October 2011 Archives

Monday, October 31, 2011

Today we present a product review by SurvivalBlog's volunteer Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio.

I think many of us grew-up, with a .22 caliber rifle of some sort, as our first gun. I still remember getting my first .22 rifle when I was down in Kentucky, back in 1967. My grandmother took me down to Sturgis, Kentucky to visit her sister, whom she hadn't seen in 40 years. I met all manner of country cousins that I didn't know I had. I remember walking through the tiny downtown area of Sturgis, and I stopped in the Western Auto store. I was surprised to see that they carried all manner of firearms. I was literally like a kid in a candy store.

I was only 15 years old at the time, but I spied a bolt-action .22 rifle for only $19.95 - I had that amount in my pocket and then some. I told the man I wanted to buy that rifle. I still remember what he said to me that day "boy, I don't think I know you, are you from around here? I explained who I was, and that I was there visiting my Aunt Catherine. Little did I know at the time, that she was one of the richest people in town, and owned the coal mine - where most of the folks worked at the time. The man called my Aunt Catherine, and told her I was there and wanted to buy a rifle. She asked the man, "does he have the money?" And, he told her I did, she said "well, then sell him the gun..." Remember back then, we didn't have the 1968 Gun Control Act, and it was easier to purchase firearms. You simply paid your money and walked out with a gun.

I honestly can't remember how many rounds of .22 ammo I fired through that bolt action rifle during the two weeks I was down in Kentucky. However, I believe it's safe to say, I easily put a couple thousand rounds through that gun - hunting rabbits and birds, and "killing" all manner of tin cans and rocks. My two favorite country cousins, Mo' and Abner taught me how to shoot and took me shooting all over the countryside. I also shot my first 1911 .45ACP during that visit, as well as a couple of rifles.

My own two daughters were both given .22 rifles when they were only four years old, and they are still avid shooters to this day. So, I still believe a first gun for a child, or even an adult, is a good ol' fashion .22 rifle of some sort. And, if you are serious about survival, you need to have some sort of .22 caliber firearms in your battery.

I received an ISSC M22, .22 LR handgun for Test and Evaluation for SurvivalBlog. Upon first opening the box, I was struck at how closely the M22 resembles a Glock Model 19 9mm handgun. The gun not only looks like a Glock 19, but it also feels very Glock-like as well. The M22 has a 4" barrel inside of an alloy slide, mounted on a polymer frame. The gun weighs 21.4 ounces empty, without a magazine in it - again, very Glock-like. The magazine holds 10 rounds of .22 LR ammo. The rear sight is adjustable for windage, and the front sight can be easily removed and replaced with (supplied) front sights of different heights to change your elevation - I found no need to change the front sight that was installed on the M22.

The trigger-pull on the M22 is smooth and broke at a nice even four pounds. The Glock line-up of pistols have what the BATF calls a double-action only trigger (it's not - really). The M22s trigger is single-action only. There are several safeties on the M22, some are visible and some are passive in nature. You'll note the slide mounted safety and the trigger safety right off the bat, the others are passive in nature - this is one very safe handgun to be sure. When you apply the slide-mounted manual safety, if also (safely) drops the hammer. So, when you are ready to fire, you'll need to put the safety in the fire position and thumb cock the hammer - not a big deal!

One thing I really liked about the M22 was that it felt like a "real" gun - it didn't feel toyish, like many .22 handguns do. The frame has finger grooves on the front strap - again, a nice touch! The polymer frame has texturing for a secure grip. There is also a Weaver-style rail on the frame for mounting a laser or light, as well.

I was anxious to get out and fire this pistol - I just knew I was gonna like it. The gun didn't disappoint me or my wife, who also loved it. We put many brands an varieties of .22 LR ammo through the gun with zero malfunctions. The gun shot to point of aim at 25-yards and you can't ask for better than that. While we didn't measure any groups on paper, the gun hit whatever we were aiming it at - we "killed" all manner of rock, tin cans and other targets of opportunity while testing this gun. It was just plain fun to shoot.

If I had one complaint it would be, the gun only came with one magazine. It would be nice to have had a second mag with the gun. However, your  dealer should be able to order additional mags for you - they run around $25 to $30 each. I found the M22 also fit most holster designed for a Glock 19 pistol, too. Again, this is a nice touch, so you should be able to easily find a good holster for the M22.

Now, I wouldn't carry any manner of .22 caliber handgun for self-defense on purpose. However, I wouldn't hesitate to carry the M22 afield for small game hunting and plinking. And, if push came to shove, the M22 with 10+1 rounds of .22 LR ammo would sure make a bad guy wish he were some place else if he were shot with this pistol. While the grand ol' .22 caliber isn't known as a man stopper, I think it's safe to say that thousands of people have probably been accidentally (or on purpose) shot and killed with this round since in was invented. Still, having the M22 on your hip is better than a pocket full of stones or a handful of sticks to use in a self-defense situation.

The ISSC M22 is manufactured in Austria - just like the Glock is. I honestly couldn't find anything to fault with the M22. It performed perfectly with a wide assortment of .22 LR ammo with no malfunctions of any type. It hit whatever I, and my wife were aiming at. And, it comes with the accessory rail on the frame for a laser or light. The gun is lightweight and easy to handle, too. The only minor drawback I can report is that, ISSC says to not use Break Free Powder Blast on the gun, it will cause the finish on the slide to start flaking or it can discolor the slide. I guess if it were me, I'd steer clear of using any sort of spray cleaner on the M22, just to be safe.

In all, I put more than 500 rounds of various .22 LR through the M22 - and some of the ammo was dirty and corroded, and there were no problems encountered during my testing - that's a great gun in my book.

You can get your M22 at your local FFL dealer. Full retail is only $299.99, but you will usually find the M22 discounted. So, if you're in the market for a well-made and good performing .22 handgun, take a serious look at the ISSC M22, I think that you'll like it. - Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor

The ankle is a frequently injured joint currently with the grid up and will be even more often with the grid down.  Ankles are easily turned, or rolled, with uneven ground, curbs, trees, rocks, etc.  Walking in general and walking in rough terrain are assumed to be more likely in TEOTWAWKI situations.  Almost everyone has had an ankle sprain in their lives, and many people have actually "broken" their ankles.  There will be no local doctor's office and certainly no X-ray availability without a grid, so how do you take care of an ankle injury and how do you know what is likely to be broken? 

First off, as with most medical issues, we talk prevention.  Watching your step and keeping yourself in good shape is the best way to prevent ankle injuries.  Brushing your teeth while standing on one foot is a great exercise you can do every day to help build ankle strength and help with proprioception (the unconscious ability of your brain to know what your ankle is doing).  Good boots for hiking will help with uneven treks through the wild.  The reason there are not many ankle fractures in skiing...good boot protection of the ankle.  If you don't have good hiking boots and you are a prepper, you're doing it wrong!  Get some boots now if you lack them, we recommend multiple pairs for each member of your family.  If nothing else, get them when they are on sale and use them as you wear them out.  Get another pair to replace the pair you take, treating footwear like rotated foodstores.

When there is an injury, treatment will be important.  Treatment done right will be really important, as you want to return productivity and prevent permanent deformity and pain if possible.  There are some simple things to do for all sprains that also work to help heal fractures, commonly known as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) therapy. .  Rest, Compression, and Elevation are available to all situations; but ice may be a bit of a problem.  Chemical ice packs should be sitting in your stockpile, and in quantities sufficient for your family or group for a good period of time.  Some folks even use RICEN which adds "N" for your favorite NSAID pain medication to the plan.  NSAIDS include aspirin (Bayer, etc.), ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil), and naproxen (Aleve), along with other prescription medications unlikely to be available post collapse.  Don't forget that acetaminophen is not the best choice for swelling as it does not work like the others do and aspirin is often tougher on the stomach at higher doses than are the ibuprofen and naproxen.

So next, we ask the age-old question: Is it broken?  Follow the Ottawa Ankle Rules.  If you can't stand on it and there is horrible pain when you push on the key spots, it is likely broken. If you can stand on it and push on the key spots without horrible pain, it is likely not broken. But we would do an X-ray if there was electricity and an X-ray machine near us.  In TEOTWAWKI, there is no X-ray and so the information is helpful to predict how long to lay up for, but not much else.

So, you turn your ankle badly hunting for the last of the deer, two months post-collapse.  It hurts and you can't stand on it, so now what? Remember the acronym RICEN, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and NSAIDs.  Rest means don't walk on it.  Ice is 6 times on day one, 4 times each day for days 2 and 3.  Compression is that good boot that you weren't wearing, or an ACE wrap if you have it.  SAM splinting may also help, but you still have to have something to wrap it with.  If nothing else, use T-shirts.  Rope is a bad idea as it will irritate the skin and may cause a secondary problem then.  Elevation is higher than your heart, which is pretty high.  Get it up there and keep it there.  NSAIDs are ibuprofen at 800 mg three times daily or naproxen at 440 mg twice daily if you have them (adult doses).  Using crutches, whether makeshift or available, and if not then a cane may help mobility and help healing.  Pain is the main limit to return to regular activities.  If it hurts, it's not ready.  That's a pretty good rule for most sprains and injuries.  Most simple sprains will be back to walking within 4-5 days, severe sprains can take 6-8 weeks, as can fractures.  Obviously, if a bone is broken it needs time to heal or there will be deformity, arthritis and perhaps permanent pain.  Do your best to prevent these injuries, and if they do occur treatment is important for an effective return to functionality.  As always, stay strong.  - Dr. Bob

JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is: SurvivingHealthy.com.

Hi Jim,
Thank you for all you do and provide to us readers so selflessly.  May you always have dry powder, socks and a multitude of blessings.  I'm guessing you will probably get quite a few responses to M.K.'s article of State Defense Forces.  I had mixed reactions to it. 
First, let me state; I have always had the highest regard for the Military and the servicemen therein.  Our family has had someone in the Military in every generation going back before The Revolution and still do.  We even had a number that served in the early Militias.  So my argument is not with the Military, Militias, SDF, Reserves or any of the other various forms of Service.  It is with their bosses and our elected officials.  I couldn't help but feel that MK needed to do some more research.
Although there might be Federal laws now pertaining to what and where the SDF's serve and that they can resign easily....all that can go out the window fairly quickly if TSHTF.  All you have to do is go to the FEMA, Homeland Security and Government web sites and really read some of what is in there.  So may new laws, acts, executive orders, etc have been enacted recently that have loosely worded clauses in them that would do away with many of the previous laws in the case of an emergency.
Heck, even the definition of "emergency" has become so misconstrued that it makes it hard to know what constitutes an emergency anymore.  Or who the "enemy" is anymore.  Almost all of them have this fun little clause hidden in them to the effect of..."or deemed by officials...".  This leaves the gate wide open.  I think in the case of an "emergency" many in these services or medical fields or other "necessary fields" may find themselves co-opted in the name of "National Security".  I believe it is somewhere in the Patriot Act that lists all the professions and services that will come under the command of their new big dog in charge.  Read the official stuff they have on line about Continuity of Government, 10 FEMA regions, Patriot Act and Emergency Contingency plans.  All that we know and believe can go out the window in a heart beat.  I can't remember the Executive Order Obama signed in Aug/Sept but it gave him a tremendous amount of power and ability to suspend the known Government.  Don't assume what is law now will be the law when the TSHTF.
I also believe it is a little naive to think that there is an "ingrained unwillingness of most people to initiate hostilities with an apparently organized, uniformed, armed, military force moving through their environs".  While I do not believe many would "initiate hostilities"  I do believe there could be a big mistrust of the above mentioned.  Me personally, if I see those guys coming to town I'm going to be heading the other way fast.  Not because I have anything to hide or have ever been in trouble with the law but because I no longer trust those guys.  I don't care what your official badge or credentials are.  You can thank the TSA, rogue cops/swat teams and government fear mongering for that.  It seems that citizens are now guilty until proven innocent.  There are too many instances of innocent citizens losing their rights and civil liberties in the name of "National Security" to ignore this threat.  No thanks!  I don't want to be corralled into one of their imagined "safe places".  Sorry, but I believe in the old adage of if someone shows up and says "We're from the Government and we're here to help", then run!
In the last couple of years I too had looked at the invaluable training that the various service organization provide and seriously considered it.  Bottom line was that I did not want to get "locked" into the organizations.  Even if you only have Advanced First Aid your services can be demanded in the case of an "emergency".  It's a registered certification and the government has the list. 
My nephew served in Iraq and is career Army.  He is now back in the states and I've quizzed him about some of all this.  Even he has an alternate BOB and contingency plan and has advised all in our family to do likewise.  I do believe their are a lot of honorable good guys in the various services and I want to trust them.  Unfortunately, they are obligated to follow orders.  I no longer have a lot of trust in the head honchos giving the orders.
Take care, do lots of research, use your own critical thinking and don't assume all is well in the World.  There are lots of little clauses out there that can make anything or anyone fair game ...."if deemed necessary" by the powers that be....or to be. - Skylar

A profile news story from Toronto, Canada: Survivalists fear currency crash.

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Gun turn-in pits Ceasefire against collectors with cash. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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B.B. sent this: When Government Knows No Limitation: New DOJ Rules Allow More Intrusive Searches. If you don't already own a medium-level security (Level 3 or better) paper shredder then you are way behind the power curve.

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Two Million Without Power: Heavy Autumn Snowstorm Barrels Across Northeast

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Ian R. sent this: 2011's Incredible Weather Extremes. Ian notes: "If you can't plan for the '100 year storm/drought/flood' because they are all being broken, then what do you need to plan for?"

"The term 'assault weapon' has always been misleading and disingenuous. I have yet to see in all my years a 'retreat rifle', a 'Mexican standoff rifle', or an 'advance slowly rifle'. All rifles are capable of inflicting fatal and near fatal wounds. They would be worthless if they weren't so capable. If some look scarier than others, that would only help in their perceived effectiveness by the enemy and should help shorten the fight. Why would you want it any different? The most dangerous rifle is the one in the hands of a capable rifleman, regardless of type. The most dangerous thing to a country's liberty is the ignorance of its electorate. Through ignorance, those uninformed voters give away the very means to keep their precious rights intact. That is a scary dangerous thing." - Rickj27, in a comment on an October, 2011 American Thinker article on the majority of public sentiment opposing gun bans.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I advocate that you seriously consider incorporating state organized militia service as a key element of a developing or ongoing personal preparedness strategy.  At this time, twenty-two states have some form of active state sanctioned/sponsored militia organization, all of which are incorporated into each of those states’ military organization.  Generally, these state organized militias are collectively referred to as State Defense Forces (SDFs), though the various states refer to their organizations within a narrow range of naming conventions.  Some examples include, the Texas State Guard, Virginia State Defense Force, Ohio Military Reserve, etc. Though state defense forces are official elements of state militaries, they cannot be called up for federal service, may not be deployed outside of their state (unless the members volunteer in some unique circumstances), and may not be deployed outside the United States under any circumstance.  The military formations are prohibited by law from serving under direct federal military command and cannot be activated into federal service.  Individual service members with potential federal service obligations may be called into federal service, though the issue is moot as they would already be called into service regardless of membership or not in state defense forces. 

Each of these state defense forces are legitimate military formations recognized under the United States Constitution, the State Constitutions of the various states, and relevant laws at both the state and federal levels.  Their missions generally focus on disaster response, emergency management, and/or homeland security.  I am a member of the Texas Maritime Regiment of the Texas State Guard.  The Texas Maritime Regiment trains and operates with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (man-tracking and boat patrols on Texas rivers and lakes); the Texas Forestry Service (heavy equipment operations for wildfire containment and natural/man-made disaster support); the United States Coast Guard (homeland security waterborne patrolling and natural/manmade disaster waterborne response).  Each state defense force will have missions that lean heavily toward disaster response or emergency management, the nature of which will be dependent on the unique nature of the state’s environment and needs.  Regardless, in most cases, state defense force training, experiences, resources and associations can be advantageous to those preparing to thrive after a disastrous or catastrophic event.

Advantage - Training

Some SDF programs are more robust and developed than others, so, depending on the training standards and program quality of a particular state defense force, the value of service based training can vary broadly.  However, from a preparedness standpoint, service in your State Defense Force may offer multiple advantages for the individual seeking development of new skills or retention of known skills.  Since disaster preparedness on an individual basis shares a common theme with disaster preparedness on a community basis, there are skill-sets, knowledge bases, and resources that are equally valuable in both circumstances.  Some examples include emergency medical training and equipment access, communication training and equipment access, map-reading and land navigation, survival skills, tactical skills, weapons training, etc.  Based on discussions I’ve had with members of other SDFs and reviews of various sources, the quality and nature of training can be fairly divergent from unit to unit within a state defense force, and also from state to state.

As a rule, to become proficient, those who do not already have such skills from prior federal service or other experiences have to spend money on obtaining such training, as well as develop and dedicate resources on practical skill maintenance.  The quality of privately obtained training or individually developed experience may not always provide adequate value for the expense.  In general, relevant training in these and other skills are part and parcel of state defense force service at no, or minimal, out-of-pocket expense. 

Some, though not all, of otherwise expensive training presented throughout my ongoing service in the Texas Maritime Regiment at minimal cost, if any, to me include: land navigation, first aid, advanced first aid, CPR and AED, combat medic, ASP baton, scuba diving, Taser, active-shooter (ALERRT), emergency response base camp establishment and operation, human tracking, boat operation, tactical employment, personal security detachment operations, vehicle licensure for federal military vehicles (various), military emergency management specialist courses, Ham radio certification, rappelling and rope work, swift water rescue familiarization training, etc.  Much of this was complementary to my prior federal service in the USMC. In some cases, it simply allows me to keep relatively current on some skills, while some were completely new for me. 

Naturally, as in most things, you get out of it what you put in.  For those who hit the ground running with the expectation of taking advantage of every opportunity to develop themselves, the training should be available somewhere.  In some cases, there are expensive training options wholly paid by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  An example is the instructor course for Incident Response to Terrorist Bombing, a four day course in New Mexico for which DHS pays for round-trip air fare, car rental, course tuition, lodging, and a meal stipend.  For this and other such courses, I know I like to feel like some of my tax dollars are directly benefiting me in a positive way.  There are other examples that are pretty much closed to those who are not part of law enforcement, emergency first responders, or part of the Homeland Security infrastructure.  For some examples of courses available to state defense force personnel, go to www.ruraltraining.org. My view on this is that I have already spent the money in the form of taxation, now its time to get back some of what I already paid out.

Advantage – Experiences

Due to the nature of the missions of SDFs as most significantly applicable to natural disasters or large scale emergencies, SDF activation is most likely under those or similar circumstances.  In the states along the Gulf of Mexico our most frequent full activations are associated with hurricanes.  Operating in areas devastated by hurricanes with no running water, no electricity, no retail fuel sources, no retail food stores, no restaurants, etc., gives one an increased appreciation for some of what may be faced in a full grid-down environment.  There is literally no amount of simulation that can compare to operating in such an environment for an extended period.  Rather than trying to strain your brain to guess what might be faced and what the best responses are, reality is all around you to absorb and store as personal experience.  Recent events with large scale wildfires that have destroyed thousands of homes and disrupted the lives of thousands of Texans also provide us with the opportunity to experience some of what might be faced at various times.  Additionally, we gain experience with oil and chemical spills on those unfortunate occasions when Man’s plans don’t mesh well with God’s reality. 

Since we are not simply spectators from afar in these disasters and emergencies, we gain critical experience in how to respond in these situations, what equipment, resources, training, and techniques are most useful.  Essentially, state defense force personnel operate in the realm of hard reality in disaster areas, the value of which cannot be realistically substituted.  Though I have no experience with other states’ forces, my best guess is that every state with an SDF has some sort of practical operational application that will provide real world added value experience, be it tornados, earthquakes, flooding, etc.

Advantage – Resources

In some cases the state provides access to resources that would otherwise be unavailable or prohibitively expensive.  The first thing that comes to mind is bottled water and MREs.  During activation for disaster response, we are provided practically unlimited access to MREs, both for our use and distribution to impacted civilians.  At the conclusion of the disaster or emergency response, state officials have always indicated a preference for total distribution of these meals, as the effort to return them to storage represents additional and needless expense, particularly as these are provided by the federal government as part of the emergency management process.  As a lifelong taxpayer whose experience has seen money flowing one way, away from my pocket, I consider this legal and authorized retention of provided resources a reasonable partial return on prior payments.

Another element that might be seen as valuable to some is the first line access to vaccinations for pandemics for state military forces personnel and our nuclear family members.  Because of reported issues of major side-effects from vaccinations, I recognize everyone may not want one, but for those who do, we are provided first access as emergency response personnel. 

Some of the other advantages are federal income tax deductions for service associated equipment purchases such as gear, ammunition, uniform clothing, etc.  This, in and of itself, has a direct value for those who are still developing or deepening their preparedness resources.  In Texas there are some providers, vendors, or retailers who offer military discounts on non-military items.  Though there are many others, one example is the McDonald’s restaurant chain.  While this might not seem immediately relevant to a prepper, my perspective is that every dollar I don’t spend elsewhere is one more dollar that can be focused on preparedness needs and saving where possible is another element to improving one’s overall position.  Along this vein, we have college tuition reimbursement programs, discounts for various state or other government services, free vehicle registration, etc.  All these can pile up and represent a fairly tidy sum to apply toward your own disaster preparedness program.

Another resource consideration not to be overlooked is early access to critical decision-making information.  I was at one time assigned to the intelligence section of our unit, during which time I joined the National Military Intelligence Association which provides a regular open source compilation of daily news that might be of interest in improving situational awareness.  Also, because the state defense forces are integrated at the top levels with the national military and emergency management structure, to be effective in responding to a developing situation the personnel must be “brought on line” before an event reaches a critical point.  In the event a grid down collapse develops as opposed to occurs suddenly (such as a CME or nuclear incident), military personnel will receive warning orders or pre-activation notification.  Such information may provide sufficient lead time to activate your personal program, getting you and/or your family away from the immediate threat area if possible.  What I’m picturing is getting your family, friends, constituents, or group members rolling to a bug-out location immediately on receipt of such a notice, beating mass evacuations and/or roadblocks not yet set up.

Advantage – Association

While this is a bit intangible with pretty wide opportunities for success or failure, in my case it is directly responsible for being invited into an existing retreat plan.  As one inevitably discusses issues and events with those closest to you, there is a very good chance of interacting with like minded people who may have an interest in developing a closer association.  In my case, gaining access to a working ranch with an ongoing and relatively well developed program represents an immediate savings of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and may ultimately save the lives of me and my family.  While I don’t expect everyone to experience the same process exactly, I hope the value of interacting with military personnel with the same or similar understanding of threat probabilities is apparent to everyone.

Advantage – Legitimacy

Without getting into discussion of the Constitutional merits of independent non-aligned militias, my view is there are particular values relative to the legitimate exercise of authority in disaster environments through membership in a state sponsored militia.  The value of bearing a state issued and officially recognized military identification when moving in a developing threat environment can be extraordinarily high.  Military identification allows one to move legitimately in areas and along routes that are otherwise denied to the population at large.  This in and of itself has value in that during evacuation, if one were to be caught up in one, travel along otherwise restricted roadways greatly enhances the speed at which one can reach a particular location.  In my experience, approaching a roadblock in uniform with orders and ID in hand results in the removal of the roadblock before even coming to a full stop.  As a member of the state military forces, you are seen to be part of the legitimate response structure because you are a legitimate part of that structure.  All of the elements are designed to operate together to improve the overall response so, just as we might be manning a roadblock and move it aside for a law enforcement officer, a truck full of firemen, etc., the same benefit accrues to the SDF member.

An additional benefit to being a credentialed member of a state defense force in a post-collapse environment is there is naturally an ingrained unwillingness of most people to initiate hostilities with an apparently organized, uniformed, armed, military force moving through their environs.  While it is likely this would not always be the case, an increase in probability one can avoid conflict is an increase in the probability of eventual success in getting wherever it is you might be trying to go.  Secondly, in the likely event there are problematic persons or groups in an area you may be in, there is an increased probability legitimately credentialed military personnel could expect and receive greater assistance from an otherwise non-aligned populace.  In other words, people would be more prone to help out in forming a posse to crush some roaming gang if the request were to come from Gunnery Sergeant Smith and troops of the State Military Forces, than from Bob Smith, the guy who lives in the farm down the road with his friends and cousins.  Questions of authority and competence will likely be reduced in the first instance, whereas one can imagine folks wondering who in the heck this Bob guy thinks he is to come around trying to form a posse or whatever.

Furthermore, short-term post-collapse society may still include those do not grasp the extent of changes and whose prior positions and responsibilities in law-enforcement drive them to consider arresting openly armed persons.  In such a circumstance, were one to be traveling or operating with or without a group, being well-armed, uniformed, and credentialed should alleviate most concerns such a former law-enforcement individual might have.  My consideration is that SDF personnel are more likely to be welcomed as potential help, or even viewed as an opportunity to enlist into an apparently functional remnant of social stability, than be viewed as a potential threat justifying attempting an arrest.

Because most folks I speak to are more interested in thriving over the long-haul versus barely surviving, and recognize there are clear advantages to working as part of a community to achieve those aims, the likelihood of success is enhanced by an effective armed organization that can serve as the basis for community defense.  As in most things of a preparedness nature, early beats too late.  Joining your State Defense Force as soon as one reasonably can will provide the opportunities to gain from the advantages previously discussed.  Space limitations prevent me from expanding this discussion further, though in reality the advantages are extensive for preparedness minded folks.

Advantage – Oath Keeping and Honor Maintenance

One of my rules in life, but particularly regarding preparedness, is that most actions or decisions should have multiple justifications.  Service in state defense forces should not be simply to improve one’s preparedness posture, but also to serve our fellow citizens and work to improve society.  It is in our nature as decent people to help others in need and do our part in protecting what is great and positive in our nation and among our people.  We take oaths to do so, and desire to serve with honor and distinction.  The potential exists, however, that conflicts might arise regarding one’s duty to God, to self, to family, or to the state and fellow citizens.  One example that comes to mind is a need to focus on family in the event of a serious long-term illness.  Thankfully, most if not all state defense force services have an avenue should such an instance develop.

In general, the laws governing state defense forces provide personnel the option of resigning prior to completion of an enlistment period.  As a rule, enlistments are “open-ended” in that there is no cut-off date at which one must re-enlist to maintain active status, so when one is ready to discharge from a state defense force a resignation is performed – essentially a request for honorable discharge.  My research suggests past practice is, barring criminal activity or some heinous violation of the state code of military justice, honorable discharges are essentially immediately in effect upon resignation and officially granted as the paperwork gets processed.  By providing this option of resignation, a personal mechanism of control for the maintenance and assurance of personal honor and sense of duty exists that federal service members lack.  Federal forces do not have that luxury, but must generally fulfill their full terms of enlistment.

Disadvantages – Expense

State Defense Forces are usually not paid for training, and what they are paid for periods of activation are normally not much.  Because the budgets for state active service in militia units is fairly small, organizations that want to have an aggressive training program need to be inventive and willing to explore training opportunities both internally and from “non-traditional” training sources.  Fire departments may provide rappelling training, local police departments may offer training in SWAT tactics, Army National Guard units might help with land navigation, while an Air National Guard unit provides communication training.  The point is, unlike federally subsidized military forces with training bases, budgets, and large cadres of trainers and instructors, state forces frequently have to be more adaptive to practically non-existent training budgets to develop useful skill-sets and knowledge bases in their personnel.

Though there may be slots in the state budget for uniforms and gear, the reality is that most, if not all, of the necessary military uniforms and equipment must be privately purchased.  One of the mechanisms found to help mitigate the personal impact on this is creating a non-profit that accepts tax deductible donations from businesses to help defray large expenses.  This can be particularly helpful in areas that strongly support state defense forces.  Regardless, ideally everything purchased for service should be dual use as part of a personal disaster response plan, so the expenses are what one would already be spending anyway on preparedness supplies. 

Finally, many employers do not support their employees with paid time off for state military service, though my understanding is that in Texas there are laws that provides the same level of job protection as that afforded to personnel in federal or National Guard service.  On the other hand, some employers provide full pay and benefits while attending training or on active service deployments.  That would definitely be something to explore prior to joining a state defense force.


In my view based on my experience in the Texas Maritime Regiment of the Texas State Guard, from the standpoint of value in enhancing a personal preparedness strategy, the advantages of membership in a state defense force far outweigh the few disadvantages of cost.  I strongly encourage those who have state defense forces active in their states to seriously consider membership as a means of dramatically enhancing their preparedness posture.  For those in Texas who might wish to explore this further, please go to http://1bntmar.weebly.com/.  If you reside in a different state, Wikipedia has a complete list of states with active state defense forces, most with links to discover more from the official web sites.

My father was an engineer at Boeing, and Boeing builds in (or at least they used to) triple redundancy.  Kind of hard to find a hardware store or plane mechanic mid-air over the Atlantic, so you can see why what appears to be over-building really isn't in the case of an airplane.  You might think that to effect this on the ground you'd need three or more of everything, but that's not actually the case.  What you need for food, for example, is obviously more than one year's supply.  You aren't going to quit eating if you can help it, but what happens when your food stocks start to diminish?  Grow it.  That's your Plan B, put into effect as soon as you commence Plan A if you aren't already growing food.  Triple redundancy enters into the equation when you stop and consider how to deal with disease, a crop failure, bad weather or a bug infestation.  For example, do you know how to combine vegetable proteins in case your source of chickens or other animal protein is no longer available (quinoa happens to be a complete protein, BTW, and you can grow it in your garden in most climates)?  Note that this isn't a physical 'backup' per se; knowing how to combine proteins, and that you don't necessarily have to eat strange combinations of lentils and bean sprouts at the same meal to take advantage of the benefits of combining, isn't a thing, it's knowledge you acquire.  In this example, your plan A is your foodstuffs on hand, Plan B is your gardening, and Plan C, if the chickens die, is vegetarian protein combining.  Part of your 'Plan C' could be also be foraging or trading skills or goods for food as well. 
If you already have Plan A and Plan B, you probably already have a Plan C as well.  If your Plan C is kind of vague, now's a good time to play 'what if' and think what you would do, and what you would need, if Plans A and B weren't workable for some reason.  'Plan C' isn't restricted to what you do when everything else fails, either.  You can acquire and/or practice your 'Plan C' skills any time and incorporate them into your everyday life.  In the process you may find that Plan C is actually better than, or at least would be a good part of, Plans A or B.
Just as you regularly check the oil level in your car, you also need to check the feasibility and practicality of your disaster contingency plans.  Major changes and sometimes even minor ones should be looked at when they occur.  Plan B may be to bug out, but if so, what about health issues that have arisen that were not a problem when you were planning previously, such as illness or injuries?  Will you need to prepare for children who are not currently living at home but may come back to live with you?  Has a parent or other relative become dependant on you for support, or has a new baby entered the picture?   Plan C can also include options for alternate scenarios, such as 'Grandma comes to our house' vs. 'Grandma goes to Jane's house' and what you would do if Jane needed the supplies you put aside for Grandma or vice versa.
In my own planning, I got frustrated with all the detail, lack of detail and contradictions among different lists and lists of lists of supplies and confused as to how all those lists would actually assist me in preparing for what I personally need for emergencies.  In desperation, I started thinking, instead, in terms of tasks to try to simplify things, like how would I wash dishes, or bake biscuits.  When I break a task down into its composite parts or steps, I find I'm much more likely to prepare to be able to do that task without leaving out something critical. 
Take washing dishes as an example.  I know my process:  I usually scrape off the big chunks, rinse off the soluble stuff, and then slap on some dish soap and use a scrubber to go over the surface, inside and out.  Then I rinse the dish, drain it and then dry it if I'm feeling ambitious.   So, I need a scraper, water, something to hold the water, a scrubber, dish soap, vinegar (for the rinse water – it removes soap and is also a disinfectant), something to put the dishes on while they drain, a towel to dry the dishes, and – what?  Did I leave anything off?  Yep, some way of heating the water.  There's no way I'm washing dishes in ice-cold water in winter.  So, add a big pot and a way of making fire to the mix just in case.  Oh, and some hand lotion.  No dishpan hands for me!
One step further:  I'm making dirty water and towels when I wash dishes (paper plates are only good in the short term; eventually, you have to go back to the hard copies, as it were).  How to dispose of the water?  Easy:  toss it somewhere out of the way and it will fertilize plants (I'm on acreage so that's not an issue) or filter and boil it for reuse.  How to clean the towels?  Back to the task-based method of breaking down what I need:  water, a container, a heat source, soap, a way of drying the towels, and some way of agitating the water and soap together to get the towels clean.  This will work for washing other things like clothes, so preparing for that task is already pretty much thought out.  Similarly, how to make bread?  We have a grill, and plenty of mesquite charcoal – might make for some interesting biscuits – but I need recipes that will work (see the Prepared Pantry web site for emergency bread recipes), a way of telling the temperature so I don't make more charcoal (oven thermometer), a way of timing the cooked items (dial timer), plus all the usual pots and measuring cups, ingredients, etc.  In this instance, the only thing I needed was recipes because everything else was already on hand.
This doesn't rule out the use of lists of items.  Rather, it's an adjunct to lists, especially if you are relying on someone else's list.  It's just like thinking of cooking something or making something only to realize once you start in on it that you are out of a key ingredient or component, like eggs or a decent table saw blade.  The recipe is a list of ingredients, and reviewing it will remind you you're out of eggs; a bill of materials can act as the 'recipe' in the same way.  In the case of cooking or prototyping where you might not be relying on a recipe or plan, your 'list' is partially task based and partially list based, based on extrapolating from previous experience and your mental run-down of what you have on hand for the task as you gather materials or ingredients.
You may find that for some tasks you need to visualize what needs to be done in order to come up with a task based list if they are things you don't do every day and can't easily replicate on the spur of the moment.  Try imagining how you would do a task if you didn't have all your usual tools and materials.  No power = no sewing machine that runs on electricity.  Do you have a treadle?  Can you sew by hand?  Do you have adequate scissors for cutting fabric?  Needles to sew with?  Thread, pins and buttons?  Ever put in a zipper by hand?  Sewn on a button or snap?  Mentally going through the process may alert you to related things you either need to practice or learn to do from scratch as well as what you need on hand to do the task.
If you are preparing for a task that someone else usually does, you may need input from that person, keeping in mind that memory may not be reliable when coming up with a list of items needed because the person who does the task regularly may not stop and think about the process each time it's done, but rather go by rote.  One way to reduce gaps in preparing is to have that person actually teach you the process; between the two of you, you should have a fairly good idea of what's needed and you can ask questions about the process to get a more in-depth view of needed supplies.  Washing dishes, for example, might have additional requirements like copper cleaner for the bottoms of pots and pans or salt to clean a cast iron pot, depending on personal preference; I wash the dishes and I doubt my husband would think to have salt on hand to clean the Dutch oven.
Sometimes you have to think in terms of actual functionality to get something better than what's available for, say, agitating water while washing clothes.  A personal example for me is a commercially-made device that you plunge up and down in the water.  It's pricey and I read that it tends to rust.  Well, toilet plungers don't rust.  Problem is they have short handles.  So, new toilet plunger, and a longer, screw-in handle to make it easier to use.  Result:  washing device that won't rust, was cheap, and is easy on the back.
Another example might be a paint brush temporarily taped to the end of a mop handle to reach a high corner when the ladder's not convenient.  You can see this in action on a much larger scale on the Instructables or Lifehacker web sites, among others, where people deliberately set out to stretch the boundaries of a material's uses or find entirely new uses for something – and it's not all duct tape wallets.  In reality, this is all MacGyver was doing, thinking of items not in terms of their names or usual intended purposes, but more as raw material with which to build. 
A potato peeler can peel other vegetables and fruit too; a mesh tea ball can also hold bay leaves and rosemary for pot roast, and you can make a funnel out of the top of a plastic water bottle or aluminum foil or even a piece of paper in a pinch.  Ignore the name of the thing – what does it do?  What is it capable of being used for in terms of strength or durability or flexibility?  What could you put it to use for instead of its usual or intended purpose? 
If you don't have what you need to do the task, what else have you got that can you use?  Everything is free game for repurposing.  What you call it isn't what it's limited to.  What it's usually used for isn't the only thing you can use it for.
If you've ever run out of something while cooking, you're familiar with this process.  If you don't have a ½ cup measure available and need a pretty exact amount of something, what else can you use?  Four measures using a coffee scoop (two tablespoons), among other things.  If you run out of eggs, you can substitute unsweetened applesauce in many recipes.  No nail set handy?  Another nail will do in a pinch.  These are perfectly good 'McGyvers', ways of achieving the desired end while using a different measure or ingredient or component. 
It may take time to make these methods part of your preparations if you choose to use them; they may involve letting go of some preconceptions such as the 'proper' use for an item or you may find it too disruptive to change from a list-based to a list-and-task-based system.  You may find, however, that just thinking about your planning can result in an entirely new and more effective methodology. 

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
I'd like to thank J.C.R. for his article on the survival kit tins.  I have been meaning to put mine together for a while his article definitely gave me some more things to think about.  However, while I have not completed my tin build, I have been thinking about the different aspects. 

I have seen various articles advising that we prepare for what is most likely first (power outage, snowed in for a few days, etc.) up to however far you want to take it (up to a total apocalyptic event).  With this in mind, I feel you should build your tin for the most likely situation you will find yourself in.  For instance, if you are about to go hiking, hunting, camping, or similar type activity, then what we normally think of as the "survival tin" should be taken along.  However, if you are going to church and then out to eat afterwards, a different type of tin could be carried.  Whereas one tin would contain fire and steel, the other would contain a highlighter.  Paracord is replaced with floss.  You get the idea.  Of course there can be a lot of overlap.  Flashlights, band aids, and common medication will be handy in almost any situation.  As my tins are still a work in progress, I do not have much advice on what to carry but figuring out what you think you might need is half the fun. 

One thing I am interested in trying out is adding small containers of liquids and gels to the kit.  I commonly have access to dental supplies and some of the containers are quite small and seal up very well.  I was thinking I might add some vaseline to help give my kindling some staying power or a little bleach to help make me feel safer about the water.  So once you decide you need a tin for 10 different situations, how do you keep them all straight?  It turns out that Altoids actually makes a variety of different flavors of mints and each flavor is color coded so you can easily color code your tin to your situation.  How great is that?  Also, if you just don't think you can fit a standard Altoids tin into your pocket or purse, Altoids also makes Altoid Minis which come in miniature Altoids tins.  Now you have no excuse.   - T.N. in Tennessee

Amid the City, Learning to Survive in the Wild. (Thanks to Mary F. for the link.)

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Important Safety Tip, Kids: Just like with an AT-4 or LAW, Always Check Your Backblast Area

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Tam posted some great commentary on the dark side of biometrics.

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Why did a police officer fire gas canister into crowd trying to help injured Iraq veteran? This is the sort of JBT behavior that I warned about.

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This map provides yet another good data point in support of the American Redoubt plan: How close is the nearest nuclear power plant?

"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." - John 6:39-40 (KJV)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As hunting season begins to kick into high gear here in central North Carolina and I begin to drag out my gear and go over it like a child on Christmas morning, I thought of something.  The thoughts of a basic survival kit came to mind.  As I replayed a situation many years old that could have gone badly, I made up my mind to look seriously into putting together a kit.  Several years ago while deer hunting in eastern North Carolina, me and my hunting buddy wandered off into a marshy swamp and spent all day trying to get out.  I know what you are thinking…shoulda, coulda, woulda.  My first mistake was assuming that since we were hunting his family’s land that he knew where he was going.  Wrong.  The first lesson learned there, never relegate the responsibility of direction finding to someone else…if they insist, then you have a backup.  The second lesson is that out in the true wilderness, it gets so dark that you can slap yourself in the face and can’t see it coming.  Well guess what?  Life began to get in the way and I forget all about my plans.  How many of us have done that?  Then I get a reminder.  On September 30, 2011 the BBC News had an article on their web site that was forwarded to me by a friend.  The article was titled “Great Moments in Human Survival and Endurance”.  As I read the basic sketches of eleven separate instances of miraculous survival including the latest, a 67-year-old man that ran off the road in California and survived six days until he was found, it occurred to me.  In nine out of eleven stories a basic survival kit would have greatly helped and in most cases decreased the time it took them to be rescued.   Based on my own experiences and time spent in the woods alone, I began to put together what I hope is a kit I never need but could supply that basics should the need arise.

Why do you need a survival kit?
Because you never know when you’ll need what it could contain.  When we set off that beautiful morning, the sun was shining and it was warm.  The weather conditions were perfect and we still got lost.  When that 67-year-old man climbed into his car, I can assure you a life-threatening accident never crossed his mind.  No one expects to get in trouble or be put in harm’s way…I would think we would be smarter than to charge into that unless someone else was in danger.  Not all emergencies occur in the wilderness.  So to borrow the motto of the Boy Scouts, let’s “Be Prepared”…for most anything.

What size kit do you need?
As you have probably read over and over as to what particular firearm makes the best personal defense weapon it seems that each article always ends with some statement along the lines of the best weapon is the one you will have with you when you actually need it.  I think it would also be safe to say the same thing about your survival kit.  It should be big enough to carry some basic items but not so big you leave it behind because it is too much trouble, or you don’t want it to be noticed.  I settled on a kit built around the Altoids Mint container.  This is a small tin that measures 3½” long, 2¼” wide and ¾” deep. Seems like a perfect size for a pocket, purse, glove box, coat pocket, or desk drawer.  Add to the fact that it is already camouflaged into something that would look normal if someone saw it in any of those places.  If you are putting together a kit for the car or truck, you might want to go bigger, but for what were are trying to accomplish, this will work nicely.  And being made of metal it will serve other purposes as well as we will see.

Should I just buy one or make my own?
If you are looking for something quick and convenient, then by all means purchase your kit already assembled.  We would much rather have you prepared than not, but what fun would it be to purchased a kit that someone else put together.  I few notes on pre-assembled kits.  There are several good kits out there but I’d like to mention a couple things.  I have noticed that often these kits are slightly larger than the usual Altoids candy tins.  Many of them are also put together with products that may be inferior to what you would put into your own kit.  If you build your own, then you’ll probably either know how to use each item or quickly learn.  If you purchase a kit, I bet you’ll probably never open it and instead just tuck it away feeling good that you have one. Some offer a waterproof seal built in and none of them are disguised as a candy tin.  Expect to pay around $35 or so plus shipping for the convenience. I prefer the build-your-own option.  A plus to building your own is often you’ll have to purchase some things in a quantity that will allow you to build multiple kits.  And I think we can do it for less than $35-40.

