning woke up to drifts as high as 5 ft around the house. I have a [snow plowing[ service for the driveway but it was obvious they were not gonna be there anytime soon. I got out the shovels and went to work.

My only prep failure was that my snow blower was in storage. In hind sight I should have gotten it out Sunday. Well shoveling is a good workout for young men like me. I dug out and also checked on several elderly neighbors digging several doors out in the process, some of them could not have got out. It was so high if they'd had a medical emergency. That afternoon I swung by a buddy's house to find out he was snowed in although he did have a snow blower, that he couldn't get started! All that was wrong was a gummed up carb but he is not to mechanical so I showed him how to do it and we got it going.

Overall it was amazing to see everyone pitch in as neighbors and help one and other. That's the way it should be and renews my faith in man to do the right thing Oh, and my boss? He got out Wednesday night with the help of the community. I think there will be a few more preppers in the Midwest soon!   - B. Rogue

Complex Interdependencies Department: "Due to rolling blackouts in West Texas and other problems, the delivery of natural gas into New Mexico has been impeded." Reader Greg C. notes: This is a great example of the flaw in multiple systems being to dependent on each other.  I wonder if any natural gas customer in New Mexico ever realized before now that their piped natural gas was dependent on an electrical grid located in another state?  

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My recent interview on The Peter Schiff Show is now available for download (for his subscribers).

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Kevin S. suggested this interesting report: Social Media as a Tool for Protest

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More details emerging on the ATF Gunwalker Scandal. (Thanks to Lane D. and Siggy for the link.)

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F.G. sent this: Army Sets Sights on New Rifle Competition Would Replace M16s and M4s, Workhorses With Reliability Issues

"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

Friday, February 4, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

From the time I was a young boy I have been fascinated with wild foods. The idea that there was food out there just for the taking made a connection with something deep inside of me. That something was mainly my stomach, which at that age always seemed to be a bit on the empty side. Since then I've spent years practicing the art of foraging along with studying a veritable mountain of books. The reason is simple: you never know when you'll be out in the woods and find out your hiking buddy ate the last granola bar.

I generally make a habit of eating whatever wild food I happen to find when I am out and about. It turns out that most people don't think this is normal behavior. Some of my city friends are genuinely appalled. Take for example my friend "Bill". I convinced Bill that a stroll in the local wildlife preserve would be a good way to burn up some extra time we had on a business trip. When we began our walk, Bill immediately set about finding a long, stout branch. When I asked why, he replied that it was to beat off the packs of wild dogs which roamed the forest. There's a lesson here about the importance of becoming familiar with the real outdoors rather than the outdoors in a book or on television, but that could be a whole article by itself. As we wandered along a walking trail those familiar hunger pangs prompted me to look about for some sustenance. I quickly spied a hickory tree, and this being fall I was rewarded by the sight of many nuts scattered about under the tree. I casually gathered a handful, shucked off the green husks, and started to crack them with a couple of rocks I found laying nearby. When I offered some of that perfectly delicious nutmeat to Bill he looked horrified. In a shocked voice he told me he wasn't going to eat something that I found laying on the ground. From this seemingly minor example you can pull a surprising number of helpful hints on foraging for wild food:

Tip #1: Don't let modern prejudices and misconceptions get in the way of your foraging. It's funny how our experiences can form a sort of filter that limits our thoughts. Unfortunately this same filter can limit your chances of survival in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. My friend Bill had no doubt been told many times as a child that things on the ground were dirty and that he mustn't eat them. Never mind that potatoes, carrots, and the like at the gleaming local supermarket all come from the ground. Another example (or incident as my friends would say) is when I encountered some ornamental cabbage thoughtfully planted by the local shopping mall to spruce up their fall flower beds. I saw a tasty snack where my friends only saw a decorative plant.