What are the contents of this kit?
Before we get into the exact contents of the kit, I’d like to assume that you at least have a pocket knife on your person.  If you have pockets or carry a purse, do yourself a favor and carry a pocket knife…unless it is illegal to do so.  In designing this kit I would also like to add that I have watched countless videos on You-Tube as well as read several articles on numerous web sites.  This, along with years of hunting and spending a little nature time in that swamp, I’ve settled on this as my current kit.  Instead of just going down a list of things to include in this kit, let’s instead break up the items into specific categories.

  • Fire and Light
  • Water and Food
  • Signaling and Navigation
  • Medical
  • Miscellaneous and Multipurpose

No matter which survival kit you choose, make sure that it can cover the basics in each of these areas and you’ll be better prepared than most.

  • Fire and Light
    • Waterproof Storm Matches – I wrapped up three of these with two strikers in a plastic baggie.  Purchased a couple of boxes of 25 each for $5.50 from REI.  Three matches would cost about $.66.
    • Photon II Micro-Light– These are sold everywhere as a light for your keychain.  I removed the ring for added space but if you have to go to the kit as a resource, be sure to put this on the same lanyard as the whistle.  You want to make sure you don’t lose it.  Also make sure that you purchase one that has the button that will lock the light in the “on” position.  It’s really hard to light a fire in the dark while trying to hold down the button on the light in your teeth or with the extra hand you don’t have.  These lights practically lasts forever.  This cost $8.39 from REI but I believe I could have gotten it cheaper at the local home improvement stores.
    • Fresnel magnifier – This works great when the sun is shining bright and it will also double as a magnifying glass for removing splinters and reading fine print.  What fine print?  We’ll get to that.  It was part of a packet of magnifying glasses from the local drugstore.  Purchased separately it would run about $4.
    • Fire-steel – You’d be surprised at the sparks something so small can create.  Notice I didn’t say fire-steel with striker.  We have other things in the kit for that.  And you also should have your pocket knife.  Now you have three ways to make fire without using string and rubbing blisters.  Granted, you should be familiar with that method as well…as a last ditch effort.  I purchased this from www.firesteel.com for about $2.  You can spend more and you can spend less.
    • Tinder-Quik fire tabs– Any brand will actually work as long it is of the soft fiber type.  We’ll place these in different areas of the tin to make sure things don’t rattle.  I little fire tinder never hurt anyone and will be a huge help if trying to start a fire in wet weather.  I have wrapped them in these little plastic baggies that I purchased at the hobby store.  A couple of bucks will give you far more than you need for this kit.  Purchased this from Dick’s Sporting Goods.  The pack had 12 pieces in it for $5.95 making it about $.50 each or $1.00 for our kit.
  • Water and Food
    • Water Purification Tablets – Remember that there are four quarts in a gallon and that the Red Cross recommends a gallon per day per person.  Twelve tablets here will provide a 3-day supply.  This should be the minimum, pack twelve and then if space allows add more.  If you choose a brand that stores them in a glass bottle, you’ll need to wrap what you need in a plastic baggie.  Then I would wrap it in a second baggie.  Water ties with fire in a survival situation.  Sometimes it is more valuable than fire and sometimes less, but always needed, so let’s take care of those tablets.  Shop around; these can be purchased for about $6 for 20 tablets at most outdoor sporting good stores costing us $3.60.
    • Quart Zip-Loc© Bag – I chose a major brand name as the quality is a little better than discount brands.  I chose a Zip-Loc© type so that you might be able to store water in a sealed bag.  If possible, try to get the freezer type bag as the plastic slightly thicker.  I “borrowed” one from the kitchen cabinets.  Several web sites have suggested using a non-lubricated condom.  Let’s think about this for a couple of seconds.  First the thought of drinking from a condom doesn’t appeal to me and secondly, it will not be too sturdy if you have to travel back to your camp site.  You could in fact use your sock as an outer case for it but what if it is really cold and you need your sock…I’ll stick with the baggie.
    • Piece of drinking straw with flexible section – I have seen this included in another kit from You-Tube and questioned it until I saw an episode of Dual Survivor where Cody talked about using a straw to drink water from improvised containers or if really desperate, a puddle.  I have cut the top piece to fit the width of the tin and the part below the flex joint to fit the length of the tin.  I noticed that a local fast food restaurant was putting these in their kid’s meals…talked the kids out of a couple of them.
    • Packets of Salt and Pepper – The salt and pepper are to make anything you catch taste different.  If space permits, throw in a packet of rehydration solution that is prepackaged.  These can be purchased at many outdoor/sports stores for next to nothing.  Better to be safe than sorry with this one.  The packets came from same restaurants as the straws.
    • Bouillon Cubes – I have wrapped one of these into those little plastic baggies mentioned earlier that I purchased from the hobby store. This is better than nothing at soothing hunger pains until you can find or catch something else.  If nothing else, it will buy you some time.  Taken from the cabinet that the spices are in.
    • Braided Fishing Line – I have chosen the braided line over all others as it doesn’t lose its strength at fast as other types of fishing line.  Have you every picked up a fishing reel that has been setting for a while and been able to break the line with your hand?  Braided just holds up better.  It is harder to cut as well and can double as heavy duty sewing thread as well.  30 lb. test will be all you need and I can get 30 feet or so wrapped on a sewing machine bobbin that picked up at Wal-Mart.   Pull off what I needed from one of the reels I have.  There was plenty, sure hope I don’t need it later.
    • Fishing tackle – Small hooks and split-shot weights are what you need here.  You can catch larger fish with lighter tackle but will struggle to catch small fish with big hooks, etc.  I raided my own tackle box for these items.
    • 24 gauge wire – I have included 10 feet in this kit.  It can be used for all kinds of tasks, not just making snares.  I purchased mine from a home improvement center and it cost about $3 for 50 yards or just 20 cents for our kit.  I wrapped this on the same bobbin as the fishing line on the outside.  I’ll take a stick and transfer the wire to this if I need the fishing line first.
  • Signaling and Navigation
    • Signal Mirror – I went out and purchased a nice one from a camping supply store only to discover that it was much too thick and thus took up too much room.  That was okay, it can go in my Bug-Out Bag.  So I decided to make my own.  Look around for an old gift card or save the card from the credit card offer you received in the mail.  Back to the hobby store and buy some mirrored Mylar film with adhesive on the back.  Just make sure when you wrap the card not to leave any wrinkles.  Next drill a ½” hole in the center and for $3.49 you have a very thin signal mirror and a ton of left over Mylar.  It is not the best but thin and it will work with some practice.
    • Thin Whistle – For this piece of equipment, I looked at several whistles, finally settling on the ACR 3 Res-Q Whistle.  It is very loud and very thin.  Leave the lanyard attached.  As soon as you see yourself relying on this kit, hang the whistle around your neck.  You want it to be handy if someone has a chance of hearing you.  The cost was $4.49
    • Button Compass – A button compass is not extremely accurate but we are not land surveyors.  We are looking to establish basic directions.  You can pick up a 20mm button compass that is not liquid filled for $0.99 each at Firesteel.com.
  • Medical Supplies
    •  Band-Aids – Two will do nicely.  The kids will never miss them.  It will be two less that they can use on their ‘boo-boos”
    • Medical Tape – Pack the waterproof kind.  Wrap it around the pencil.  The medicine cabinet gave up a couple of feet for the kit.  I used two 12” pieces wrapped in separate sections to keep the pencil from getting to fat.
    • 2 Pre-1982 US Pennies – These work great for soothing stings and bits.  Don’t ask me how but with four kids, I can attest that this works.  Just tape one over the bite or sting and leave it…
    • Anti-diarrheal tablets – Nothing makes surviving harder that a bad case of diarrhea.  Pack enough for a couple of cycles.  I placed all tablets in the same baggie and then label the baggie as to what color pill is what.  Remember, this is your personal survival kit so you will not have to worry about someone else trusting you when it is time to pass out medicine.  The medicine cabinet donated these tablets as well.
    • Ibuprofen Tablets – Drop six or eight of these into your baggie.  It may mean the difference in being able to think straight or enduring a headache or body pain.  Always start in the medicine cabinet…lots of goodies there.
  • Miscellaneous and Multipurpose
    • Altoids Tin – Not only will this serve as the container for all of this stuff, but remove the lid and now you have a small container to boil water in (the bottom) and a small pan to heat up whatever food you can scrounge up.  Break up some of the bouillon cubes in hot water and you’d be surprised how much better you feel.  If you have to use it like this, take the small nail or use the tip of your pocket knife and put some small holes in the sides of both the top and bottom and take some of the snare wire and make handles.  This will make it much easier to get it in and out of the fire.  I picked up the first one in the check-out line at the grocery store for $1.99.  The bonus was the mints.
    • Laminated family picture with a SURVIVAL acronym on the back with a couple verses of scripture. – I have moved this into the second slot of items mentioned here for a very specific reason.  The will to survive will play much more of a factor than anything else in this kit.  A family picture to generate happy thoughts will inspire you to reach deep down within yourself to find that little extra effort you’ll need. Be sure to print your name, address, and phones numbers that family members could be reached should you be found but disoriented.  Also on the back of this picture I have included the survival acronym so that when you need to clear your head you can read and re-read over them.  It will help you to focus your thoughts.  I have also included a couple of my favorite Bible verses.  This will help me to keep my attitude and heart in check.  With these three in hand, I should be able to muster the mental, spiritual, and emotional horsepower needed to get me through almost any ordeal.  The wife had some laminating paper left over from one of the kid’s school projects.  The survival acronym is as follows:
      • S – “Size up the situation”
      • U – “Undue haste makes waste”
      • R – “Remember where you are”
      • V – “Vanquish fear and panic”
      • I – “Improvise”
      • V – “Value Living”
      • A – “Act like the natives”
      • L – “Learn basic skills”
    • Magnetized sewing needles with thread – A magnetized needle floating in water will let you know which way is north.  This provides a backup to the button compass described earlier.  I also made sure that the eye of the needle will also work with the braided fishing line for some serious repairs.  As I watch some of the survival show on television, I wonder what would happen if the button that holds their pants together were to come off.  It would be bad trying to stay alive while also holding your pants up.  All of the sewing stuff came from my wife’s sewing basket.  I sure hope she doesn’t notice everything she is missing.
    • Buttons (1 large and 1 small) – This would complete the emergency sewing kit.
    • Safety Pins – I have included two…okay this actually completes the emergency sewing kit.
    • Duct tape – You’ll find a thousand uses for this, from a makeshift band-aid to repairing a hole in the Zip-Loc© baggie.  Wrap this around the pencil.  I purchased a roll of the Gorilla brand duct tape a couple months back for use around the house, so I already had this as well.  I split it down the middle of the tape and used two 12” pieces wrapped around the pencil. 
    • String – We don’t have a lot but enough to assist with shelter building, signal construction, traps or snares, etc.  Took a couple of feet out of one of the junk drawers in the kitchen.
    • Paper clips – This little piece of metal seems to show up in all kinds of list for 10 essentials with regards to equipment and repair.  They take up no space and so I have included two.  I once saw a You-tube video of a guy picking a lock with paper-clips.  Not advocating this, but the possibilities are almost limitless. “Borrowed” these from the office.  Next time you are at the bank, ask the teller if they have some…no kidding, they’ll give you a hand full of them.
    • 2 Razor blades – I have included two of these.  Purchase the type that is the replacement blades for utility knives.  This will be a back up for our pocket knife.  I put a little piece of duct tape on the edges so as to not get cut going through the contents of the kit.  In the most extreme case they could be what you’d use in an emergency first-aid situation.  I don’t even like to think about that.  I scrounged up a couple of new ones from the tool box.
    • Aluminum Foil – A 2 foot square will provide a way to cook with or heat water, or signal with, but not all of the above.  Use sparingly as once you start to work with it, it becomes more fragile.  If you can, include the heavy duty type. Back to the kitchen when the wife isn’t looking.
    • Flexible Wire Saw – You never know when you’ll need to cut something that is bigger than what a pocketknife or a couple of razor blades can handle.  This could also double as a secondary snare.  I purchased my first one from Wal-Mart for about $3. 
    • 2 Small Nails – I have dropped in a couple of medium-sized finishing nails.  I decided that a wire handle would be great if I have to use the container as a cooking utensil and a nail would be a great way to put the hole in the tin.  The nails could also be used as a “trigger” for some traps.  They may come in handy for something else too.
    • Cash – I have folded up $30 for my kit.  I figure if I actually wonder out of a situation and back into civilization…a little cash might make getting fed or home a little easier.  Could also double as fire tinder in extremis.  What is it worth or what did it cost?  That is a different discussion.
    • Pencil and Paper – I know you are thinking I’d burn this paper before burning the cash.  Hold that thought.  If after you have done all that is within your power, knowledge, skills and luck and the inevitable seems certain, this piece of paper and pencil might bring closure and peace to your loved ones.  No one likes to think about this but in your final minutes, write your family a quick note.  It will bring you a small level of peace but they will cling to that note forever.  It could be your very last gift to them.  The paper was a piece of 3”x5” card and the pencil came from the golf bag.  Don’t play golf?  Just ask around, I’ll bet you know someone that plays the game.  Those short pencils are perfect and already the right size.

Alternatives and Upgrades for the kit?
As with anything in life there are always upgrade or alternatives.  If I look at each category and picked a couple of items to upgrade it might look something like this.  In the water and food category, I might simply add a couple of small fishing flies.  It would save time looking for bait.  For the signaling and navigation category, I’d add a liquid-filled compass in place of the one I have included.  It would add about $1.25 to the cost.  In the medical category, I would buy the best in the band-aids and make them waterproof.  You might add a single 3/0 or 4/0 suture packet that will run you about $6 each from Amazon.  For the Miscellaneous category, I would upgrade the cable saw from the $3 one from Wal-Mart to an $8 version that is rated for more serious use.  Some have included a Jig-Saw blade in place of the cable saw.  It would certainly pack easier and give you more room but you would lose a secondly source of snare wire.   Another item to consider if you are in the urban environment more than the great outdoors is a P-38 can opener.  I bought several for 30 cents each from the local surplus store.  I might also up the cash from $30 to $40.

Where did you get the contents of the kit?
The first thing I did was to purchase the Altoids Mints.  This gave me some time to assemble the contents as we consumed the mints.  I wasn’t about to waste the mints for the container.  I made a quick list of these items.  The next thing I did was to grab a gallon Zip-Loc© bag and as I found or “borrowed” those items from around the house and bought them, I just dumped them into the bag and marked them off the list until I had everything I needed.  Every time I wandered into a store, I would make a pass around the hardware and/or sporting goods department, picking up items here and there.  Look around the house and office real good for as many of these items as you can find before spending any hard-earned money. You can shop around the internet for these items as well but be careful.  You could actually purchase almost every single item on the list from Amazon but the shipping would end up costing you more than the products.  For instance, I purchased a dozen of the compasses from www.firesteel.com when I bought the pieces of fire-steel.  Then I gave the extra compasses to the boys in my son’s Cub Scout den.  I didn’t feel so bad about the shipping then.  For the harder to find items, look for a web site that sells several of the products and compare that purchase as a whole.  Someone might have a better price on water purification tablets, but with everything else factored in, not be such a good deal.  Check out www.campmor.com.  They will have a lot of these things as well as other preparedness items. 

How do you get all of the stuff in such a small package?
This was the toughest part of all.  I have to cut some corners to get it all in there.  For instance in my original plans, I had six waterproof matches and a packet of antibiotic ointment, but it just wouldn’t fit.  I also tried to find a way to include an eye glass repair kit and that didn’t happen either.  With a bigger tin, these are options.

The first thing to place in the tin was the two razor blades, next in went the Fresnel magnifier.  Next I added the home-made signal mirror to keep it from getting scratched.  Then I added the folded up square of aluminum foil.  I tried to fold it to the same size as the tin and I’m not sure I was able to get the entire two foot included.  Next I put the piece of 3”x5” card that was cut to fit the tin.  This will protect the foil.    Now fold up the Zip-Loc bag in place it in there.  I placed the straw into one of the corner.  Inside the straw on the short end I stuffed the magnetized needle and the two nails.  On the longer section of straw, I stuffed the fire-steel.  On the other side I laid the pencil with the tape on it.  In one corner I put the button compass and in another I placed the sewing machine bobbin that has 30 feet of fishing line with a little more than 10 feet of 24-guage wire on it.  In the last corner I placed the bouillon cube that is wrapped in plastic.  That fills up all four corners.  On top of the pencil, I placed the waterproof matches that have been wrapped in plastic.  In the middle of the tin, I placed the flexible wire saw.  In the middle of that, I placed the salt and pepper packets and then the water purification tablets other medicine.  One the other side of the tin, over the straw, I placed the flat ACR whistle.  That Photon II Micro-Light was a bear to get in there…it ended up hogging the space on one of the ends.  I was able to fold up the fishing tackle for the other end of the tin.  So what is left?  We have a couple of Tinder-Quik fire tabs, we’ll use these for packing to keep the contents quiet.  We also have the Band-aids, cash and picture.  We’ll tuck these into the lid.  We have two pennies, the buttons, safety pins, paper clips, and a piece of string.  I have tried a dozen different combinations for this before I was able to get them tucked here and crammed there.  The lid will shut but it is a very tight fit.  I am sure that it will pop open at some time or die trying, so I taped all four sides with clear tape to hold it shut.  Where I work, we have a machine that will shrink-wrap goods.  I was thinking I might get it shrink wrapped to help make it waterproof.  You could also just put it into another Zip-Loc bag.  I admit that this was the hardest step.

Where do you carry it?
While this may seem like a silly question it may not be.  If you are hunting, then by all means carry it in your coat pocket.  It is less likely to make noise there.  If you are hiking with cargo pants, put it in one of your cargo pockets or front pocket, not in your backpack.  You make become separated from your pack.  I wouldn’t recommend carrying it in your back pocket.  If you sit down wrong or fall, it will not only bend up the case but will leave a nice bruise as a reminder.  It is best if you can keep it with you at all times but that is merely fantasy land thinking.  If in the car, keep it where you can reach it from the driver seat while buckled up.  You never know if you’ll be pinned in and need those items.  If at your desk, keep it where you can quickly grab it if you have to vacate the premises’ or an earthquake leaves you stuck.  Keep it as close as you can without cramping your lifestyle.   I plan on making several kits to leave in the automobiles, the desk, the hunting coat, the Bug-Out Bag, etc.  Just don’t forget where you put them.  

How often do you update your kit?
You need to check the contents of your kit once a year.  You need to replace all of the first aid items yearly.  I work the band-aids back into the current box and throw away the old medicine, replacing it with new tablets.  Check your water purification tablets as well.  Their shelf-life is much longer than the medicine but it is not indefinite.  I replace the Zip-Loc bag as well.  You want to make sure you have a fresh one in there.  The idea is to go back through the entire kit once a year.  This is good for two reasons.  The first is to replace anything that is not outdated or unusable.  For instance if you keep the kit in your car, chances are the tape will have “melted” the sticky stuff out.  The second reason for going completely through the kit is to remind you of what you have placed in it.  It is not a time capsule, it is a survival kit.  The time to discover that the needle has lost its magnetic properties is not when you need to see which way is North.  You get the picture.  I have placed a label on the bottom of my kit that has the month and year that I last updated it.  I will cross out the previous date and write in the new one.

So what is the final cost of this kit?
The final cost of the kit turned out to be a little more that I would have originally guessed.  Without the upgrades, it came in at around $36 dollars.  While it is true that I ended up with enough stuff to practically finish out a couple of other kits, it was more than I expected.  I still had fun putting it together and involved my son in the process as well.  I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have if I had just whipped out the credit card and purchased a pre-made kit, and I know exactly what is in the kit.

In Conclusion
Whether you build or buy your kit, look back over this article and size up the pre-made kit.  I would also recommend that if you buy a kit; fill it in with some of these items.  There isn’t a survival kit in the world the will be delivered to your door with a laminated picture of your family with encouraging words written on the back.  This kit does at least have seven out of the “10 essentials” represented.  This kit combined with the Everyday Carry Items that I wrote about and was posted on Survivalblog.com on September 20, 2011, you’ll have a great start if the trip goes bad.  The overall message here is to have some type of kit that will give you an added advantage if you are ever unfortunate enough to have to need a survival kit. I hope we have given you something to think about no matter what size kit you put together.

In a recent article, Jerry M. mentioned:

“One more thing worth mentioning is the small rifle and small pistol primers are the same size cups, same as the large rifle and large pistol primers are the same size. The cups on the pistol primers are a little thinner than the rifle, for obvious reasons, most rifle firing pins hit a lot harder than pistols do. I have used rifle primers in pistol rounds, and they seem to work fine. You might run into problems on S&W revolvers, using rifle primers, if you have the spring tension screw backed off to get a lighter trigger pull, but this could also happen with pistol primers, if backed off too far. Men sometime do this for wives who have trouble shooting double action, don't! Your taking a chance on a misfire when you do this. And never use a pistol primer in a rifle round, the cup is too thin and if the firing pin penetrates the primer, you will get gas back in your face.”

To add emphasis and a clarification to Jerry's warning: Rifle and pistol primers may have the same diameters, but they don't have the same height. Using a large rifle primer in a pistol case will cause the primer to protrude above the case head, since large rifle primers are deeper (taller) than large pistol primers.  Worst case, a semi-auto pistol (like a Model 1911) could be “slam-fired” or even double (go into uncontrolled full auto fire).
Please use the correct primer for the cartridge you are reloading! - J.B. in Tennessee

C.Z. sent this YouTube clip: Thailand supermarket empty during floods

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Several readers sent me this: ‘Rogue Web sites’ Bill Creates Chinese-Style Ban List. JWR's Comment: Even though piracy of my books by the the umpteen "torrent" web sites cost me thousands of dollars a year in lost book sale royalties, I oppose this legislation. It provides a mechanism that could easily be abused by a would-be tyrant. It is reminiscent of the Great Firewall of China "Golden Shield" or Jīndùn Gōngchéng.) What is being proposed is a domain name re-direct feature rather than true blocking. They want ISPs and web search engines to re-direct blacklisted domain names to to the IP address of an FBI warning page. Presumably, a site's dotted quad IP address would still work. This is one more reason why you need to write down or bookmark the IP addresses of your favorite blogs and web sites.

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Something vaguely reminiscent of the opening scene in the movie Cool Hand Luke, courtesy of F.G.: Don't argue with a man with power tools.

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Over at Mac Slavo's blog: Clinging to Their Guns: Firearm Ownership Soars to Multi-Decade Highs. (But note that this great piece begins with a quote incorrectly attributed to Yamamoto. That quote sounds great and encapsulates a truth, but its attribution has been refuted.)

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A useful instructional video: Rendering Deer Tallow

"Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.

Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:

And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee." - Deuteronomy 7:9-13 (KJV)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Having spent my teenage years in my dad's commercial reloading shop, circa 1955 to1958, I learned quite a bit about reloading ammunition. Back then we loaded mostly .30-06, .30-30 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .300 Savage, 250 Savage and other old calibers that were excellent deer and elk rifles. Long before the magnum mania came about, these rifles were killing big game, and doing it quite well.

Many today find this unbelievable, but back when the silver certificates were money, and fiat currency was only a dream of the globalist bankers, you could buy a pound of DuPont 4895, a box of 100- .30 caliber JSP bullets, and a box of 100 Large rifle primers for less than $5! And the best Winchester and Remington .22 Long Rifle cartridges were 50 to 60 cents per box of 50!

But those days are long gone now, and JSP bullets of all kinds now run well over $20 a hundred, and $30 for the specialty bullets. And today the gun manufactures are under the illusion that you have to come out with a new caliber every year, just like the auto industry, to sell guns to the public. This one has a little more destructive bullet and is 30 FPS faster than the last caliber that came out, But I'll guarantee you the deer or elk has no idea how fast the bullet was that took him down, whether is came at 1,600 FPS, or 3,500 FPS, he's just as dead. And remember, before 1900, all bullets traveled at less than 2,000 FPS, and many were in the 1,200 to 1,500 FPS category, and  they killed everything that walked the American continent.

Most people on fixed incomes are always looking for alternatives to the high prices of ammo when making other preparations for the coming collapse. Well, a bullet mold for each rifle and pistol caliber you own is a good investment. And some old advise from Elmer Keith, always get the biggest bullet that will function in the calibers you shoot! And I feel most of the time, this is very true, especially with cast bullets. But there are exceptions with mold and bullet designs. I like the Lee mold 121 grain plain base truncated cone in the 9mm, which I find also works well in the .380 ACP. But I shoot the 195-200 grain dome bullet in the .38 Special.  I still have the first mold that I bought for  $6.00 complete with handles, a Lyman 357446 Semi Wadcutter (SWC) 160 grain. And I wouldn't shoot anything less than a 230 grain in the 45 ACP, I've seen too many failures of the lighter weight JHPs. But that's a personal choice. In the old S&W .45 ACP revolvers (Model 1917 and 1934 Brazilian) I like the 255 grain Keith SWC with 5 grains of Unique powder, which seems to drop badly if shooting over 150 yards out of the Commander size M1911 autos.

By the way, don't get caught up in the gun writers in the gun magazines. They are writing for the money, and get most of the things they write about from the factory for just writing an article about it. I use to get a kick out of Charles Askins, one article the revolver is much superior to the auto loader, the next month or so, the auto loader was better than the revolver! It was just a matter of who sent him what at the time, which was the better gun.

If you are just starting out with your preps, Watch the yard sales and pawn shops for bargains on reloading equipment. I suggest an old Lyman lead pot that can be used over a fire, along with their dipper. The electric pots work great, as long as you have electric power. I have an old Saeco 20 LB. electric pot that I had repaired several times over the years when the wiring got too hot and shorted out, last time I just tore it apart and now use just the pot in a wood monkey stove, as it fits good in the top front wood feed hole. And seems to heat faster than it did with electric power.

Now after years of loading ammo, I say there is no round that can't be reloaded if you have the proper tools. I have reloaded the steel Russian 7.62x39 rounds, that they say are not reloadable, But with inflation today, you pay more per primer for the 550 mm Berdan primer package of 250 primers, than you do per loaded round for the surplus 7.62x39 ammunition! But I do keep a couple packages around just for drill! Also note that the Berdan primers come in several sizes, so you have to figure out what you've got before you buy a package of the wrong size. But RCBS does make a good decapping tool, that works better than filling the case with water and [hydraulically] popping them out with a stick the right size!

Getting back to the cast bullets, a friend who lives in California just told me you can't shoot lead bullets anymore in California, because the California Condor is swallowing them when eating dead game and dying of lead poisoning. And if you believe that one, I have some beach front property near Las Vegas, Nevada I'll sell you, real cheap! I think the liberals and bunny huggers slipped one over on the hunters and shooters of California.

I cast a Lyman .311041 179 grain gas check bullet, for use in the .30-30, also shoots well in the .308 Winchester, .30-06, 7.7 Jap, 7.65 Argentine, and .303 British. It has a flat nose and feeds without danger in Winchester and Marlin tube feed magazines. I prefer the old Lyman .311314 -180 grain gas check bullet In the military rifles as it's a spitzer shape and doesn't drop as fast as the flat nose for longer shots. But my favorite bullet for .30-06 is the Lyman .311224- 220 grain gas check bullet which comes out of my mold at about 225 grains. For the newcomers, a gas check is a small copper jacket that goes on the base of a cast bullet, if there is a recess for a gas check. It seals the gases that might blow by on a plain base bullet. I use beeswax for fluxing the lead pot, keeps the metal melted so the tin or hard metals don't float to the top and get skimmed off as slag. or candles work well too if you can find them cheap, but will catch fire if pot gets too hot. in fact I make all my own bullet lube, melt bee's wax in a coffee can, add graphite, and a wax toilet seal ring found in most plumbing shops, Wal-Mart, or Home Depot. And pore it into the bullet sizer hot. The only bullet lube I buy today is SPG Black powder bullet lube and TC Bore Butter from Dixie Gun Works in Union City, Tennessee. They also have many other black powder shooting supplies.

Now for the survivalist, the one powder that can be used in any rifle,  pistol, or shotgun is Unique. You can come up with a shootable loading for any rifle, pistol or shotgun using Unique. Incidentally, I use Bullseye in the small pistol calibers .25 ACP (a totally worthless caliber) the .32 ACP, and the .380 ACP. And in case this nation gets into civil war, after the fiat dollar collapse, Bullseye pistol powder has a very high burning rate. You really have to be careful when using this powder, I've seen lots of good S&W and Colt revolvers over the years, missing the top half of the cylinder and the top strap folded up, from people starting out reloading, and thinking 3.0 grains of Bullseye couldn't possibly be enough powder, like the book says, and triple charge it. I believe you can get something like 15 grains of Bullseye in a .357 mag case and still set the bullet on it, but if you do, you have just turned your favorite handgun into a hand grenade! (Very dangerous!) So don't exceed what the reloading manuals says as a maximum charge with any powder. That brings up another good point, get a good reloading manual, I've got dozens I've bought over the years, but always seem to go back to the Lyman Reloading Handbook as it seems to cover a lot more than most.

I have made many of my own powder dippers, as in survival reloading you can't take along a powder scale and measure if you have to bug out. I use to keep a Lee hand press and set of dies with dipper and powder, bullets, and primers in a .50 caliber ammo can, with a hundred cases and bullets, (my grab and run box) when I worked nights at the sheriff's office as dispatcher. On a quiet night I could load a hundred rounds of .38s or 9mms and sometimes .45 ACP. It sure beat watching television!

To make my dippers, I take a fired cartridge case close to the size powder charge I need, pound a 5 inch piece of brazing rod flat on one end and solder it on the base of the case, then take an old piece of antler, preferably a contoured tip, cut it off, and drill a hole in the cut off end, and epoxy the rod into the antler. Then start dipping powder, and using your scale weigh it, and file off the opening until it gets down to the powder charge you want, then run the burr remover around the inside and out side of the case mouth to remove the burrs. I find this is just as accurate as using a mechanical powder measure, once you get the hang of dipping powder. Lee also make a kit full of plastic dippers, but I prefer to use my own, in case I don't have a pair of glasses handy to read what's on the plastic dippers, to make sure I have the right dipper.

Paper patching - This never took hold in our military, but was quite common in all of Europe back in the 1800s. Our Buffalo hunters did get into the paper patch bullets from the Sharps rifle company. To paper patch, you use an under sized bullet and cutting a parallelogram out of cotton bond paper, dampen it then starting half way down the bullet wrap the paper, the cuts should come out together, meaning the first wrap should have a wrap of paper over it, but have it come out to where the last wrap butts against the first with no overlap, Then twist the paper hanging over the bottom to where its flat against the base of the bullet,then trim off the excess.  It will tear when you stick it into the case if the cuts overlap on the sides and cause a bump. I have several molds I've had made for paper patching, but never used them yet, other than the 460 grain 45/70 bullet, over a charge of 58 grains of FFFG [black powder] with a felt wad soaked with Bore Butter. Loading black powder is a whole different science, and if you get into it, you'll find some very accurate ammo can be made up with black powder loadings.

The art of paper patching can be a benefit in survival conditions as you can patch up a .243 bullet to shoot in the 6.5 mm, the 6.5 mm up to 7mm, the .270 bullet to shoot in a 30 caliber, or the .30 caliber to shoot in the 8mm Mauser, and it's all in cutting the right [thickness] wrap out of cotton bond paper.  That is if you don't have the right bullets for the right caliber!

Something I might mention for survivalists is chamber adapters. I have adapters for most of my .30 caliber rifles that will shoot .32 ACP ammo from a .30 caliber rifle. This is legal, but very quiet, as you fire a .32 ACP out of a .30-06, as the bullet travels down the barrel some of the gas bleeds around the chamber adaptor, lessening the report, plus the fact that the 32 doesn't break the sound barrier, you don't have the loud supersonic crack that is normal for the .30-06. Good for shooting rabbits while deer hunting. I'm loading a Lee Mold 100 grain cast round nose in the .32 ACP over 2.0 grains of Bullseye, and I think I might be a little hesitant about shooting the 71 grain FMJ down the .30 caliber barrel, as most are .312 to .314 Diameter. I have a confession to make here, a while back a guy gave me a hand full of very old .32 ACP ammo, with steel jackets. I wanted the brass but was to lazy to use the puller, and took an old Mark 4 British .303 out with the chamber adaptor and started shooting up the .32 ammo, about the 5th or 6th shot, shooting at a 6" rock about 75 yards out, I didn't see any impact, so I shot 2 more rounds and then the lights came on after seeing no impact, maybe I should pull the bolt and check the bore. Well I had about three of these stuck in the barrel about 4" from the muzzle. I tried in vain to knock them out with a rod and mallet, no dice. so I took the rifle over to our local gunsmith to see if he could get them out. No way, so I now have [shortened it to become] a British .303 carbine with no flash hider! A lesson learned the hard way, no Jacketed bullet use in the adaptors, from then on!

Accuracy - No question in my mind after years of shooting cast rifle bullets, if you use the right bullet material combination, lead, tin, antimony, and good bullet lube, the right powder charge, you'll find cast bullets can be just as accurate as any of the expensive jacketed bullets on the market. Most shooters know every rifle barrel has it's own vibration, and finding the vibration of your barrel can be tricky. I had an old 1903 Springfield sporter with an old 4X Weaver scope on it, and the Government ammo would shoot a 3" group at 100 yards, I started loading a 165 grain JSP-BT (Jacketed soft point boat tail) and pulled that down to 2" I started backing down the powder charge 1/2 grain at a time, and got down to 45 Grains of IMR 4895 and it was breaking one hole! This is an impossibility for most old military Springfield's. But at 45 grains I found the rifle barrels vibration point.

I experimented with cast bullets in a Ruger Mini-14 .223, all I had was a 44 grain gas check round nose mold so I started experimenting with powders and loads. When I got it up to where it would cycle the action, I was shooting about a two foot group at 100 yards, and the barrel was leading something fierce. So I started backing it down to where I was shooting a 6" group and working it like a bolt action! I gave up. So I found an old Rockchucker .224 bullet forming die and press, at a very good price, so I bought it, including about 1400 .224 copper jackets. Well, having a metal lathe, I took a 7/8x14 hardened bolt annealed it and bored it .225, and made a .217by 4"  post with a shell holder base, re-hardened the bolt and base, and now I make .224 jackets from .22 Long rifle brass. It's a long, slow process to make bullets this way, but it will function the autos, and it's very accurate. You have to find clean 22 brass, anneal it in the oven for 3 hours on "Broil", CCI stinger nickel plated brass makes pretty bullets. About another hour in the oven, but you have to check them close for cracked and overlapped tips. those shoot okay in a .22 Hornet or .223 at lower velocities, but not in full house loads. Then you have to cast the cores, I cut the core mold into the back side of an old .50 caliber ball mold that was rusted I found at a yard sale. I take the cores slip them into the .22 LR jacket, tap them with a rubber mallet to set them into the bottom of the jacket, then run them into the die to form the .224 bullet. Then after you make up 500 or so, put them in the brass tumbler for a couple hours to clean them up. they come out 62 grain, the Stinger brass come out a little heaver, almost a hollow point. The home made bullets from .22 LR brass seem just as accurate out of the AR, Mini-14 and .223 bolt rifles and shot out of the .22-250 at around 3,400 FPS--very accurate.

Now I'm working on developing a similar die set for .30 caliber. One more thing worth mentioning is the small rifle and small pistol primers are the same size cups, same as the large rifle and large pistol primers are the same size. The cups on the pistol primers are a little thinner than the rifle, for obvious reasons, most rifle firing pins hit a lot harder than pistols do. I have used rifle primers in pistol rounds, and they seem to work fine. You might run into problems on S&W revolvers, using rifle primers, if you have the spring tension screw backed off to get a lighter trigger pull, but this could also happen with pistol primers, if backed off too far. Men sometime do this for wives who have trouble shooting double action, don't! Your taking a chance on a misfire when you do this. And never use a pistol primer in a rifle round, the cup is too thin and if the firing pin penetrates the primer, you will get gas back in your face.

Well reloading in my case is a necessity, being on Social Security I can't afford to buy anything but .22 Long Rifle ammo. But I think over the years I have loaded enough ammo to keep my grandkids shooting for life. Keep a good supply of powder and primers, and bullets if you can afford to buy them in bulk. My main powders are IMR 4895, 3031, Unique, 2400, and Bullseye, yeah, I'm old school. Bullseye is good for .38 Specials, using the 200 grain cast dome bullet with 3.5 grains of Bullseye I get 2,000 loads from a pound of powder. I have tried most of the new powders, but always go back to my old mainstays. (I hope I didn't insult anybody by saying the .25 ACP was worthless!) I load 0.7 grain of Bullseye with the 50 grain FMJ for my daughter in law, she has an old Colt Junior that her dad gave her, and she loves it. But in most cases the .22 Long Rifle is a much better choice than the .25, and lots cheaper! Incidentally, loading that .25 ACP with 0.7 grains that comes out to 10,000 rounds from a pound of Bullseye. And about 3500 rounds of .32 ACP from a pound of Bullseye. And if you buy these powders in the 4 or 8 pound containers that's a lot of reloading! I just wish the 4895 would stretch that far, but I get something like 145 rounds of .308 from a pound, depending on which bullet I use. I really like the Sierra 168 grain JHP-BT, that's about as close as I've come to the 173 grain FMJ military match bullet.

One main thing about reloading, keep in mind that alcohol and gunpowder is a bad mixture, and pay attention to all the operations, if somebody comes in and wants to talk, quit loading and talk. And over load is bad, but a round loaded with no powder is much worse, the primer, most of the time has enough power to put the bullet into the rifling just far enough to chamber another round! And if you don't catch the mistake and fire the following round you blow the barrel, and possibly ruin the action! Not to mention part of your face! So pay attention, and follow the manual closely, and don't use a load from memory, always look it up and make sure it's right! And never shoot somebody's reloads that you don't know, better to pull them down and reload them yourself than take a chance on blowing up a gun!

Survival reloading may come sooner than we'd like. I have Lyman 310 [hand reloading press] tools for several calibers but I don't care for the neck sizing only, and the load aren't interchangeable from one rifle to another of the same caliber. I much prefer the Lee Hand Press that will take your regular die sets. the only problem I've had with the Lee was there is no hole for the primers to fall out of the ram, and If you don't dump it regular it gets so many primers, that you can't pull the shell holder out of the ram. I drilled a hole in the front of the ram, and that solved the problem. Then I pulled one apart removing a sized .30-06 case from the die, the hand press is engineered for push action, and not pulling. When I got the replacement part I poured fiberglass resin with patches of aluminum screen in the hollow, and so far haven't pulled it apart again!

I've seen some reloaders mount a reloading press on the back bumper of their pickup, this is okay out in the country, but It wouldn't fly in the big cities where the anti-gun crowd lives, and driving on dirt roads doesn't do the press parts any good, plus they have to unscrew the handle every time it's not in use! Just watch the yard sales, pawn shops and junk stores and mainly estate sales, relatives that aren't into shooting usually have no idea what the dead uncle had invested and what everything is that he had in his shop! Many times you can buy a fortune in ammo brass and loading equipment for pennies on the dollar at these sales! And I have picked up loads of reloading stuff at sales from people who have no idea what the stuff was used for, and when you tell them it's for making bullets, they don't really want it around for fear the kids might get into it and get hurt.

One final note on cast bullets and killing game. I brain tan deer and elk hides. And if the animal is shot with a cast bullet, there is no blood saturation or fragment holes on the hide. Just a small size hole through both sides. When people offer me a hide, I ask what the animal was shot with, and if they say a .300 Magnum or 7mm magnum, I tell them no thanks, too much bullet damage, I've tried to save some that had about a 12" circle of small fragment holes and blood saturation around the exit hole, and I end up losing most of the bullet exit side of the hide! So when the dollar fails and you were too late to buy more ammo, I hope you were wise enough to buy the dies and molds for the guns you have. Plus the pot and dipper. And the dozens of other tools that expand you capabilities in reloading.

I visit your blog daily and the link to a map showing gang presence in the United States caught my eye. I note that my home is within one of the "moderate" gang activity areas. That is not news to me.

We are about a mile from the perimeter of the "war zone" of our city in a semi-rural part of town. We hear gunshots (within a half-mile of the house) nightly and the roofers who replaced our shingles last year remarked at the number of bullet holes in our roof. Those shots came from the street in front of our house. Gangbangers are notoriously bad shots, and the holes in the roof were from "wannabes" just firing at anything big enough for them to hit.

I keep a a "rapid response" kit next to the bed for anything that seems to be more of a threat than punks indiscriminately firing weapons out of the windows of their cars. I am up two or three times a night every week to check out the action.

Immediate survival may necessitate the use of a "pre" bugout bag such as my rapid response kit. You need, of course, a firearm that you would want knowing you were going to a gunfight. In my case, it is a 12 gauge riot gun fully loaded with 00-buck and the hammer down on an empty chamber (I'm anal about gun safety). My gun belt will be on my hips with a .45 Colt and two additional magazines on the belt. My cell phone is also part of the kit.

I wish I had night-vision goggles. But lacking that, I have a small flashlight to light the trail through our woods, and a larger hand-carried "Second-coming-of Christ" beam to light up the whole scene when it seems appropriate.

Thankfully, I have been "called to action" for serious gang related activity only a couple of times. The police were on scene within 15 minutes, but that's a long time to wait when punks are shooting at you...even if they are miserable shots. - Ken F.

Mr Rawles & Co.,
I recently found a project on the Kickstarter web site while browsing for good DIY options for brick making machines. The project seems right up any survivalist's or prepper's alley in that it involves designing cheap and durable machinery for use after the collapse of civilization, using mostly only scrap metal or other junk. If successful, the end result is going to be an open-source database (and various CDs) containing schematics and instructions for the construction of at least 50 machines and vehicles. These include brick makers, primitive CNC machine tools, tractors etc. (You get the picture.) Eight have been successfully prototyped and another eight are on the way. They hope to test these in the Third World, and from their preliminary tests and schematics it seems like they are well-built and will likely be quite cost-effective, even on the small scale that agrarian villages (or, to use your terminology, a well-prepared retreat) operate on.

Many thanks for opening my eyes ad those of so many others.

God Bless, - Matt A.

Hi Jim,
Living in an area that’s earthquake prone and overdue for a large one, I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching ways to limit any damage that we might experience in our home.  In 1994 the Northridge earthquake and the resulting fires were the cause for the creation of a device that, I feel, is instrumental to possibly saving any home with a gas-line.  It’s commonly referred to as a Northridge valve
Simply, it’s a seismic device that stops the flow of gas at the house meter should there be any seismic event over 5.2 on the Richter scale.  I got one and installed it myself for less than $150.  To anyone concerned about preparing for an earthquake, this would be cheap insurance.
Thanks for all you do, - John T.

David N. in Tennessee mentioned: 154 free military medical course downloads.

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There is a lesson in OPSEC here: Five Criminals Who Got Caught Because of Facebook. If you must use social networking to promote a business, then avoid mentioning anything controversial. But the best choice is never sign up at all!

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"Apartment Dweller" sent this: First Google.Org-funded geothermal mapping report confirms vast coast-to-coast clean energy source

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The latest Orwellian news: Intelligent Street Lamps To Debut Friday. Does anyone honestly believe that the guys that deal drugs on street corners won't figure out that these are being used for surveillance and sabotage these lights? We're talking about the Detroit area, where they have trouble keeping even standard street lights operational, and the city is having trouble paying its electric bill.

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A little Yankee Iowan Ingenuity: Iowa National Guard uses movie to inspire ammunition creation. (Thanks to Gary U. for the link.)

"Specie [gold and silver coin] is the most perfect medium because it will preserve its own level; because, having intrinsic and universal value, it can never die in our hands, and it is the surest resource of reliance in time of war." - Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Wayles Eppes, 1813

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Today I'm posting a sample chapter from my latest novel, "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". I hope that you enjoy it.

"The only purpose of a government is to protect a man's rights, which means: To protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, an agent of man's self defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper function s of a government are: The police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud from others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective laws. - John Galt in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged

Houston, Texas – October, the First Year

Growing up on the streets of Houston had made Ignacio Garcia both wary and smart. He never used any drugs other than some occasional marijuana. And he never sold drugs. He realized that was sure to get him arrested, eventually, because customers always talked. His only contacts with heavy drug users were some that he hired, to work his burglaries. Garcia developed a reputation as a clever burglar who never got caught. His modus operandi was exacting: Hit between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, when nobody was home.  Avoid lower class neighborhoods, where the pickings weren’t worth bothering, and avoid the wealthy neighborhoods where they all had burglar alarms. Instead, he hit middle class neighborhoods, where there were still things worth stealing, but where they didn’t have their guard up.

Garcia started out by doing burglaries himself, but soon moved on to organizing and equipping teams to do the work for him. To approach middle class houses surreptitiously, he outfitted his teams to look like plumbers, carpet cleaners, or gardeners.  Their vehicles looked very convincing.  Garcia then fenced his goods though a network of pawn shops, flea market dealers, and coin dealers who could keep their mouths shut.  He had his teams concentrate on jewelry, guns, coin collections, cash, and high-end digital cameras. He made a point of never keeping any stolen merchandise at home.  He paid several little old ladies to rent storage spaces for him. Eventually, he had almost a dozen places to hide his stolen goods.

Garcia was never associated with any of the big gangs, although he did recruit a few members of MS-13. He kept his own gang—“the gang with no name” as quiet as possible, and discouraged them from antagonizing any other gangs.  Garcia often said, “Let them bicker and kill each other, while we hang back and just make lots of money.”

The stoners that worked for Garcia sometimes did stupid crack head stuff.  Even though he gave them explicit directions, they’d ignore him and bring back things like big screen HD televisions, bottles of various prescription medicines, and kitchen appliances.  One time, one of his men brought back plastic bags of live koi carp that they had stolen from a pond. This pond was in the backyard of a house that they had trouble entering. Some of the items had to be discarded, or took weeks to fence.

Three years before the Crunch, Ignacio realized that some upper-middle class people rarely let their guard down. For these targets, Garcia started to train and equip his home invasion team.  He selected his most ruthless yet most level-headed men.  He gave them some of his best guns, and carefully selected targets –mostly ones that he’d previously had to pass up.  He called this team “La Fuerza”—The Force.  Most of their home invasions took place at mid-day, when there would likely be just one adult at home.

The home invasions went remarkably well.  Because Garcia insisted on a strict six minute time limit inside a target house, La Fuerza never met the police face to face.  Eventually, he split La Fuerza into two teams of six men each.  Their take was so lucrative that he eventually stopped using his traditional burglary teams altogether.  He gave control and ownership of that whole operation to his cousin Simon.

Garcia grew up in Houston’s Second Ward, but after he built up capital from his burglaries, he bought a house in Greenspoint, on the north side.  This was a nice suburban neighborhood that was roughly half Hispanic.  He did his best to blend in. Ignacio told his neighbors that he was in the import/export business.  In a way, he was right.  He just exported things from people’s houses, and imported them into his own.

When the Crunch started, there were 16 full members of Garcia’s gang. As the economy cratered, Garcia realized that he had to switch gears quickly.  Previously, his goal had been converting stolen goods into cash.  But now cash was perishable and even undesirable.  The goods themselves were more valuable.  He also realized that once Houston became the target of rioting, that the whole city would be locked down, and he’d be just as at risk from burglary or robbery as anyone else.

Anahuac, Texas – October, the First Year

Garcia leased a large warehouse in Anahuac, a white bread community on the east side of Trinity Bay, in Chambers County, east of Houston. He rented a nearby apartment and moved his wife and children there. The warehouse had 35,000 square feet, and a pair of large roll-up doors in the back. He set all of his men to work, ferrying the best of his accumulated loot from his various storage spaces to the warehouse.  Then he had them start stealing late-model cargo vans and pickup trucks with camper shells. He didn’t ask them to stop until he had 17 of them parked in the warehouse.

Using his gang members as agents, Garcia scrambled to convert as much of his cash as possible into practical tangibles.  He had them buy 10 jerry cans for each van and truck, and set each vehicle up with roof racks.  They each also got water jugs, canned goods, camp stoves, sleeping bags, ammunition, tools, and freeze-dried foods. They bought or stole four spare tires mounted on rims for each vehicle, and strapped them down on the roof racks. After just three days at the warehouse, he asked his cousin Simon to join him, and to bring along his eight toughest men who were bachelors.

Garcia spent many hours, talking what ifs with Tony, his most trusted lieutenant.  Tony had three years of artillery experience in the army, with a tour in Iraq.  That was before his Article 15s and dishonorable discharge.  It was Tony who suggested putting CB radios in every vehicle.  It was also Tony who recommended buying up as many cans of flat tan and flat brown spray paint as they could find.  Tony was good at planning ahead.

They had everything almost ready at the warehouse by the time that the riots started in earnest.  He ordered the men and their families to get used to sleeping hard-- essentially camping, inside of their vehicles in the warehouse.  There were some complaints at first, but then once Houston started to burn, they thanked Ignacio for rescuing them from the chaos, and for getting them ready.

The entire gang eventually adopted the name La Fuerza.  Ignacio set them on a well-calculated campaign of night-time robberies of sporting goods stores, department stores, and recreational equipment stores. They were cautious though, so none of these stores were located in Chambers County. 

Once the gang was equipped for traveling and living independently, La Fuerza started stealing armored vehicles.  Their first targets were members of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA), a group that Garcia’s wife found with an Internet search. The MVPA members meticulously restored jeeps, trucks, and armored vehicles. Their roster—complete with the addresses of members--was there for the taking on the Internet. The gang’s goal was acquiring wheeled armored personnel carriers.  Their vehicles of choice were the Cadillac Gage V100 Commando—a four-wheeled APC, and the Alvis Saracen, a British 6-wheeled APC. Garcia sent out four-man teams in stolen cars to as far away as Oklahoma and Louisiana to steal them.

His men would arrive after midnight, batter down house doors, and force people from their beds at gunpoint. They marched them to their garages to show the gang members how to start and operate their vehicles. To give them more time to get away before an alarm was raised, the gang members killed the homeowners and their families. Over the course of three nights, they drove back to Anahuac with three Saracens and two V-100s.

Garcia was disappointed to find that most of the MVPA members had only non-firing dummy weapons mounted on their vehicles. Only one of the vehicles had a live gun. This was a semi-automatic-only Browning Model 1919. So their next targets were belt-fed machineguns, taken in storefront or home invasion robberies of Class 3 licensed full auto weapons dealers. These robberies netted six .30 caliber belt-feds, two Browning .50s, and 15 submachineguns of various types. They were surprised at the quantity of ammunition and extra magazines that the dealers had.  In all, there were 232 cans of ammunition, much of it already on linked belts. 

It was not until after they had the guns and Tony started reading their manuals that they realized they needed belt-linking machines to assemble belts of ammunition.  They then brazenly went back to a store that they had robbed just two days before, and took both .30 and .50 caliber hand-lever linking machines, and several 20mm ammo cams containing thousands of used links.

I would like to follow up on my recent article, Some Thoughts of How to Live in Times of Hunger, with a few actionable implications that might make a difference to my fellow preppers. As always, I eagerly look forward to the contributions of the worldwide prepper community to add to or correct my conclusions.
If I ever have to bug-out on foot it will be under dangerous circumstances, and I will need to move quickly and cover at least several miles. This on-foot bugout is my truly worst-case scenario: minimum supplies, emergency escape. If I can plan for this scenario then all other scenarios should be simpler. It is my fail-safe.

However, right now I’m having a terrible time keeping my Bug Out Bag weight low. I can carry it out to my truck. I might even be able to wear my pack and hike a mile. But I sure won’t be moving fast and I won’t get much beyond a mile, if that, in rough terrain. I’m not particularly young, I’m not athletic, I have a sedentary job – I might even represent the “average” American prepper.

Some of the weight in my pack is food, several pounds worth. I’ve researched ideal foods that combine calories, nutrients, and protein in a robust ready-to-eat package for meals on the move. But I’ve been thinking about the whole hunger thing in a different light.

If I escape by the “skin of my teeth” into the wilderness and have enough food to sustain me for two or three days it will only prolong my death if I do not also have the equipment to obtain food once I am in the field. Just as I cannot carry enough water to last me through even two days, I may not be able to both carry enough food and have the equipment to obtain enough food long term by hunting, trapping, or fishing

Based on my hunger research, I know I can perform at near-peak levels for a couple of days with a minimum of food, after which point my performance will begin to taper off as hunger sets in. I won’t be happy about it, but I will survive the experience of “going hungry.”

If I’m not mistaken, the name of the food game, at least for the first several days of a bugout, is sheer calories. But what if I only carry (1) quick-energy carbohydrates to fire my muscles during hunts and escape, and (2) slow-energy calorie-dense foods like fat (or mostly-fat foods) for the sheer caloric-content of it?

Here’s my logic:

Glucose is my body’s primary energy source that it stores in my liver for emergency energy. Sports gels contain mostly glucose/dextrose (or maltodextrose) because it hits the bloodstream quickly and doesn’t require much digestion. These might very well be the best quick-energy option because some gels also contain electrolytes (mentioned in the Hunger article) and caffeine. What’s not to like?

The caloric content of gels is around three calories per gram, while solid glucose/dextrose candy should come in closer to four. Candy made from sucrose (table sugar) has the same caloric content. Werther's Original Creamy Caramel Filled hard candies candy (which I happen to have on hand), for example, is mostly glucose (and you really have to love that caramel filling!). If you can’t afford the more than $1 per pack for the energy gels you could still do pretty well with hard candy for a shot of energy once it dissolved in your mouth.

Yes, there is an energy crash following the “sugar high” (less with sports gels) but the important thing to note is that the sugar (or sugar and caffeine) does indeed provide the energy burst to hunt or escape, and do it with an effectiveness and with a speed unmatched by any other food source. That’s important.

High-sugar foods like hard candies and energy gels aren't the highest calorie content foods, though. The highest concentrated calories come from fat. Pure, solid glucose is something like four calories per gram (the same as protein). Fat contains around nine calories [per gram], that’s 225% more energy per gram! However, fat takes longer to metabolize. For a quick burst of energy during a hunt or escape you certainly would not eat fats. It’s no substitute for sugar.

Imagine that you can barely carry your BOB even with NO food in it. You have the equipment you must have to hunt/fish/trap, but NO food. Zero food.

You work out at the gym and finally have the additional strength to add a bit of food to your pack. What do you add? Sugar. Why? Because it will at least give you the short-term bursts of energy to do the two most essential things you must do: hunt/fish/trap and escape should that be an issue. It won't fill you up, it won't stop you from feeling hunger, but it will work for what you need it for.
Back at the gym you’ve been hard at work and you finally can add a little more weight to your BOB, in addition to the sugars you figure you’ll need.

You know your body isn't going to need a lot of vitamin and protein replacement right away (electrolytes maybe, yes). You know you won't starve for nearly a month. You know that you can function on “empty,” if you have to. You know if you leave on foot you could end up in an unfamiliar location and it could take you days, or even weeks, to begin hunting/fishing/trapping well enough to begin meeting your daily caloric needs [and then transition to gardening and raising livestock once your reach your retreat, where you presumably will have a deep larder]. You may not be able to carry all of the calories you would like, but you would like to minimize the depletion of your body’s energy reserves (fat, sugar, muscles).

If you packed sesame snaps (one of my personal favorites with sugar, fat, protein, and fiber, 186 calories/35 gr package) you’d need 21.5 packages (1.7 pounds) of snaps per day for 4,000 calories. In two week’s time you would need nearly 24 pounds of snaps!

But what food has more caloric energy than any other food on earth? Fat. What food, coincidentally, burns reasonably slowly? Pure fat. Nine calories per gram. It doesn't get any better than that. You need calories, it has calories. (Hey, it's good enough for the Inuit! Can you say muktuk!)

If you packed fat instead of sesame snacks you would only need to carry 14 pounds, SEVEN fewer pounds than sesame snaps. Or, to look at it another way, if you were able to add an extra 24 pounds of weight, the snaps would last two weeks (@4K cal/day), but the fat (453.6gr/lb x 9 cal/gr x 24 / 4000) would last ten more days. (Turkey chili, one of my favorite all-around-nutritional foods, contains 460 calories in a 15 ounce (420 gram) can, works out to 1.1 calories per gram - 800% fewer calories-per-gram than fat. Bad choice as your second tier food!)
Your stomach does flips at the thought of just eating Crisco plain but you realize that coconut oil has a lot of other benefits besides its incredible caloric density. It’s solid at room temperature (liquid in desert temps!), doesn’t burn at high temperatures (like cooking over a campfire), and is very easily digested by the body. And if you get the really good virgin coconut oil from a health food/supplements store it will even smell great!

Coconut oil has antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties – all things we’d like to have in an emergency situation. And its medium-chain triglycerides require less work from your liver to convert it into usable energy (which is why it’s used in sports nutrition, hospital feeding formulas, and foods for people with digestive disorders). Have a look at the amazing properties of coconut oil and its digestibility.

With the weight savings of not having to carry as much food weight (only energy gel for quick bursts) and carrying food with the maximum energy density (fat), I can afford to carry more of what I will need in the long run: equipment to help me hunt, fish, and trap. (Equipment first!)

It does me no good to have a lot of food if my BOB is too heavy to make a quick getaway – the getaway is the thing. And it also does me no good to have a lot of food in my pack if I can't subsequently secure an adequate supply once in the field. The most important reason for carrying the BOB is to get out with the tools and supplies I need to survive long-term.

Eating just sugar and fat while you orient yourself to your surroundings and start to put wild foods on the table is not the final word! There are a lot of variables. You will be able to add the occasional fish, handful of berries, bird, or edible tuber and give yourself some variety while extending your food reserves. You may want to add to your BOB a little of the tastier foods (MREs, freeze-dried meal, canned turkey chili, or sesame snaps) just to keep your sanity...

But do it with the realization that any food that is not pure fat is trading off taste for calories (i.e., raw “body fuel”). You can stretch your body’s energy reserves further with foods that have a high caloric density, and the very highest of these is fat.  Then make an educated choice about the foods you pack!

And if you can’t carry as much food as you’d like, at least be sure you have the equipment you need to obtain food once you’re in the wild! You don't need to be full of food each and every day – you know that can safely survive on “empty” for quite a while!

I’m going to continue to work on my walking and climbing fitness so that I can carry the maximum amount of gear during a critical escape situation. But in the mean time, this weight tradeoff based on an understanding of how hunger actually works might help make my long-term survival a more sure thing. And that’s what it’s all about.

Be Prepared. Trust God. We can do both. - ShepherdFarmerGeek, in Spokane

JWR Replies: My general advice for anyone that cannot live at their intended retreat year-round is to cache nutritious food at several places along your intended route, in buried plastic cache containers. (Like the four liter containers made by Nalgene, triple-bagged in heavy plastic bags.) It is best to cache in rocky soil, to reduce the chance of burrowing rodents finding it. Check your caches annually.

Hiking long distances at a deep caloric deficit is dangerous. If nothing else, hunger is distracting, so your personal security awareness and sleep will both suffer. Hunger can also encourage you to make bad decisions. Longer-term hunger can also degrade your night vision. (See Nick Rowe's POW narrative, Five Years to Freedom.) Further, dependence on refined sugars for your primary source of energy is inadvisable. First, it causes sugar rush-then-crash cycles that are debilitating. Second, depending on your particular physiology, sugar crashes might even cause fainting. Lastly, overloading on sweets can even trigger a diabetic reaction. (Wouldn't that be ironic, to survive on mostly sugar for a week and make it to your retreat, only discover that you've become an insulin-dependent diabetic?)

For ultra-compact food for a lightweight bugout bag, I would advise making powdered blue-green algae (also known as Spirulina) your core food. Ounce-for-ounce it is the ultimate trekking food for humans. The freeze-dried algae powder could be supplemented by whey-based protein powder (like those used by bodybuilders), powdered milk, jerky, peanut butter, ghee (storable clarified butter), coconut oil and perhaps a few sweets like Clif bars and Larabars. This approach has been discussed at length in backpacking magazines, backpacking discussion forums, and blogs. By the way, I've read that you can even make your own energy bars with blue-green algae. (Although I haven't tried this myself, so no guarantees.)

Be advised that for anything more than a four day trek, constipation might become an issue with a protein dense diet like I've described. The importance of storing gentle bulk laxatives (such as Metamucil) has been discussed previously in the blog. Even after you have arrived at your retreat, keeping regular will become very important if you have a diet with a preponderance of meat from wild game. So don't overlook getting a supply of bulk laxatives. Even if you don't end up needing them personally, they will be useful for barter or charity.

Lastly, be cautious about packing too much caffeine (as found in coffee, tea, and sports gels) or other stimulants like chocolate in your bugout bag. Odds are that you will already be feeling very tense in a true Get Out of Dodge situation, so don't add the risk of a panic attack.

Salina Journal News: Preppers a diverse group. (Thanks to Jeff H. for the link.)

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Is nothing sacred? Thieves steal 2-ton bell from St. Mary's garden

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Jeff R. spotted this: Ancient South American volcano Mount Uturucu blowing up like a balloon.

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Some good news from Canada: Conservative Party introduce bill to abolish long gun registry

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My recent interview on Frank Wuco's show is now available as an archived podcast. My interview begins about 11 minutes into the hour, but please don't miss the moving tribute in the first couple of minutes.

"You don't know me, son. So let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing me, and you'll be armed." - Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, Firefly

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's nice to see that we've zoomed past the threshold of 35 million unique visits. We are now averaging more than 271,000 unique visits per week. Please keep spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

2011 was a year of deadly and devastating tornados, and an earthquake that shook the east coast.  One of the largest tornados hit a suburb in my county in the Birmingham Alabama area. We are also only one state over from the New Madrid earthquake zone that starts in the Memphis area.  After taking several closer looks at the foundation and basement of our 50 year old house, I realized we were living with a false sense of security.

After researching online, I learned that in certain large events, mainly earthquake, but also from high winds, if the house gets shaken, the metal [pier] poles holding up the center of the house in the basement may or may not move in unison with the rest of the house above them that they are supporting.   Our house [has a conventional perimeter foundation and aside from the perimeter it] is simply sitting on those poles, and that is it. In large earthquakes, houses with basements can simply fall into the basement below them, if the support poles [or posts and piers] do not stay intact. I set out looking for an easy fix, and discovered nothing readily available on the market for this situation.   Maybe in frequent earthquake territory like California, there might be something on the market, but I did not find anything at the big box hardware stores or online. 

It appeared it was time to get creative. I am not in the construction business, but I’m guessing I do have a few more tools than the average household. My small shop has a miter-saw, table saw, drill press, chop-saw, and a small, bottom of line wire-welder. There are lots of people with way more tools than this, but this is a modest amount and I’m comfortable using them.   I spent a much of my time staring at the rafters and those metal poles, knowing there had to be way to tie them together.
The goal is not to keep the house from swaying, but rather, if the house is swaying, the poles sway in unison with the house. This way, when the house stops swaying, the metal poles are still in position as there were intended, holding up the center of the house.   The metal poles of our old house are 4-1/2 inches in diameter.  A double row of 2”x10” rafters run lengthways of the house, with 2”x10” rafters attached perpendicular to them.   These perpendicular rafters run from the center of the house out to the foundation. I would like to have been able to tell you that all of the rafters are evenly spaced, but they are not. Wiring and plumbing run along the bottom of the rafters, and it appears that plumbing had a major say-so in what rafters went where.   Sure, there are a few rafters that are evenly spaced, but quite a few that were placed very close to another rafter to accommodate the plumbing.

So, in staring at the poles and rafters, I obviously needed something to attach to the pole, and something that could be attached to the rafters, and each of these had to be able to be attached to each other.   Oh, and in my case, cost was an issue. To explain: most of those tools were bought before we had kids. Now my paycheck is spent before it gets home. And in this economy, it’s not getting any better either. I wanted to make the house a little bit safer than it was before I started, and yet still not break the bank. Besides being on a tight budget, time is precious these days too, and I can only work on this project on the occasional, rare, weekend free from other events begging for priority on the calendar.   

I knew I could drill holes in the wood, even if I have to use a right-angle attachment to do so, to mount some type of brace. As is ‘just my luck’, some of the closest together rafters were the ones near the poles I was going to be working on. But, what kind of bracing to use?   Flat aluminum or steel [stock] is readily available at the hardware stores, but in an earthquake, you never know for sure what direction the house is going to be shaking in. Nature has a tendency to keep that thing called the ‘epicenter’ to herself and let the scientist figure that one out later. Angle iron has support both vertically and horizontally. Luckily, and beloved neighbor, ‘Joe’ had given me some scrap angle iron before he passed away a couple of years ago. I still had the rusty angle iron in the shop, and I would need to clean it up with a portable electric grinder and a wire wheel attachment on a drill, but it was free, and I had plenty of it to do the job. I love to recycle, and re-using this free angle iron for my project is better than it getting sold for scrap.  I wanted to clean up the surface rust and paint it to roughly match the gray color of the poles. The drill press would eventually come in handy for the angle iron too. 
I did some research on eBay, and found that the do make U-Bolts in the needed size, but due to the size and weight, the shipping and handling were going to cost more than the U-Bolt. I discovered that one of the auto parts chain stores carried the 4-1/2” U-Bolt on their web site. The highway nearby has just about a half dozen auto parts stores within a 15 minute drive.  The auto part store that had the U-Bolts had them at a very attractive price, and they would ship them to your local store for free.  Bingo. This way I could get the U-Bolts at basically the same price as I’d seen on ebay, but without the shipping and handling costs.   The auto parts store only needed a couple of days to get them to the store.  This worked out great for me, because I ordered them early in the week, and wouldn’t be using them until the weekend anyway.  

The large 4-1/2” U-Bolts are made out of steel that is 3/8” diameter. I could drill 3/8” inch holes in the angle iron, to attach it to the U-Bolt, and additional holes to attach it to the rafters.  I wanted angle iron on each side of the pole, where-ever possible, for the push-pull effect that an earthquake might cause.   I also wanted to put two holes in each piece of angle iron where it attached to rafters, so that it would be rigid enough to move the poles with the house.   If I were to only put one hole in each piece of angle iron where it attaches to the rafter, it would like just be a pivot point and the angle iron could easily let the pole shift away from the center of the house.  

I wanted to paint the U-Bolt, and angle iron pieces, because they would be in contact not only with each other, but also with the metal pole. Although in this particular instance they are all steel, I’m not sure what kinds of steel they are.   I’ve learned that dissimilar metals that are in contact with each other can vastly increase the oxidation (rust) rate of the metal. As a side note, always be aware if you are using aluminum, steel, and any alloys, that are touching or are bolted to each other, as this can oxidation can become a real issue.   Don’t think that aluminum oxidizes?  Next time you are in a salvage yard, look at the chalky white powder on some of the aluminum parts you see is oxidation. It just doesn’t turn dark like steel does when it rusts (oxidizes).  

I made a dry fit of the U-bolt to near the top of the pole, about 3-4 inches from the top. I wanted to keep it near the top for leveraged strength, but not so near the top that if it did attempt to sway in an earthquake that it would try to jump over the top of the pole. Measured the lengths I needed for the angle iron to have a piece on each side, and cut them with the chop saw.  Drilled them on the drill press, then painted all of the pieces and let them dry completely. In keeping with the recycling theme, I was able to use up some old cans of [rust preventive] ‘primer gray’ color that matched the existing gray color of the metal poles well.   

The U-Bolts come with a bracket that fills in the gap of the opening at the open end of the ‘U’, and with the two nuts needed to hold it all together.   When measuring for bolts to use on the rafter, take into account not only the thickness of the rafter, but the thickness of your angle iron, the nut, and washers.   I recommend using washers on sides of the rafter, where the bolt head is and on the other side where the nut meets the angle iron. I even painted the washers, in case they are a different metal from the angle iron.   Who knows, a few seconds of extra painting could add years to the project and protect the old house for the next generation.  

Are there better ways to do this project?  Sure.  Are there more expensive ways to do this project?  Sure.   This just happened to be the best fit for my situation, of wanting to build a little more safety into a 50 year-old house, without having to take out a loan to do it. Maybe you can adapt some of these ideas into your next project.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I love your blog and visit it daily. You recently recommended a lady consider North Dakota (in Letter Re: A Single Mom's Desire to Relocate), saying "You might also consider the Oil Patch of North Dakota, which is presently booming and has a considerable surplus of bachelors."

My wife and I have been considering going there only because we've been out of work for quite some time and things are looking bleak. Researching the area we found at least one negative: there is some significant concern that a highly toxic material called Erionite has been used as road material in parts of the state. Just doing a search on Erionite, possibly also Mesothelioma, and the like, should give you enough of a start to make an informed decision. Here's one article to get you started. - Clementius

On Monday, Oct. 24, "Single Mom" wrote to ask for advice on finding rural land to "get herself and her son out of harms way". JWR replied (in part):
"I recommend that you proceed with prayer. Pray that you find the right community in a safe region with a good church, and if it in God's plan, a Godly husband.
For some general guidance, see my American Redoubt page and my Retreat Area Recommendations page."
Good advice, James. I would also suggest that "Single Mom" consider posting on your "Finding Other Preppers" static page, which is linked on SurvivalBlog's left sidebar. And "Mom" might additionally consider posting on www.ic.org. It's a well know web site for folks looking to start or join an intentional community and for already existing communities to find new members. Good Luck, - Jim, in Ohio


Dear Mr. Rawles:
Regarding "Single Mom's" letter, I enclose the "Careers" link to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
They're always looking for RNs and since the market is down here, real estate is more available close by. I don't claim Northern Idaho is the answer to her prayers but it's better than a lot of places out there. At least it sure was when we relocated from Southern California.

Just trying to help someone that's asking for some. Take care and keep up the good work that you do. - Brian W

Some recent data on the income decline in America illustrates that we are indeed in the early stages of an economic depression. There is an ocean of red ink that needs to dry out. And that might take two or three decades, folks.

Diana was the first of several readers to mention this: Vatican urges economic reforms, condemns collective greed

Mark L. pointed me to a new piece by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that has some positive comments on investing in America. Yes, Things are so fouled up in European financial circles that they even make the U.S. look relatively safe and strong!

FedEx Sees E-Commerce Driving Record Holiday Volume

German officials: Bailout fund will top $1.4 Trillion (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

Days Of Reckoning: Mark Your Calendar for Two Historic Days that Could Shake Wall Street

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Fall as Hopes for Europe Deal Falter

The IPO Market, an Engine of Growth, Stalls

US Stock Futures Up After Solid Corporate Earnings

Survey:  Economists Bleak About US Economy

A recently-released map showing gang presence in the United States adds further credence to the American Redoubt concept. (Thanks to Karl K. for the link.)

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C.J. Chivers, one of the few mainstream newspapermen that really understands small arms had some great commentary on modified and re-purposed guns in the hands of guerillas: Afghan Gun Locker: Battlefield Ingenuity, and a Weapon’s Longevity

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F.J. suggested this over at LifeHacker: How to Make an Improvised Backpack

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$1 Billion of your tax dollars at work: Libya's liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law.

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Chicken Coops Growing in Popularity in American Backyards. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Now that many SurvivalBlog readers have had the chance to read my latest book "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse", I would greatly appreciate it if you would post your reviews on the Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble web sites. Just a brief paragraph or two would be great, thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This is the story of how two middle-aged city dwellers became weekend homesteaders, and how we bumbled our way through planning and building an off-grid survival cabin. Top to bottom, the project took about two years to complete, working only on weekends. We started out naïve but ambitious, and learned everything as we went along.

Our off-the-grid plans actually began with an intriguing documentary. The program posed a series of questions: What would you do without power for two days? For two weeks? For two months? The show went on to explain how incredibly fragile the power grid is, and that two months without electricity isn’t really far-fetched given the right set of natural disasters. My husband and I were stunned. What would we do without power for two months?

“I guess we’d camp out at my parent’s farm and freeload,” he said. Neither of us liked the sound of that.

Over the next few months we continued to talk about retreating to the family farm in case of disaster. The idea of building our own survival cabin began to form. It would need to provide long-term emergency shelter plus be a place for weekend recreation. Above all, it must be easy and inexpensive to build and maintain. Mortgage-free.

We were very fortunate that my in-laws donated a corner of their property to our project. The land includes about 7 wooded acres, and an open field. The site is isolated from neighbors and has incredible views of rolling meadows and tree stands. Deer and wild turkey are regular visitors.

We researched building options for months. We bought books, visited trade shows, spent countless hours on the internet, and talked to every knowledgeable person we could find. Many building techniques were reviewed and rejected because they violated our prime objectives; inexpensive, non-electric, easy to build, and weather-proof. We dismissed building a regular frame house immediately. “I don’t know diddly about construction,” my husband said. “Way over our skill level,” I agreed.

We looked into Earthships or rammed-earth structures. Nope. Too much labor to fill old tires with 500 pounds of dirt and stack them ten feet high. How about a straw bale home? Nah, too much painting and stucco upkeep. We explored a blown concrete monolithic dome - interesting, but so expensive! Maybe a pre-fab underground shelter?  Well, you won’t get any natural light unless the whole roof is glass.

Finally we found our answer in cordwood masonry. Here was a technique we thought we could handle: cut logs into 12 inch sections, make mud balls with mortar, and piece it all together. Heck, even we could do that!  Plus we had acres of woods with fallen trees to collect free lumber. A cordwood cabin met all our requirements – a low cost, permanent structure that we could design to be off-the-grid, and build it ourselves.

I spent many nights drawing floor plans on graph paper, and ended up with a 32’ x 40’ open design to allow heat from a central wood stove to radiate throughout. Three-foot eaves keep the cordwood walls dry, and provide shelter from the summer sun. A north-south orientation allows maximum light through 11 windows. The north wall (the coldest part of any house) is half buried to insulate us from winter storms.

On paper the design looked simple enough, but I began to imagine all sorts of problems. With our limited skills, how could we possibly build 40 feet of walls in a straight line using a technique we had never tried?  

“Post and beam,” my husband decided. “We’ll build the roof first. Then fill cordwood between the posts.” That solved everything. We would only have to construct 8-foot long sections at a time, and I felt sure we could stay straight and plumb with the roof posts to guide us.

Knowing your own limitations is really the best asset you can have. My attempts to engineer a roof design resulted in guffaws and my father-in-law thanking me for the best laugh he’d had in years. It was a great relief when we hired a local builder to construct the trusses. About the same time we realized that pouring a 10” deep concrete floor was probably beyond our capabilities, so that job was contracted out as well.

We opted for a metal roof on the cabin because (a) it was cheap, and (b) we intended to collect rainwater for our drinking source. Asphalt shingles will shed debris that pollute your water storage.

That first year, while the floor and roof were being built, we collected wood for the walls. We bought a chainsaw and an old pickup truck and began to cut and stockpile cordwood from our property. Each weekend we’d locate fallen trees, peel off the bark, mark 12 inch sections with a yellow crayon and cut the logs to size with a chainsaw. Then the wood was stacked to dry.

Unlike a traditional log cabin with long timbers running parallel to ground, a cordwood house is made of hundreds of short fireplace-size pieces stuck in perpendicular. From a distance, it almost looks like a fieldstone house because you see the round, exposed ends of the logs. For me, cutting the wood was the toughest part of building our survival homestead. It was hot, dirty, hard work, and then later became cold, muddy, hard work. We cut and split wood every Sunday, through the fall, winter, and into the next spring. This city gal developed a good set of muscles that year!

During the week, when we were back in the city, I collected a wide variety of furnishings and fixtures to be used in the cabin: sinks, countertops, cabinets, an old claw foot bathtub, sofa beds, tables and chairs, doors and windows. Everything was bought at auctions, flea markets, or garage sales. Or it was simply free. Friends and family donated all manner of furniture. I trash-picked some great coffee tables from my own neighborhood. It became a grand game to see how cheaply we could acquire building materials and furniture for the cabin.

By the following May we had cut enough cordwood to complete the cabin. We began building the walls Memorial Day weekend, and optimistically took the the whole week off from work. But by Wednesday we were so exhausted we had to quit. It was then we decided that small spurts of exertion are better than one long stretch. Thereafter, we worked on our log and mortar walls every weekend from June to December.

The basic construction technique of cordwood masonry is simple and easy to master in a few minutes. You make a mud ball out of the mortar you have mixed, slap it down in two parallel rows, sprinkle a little sawdust and lime between the rows for insulation, and set logs on top. You fill between the logs with more mud balls until you can start another row. Then you repeat. A thousand times. Every weekend from June to December.

In his excellent books on cordwood masonry, Rob Roy stresses the importance of hand mixing the mortar in a wheelbarrow with a hoe. With all due respect to the ambitious Mr. Roy – that’s crazy! We didn’t have the stamina to labor for hours with a hoe in the blazing summer heat. Instead, we attached an antique mortar mixer ($75 auction find) to a borrowed farm tractor. That piece of equipment was the critical difference between success or failure for us, and another case for knowing your own limits.

A constant parade of friends and family showed up nearly every weekend to help. We passed out work gloves and buckets, along with a few quick instructions. The cabin was really a community project, and each finished wall now reminds us of the folks who so generously contributed their time.

The walls became more elaborate as we gained experience. We included all kinds of oddities along with the wood; bottles, marbles, coins, fossils, shells, crystals, and knick-knacks. Artistic forms developed, like a log clock with old pocket watch dials to mark the hours.

Our construction site soon became a tourist attraction. People would show up saying they’d heard about the place and just had to see it for themselves. They’d marvel at the logs stuck in sideways and all the bottles in the walls. “You should build these cabins for a living,” many suggested. We would smile patiently. You couldn’t pay us to build another one. It was truly a labor of love, and we planned to do it only once.

By Fall we were coming down the home stretch. Most of the walls were finished, and the doors and windows had been installed. The mortar around some of the larger logs had shrunk, which we expected. Gaps were filled with clear silicone caulking. My husband often jokes, “We built this place with a chainsaw, a mixer, and a caulk gun!”

When our Vermont Castings wood stove arrived, I watched the installers carefully. I was curious about how they would seal the chimney pipe through the metal roof. They tossed me a tube of Chem-Caulk 900. “It will seal anything!” they vouched. With it we’ve patched holes and leaks in metal, plastic, fiberglass, and concrete. It’s expensive and fairly toxic, so it wasn’t good for sealing gaps around the logs. But it was great for lots of other jobs.

I was a happy camper when the composting toilet was delivered. No more bathroom trips to the woods!  Since we had just watched the chimney flue being installed, I knew how to get the toilet vent pipe through the metal roof. Chem-Caulk and tin snips would do the trick. I stopped at a local hardware store after work, all dressed up in skirt and heels. When I explained why I wanted the shears, the owner eyed me up and down. “Pardon me, lady,” he said. “But you don’t look like the type who would climb up a ladder and cut a hole in a roof.”

I laughed, “You’d be surprised at what I can do!”

It was true. Building this survival cabin had given me incredible confidence and life-long skills. No longer was I intimidated by simple home repairs or mystified by all that stuff in the hardware store. I knew how to use a circular saw, power drill, and a crowbar. I could drive a straight nail and read a level. I knew the difference between 2 x 4s and 4 x 6s. I knew how deep a footer should be, and where to buy 5/7 gravel. And I could talk about furring strips, backer rod, and re-bar like I was born to it.

In November, with the walls nearly finished, we spent our first night at the cabin. The air was brisk, and then became downright cold. Even huddled around the wood stove, I could see my breath indoors. It was a low point for me. I was cold, miserable, and discouraged. “We’ll never be able to stay here during the winter,” I wept. Foolishly, we hadn’t planned a ceiling. We thought we could keep the interior open to the rafters as a kind of cathedral effect. Yeah, well, everybody knows that heat rises. Right out the roof vent in fact. And even our big new wood stove was not going to heat 1,280 square feet without a ceiling.

It took a while to find the right solution, but we finally settled on galvanized barn siding for the ceiling – an inexpensive material that reflects huge amounts of light from the windows during the day, and shines back all the candles and oil lamps at night. When you don’t have electric lights, reflective surfaces are the next best thing.

By New Year’s Eve the kitchen was finished and we had moved in all the odds-and-end furniture. Thirteen people stayed overnight, and we kept the cabin a cozy 68 degrees with our new ceiling. A propane stove cooked up a turkey with all the trimmings for the feast.

Okay, so we have a propane tank. The cabin functions completely off the electric grid, but we decided to spoil ourselves with a little LP. It’s a deliberate luxury that runs a range, a good-sized refrigerator, and an Amish-made chandelier. A tank of fuel lasts about 15 months, and the fill cost is about the same as one month’s worth of electricity at our city house.

The water supply is a 1,400 gallon concrete cistern buried behind the cabin. It feeds two pitcher pumps, one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. We’ve also added a small solar panel that runs a power pack for light-duty use, like recharging batteries and cell phones.

Our survival cabin has all the comforts of a city home, only with a rustic, old-timey charm. We stay cozy in the winter, and at least 10 degrees cooler than the outside during summer, due to the foot-thick walls. The cabin has a peaceful, natural atmosphere and many remark how restful the place feels.

For the past 10 years we have used our off-grid homestead as a weekend house, a gathering place for family and friends, and emergency refuge. It’s fully stocked with freeze-dried food and firewood, and twice has saved us a week’s worth of hotel bills when we needed to evacuate our city home because the power grid went down in the dead of winter.

We’ve never regretted the time and effort we spent building the place. And now when we watch those disaster shows which ask, “What would you do if…,” we have the answer.

Hopefully our story will entice you to become a weekend homesteader as well. If a couple of fumbling middle-agers can build a comfortable survival cabin, you probably can, too!

Recently a neighborhood watch was created by the initiative of a lawyer who had many thousands of dollars worth of equipment stolen from his property in broad day light, while members of his family were home, with a trailer that had been stolen from across the street.  He saw he need for a greater sense of alertness and vigilance among our residents, who for the most part feel we live in a nice area and don't have to worry about crime.  (Mostly this is true).  We don't have gangs or violent crime, but if the picking seem easy enough for broad day light looting, in full view of everyone on the street, then the potential for more exists.
It began with sending out a letter to each house, utilizing address information obtained from publicly available tax records.  An email list was created from the people who responded, and a master list of emails, phone numbers/names, has been collected by the people who volunteered to be block coordinators.  The block coordinators basically are the face of the neighborhood watch.  I am one of them.  At the first meeting I met with someone who works with the local Sheriff and learned that there are only 4 deputies on duty per shift for our entire county, which has a very large area.  The average response time to a call is over an hour, and sometimes it can be many hours.
My first duty was to compile an up to date email and phone list for my block, which is about 20 families.  I went out door to door with a pencil and notepad and began meeting everyone one by one, which took a lot of time, but was a rewarding process.  It gave me a sense of who exactly were my neighbors, up until this point I did not really know any except the ones right next door to me.  This process seems really important to  me, because the more involved I became, the more sense of community has developed with me.  It also might benefit me and my family later to have connections developed with the retired military guys down the street, the electrician, the school teacher, or the local prosecutor.  It isn't always what you know, or what you've got, but who  you know, and what they've got.  A community can accomplish much more than one man and his family.
It pleased me to find out that many neighbors were very aware of the state of the nation and spoke like preppers.  I spoke with 3 or 4 people for over 30 minutes each just about the economy and coming together as a community to face future challenges.  All seemed skeptical of the government, if not out right angry with it.  The spirit of revolution is becoming stronger and stronger among the average person.  I made mental note of the neighbors who were awake and angry about their country and rights being trampled on. 
Speaking to my neighbors I learned a lot about local politics, police patrols (lack thereof) and got a sense of the overall sense among the community about current events.  I realized how important it is to know my local community and be active in it.  If you are active in the community and people know and trust your face, it can go a long way.  If you are a reclusive person who never talks to anyone, or never wants to be part of the team, then you will likely not have any pull, or any friends, when things go to h*ll.
It is worth it to begin similar efforts in your community, you might be surprised just how many people think the same way you do.  Communities are much more likely to survive when working together like a big team, so begin your team building.  Its for your own benefit. - Robert R.

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the letter "Sorting Canadian Pennies", I wanted to correct some errors for those Canadian nickel collectors out there. 

The nickel from 1922 onwards to 1982 was made from – you guessed it – nickel (99.9% Nickel to be exact; with the exception of some years in the 1940s and 1950s when they were made of a either copper-zinc alloy (tombac) or chrome plated steel.  This was because nickel was in short supply for the various war efforts.

The Canadian nickel's composition changed in 1982 to the cupronickel composition used presently in the US (75% copper, 25% zinc); and it was changed again in 1999 to the present 'faux nickel', which is steel clad with a copper/nickel plating.

What does this mean for collectors?
A magnet will attract the 99.9% Nickel AND the steel-core nickels, effectively separating all cupronickel nickels, as this alloy is non-magnetic.  The cupronickels are the same composition as present US nickels and are worth saving.

A quick visual scan will weed out the pre-1982 with the post-1999, either by the large date on one side or the difference in images of the Queen on the other. 

So don’t let people discourage anyone from Canadian nickels.  The sorting is simpler than Canadian pennies, and the dates are bigger and easier to see.  Since it is illegal to export nickels from the US nickels in quantity, they are the only nickel available for collectors in Canada.

Here are some relevant files from from the Royal Canadian Canadian Mint.

Respectfully, - E.B.

Dear JWR:
Well, hallelujah for Dr. Bob's practical attitude toward fitness! 