Tip #2: Look for the "high grade" wild foods first. When I went on my stroll I passed numerous opportunities to pick various edible wild plants. Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot), burdock, dandelion, and plantain to name a few. [JWR Adds: Don't mistake Hemlock or Snakeroot--both deadly if eaten, for Queen Anne's Lace. All three look similar.] Having spent years sampling and eating wild plants I can only politely say that most are an acquired taste. If you are going to expend energy seeking out wild foods, seek those first that are going to give you the highest caloric return for your energy investment. A couple dozen blackberries are going to go further toward keeping you going than a bowl of mixed greens. This becomes doubly important in a situation where you are forced to travel on foot with scant provisions. Luckily for us, what I call high grade foods are also those that taste the best. In the high grade group I lump together a few of the more palatable plants such as purslane, lamb's quarters, wild onions, and cattails, plus all manner of edible fruits, berries, and nuts.

Tip #3: Be aware of the season and your geographical area and modify your search accordingly. Only in the modern supermarket is everything always available regardless of the season. In the wild each plant, root, fruit, nut, berry, and mushroom has a season. In a Northeast mixed hardwood forest in the fall you are likely to find hickory nuts, so that is what I looked for. You aren't going to find good walnuts in the spring or wild strawberries in the fall. When you learn about a particular wild food make sure you understand its general range (the areas/states where it is found), its preferred habitat, and when you can expect to find its fruit, nut, etc. I'm focusing on wild edible plants for a several reasons. The first is that I'm lazy and it's easy to catch things that don't run away when you decide to eat them. The second is that there are hundreds of books on wild edible plants but not a lot of practical advice in them.

Hopefully my tips will help to give you some of that missing advice. Lastly, hunting and fishing have been discussed forever by everybody and there's not much I can add to those subjects. However, the tips I've given are generally applicable to all aspects of foraging for wild food. For example, does the filter in your head rule out potential sources of protein such as worms, crickets, crayfish, and grasshoppers? In various cultures around the world today rat, cat, dog, or horse could be on the dinner menu and no one would even blink. At this point you're probably asking yourself why you've bothered to read this far. Maybe it's because you're worried about the collapse of the current system of food production and distribution when TSHTF and we find ourselves facing TEOTWAWKI and are totally freaked out. You might be thinking that maybe when the grocery store shelves are empty you'll be able to rely on the knowledge presented here to live off of nature's bounty. Well, before we continue with more helpful tips let me offer a bit of advice about nature's bounty. Studies say that it takes about 1000 acres to support one adult living as a hunter-gatherer. In my experience this is somewhat optimistic unless it's summer, mid summer, late summer, summer again, or early fall. Yes, there are places where this will work, where the human population is sparse and fish and wild game are plentiful, or where you can take advantage of high food concentrations like salmon runs. However, I think that those of you who are planning to head to a National Park when TSHTF and live off the land are in for some slim pickings, not to mention having to deal with everyone else who had the same idea.

Tip #4: The best approach is to consider foraging for wild foods, and wild edible plants in particular, as a supplement to your main food supply. Famine during winter and other hard times is the whole reason mankind in general decided to practice animal husbandry and farming instead of sticking with the pure hunter-gatherer lifestyle. I'm not trying to discourage you from feeding off the land, I am just trying to make sure your expectations match reality. Being able to stretch stored food supplies with wild foods will help immensely when those extra friends and relatives show up in a survival scenario, but I wouldn't recommend counting on wild foods as your only food supply. Getting back to our original story with Bill and packs of wild dogs in the nature preserve, I spotted the hickory tree from a ways off by the general shape and color of the tree and bark. This is what prompted me to take a closer look to see if nuts were available. Each fruit and nut tree, each berry bush or edible plant has a distinctive shape to it than can help you identify a potential food source from a distance. Close up examination of the leaf, stems, bark, etc., confirms the identification. This brings us to our next tip:

Tip #5: Plant identification skills matter, and it takes time and practice to get good at it. A book on edible wild plants with color pictures is a must and a perfect place to start for learning, but to successfully forage large amounts of edible wild food in minimal time requires that you get to know your plants in real life. Identification skills are also important because some poisonous plants look similar to edible plants to the untrained eye. I was on a walk once with a group of friends and saw some wild grapes. I picked some to eat and pointed them out to the others. Several people decided to try them which elicited many negative comments on how sour they were. One woman commented on how bitter they were. This caught my interest because a bitter taste is a common indicator of plant poisons. It turns out that some English ivy was growing in among the grape vines and it also had clusters of small dark round fruit. Fortunately she spit the ivy seeds out immediately and suffered no harm. This brings up our most important tip:

Tip #:6 Don't eat what you can't identify. Not all poisonous plants taste poisonous. This is particularly true with mushrooms on both counts. An expert on mushrooms here in my state accidentally poisoned his family with a misidentified mushroom. Last I heard they had all survived but were waiting for liver transplants. So yes, there are plants and particularly mushrooms out there that can kill you. Note that some plants will be listed in the guide books as edible after boiling with a change of water. You boil it to leach out some nasty tastes and toxins, throw out the contaminated water, and then boil it some more. Needless to say these types of plants are not on my high grade list. Consider this plant identification scenario: TEOTWAWKI has hit and for whatever reason you find yourself out in the woods and starving. You're kicking yourself for not having studied up on your edible wild plants. You know that you shouldn't eat what you can't identify, and that some berries look good and taste okay but are poisonous. What are you going to do? Suddenly the idea hits you that you can just observe what the birds and other animals are eating because those berries will be edible. That brings us to our next tip:

Tip #7: Animals can eat some things that are poisonous to humans. See tip #6. Some people are not that interested in being able to identify various plants and trees. Take for example my friend "Steve" who is an avid hunter. When it came time to place his deer stand, he decided that the tree with the leafy vine on it would provide some additional natural camouflage. Unfortunately that leafy vine was poison ivy. Steve spent the next 10 days covered in pink calamine lotion, enduring jokes from his co-workers in addition to the terrible itching. Unfortunately poison ivy loves the same habitat as berries and fruit trees.

Tip #8: Learn to identify poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac so you can avoid them, as they are often located next to or even intertwined with your favorite wild edibles. If you do brush up against poison ivy you can avoid the rash by washing the area within 30 minutes or so before it is absorbed into your skin. You must use a soap specifically designed to remove grease and oil, like the hand cleaners used by car mechanics, or you risk just smearing the poison ivy oil (urushiol) around and making things worse.

My last tip is not exactly a foraging tip but it has to do with wild edible plants and thinking out of the box in an extended survival situation:

Tip #9: A wild edible plant garden can help you produce food until you can obtain seeds for standard garden fruits and vegetables. The whole point of a garden is to concentrate food plants in a convenient area and to increase their yields. You can use the same strategy with wild edible plants in a situation where you can put in a garden but have no standard seeds. Note that every common food plant we use today started out sometime in history as a wild plant. Careful selection of seeds from plants with desirable characteristics over many years produced the varieties that we have today.

The tips I've given here will complement the guide books for anyone who decides to forge ahead and learn to reap the wild bounty of the land. Foraging for wild edible plants has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years, and I would encourage you to explore this field of study. It is immensely satisfying to be able to reach out and pluck a tasty snack from a seemingly nondescript patch of wild plants, to confidently eat what your friends dare not eat. And like I said in the beginning, you never know when you're going to be out in the woods and run out of granola bars.

Some, or most, of you may have long-term plans in place, which is great, and mightily encouraging.  For those that have been actively preparing years ahead of time, I commend your foresight.  Sadly, some of us aren't that prepared at this stage in the game.  Finding the right property/shelter/fuel/food sources is ideal, but until now I haven't had the disposable income to invest in things of value.  That being said, here's one thing that keeps me motivated. Food is going to be the main scarcity out here and, in a pinch, I can harvest foods on my way out of town.  I'm not worried about water, weather, or where I'm going to live, at least for the short term.  But my ultimate goal is to migrate to the rural outskirts, and I make it my business to remember, geographically, where natural food sources are located.  Regardless of what route I'm forced to take, I can think of multiple detours that will help replenish my food supplies, at least for weeks.  