I've been working our homestead for almost 20 years, now, and I've been amazed at what the workout crowd can't do, hurting because they had to shovel manure and those particular muscles weren't on the look lovely list.  I've worked many a man into exhaustion, although I do pay when it's time to try to buy a dress that fits - women aren't supposed to have biceps.  For years I've wondered about spending big bucks to go to the gym when the push lawnmower and a few other practical things would probably do it, but people want the glitz. 

Recently my husband has been able to spend more time on the homestead.  Until then his main exercise was running or training his lower body and he hated tilling and shovel work and had trouble doing it.  By switching to a rowing machine he's been able to do far more - now he tells me to get out of the way so he can move the pens or other work I would have been doing myself.  Can I get an Amen?

One last idea:  if you know the water is going to be a distance away, Dr. Bob, why not plan now to bring it a little closer?  Our water went out a few years back because of a failure in the water tank.  We have a well but we couldn't access it, so until the plumber could get out we dragged water for flushing from the irrigation wells.  It was late winter/early spring, so it could have been worse, but I got to thinking what it would be like to haul all the water in bad weather in a grid down event.  Decided to get a Bison pump.  It does everything they say it does, and it's in the back yard, not in the woods.  Nice during Hurricane Irene.  So if Dr. Bob can find a way to get that water to move even half the distance to his house now (ram pump?  gravity feed?) he'd be doing himself a favor, because if you are living that old-fashioned lifestyle, you have a zillion other things to do beside the water chore.

And when I'm doing that kind of work, I don't worry about my weight, either, and I don't fuss over the eggs or other supposed bad foods because I'm burning them off.  An old pamphlet I found in my grandmother's kitchen actually extolled a national brand of fat for its high caloric content.  Bit different lifestyle then, wouldn't you say? - Linda S.

Top hedge fund manager: Decade of doom ahead. "Ray Dalio, founder of the largest hedge fund in the world (Bridgewater Associates), said the world debt is so large it will take 10 years to de-leverage it — and “there are no more tools in the tool kit” to postpone the inevitable reckoning." JWR's Comment: I think two decades might be more accurate.

Ben S. sent this: Purdue expert: Cost to grow crops to surge in 2012

Fed’s Yellen: QE3 May Be Warranted. JWR's Comment: Of course they'll do it. Free money is more addictive than crack cocaine.

Over at Fierce Finance: Speculation: Bank of America headed to bankruptcy court

Europe Goes Full Bailout Retard: EFSF Rescue Capital To Be Officially Double-Counted. (Thanks to John R. for the link.)

US Treasury considers new debt security.

Chris Martenson: The Real Contagion Risk. It is coming to America's houses of finance.

SurvivalBlog reader "FarmerGreen" reports: "I followed the advice here and stocked up on peanut butter--one of my favorite foods. When I bought Saturday the 2 lb. jar of store brand was $5.79. Today it's $7.79. Up almost 35% in two days! Thanks for the heads up."

I heard about a web site with some useful data on Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants.

   o o o

F.G. sent this: Couple are forced to demolish their £300k four-bed home after it was invaded by Japanese knotweed

   o o o

News from the Oil Patch: America's Boomtown: North Dakota housing crunch

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Sour Grapes Department: Is the US Declaration of Independence illegal?

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In SurvivalBlog we've been warning you about SCADA vulnerabilities since September, 2005. The mainstream media is finally catching on: U.S. fears science fiction-style sabotage in new wave of cyber attacks

"Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?" - One of L.K.O.'s favorite unattributed Paraprosdokian sentences.

Monday, October 24, 2011

They say that Internet posts and forwarded e-mails often take on lives of their own. This certainly rang true with me this morning, when a reader forwarded me a piece that began: "Due to the large number of jobs moving from California to Texas, Texas has compiled a "Californian to Texan" translation guide..." But that was a piece that was originally written by "Dan X." and first posted in SurvivalBlog, back in January of 2011, as "The California - Wyoming Travel Dictionary".  The part therein about "reintroduced wolves" doesn't make any sense for Texas, but it does for Wyoming--which is how it was originally titled. It is not unusual to see these humorous items get forwarded on and on, sometimes for many years. Oh, and by the way, if I get another e-mail encouraging me to vote in the USA Today Gun Rights Survey from back in 2007, I think that I'll scream.


Today we present a guest article by Dr. Bob of SurvivingHealthy.com.

First, I must state that I am not a licensed physical therapist or personal trainer.  You may be expecting some type of disclaimer of "consult a physician before starting an exercise program" fame.  Nope.  The way I look at it is, I am that physician giving out helpful, free medical advice for prepping--so take it or leave it.  Much of this article references my life and personal experience, and for that you will either be impressed by the thoughtful, personal example; or you will be disgusted and bored by my shameless self-talk.  For this I am sorry; but I try very hard to do as I tell others to do as an example rather than a hypocrite.  WTSHTF, everyone's lives will be very different except for those few amazing and blessed humans out there like this blog's editor.  (Their lives are already very different!)  This article is written for the rest of us.  The overweight family practice doctor from the Ozarks that thinks he's too busy to exercise (ouch, that one hits close).  The housewife jogger that puts in her 2.5 miles every weekday on the treadmill.  The responsible mom with the most awesome pantry--but also 30 extra pounds of "softness" to carry.  The 60 year old guy that is an awesome shot, but also an awesome beer drinker that can't walk up a hill carrying a load without nearly dying.  The list of my friends and family could go on for a long time; but we all know who we are:  American preppers.  We are just like most Americans--eating too much junk food, fast food, and having the best intentions to improve our fitness after everything else on the list has been checked off.  The list you have isn't going away and if you count yourself among this group of American preppers---the time is now.

My time as a Cross Country runner, wrestler, 5K road racer, Air Force Officer, and physician has certainly been enough training and education in fitness.  I was buff in the past--with 8-pack abs and definition.  I could run 10 miles in less than a hour without difficulty.  I could squat and bench my weight.  But, it all came at a price.  Time mostly, pain too.  I spent hours and hours a week away from my family working out.  Something else always is sacrificed.  I was injured often by overuse and over-training.  Sore shoulders, knees, ankles and hips became fairly normal in my day to day life.  Finally, I had a psoas muscle tear in 2005 that gave us quite a scare as they thought I might have a tumor instead of just a simple overuse injury.  (Little did they know how hard I was training).  After the blood was reabsorbed and I could walk again after my brief stay in a wheelchair, my wife banned me from running.  At that time, I was quite sure that she could be persuaded or ignored in the future, so I wasn't too worried.  Time and age have softened me to my current pudgy standing, but the knowledge and will is still there to get buff again.  I would often sneak in running trials and then my wife would catch me and lecture until I submitted to her will.  Then, over time, I began to think a lot about what the point of being fit was.  Did I really want to be cut again?  Was it worth the pain and time?  No, it was not.  There were much more pressing concerns that continued to niggle at my brain.  Suddenly, TEOTWAWKI fitness planning seemed so obvious to me.  Train for what you expect in the future, and don't worry about anything else...genius!
Where to start?  Start at the beginning.  (Real original, eh?)  Seriously though, sit down and make a plan for TEOTWAWKI fitness.  THIS IS DIFFERENT THAN OTHER FITNESS PLANNING!  Everyone can lose weight and get in better shape, but this is not the point of TEOTWAWKI fitness.  The point will be survival.  Plain and simple--survival.  No one cares how fast you can run or how much you can bench when we are all hungry, dirty, smelly and worried about our futures.  So, my suggestion is to sit down with the members of your group or family and actually have a discussion about the "grid down" situation first.  Where would you likely be?  Where would you need to get to?  What if there was NO transportation?  Where is your nearest water supply?  What will you eat?  What will you do if it is the height of summer's heat, or the depths of winter's cold?  Do you have clothing for both extremes with you in your BOB or vehicle--and will you be able to get to it?  Perhaps you can start to appreciate where I am going with this.  Jogging and eating protein bars is not adequate preparation.  Make a plan for your fitness based on your individual responsibilities WTSHTF.  When I sat down with my wife and talked about this issue, I realized that I could facing a 220 mile hike to get back to her and the family.  My first fitness priority became:  getting in shape for hiking home.  What is your challenge when the grid goes down?
Look at your biggest fitness challenge in a post-grid world and make your fitness plan to fit that challenge.  For me, walking and jogging is easy.  I have no major health problems or joint issues.  I am overweight, but not to the point of health concerns.  But, putting on my BOB and hiking up and down the hills is a much bigger challenge than a simple 4 mile walk.  Having to do that hike 54 times in a row is a sobering thought.  And, more importantly, you learn a lot about the problems with your plan and your gear.  I found out that I need a little towel at the small of my back or my pants will fill with sweat.  I learned that if I continue my typical slouchy posture while wearing my BOB my neck really starts to hurt, but by focusing on a more "military stance" and tightening my waist belt and loosening my chest belt, my neck is much better on a longer hike.  I discovered that getting a good filter straw was a far superior idea compared to carrying 2 gallons of water at a time.  I now know that carrying larger volumes of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods beats MREs in my BOB.  The short socks I usually favor did not adequately cover my legs and caused chaffing from my boots, prompting me to buy some of the calf-length ones for my BOB.  I probably could have gained enlightenment about all these issues by thinking, reading, and theorizing--but nothing beats real-life application.  With some of these simple changes to my BOB, it is much lighter and I can hike much farther now on the same energy; and as I continue to "practice" hiking with my gear on and my BOB loaded I expect that the 54 4-mile hikes will seem more doable.
But, this is just my fitness plan for TEOTWAWKI, it is not yours.  Go back to the list and the "grid down discussion".  Perhaps you have not really made a good water harvesting plan.  Mine involves rain water collection, but if there is a prolonged drought the back-up plan is the half-mile hike through some pretty rough woods downhill and then back uphill with a heavy load of water.  My current BOB hiking training will prepare me for that mile round-trip well.  Maybe your water harvest could be improved by building a pulley system and so you need to climb some trees and get the lines hung.  That's a good workout, so get it done instead of going to the gym to work on your definition.  Maybe you need more reliable equipment for water hauling, but you won't know that until you put your new "fitness thinking" into a plan.  Water being the first step to survival, someone in your group or family needs to take on this fitness challenge.  Water is heavy and usually a hill is involved, sometimes a cliff or drop.  Maybe you need to have a simple "bucket rope" suspended over the 15 foot drop at your local water source instead of the slippery adventure at the shoreline.  Building it may prevent an injury later and if nothing else would make your job much less difficult.
Food should be another focus of fitness planning.  Gardening without power tools and gas is hard.  Takes a lot of prep work and can cause lots of blisters and sore spots.  Someone can be in charge of this part of your groups' planning and again--practice.  Real life raking of leaves in the fall can build hand strength and calluses.  Turning the soil in the winter (latitude dependent) or the compost pile can keep your hands, arms and shoulders in shape.  Digging holes for fruit trees in the fall is excellent training.  Spring tilling can be grueling if you haven't been able to (due to snow and/or ice) or you just haven't.  Prepare accordingly doing the activities during the "off" season that you will need to do in the "on" season.  Gardening in one thing, hunting is another.  As every good hunter will tell you:  the kill is the easy part.  Field dressing and hauling a large animal out of the woods is a real test of your fitness.  Practice makes perfect, or at least practice helps prepare you for the haul out with meat for the group.  If you are unable to hunt regularly enough to build fitness, perhaps drag a large and heavy pack through the property for a hour weekly.  Whatever seems to be the most realistic substitute for the real thing you should try to do now.
Maybe your fitness concern is the need for security.  You have "plans" for patrolling the perimeter of your property.  Time to do instead of plan.  Don't just patrol, wear real-life gear and if at all possible carry real-life security measures.  Not always possible and not always a good idea (as you may look like the kind of nut your locals don't approve of), but my plan if the local law enforcement decides to stop and question the nut in camo walking in the dark with a big pack on through the town is to use the "practicing for hunting season" line.  Usually there is something coming up that makes sense, currently deer season.  Closer to Spring it will be turkey season.  Camping trip coming up with the family is always a good one.  My personal approach is keeping a low profile, but perhaps you live in a more "prepper-friendly" area and you could just tell the truth.  Practicing your combat position drops with your gear on is a great way to condition too, the more real-world practice the more muscle memory you will retain.
Another thing to consider when doing your fitness planning is wood harvesting.  If you are going to use wood for heating or cooking, someone has to get it.  At first, most wood will be in the woodpile or close to the house.  The next wood gathered will be deadfall that is in an ever increasing radius from you.  Not much of a challenge really so far.  But, after using much more wood than you are used to, it will quickly disappear and your will be forced to gather wood from standing trees in short order.  Cutting down a dead tree with a chainsaw is one thing, cutting a live tree down with a handsaw is another completely.  Now that's a fitness challenge if you have ever attempted to do so.  Again, practice makes perfect.  I recommend cutting some live trees down now to age on the ground to make cutting a splitting in the future easier while giving you the necessary muscle challenge that you will face more regularly in the future.  Leaving deadwood standing while thinning out live trees may seem nuts now, but if you need them later you will be very thankful.  Splitting is a completely different fitness challenge, and the more regularly you can split smaller amounts, the better trained you will be.  Don't take a weekend and split a cord, take 1/4 cord on weekly.  When swinging an axe, you want to make sure you have not only some strength but also good control, for obvious reasons.  If you are lucky enough to have all the gas and hydraulics you need to help with you splitting, make sure you have enough to last many years, or convert to some work by hand now so you can build the strength and skill necessary to get the job done.
You may notice two glaring omissions from these fitness recommendations:  diet and workouts.  Dieting is unnecessary in TEOTWAWKI fitness planning.  Seriously.  If you are adequately fit to accomplish this schedule:  weekend hunting trip with recovery of mid-sized deer, Monday hauling 200 gallons of water 1/2 mile, Tuesday gather 1 cord of deadwood, Wed split 1/4 cord of that gathered wood, Thursday help with raking leaves most of the day for the garden, Friday haul another 200 gallons of water 1/2 mile; you don't need to worry about being fat.  I doubt that you will be for one, but even if you are then you still have nothing to worry about from a "fitness for survival" standpoint.  And you certainly don't need to worry about working out to make yourself more fit.  That schedule is tough, and will be much more of a reality than you may have really pondered prior to this article.  If so, you have work to do.  Start doing it.  Simple, shorter "workouts" of practice sessions until fatigued or until slight muscle soreness occurs are best for beginners, then advance as tolerated until you are really building up your tolerance to this type of work.  I will mention a few things about diet changes in prepping for TEOTWAWKI in terms of practice.  Start to eat more like you will after losing the grid and your favorite naughty food source (for me, it is Taco Bell).  Go an entire week without using electricity to fix your meals.  Definitely cut out fast food, junk food and eating out as much as possible now to miss those things less in the leaner future.  Eat some of your prep foods together as a group or family so that you can start to appreciate some of the tastes, textures and spicing that you may not be used to.  Some of these things may seem silly now, but will pay off exponentially WTSHTF.  As always, stay strong.

JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is: SurvivingHealthy.com.

When I entered Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, in August 1969, we were issued M14 rifles. I was a wimpy 17-year old weighing 135 pounds. I found the M14 was extremely heavy for me to carry, but I learned to love that rifle, and I still do! The M14 fires the 7.62 NATO round - it's akin to the civilian .308 Winchester round. It's a great all around caliber for (most) big game hunting, as well as defending your home or retreat. When I left Basic Training, and went on to my Infantry school at Fort Lewis, Washington, I bid farewell to the M14, and was issued an M16A1 - which weighed three pounds less than the M14.
During Basic Training, I earned my Expert badge when I qualified with the M14 - one of the few in my unit to get Expert, and no one in my unit could field strip or reassemble an M14 faster than I could. Strange thing is, when I fired that M16A1 for qualification, I only earned my Marksman's badge. I told my Drill Instructor from the get-go, that there was something "wrong" with my M16A1, but he wouldn't listen. It just didn't make sense that I could fire the bigger, and harder-kicking M14 and get an Expert's badge, and only get a Marksmanship badge with the M16A1. I still believe to this day, that the M16A1 I had fired for qualification had a shot out barrel. While the M16A1 was a delight to carry compared to the M14, it just didn't instill a lot of confidence.
I've owned several Springfield Armory M1A rifles over the years. The M1A is a semi-auto only version of the M14, and the be sure, when the M14 was fired on full-auto, it was a handful, and after the second or third shot, you were completely off target due to the recoil on full-auto. When I was on the Illinois State Rifle & Pistol Team, we were issued match-grade M14s to shoot in competition, and they were sure sweet-shooting rifles, and I rarely walked away without taking first place in the matches and categories I competed in.
Sad to say, I presently don't own a Springfield Armory M1A, but I'm waiting for one to come into my local gun shop, at which time, I'll snap it up in a trade of some sort. However, I do own a Chinese clone, which is stamped "M14/S" on the receiver - even though it's only a semi-auto version, with no provision for full-auto fire. This is a Chinese PolyTech clone of the M1A, and I've owned several of these over the years, and all were really good shooters. One complaint I've had with the Chinese clones is that, their stocks are overly bulky and thick. It's an easy fix to replace those stocks with a US military surplus M14 stock, that only takes a little bit of fitting, and filling in the hole in the stock where the full-auto selector switch goes, and you don't even have to fill that hole in, if you don't want to.
In the past, I've tried several imported M1A scope mounts, and I wasn't satisfied with any of them. Some of these mounts didn't even look good when I received them - they were poorly made - and some were returned. The cheap mounts I did try were just junk and several of 'em even broke under recoil when placed on an M1A or clone, plus, they wouldn't hold their zero for long - some only held a zero for a mag full of ammo - not acceptable. I've also tried some of the better M1A mounts, and while they were much better than the pricey mounts were, I soon abandoned them as well, 'cause they wouldn't hold a zero after being removed and replaced on the gun. [JWR Adds: The PolyTech is not a true clone of an M1A, since they had some dimensional differences on some parts. The PolyTech M14/S rifles also had notoriously soft bolts. Retrofitting the bolt with a USGI bolt will solve that problem, but to be done right, the receiver geometry must be corrected to match the bolt. Fulton Army does that work.]
Enter Bill Bassett and his company, Bassett Machine, and his answer to the M1A/M14 scope mounts. I was contacted by Bill, asking me if I'd like to test his mounts, claiming they are the best in the business. Needless to say, I had to accept his challenge, and in short order, Bill sent me several different models and configurations of mounts suitable for use on the M1A/M14 line of rifles and the clones. At present, Bassett Machine, is producing four types of mounts. One is the Standard High scope mount, another is the Standard Low scope mount, and we have the Picatinny Rail scope mount and the Picatinny low scope mount. I received the Standard High, Standard Low and one of the Picatinny Rail mounts - though I'm not sure if I received the standard or the low mount.
All the Bassett Machine mounts are expertly machined out of Aluminum, with zero flaws - so, upon first inspection, I was pretty impressed with the product samples I was sent. Bassett also includes a torque wrench with each mount, with specific instructions on how to torque down the mounts, and this is something I haven't run across before. Bill says that you shouldn't torque your mount down any more than 22-inch pounds, and I thought this seemed to be a bit light. In the past, I torqued down M1A scope mounts a lot tighter than that. So, I expected the mounts to work themselves loose under recoil, in short order - didn't happen!
I experimented with all three of the mounts I was sent, over a period of several weeks. Yeah, I wanted to give these hummers a good work out to see if they lived up to the claims they made. There are numerous comments on the Bassett Machine web site, from very satisfied customers, all praising the mounts. The mounts fit my Chinese M14 clone perfectly, just a great fit, and they are so easy to remove and re-mount, even a young child can do it, following the instructions for getting the torque just perfect. the torque wrench also has a new feature, and that's a bolt greaser built into it - those of you who own an M1A know what I'm talking about - handy little device for keeping the bolt properly greased on your rifle.
My Poly Tech M14 clone is scary accurate, so I was expecting some good test results from the Bassett Machine mounts. I only mounted an el cheapo 3X9 Simmons scope on the rifle for this test and evaluation period - for serious work, I'd permanently mount something much better on the rifle. Over the course of several weeks, I used all three of the mounts Bill Bassett sent me, moving the scope from one mount to another and back and forth. I honestly lost count of how many times this scope was moved from mount-to-mount, and how many times, I removed the mounts, fired the rifle without the scope and mount, and then placed the scope and mount back on the rifle rifle - safe to say, it was dozens and dozens and dozens of times. It was work!
I found that the mounts pretty much held their zero after being removed and placed back on the PolyTech. Most of the time, the point of impact only changed about half an inch, if that. Now, that's confidence in your mount if you ask me. And, as many times as I took that scope off of one mount, and placed it on another mount for testing, the scope was pretty much dead-on, from one mount to another - other than a slight change in elevation due to the differing heights of the Bassett mounts - but nothing worth writing home about.
You might also find of great interest, the testing that was done using the Bassett Mounts down at Ft. Hood, Texas for the Advanced Marksmanship Unit. Using a single Weaver T-10 Scope, and the Bassett Standard scope mount unit to test 160, M14 rifles, for accuracy, three times a year, for two years- this lone Bassett Mount never failed - that's 19,200 rounds fired through the various guns, using the same scope and Bassett Mount. The Bassett Mount was found to be the most useful tool in testing the rifle's accuracy!
Quite frankly, I gave these mounts more of a workout than I had ever given any mounts. Bill Bassett claims he makes the best M1A/M14 mounts in the business and I have no doubts about this claim. I had a favorite mount, that is the Standard High scope mount, that allows you to continue to use the iron sights, should your scope fail you.
Now, as to pricing on the mounts, as I've said over the years, quality never comes cheap. However, if you buy quality, you don't have to buy it again...whereas, with cheap products, you have to keep replacing 'em over and over again. The Standard High mount is $97.50 as is the Standard Low mount. the Picatinny Rail mount is $149.50, and the LOW Picatinny rail mount is $159.50. Now, that might seem a bit high, but you only need to purchase any of these mounts once - they will last you as long as you own them, of that, I have no doubt. And, should you have a problem, Bill Bassett will be there to make it right with you.
When I received the mounts, I got a short letter from Bill, with his cell phone number, house phone, his daughter's cell and his wife's cell phone numbers - and, or course, the business number - should I have any questions or problems - Bill wanted to be available to be there for me. I've never had anyone make themselves so available to me, should a problem or question arise. I didn't have a need to call any of the numbers.
I could get into the technical aspects of Bill's M1A/M14 mounts, but it would probably bore you. If you want to know more about these outstanding mounts, be sure to go to the Bassett Machine web site, and you'll probably find out all you need to know. As for me, my extensive and almost exhaustive testing answered all my questions. Bassett Machine is busying turning out these mounts as fast as they can - when you place your order, you can expect to get your mounts in 2-to-4 weeks.
If you're in the market for an M1A or M14 scope mount, that won't fail you, then give Bill Bassett your business. Even though I've never met Bill or talked to him, I can tell he is one of the Good Guys, and deserves our business. He made a claim to me, that he makes the best M1A/M14 scope mounts in the business and I took him up on his challenge. He was right!

Mr. Rawles:
I am a Registered Nurse with some money saved up, and a two year old son.  I don't know if I can do it all myself. I have had this impending feeling that I need to leave where I am on the East Coast. I feel God has put this restlessness in my heart for a reason. I find myself looking at rural land and farms to purchase practically every night. I feel as if something is coming and I need to get my son out of harm's way. Basically I don't know where to start or even if its feasible that I can do it. If you could just give me a few pointers on how you think I could manage this I would be eternally grateful.
Thanks, - Desperate to Get Out of Dodge

JWR Replies: Just be thankful that you have savings (since most folks have deep debts) and that you are in a career that pays fairly well, and which makes you mobile.  I recommend that you proceed with prayer, and I want to let you know that you are in my prayers.  Pray that you find the right community in a safe region with a good church, and if it in God's plan, a Godly husband.

For some general guidance, see my American Redoubt Page and my Retreat Area Recommendations page. You might also consider the Oil Patch of North Dakota, which is presently booming and has a considerable surplus of bachelors.

Hello Jim,
We too are beginning preppers.  I wanted to add a few gotchas I encountered when storing food.  The first, which is minor, occurred when we bought snacks in bulk.  We are not big snackers, but we enjoy some dry-roasted peanuts while watching television, and some chips on the side with a sandwich.  When there were suddenly 9 lbs of peanuts or 6 bags of chips in the pantry, family members started eating snack foods excessively. But before I had to ration them, the behavior self-corrected.  Our diet has actually gotten better as we stock up, as most long-term storage foods are whole and not pre-processed.

The second gotcha needs to be watched more carefully.  When we reached storage of three months food, we got complacent. With “so much” food on the shelves, at least it seemed like a lot to average suburbanites, we failed to purchase replacements as we consumed from the pantry.  Our storage actually dwindled until I noticed the trend and got back on track.  Don’t’ get complacent!

Our pantry has grown to the point where Dear Wife merely takes a basket to the pantry to “go shopping”.  She loves it.  Our shopping pattern is this: Dear Wife makes a list of items which need replacing or increasing, which involves a big, monthly trip to Sam’s.  And I hit the grocery stores for sales when I go to the office once every week or two (yes, we have moved as far from the city as I can bear to commute. And I too have a get home bag).  I figure Sam’s is 30% off retail, so I only purchase items which are 40% off, or more.  Coupons can cut the sale prices even further.  I often save more than I spend by buying only sale items.  J

I could go on and on about our prepping experiences, but that would end up being a whole ‘nother article.  But sticking to the subject of food, after several short years, I estimate we have stored food for three for 9 months (based on an LDS calculator). My goal is to store food for five for a year, since family is sure to show up in hard times.  In addition to that, the garden beds are built, we are raising rabbits, and will get chickens when building the coop/barn get to the top of my "to do" list.   Thanks, - S2man

Want to move way down south? I just heard about a farm near Chillan, Chile that is for sale.

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F.G. forwarded a link to a very interesting piece about JustiaGate: "Someone was incredibly busy in June 2008 working on an illegal front invisible to the public; searching and altering Supreme Court Cases published at Justia.com which cite the only case in American history - Minor v. Happersett (1875) - to directly construe Article 2 Section 1's natural-born citizen clause in determining a citizenship issue as part of its holding and precedent."

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Are Packs of Wild Dogs Roaming the North Side of St. Louis? (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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R.L. sent this news: U.S. Rep to U.N. Says Obama Wants Senate to Ratify Arms Treaty

"The Apocalypse will not be televised.  But all the semi-finals will probably make YouTube." - SurvivalBlog Reader J. McC.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I just read a report and then heard it confirmed by a mutual friend that my friend Pat Jones, the proprietor of SAF Lithgow in Rathdrum, Idaho died tragically on Wednesday evening. Pat, who was born in Australia, was known as "SLR-5000" on the FALFiles. He was a well-respected gun (and gun parts) dealer and an expert on FAL rifles--both inch and metric. He will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to his family.


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Many SurvivalBlog readers have been prepping for awhile and are comfortable with their plans.  However, the process can be overwhelming for people who have recently “woke up” or who are trying to convince loved ones who aren’t sold on the need or desirability of prepping.

This shouldn’t be minimized or downplayed.  It can be very disturbing when you first realize you aren’t   self-sufficient.  It is easy to become overwhelmed with the scope, cost, and time necessary to prepare.  The concept of TEOTWAWKI can be troubling and concerning even to completely self-sufficient preppers. 
Even the possibility of angry mobs trying to fight off starvation, heavily armed gangs running wild with little or no law enforcement, and rampant disease and poverty seems like something out of a Mad Max movie.   We have been raised in the “land of plenty”; these things happen in other places, not here.  It is troubling enough that a person’s mental processes can shut down as the normalcy bias kicks in.
People then convince themselves that things won’t get that bad.  If you raise these ideas in certain social circles, you will be met with looks that suggest you belong in a mental institution.  It is easy to feel embarrassed and unsure of what to do, or have fear, doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety cloud your judgment.
Based on my own recent experience, I have a few suggestions for people who are just starting out.

What I’ve listed below is a mental framework for how to approach your survival planning.  I found it is easier to develop a strategy if you utilize this framework.  It is also easier to explain to loved ones or friends who may not be sure that prepping is necessary or advisable.
Please keep in mind that the three categories below are not hard and fast rules but a general conceptual approach.  Many prepping activities can be classified in more than one category.  Depending on your circumstances, you may have to make adjustments in your planning for the three stages.
The first step for prepping I recommend is to prioritize your needs into three categories: immediate, mid-range, and long term survival needs and goals (I refer to them as Steps 1, 2, and 3).

Step 1 is for short term needs.  This is the easiest for both the prepper and those people he is trying to convince.  I also call it “natural disaster prep”.  Many people live in areas that may be prone to natural disasters or at least heavy snowfalls that can take out electrical power.  Many people have survived these events or have heard stories from those who have.  Therefore, Step 1 is not mentally or emotionally difficult to accept and prepare for.
This step involves thinking about no electricity or modern conveniences.  Emphasis is on stockpiling water, MREs, batteries, etc.  You should purchase a water filter, and be prepared to cook without electricity for awhile.  You should also maintain a “stash of cash”.   There are many good resources to help you plan for what may befall you following a natural disaster.  Even many “ostriches” can see the need for this.

Step 2 is for intermediate needs.  I also like to call this “economic insurance”.  It’s a bit harder to prepare for mentally, but is still not too alarming or threatening if you approach it (and communicate it) correctly.
The idea is to accept the fact that we are living in a tough economy.  It is easy for people to lose their jobs, or to have to take a pay cut.  Inflation is also a concern.  Sadly, over the past few years, most people no longer have to be “pushed” into seeing this.  Food and gasoline prices have obviously gone up; it doesn’t take much imagination to see things could get worse.
The solution?  Stock up on food and supplies!  The method I use is to point out that my family is self-employed.  If we should have to shut down, and it takes awhile for us to find new jobs, I don’t want to have to worry about the grocery bill.  I want to have plenty of food and supplies on hand.  We will need the money for other items.
Most people see the wisdom of this.  If you handle the situation correctly, you can get loved ones to “buy in” and over time become supportive.  Being self-reliant is a trait that people instinctively feel good about.  Over time, you and your loved ones can gain confidence and knowledge as you continue prepping.

Step 3 is for long term needs, and is primarily for either TEOTWAWKI, or at least some pretty ugly circumstances.  This involves building a very deep larder, and includes items such as seeds, 5 gallon drums filled with wheat, canning equipment, etc.  It also involves wrestling with the idea of “bugging out” if things get too crazy, or establishing a deeply stocked, remotely located retreat.
I believe this is a psychologically and emotionally difficult process for most people.  The idea of societal collapse is something most folks are simply not prepared to deal with.  It is very easy to become depressed or overwhelmed after taking a serious, realistic look at what the world would look like and what one would have to do to survive TEOTWAWKI.
I believe that prematurely confronting the difficulties of Step 3 is what causes many people to go into denial or become depressed and quit preparations.  This step shouldn’t be seriously considered until someone (at a minimum) has mentally and emotionally accepted Steps 1 and 2.  It is best if they have done their research and gained some practical experience with their preparations.

A few general guidelines when starting:
When prioritizing needs, I would first obtain firearms and ammunition.  This can be easily explained as part of Step 1 preparations; you are defending against potential burglars and post-disaster looters.  I place this item first because given our current political climate, it is almost certain that the current administration will do everything possible to make firearms more difficult to obtain, or more expensive through regulation. 
Obtain as much training as you can.  If you take classes in firearm training, first aid, canning, etc. you not only are gaining survival skills, but you can also find a new hobby.  Don’t think of it (or describe it) as trying to “fill up” holes in your skill set, but a chance to grow and develop as a person.
Learn what things cost, and what they are truly worth.  In order to combat inflation, I recently began to use couponing strategies.  You can save quite a bit of money, and it’s also a good way to stock up on barter items, or additional supplies for charitable giving.
Study economics.  It is difficult to make concrete plans if you have no idea of the economic forces at work around you.  Try and learn not only about basic economics and free-market principles, but what is happening in the world and the likely results. 
It is very difficult for most people to understand that fiat money is not wealth.  It is even more difficult to accept (after a lifetime of “education”) that numbers listed on an “IRA” or “mutual fund” account statement can only provide for a person under certain economic conditions.
During periods of hyperinflation or currency collapse, re-education will be terribly painful as people realize that actual, useful goods (food, tools, seeds, guns, ammunition) are the only true forms of material wealth.  If you can accumulate some gold, silver, and goods that can be easily bartered (Survival Blog has many excellent examples of these) you will be far ahead of most people.
Develop flexibility and realism in your plans.  You may not be able to afford a retreat property, or be able to live there full time with your current job.  You may not have enough money or time to purchase all the items you want or the skills that you need.  Bear in mind that there is no “perfect plan”, and that everyone faces shortcomings of some sort.

Make the best plans you can under your circumstances, and keep a constant eye on the world around you (and at large) to see if you have to make revisions.  If you combine a can-do attitude and self-sufficient mindset with even modest planning and accumulation of needed goods, you will be in far better shape than most other people.
As you go down the path of your prepping journey, at some point you must confront many things you do not want to believe or are afraid of, such as economic hardship or TEOTWAWKI.  Don’t allow this to dominate your life or make you live in fear.  (This can happen if people try to do too much too fast or don’t mentally establish some realistic guidelines of what they need to accomplish).

Continue to go to school, spend time with family activities, and enjoy life to the fullest.  Maintaining a sense of balance in your life will help you develop the mindset and traits you will need should everything come apart.

Most of all develop your spiritual life.  Put your faith in the Lord, and trust in Him.  Develop firm beliefs about how you will behave and live your life, even if things grow difficult.  If you take even a casual glance backward at history, you will see many instances of ordinary people surviving extraordinary times with faith, courage, hope, and mental and spiritual toughness.  Don’t allow despair or fear to cripple your mind or destroy your plans.

Dear James,
Thanks for all you do to educate us all.  You certainly woke me up.  I offer a few thoughts that may be of use or interest to your readership:

I live off-grid, at end of a mile-long driveway. Been here twenty years. Spring water, solar power, wood heat. Have chickens, goats, cows, machine shop, wife and kids, and a few bang-sticks.

Save for the critical issues of man-power to mount a defense, and deep enough pockets for deep stock of supplies, I look “prepped”.

From this perspective, a couple of thoughts.

First, I am not growing all the feed for my livestock. I purchase corn for the chickens, mixed grains for the animals I milk, and hay to winter the cows. Having livestock does not improve preparedness, unless you are growing all their food: they are just more mouths at your table. My plan for mine must be to kill and preserve, or trade them off, early in any economic collapse scenario.

Second, we are remote enough (in People's Republic of West Virginia), and sufficiently off beaten track, to have little concern about the hungry urban refugee hordes. There are however two real, local threats to our security.

The first is neighbors, who are not well-prepared with supplies of their own for the long-term, but know or suspect that we are. We are deliberately on good terms with them all, but hunger trumps politeness for most folks. Some country people have moral codes they live by, but many that are raised on public school and “disability” and sixteen kinds of welfare, are more elastic.

The second is, alas, the Sheriff. Ours currently is a former Marine, who was elected as perhaps most are in hopes of improving an office seen as corrupt and ineffective. Unfortunately he turns out to have no respect for what I would consider fundamental Law. I discovered this a few years ago, when my ex-wife was making false complaints to various State agencies about me, and on one occasion when the Sheriff was escorting one of these onto my property I asked him, did he not feel that these people should have a warrant?

His response was, “John, when was the last time the Constitution was actually followed?”

I feel confident that, in the event of any real or threatened collapse of large scale order, he will either cooperate eagerly with any Federal or State martial law or relocation or collectivization plans, or will attempt to establish his own locally.

I think this sort of situation potentially exists in many places that might otherwise be considered fairly safe. Even local authorities who consider themselves highly principled, may easily be misled by what seems to be compassion, to use their power to “save” the ill-prepared by expropriation from the prepared.. This is of course no more than the the welfare-vs-charity debate in microcosm....with flying lead dressing.

“Zombie hordes”, “Blue Helmets”, or “Federales” will not know to look for you by name. But your neighbors and your local sheriff will. If you do not know them already, then get to know them now, and plan accordingly. - John in West Virginia

I recently completed my third 10 water only fast.  The previous one I did was 13 years ago.  Here are some observations.

1) While the first two times I did a 10 day water fast the hunger disappeared in 3 days, this time, it took 8 days for the hunger pangs to stop.

2) I was much more sensitive to cold temperatures.  Bear that in mind and take appropriate measures.

3) Adding a little salt to the water I was drinking helped significantly with the lightheadedness and tendency to get faint when rising.

4)  A colonic cleansing on day 3 (you could simply do a few enemas) helped a great deal as I was no longer walking around with 4 pounds of fecal matter in my large intestine, held there due to lack off peristalsis for 10 days.

4) Unlike the first two water fasts I have done, this time, instead of breaking my fast eating either fruit or yogurt for my first meal, I had homemade chicken broth.  Later the same day I had slow cooked chicken.  I had no stomach aches and I think it was the optimal meal to restart my digestive tract.  After meat, I went to cooked vegetables, then to fruits and finally to grains three days later.

As a side benefit, now that I am in the habit of making stocks my family and I find that meals cooked with stock not only have much more flavor, but also greater satiability.  A grain cooked with stock instead of water gives me a much greater sense of being well fed and it lets me go a few more hours before I feel the need to eat than otherwise.

Simple stock making instructions

Chicken stock- Take a whole butchered chicken and put the breast in one container with brine and refrigerate, put the wings, legs, thighs, fat and skin in another container with brine and refrigerate and put the remaining carcass into a crock pot with cold water and apple cider vinegar.  The breasts, legs, thighs and wings can be cooked in any manner within 1-6 days of being in the brine.
(I prefer to stir fry or sauté the breasts and slow cook the legs, wings and thighs so as to get the nutrition from the bones.)

The cold water and vinegar will begin to draw out the albumin and dissolve the bones and cartilage increasing the nutritive value.  

Next, put in mirepoix (2 chopped carrots, 3 stalks chopped celery and 1 large chopped onion).

Add enough water to covert the meat.

Slow cook at around 190 F for 6 to 24 hours.  You will need at least 159F to get the gelatin out of the bones.

After 1st hour you can skim off the material that floats to the top.

When done, strain and put the stock (the liquid) into the fridge.  It may or may not turn to a Jello-like consistency depending on the health of the animal and number of bones you use.

Use this stock in the place of water when you are cooking grains or making soups.

For Beef Stock-
Put chopped bones into the stock.  You can pre brown them in the oven if you prefer that flavor  Look up Brown Stock...

Repeat with the same directions )temperature, cooking time, mirepoix and skimming) as the chicken stock.  

When complete, the strained liquid will be very heavy and oily and when refrigerated will turn to gelatin.  You will find a yellow layer that solidifies on the top.  This is the beef fat or tallow.  You can use this for cooking and frying or just add it in with the stock when you use the stock.

Stocks that won't be used in 3-5 days should be put in the freezer.

Advantages of making stocks and brines:

Meat kept in brine will last far longer in the fridge than otherwise and will be far more tender when cooked.

Food cooked with stocks will be both tastier and more nutritious. - SF in Hawaii

There is a very interesting thread over at SurvivalistBoards.com, started by a survivor of the war in Bosnia.

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Tamara, over at the View From The Porch blog mentioned the trailer for the upcoming film about U.S. Navy SEALs: Act of Valor.

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The FBI Announces Gangs Have Infiltrated Every Branch of the Military. (Kudos to Keith G. for the link.)

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Steve H. sent this: November 9th: Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test.

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More omnivorous that than an Omnivore? Reader P.N.G. mentioned the Brunton Lamplight 360 LED Lantern/Flashlight. Like the Gerber Omnivore, it takes more than one kind of battery, but it seems even more useful. It takes D, C, AA, or AAA batteries, and interestingly, it can run on one, two, or three AA or AAA batteries. As the name implies, it also has a lamp mode. Here is a review that seems fairly comprehensive

"Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and [in] all knowledge;
Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." - 1 Corinthians 1:3-10 (KJV)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I don’t know exactly when my husband and I first discussed preparing for emergency situations and stockpiling, but we began keeping a small notebook in 2009 to inventory items we purchased to stock pile in case TSHTF or in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Our main concern was economic collapse, followed by civil unrest and the resulting lack of availability of food, water, and other necessities and the possibility of being unable to move about freely. We read some books, including Patriots by James Wesley, Rawles, One Second After by William Forstchen and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This fueled our desire and the urgency to build a stockpile and be prepared for whatever might come.
When we first began to prepare, both for personal protection and stockpiling items of necessity, we weren’t sure exactly how to tackle it. We just took one step at a time - we bought a large bag of rice; we bought some canned goods; some sugar, some dried beans. We began investigating, looking at web sites, lists of suggested items, how much food is needed for two weeks, for three months, for a year. How much water was needed. It was a bit overwhelming, but we just kept adding a few things at a time. We started picking up extra canned goods on most grocery shopping trips, looking for the ones on sale. Since we started, food prices have increased substantially and economical choices are much harder to find. Coffee has skyrocketed! We love our coffee and made sure we have a percolator style coffee pot so we can make coffee whether on the propane grill or an open fire! We also make an effort to keep at least two extra full propane gas grill tanks on hand.
We started to store our collected items by putting most things into food grade plastic bucket containers - we had lots of empty cat litter containers - and labeling the top and front with identifying info and keeping them in a storage closet. However, as we accumulated items, the containers stacked up and the ones on the bottom were the oldest and would need rotating out the soonest. So we had to come up with another plan. We rearranged some furniture in "the junk room" and bought a steel storage shelf with 4 levels each supposed to bear 1,000 lbs. and we unloaded most of the buckets. I first put everything on the shelves by date, but later found I couldn’t get to what I was looking for easily for use and rotating. So, I unloaded the shelves and started over, stacking cans by contents (e.g., corn, beans, meats, fruits, etc.). This seems to be working much better. We soon filled up that shelf and got another one. We still keep some things in the buckets (e.g. sugar, dried beans - things in plastic bags) stored between the two shelves and clearly marked. Now, there are areas for canned foods and other boxed and container foods, pasta, condiments, sauces, spices, jellies, syrups and honey, as well as medical supplies, toiletries, toilet paper, sleeping bags, tools, duct tape, lighters and matches, candles, oil lamps, etc. We also found a solar lamp to add to our collection and ordered a small crank/solar emergency radio with multiple types of recharging outlets.
We feel we have made a good beginning. We still don’t have an accurate calculation of how long our supplies will last. We are now using the stockpile shelves as an additional pantry, and when we use something from the shelf, we put it on the shopping list for replacement, and of course we are always adding extra items as well. We know one thing for sure - we still don’t have enough water stored and that is a very challenging situation as it takes up so much space and we live in a modest house on a small property. We mostly have bottled water and are contemplating how to set up other methods for water collection and storage. We have a few water purification tablets, but consider these as sort of "last resort" items and pray we don’t ever need them! However, we do live on a small lake and could at least retrieve some water for cleaning, toilet flushing, etc. from the lake. There are huge catfish in the lake but we figure they won’t last long when TSHTF.
One of the next things on our to-do list is to take a new inventory - since we put up the big shelves we stopped writing everything in our little book. I am creating an inventory sheet that I hope will make it easy to both add and delete items for keeping an accurate inventory.
On top of all the other possible scenarios we are faced with today, we live in the New Madrid Fault Zone, so earthquake is always a looming possibility. It’s a fairly large, urban area where thievery, violence, rioting and a very real need to protect both our home and ourselves in the event of any kind of major disruption is entirely likely. We both have concealed carry permits and have also been stockpiling ammunition and investing in firearms and necessary accessories. We have attended gun shows where we have found some great prices on additional magazines for our weapons. (The gun show was also one of the only places we’ve ever seen a copy of Patriots !) So far, aside from buying in bulk when possible, we were surprised to find that Wal-Mart has the best prices in our area on the ammunition we need.
We have found that shopping for stockpile items, going to the range and out to the country to shoot, as well as attending gun shows, are entertaining activities that we can do together and with a few like-minded friends. One of our local shooting ranges has "Date Night" where for one set price you can get two meals in their great little restaurant, two targets and two boxes of ammo, and we’ve enjoyed this outing several times with other couples. We can even take a long gun to these date nights. It’s an enjoyable evening out as well as an opportunity to hone our skills.
In addition, we go target shooting at another location available to us which is most helpful as it is outdoors and we have more freedom to handle our firearms in a manner less restricted than at the range. My mother gave me a 20 gauge shotgun for Christmas last year because our 12 gauge was so heavy and just too big for me. I love my little Mossberg. I finally got to take it to the country and shoot a bit at some clay pigeons. Next time I plan to shoot it at a paper target so I can get a good idea of the pattern of the shot when fired and what type of shotgun shells I want.
These activities have enhanced our abilities as well as reinforced our mind set to be physically, mentally and spiritually prepared. Even though our state does not require a firearms training certificate to be approved for concealed carry, we live just across the state line and decided to take that state’s required course and were really glad we did. I was tickled pink to be named "top shot" in our class and they really ribbed my husband about being nice to me! We returned later for a level II tactical training class as well. Our increased level of confidence provided by the firearms training was most helpful, and we were made familiar with the laws concerning carrying firearms in our area.
Stockpiling and prepping has been an exciting project for us. We do have some close friends who are like-minded and we exchange ideas and they are also beginning to stockpile. We try to be careful who knows about our stockpile and have found it to be a bit of a challenge to strike the right balance between caution and encouraging others to be prepared. I find I want to tell people "hey, you need to be storing up food and stuff" but my husband is more cautious. We do feel blessed to have a core group of friends who are thinking about these scenarios too and we hope to be an encouragement to each other as time goes by and to find ourselves and our friends prepared for any eventuality. Another challenge is considering how much is needed in order to share with others - we have elderly neighbors and some family nearby.
One of our biggest concerns is the possibility of needing to bug out. It’s one thing to have a wonderful stash secure at home, and if we have an earthquake or other natural disaster, we’ll be set and feel pretty secure assuming the period of down time won’t last too long. However, in the event of economic collapse, an EMP, or some other more permanent disaster, and if civil unrest occurs, we are still too close to the "big city" and would want to be out of this area. Our financial situation has not permitted us to move away to a safer area of the country yet; we are constantly looking at real estate for sale with acreage and trying to find something we might be able to afford and that has a well or a spring for water and other desirable features. I am guessing this is not an uncommon concern. Much of what I read is obviously written by folks with financial means to choose great property in the best areas. We have to tackle this from the perspective of basic, middle class, in debt, paycheck-to-paycheck Americans. Just not stressing out over the financial aspect is a victory!
I work downtown in an urban area of approximately one million people including the surrounding area. Home is about 25 miles away - a minimum 40 minute drive. I have a backpack in my trunk with emergency food - a couple of those three day compressed blocks, the dried type - and some nuts and dried beef, some water, a few tools and other essentials such as extra clothing, shoes, a radio and batteries, butane lighter, poncho, flashlight, and various other items. Assuming I can get to my car which is parked in a concrete garage attached to a high rise building, I would at least have something to take with me as I begin the trek towards home. There are many bridges, overpasses, creeks, and miles to cross and many hours before I would make it home. To be out, alone in the city, in the dark, would scare me to death. I pray by being mentally and spiritually prepared, I could manage to do what I must. My husband and I have discussed this possibility and under the scenario that I would even begin to walk home, we decided it would be best for him to wait for me there - if I can’t travel the roads home, he wouldn’t be able to get to me either. He works just three miles from our home so we felt it would be best for him to go there and wait.
These are some of the many things we have contemplated so that in the event of an emergency, we will at least have considered what action to take. We were reminded in our handgun training that if you haven’t at least thought ahead of time about something that may happen, it takes your brain several seconds to react. If you have already thought about it, your reaction time is much faster - if somebody kicks in your back door, what do you plan to do? Also, having a plan will help prevent panic.
We both know that we need to be more physically prepared than we are now and we are not young anymore. This is one of the next things on our agenda - survival training! We know if we are forced out of our easy lifestyle, we are going to need skills, energy and stamina, as well as calm minds and hopeful and determined hearts. We feel we are spiritually fit and this gives us courage and confidence.
If we’ve invested time and money preparing and nothing bad happens, then great; but we don’t even want to think about what it would be like if something bad happens and we haven’t prepared. It’s a win/win situation to prep.
We still feel we are beginners, even after a couple of years, but we have learned a lot along the way. We hope that others who are unsure about what to do, where to begin, and how to go about preparing for the future, will be encouraged to just take it one step at a time, one can, one box, one jar, one weapon, one list, one day at a time and be amazed at how quickly their stockpile will grow, and how confident and enthusiastic they will feel as they make progress. We certainly do.
So, kindred spirits, just begin!

I found the letters on footwear interesting and informative, but I have a problem that their information just did not address that may affect others: I have big, very wide feet.  The suggestions on Redwings boots is great-a wonderful product, but even their "H" width is too small for me!  I have found that Hitchcock Shoes has an excellent selection of all types of shoes and boots available from many sources, including their own brand.  They sell for Men only from size 5-24 and widths from 3E to 6E. Even when the brands are available locally, the sizes are special orders.  Thanks to the internet, they are less than a week away.  I have dealt with them for many years and they have excellent customer service.  One option that they offer newbies is using their expertise to assist you with the fit.  There are other sites with even wider shoes, but I have not found one with their variety. - Alan W. in Maryland

I have experienced two different times in my life of going hungry. The first time I went with very little food for three months. I went from 145 lbs to 115 lbs. I am 5'8 and my weight should be around 140-160 according to the Body Mass Index (BMI). The second time wasn't as bad because I knew what to expect. I went from 175 lbs to about 135 lbs. I now weigh a comfortable 190 lbs. I purposely gained weight above the recommended 160 but I try to keep my weight maintained just under the obese level. I do exercise and I eat healthy.

I have learned several things from going hungry, at least for my experience:
1. Candy bars are not good for trying to ease hunger pains. Yes they can help give a very short term boost in energy, but they leave you feeling hungrier within an hour, some starch or protein is better.
2. Starving leaves you feeling lethargic. Going without food leaves your body without energy to perform necessary functions for survival. You have to be mentally prepared to go hungry. If you do not have the willpower to continue to push through your weakness you will give up and die, literally.
3. Having some stored fat helps you to continue going hungry for longer. Having too much fat will just make you a target when everyone else is hungry too. Yes you can live off of stored energy but do not endanger yourself by becoming obese. You will increase your risk of diabetes and heart problems, as well as decrease your ability to survive in TEOTWAWKI. I purposely am a bit overweight because I have found that when I go hungry it is easier to go down to 135 lbs and function than it is to go down to 115 lbs and function, however I do not ever gain weight above 190 lbs because then I cannot run or do heavy work as well. TEOTWAWKI may not come for another 20 years and there is no sense in putting yourself in risk of a heart attack.
4. You can survive on beans alone. For over thirty days I had no food at all and then I was given a box containing nothing but cans of kidney beans. For the next twelve days I had a can of beans a day and I felt much better and gained a little energy.
Both times I have gone hungry was because I had no or very little money to buy food, it was not a choice and if I can prevent it from happening again I will. I now make sure to have plenty of canned food from my garden in storage, but if I have to go hungry again I know that I can go at least three months on very little food and still work and function.

Mike Williamson mentioned: CCW for Amputees

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FBI official calls for secure, alternate Internet. Will they simply expand JWICS or make a SIPRnet "Light", or create something new?

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G.G. was the first of several readers to mention this piece: Copper Wiring Traded For Crack

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Gaddafi burial delayed amid calls for probe. That's odd, I don't remember reading that there wasn't much of "Death Probe" for Mussolini. I guess that "angry mobs, ignominiously parading bloodied former dictators" are more civilized, these days.

"Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but [he that is] perverse [in his] ways shall fall at once.
He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain [persons] shall have poverty enough.
A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent." - Proverbs 28:18-20 (KJV)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Greetings, fellow preppers!  In this article we share our experiences of the past two years to help you see the complexities of growing your family's food.   In the long run, food production is crucial to survival.  It takes both knowledge and hands-on experience to successfully manage livestock and grow fruits and vegetables.  Currently  three of us live on our homestead full time with a possibility of about 20 folks ranging from infants to senior citizens if TEOTWAWKI occurs. 

Fall is a good season to make plans and prepare for next year' s growing season.  I think this basic information will help you realize just how much effort is entailed in raising sufficient amounts of food with limited or no machinery to assist.

The two basic categories of food production are animals and plants.  In addition, we also have a large amount of stored bulk foods for both humans and animals, along with a wide variety of heirloom seeds.


Overall, we try to invest in heirloom breeds, not fancy over-bred  versions that are reliant on special diets and medications.

Chickens - Provide eggs and meat.  Our bantam hens typically raise a brood of 8-10 chicks once or twice a year if we do not gather their eggs.  Right now we have 12 five-week-old and 11 three-month-old chicks. About  half of them will be roosters who fight and harass the hens when they mature. We also have several large hens who lay brown eggs.  The chickens  free range mostly in the orchard and herb/berry garden.  They receive  whole wheat and oyster shell in the evening. We could easily supplement their protein needs by adding a worm bin in our garden. Another way to reduce the amount of grain needed is to sprout it for several days.  This increases the bulk of the grain to three times the original amount and provides additional nutrition.  I soak about 2 cups of wheat in a  half gallon jar, rinse it several times a day and feed it when the green shoots have their first joint.

Ducks - It has been very satisfying since the ducks came to see empty snail shells scattered around the property.  We have established a small pond for the ducks to enjoy.  Our four Khaki Campbell ducks used to consistently produce four eggs per day, but then we got rid of the drake because he damaged some of the hens.  That was a mistake.  Without the drake, the ducks actually started changing into drakes and we ended up with only one duck laying eggs.  We purchased six newly hatched ducks and one drake who are now old enough to swim in the pond.

Goats - Currently we have three does and two doelings.  We chose to sell this year's wethers rather  than butcher them.  Two does are milking full time.  We sold one doe with twins because she had two orifices in one teat and it was impossible to milk her with a bucket - the milk sprayed straight out.  The goats provide us with more than enough milk for drinking, cheese-making, kefir, yogurt and cooking.  The milk also helps feed our dogs and cats.  During milking the does are offered a quart of grain that we mix ourselves from bulk oatmeal, wheat flakes and split peas.  I also cut greens for them  to reduce the amount of grain needed.  We planted two small raised beds of alfalfa last year and this year we were able to get three cuttings from them.  I used organic sprouting seeds because the FDA recently approved GMO alfalfa without restrictions and we do not use GMO products. We added  two more alfalfa beds this year. We also have comfrey, kale and miscellaneous vegetable thinnings.   We cut the tops off of our strawberries to reduce slugs and discovered that the goats love strawberry leaves.  All the goats have access to minerals with kelp, diatomaceous  earth and wormwood added occasionally for parasite control.

Sheep - We purchased five registered Icelandic ewes a few months ago.  They also free-range and are given a cup of alfalfa pellets at night, with kelp and herbs added twice a week.  They have constant access to minerals. The Icelandic breed is hardy and can be triple purpose:  Wool, meat and milk.  We are going to breed them this fall to an outstanding ram.  We have an experienced shepherd as our mentor to teach us about keeping sheep.

Dogs and cats - The dogs provide predator protection, particularly at night.  The cats reduce the rodent population.  We feed our dogs beans and rice with eggs, milk and an herbal powder that supplies trace minerals.  They receive kefir-soaked oatmeal at other times. Thus, we can get by without commercial dog food and, as an added bonus, our older dog became much stronger and healthier once his diet was improved.  The cats are trickier.  They require more whole protein so we mix commercial cat food with eggs and milk for them.  If times get tough the cats can be on their own with just supplemental milk from the goats.  All the animals enjoy whey leftover from cheesemaking.


Here is a list of the fruits and vegetables we are currently growing.  An * means that we actually harvested food, feed or seeds from that plant this year.

Fruits:  Apples*, aronia*, asparagus(chose not to harvest because it is a new bed), avocado, blackberries*, blueberries*, cherries (birds got every one), citrus, date, figs (birds again), gingko, goumi, grapes, kiwi, medlar*, mulberry*,  nectarine, peach, pear, plum*, pomegranates, raspberries*,  rhubarb, serviceberry*, silverberry*, strawberries*, and wintergreen*.

Vegetables:   Alfalfa*, amaranth*, artichokes, beans, carrots*, celery*, chard*, chick peas*, chives*,  corn*, cucumbers*,comfrey*,  favas*, French sorrel*, kale*, leeks*,  oca, onion*, parsley*, peas*, potatoes*,  pumpkins*, shallots*, squash*, stevia*, and sunflowers.

Grains:  Buckwheat*, flax*, kamut*.

We also have about 20 herbs.

Diversity is the key to success.  Depending on weather conditions, pests and diseases, fruits and vegetables may do well one year, then nothing the next.

We have four main growing areas for our plants:  A young orchard with about 90 trees, an herb and berry garden , a vegetable garden and a greenhouse my husband built this spring. 


Watering - occurs about six months out of the year in our area, takes 4 to 6 hours per day. 
Manure water/Urine bucket - this is dumped on plants for additional nutrients.
Weeding  - grass and clover are our ground cover, but constantly invade the plant spaces.
Pruning/Staking/Trellising - dead limbs can be removed at any time, thinning is usually done in dormancy.
Remove pests/diseased leaves and plants - We have sawfly larvae (aka slimy guys) that hatch 3-4 times a summer, along with caterpillar eggs deposited in fruit tree leaves. 
Mulch - we do this just before the rainy season so the nutrients can soak in over the winter.
Netting for protection from birds - losing all the cherries this year taught us the need for netting.
Manage greenhouse - what to plant, when, how to arrange plants for the most production space.
Start and tend seedlings - We are trying to grow food year-round, so this is a constant process.
Enrich soil - we add manure, sawdust, and compost.
Manage poultry for insect control in the orchard and herb garden - have to remove the animals before they start eating the crops.
Save seeds - one of my favorite chores.  I use lots of plastic containers to keep the seeds until they are totally dry, then I label and put them in plastic bags for the next year.
Manage planting schedule - I spread out my seedlings plantings so I can take better care of each batch.
Harvest fruits and vegetables - this can include canning, drying and freezing.
Clear land for planting/build new raised beds - we  keep adding land as we have the time and resources to improve it.
Plant propagation from cuttings and layering - this is to gain experience in starting plants.


So, with all these plants and animals, how does a typical day look at our homestead?  Here is a sample of our daily summer chores for food production.  This does not include housework, building projects, emergencies, community involvement, etc.

Each morning we let the chickens out of several  coops - the regular coop, the small coop with half-grown chicks, and the little coops that have moms and chicks.  Ducks are let out;  goats and sheep are turned out to graze and the does are milked.  Goat stands are cleaned.  Water containers are filled and ground grains are put out for chicks.  Whey is also put out in pans in the herb garden for chickens to drink.   Cats and dogs are fed.  If it is a cheese-making day, I get the milk started early in the morning and work on it along with my other chores.

After breakfast it is time to begin watering.  We stagger our watering so that we do not empty out our 1,500 gallon tank, which can refill one time during the day giving us a total of 3,000 gallons.  Currently I begin with watering a dozen trees in the orchard for 20 to 30 minutes per set, running four hoses at a time.  It takes six days to cover all the trees .  While the hoses run, I inspect the trees for pests, remove diseased leaves, leaves with sawfly larvae and webs with caterpillar eggs.  Recently I have begun putting a gallon of manure tea on the  trees after watering to increase their nutrition.  Our trees are young and mostly semi-dwarf.  I pull weeds and cut grass which I feed to the ram who is kept in a small paddock.

Then I move to the vegetable garden and do one of four sections.  The greenhouse is watered about every third day depending on temperature.  Seedlings and new transplants are watered daily, usually with manure tea.  Seeds are gathered as they mature.  Weeds are tossed over the fence to the ram.  Old plants are removed.  If it is a planting day, I will do that in the late afternoon; usually I fill the pots with soil the day before.

We take a break in the heat of the day, sometimes down by the creek or catching up on things in the house; often we take a nap.

In the afternoon I am back to watering. The herb/berry garden takes the longest and is divided into five section, one is watered each day. Then the evening round-up begins.  Cats are fed, ducks are given food and clean water.  Chickens are fed, eggs gathered, nesting hens are checked.  The sheep are lured in with alfalfa pellets, then the goats are milked.  The ram is taken out and grazed under supervision for about an hour.  By dark everyone is secured in a barn or coop. Our new pond is still leaking so if there is water left in the evening, it goes to the pond. Often dinner is after chores.  Then we relax with games or movies or reading articles to each other.  We go to bed before 10:00 p.m. most nights because chores start again at 7:00 a.m. the next day.


I plant by the lunar cycles because the groundwater is affected by the pull of the moon's gravity.  Each month I mark a calendar with the planting dates and  whether is is time to plant above or below ground.  The basic idea is to plant all things that produce above the ground when the moon is increasing (from the new moon to the full moon) and things which produce below the ground when the moon is decreasing. 

I must confess that I have a hard time eating raw greens  even though I am well aware of the health benefits.  This year I began training myself to eat and enjoy greens by taking a small bite of one type at a time until I developed a taste for it.  I began with French sorrel which has a delightful lemony flavor, then added common amaranth (aka pigweed) which has little flavor at all.  Then I added tender young comfrey leaves. Parsley, which I enjoy in small amounts, grows year-round in our climate so we are keeping several beds of it around.  Currently I am working on chard - again, I started with young tender leaves.  Next for me is kale which I started for our winter garden. 

We love peas and this year grew several rounds, starting them about every three months with the fall peas getting planted just last week.   I am going to see if I can grow them year-round,using the greenhouse in the winter. Our favas also did well this year.  We dry them for sprouting or cooking.  I save the largest and healthiest seeds for next year's garden. 

I love seed saving.  All it takes is letting a few of each type of plant to grow its complete cycle which is two years for things like carrots, celery and parsley.  When the seeds have dried on the plant you simply remove them and after drying for a few more days, place them in bags or containers in a dark, dry environment until planting time next year.  If the rains come early, the entire plant can be put indoors tied to rafters.

Grains are a staple of life.  I have several small raised beds of kamut growing - an ancient wheat.  The kernels are much larger than today's commercial wheat and I enjoy the flavor, plus kaumt seems to agree with my digestive system more than hard red winter wheat (which we have stored).  It would take much  more than we grow to supply our bread-making needs, but my experiments show that grains can be planted from May through July and still ripen before our long rainy season starts.

Another lesson I learned the hard way here is that I must start seedlings in pots and transplant them after they get several sets of leaves, otherwise the many birds, rodents, and slugs have a feast.

Avoid growing one crop year after year in the same place.  We rotate crops and also intermingle different species  in the raised beds.  Companion planting can actually boost production.  Grow different varieties of the same plant.  Did you know that the 1845 Irish Potato Famine in Ireland was because most farmers  grew only two species of potato which a disease wiped out?

Our soil is mostly clay and our heavy winter rains seem to leach out any nutrients that might be in it.  Vegetables that we planted directly in the ground our first year were dismal failures.  We built raised beds and put together the best soil we could for the first year out of some topsoil we came up with, but it was not until we had manure from the goats and sawdust from logging some trees that our plants began to thrive.  This summer our original compost bins from our compost toilets were a year old and well-decomposed so we filled three new beds with it.  I planted kale in those and one old bed.  The kale in the compost beds is four times as tall and wide as the little seedlings in the regular raised beds. Our composting toilets cost less than $30 to build and work well for our family.  In one bathroom we keep urine separate to apply directly to plants. 

All winter I clean off the goat stands and put the droppings around the trees in the orchard, the berry bushes and replenish the raised beds with it.  In the summer I half-way fill 5-gallon buckets with goat pellets, add water and use it for manure tea.

A kind neighbor filled our trailer with river silt from his property which we put around the orchard trees.  They are young trees and have not been doing well in this soil despite applications of manure. 

The high-hoop greenhouse has been a worthwhile investment in our Pacific Northwest climate.  The greenhouse is 16 x 24 with a raised bed along the south side and a planting table on the north side.  Even though it is unheated, we started tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, peas, carrots(for seed) and various other plants a couple of months sooner than our neighbors were able to.  The center is filled with Earthboxes - unique planting containers that have a water reservoir in the bottom.  I put about a foot of composted soil in them and plants flourish.  Earthboxes and the greenhouse seem to complement each other.  Our main concern with the greenhouse is the short livability of the plastic covering - although supposedly good for 8 years, ours already shows signs of near-tear marks after just one season.  We plan to use our old glass windows to build a second greenhouse.

Birds are another learning experience.  The crows and bluebirds ate every single fig on all of the fig trees.  Other birds ate every single cherry and they began picking off the ripe blueberries until I got netting up.  While I am writing this, my husband is putting up PVC hoops over the two largest figs which we will cover with netting - I don't mind sharing with our wild creatures, but they simply cannot take every bit of our food supply.

Blackberries are abundant here.  Most people clear them away as noxious weeds - we use goats to clear ours, but I have a large planting of blackberries in the herb/berry garden along a fence line and found that their quick growth provides lots of feed for goats when they need to be confined for some reason.  We also enjoy the berries, so this fall we will allow more blackberries to start along our fence lines.

Although this sounds like a lot of work - and it is - my husband and I love our life.  We have spent many years at desk jobs battling office politics and worrying about the stock market.  Now our stock investments all have fur or feathers a and our rate of return is phenomenal!  We dance in the meadow and thank our Creator for our beautiful slice of paradise. 

I'm writing to comment on something in your nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It": On page 206 you state: “Without proper blackout precautions, your house will be a
'come loot me' beacon that can be seen for miles at night.”I can’t stress light discipline enough. Here’s an example: About fifteen years ago my parents went to dinner at The Cougar Inn on Lake Wenatchee [in eastern Washington]. It was a dark night and on the way back from dinner they looked across the lake and saw a faint green flashing light it the vicinity of their un-lit cabin. Arriving at the cabin they found the light source for the flashing: The light that could be seen from slightly over one mile was the reflected light inside their cabin of the video cassette recorder (VCR) flashing "12:00, 12:00, 12:00."

That was one mile away. The VCR was sitting in a corner in a built–in cabinet, and not pointed directly at the window.

Don’t ever tell yourself, “Oh, it’s okay, it’s not that bad.” What’s not that bad? The act of being raped, robbed, and murdered, or the light leaks? Even the smallest light leak can be an invitation to disaster [in a grid-down situation, where all of the houses are blacked out.] - Rick B.

Captain Rawles,
I just read Desert Rat's piece on footgear, and would like to put up a bit of advice and a recommendation on the subject.  Bates, while they put out excellent footwear, primarily makes footwear for institutional environments.  This is to say Police, EMS, Corrections, Hospital staff, etc.  Many of the officers I worked with in Corrections wore Bates on board our facility, and the footwear served them quite well in all conditions.  However, the footwear did not serve as well in the field, when we had need to be out in the boonies.  From my own experience, I highly recommend for the conditions described in the article, that the author and others who need such a dual purpose set of foot gear acquire a pair of Redwing Sheriff's Ropers, or something very similar.  This particular type of boot is outstanding for civilian appearance, while retaining the degree of tough reliability required of one who changes environment on a regular basis.  For the edification of other readers, these are not actually "cowboy" boots per se.  They are a mid heel, round toe, leather working boot.  They have perhaps half again as much heel as a high oxford garrison shoe, or a tad more depending on exact comparison, so plenty of heel to dig in with in working conditions, while not having the stereotypical rodeo or "sliding" heel most associate with western style boots.  The rounded "v" toe gives enough play to wedge one's toes in small spaces for grip and traction, without being a so called "cockroach killer"of your stereotypical redneck boot, and is abbreviated enough that it will quite handily pass for a custom oxford shoe when worn with normal office wear.  You can climb in them, run in them, and if needed fight in them, as needed.  I've done all of those in mine, on any number of occasions.  I've had mine for ten years now, and while they now carry a bit of scuffing and one deep scratch from concertina wire, I can clean them up, add a touch of Kiwi boot polish, and wear them quite handily with office and semi-dress attire, with few the wiser.

For the concrete jungle, these boots have as much non skid ability as is needed under normal circumstances, without having to carry an extra thick lugged sole; with the sole exception of traversing actively "wet" acrylic floor stripper compounds, as these substances tend to gum up a bit, and coat the sole with the partially dissolved wax.  They also take forever to wear down, so long as one takes the trouble to take a reasonable amount of care of the boot.  If you break them in well, and scrub the protective laminate spray out of the leather, then re dye, and saturate them with polish, they won't develop leaks, neither will you have to do more than give them a good buff with a soft hair boot brush, assuming you didn't just go crawling through a gumbo mud pit,  in order to make them ready for the office.  Putting mine in this condition took three days, and was well worth not getting to wear them right off.  I've worn mine quite actively in conditions ranging from backyard, to traipsing all over the desert southwest while hunting, with eight and a half years of wear on watch in a concrete floored correctional facility in the midst of all that; and only now, nearly ten years after purchase, do they begin to show enough wear on the heel and ball of the foot to warrant considering having them resoled or re-heeled.  The Redwing Sheriff's Roper (might be under a different name by now, but same boot) is, in my experience,  nearly as resilient as a proper combat boot, while still able to pass as the average Joe's work boot in the eyes of the powers that be (this means no steel toe or shank in the instep to set off detector arches, etc).  Highly recommended, and quite a reasonable investment if one watches prices carefully at the local good quality boot store, though you may need to watch prices a while as these at "full" price tend to be a bit on the pricey side.  See if you can catch a boot sale, and you might well have your next "permanent" set of footwear.

As for the issue of wet feet, so long as one is not fording creeks with these boots, all that needs be done usually is take them off while sleeping, and let them air out good.  You might consider placing them near your heater overnight if you get your feet really wet, otherwise it's not generally an issue.  Of course, one should be doing this every night, in my opinion, just to prevent trench foot, but I digress.

Good luck with your next acquisition of quality boots, folks. Semper Fi, - J.H.

Mr. Rawles,
A tip I was taught with footwear is to use 550 parachute cord as your boot laces. I put coyote brown (dark khaki) on coyote and desert boots and black on everything else, even my Justins. They are incredibly strong and durable and fit 95% of existing eyelets. - Jeremiah Johnson

An interesting piece on the EPA running roughshod over an Idaho family.

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F.G. flagged this over at The Daily Mail: Brains over 55 work quite well

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) recommended the Newseum web site, where you can see scrollovers of a large number of American newspapers.

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Über-absurd: The Glock 9mm Beta CMAG. I suppose the greatest practicality these will have is in giving Nancy Pelosi a fit of apoplexy when she learns of their existence. Oh, and then there's the very rare chance that you might walk into a theater full of Gremlins. Seriously now, folks: Never expect a pistol to do the job of a rifle. A pistol is just a low-power concealable tool that is convenient to have available in situations where you can't carry a rifle, and nothing more.

"While we despise and discount the most basic and fundamental commandments of God and the foundational law of America, we embrace thousands of manmade regulations and codes that do violence to both – as well as doing violence to our individual liberties." - Joseph Farah, Too Many Unlawful Laws

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) has updated his review of the X7 rifle (posted on Augus23rd), to reflect his ongoing tests


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am relatively new to prepping, but one thing I have noticed is that there are quite a few “oh by the way” mini-lectures on footwear that sneak in among other topics.  This is unfortunate, because footwear should not be relegated to a bunny trail or an afterthought when planning for an uncertain future.  Your choice of shoes can be the difference between comfort and misery, so they deserve careful consideration.  By careful consideration, I don't mean going to the nearest military surplus store to buy the most expensive tactical boot you can afford.  As I have discovered, there can be some huge functional differences between one boot design and another, and there are also times that you don’t want to draw extra attention by wearing a tactical boot at all (especially in the security line at airports).  The bottom line is that there is no such thing as “the ultimate survival shoe”, nor should there be.  As an engineer, I understand that life is all about trade-offs, and while some shoes are better than others, every single design is the result of give-and-take.

As a field engineer, I have been working for the last several years as a contractor for a three, four, and/or five-letter government agency or agencies conducting experiments in an arid or semi-arid environment somewhere west of the Mississippi.  The areas I work in are very remote, and it has been an excellent training ground for learning how to prepare for the unexpected, because I do not have easy access to retail resupplies while I am out there.  There are a lot of lessons I could share from these experiences, but I would like to focus on footwear today.  I have had the opportunity to put a lot of miles on many pairs of boots in some very rugged terrain, and I hope that I can help others learn from my mistakes and victories.  I will talk about the specific boots that I have used, but my focus is not on the “best brands” so much as the features that worked and didn't work for the various situations I encountered.

On my first trip, I spent about ten days testing electronic equipment in the middle of nowhere.  Right before the trip, I bought a brand new pair of high-top Redwing steel-toed construction boots.  They were rugged, had good treads, speed laces, excellent ankle support, and a tough leather construction.  It was everything I thought I would need for my work in the field, except that I could barely walk for a week because my feet hurt so much.  Don't get me wrong, my Redwing boots are over seven years old now and I still wear them.  They are wonderful boots, and well worth the $200 price tag, but you have to break them in before they wear comfortably.  I made the mistake of not breaking them in before trying to walk long distances in them, and I paid a steep price in blisters and sore feet.

Well, about a year later, I went out again, but this time it was for an entire month.  I took my Redwings again, but, of course, they were already broken in.  I hiked for miles in those boots without much trouble... no trouble, that is, unless you count a mild case of heat exhaustion.  The temperatures reached well over 120F, and, even with plenty of water to drink, those tall boots with the thick leather construction held in a lot of body heat.  That's a good trait for a winter boot perhaps, but not for a summertime sand-stomper.  

As an aside, I was glad to have my rugged leather boots that year in spite of the heat.  A lot of people try to work out there while wearing tennis shoes or low-top hiking boots, but that year one of my colleagues was struck in the ankle by a sidewinder while stepping out of his vehicle.  He was lucky.  He wasn’t one of the tennis shoe crowd, and his boots saved him from the snakebite, but the unexpected strike scared him so much that he leapt over the hood of the vehicle and pulled a muscle in the process.  It's always the little things.  Since that incident, I have always made sure to keep a respectable distance from those shady little desert bushes.  You can assume that you won't see a snake until it moves, and by that time, it may be too late.  Whenever I do have to step through or over a bush, I probe it with a walking stick first, and I make enough noise that the snakes know I'm coming.  Well that's enough about snakes.  Back to footwear. 

Well, year two in the desert was a marked improvement over year one.  Even though the trip lasted more than twice as long, my mobility was much improved, and the boots protected me from all of the sharp, pointy plants and animals in the wilderness.  The over-heating issue was minor, but still a problem.  If I was running for my life instead of casually walking through the desert, I would have had some serious thermal problems to deal with. 

On to year three:  Because the Redwing boots kept me too warm and didn’t breathe well, I went to the local sporting goods store and bought a pair of Bates tactical police boots.  I specifically avoided the tan military-style boots, because tan is more conspicuous against a pair of khakis, and I wanted to be able to wear the boots around the office on days when I would be working outside.  My secondary motivation for going with a black boot instead of the tan was that I work with a lot of military and former military types, and the last thing I want to do is come across as a wannabe soldier by wearing imitation-issue gear.  That’s not a good way to earn respect as a civvie among combat veterans.
Well my Bates jungle boots had fabric sides which breathed better than the leather Redwings, but the fabric was still thick enough to protect me from snakes.  The boots had speed laces (the hook type, not the enclosed eyelets) and a side zipper which made them very easy to get in and out of, and the soles were made of a relatively soft rubber that was quite comfortable for walking long distances.  Also, the Bates boots did not have a steel toe, so my toes were able to flex and breathe better than in my Redwings.  I wore the Bates boots around the office for about a week before my third trip so that I could break them in, but as it turned out, I didn't need to.  They wore comfortably like a tennis shoe right out of the box. 

When I got out to the remote work area, my Bates boots were wonderful.  They were comfortable to walk in, breathed well, and protected my feet, but like I said before, every shoe has trade-offs.  After two weeks of tromping, I discovered that cushy soft soles don't stand up too well to the kind of abuse that sharp rocks and cacti can dish out.  The tread wore out quickly, and the edges of the soles were  totally shredded in places.  Every once in a while I pulled a few cactus spines out of the soles with a pair of pliers because the spines were poking through and irritating my feet, but even so, the boots survived two more trips to the desert before I had the heart to toss them. 

Actually I only threw my first pair of jungle boots away after I took a winter trip to Washington State.  In Washington, I really should have worn my waterproof Redwings instead.  The cactus-induced pin-holes in my Bates boots allowed freezing water to seep straight up into my socks every time I walked through a puddle.  I longed for the Redwings even more every morning when I had to put on the same soggy pair of jungle boots as the day before.  The motel hair dryer didn't work well enough to make up for the pungent smell of steaming foot sweat when I tried to dry my boots at night.  yuck. 

That wet winter Washington trip led to my next big lesson in footwear.  Sometimes you can't avoid getting wet either from rain or from just your own sweat, but if you have a second pair of boots, you can at least start the day off with clean, dry feet.  From then on, I always carried a backup pair, and I've started alternating pairs every-other day whenever I can.  During most of these trips, I have had the luxury of not having to carry all of my gear on my person, so I can afford the extra weight and space of a second pair of boots.  Let me tell you: it is a wonderful thing to be able to put on a fresh pair of dry boots every morning.  By giving each pair a day to air out, I can keep my feet healthier and reduce bad odors too.

By this time, I had a pretty good idea of what I thought I wanted in a good field boot:

  • Tall sides to protect my ankles from snakes and cacti
  • Breathable fabric
  • Inconspicuous under a pair of khakis
  • A quick and easy side-zipper
  • Tough steel quick-lace hooks (not eyelets) with smooth edges to prevent shredded laces
  • Soft, comfortable soles that feel like tennis shoes
  • No break-in time required before use
  • Inexpensive (less than $75)
  • A backup pair (preferably identical)

You may notice that longevity was not my top priority at that point.  For me, the fact that the soles seemed to wear down fast was acceptable as long as I could plan ahead and pick up a fresh pair before I went out to the field again.  The boots only cost about $60, so a pair every nine months or every year was manageable.  By “wear down fast”, I mean that my boots were completely trashed after about 6 weeks of walking in the desert, and by “desert”, I don’t mean a bunch of sand dunes.  I was walking off-the-beaten path in a hot, mountainous terrain filled with sharp rocks and even sharper cacti.  The boots would probably have lasted a lot longer under less strenuous conditions. 

Unfortunately, Bates made some “improvements” to my favorite boots about two years ago. They changed out the metal speed laces for these weird, chunky plastic blocks.  They also got rid of the metal zipper and replaced it with a plastic one.  I guess that this switch to an all-plastic design might have been a selling point for security officers who work around metal detectors.  That's the best I can come up with, but for me it was a horrible change.  On my first “new and improved” pair, the plastic zipper jammed up and pulled apart about half-way through a trip.  Not only were the boots harder to put on and tale off, but the broken zipper also compromised the integrity of the ankle support, making the boot more flimsy.  It also allowed sand and small rocks to sneak into the crack where the zipper was split.  Bates generously offered to replace the faulty boots, but that would have taken weeks, and I was in the middle of nowhere.  On that trip, I was stuck with my stuffy Redwings as a backup because I was too cheap to buy a second pair of tactical boot.  My wonderful wife mailed a new pair of the Bates boots right away, but a week after I received the new pair, the plastic zipper broke again. 

I don't want to be too harsh on Bates.  They are generally a good brand, but the lesson I learned was that I cannot rely on a company’s reputation to keep my feet happy.  The model number was identical, but the “new and improved” product was far inferior to the old one.  I should have bought five pairs of the good boots while I could, but I foolishly assumed they'd always be equally good and that they'd always be easy to come by at a reasonable price.  Those assumptions didn’t do me much good when I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with two pairs of broken boots.  The experience forced me put “reliability” back on the critical feature list, and as a result, I have also removed the side-zipper from my personal list of desired features in a boot.  Zippers are convenient, but they are also unnecessary and prone to failure.  So my boot feature wish-list now looks like this:

  • Tall sides to protect my ankles from snakes and cacti
  • Breathable fabric
  • Inconspicuous under a pair of khakis
  • NO zippers or gimmicky mechanisms
  • Tough steel quick-lace hooks (not eyelets) that will not shred the laces
  • Soft, comfortable soles that feel like tennis shoes
  • No break-in time required before use
  • Inexpensive
  • A backup pair (preferably identical)
  • Reliable and proven to work in the environment I plan to use them in

(For a cold or wet-weather boot, I would add “waterproof” to that list at the expense of “breathable”, but otherwise it would be about the same).

The back-to-back zipper failures were annoying, but I was lucky that it was only an annoyance.  I can be a slow learner, but I eventually adapted to the situation.  I whip-stitched the zippers permanently closed using a needle from my first aid kit and some 80-pound fishing line that I always carry in my wallet.  Because Bates swapped the steel lace hooks out for large, enclosed plastic chunky eyelets, the boots were a big pain to put on, but they still did a good job of protecting my feet while on the move.

So that is where I stand today on footwear for rugged environments.  My personal experience certainly reinforces the “two is one and one is none” philosophy, and it is only through several years of hard use and abuse that I really learned what to look for in an outdoor boot.  Some of my lessons learned will apply generally, but others are specific to the environment I was working in.  There are quite a few readers who may never encounter the kind of harsh environments I have worked in, but even if you do, I cannot recommend walking for miles through a mountainous desert with no trails.
Well so far, I have focused on the functional aspects of boots for a rugged desert environment, because that is where I have learned the most about what matters on my feet.  In the city under normal conditions, it doesn't really matter whether you wear flip-flops or medieval stirrups, because the controlled conditions don't really put your footwear to the test.  In a rugged off-road environment, I would not consider anything but a good sturdy tactical boot (plus a backup pair).  Low-top hiking boots or cross-country trainers might work okay if you don’t have snakes and cactus to deal with, but don't just assume that something which is designed for a well-traveled path will also hold up equally well off-road in the wild.

I would argue that every prepper needs at least four good pairs of tactical boots: two for warm weather and two for cold weather, but like I said before, every shoe involves trade-offs.  There are many times when a boot is not the right answer, especially in a city environment.  In fact, in a city, there is a much wider variety of footwear that would not slow you down during an emergency but will hold up long enough to get you out of Dodge.  Boots are big, heavy, and can sometimes draw unwanted attention, so you will have to choose the footwear that works best for your situation, but the most important thing here is to wear something comfortable that you can also run in if necessary.  If you can't wear a “run-capable” shoe all the time, then at least keep a pair nearby. 

For urban wear, one shoe style that probably has not been considered enough is the minimalist running shoe.  There are many advantages to a sturdy tactical boot, but personally, I also love my Vibram Five Fingers running shoes.  Yes, these are the silly-looking shoes that have slots for individual toes.  They don't fit the “avoid attention” category at all, because I look like a big dork when I wear them, but I'm more likely to be pegged a tree-hugger than a prepper.  With a minimalist shoe like the Vibrams, I give up the “armor” that I would have with a big pair of boots, but I make up for it in other ways.  The Vibrams are compact, light weight, and extremely quiet. 

When I say extremely quiet, I mean these shoes are scary quiet, literally.  The other day while jogging, I came up behind a female walker.  I probably  got a little too close to her personal space while zipping around her, but I also assumed that she would make some room for me on the sidewalk.  She probably would have, but she never heard me coming up behind her.  She didn't know I was coming until I was within her peripheral vision!  She jumped sideways, screamed, and then turned really red.  I'm glad she wasn't carrying pepper spray, because it wouldn't have been quite as funny for me.  I didn't scare her on purpose, but I learned that it would not be hard to sneak up on somebody or sneak past them in the dark while wearing these shoes.  It's a lot like the old stories of Native Americans running silent and barefoot.  If you run on the balls of your feet instead of running heel-to-toe, you can move very fast without making much noise in a minimalist shoe.  Obviously, it would be foolish to run through a cactus patch in such a thin shoe, but it protects my feet enough in the city to keep broken bottles out of my toes.

To finish up, I want to make just a few comments about the “barefoot running” movement that is popular right now.  If you want to learn more about it, start with the book Born to Run by Chris McDougall or visit GoodFormRunning.com and try it for yourself, but don't just try it once and then give up.  It takes time to re-train your muscles for this type of exercise, even if you are already a runner.  The first few times you try it, I guarantee that your calves will hate you.  You might also discover sore tendons where you didn't know tendons existed in your feet.  It took me months to re-learn how to run in a minimalist shoe, but now that I do it regularly, it has helped me learn to run more efficiently even if I am wearing boots.  Much like prepping, there are a lot of “crazy” sounding people who are into barefoot running.  Some of them will greatly abuse the facts while promoting barefoot running (for example, do a web search on “Barefoot Ken Bob”).  There is nothing magical or mystical about running barefoot, but as an engineer, several things about it make sense to me.  First, landing with a mid-foot stride allows your Achilles tendon to recover some kinetic energy as your foot comes down on the ground.  To see what I mean, try running in place while landing on your heels; now run in place the normal way, landing on the balls of your feet.  By flexing your ankle on the landing, you are recovering and releasing some of that kinetic energy through your Achilles tendon.  When you land on your heels, there is no shock absorption and the impact shoots straight through your knees, hips, and back.  Of course, you don't have to wear silly looking toe shoes to run on the balls of your feet, but if you don't have a big cushion on your heels, you will learn pretty quickly to not heel strike, because landing on your heels hurts.  The second barefoot running concept that makes sense to my engineer self is this: too much arch support can be crippling.  As an engineer (not a doctor!), I will tell you that the best way to de-stabilize a mechanical arch is by pushing up from underneath (this point is made in Born to Run... it's not my original idea).  Your foot has an arch because it is designed by our Creator to stand up to the forces your body puts on it.  An arch is an ideal design, because it forms a light-weight structure that is still able to withstand significant downward pressures.  If a shoe provides that arch support instead of your own foot, you may weaken your foot's muscles and tendons and be more prone to injury.  Thus, even if you plan to wear combat boots, it's a good idea to try strengthening those muscles by training with a minimalist shoe from time to time.