Possible food sources:

  • Fruit orchards and fields (much of my city area used to be orchard, so many private homes have acres of trees)
  • Vegetable gardens or vegetable orchards
  • Poultry farms (you can smell the factory farms from miles away)
  • Ranches and dairy farms
  • Native plants

Once you have located possible food items, the next question is "How can I obtain it?"  Stealing has never crossed my mind, but I have developed a very thrifty mentality, and my constant thought is "What can I get for free?"  If we're talking about a time when dollars are still good, buying is always an option, and that's fine for some.  If not, bartering with farmers and landowners is the next best thing, which I would say its an even better alternative.  Finally, I expect some (though not all) properties to be abandoned, and for certain foods to be readily available.  This may sound like pie-in-the-sky optimism, but my motto is "free or cheap," and I've been told more than once, "you don't get it if you don't ask."  On my travels, I've been happily surprised to find a number of orchard owners who can't spare the time or the money to invest in their trees.  Water has gotten so expensive in recent years that the costs of maintenance outweigh the benefits for these people;  I have no qualms about cruising by these homes and picking produce, and they don't care anyway.  When possible, I keep in contact with these owners for just that reason.  The plan is to visit farms growing a variety of things, of course; a large quantity of one food won't be a balanced diet in itself, but if all else fails, this can sustain you for a worthwhile amount of time.  The same may go for protein sources, like with livestock and poultry/egg ranches.  Like with any investment, when feed becomes scarce or expensive, bartering away some eggs or a whole animal will look better and better to the rancher. We have farmed food and neglected orchards, but you should also consider native plants.  For example, here in the southwest we have an abundance of Indian Fig plants, growing what you would call Cactus Apples or Cactus Pears.  I could hike into the hills and come back with multiple buckets in a single day.  These are usually made into preserves or beverages.  Of course, with any wild plant, you still want to be somewhat cautious; try a little at first and continue if all is well.

Lastly, inconvenience will work in your favor.  In the event of panic or rapid exodus, places that are out of the way (or hard to get to) will be less likely to be stripped clean.  If I have to hike up a 30 degree hillside for 1/2 a mile to reach my target, or pass any number of security gates, or brave the desert elements to pick cactus apples, the odds are more in my favor than if the food source is next to a major road.  That's one reason why I stay in touch with those private individuals who happen to have fruit trees; it puts me in a small category of people who will be welcomed past their gates.  

Is it a foolproof scenario?  By no means.  I stock what little storable food I can, with the plan to accumulate more, and become self-sufficient.  However, every survivor knows that you don't consume your best resource when there are more (and renewable ones, to boot) available.  I could say that I work well under pressure, but I think a more truthful answer would be that adversity breeds innovation, and I hope that becomes true for all of you.  It definitely develops a hardier spirit and conditions your eye to see opportunity where others do not.  Those of us facing the coming breakdown with few resources must be diligent and think outside the box, especially if there is no one close by with which to join forces.  So if you have a local farmer's market, maybe its time to visit occasionally, and make some friends.  I value the connections that I've made more than gold.  For those in the same situation as me, let this be an encouragement.

Dear Jim:
I was in Cairo with my wife and two kids six weeks ago at the tail end of a 13 country 3 month trip. I was traveling with some custom bulletproof vests for all of us (thanks to Nick at bulletproofme.com). They were inserted in our backpacks and no one was the wiser at airport security. In Cairo, I had no sense whatsoever that it was a powder-keg, ready to explode. My wife laughed at the extra weight I hauled around with us. Now seeing on television the places where we walked looking like a war zone, she's not laughing anymore. - S.F. in Hawaii

Dear Jim and Family,  
I have been shooting for a dozen years and I learned some things, going from BB guns and .22s to proper hunting rifles. I got started on .22s, to learn to shoot properly with them, and worked my way up to .223, which is an excellent teaching tool for marksmanship and as a backup firearm since its a milsurp caliber (5.56x45 NATO) and good for taking groundhogs, bunnies, squirrels, and coyotes at range. Mostly, its a [transitional] teaching round, same as a .22 LR. Its also useful in a proper length carbine, but its limitations must be respected.  

From there I stepped up to a middle caliber round. The .308 Winchester is great for reloading as it will burn most rifle powders, shoots various weights of projectile in .308 diameter without complaint, is accurate to a reasonable range and will take pretty much any game in North America. Some more messy than others, but pretty much. It really is a good choice for most people.  

I understand the appeal of a battle rifle that's semi-auto, but I must point out that's a fast way to go through ammunition and brings about inherent accuracy problems as well as legal restrictions, but the most important limit is weight. If the 11-12 pounds of weight isn't a problem for continuous carry at the ready, you may be able to get by in a TEOTWAWKI situation and just end up with really big biceps and a really sore back.  

Own a bolt action rifle in .308 as well, and make that your primary rifle. At 6-7 pounds including an off-the-shelf set of rings and a scope you installed yourself, a bolt action will cycle all 5 rounds in around 10 seconds in a rapid fire scenario and you'll be aiming every shot. An off-the-shelf hunting rifle in .308 caliber is more accurate than most military surplus firearms, and they're far cheaper to mount a scope on, and far less attention grabbing in the woods by nosy neighbors or game wardens. OPSEC, folks, OPSEC. Five rounds and five downed invaders is also a rather serious pause in a human wave attack. Or four and an engine block. Or shoot one-load one, as they teach in the US Army sniper training and employment manual, free for download in PDF format. You can do that with a bolt, but its trickier with a semi-auto rifle, or just not possible depending on design.  

I strongly recommend all serious rifle marksmen handload their ammunition. Milsurp ammo is notoriously poor quality most of the time. Many people talk themselves into a milsurp caliber thinking they'll make Hollywood Rifle Shots (like the movies), with captured ammo. This just isn't true, and its a persistent misunderstanding, even now. Even "match" ammo you pay extra for is usually less accurate than what you can make yourself for a reusable bench top setup costing less than $200. $200 sounds like a lot of beans and Band-Aids, but $200 in reloading gear and supplies will make you thousands of rounds of match ammunition compared to the 10 boxes of "match" ammo you could buy for the same money. A cruddy shooting rifle that flings rounds all over the place at 100 yards can become a passable imitation of a Hollywood rifle with reloaded ammunition.

I just can't emphasize this enough: RELOAD. However, reloads in semi-auto rifles are much trickier than with a bolt rifle so save your milsurp ammo for the battle/auto rifle and use the reloads for the bolt.    The other little perk of a reloading setup is you can load lighter bullets into your cases reducing felt recoil. This will limit your effective range (there's no such thing as a free lunch) but if your wife or daughter or yourself gets a flinch from full-bore .308 with 150 grain projectiles, 130 grain hunting bullets shoot with 80% of the recoil and still give you high accuracy at 300 yards. You can also reduce the pressure on the rounds (use less powder) and reduce the recoil even further, without adding weight to the rifle. This is not well known for the average rifle shooter at the range sighting in for deer season with their 120 pound son or daughter going on their first hunt. Make it fun for them. Don't overwhelm them with recoil and cause a flinch that turns them into the next Senator from California.  

So, work your way up if you haven't already, and own a bolt rifle in .308 and know its abilities, train with it, make it yours. That plus a hunting license and a gun rack and you'll fit right in with the locals, too. I wish I'd known this when I started shooting, but live and learn.   Sincerely, - InyoKern


Please have a look at this series of photos! If the link doesn't work, it's at Flickr under "Traditional Oil Drilling, Indonesia"

If these guys used a ox, instead of the engine, to power the bailer (their "pump") this set up would be exactly the same as was used in Canada and eastern Europe 150 years ago. The simply thermal-cracking refinery they're operating, or a variant of it, can produce not only diesel but gasoline, kerosene, and lubricating oils as well.