Well, since sewing up the zippers on my last two pairs of boots, I have yet to purchase a new pair of warm-weather tactical boots.  My old Redwings are still the best winter boots I own (but I still need a backup pair).  For warm weather, I think my next boots will be the Adidas GSG9 (named after a German anti-terrorism team).  The GSG9 doesn't have the quick laces, which are a personal preference of mine, but they do have most of other the features I want, including the “tennis shoe feel” that I liked about my Bates boots.  The GSG9 is well proven in the tactical world, but until I try them for myself, there is no guarantee that what works for an elite German police team (and a few Navy Seals) will also work equally well for a field engineer working west of the Mississippi.  I'm sure there are lots of other good tactical boots out there to try, but I'll let you know how the GSG9’s work out when I get the chance to try them.  

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I just began reading your second novel and in some ways find it even more fun to watch the beginning of the action knowing some of what lies in store in terms of "future history."

But the purpose of my e-mail today is to describe a simple container I've been making to transport a variety of items including doses of medicine and fire starters.  As many of your readers know cotton balls saturated with vaseline make really good fire starters.  But how to transport them and keep them fresh?  This is my method: Get two plastic 20 ounce plastic sodapop bottles and save their caps.  Using a bandsaw or a hacksaw cut the bottles right under the plastic lip (right below the end of the screw threads).  Use a sander or sandpaper to smooth the bottom flat.  Then use Gorilla Glue to glue two of these lips together.  Use a vise or weight to keep them together until the glue sets.  When you put the caps back on you have a container large enough for three cotton balls that is small, light-weight and water-tight.  You can use PVC cement instead of Gorilla Glue but I've had less success making it completely water tight because of the small gaps left from sanding.

I have also used larger bottles from Gatorade to make a larger version of these mini-caches.

Respectfully, - Bruce S.

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for all you do in educating those of use who have been slow to see.
After I read B.W.’s How to Defend a Retreat Against Wheeled Vehicle Threats I had to tell about an idea I have been playing with.
Taking the anthill and flower trough concepts and combining them. To build this in imagination we will go in reverse order to what you would do in real life. First build the ant hill. They should surround your building spaced less than a cars width apart. Build another ring outside of that but put the anthills in the gaps of the first ring, much like a circular checkered board. Now on at least every third anthill in the ring cut away 1/3 to ½ of the mound closest to the building. Continue to dig until at least 2 feet below grade. Line the hole and the cut away side of the hill with landscaping stone or timber. If you place a planter in the hole you now have a decorative flower / herb / vegetable garden viewable from the house. Once bad things happen, take the pots out of the hole and you have a ring of fighting positions. The advantage this has over the flower pot / trough on top of the ground is there is nothing for an attacking force to hide behind without exposing themselves to direct fire and the only way you will move it is with a dozer. These can be improved with grenade sumps, drainage, com wires or whatever you could imagine. The disadvantages would be exposure to fire from the flanks and while moving to the position, and mowing them would be a bear. Of course to actually build these you would start by digging the hole, building the mound then lining the hole. - D.M.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
After reading the entry this morning about using fishing line as an anti-personnel method (and specifically a reference to decapitating snowmobile riders) I looked around the Internet for this topic.  I found no credible evidence that this ever occurred.

There is an undocumented reference in the Wikipedia link mentioning decapitation with snowmobiles but without a reference. 

There is a lively discussion on the Mythbusters site.

The closest I came was a reference to sentencing for decapitation of a man hit by a snowmobile while the driver was going in excess of 100 mph and his friend was climbing from a partially frozen lake.  However that citation, as you can see is from a web site that also features "male enhancement" and so the credibility of that suffers as well.

So from my research so far I would say this part of the post is "Busted."  Nevertheless, it still raises the potential utility of using heavy-gauge fishing line as part of a tangle foot defense, especially if done in concert with cans filled with stones as a non-powered sonic alarm (as you described in your first novel).

JWR Replies: You are correct: It isn't decapitation.  It is usually chest, neck and head trauma, to varying degree. And it isn't "monofilament fishing line"--it is usually horizontal wire that is the source of injuries to snowmobilers. Wire or cable typically has a much higher breaking strength than monofilament.

A foreshadowing of a post-collapse threat? Lions and Tigers and Bears! Deputies Hunt Exotic Animals on the Loose in Ohio. (A tip of the hat to Mary F. for the link.)

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K.A.F. sent this: Reid signals government jobs must take priority over private-sector jobs

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K.A.F. also sent a link to a scheme of genius from the Mickey Mouse State: San Francisco plan would offer tax break for hiring felons. (Yes, but will they take the next logical step and use taxpayer funds to provide free insurance for all the toner cartridges, laptops, and merchandise that those felons will steal from the businesses?)

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F.J. suggested this over at The Art of Manliness: How to Do Laundry on a Road Trip Like John Steinbeck

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Obama on ‘Fast and Furious’: ‘People Who Have Screwed Up Will Be Held Accountable'. Gee, so he's suggesting that he be impeached? That's very big of him.

"You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice." - One of L.K.O.'s favorite unattributed Paraprosdokian sentences

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Note from JWR:

Safecastle's big 25% off sale on Mountain House canned long-term storage foods, with free shipping and additional buyer's club incentives, ends today (Wednesday, October 19, 2011). Be sure to get your order in by midnight, eastern time.


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We prep in large part to keep ourselves (and those we love) from going hungry in the event of a disaster or crisis.  Yet there’s no way of knowing in advance what kind of crisis we will face, nor how long our supplies will last. Even the most prepared among us could find their supplies wiped out in a fire, in a raid or natural disaster. And our plans for gardening or hunting could be completely disrupted by any number of things.
What this means is that at least some of us are going to go hungry, and its possible that many of us will experience hunger off and on – and we need to face that possibility.

Given that we might go hungry occasionally just how do we handle hunger?
I don’t pretend to be an expert and this isn’t a research paper though I did do some research on the related issues of fasting and starvation. There are things we can do and things we can be prepared with that will help us through the experience of hunger. And the beauty of sharing these thoughts with the prepper community is that there are brothers and sisters out there who know first-hand about hunger and who will either add to or correct my thoughts below. I thank you in advance for your help, because hunger might be in my future as well.
Be Prepared. Trust God. We can do both.

  1. The really good news is that hunger pangs will pass after the second or third day of not eating, if you have no food at all. Hang in there, the hunger will not continue to increase, in fact it will disappear for weeks.
  2. Outlast it – unless already weakened you can go 30 days (or more!) without food. Cody Lundin (98.6 Degrees, p. 204) figures the average person’s fat stores alone contain the caloric equivalent of nearly 500 Snickers bars (if I did the math right) – and that’s not even counting sugar/glycogen stores and muscle protein, both of which can also be burned by your body for energy to keep you alive. The Bottom Line: You’re not going to starve to death anytime soon, but the altitude, water availability, and temperature will affect how quickly your body works through its reserves (lower altitudes and warmer temps are good).
  3. The hardest thing about being hungry is thinking about being hungry. And what can you do about that? Stay busy. Read, sew, build, catch up on projects, and of course work on finding food. Schedule your most demanding projects for the first day or two when you will have the most energy.
  4. Drink lots of clean water or herbal teas. Contaminated water is a quick way to get really sick. Your body’s systems change and adjust, it might be a little hard to judge how much water your need – two liters per day might be a minimum for relatively inactive persons. Your body’s need for water will reduce somewhat as the hunger continues. You do not want to become dehydrated, even in cold weather, and your body must have water to help detoxify you as your body adapts to the hunger.
  5. Oftentimes when food is scarce herbs for brewing tea (to make water more palatable in your condition) are still available or can be found in the wild – you can make tea from many things. Or you can add lemon juice to water to make it more drinkable, if you happen to have that. That said, you do NOT want to try to “fill your stomach” with water – that’s too much water and will create other problems. (If you have no water, but do have food, this would be a good time to fast rather than contribute to dangerous dehydration! Digestion takes water.)
  6. Make a food-procurement plan and work that plan every day. If it takes you a day to find game trails or set traps or plan your hunt don’t panic! Keep your head and work steadily – it might feel like you’re starving, but that actually takes quite a while.
  7. Small quantities of hard candies (Butterscotch, yum!) can reduce the feeling of hunger and give you calories to keep moving. Save the candy in your stash for if and when hunger starts, but eat them sparingly and only when you need to be most active. Some sugar (or a little bit of simple carbohydrates like bread, cereals, or potatoes) may get you through a tough spot.
  8. Make your meals as flavorful and tasty and attractive as you can – savor what food you do have. Spices make bland food better, keep some with your bugout bag (what goes well with squirrel?) and have plenty at home. The military is fond of Tabasco sauce to make food zestier, but I’d like to propose spices that have actual nutritional or healing value such as curry, turmeric, garlic, cilantro, etc to get the most bang for your storage buck.
  9. Work on keeping your sense of humor, it is a survival resource. Don’t give in to anger and bitterness, face it, fight it.
  10. Don’t gorge when you do get food, you might throw it all up and waste it. If you haven’t eaten in a long time you need to ease into eating again. Eating too much at once can make you feel depressed and lethargic (bad in a survival situation) and could easily lead to nausea or abdominal cramping. Start with some raw fruits and vegetables or oatmeal and then wait until you feel hungry to eat again. Don’t break a fast with fatty or fried foods!
  11. Don’t watch other people eat, hang around where you will smell their food, or look at food advertisements. Needless to say, if you don’t have any food stay out of the kitchen – as it has too many food associations.
  12. Expect physical changes in your body such as heightened sense of smell, fluctuations in energy and fatigue, and a bad taste in your mouth. If you’ve eaten a lot of junk or medicines your body will detoxify in stages and you could feel pretty bad off and on. You could chew a pinch of mint leaves or perhaps carry a tin of mint chew/snuff to take the bad taste away.
  13. Sometimes your will isn’t strong enough to focus on your task and deal with the hunger, so having another person to encourage you and keep you going is invaluable. Raw willpower can only get you so far.
  14. When you do have food, don’t fill up on junk if you have any choice in the matter. Instead, stick to wholesome basic foods, raw if possible (cook your meats, though!) If you’re not used to eating like that it will take a little time to adjust. Think of the days when food is plentiful as preparing you for when the food is scarcer. Don’t waste anything: dry/freeze/can your surplus food.
  15. Some smells may help with the hunger feeling: mint, citrus peel, etc. Experiment with what you have available.
  16. If you know you won’t have food for a few days you might try purging your bowels first with fruit-only meals. Don’t make the last meal before going hungry bread or meat or dairy if possible. If you don’t want to go through detoxification don’t consume a lot of toxics (chemicals in water or food, alcohol or tobacco) beforehand.
  17. If hunger is on the horizon consider fasting in advance for longer and longer periods to become familiar with the effects and give you confidence you really can function for a few days while hungry. It will also stretch your food supply a bit before the hunger starts.
  18. Expect that you will feel colder than you usually do. Bring warmer clothes with you when outdoors.
  19. If you only have a little food, a protein meal toward bedtime helps when your body is trying to repair itself (that’s when it releases Human Growth Hormone and does a lot of muscle repair), and a carbohydrate meal at breakfast is when you want extra energy to get moving.
  20. As the hunger continues, do your work/projects as efficiently as possible to conserve your energy. Use tools and levers and wheels to amplify your effort and reduce your exertion, even if you used to be able to do a job by hand. Pace yourself – try to maintain a steady exertion level without huge peak demands for energy. Work smarter, not harder. If you have any choice in the matter, don’t attempt work that requires peak performance or manual dexterity or clear mental focus.

With a difficult decision, write out the pros and cons to clarify things and get wise counsel. From time to time you may have to work at concentrating and thinking clearly and your judgment may be affected. Double-check your work, actually read the instructions, have someone else check your work, watch for critical error points (if something is going to go wrong where is that most likely to happen?), keep it simple, minimize distractions, follow the plan you decided on in better times when your mind was clearer, use equipment only as intended, have a Plan B ready if you do mess up. You may become accident-prone so take extra precautions! [A big thank-you to my brother for his ideas here.]

  1. Drinking a lot of chemically purified water (if you use chlorine or iodine) will mess with your digestive system’s beneficial bacteria that you must have to get the most nutrition from your food. Replenish them with raw vegetables (they have small quantities of naturally-occurring bacteria on them, grocery store vegetables are too clean), or commercial probiotics if still available. Aged hard cheeses, yogurt, unpasteurized sauerkraut, home-brewed beer (un-pasteurized) and brined pickles may help.
  2. Expect trouble with anger, your own and others. Make a plan: time-outs, forgiveness, refusing revenge, talking it through, etc. Also expect to deal with varying degrees of emotional depression, recognize that it’s a result of hunger and not necessarily a reflection of hopeless circumstances. A lot of the depression will be the result of pent-up anger and that anger can be directed into productive action. Quit asking “Why me?” and start asking “What do I do now?”
  3. As you might expect with a situation that triggers anger and depression, hunger will stress all of your relationships, so give them extra attention and cut everyone extra slack. Your loved ones and friends may not be handling it as well as you, they’ll need your help to not give in to hysteria and anxiety about their health and symptoms. They may want to isolate themselves when they should be engaged in solving the problem. Healthy herbs that calm and sedate might be helpful to have on hand if the going gets tough.
  4. Supplementing with electrolytes during extended hunger will help compensate for electrolyte loss through urination or perspiration. You normally get those electrolytes from the food you eat. Supplementing will keep you healthier, not necessarily make the hunger less. Salt, potassium, magnesium, calcium in a tablet might help, something like this.
  5. Try not to eat protein-only meals during the time of hunger. Even if you have enough protein to fill your stomach do your very best to add some vegetables or fruits. Your digestive system needs fiber – even if the fiber source isn’t particularly nutritious – as well as the carbohydrates and vitamins that many vegetables and grasses contain. (Skip the protein if you don’t have enough water, protein metabolism byproducts must be excreted by the kidneys and that uses water.)
  6. Going hungry is the very definition of malnutrition. Supplementing with a good multivitamin will help keep your body healthier. You might not be able to tolerate taking a vitamin on an empty stomach, at least take them when you do have a little bit of food. 
  7. Each time you successfully endure a period of hunger will make the next a little easier, if you can fully recover between episodes. You will be more confident, know what to expect, and your body will have less of a toxic load. You could even get an idea how your body handles hunger by undertaking a “fast” now (it’s actually good for you short-term) – and that might cut down on the fear factor later.
  8. It’s no good to eat dangerous foods just because you’re hungry. Moldy foods can be deadly, certain berries or plants likewise. Know your native plants! If it’s just going to make things worse don’t eat it! It’s not going to “fill your stomach” it’s going to make you deathly ill first and then maybe make you dead. If in doubt, don’t eat it! (And remember – don’t fill up with water!)
  9. If you’re hungry there are probably others who are hungry too. Help them by teaching them to find (local plants!), hunt, or grow their own, but if they’re really desperate share. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. If you can save someone’s life today, do it. You’re not poor as long as you have enough to share.
  10. Pray! Yes, just knowing there is a God changes things, creates new possibilities, and gives us hope. Unburdening our hearts to Him frees us, don’t be surprised if He meets your need in a way you didn’t expect. Seek Him!
  11. As you are recovering from hunger you will want to not only address your nutritional needs, but the emotional scars that may have resulted from your ordeal. This can be a pretty significant issue. Talk it through with other survivors, your pastor, or a counselor. Don’t overlook this.

Carry in your BOB:

  • Water purification tablets or filter
  • Electrolyte tablets
  • Multivitamin tablets
  • Mint chew/snuff or mint tea
  • Small bottles of spices and salt
  • Hard candies

Some hunger wisdom from around the world:

  • "Hunger is a poor advisor."
  • "Hunger is the best cook."
  • "Hunger sharpens anger."
  • "Hunger teaches many things."
  • "A hungry belly listens to no one."
  • "A hungry dog does not fear the stick."
  • "A hungry man has no conscience."
  • "A hungry populace listens to no reason nor cares for justice."
  • "Hunger and cold surrenders a man to his enemy."
  • "The drums of war are the drums of hunger."
  • "Enough is as good as a feast."
  • "At the working man’s house hunger looks in but dares not enter."
  • "Hunger knows no friend but its feeder."

JWR Adds These Warnings: Be sure to consult your physician before fasting. Obviously, fasting should not be attempted by pregnant or nursing women. It may also dangerously exacerbate any underlying medical conditions--even some that you don't yet know exist. The risk of fainting, especially during manual labor should also be considered. Also, never fast while alone!

CPT Rawles:
From a former Army Combat Engineer's perspective, I would disagree with some of the information about anti-tank ditches and agree with other points raised in the article; How to Defend a Retreat Against Wheeled Vehicle Threats, by B.W. in Pennsylvania.
In the U.S. Army we would build a ditch at least 1 meter deep and typically closer to 2-3 meters deep with D7 bulldozers.  The ditch would be right around a blade width wide.  The most effective method is a dozer team with one digging it out and the other coming perpendicular to push the spoil to the side.  A key note is that the spoil, excavated dirt, was placed on the friendly side not the enemy side.  This concept is counter to original letters description of exposing the underside by placing the spoil on the enemy side of the ditch.  I would reason that most in a survival situation would not fight armored forces anyway and would further not have the firepower to penetrate even the bottom of a main battle tank (MBT) or even an armored personnel carrier (APC).  One reason for placing the spoil on the friendly side is that it increases the height of the obstacle.  Tanks are impressive and powerful but their ability to scale a fairly straight wall is limited.  The other key doctrinal reason for placing the spoil on the friendly side might not be overly practical from a survivalist viewpoint but it is to aid the friendly forces in breaching their own obstacle in the counter-attack.  As you counter-attack your engineers can roll up and push the spoil back into the ditch to create a crossing point.  Defense is only a temporary measure until you can go back on the offensive.
I would very much agree that tangle foot is highly effective for people on foot.  Wire obstacles are easy to stockpile material for (Class IV) and fairly easy to install.  To make any obstacle effective it is best covered by direct fires (rifle fire).  Most would not be able to cover obstacles with indirect fire (mortars, artillery, grenade launchers). If possible place your close in obstacles (tactical obstacles) outside of hand grenade throwing distance, typically 30 meters, from your positions.  We won’t probably face many factory hand grenades but improvised ones and especially Molotov cocktails are a real danger to most structures. 
The combat engineer field data manual (FM 5-34) is a extremely valuable reference tool for all types of engineering tasks.  It gives good basics on tying in obstacles to terrain.  How to build obstacles with various intents to include disrupting, fixing, turning and blocking the enemy from certain avenues of approach.  The information and data is just about endless. - J.B. in Arkansas


Mr. Rawles:
B.W's How to Defend a Retreat Against Wheeled Vehicle Threats was a great bit of information and as my retreat is not far off a two lane highway, it is something I think about often.

There are several good US Military archives on booby traps from the Vietnam Era.  Many of these can be found free on the internet.  They provide hundreds of ways to detect and avoid and disarm vehicular and anti-personnel traps.  These are the same IEDs (as well as new and improved) that are being used on our troops in Afghanistan.  To prevent legal questions there are no plans provided herein but many of these are of simple construction and common sense.

One common method that was not discussed was speed bumps.  These are very easy to construct and still allows common traffic.  It may not stop a vehicle but it will disorientate unprepared drivers allowing you more time to respond.

Police also use multiple ways to stop vehicles.  Spike strips can be purchased on line for around $400.  These are portable devices that can be deployed to slow down any vehicle with standard inflatable tires.   There are also plans on the internet to make homemade spike strips.  However, an easy spike strip can be created with nails driven through a plank of wood with a second blank backing it to prevent the nails from retreating when encountering hard rubber.  In situations where you have roads blocked with other vehicles, this can create an easily removable obstacle that allows you to utilize the road but can catch a speeding intruder unaware.  Many of us have also experience spike strips at rental car and parking lots that allows vehicles to travel one way without danger.  These retractable spikes can also be built or purchased.  Spike strips can be created in a variety of way.  However vehicles can still drive on rims and this only slow the vehicle down and reduce control. 

The military is also using a version of the spike strip called the X-Net by QinetiQ which is made of a high tensile material that wraps around the axle of the vehicle after puncturing the tire.  They are also using SQUIDs (Safe Quick Undercarriage Immobilization Devices) which are high tension straps that entangles the vehicle’s axles.  There are videos on YouTube on how both of these work.  While there are no plans and I couldn’t even find them for sale, it is good to be aware of them.  The SQUID may be able to be developed but at this time I have not researched it thoroughly.

B.W.’s tanglefoot plan with stakes and wire is a great antipersonnel device.  However, this same thought process can be applied with heavy chain or steel cable within a wooded area using the trees as support.  A 1,000 lb. chain wrapped around trees will significantly damage and disable most vehicles.   These can also loosened and remain on the ground as little or no obstacle and then be tightened at need with the help of a motorized vehicle or even a pull-along and then braced securely into the tree.

There are also motion detectors, sonic and light alarms.  Whiles these do not disable a vehicle it allows you to have more response time and may distract or disorientated an unprepared driver.

Lastly, several years ago in Wisconsin a snowmobiler was decapitated by fishing line or wire strung at head length across a trail.  While this is irresponsible and a sure way to get in a huge lawsuit in today’s world, in a defensive Crunch situation, it is a cost effective way to minimize intruders.

These few items combined with what B.W. has already discussed provide more options for slowing intruders.  The goal is to control the ability of individuals to approach you with the various combinations allowing you to turn the tide and attack from ideally defensive areas.
I just finished Survivors and it was very enjoyable.  Thanks for everything. Best Regards, - Don V.

JWR Adds: As I describe in my latest novel "Survivors", the now obsolete Magic Cube flash camera cubes are striker fired, so they can be added to tanglefoot obstructions. You simply tape them on to a post or stout rod with clear packing tape, and attach a paper clip to the the striker arm in the Magic Cube's base. The paper clip is in turn attached to a trip wire. Voila, you have a device that will both alert defenders and frighten and disorient nocturnal intruders. Sometimes simple technologies can be very effective. This is also a non-lethal and non-maiming technique, so it is one that can be used in situations where the rule of law still exists.


I recommend reading this article: 'Son of Stuxnet' virus could be used to attack critical computers worldwide. It talks about a recently discovered variant of Stuxnet (possibly) that poses significant risk to infrastructure. Whereas Stuxnet specifically targeted Iranian nuclear processing capabilities, Duqu (the name of this variant) is much more general but does appear to be targeting infrastructure, or as the article says, "industrial command and control systems."

Zero Day, a recent novel by Mark Russinovich, a technical fellow at Microsoft and one of the authors of the excellent Winternals utility suite, deals with the potential harm such an attack could cause. It is a decent read, albeit with a bit more sex than I would like to see. Worth a read to get an understanding of exactly how at-risk we are societally with regard to our dependence on technology in the west. - M.P.

Economics and Investing:

This article shows the prevailing un-Biblical mindset: How to Stretch Out a Home Foreclosure for Years

Job Loss Could Put One in Three Out of Their Home

EU bank failures will crash Wall Street — again (Paul B. Farrell)

Corn Surplus Sets Up A Contrarian Call On Food

Items from The Economatrix:

World Dumping US Treasuries

The Megabanks Are Trying To Prevent US Bank Runs

Stocks Jump on Reports Of Progress In Europe

Social Security To Hand Out First Raises Since '09

This map originally posted in April is enlightening: Where to Live to Avoid a Natural Disaster. It also squares nicely with my American Redoubt locale recommendations. (A tip of the hat to Bill in Phoenix for the link.)

   o o o

J.B.G. sent this: Thieves, Seeking Quick Money, Steal X-Ray Film From Area Hospitals

   o o o

Submachine Guns, Pistols Stolen From LAPD SWAT Training Site

   o o o

Joe The Peacock reports: I Went To Occupy Wall Street. This Is What I Saw. (Thanks to Tim R. for the link.)

   o o o

Architecture Contest Calls for Zombie-Proof Home Designs. (Thanks to Kevin P. for the link.)

"The one thing that can't be argued with is that the most tactical thing you can do in a gunfight is shoot the other guy first.” - Matt Burkett (IDPA National Champion and five-time MGM Iron Man Three-Gun Champion.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's official: "Survivors" is #3 on the New York Times bestseller's list (for fiction hardbacks.) Ditto over at Publisher's Weekly. Thanks for making the novel such a great success. Among other things, your strong orders have driven the price down to $12.39. Many thanks!

Your brief reviews of "Survivors" at the Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble web sites would be greatly appreciated. It is notable that there have been a few reviews posted by racists that have skewed downward the book's ratings average. For the record: I'm a Christian and an anti-racist. The Great Commission directs us to share the gospel in all nations. I firmly believe that is anti-Christian to be exclusive, based upon skin color. Furthermore, many of the characters in the novel are based on real-world friends of mine, and not all of them are white. I'm not going to change the races or religions of their fictional counterparts just to satisfy the preferences of a small minority of my readership.


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I recently finished JWR's latest novel "Survivors"and have read it predecessor, "Patriots". I have realized that there were some things that the retreat owner could do to better prepare the land to prevent or slow down vehicles from entering your ground. Although the offsetting of obstacles works well in funneling, this does not stop vehicles. I think of my own retreat and how I plan on defending it, I thought back to my former MOS when I was in the service. Although I can block the roads into the farms that sit on the lane, there is a power line cut right through the ground that could be driven on and breech the security of all the homes on the lane. Therefore I will explain a few tip on how to prevent or slow down wheeled vehicles.

I am a former Marine Combat Engineer. I mainly ran heavy equipment; however I did some cross training with explosives. Now leaving the explosives out of the scenario I do have some good ideas to either funnel or in some cases totally keep the vehicles from entering your land and forcing bandits onto foot which gives you the advantage.  Keep in mind that I live in a northeast and I am accustomed to most rural land is at least partially wooded which in most cases will suffice for keeping mobilized bandits off. Now we will go into a few things that you can use to accomplish this task.

  • Tools needed: Spade Shovel, post hole digger, ax, sledge hammer, and chainsaw. If you are lucky enough to own or have access to a backhoe, or small bulldozer these things can be completed with little or no problems. However, if you have to do it by hand it will be back breaking and time consuming so hopefully you are in good shape. You will sweat.

The first things I would use we called “Tank Ditches” in the Marine Corps. A tank ditch is a ditch that is dug across a point that you would anticipate the approach of an armored vehicle. The idea of a tank ditch is to expose the belly of the tank or armored vehicle (which is the weakest portion of armor).  Now this concept could be used for any kind of vehicle. It would expose the underbelly of any vehicle. The steps in creating the tank ditch are as follows:

  1. Find the area of likely approach, measure off the ditch; it could be the entire length of road or just a portion.
  2. You dig out the ditch as deep as you want, piling the dirt on the oncoming side of the ditch to create a ramp for the approaching vehicle. If you have the means you can wet the dirt down in order to make the pile heavier.

The vehicle will attempt to drive over the pile and get stuck, get over it and nosedive into the ditch, or expose itself to weakness that the defenders can exploit. Or the vehicle will stop and the bandits will dismount, this will expose the bandits to small fire.

The next thing that I would like to talk about is what we called “Dragon's Teeth". If anyone has ever seen an old Civil War movie the forts would often do this at the peak of the fort to make it harder for the troops to get over the wall. These “teeth” should be sticking out of the ground at least four feet high.  You can use these to block dirt roads, fields, or can be used to funnel things where you want them to go, AKA “killing fields”.

  • Cut these logs to a rough length of about 8 feet long,
  • Cut to a point at one end, and leave one end flat.
  •  The flat end was buried into the ground about three to four feet deep at a 45 degree angle. The reason for a 45 degree angle provides extra strength and makes it nearly impossible to breach by ramming them.

I actually seen an M1 Abrams tank unable to breech a series of four dragon’s teeth in a row (well it could be that they didn’t want to). You should always place three to four in a row, making a partial wall, leave 2-3 foot between each one so you don’t create a log wall for people to hide behind. Make sure that you cannot drive through them.

The next obstacle could be what we called “Ant Hills”; these are exactly what they sound like an ant hill. Picture an ant hill out in the forest, a large mound of dirt. These should be piled high and off set, again to funnel wheeled vehicles where you want them to go. These piles of dirt should be large enough that you would not want to attempt to drive a vehicle through them so one would want to go around them.

Another obstacle does require some fencing wire or barbed wire. We called this tangle foot. It was mainly a deterrent that slows down troops as they move through areas that do not offer any other obstacles. Think of high school football practice when you had to high knee through tire. Well this is the same concept.

  1. Cut wood posts roughly three feet long.
  2. Pound stakes into the ground about 18 inches. Place them in rows about 12-18 inches apart. If you make them to big you can easily navigate between the wires.
  3. Place them in a pattern that is much like a Suduku box; make the area as wide and as long as you want.
  4. Take the wire and begin stringing it from post to post as one continuous wire. Wrap the wire around each post to create a jumble of wire. Most like a square spider web.

Think of the effect that this has on bandits on foot trying to maneuver through this area that you have just pushed them too. No shooting and moving there, they will be too busy trying to navigate the wire and not fall over. Now if someone would enter your tangle foot, think fish in a barrel. Deep breath and slow and steady trigger pull. 

Finally I would like to pull a little from not only your book, and using what you may have on hand to use as road blocks and obstacles and just extra protection. If you have tractor trailer back, old cars, you could flatten the tires, and offset and stagger them on roads and bridges to create any oncoming vehicle from gaining speed and just driving through your roadblocks. These would require a driver to drive in an S-shape to get through the obstacle. You can build planter boxes all around your home or retreat and in a pinch you can use them as fighting positions leave them full of dirt and them become a natural round stopper. You build them roughly three and a half feet high out of brick and fill will dirt, plant flower, spices, vegetables, or anything that you want and you can instantly have a fighting position all around your home. As a bonus you can eat what you plant there. By clearing out natural hides and blind spots around the property in order to have a better view of the ground and any avenues of approach. There are many small things you can do in order to prepare you property prior to the fall.

Remember that these ideas may not be right for your retreat. They can be used in conjunction with anything else that you may have read on the SurvivalBlog or anywhere else. None of these ideas are full proof and remember that nothing can stop a force that is hell bent on getting their hands on what you have short of a well placed 7.62mm NATO round. You and your family’s safety should be the number one priority when the SHTF. Taking the proper steps to defend what you have will prolong everyone’s life. If you are well stocked and ready for anything be ready to defend it because someone else does not have and when people get hungry people will do anything. Mix and match these ideas to create a well defendable avenue of approach. When used together these obstacles can be used to slow down and sometime totally stop an oncoming mobilized unit. I have seen it work when we showed foreign governments what we to stop troop movements. My final two points will be this; draw a diagram of how you want to set up your funnels to best make a defendable position, try out different ways on paper, these positions will become semi-permanent and hard to move once in. Lastly to wrap it all up. Be sure to leave yourself an avenue of escape. Even the best laid plans and retreats can be overrun by sheer numbers and without an escape route you will die!

Hello Jim, and Readers:
Recently I was looking for a way to record some long distance sounds, and thought of a solution for Listening post observation posts.  I discovered  an old Dish Network or Direct TV dish will work fine with a microphone mounted to it.

Using a UHF or N type bulkhead RF connector mounted to the point where the old  antenna LNB was mounted I drilled a hole large enough on the front of the antenna mount with a step drill for the base of the  RF connector, and 1/8th holes for the flange mount of the connector, and mounted it with 4-40 hardware.  Using a standard PA  system microphone mount, and screwing  it on to the RF connector and then placing the  microphone to the dish focal point. allows for a bit more forward gain, and a bit more directional capability.

I found a small audio mixer for a single or multiple microphone setup works fine, Musicians Friend.com has these small mixers for as little as about seventy five dollars. They can be connected to a set of earphones, and or a recording device like a cassette tape recorder, or MP3 recorder.  There are several brands that are low cost, I bought a Baringer model for my setup. I prefer microphones with standard XLR PA system connectors and standard microphone cables to keep things simple and standardized.
I must caution there are laws protecting your neighbors privacy and those laws should be obeyed. I do believe in a situation where there may be threatening times and being able to hear threats sooner than later would be very beneficial. 
The mount for the dish can be a simple pipe on a stand, or rig it up to some kind of portable tripod. Most of the available mixers use and 18 volt AC power supply so a small AC inverter would be required to run the device. I have modified a few units to work on 12 VDC as long as I don't need the phantom power for a microphone the unit works fine. But for those who don't know how to make this modification it is best to use a small DC to AC inverter. Using one of those battery booster boxes so prevalent in auto parts stores or box stores will work fine, they usually incorporate an  AC inverter, light, and cigar lighter socket for 12 volt accessories. I found that recording the sounds I was looking to record were able to be heard very well through the mixer amplifier, in the headphones. So much so that my old shoulder held artillery ears could actually distinguish what was going on. 

If you were limited in personnel resources and needed to force multiply, think about obtaining several dishes and placing them in strategic places run all the microphones into a multi-channel mixer and listen to everything with enhanced hearing, if a sound of interest is heard, simply fade out one mike at a time until only the one of interest is heard. Low impedance microphones like the ones with XLR three pin connectors will work  to about 200 feet or more, Just think about how far the lines are run at large concerts from a stage to the sound booth.

I am fortunate I have several dishes that have been left after discharging the television companies from getting too greedy. The dishes are generally left when the receiving equipment is returned to the companies. I have several friends who have offered them to me also.  They can frequently be found at yard sales too.
I might also mention that these units can be adapted to make small microwave video and audio sender, receiver units, It takes four dishes and two sets of video sender/ receiver units to make a full duplex system. They generally have 4 channels each. The 5 GHz units would have the most gain for the dish sizes, and by making one set with the antennas horizontal and one full set vertical polarization the  units can give you a couple of miles of line of site full duplex audio and video. Usually the video sender receiver units have two audio sub channels. providing two separate telephone circuits, The video can be connected to a video camera and used for remote surveillance or a video data link. Unless you run some kind of encrypted audio through a computer audio sound card, these units are in the clear.

Being microwave and highly directional the probability of intercept is much lower and at 5 GHz the chances of someone having a scanner or spectrum analyzer to look for your signals is reduced. These video units usually also work on 12 volts. They are consumer products as purchased. Modified they then become a device that no longer meets Part 15 rules. Please take this into consideration if you plan to construct these units.
Running simple audio video lines from the sets to  a monitoring position can be done up to about 50 feet or so.

This piece is over-simplified but to keep this in mind for future reference, a good radio tech or engineer can accomplish these projects fairly easily.  the 5 GHz, or even 2.5 GHz units can be used, but the antenna systems for the units must be modified and takes someone familiar with antenna systems to accomplish this easily. Blessings, - Dave in Oregon

The Great Endarkenment: Detroit struggles to keep lights on: Copper thieves, aging equipment darken blocks in cash-starved city. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Reader R.C. kindly sent this: Automotive 'black boxes' raise privacy issues

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The Womb to Tomb medicated society: Consider ADHD starting at age four, says doctor group. (thanks to Diana V. for the link.)

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John T. sent us this inevitable headline: New crime wave: Cooking Oil Thefts.

"The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, 'If you would learn to be
subservient to the king, you would not have to live on lentils.'

Said Diogenes, 'Learn to live on lentils, and you will not have to be subservient to the king.' " - from "The Song of the Bird" by Anthony de Mello

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm pleased to announce that I've just signed another contract with Plume Books (part of the Penguin Books Group.) They are the publisher of my international best-seller "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". The new book will be titled: Rawles On Tools For Survival: A Guide to Firearms and Other Tools for Family Preparedness. This book will be released in early 2014, Deo Volente. Now all I have to do is write it. The targeted page count is 384 pages.

In a previous review, posted in April, 2001, I had posted favorable comments on the MGI "Hydra" modular rifle system. I am withdrawing that positive review, and alerting SurvivalBlog readers to NOT purchase this product. While the sample I wrote up in SurvivalBlog worked flawlessly, I have recently been informed of some serious quality control problems with current-production Hydra rifles. Several SurvivalBlog readers that placed orders have received defective guns. One SurvivalBlog reader, after many months, finally did get a working Hydra. But another SurvivalBlog reader is still waiting. He returned his Hydra before he even took it out of the gun shop - it fell apart. And now, despite numerous attempted contacts, he can't get any response from MGI nor have they offered a refund.
It would appear that we were all disappointed to one degree or another. So, be advised that I recommend that you DO NOT purchase MGI's Hydra rifles or receivers until they have corrected their quality control problems and have established a good reputation for customer service in rectifying their past mistakes. - Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor

[JWR Adds: I greatly appreciate Pat Cascio's honesty and integrity. His reviews are always frank, and he doesn't hesitate to mention when the quality of a product changes--for better or for worse. I have updated the review that he mentioned, so that any readers searching the archives will be fully informed.]

Twenty years ago, when I first started writing about guns, I also edited and published a rag called "Police Hot Sheet." It was a pull-no-punches magazine reviewing firearms, ammo and gear. The very first companies to supply me with their products were Black Hills Ammunition and Taurus Firearms and to this day, both companies keep samples of their products coming my way.

Over the past 20 years, I have easily fired hundreds of thousands of rounds of Black Hills Ammunition, and not once did I have a problem with any of their ammo - reloads, factory seconds or their brand-new ammo. I wish I could say the same for some of the big-boy ammo companies out there, like Remington and some of the others. A little over a year ago, I had my youngest daughter out for a shooting session with a Beretta M9 - for some reason, the US Army didn't seem fit to give my daughter any handgun training - even though she's a Combat Medic. I had one of the bulk boxes of 9mm FMJ from Remington on-hand for her shooting session. We were a bit disappointed in the quality of the Remington UMC ammo - we had about 5 or 6 problems with that 250 rounds of ammunition. Most of the problems we had were either dead primers, or primers that were put into the shell sideways - yes, you read that right - the primers were placed sideways! Obviously, there wasn't any close final inspection of the ammo before shipment.

As I said, I never encountered a single problem with Jeff Hoffman's Black Hills Ammunition in more than 20 years of shooting it. I've watched Black Hills Ammunition grow from a very small operation, to where they are now - located in a huge plant with dozens and dozens and dozens of employees. For those of you who aren't aware, Black Hills provides a special 5.56mm round to our Special Forces guys - no other ammo company is producing this ammo that I'm aware of - only Black Hills is producing it. Our Special Forces guys demand the very best for their missions, and Black Hills is helping out with special ammo for them. I'm also told, and I believe it's true, that Black Hills is now producing some of the "standard" 5.56mm ammo that our other troops are using 'cause the other ammo makers can't keep up. To be sure, ammo for our military is produced differently than commercial ammo is. For one thing, the bullet is sealed around the neck to waterproof it, as is the primer.

I shoot more Black Hills than any other ammo! Yes, Jeff Hoffman, keeps me well-supplied for my test and evaluation in the many firearms I've tested over the past 20 years, and he always tells me to never let my ammo locker get too low. And, as soon as I place an order for some more ammo, it usually goes out in the next day or two - that's service! I've probably fired more of the Black Hills factory-new ammo, than their reloads or factory seconds, too. As good as their reloaded ammo is, I'd have no problems carrying it for self-defense, using their JHP ammo, of course. That says a lot in my book. Factory seconds - I've had some of this - and it has been dirty or dented .223 Remington ammo - I'm not sure if this stuff is available to the general public. Jeff would rather see us worthless gun writers burn this ammo up, instead of destroying it - thanks Jeff!

To be sure, Black Hills is what I call "Premium" ammo - I think their brand-new ammo is a step above what you get from many of the big-boy ammo companies. Each round of ammo is personally hand-inspected before it leaves the factory. And, Hoffman only uses the finest components to produce his factory-new ammo. I have tried, many times over the years, to roll my own ammo, to see if I could equal or exceed the accuracy of Black Hills ammo. I only came away equaling the Black Hills .300 Winchester Magnum load - remember, I said I equalled the accuracy of the Black Hills .300 Winchester Magnum load - I didn't exceed it. That says a lot! I don't do as much handloading these days as I used to, just not enough hours in the day. I've always found reloading to be very relaxing - but maybe that's just me! In any event, with all my years of experimenting with different loads, I've never once exceeded the accuracy I get from Black Hills.

The Barnes, all-copper JHP bullets - they have the deepest JHP cavity I've even seen on any JHP bullet. To be sure, make sure you keep small children and pets away - they might fall into that deep bullet cavity, never to be heard from again. Ok, I'm joking about that - but these bullets do have the deepest JHP cavity I've ever seen.

Black Hills has you covered with most calibers, especially self-defense loads. They also have you covered with FMJ handgun rounds for target practice, using either their reloads or factory-new ammo. When I carry a 9mm handgun for self-defense, I like to load my magazines with +P or +P+ JHP ammo, and I believe the 9mm can use all the help it can get to penetrate deep enough, and the bullet needs to expand enough to get the job done. Black Hills has you covered with several different loading in 9mm. They have a new 9mm load. that has the all-copper JHP from Barnes Bullets called the TAC-XP and it's a +P load. I only just received this one, and I haven't had a chance to do much testing, but the results look very promising.

I have shot the Black Hills .40 S&W 140 grain Barnes TAC-XP load, this is another JHP load, produced using all-copper - no lead at all. These bullets won't come apart when they expand - that's a good thing - as a lot of JHP bullets come completely apart when they start to expand and/or hit bone. The Barnes TAC-XP bullet won't come apart. This round is coming out of my Glock 23 at around 1,100 FPS - that's moving along and the recoil isn't too bad, either. In my limited and unscientific testing - shooting into water-filled milk jugs and various other liquid and semi-liquid targets [such as pumpkins], I'd estimate that these bullets are penetrating at least 25% deeper than conventional JHP do - and once again, the bullet stays together.

I've also used the .45ACP 185 grain TAC-XP +P from Black Hills, and this baby is coming out of a full-sized 1911 at right around 1,000 FPS - you know you've touched-off some power in this round. Again, this bullet appears to penetrate about 25% deeper than conventional JHP bullets do, and I haven't had one bullet come apart - they all expand nicely and stay together - what's not to like here?

The Barnes-loaded rounds are only available right now from Black Hills in 9mm, .40 and .45 ACP. However, I expect they'll expand this to include other self-defense calibers as demand increases. I'd like to see this bullet offered in .380 ACP - that would really give that little round some extra "oomph" that it needs. I believe a .380 ACP is best reserved as a back-up to whatever my main gun is. Now, you don't have to fire-off a lot of e-mails to me about this - it's my personal opinion on the .380 ACP round. I know, I know, lots of bad guys have fallen to this round, but I just prefer something a little bit bigger these days. Yes, in the past, I've carried a Walther PPK/S in .380 ACP as my one and only carry gun - but that was many decades ago.

The Black Hills Barnes TAC-XP ammo is spendy, to be sure. I'm not gonna quote prices here, as each dealer sets their own selling price. If you order directly from Black Hills, they can give you a price. Again, this is "Premium" handgun ammo, and expect to pay more for it. Then again, I don't expect you to go out "target shooting" with this round. You'll want to make sure it functions in whatever guns you want to stoke with this great ammo, before you trust your life to it. And it's always a good idea to fire at least 100-200 rounds of a particular brand and type of ammo through your self-defense carry gun, to make sure your gun will function with it. I used to tell my firearms students to fire at least 200 rounds through their guns before trusting them to function with whatever ammo they wanted to carry in their guns. However, with the price of (good) ammo today, I think 100 rounds is a fair test. And, I have tried this new ammo with the Barnes bullets in several different handguns, and had zero problems with feeding and extraction.

Now, many shooters get carried away with numbers, and folks like big numbers when it comes to velocity and Foot Pounds of Energy (FPE). Don't be fooled by a lot of the gun writer hype when it comes to numbers. Faster doesn't always mean better. There are a lot of factors at work when a bullet hits a body. In the case of the Black Hills 9mm round, they are showing 368 FPE from the Barnes bullets, in the .40 S&W 416 FPE and the .45 ACP is at 411 FPE. There are many factors going to work when a bullet hits a body - it depends on the clothing and/or winter coat someone might be wearing, as to how deep a bullet will penetrate and expand. It depends if a bullet hits bone, or if the attacker is high on drugs. There's no magic bullet that will guarantee that with one shot, it will stop an attacker in his tracks. I always tell my firearms students to keep shooting until the threat has stopped being a threat. It is simple as that!

If you're in the market for more conventional JHP rounds for your carry gun, Black Hills has you covered with any number of rounds to pick from. And, keep in mind what I just said in the above paragraph, there are no magic bullets - you still have to place your rounds on-target and hit vital organs and/or blood vessels to stop an attack. And, for a lot of years, conventional JHP have been doing the job nicely. I've taken a lot of small to medium game with Black Hills handgun ammo using JHP rounds. But I think Black Hills is really onto something with their new line-up using the Barnes all-copper JHP bullets. Time will tell if I'm right, and I think I am - this time around.

Jeff Hoffman, over at Black Hills Ammunition deserves your business, he honestly is one of the "Good Guys" in this business. He and his wife Kristi, have worked hard over the years, to give the shooter the best ammo they can produce, at a good price. And, if it matters to you, Jeff Hoffman is also a part-time law enforcement officer in South Dakota - he gives to the community - so that's another reason he deserves your business. Give Black Hills a call, or check out their web site. I'm betting good money, you'll find a lot of different types of ammo you'll be able to use. And, as an aside, they are producing one of the widest assortments of .223 Remington ammo that you'll find. They have FMJ, JHP, Hollow Points and Soft Point rounds that will take care of you and your AR-15.  They have light bullets and heavy bullets - if you can't find what you're looking for at Black Hills, then you won't find anyone else who is making a .223 Remington round that you're looking for.

I can't speak highly enough about Black Hills Ammunition. In 20 years of using it, I've never once been disappointed in the performance and the high-quality of their ammo. They are good people to do business with - and anyone who says other wise is looking for trouble from me! - Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor

I've been a follower of SurvivalBlog for some time. We've seen this mentioned before: building communities of moral, responsible,  and like-minded citizens (in the Robert Heinlein sense of the word) has strategic advantages. I would go a step further and say this process is, in fact, crucial.

I number among the many souls who wish to relocate and become self-sustaining but all to often find ourselves in a serious minority among our immediate circle of relationships, as well as beset by other challenges to overcome. Our particular circumstance may vary: Maybe we're small business owners in a depressed area, or single (at whatever age), or students, or in-debt, maybe serving as soldiers, or first responders, or missionaries, or employed overseas, perhaps single-parents juggling work and child-rearing, or youngsters not quite of legal age (but old enough to know something is terribly wrong), perhaps orphaned children who are now adults and have no immediate circle of support, or recently naturalized persons who must also overcome the language, prejudice, and cultural barriers, etc... the list goes on. Regardless of our particular circumstance I believe we struggle with very similar feelings of self-doubt, fear, and isolation. Nothing is quite so disheartening as experiencing, not just our colleagues and peers but, also, those nearest and dearest disbelieve our heartfelt concern to the point of scorn.

Friends, I write to tell you: there is hope!

I've been to the American Redoubt. It was a few years back, before JWR formally proposed the idea. I had the opportunity to meet fellow SurvivalBlog readers at a community event somewhere in The Redoubt. Getting there turned into a near sleepless 48-hour, 500-mile hitchhiking epic miracle (and I do mean miracle in the full sense of the word). The experience was incredible and well worth the blood, sweat, tears, frustration and long-suffering it took to get from point A to point B and back again.

I met some amazing folks! It was surreal to be at a gathering of some 50+ folks from, not only several of the local towns and from across the state, but from several other states west of the Continental Divide as well. At this gathering, it was normal to hear complete strangers reference SurvivalBlog, Patriots, or to be asked: "Are you familiar with a gentleman by the name of Rawles?" Open-carry was prevalent at the event and none of the women, children, or elderly seemed the least taken aback by the presence of firearms on so many other men and women! Also, although, everyone was clearly exercising great care and discretion in conversation, no one was acting über secret-squirrel and no one seemed surprised or offended if answers about work, home, occupation, education, training, etc. were generalized or a little vague. The county we were in also claimed the interesting distinction of having no additional statutory law (after state law) except for the United States Constitution and the town itself also had no building codes of its own. The community was a mixed bunch of all ages, both natives and recent voters (of the "voted with their feet" variety).

In those few hours, shared with strangers I had never seen before that day, I have never felt more at home. In their company, I could actually breathe easy and feel my heart at rest. The folks were generous, sincere, and frank. With all the sidearms attached to trained citizens, I am sure no one would mistake their kindness for weakness very long!

Since that time, I've continued forward one slow step at a time. As a single, landless, deployed soldier, I've decided to remain debt-free and mobile, to travel light, to maintain a diverse portfolio of useful, compact tangibles, and maintain contact with the handful of families I've been blessed to meet around the country whom I'd be willing to team up with if necessary. While mobile I also intend to invest in some useful training and combine those events with creating opportunities to revisit The Redoubt and forge new relationships as time permits. Incidentally, I find there is really no meaningful substitute for meeting folks face-to-face. Leaving what is familiar and comfortable is probably among the biggest challenges of most preppers who have yet to relocate or find others of like-mind. I know it is one of mine. I'm familiar with my city and state, have adapted and survived a turbulent couple of years in this area, and know some people, however, this is not where I want to build a home, establish a family or raise children.

One couple at The Redoubt gathering had this to say, after I shared some of my doubts and concerns with them about being little more than a young novice from an urban upbringing, and I pass it on to the rest of you by way of inspiration and hope:

"If you're honest and willing to work hard, you'll do just fine out here." - Swiftner

I recently read the insightful article about a Senior Citizen's take on prepping. She mentioned that she had her grandson join the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). I am a cadet member of the Civil Air Patrol, and have been for three years. The Civil Air Patrol is the auxiliary of the United States Air Force, and performs Emergency Services, as well as Cadet Programs and Aerospace Education. There are quite a lot of opportunities in CAP; everything from learning to fly, roughing it in the wilderness, and looking for downed aircraft. I strongly recommend the program for anyone interested in Aviation and Preparedness, and you can meet quite a lot of like-minded people there as well. Not to mention the positive influence it gives to young people. Thanks again for all the work you do with SurvivalBlog.  Semper Vigilans!  - Andrew A.

Some Words of Advice From Kyle Bass (paraphrased): "Buy guns. Buy gold. Buy nickels."

Inevitability of a Crash Goes Mainstream. Reader S.B. in Japan me sent a link to this: A Greater Depression is coming. S.B.'s comment: "Until fairly recently, much of the talk of truly serious economic problems has been in far from mainstream sources. The mainstream media has talked a bit about further recession, but I haven't seen a single article that clearly stated that it's coming and there's nothing we can do about it. That is until I saw this today, linked from The Wall Street Journal's web site.
A.T.B. sent this: Drowning in debt, EU hits moment of truth

Michael W. and George S. both flagged this: South Carolina mine sparks mini-gold rush to the Southeast

Items from The Economatrix:

Return To Gold Standard?  Why Price Would Hit $10,000

Joblessness:  An American Epidemic

Banks closed in Georgia, North Carolina, NJ; 79 failures in 2011.

F.J. sent us a lesson in caching commonsense (or lack thereof), over at Commander Zero's excellent blog: Article – Gun, weapons parts found buried in Arlington.

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I was asked by a consulting client what would happen if the "Occupy America" protests transition from "acute" to "chronic". I told him that I think that the outcome might be a lot like the fate of the World War I veterans' Bonus Army, in the 1930s. (That is, depending on the JBT proclivities of the particular States where the protests are held.) There is an old Japanese proverb: "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down."

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F.G. suggested a web page illustrating some standard U.S. hand and arm signals.

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2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. I consider it a great translation, without the political biases of some of the recent translations. (The NIV has some particularly wretched political correctness.) The KJV is available online, free at the Blue Letter Bible web site. Their search engine works great, and they make lots of other translations available for comparison, including Greek and Hebrew.

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F.J. suggested: Make and Use Ranger Beads to Measure Your Walking Distance

"The Constitution says to promote the general welfare, not to provide welfare!" - Lt. Col Allen West

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Technology is a significant force multiplier in emergency situations.  There are several options I’ve found in my preparations to incorporate electronics into our everyday use and emergency preparations.  Hopefully these ideas will be of use and get others thinking about possibilities.  My goal in utilizing these ‘gadgets’ is to increase availability of resource while decreasing maintenance and effort – all at low cost if possible.  I’d like to share a few of the low-cost options that are simplest to try that we’ve adopted in our preps.

I’m an engineer and realize most of the tools I use won’t be appreciated by everyone, but I do recommend that everyone invest in a simple Digital Multi-meter.  They are quite inexpensive (as little as $15) and useful for troubleshooting automotive and equipment electrical problems.  They are easy to use and with all the information and tutorials on the internet anyone can begin taking advantage of their use.  Besides this tool, the rest of my recommendations are targeted to anyone of any background.  There are several helpful electrical gadgets we’ve found and use that have many broader options.  The best part is that these ideas will hopefully start generating interest or ideas of your own.  Realistically most adults won’t start collecting schematics or advanced electrical tools, but they can start learning new things, or may have friends or better yet, children, who are interested in pursuing these areas more.

Some simple things, first.  In a big family we have need for a lot of flashlights.  The kids use them often and so we often find batteries are dead when we need the light most.  On eBay we have found many Chinese suppliers of low cost, solar powered LED lights that have dramatically decreased our monthly expenditures for batteries.  Sure, these lights are cheaply made (you get what you pay for) but work great for everyday use.  Do a search for “Solar LED keychain” on eBay and you can easily find them for less than $1 each ($0.73 on average).  Over the course of a month we accumulated 10-15 of these lights and they all work great.  They are cheaply made and break easily, so think of them as disposable and to keep the kids from wearing out your more dependable gear.

Another good source of solar LED lighting is the inexpensive outdoor lamps available at all hardware stores.  Wal-Mart sells them for ~$2.  We keep these lights all around our chicken coop, outdoor buildings, and garden to help keep deer and predators away.  They also contribute to security and our own convenience when out-n-about at night doing chores.  They are inexpensive enough to proliferate anywhere needed and require no maintenance.  Another option is to use electrical tape to blacken the side of the light facing our home to improve visibility, or to help minimize visibility of our place from roadways.  Keeping these lights about the chicken coop also has improved egg production and extended the laying season longer into the dark days of winter.

EBay is also a great source for inexpensive wireless door chimes and passive infrared (IR) motion detectors.  For $3 each we picked up a number of different devices to test out as deer and predator alarms.  Some devices work great, others are less effective.  All are effective at detecting our dog at 6 feet, and many will see the dog as far away as 30 feet. For less than $10 we have a wireless perimeter around the chickens that detects any small animal movement and provides loud alarm to deter intrusion and warn us of detection.  Another $20 watches over our half-acre garden from deer or elk intrusions.   The alarms seem to deter the deer better than when we left a radio on out in the dark, and do well to give us and the dog a heads-up that marauders are probing the defenses.  The dog is learning well to respond to the cheerful doorbell chimes when they go off.

We purchased a more expensive IR detector that turns on a sprinkler when deer approach the garden and it has worked well, however it requires us to leave the hose on all night, and is too expensive to deploy in adequate numbers to cover all the fruit, garden, and other vulnerable locations on our place.  These low cost wireless chimes have worked very well for us to provide numbers and coverage.

All of these devices use the smaller, “pen-light” batteries and require replacement every few weeks.  Being an engineer, I’m always looking to ‘improve’ original designs or modify them to my unique needs (or wants).  I hate stocking and replacing batteries, so the logical next step was to combine the solar panel from the LED lights to power these wireless motion detectors.  Simply disassembling the LED lights and wiring the power (red) and ground(black) wires into the motion detectors has eliminated the battery need.  Some motion detectors require more power than others, but all the ones we’ve tested are adequately powered by the solar cells.  If more power is needed, simply use two or more solar cells daisy-chained together to boost the voltage to the detector.  Dropping a clean plastic container over the top is adequate weatherproofing that will not hamper the detector too badly, though I recommend spending time to make a more robust enclosure for your device to ensure longer life and use.

Another option to consider with these low-cost LED devices is to make an emergency charging circuit for your cell phone or handheld gadget.  The landscaping lights are recommended for this option.  Again, simply connecting multiple lights in a daisy chain and wiring a surplus USB cable to the mix works well for charging a FRS radio.  If you disassemble the light, you will discover one or more rechargeable battery inside – usually an “AA” size.  This can be removed and used as needed, and then replaced to recharge in the sun.  Some lights we’ve looked at have the battery soldered or “fixed” in the light, and others use a non-standard size battery, so do some snooping before purchasing in quantity.  Many of these solar devices have a single 3.6V battery.  The cheap keychain lights, for example, are sufficient to power a small “spy” camera that is the size of a car’s FOB, and can power the small camera to record video for up to 3 hours, continuously.

I wanted a more ‘discreet’ warning system around the chicken coop than the loud siren of the motion detectors provided, and found that by simply cutting the wires to the small piezo speaker inside the detector and connecting a separate LED to those wires, the detector gave a visual instead of a verbal warning to me.  Individual LEDs in various colors are available from Radio Shack or online for pennies.  The longer wire on the LED connects to power, the shorter one to ground, though on the speaker’s wires it doesn’t matter which wires the LED connects to.   I inserted the LED into a small tube cut from a pen, and now the LED indicator became very discreet and directional – only seen in the direction the LED was pointed.

There is another alarm available for very low cost to detect movement.  Small magnetic alarms that commonly are attached to a door or window are available at our local “Dollar” stores, and have a piercing alarm when the smaller bar is taken away from the main unit.  Besides their obvious use for detecting unwanted entry into your home or shop, these alarms work great to ensure the kids don’t forget to cover up the chicken feed bin, or leave the coop door open, or any other ‘reminder’ you want to keep a door closed.  I like to turn one on and throw it into the boy’s bedrooms on those mornings they haven’t gotten out of bed by the 3rd call!

As a science project with the kids, we created a GPS-based device that we wanted to launch with weather balloons of helium to track wind patterns, and to set adrift in the ocean to watch water currents.  First, we designed a custom circuit and software to record the GPS track, but in the end we found a much better, low cost solution that has many other applications worth considering.  Instead of a custom circuit, we found that on eBay we could purchase an older cell phone (I recommend a Motorola i415) with GPS capabilities for less than $10.  For another $6 we got a pre-paid phone SIM for the phone.  Using an on-line service for real-time cell phone tracking, we could watch the cell phone travel in real-time, and get our GPS data even if we never got the cell phone back from the ocean.  These phones make great, low-cost equipment tracking similar to Lo-Jack for much less cost.  A possible option for farm equipment, shipping container, or other large item you want to keep tabs on.  Gluing a strong magnet to the phone and modifying the charging cable would allow you to place the phone under the hood, wired to the vehicle’s battery for constant power. 

Rather than running 120AC power out to some of our remote locations, we’ve chosen to use car batteries for lighting and power needs instead.  It is great having a spare battery or two on hand, and with inexpensive solar arrays it is easy to keep them charged and available.  I’ve wired our garden house to use low-cost LED lighting strips, which run off the battery.  The solar panel easily keeps the battery topped off and ready for the infrequent use and the 12V is a standard supply for most battery powered devices and gadgets to run off, too.

With 12V readily available, there are a couple other electrical devices worth mentioning.  Various Internet sellers and eBay have remote controlled relay devices for under $15 (search for “12V remote relay”) that are great for remote control of any motor, light, or device.  They are simple to wire up and use, with little electrical experience needed.  It is nice when the lights are left on out in the garden house to have a remote control by the window in our house to simply click, and turn them off.  This gives all kinds of options to our OPSEC considerations.

For locking or mechanical actuation, I love using inexpensive, 12V automotive door lock solenoids.  Again, for less than $5 these can be had and applied to any number of uses.  We lock our chicken coop door at night with a door lock solenoid (remotely controlled, of course).  These solenoids are very strong (more than 7 lbs of pull in some cases) and work well to flip a wall switch, too. 
Two options we are using for power generation include solar panels and hydro power.  Neither option is able to generate more than 150W of power, but that is adequate to charge a single or bank of 12V car batteries.  Car batteries are the power supply of our choice because they are readily available, stable, and carry significant electrical power.  They are robust for charging and 12V is a common input power for many handheld devices.

I do not believe 120V AC is a viable option for TEOTWAWKI.  It requires extensive resources to generate and is neither safe nor versatile.  We do have several generators for running our freezers and power tools, but in a dramatic or long-term scenario, our plan is to rely on gas-based power tools (i.e. chainsaws, generators, rototillers, etc), propane powered stoves and refrigeration, and DC power based communications equipment.

Solar panels are readily available and easy to use.  We have several that are 40 to 50W, and with an inline diode to protect from back current, they work well to maintain car batteries.  Several springs and creeks in our area provide us and our neighbors with hydro power sources, too.  One design we built for a neighbor is based on a GMC truck alternator.  GMC alternators have a built in voltage regulator and are robust for many alternative power generation options - do a search on Google for “bicycle alternator” and you will see many clever designs for bike-power, for example.  This is one reason we keep several older model GMC trucks and a Suburban around – useful, common parts.  The alternator can be used for a 12V generator supplying up to 100 Amps of current to run AC inverters, charge batteries, or run pumps.  The neighbor’s spring is captured in a 2,000 gallon tank, and channeled off the side to ABS piping into the alternator’s turbine.  The alternator was ~$80; turbine blades are homemade and piping all from scrap on hand.

A lower cost option we used on another neighbor’s stream is my favorite.  Instead of an Alternator we used a 1200 gallon-per-hour bilge pump as a generator.  More regulation circuitry was required, but because the output was under 10 Amps, a simple solar regulator from eBay for $12 was adequate.  The smaller stream’s flow was diverted into a garden hose, fitted easily to the bilge pump’s output to run the motor as a generator.  Total setup costs (besides labor) were under $50.  These have been simple, fun, and safe ways to engage with neighbors in exploring options for remote power generation.  This setup is charging two car batteries and running 12V lighting, shortwave radio, dual-band ham radio station, and a fan in his remote shed.

Finally, one last electrical option that has worked out well for us is a water pump for our drip irrigation system.  Some of our plants require more regular watering than others, so we put in a simple drip system of tubing.  To automate it as much as possible, I used a small barrel suspended from 30 feet high to provide the water source for the tubing.  To keep the barrel full, especially in the summer months when rain is less frequent I used a small bulge-pump (12V) I had on hand to pump small amounts of water out of the livestock trough into the bucket.  I did rig up a simple microcontroller to only turn the pump on for 20 minutes each day which required more than basic electrical skills.  The pump is inexpensive and keeps the water barrel charged without any attention required.

All of these ideas are inexpensive and as simple as possible.  Just imagine what is possible with a small, microcontroller (mini computer chip) that costs less than $1.23 and very advanced sensory and computing power!  While not generally of use most people, there are options out there for your consideration.  As an engineer my emergency preparations include keeping extra microcontrollers on-hand for any number of needs.  The powerful capabilities of these modern devices are a big force multiplier for automating farm and garden tasks as well as the obvious security/OPSEC roles.  If you don’t have a working knowledge in these areas, your children may.  Many different options are available to encourage your kids, friends, etc to pursue learning if they are interested in these things, which will pay off not only in your emergency preparations, but enable them for potential engineering careers in life.

Since all of the devices mentioned are less expensive, it should encourage people to experiment with them.  Hack them, open them up, and try using them in new ways.  Kids love exploring and tearing apart things, and many of these projects have been fun for us to explore with and for the children to learn new concepts, science, and practicing putting stuff back together.  There are several photographs of these and other projects on our family blog, (Northwest Podcast).  Since these ideas are based on 12V DC they are much safer, though higher current levels must be respected.

The last note I would make regarding using electronics or technology in your preparations is to echo the warnings of the scriptures.  No gadget can replace faith and trust in the Lord.  There are significant risks and dependencies in using electronics but many of these (such as an EMP event) can be prepared for.   The scriptures warn us of trusting in the arm of flesh (Jeremiah 17:5) and of worshiping the works of man’s hands (Micah 5:13).  I believe that our culture is at great risk to this form of idolatry because of the technological blessings the Lord has given us.  Let’s use these gifts to bless the lives of our families and those around us, and put all of our trust in the Lord.

To make the neighborhood corners more attractive my hubby and I collect out-of-date political signs and yard sale signs - especially the ones posted on those H-style wire posts.
We reuse the wire posts to support plants by either just sticking them in the ground around the plants or by making 'fences' to keep them inbounds where they line walkways. We have
also made trellises by using them sideways, attaching them by string or wire and hanging them and then securing them at the base by using one or more in the normal way stuck in the

We've also used the signs themselves as shelf liners on wire shelves and back to back to make yard sale or for sale signs. Just hate to see anything go to waste. - Bellen

Dear Mr. Rawles:
Congratulations on the success of your latest novel!  I just finished reading my copy.

I've been re-using the wires on those political signs for years - I don't know what I'd do without the malleable, heavy wire.  Where I live, politicos often don't bother to collect the signs after the elections so I look forward to getting several  on my usual travels.  Even in rural areas those signs abound.

Some of the uses I've found:

  • 'U' wires for keeping soaker hose in the ground, cut off a length and bend, push wire into ground.  Make them big enough to find again to reuse and not get into the tiller.  They'll last about three years.
  • U-shaped portions of the wire can be hammered in for other applications, too, like tent pegs, such as to keep a fence attached to the ground.  Works well for something you think you might have to move, or to keep wire down when you bend it outward at the bottom of a fence to foil digging predators so you don't trip on it.
  • Frame for any wire doorway, especially chain link.  Chain link has to be framed if you're going to cut it.  We use moveable runs for our fowls and needed to make 'bird doors'.  Found this wire just right to slip through the chain links, cut, and bend the ends of the link wire around the political sign wire as you go along.  Works great.  Think ahead when cutting chain link and plan each cut - otherwise things can unravel on you.
  • Simple gate closure.  The wire is heavy enough for a small gate, such as on a chicken run.  A long piece with one end bent fits through standard heavy galvanized staples and then slides into a hole cut into the frame of the door.  Very simple and it works.  Push the bent part down when in the 'closed' position and if you've put a staple in the right places it will stay put.   Not for applications that lock, obviously.
  • Hooks for hanging light objects, like baskets from a beam, etc.

Best Regards, - Benedict

Hi Jim:
I just finished the article titled "Sorting Canadian Pennies" and had one more thought regarding the comments on nickels.  What everyone is predicting will happen to the US nickel has already taken place here in Canada.  The current US nickel is 25% nickel and 75% Copper making the 5 cent coin already worth around 6 cents. That is a great investment if you ask me!  The Canadian nickel on the other hand, has already been badly debased, valued at around 4 Cents. This happened in 1982.  However, Canadian nickels that are pre-1982 [but post-1954] are 99% nickel! This makes them worth around 9 cents today and as little as a month ago, they were worth 12 cents in melt value!  A note to Canadian Prepper "Ni": although it is a little work (My kids love to help with this) sorting out pre-1982 nickels is still possible.  I find on average of 8 pre-1982 nickels per [50-coin] roll and there seems no end in sight to supply.  But don't wait too long, as I know I am not the only one who has figured this out.

Any thoughts on why there are still so many in circulation today? I thought that in 1982 [or soon after] all the nickels with real value would have been snapped up just like all the silver coinage we used to have.  I wish I had been around when there was still silver in circulation but I will settle for this.  Happy hunting. I have $200 more to sort through today and thanks to you Jim, my collection is growing--and not just my collection of nickels!  - Mike in Calgary, Canada

Some interesting observations from a fellow blogger: Oh Dark Thirty

   o o o

P.N.G. liked this article over at Electronic Design News: A super-het radio runs 5 years on a C-cell, plus a pentode radio

   o o o

Kyle L. mentioned a gooddeal on Federal brand .22 LR hollow point ammo from Cabela's. I predict that .22 hollowpoints will be an ideal item for barter in the event of a socioecononmic collapse, so stock up. (BTW, they are also offering free shipping fee on any order over $150, with promo code "WOCTOBER")

   o o o

FBI begins recording talk tadio and podcast call-ins. (Please show me where this is mentioned in the FBI's charter.)

   o o o

Obama Spoke About "Fast & Furious" Before Holder Claimed He Knew

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Those of us who are from the 1930-1940s generation may have a lot of childhood memories from our parents and grandparents that will serve us well as we approach TEOTWAWKI.  As I meditate back on the sketchy memories of childhood, I can recall a number of things that today would be called “survival living” but for us at that time was simply “living.”

In survival times, let us not forget our kids emotional well-being.  In addition to needing extra love and assurance from parents and grandparents, there are many simple ways to help them entertain themselves and break free of the video/television/iPod-in-your-ear addictions.  A simple iron or steel wheel with a metal rod with a flat bend  at end will entertain them for hours as they roll it all over the yard.  In the south, playing “doodle-bug, doogle-bug, won’t you come out”  is a joy when you “doodle” the concave hole and watch the bug back out.  Bags and bags of marbles are great as well as building blocks.  These are some of the ways we entertained ourselves as kids. 

Moving on to the real topic of survival, many of us have a head start in our preparations while others are just now waking up to reality that they are seriously behind the eight-ball, or they think they will “take” what someone else has---not recommended, especially in my state, where carrying concealed weapons is legal.  We know food is critical.  We know defense if critical.  There have been many great articles on this posted by readers and owner of this site.  The thing I’ve had a hard time understanding as a senior citizen is: “I have a bugout bag but where in the heck am I going to bugout to”?  Those in the country are going to get overrun by “bugouters” apparently, and that will be a serious moral and safety problem.  We’re in the country, but if we are forced to “move on”, we’ll be in a world of hurt after initial supplies run out.  We’re too old to camp out in these freezing mountains in winter so we are praying our current home will protected and safe.  Ultimately, God is our hiding place and our covering of protection.

Even if many of us are not in ideal locations (who can know where that is except by the specific guidance of the Lord), we can learn to make do where we are.  Two out of five neighbors are stocking up on food.  The others will come knocking when they are hungry and we will share what we can as we can see skills they have which may be needed and available when they are hungry enough to trade.  We are putting aside extra beans and rice for them as we would rather feed them than fight them, and trust God to stretch our food.  If we had the money, we would probably just pack up and leave the country but financially that is not an option.  

For water, we have a well and can always pull the pipe and pump to drop down a well bucket from a rope if we get desperate.  Fortunately a well driller lives within walking distance.  We installed a 5000 gallon water tank to last a while along with a 1,000 gallon propane tank.  Since the water has a lot of iron in it and needs to be filtered, our Big Berkey does the job, and for our backpack we use Seychelle water bottles.   All these have worked well for us.  We also make our own colloidal silver and use it for almost everything needing purifying including our dogs’ water, washing our fruit and veggies, rinsing our meat and chicken, etc.  While we can, though, we purchase the “silver sol” (comes under several names) and take it internally daily for health maintenance.  I also used it to get rid of an abscessed tooth infection recently instead of taking antibiotics which I don’t tolerate well.  We brush our teeth with it, disinfect our brushes, we spray it in our eyes for infection, we spray it up our nose for sinus infection, etc.  Colloidal Silver or Silver Sol and Olive Leaf Extract capsules are our number one line of defense for practically all illnesses we get from flu to cold to infection to pneumonia, all which we have experienced. 

For over 10 years we have heated with woodstove only.  For backup electricity, we put in an 8 KW backup solar system with two inverters so we can pump water from the 220v pump in the well for about 45 minutes a day in sunshine before it stops.  We did not tie into the grid as we did not want the power company controlling our system.  With a transfer switch, we switch back and forth as needed.  Here in sunny northern Arizona, a solar oven cooks great!  We cook tender, melt in your mouth, roast beef and chicken in it now but will resort to beans and rice later.  If you can’t afford the good ones sold online, you can make a cheap one yourself with a box, aluminum foil, duct tape and glass, or search online for methods suggested.  We did buy a Rocket stove which will cook with twigs but also learned to make a cheap one with a #10 can with bottom cut out.  We have used a #10 can cut to half size and put a wire screen on top wired down for a tortilla cooker. 

Every time the grocery store has the 1 pound bags of frozen vegetables on sale, I buy 12 or 13 bags at a time and dehydrate them in my large 9-tray dehydrator and vacuum seal the dried veggies in quart and half gallon canning jars.  Once they are dry, no worries about spoiling.  I vacuum seal everything I can get my hands on in way of dried food products.  I used to do a lot in the vacuum seal bags, but they do not hold up over time and mice and bugs can eat through them, so now I do it all in jars.  A good vacuum sealer, with the extra tube and extra lids for regular and wide mouth jar sealing, is one of the best investments you can make.
As far as a garden, all the years of chemtrail spraying we have endured here seems to have ruined the soil, trees and plants. The severe drought in Arizona seemed to start about the time they started spraying as we would watch them cover the skies which would divert the rain clouds.  Whenever we would hear a weather report to expect rain in a day or so, we knew we would get sprayed and just like clockwork, they sprayed, and no rain.   Even with building up the soil, things just don’t grow as well as they should.  The earthworms seem to be gone.  Long term food survival is still a formidable challenge in my mind.  I am purchasing seeds to sprout for live enzymes.  There’s not enough natural plant life to support any chickens or other food animals. We would love to relocate to an area with good soil & water, and Christian neighbors and preppers but have not found that place yet.

I’ve learned how to take a bath without bathing, a lesson from my grandmother who never had an indoor bathroom.  Wet a washcloth, spray with colloidal silver or nano silver and a little perfume and wash down with it and you will feel as clean and fresh as a shower.  You use hardly any water that way.  Even though we are on a private well, we practice water conservation in many ways.  One way we have done for years is to draw the hot water into gallon jugs until it begins to run hot to use, then we give that to the dogs for their water.  That amounts to two gallons of water saved each time we wash dishes or take a shower. 
I make frequent trips to the thrift stores to look for fill in supplies.   Made a major find this week when I found boxes of medical supplies like 4x4 drain sponges, abdominal pads, drainage bags with tubes, tracheostomy drain sponges, box of 50 surgical masks, surgical gloves – all for a song!  Could not believe my find.  My sister is a trained paramedic so figured she would know how to use the medical stuff.  Also found a few camouflage small military pouches that attach to a back pack.  Previously I have purchased from that thrift store woodland camouflage shirts, pants, canteens with covers, backpacks, etc.  I have found that thrift stores for pets located in upscale areas net better stuff

The local swap meet yields all kinds of neat survival items from military 3-part sleeping bags (found 2 sets), to ALICE packs with frames,  to knives to cast iron cookware.  Online stores have yielded me good prices on gas masks and canisters.  You just have to look.

All this and I am a 68 year old grandma!  If I can do it, anyone can.  Now our challenge is to go through everything, sort and inventory.  For strength we will rely on our strapping 6’3” tall 18 year old grandson who has always lived with us.  So far we have put him through a two year Heavy Equipment Operator class to learn how to operate all kinds of heavy equipment.  We had him join the Civil Air Patrol to learn skills there like desert survival training and search and rescue.  Those skills will be valuable later on when the SHTF.    I’m also thinking about putting him in a karate class.  Invest in your kids and grandkids in this way.  It will pay off. 

With all that said and done, do we feel prepared?  No, as there is always more to learn and do physically, but even with the best preparations, the unknown is always lurking, waiting like a lion to pounce on the unwary, unsuspecting ones.  We do not have any underground bunker or cave.  The ground is so rocky that is not an option.  Theft is so bad in this rural area, you cannot leave anything unattended, especially in remote areas. 
Having everything in one place goes against all wisdom in prepping.  But having done all, we stand.

So I end with this:  “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be they shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.  A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.  Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.  Because thou has made the Lord, which is my refuge, even  the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh they dwelling.  For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”  Psalm 91:1-11.

Mr. Rawles,
I had a moment of inspiration today and after looking up melt value of Canadian coins on Coinflation and giving thought to your article about storing U.S. nickels.  I decided to try an experiment sorting Canadian coins, specifically nickels and pennies. 

Note that these melt values are when Copper spot price is listed at $3.246/lbs - a two year low in October 2011.  Personally, with the currency printing going around world wide, I think it's reasonable to assume these prices are going to skyrocket in the near future.

I went to a Canadian bank and bought several roles of nickels and pennies with the intent of using a magnet to filter out fully debased steel coins from the coins with high nickel and copper content.

First off - all Canadian nickels are magnetic and the experiment does not work with them.

However with pennies, I've found that using a magnet and several pieces of Tupperware, from one 50 cent roll I can filter out around one third of the full-debased steel Canadian pennies dating after 2000 whose melt value is insignificant. 

One third of the pennies that remain are dated after penny debasement occured from 1997 onwards when the mint introduced copper-washed zinc pennies.  Mixed in as well are a few 1982 and later American pennies.  The approximate melt value of either being $0.004 to $0.005 per penny.

Approximately one third of the remaining pennies are American or Canadian pennies whose melt value fluctuates from $0.0177 to $0.023.  These are either pre-1982 American pennies or pre-1997 Canadian pennies.

Given the ability to filter out a substantial amount of the steel pennies with a magnet (that can be rerolled and deposited at a bank), would you please offer your opinion on if you think sorting and storing Canadian pennies is a viable means to store up copper as an inflation hedge, in a similiar way to storing American nickels for thier nickel [and copper] content?

I will also note that there is serious talk in the Canadian government to fully abolish the penny so the opportunity for doing so may not be around for very long.

Thank you, - Ni in Canada

JWR Replies: That does make some sense, although keep in mind that with pennies the weight and bulk per dollar invested will be substantially higher than with nickels. And I can assure you that even nickels are very heavy and bulky! But if you have time on your hands and lots of vault space, then go for it.

Dear James-
I just recently found your blog through a story on The Daily Crux by Stansberry and Associates. I am very impressed by the amount and quality of the info. I now feel less alone! The people that I have tried to talk to here don't have a clue-they either say that if something bad happens they know we will take care of(feed) them or they say that they have guns and will take what they need. I only know of two other preppers and they are many miles away. We run a greenhouse business and vegetable farm in northern Wisconsin. We also raise chickens ,turkeys and pigs.We freeze,can and dehydrate and keep stocking up  but doubt we can defend it. The economy is slowly going to put us under. Our balloon is due and no one makes commercial loans here anymore. Sales are declining and people keep expecting more for less. While this is a rural area, the majority of residents work for state or local government.
We desperately want to move to the mountains but funds will be tight. If by some miracle we can sell out we might have $150,000 but if we lose this place we might only have $30,000. Far too little to buy a place with live water and a few acres for veggies, fruit and animals. Are there like minded people who want to live off grid, be self sufficient and are conservative that would like to buy a larger piece of property to share. Maybe a mini community of people that could rely on each other. We like northwest Montana, the panhandle of Idaho, and northeastern Washington. I am looking for someplace quiet but need to be within driving distance of farmers markets to sell produce, eggs and meat. If you have any thoughts or ideas please let me know.
Thank You, - M.J.

JWR Replies: There are lots of towns in the American Redoubt that have active farmer's markets from Spring through Fall each year. I have found directories of Farmer's Markets posted on the web for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Needless to say, the presence of farmer's markets is a good indicator for towns with arable soil and some self-sufficient folks and hence a locale with some retreat potential. (Although be advised that there are lots of larger cities that host farmer's markets wherein the "local" farmers often drive 75+ miles, to attend!) Furthermore, in a post-collapse America, it will likely be the local farmer's markets that will be the genesis of a revived economy--whether it is via barter or with some new currency.

Reader C.D.V. found a handy search tool where you can look up your local school and see what toxic chemicals the children are exposed to. It goes on to list what chemicals and what businesses/industries are responsible. This is just one more tool to use when research retreat locales. It also provide further support for my states designated in The American Redoubt.

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent links to a couple of video clips on creative uses for CONEX containers: Concrete reinforced CONEX "wine cellar" and Prefab CONEX cabins.

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I just heard that Camping Survival (one of our loyal advertisers) is offering 25% off on all CELOX coagulants.

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File under Helpless Sheeple Department: Couple lost in Massachusetts corn maze causes media bonanza.

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Reader J.B.G. sent a link to a piece on Louisiana's controversial ban on private cash transactions: Government Takes Private Property Without Due Process

"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." - Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV)

Friday, October 14, 2011

A reader alerted me that the first two hours of my three-hour interview late Wednesday/early Thursday morning on "Coast To Coast AM" with George Noory are now available on YouTube. (There are four sequential clips available.)


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

After reading the article about protecting your chickens, I would like to comment on my solution.  After experiencing my early failed attempt at chicken raising because the possums would chase the night dumb chickens back and forth against the chicken wire enclosure and extrude them through the chicken wire eating as they pulled, I built chicken coop number two. 
First I built it off the ground with a slightly sloping plywood floor covered by galvanized sheet metal ship lapped to protect the floor. When pressure washing, the water flows to the outside.  At the low end I raised the wood stud base plate up 3/4" (on pointed wood spacers below each wall stud) to allow the water to drain into a gutter on the outside.  I put removable tapered wood pieces in the gap to keep the snakes out. A lip on the spacer allows removal with a flat shovel.  I then paneled the walls up 4 feet.  The next four feet is hardware cloth on three sides so the animals cannot reach through.  I have an aluminum roof of surplus house trailer porch panels.  Inside I have nesting boxes, a roost, and a closet on the back side for gathering eggs in a closed in room through hinged and latched access doors.  This closet is great for my incubator and I could use it for baby chicks but I currently put them in a garden area with the hen.  Out of 30 chickens, I only have two that will set.
I built a closed in chute into the closed in garden area, which includes a wire roof.  The chickens have access to five different garden areas that can be individually separated.  From the adjacent garden area,  I built a small opening with a slide door two feet off the ground.  On the outside of the opening is a horizontal metal grate (I used stainless) suspended on electric fence isolators. Plastic tie wraps worked great.  I put a thin stainless plate on the ground below the grate.  This is not necessary but guarantees a charge.  I installed a 12 volt fence charger to the grate and to a ground rod with an additional wire to the bottom plate.  I use 12 volt because of future power issues.  A small solar panel keeps it charged and solar fence chargers are available.
The chickens being two legged jump up on the grate without being shocked.  The four legged animals reach up and get a shock as they are grounded.  I later had to add plastic sheets around the door opening as I had a baby possum get through.  The only problem I had is a big chicken walking under the grate and touching the grate underside while grounded.  A fence under the grate around the grate posts would fix that.  The fence would have to be grounded.  I used this method for months and could leave for days at a time or not worry about coming home after dark.  Since I go to work before daylight, they could leave as needed.
Since I now have geese, ducks and prior turkeys which are all stupid, I have quit using the device.  I put them up at night now.
I am building coop three in the deep woods.  I am using stainless for the floor as the galvanize is starting to rust due to the acidic chicken manure.  I am going to experiment and see if the chickens can live with out me feeding them. I may not check them for days at a time.  The design is the same but with my hot water collectors on the roof.  I have noticed the chickens are not eating chicken feed if they are free range.  I also feed them wild bird seed which they devour.  I note the wild game is not eating the corn and sunflower seeds we are putting out including my chickens. Perhaps it is because chicken feed is now made with GMO grain. 
I put up a fake owl over the garden and I have not lost a chicken to chicken hawks since even though they range a 100 yards away.  Before, I lost at least one per week.
I bought three of your latest books and sent two to my daughters.  I have just started reading last night.  So far it is a little slow compared to your first book which I could not put down and which caused me to spend since 2007 prepping day and night.  I built a container house complete with living areas all on solar including refrigeration.  Since I now realize I cannot defend the house, I realize that was a mistake and therefore I am working on plan C which is more remote.  My live in nurse girlfriend is getting tired of not going anywhere on weekends.  The video I saw recently of biker types raiding retreats got my attention.  If events transpire as expected, I have you to thank for my being prepared. - Jim T.

CPT Rawles,
Some thoughts on a little foreign film I first heard about on SurvivalBlog, titled Phase 7.
Short Background: It is a foreign film in Spanish (with subtitles) set in a city in Argentina. A disease pandemic spreads across the globe and the residents of a small apartment building are quarantined inside. Mayhem ensues throughout the movie.
First, this movie isn’t made by Hollywood - So see it. It most certainly has some conspiracy aspects to it, but it doesn’t get to deep into the weeds (i.e. G. H. W Bush’s NWO speech.) The movie has a prepper, and though he comes across as a little unstable towards the end of the movie, his preparedness lifestyle and un-trusting view of government is more than just vindicated. It turns out he was right all along. It is rare for a movie to portray such a character in such a positive light, but then again, I said this is not a Hollywood movie. Unlike the movie Contagion , the “normal” people are the ones to fear and avoid, the government isn’t here to help, and the guy who prepares, is the guy who is in the best position to help.
My favorite part of this movie is the portrayal of the main character and his wife. They are oblivious to the world around them as the outbreak begins to unfold, and even after they learn of the outbreak, he is only moderately concerned about their situation. It’s not until the end of the movie, with a lot of help from his prepper neighbor, that he begins to take charge of his and his family’s future.