I was simply dumbfounded to see these pictures. This would be like finding a Cavalry company mounted on horseback and armed with Trapdoor Springfield .45-70 carbines still on patrol up in Montana. I tip my hat to these guys for their ingenuity and work ethic because it's hard, dangerous, very dirty work. - Jeff B.

More Investors Position for Possibility of U.S. Default

Commentary from Spengler, over at The Asia Times: Food and Failed Arab States

"First, they ignore you, then they ridicule you..." Now we seem to be getting to the ridicule stage: How Much is a Nickel Worth? More than Five Cents, Says Michael Lewis. (Thanks to Randy F. for the link.)

I spotted this over at Zero Hedge: Ron Paul to Ask Fed Why After Trillions in Free Money, Unemployment is Still Sky High

Items from The Economatrix:

Bernanke Speech Helps Push Stocks Higher  

Shoppers Shook Off the Snow in January, Stores Say  

January Jobs Report Forecast to Show Modest Gains

Episodes of Hyperinflation

Reader Erik K. wrote: "I have to thank you for your post in SurvivalBlog on August 22, 2010 regarding a coming scarcity of sugar for 2011. After I read the article my wife and I went to our local big box store and purchased enough sugar to last our family for several years to come. We vacuum sealed the sugar in 5 gallon buckets using our iron, vacuum and mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. The buckets we used were free from a bakery and the cost of mylar and oxygen absorbers were $2.40 for each bucket. A recent visit to the store and I discovered that sugar was already selling for $5 more per 25 lb bag than what we had paid for it.  And then came this news from Australia: Sugar soars to 30-year high on Cyclone Yasi. A very scary combination. I am so glad that I went and purchased sugar last summer."

U.S. factories boom in January as inflation signs rise.

Kodiak Steel Homes notes that their wholesale steel suppliers have been given notice of a 14% price increase effective March 1st 2011, an that there will probably be another 10% to 15% increase in early April.

Food costs at record high as U.N. warns of volatile era. Food price spikes will spark huge riots and probably some more toppling governments.

Jimmy Rogers: Commodities to Surge as Unrest Spreads.

The folks at Next Level Training (one of our writing contest prize donors) have created a coupon code just for SurvivalBlog readers. Your code is: survivalblog to get a special reduced price of $399 on SIRT Glock form factor laser training pistols. These are amazing training tools that will help keep you in top shooting form, even when ammo prices are sky high.

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"A violent turn for the worse" in Cairo

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Yishai sent a link to powerful photo: “Abandoned vehicles litter northbound Lake Shore Drive on Tuesday morning.” E. Jason Wambsgams, Chicago Tribune. Clay W. sent us a link to a video of lemming-like motorist behavior in the same location.

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Tam over at her View From The Porch blog quips: Reason #140,122 I'll never move to Massachusetts.

"Nobody has ever argued that the government deficit-spending and all the rest of the heroic, last-ditch, pull-out-all-the-stops monetary excesses would not make statistics of economic activity blip upward. The argument is whether or not it will eventually destroy the economy. I say it does. The rise in the price of gold says it does. The decline in the dollar says it does. All of recorded economic history says it does." - Richard Daughty (aka The Mogambo Guru)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Please keep those who are in the path of major storms in your prayers. There's Cyclone Yasi (Category 5!) in Australia, and monumental snow storms in the American Midwest and northeast. There are some secondary global implications, so pray hard and get your own family prepared, even if your aren't in the path of a storm. We will each see a storm of some sort, in our day. Hopefully, not a lead storm.


Today we present another two entries for Round 33 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 Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) 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 $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) 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 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.

When you’re training, your main goal should always be to improve tactical and technical proficiency.  Combat is a contest of skills and abilities, and without tactical & technical proficiency you’l