So many people in my life came to mind as I watched this. Just about everyone has the mentality that the current situation in the world is merely a phase and good times are just around the bend. Even if they are, which they are not in my opinion, we should be leading lives of preparedness - not excess, lives of education – not vegetation, anyway. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3.
Just some thoughts. I have plenty more, along with some criticisms. Please see it. I found it on Netflix.
Stay alert and think for yourself, folks. - CPT H.

Mr. Rawles,
 I very much enjoyed the recent article on orchards. Fruit and nut bearing trees are definitely low maintenance. I am now benefiting from my forebearers' efforts to establish fruit and nut bearing trees and bushes. One thing that they always did if they could: They would always plant a few trees every year. It's a habit. It doesn't cost a lot at a time to plant one or two trees a year, and it's a lot less work to maintain. If one dies, at whatever growing stage, you replant it. It's always good to have a great variety of fruit and nut trees. We have lots of varieties of pecan trees, and a couple of walnut trees. Several varieties of peach trees, early, mid-season and late. Several kinds of pear and apple trees as well. And a few other kinds of fruit, both wild and cultivated. There is very seldom a perfect year, when all of them product a bumper crop, but which one produces changes from year to year. We always have fruit, but not always the same kind. Some years, there's lot of blackberries but no dew berries. Some years, we have both, but no apples, some years, no pecans. Some years, the garden doesn't do well, but the trees do.
There are apple, pear, and pecan trees on this place that are at least 50 years old. Several of the pecan trees would only grow when there was 13-13-13 buried underneath. I learned an easier way to make them productive: Create a compost bin around them and fill it with leaves, grass, etc. Manure is also useful, but be careful to let it cool down before you add it to the compost bin, as it will kill the tree otherwise. This is called a slow compost. You don't have to turn it, though if you have chickens, they will turn it for you. Once you get the compost bin built, the only maintenance is to rake the grass or leaves and add them to the compost bin. I have compost bins made of roofing tin, old fencing, stacked up rocks, bricks, etc. I have gotten several pecan trees to produce this way, with no other fertilizer. The compost bin also keeps trees alive and producing in times of drought, such as this year. I don't know anything about compost bins around a tree with a fan root, such as an oak. I haven't tried it, but I am told that it will kill it, because it can't breathe. I recommend it only for trees with tap roots that go straight down. All fruit and nut trees have a tap root, as do pine trees.
It's fun to play around with different configurations of how to make mulch and compost work for you. I have what I call a peach bed, out in front of the house along the driveway. I have room for 4 peach trees in it. The last one will hopefully go in the ground this next year. Since it's visible, I used decorative rocks stacked up to create a shallow compost bin. I keep it mulched with leaves, grass, manure and the top layer in pine straw, since it looks the best. In this peach bed, I keep multiplying onions and garlic growing year round. The onions seems to be especially useful to the peach tree since their growing season (here in the south) coincides very closely with the peach tree's wintering growing season which is when it is especially vulnerable to the pests.
Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives are all very useful in companion planting with most plants. Similar summer growing companion planting helps are horseradish, hot peppers and various herbs. People say that it is impossible to do organic gardening here in the South with all the bugs and weeds we have down. It IS possible, I just want to set the record straight; it is difficult, but possible. 90% of the bugs in existence are beneficial bugs that help to control the bad bugs and promote plant growth. You just have to think of them as your friends and learn how to help them and welcome them, so they will help you.
One of the most beneficial insects to fruit growers is the honey bee. You can't have productive fruit trees, brambles and bushes without honey bees. And speaking of liquid gold to barter, I know of no product even in times of plenty in higher demand than honey; I can't imagine what the demand will be in times of want.
Because of my food allergies, I am unable to eat any store-bought pectin, so I take the green apples and cook them down, including peels and seeds but minus the blossom end. I take the green apple sauce (AKA pectin) when it comes through the sauce maker, and make my jelly. I've made hot jalepeno jelly, apple jelly, and strawberry jelly in this way. Awesome! - Miss Lou

In regards to the article: An Army Veteran’s Thoughts on Camouflage.  I have a few comments and recommendations:

There are many different types of materials that a ghillie suit can be made from and burlap being a very good and cheap and easily accessible one, a couple bundles of natural color jute and some color dyes (mixed with some burlap) can make one very nice ghillie suit.  There are many places that these materials can be purchased from.  Ghilliesuits.com (which I have ordered my Jute from) is just one.  Do a quick search for “ghillie suit kits or jute ghillie suite material” and have fun selecting from the masses of web sites.  Why not just search for ghillie suit kits?  Why pay someone hundreds of dollars to build you one that you may not like and/or it may not match your area.  Building your very own ghillie suit is a great accomplishment that you will have for years to come.  Same thing goes for buying natural color materials.  If you live in a desert area, well, natural color will be you main base color.
Jute vs. Synthetic materials?

  • Jute is a natural material.  It will lay in a more natural look in the woods, weeds or brush.  Jute when wet gets heavy because it is a natural fiber.  It will hold the water from rain, dew, pond or creek/river.  One good/bad thing about Jute is that it will retain scents of your environment.  Every time that you use you Jute suit you should hang it out to dry or place it in a sealed bag (so that it will not gather the scents of an indoor environment).
  • Synthetic is a man made fabric made of two parts.  It is a nylon, polyester or Acrylic base material.  It is lightweight and it will repel water (to an extent).  It is somewhat of an insect repellent because of its manufactured smell.  It is a flimsy material and doesn’t lay in a natural form that you would find in the outdoors.  Synthetic materials break down much faster that natural materials from sunlight, water and just being out in the weather and become very brittle.

When building your Ghillie suit there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your environment (Dry or Wet).
  • What is your surroundings (Desert, Woods or Brush)?
  • How long are you going to be wearing the suit?
  • What is the weather going to be like?

If you live in a dry/desert area then you are going to want to make your suit accordingly.  You will want it to be lightweight but you might have to use more material to get it to blend in better.  You can make it so that your back is a bug netting material (heat rises).  This will let your body naturally release body heat and it will let you get the most out of every breeze.  If you live in a wetter environment you would not want a netted back.  Being wet in a wet ghillie suit is no fun at all. With that in mind, I am not a fan of coveralls for the base of a ghillie suit.  Coveralls are a full body suit that in it’s self is not really a lightweight garment.  If you were in a “hide site” why would you wear a garment that conceals your legs?  If you were on a long patrol in the weeds, why would you cover your legs?  There is no need carrying extra weight on your body than you have too.  You are going to be burning enough calories on daily activities let alone walking patrols with a full ghillie suit on that might get wet or cause you to sweat more than you need too.

Tactical Concealment has, what I think is a nice alternative for use of a ghillie suit for a patrol.  The Cobra is lightweight and allows you easy access to your mag pouches (if they are in front of you).  They make one with and without a hood.  This is not a very hard article of clothing to make with the hood or without.  This could be made of bug netting to make it very lightweight.  I am not a big fan of bug netting for clothing because of its lack of strength.  It tares very easy when in a bind.  You can get some sort of netting material (I would make sue that it has no smaller than ½ inch squares).  You can use 550 paracord for your edging.  Sew the netting to the 550 cord and sew a couple of Fastex buckles, in the front, to each side and you are ready to start tying on your ghillie material.  If you choose to make one with the hood, I would not use the drawstring!

The materials for your front side, I would not use materials like felt.  Felt is a thick material that can just add a lot of weight if/when it gets wet.  If your in a desert area,
maybe.  Reason I say maybe is because if you are crawling around the felt will wear out pretty fast.  If you go with a thin batting material (for cushion) covered by a Cordura material it will keep the batting material drier because the Cordura material can repel water.

We personally have ghillie suits made of BDU-style coat and trouser, Cobra like cape style coverings and blankets.  It is much cheaper to buy the materials and make them yourself.  Use your ghillie material sparingly.  To much cover can also look out of place and you can always fill in the bare areas with natural vegetation!  No camouflage in the world can beat natural covering.

The poster of the article had it right but I will make things a little more clear on covering your face.  One thing you should remember about covering your face is that you want to make your face “flat” but not appear flat.  What I mean buy that is that your face will cast natural shadows that you want to remove.  Your eye sockets are naturally lower than your forehead and cheeks and your eyes are white.  You would not want to make your eye sockets black!  You want to make them appear that they are on the same level.  Same thing goes for your nose but in the opposite.  You would want to make your nose darker and your eye sockets lighter but not with just blobs.  Make it random to match the area your in.  Use a mix of blobs and [curved] lines.  Think of the different camouflage patterns out there and how they look.  Be sure to match your face to your own camouflage. - R.H.

F.J. spotted this: 50 Simple Tools Used to Rebuild Haiti. (Those lists have applicability in rebuilding here in the U.S. of A., in the aftermath of major disaster.)

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) suggested this booklet: The Flowerpot Crucible Furnace--Build a furnace from a flowerpot and melt metal! Warning: All the usual safety provisos on high temperatures and molten metals apply! Do not experiment with this technique without all the proper safety clothing and gear, including a fire extinguisher. Also, be advised that a terra cotta crucible that is waterlogged or that has an unseen crack or void could shatter unexpectedly! Also note that while it is currently illegal in the U.S. to melt pennies or nickels, that law will likely change in the next few years, soon after the composition of the coins are "modernized" (read: debased.) So here is yet another good reason to stockpile pennies and nickels...

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Bob G. recommended this web page: Making Your Own Penicillin at Home

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Fernando Aguirre (aka "FerFAL") had some observations on a recent farm attack in Argentina. (Thanks to Brian W. for the link.)

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Reader R.W. wrote to note that Glenn Beck just focused on prepping in his show on Wednesday: What can you do to prepare? He mentioned Texas as a relocation destination. You would have thought that he would have mentioned Utah or the Inland Northwest.

"In all ages, men who neither feared God nor regarded man have combined together and formed confederacies, to carry on the works of darkness. And herein they have shown themselves wise in their generation, for by this means they more effectually promoted the kingdom of their father the devil, than othwise they could have done." - John Wesley, Jan. 30, 1763, commenting on Psalm 94:16 ("Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? [or] who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?")

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I heard from my publisher that my novel "Survivors" just debuted at #3 on the New York Times Print Hardcover Bestsellers List! The novel is also at #10 on the combined print and e-book bestsellers list, #31 on the e-book bestsellers list, and #5 on the hardcover and paperback combined list. (Those rankings should be published in print on October 16th.)


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Like many preppers we are preparing for food shortages.  Gardening is a mainstay and takes knowledge and lots of work on a regular basis.  Harvesting wild foods requires specialized knowledge.  But orchards and vineyards are a mainstay for a long term homestead that had plenty of land.  For the purpose of this article, an orchard will refer to all reproducing fruits (cane, bushes, vines and trees) although there are technical names (orchard, vineyard or patch).  For our forefathers the planting of the orchard was a priority after a shelter and water source.  The practical reason behind this is that orchards can produce fruit regularly without a huge amount of effort and it takes three to five years for them to become productive.  While orchards need to be tended, once an orchard is established it does not have to be constantly maintained.  Apples in particular are a source of natural pectin which can be used to can other fruits. Fortunately, we can still reap the harvest that our forebearers have planted.  The life expectancy of an apple tree is about one hundred years although there have been documented cases of apple trees living past two hundred and still producing. 

Two years ago we purchased a small farm.  This farm has a half dozen apple trees and several rows of grape vines that stretch a hundred and fifty feet or so.    The farm is in total disrepair (which is how we could afford it) and the orchard looks as if it has not been touched in decades.  Full sized non-fruit trees are interspersed between the hand-full of apple trees.   In order to return the orchard into a more productive state; I’ve been reading about pruning and managing trees as the non-fruit bearers are cut for firewood.  The best I’ve found is Successful Berry Growing: How to Plant, Prune, Pick and Preserve Bush and Vine Fruits by Gene Logsdon and the books How To Prune Almost Everything and How to Prune Almost Anything -- both by John Philip Baumgardt.  It is worthwhile to have a good baseline before you go in and start hacking.  I’ve read many other books but these are the few I return to again for tips.  Google search is also great and there are plenty of excellent videos (such as reminders on chainsaw safety) as well.

One of our primary goals is to restore the orchard.  Orchards require planning as trees are not cheap, unmovable and take a while to produce and thus there is a considerable up front investment in time and money in starting an orchard.  One of the web pages that I liked is Planning an Orchard.   For us the orchard was already in existence and therefore we knew that it was the proper soil condition and location.  Our plan revolved around clearing away the new unwanted growth, include new and different varieties of trees and plants and increase the production and protect the current established trees.   In addition to standard orchard concerns our plans includes elements of long term survival (seasonal production and quantity); personal favorites (my wife enjoyed gooseberries growing up and therefore it is important to have the same in our new orchard);  barter (fresh or canned fruit will make an ideal barter item) and additionally we are looking at unique varieties that will grow in our area (Michigan) including such unusual trees as paw-paws (which is considered the Midwestern Banana); Medlar and Asian pear.   We believe that having something different will have a bit more trade value as apples and cherries are fairly common around us and people will always want something special and different as a treat.  As part of this plan, the unusual varieties of trees are lower on the proverbial totem pole to more common fruits but we have also identified what can grow in our area and what we ultimately would like in our orchard.  By having this plan, if we stumble across a good sale (we found a currant bush for $1.50 at an end of season sale) we can affordably include these items into our orchard.

As the grapevines are towards the front of the orchard, we decided to reclaim them first.  There are lots of ways to build a grapevine trellis.  Our goal was to make it more durable so that we would not have to rebuild it in the next decade (or longer hopefully).   In my search, I found trellises made in every conceivable method and material.  An older gentlemen nearby constructed his trellis out of left over plumbing supplies back in the fifties and it was still strong.  I considered the same, but it was cost prohibitive.  I also considered using PVC instead, but felt it could not handle the weight load of the vines.  Therefore I settled on steel fencing post with steel rubber coated wire for durability.  It was easy to work with, was durable and went up relatively well.  While putting up the fencing, we trimmed back a good portion of the vines and removed all the fruit in order to encourage growth next year.  We cleared away a good 100 feet of vines and trellised it all so next year we should have a great harvest.  We did nothing to any of the other rows which are a mess and growing wild.  As part of my plans, I anticipated to have the entire orchard reclaimed in a single year.  This is roughly a seven by seven acre piece of land.  Ultimately, at the end of the season I removed several trees, cleared away roughly three acres, reclaimed a single row of vineyards, started a half dozen blueberry bushes, planted one new apple tree and a currant bush (that was on sale) as well as established a small raspberry patch.   Reclaiming is just as time-consuming as creating an orchard from scratch.  As indicated earlier, a considerable up front time investment.  But we can also share due to the existence of our current trees the value of mature trees.

This fall, as I was cleaning up an area, I noticed there were ripe grapes on the vines that we hadn't touched.  So I grabbed my kids and a couple of plastic shopping bags and went grape picking.  We were surprised at the amount of fruit that you can get from vines and trees that are not tended.  We ended up with over 50 lbs of grapes and a bushel and a half of apples.  Now these are not the nice pretty apples that you will find in the grocery store although there were a few that looked just fine.  Apples that are not tended and sprayed with chemicals look a bit ugly, but when you cut them open, the flesh was clean and tasty. I went back to the farm and grabbed my wheel barrow and several empty five gallon buckets.  None of the grapes we picked this season came off the vine we recently trimmed so we anticipate that we will have quite the harvest once we have all the vines trellised and anticipate around 100 pounds of grapes.  Also, it was early in the season and there are plenty of apples still ripening on the tree.  Interestingly all of our neighbors have told us the trees and vines didn’t produce so either they did not look closely or have been secretly picking the apples and grapes.  As I indicated earlier, this orchard was neglected for years and if there is a TEOTWAWKI situation, forgotten and neglected orchards can still provide an abundant harvest.  Apple trees are especially easy to recognize and I have found trees in the middle of a wood that has evidently grown up around them.  But you also see them sitting on the edges of fields or in lots, neglected and forgotten.  Please remember to respect private property.  Most people, if asked, are happy to share their fruit if they do not plan to harvest.  Some may plant the fruit trees for the purpose of attracting wild animals and game (to provide for better hunting); therefore do not assume they are unaware of the trees. 

Now we had to figure out what to do with our unfound bounty.  The most rational situation was to can our goods.  My wife and I had not canned before and this was a great learning experience.  The Ball Blue Book of Preserving is a good overall canning book.  There are other canning books and typically there are canning recipes in everyday cook books.  But I based my recipes off the book noted and used the others for comparisons.  You will also need the canning jars and lids, but a canning kit (with a jar funnel, tongs, jar holder, etc.) is a huge time saver and relatively inexpensive.   Finally, a large stock pot is required for the boiling method.  As preppers we have been stocking up on food.  We have several hundred pounds of sugar and frankly we were not sure how we were going to use it.  Believe me, sugar is used up quickly when making traditional jams, jellies and sauces.   Sugar helps the pectin set.  Another good thing to stock now while available is pectin.  Pectin can be made from scratch and there is a good recipe on Mother Earth News.  This recipe is printed out and put inside our recipe book.  Still pectin stores well and will save extra steps for canning your harvest and it makes sense to have a good supply set in. Next year we will experiment with homemade pectin and check recipes so we are not dependent on store purchased goods.  But we want enough on hand to have an easier transition.  Canning lids are not supposed to be reused either and therefore they should be stocked up on as well.  You can also use paraffin wax (which is how my grandmother canned) as an alternative method to sealing a can and this is easier to stock and will last a long time.

So with a few trees and some overgrown grapevines that have not been tended in years, we ended up with seven quarts of applesauce, two quarts of apple butter, and eleven quarts of jelly.   We had a couple of apple pies and ate quite a few apples and during the process had a bad batch of jelly that we ended up composting.  If we were in better practice and in a survival mode, I believe we could have gotten more out of the fruit, but we enjoyed the process, tasting along the way to learn and yes we made a few mistakes.   Next year we plan to extend our process to syrup and wine making as well as apple pie in a can and hopefully make raspberry and blueberry jellies as well. 

Here are some more links to YouTube.com videos that I forgot to include with my previous note on wattle and daub construction. The links below include construction of a debris shelter, a good instruction on how to construct a clay and stone fire place with chimney.  When constructing a clay chimney without stones you need to build up about two feet and stop and let it dry, continue the next day with another two feet, etc, until you have a height that you prefer.  In log cabin construction in the old days they used to build chimneys of smaller "logs" maybe six inches or less in diameter and stack them up like when building the cabin.  leave about a two foot opening in the center.  Then daub the thing with your clay and grass daub mixture.  Don't forget to daub the inside surface of the chimney!  Now these did catch fire and burn the cabin down, often in the middle of the night in the colder part of the winter.  So my pet idea is to form a chimney "skeleton" of hardware cloth [wire mesh], forming it around something cylindrical.  Put it in place over your clay and stone fire place and then proceed to daub it with your daub mixture. I am confident that it won't catch fire [like a pioneer chimney that included logs].

Sustainable shelter     

Bushcraft Clay and Mud Rocket Stove

Clay cooking skillet

How To Build a Semi - Permanent Shelter (part 1)

Regards, - Darrell in Ohio

 About ten years ago I traveled across Northern Honduras by car.  The wattle and daub construction was often used  in the mountains and jungles and it was probably close to what the original inhabitants built.  The size of the structure of course varied, but appeared to average about 10 x 12 feet.  The post that they used were a type of tree that grew straight for most of its length and was cut at about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.  The wall height was as high as the builder could reach.  Of course the post was stuck in the ground for a foot or two.
Spacing on the posts was about 3 to 3-1/2 feet apart and the wattle was cane or whatever they chose to use.  Daub appeared to be just clay and straw that was plastered either from the inside out, or from both the inside and the outside.  I seldom saw a window.  If there was a window, it was like the door and just an opening in the wall that had a piece of cloth hanging in it.
The roof was a framework of poles tied together with about a 45 degree pitch, that was "shingled" in palm branches.  Sometimes these were not too thick and I wondered how good they were at shedding rain. 
Often, there was a small open lean-to on the end of the house that served as an outdoor kitchen.  It had a counter made of poles, and on this raised counter was a small clay oven.  If they built a small fire inside the house for warmth the smoke just worked its way out of the branches in the roof.
One structure had a raised door sill of about one foot that kept the pigs and chickens out.  Others that I saw had the live stock just wandering in and out.
Usually these houses were not too far from the river or stream, and  families were bathing and washing clothes on the rocks during the warm afternoons.
The construction only required one tool - the machete.  Practically everyone of the working class carried one when traveling or going about their business.  Especially if they did not have a gun. But, that is another story.
Thank you for all of your hard work. - Paul in Southeast Texas

Hello James,
Copious greetings and kudos for the fine book.....
I saw the article about using natural materials for building construction.
Our home faces two groves of old growth trees. The detritus on the ground is copious, perhaps 2 to 6 inches thick. These groves of trees the old time residents here say go back to the 1920s when the original frame house stood on this site.
Each year I clear a section of the low branches to seven feet high. Pile them somewhere out of the way on the detritus.
Just today I worked one of these piles of brush to cut out the branches of over 3/4 inch for kindling. Nearly all of the wood in contact with the ground had extensive termite damage. I had to discard much of what was in contact with the ground. Only the wood that was elevated in the air was still solid. This was Hackberry, Hedge, Juniper, plum brush and Tree of Heaven. All good solid wood except for the Tree of Heaven which is a very light wood with a reduced density. Not very good for firewood anyway.
But the bottom line is that termites will take down a wall made with formerly living material such as wood, straw, brush and grass.
I lived in native built hut in Niger during my Peace Corps days. The bottom section of the walls were pure dense packed soil. No plant material until you got up above some 4 or 5 feet. They put the plant material above a height where the termites did not transition into.
We had termite mounds that went to 15 feet in height near by. Plenty of termites.
I would think twice before making any structure of wood in contact with the soil if you have a resident termite population such as we have.
Exception: I have a hunting blind set 24 inches deep in the soil. Lined with railroad ties that I selected for the best coating of creosote preservative. They have been in the ground now going on seven years.
I inspected the building yesterday and it still looks like the day I constructed it. But that is why creosote is such a good preservative. On the other hand you do not want to spend much time during hot weather in a creosote soaked wood structure. The fumes can be very evident. The railroad ties we have in the garden put off a very bad smell during the hot summer days out in the open.
I suspect you could spray for termites each year if you had the correct insecticide and sprayer system.
Chance favors the prepared. - J.W.C.

I was in Haiti in January of 2010 as a civil engineer and paramedic. In the rural areas, nearly all the concrete and/or masonry block structures failed or were damaged. I only saw one wattle and daub dwelling that was destroyed. All of the others merely had to be re-mudded. Keep the Faith, - Bill D.

Mr. Rawles,
I searched the blog, and found no mention of a tidbit I find useful.

Political campaign yard signs made with corrugated plastic and H-style wire posts make very useful target backers for posting targets when you don't have easy access to your own range. I like to make use of National Forest or National Grasslands, and these work wonderfully. Use a stapler to post the target. The plastic takes quite a beating before it needs to be retired. They also stand up fairly well to wind.

Have fun in choosing your targets, and get out and practice!

Also, don't wait until after the elections, as many of these get recycled for other uses, and rapidly get scarce.

Thanks. - K.B.

JWR Replies: Growing up in the 1960s in Northern California, many local campaign signs were still made of 1/2-inch fiberboard. Rather than going to the local landfill, these were actively collected after each election day, and often put to creative use. I once saw a livestock shed with walls entirely sheeted with campaign signs. It was very colorful, inside! These days, of course, less substantial materials are used, and most signs are designed to be disposable. Thanks for suggesting a truly practical way to "re-use, re-purpose, and recycle."

Greeting from a long time reader in Southeast Texas. Regarding the article "Trapping Options for the Non-Trapper" by Pat in Oregon: When I was a child some 60 years ago, my neighbor had a problem with pigeons eating the chicken feed.  She solved the problem with large rat traps, which you can still get in any hardware store.
She baited the traps with the feed and placed them on the fence posts.  She also attaching about two feet of string to the trap and tied it to a nail in the post.  This kept the pigeon from taking the trap away if it wasn't
a clean kill.
The game was collected through the day, cleaned and stored in the refrigerator until she had enough to make pigeon pot pie.
Today I watch large flocks of pigeons feeding in parking lots and flying over the stores in our town, and wonder how many pot pies I am missing.
Keep up the good work, - Paul B.


On trapping skunks: According to my neighbour, an easier way to kill a skunk that has been caught in a live trap is as follows: After you recognize that there is indeed a skunk in the trap and not just a black cat, cover the trap in a blanket, or better yet, already have a blanket covering the trap. This way you can peek into the trap to see what is in there and also camouflage the cage-like look of the trap. It is either that or throw it over the trap after you see a skunk in there. Skunks will not spray themselves. Then you just carry the trap over to the back of your car, start it up and direct the exhaust from the tail pipe into a gap in the blanket. In just 10 minutes your skunk problem is over and no neighbours will have heard a gun shot. - Lee M.


Dear Brother James,
Just a slight correction to a great post by Pat in Oregon, you can indeed use foot hold traps in Oregon, it is a wonder though because Oregon is a very liberal state which prostitutes itself to the federal government all it can to the peril of its citizens. The regs are available online, here. May God grant you and yours peace through Christ. God Bless, - Paul S.

More folks are catching on to nickels, as an inflation hedge. For example, see this recent piece over at Seeking Alpha: Looking For An Alternative To Gold And Silver? It is noteworthy that Kyle Bass didn't make all of his millions with foolish irrational investing plays. He is one sharp cookie.

James C. sent this from Sovereign Man: How Bankrupt Governments Will Confiscate Your Gold. (Yes, it has happened before in the U.S.: See Executive Order 6102. And the potential repeat of that, BTW, is one reason why I prefer investing in silver rather than gold.) Have you got your nickels, yet?

You already had a couple of weeks warning, courtesy of SurvivalBlog. It is echoed here: Stock Up on Peanut Butter Now Before Prices Get Ridiculous. That will put the price of peanut butter in the same "spendy" league as almond nut butter and sunflower butter. Yikes! (And of course their prices will rise, in sympathy. So stock up on those too, if you use them.)

Drugstore Markups Are Worse Than You Think

Items from The Economatrix:

US Mint Sells Nearly 3/4 Million Silver Eagles First Day of October

Physical Silver Running Out Because its Spot Price Does Not Reflect True Investment Demand

Wall Street Flies On Euro-Fund Hope, S&P Up 2%

Gold Climbs as Dollar Falls to Three-week Lows

Several readers sent this: Foreign insects, diseases got into US

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"PapaBeagle" wrote to mention that Amazon.com now has some good quality Facet fuel transfer pumps back in stock.

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Jeff W. recommended a great article from The Small Wars Journal: One Team’s Approach to Village Stability Operations. Ponder it as future history for a post-collapse United States.

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From Nanny State Europa: Children to be banned from blowing up balloons, under EU safety rules. Meanwhile, French multicultural do-gooders are re-writing history. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

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Could they be getting ready to hunker down? Why Did a Secretive Filipino Church Buy a South Dakota Ghost Town?

"Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it's not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago." - Will Rogers

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I was delighted to see that Amazon has again reduced price on my novel "Survivors" to just $12.39. (They originally had it priced at more than $16, and just before publication, they dropped it to $15.30.) Anything under $13 is a very good price for a 380-page hardback, these days. Meanwhile the e-book (for Kindle, Nook, iBook, and now also in ePub format at the Sony Reader Store) is priced at as low as $10.99.


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most folks are familiar to some extent with animal trapping but have little experience.  In a TEOTWAWKI world I suggest there are several advantages that trapping will offer almost everyone.  With minimal equipment and some basic experience trapping can offer security, food, and economic opportunities.  Before taking any action please familiarize yourself with your local laws and requirements related to fur-bearing animals and trapping.
I trapped coyotes and bobcat back in my college days with a good friend.  It was a great time but required considerable equipment, preparation, effort, and skill.  Today I still do a lot of trapping, though not for profit.  Most of my trapping is for security of my livestock and preservation of my garden.
My first recommendation for everyone is to have a live trap.  These are the cages with the trap-door that locks shut when the animal enters the cage.  These are useful every day in the city, suburbs, or on the farm and very simple to use.  New they cost about $150 for large animals, but they are often found on craigslist for $30 or less.  The best part about these traps is that they are so effective and easy; yet do not injure the animal.  This is very important in a populated area where neighborhood pets are a frequent “by-catch”.
The live is effective at guarding our chicken coop.  The western Oregon woodlands are full of predators – coyotes, skunks, raccoons, and feral cats.  All of these predators love chicken, and frequent our coop.  We keep a live trap ready at the back of the coop at all times, and it never fails to catch a troublemaker.  Since deploying this security measure we have never lost a chicken to a land-based predator.  No bait is necessary; we simply leave the cage open against the back of the coop, and as the snoop travels along the coup it naturally enters.  We have regularly caught the neighbor’s cats, and it is always much appreciated when we can return the cat (still in the cage) safely to the grateful owners – no harm done to either party and stronger, friendly ties are forged between us.
A side benefit we soon realized with our live trap is a big reduction in field rats.  All of the chicken feed and eggs naturally draws rats, and they regularly are caught in the trap as well.  I recommend your first trap to be a big one – big enough for large raccoons, but if you can find a smaller one just for rats and rodents this is also a good investment.  Over the last three years we have averaged 4 skunk, 2 raccoon, 3 opossum, 5 rats, 1 squirrel, and 1 cat.

Look for a strong, sturdy construction on the trap.  Newer traps with fancy double-doors or mechanisms are less reliable.  Another great benefit of heavier wiring is that the trap is more forgiving when a trapped skunk must be dispatched by a .22 while in the trap.  We tried to get a tarp over a caged skunk to help calm it for transportation, but that did not work!  The .22 is the cleanest option for all involved with skunk work.
In the last couple of years the budget cuts to our county’s Animal Control office rendered it almost entirely useless.  Animal Control now only responds to dog control, since that still generates income for the county.  Neither Animal Control nor the Sheriff’s office is willing to respond to livestock or predator calls – including cougar threats!  Last night the Sheriff informed me personally that even if my children and I were physically attacked by wild or domestic animals, other than dogs, they would not respond unless there was a court order.  We are on our own.  Having a means to neutralize a threat to our animals (and kids!) with a live trap is simple, easy and effective.
In Oregon the use of foot hold traps is not allowed.  Too many pets were being injured, I guess.  I still have many foothold traps from my college days, and expect these could be valuable in a post TEOTWAWKI world.  Our area has been plagued over the years with “drop off” pets – people disposing of their pets they no longer want or can care for by simply driving out in the country and dropping them off.  Wild dogs and cats are often our problem to deal with, and leg hold traps could help if or when they might be permitted.  They might be quite effective against 2-legged intruders in some scenarios, too.  Just another option to consider in your planning.
Wire snares are another inexpensive option to consider –especially if your plans include livestock like sheep or cattle.  My wife’s family ranches on 3 sections of northern Wyoming range, with coyotes (and of course wolves) being a major concern.  Wire snares around the perimeter have been our most effective means of coyote control, and are inexpensive to deploy in numbers.  Take caution when using these as they are very effective on a neighbor’s dog and are deadly or at least disabling.  Because of this risk I do not recommend them for everyone unless you have some pressing need or experience.
Food opportunities are an obvious option trapping affords post TEOTWAWKI.  No, our family has not yet sampled opossum or raccoon.  While it might sound unappetizing in our current lifestyle of plenty, preparation is not about having treats, it’s about having options.  Food for your dog is also an important consideration. 
My second recommendation for every person would be to get at least one #110 Connibear style body-grip [killing] trap.  These are small, inexpensive, and fantastically effective tools for catching smaller animals – especially squirrels and weasels.  Squirrels are abundant in suburban and city settings and could become quite valuable.  A single trap can be found on eBay for about $8 and are so effective; we only allow each of our children to use them for catching one squirrel.  This gives the kids a great learning experience with the trap and the habits of a squirrel, and is also good practice skinning and sampling wild game.  It teaches them the responsibility to wisely use the life they took – a valuable lesson preparing them for hunting when they get older.  A simple Google search of the web or SurvivalBlog.com will provide more than adequate suggestions on using these traps.
The last trap recommendation I would offer is to get one or two mole traps.  The scissor trap is available for $5-10 and is quite valuable Pre-TEOTWAWKI in teaching skills, securing our gardens, and helping neighbors.  A wide variety of trap styles are available but we have found the old standard scissor traps to be most effective.  My younger daughters, ages 10 and 7 are my mole trappers – they wait for me to return each night from work to make our ‘rounds’ checking traps.  We have caught 15 to-dates this year, and they love it!  Our neighbors love it too, since we ran out of targets in our yard and expanded our territory.  Sure, it technically isn’t ‘trapping’ in the traditional sense, but don’t underestimate the value of quality time with children, service to neighbors, and riddance of problem animals in preparing us for a SHTF event.
In this sense trapping can be a valuable service to offer others as well.  My live trap is frequently at friend’s homes to deal with marauding raccoons or rats.  The added benefit of the body trap is its use on fur-bearing animals such as martin, mink, or fishers.  In some parts of the US they can pose a threat to livestock, and with the proper license they can be a valuable source of income.  Even the less-valuable pelts from raccoon and skunks are quite sought after by friends and the community – people love a nice raccoon pelt, and skunk pelts are beautiful and proudly displayed when we give them as gifts.  Even small ‘niche’ skills like these can have real value in any type of economy.
Two final recommendations I would offer for someone unfamiliar with trapping – a big bag of salt and a small ‘tanning kit’ of chemicals.  Salt is a critical, “stock up” item for preparations in general, and is very useful in working with animal hides.  I won’t go into skinning or tanning an animal hide, but it is quite easy and very fun – especially for teenage boys.  When the animal is skinned and the hide stretched out on a board, salt on the underside of the skin can preserve it for months until you work it for tanning.  Van Dyke’s Taxidermy supply has several ‘tanning kits’ offering complete directions and chemicals needed to tan animal furs.  They are easy to use and a $30 kit has tanned 6 or 7 different animal hides over the years.  It has offered us great experiences and fun for us to do together.   If or when you start trapping animals, making use of that animal will be the next logical step.
Fur trapping is not for most folks, but it does offer considerations and options for everyone as we are abandoned by our society and government.   There are pictures of equipment, skinning animals, and tanning hides on our family blog (nwpodcast.blogspot.com).  Our goal in emergency preparations is to find what opportunities afford us the greatest benefit and options.  Hopefully my ideas have generated some options for you.

James Wesley,
A lot of people are restricted in how much money they can spend on a tract of land for a home or a retreat for when TSHTF  or TEOTWAWKI happens, but if you can manage to find even a small lot, like an acre or so and hopefully it is wooded, you can construct a home or cabin of sorts that isn't really something to be ashamed of.  And also, consider this, something happens, like a tornado or earthquake and your home is completely destroyed as well as your neighbors---you could possibly construct a temporary survival shelter with some of these methods in the links below.  The links below are a collection of links to different methods and results in wattle and daub construction and also straw bale construction.  Also, I might add in this kind of construction you need a good roof with a overhang of probably a couple of feet to protect the wattle and daub walls from water and wind erosion.  You can also paint these walls when cured or dried.  It resembles adobe or stucco walls for the most part in my opinion.  I have a pet idea of building a pole type structure, frame in the windows and doors, etc. and cover the walls with woven wire fence wire.  Then layer over that with hardware cloth.  Then proceed with daubing it with a mixture of clay earth and straw or grass clippings mixed in for strength.  This mix can also be used to construct a fireplace and chimney.  Another consideration if this is to be a survival retreat, etc. 

how to wattle and daub construction - YouTube

I like the next links in particular for illustration of the work and how it is done:

Making History - Shelter (wattle & daub) - YouTube

How to choose a natural building material (i.e. cob or straw or a mix) - YouTube

I hope this information will be of much use to someone out there.  Thanks for your attention. - Darrell in Ohio

Reader V.L. sent a clip from a television reporter that must have skipped "Reality 101", in college. (Sarcasm ON: I won't sleep well at all tonight, now the I've been told that my gold "isn't backed by anything--unlike the U.S. Dollar.")

German push for Greek default risks EMU-wide 'snowball'

Items from The Economatrix:

Euro Crisis Spreads and Puts the World Economy at Risk

Detroit's descent into economic darkness continues, literally: DTE deal pulls out lights in Highland Park--Areas in dark after 1,400 street lights removed to settle bill

When?  (When will the next financial crisis happen?)

The Top 100 Statistics About the Collapse of the Economy that Every American Voter Should Know

F.J. suggested this money saving tip over at Lifehacker: Slice Your Own Steaks

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You've heard me mention a family in north Idaho that has a home-based business making washable feminine pads: Naturally Cozy. (Avalanche Lily says that they are very comfortable and very durable even after many washings, and that she uses them regularly.) I just heard that the company recently added two different types of washable incontinence pads for ladies. If there is a lady in your family that currently "Depends on Depends", then please order them a set of these pads. Someday you may be very glad that you did!

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The latest-generation solar-powered Trijicon sight looks ideal for preppers. (Thanks to Doug W. for the link.)

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F.G. found this: Man's Best Friend Learns to Ride a Motorcycle.

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Yishai found this: Scosche announces radiation detector for iPhone

"It is no proof that a man holds life sacred that he wishes to save his own life; it is some proof of it if he refrains from murdering his enemy." - G.K. Chesterson

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In case of TEOTWAWKI, being successful in the art of camouflaging will be a serious matter. It will be necessary for many aspects of life to include; movement, reconnaissance, and ambush. Camouflaging is a multi-tiered animal, including camouflaging your skin, your clothing, your gear, and your weapon.

I spent six years in the army as an Infantryman. As a result I personally have spent 26 months of my life in Iraq, and I have been on well over 500 combat patrols: to include raids and ambushes of all kinds.

Camouflaging of your outfit or uniform begins with the construction of a ghillie suit, which is often up to a person’s own preferences; there is no wrong way as long as you stick to a few basic principles. One if that color doesn't appear in nature it had better not appear on your suit; two environments change so your suit should too, if you need to roll around in the dust to make it blend in with say a desert terrain do so, if you’re in grasslands and its springtime don't try to pretend you are a patch of dead grass. Three don’t stick to patterns, there is a reason the word wilderness includes the word wild.

The materials needed for the type of ghillie suit that I made are as follows: 

One, a basic camouflage uniform (either an old set of Army BDUs which can be purchased for around $50, and bought used for much less in many different places from surplus shops to thrift stores; patterned in woodland or desert camouflage uniform (DCU), or my personal favorite a set of olive drab mechanic coveralls for around $40 brand new (heavy duty so they last long and as they are one piece they are actually more comfortable [than a separate pants and shirt]). 

Two, burlap (you can buy it by the yard for around $5 to $7 or do as I did and use old sand bags; try to get a few different colors)
   Three mosquito netting (under $20 for or you can buy a roll of 5 ft x 50 ft from Ronco for around $45.) For grasslands I recommend 1 inch x 12-14 inch strips however the nice thing about the mosquito netting is you can cut it into larger pieces to form a more leafy pattern.

Fourth, any type of basic twine net, try to stay away from plastic or synthetics if possible (I used an old camouflage net and cut away the camouflaging portion so I was left with a basic net). I personally recommend buying camouflage netting. It can be purchased in 4ft x 8ft sections for under $20 from a variety of online retailers) because you can also make "Yeti nets" with it which I will explain later in this article. 

Fifth, for added comfort buy a few sections of felt, (when I made mine I bought a 6 ft x 12 ft section of tan felt for $27 from the Felt Store online) enough to sew pieces on the front of the uniform all of this is for added comfort.

Lastly, a few additional items needed are: a tube of Shoe Goo, a good sewing kit, cloth dyes in a variety of subdued colors is also recommended (if tan burlap is cheapest with a little experimentation it could be changed into a variety of colors and shades.) And a roll of olive drab duct tape is always handy. This is known in the U.S. Army as "100 M.P.H. tape."[JWR Adds: Fire Retardant Spray is also a must, since untreated burlap is quite flammable, especially with the edges shredded, as is typical for ghillies!]
When I constructed mine I started out with an olive drab pair of coveralls cut out sections of net so the entire back of the coveralls would be covered by the net, the net covered my entire back from shoulders to ankles and down my triceps to elbows.  I then secured the net by sewing it to the uniform around the edges and about every six inches I would sew the inner part of the net to the coveralls to further reinforce the netting. Step two take your burlap material and cut it into 1in x 12-14in strips starting at the bottom weave it through one section of the netting and tie it in the middle, keep stacking strips of burlap onto each other, (if you happen to have different colors make it random just stick to good earth tones) also to add to the random pattern if you opted to buy mosquito netting, cut it into 1in x 12-14 in strips, a good ratio is one strip of mosquito netting to every 25-30 strips of burlap. Unlike the burlap however take the mosquito netting and before you attach it cut irregular patterns again use nature as your model, I made mine wavy to look similar to grass or weeds.

Once you have the entire back covered in the burlap and mosquito netting, take the burlap strips and start pulling out the horizontal fibers, so essentials you have clusters of burlap string knotted together. That should take care of the back now onto the front when I constructed mine I knew I would be doing a lot of crawling around so I took portions of felt one for my chest, two for my elbows and two for my knees. For my knees I cut out the felt 12 in long x 10 in wide. I cut it 12 in long x 6 wide for my elbows.  For the chest I cut two pieces that started at my collarbones to the end of my rib cage, and placed them side by side to allow me to zip and unzip the coveralls, I then cut sections of burlap 2 in x 2 in bigger than the felt pieces so that an inch overlapped on each side of the felt. I cut a square inch out of each corner so the burlap could easily be folded over the felt. Next I used shoo goo to attach the two together and then sewed each piece in its respective spot. For the knees I put the two pieces about where you would wear knee pads and had the elbow pieces start at my elbow and follow the outside of my arm to the hem of the sleeves. The chest piece is pretty self explanatory. It adds a little padding and helps the suit last longer.
The idea behind the one I constructed was that if you were lying on your stomach the burlap mosquito netting mix should cover everything but your boots, head and hands.

Next you need to construct a sniper veil, you can purchase these but I always found a piece of gear I made or fashioned myself was always better. I used an army BDU boonie cap and a piece of camouflage netting I rigged up and refer to as a "Yeti net". (These similar in construction to the ghillie suit but instead of attaching it permanently you use a section of camouflage netting and spruce it up with strips of burlap and mosquito netting in a similar fashion as described above, but instead of stacking the strips one on top of the other you can space them out a little.) I tied the yeti net to the boonie cap using parachute cord. The idea of the sniper veil is to break up your outline and generally you want it large enough to cover you head and neck and also extend to the front and drape on top of the optic on your weapon.
I also constructed another Yeti net one for my feet and one for my bag, both were 4 ft x 4 ft. Now, as a quick aside, Ghillie suits are advantageous because they can cover your whole body while providing great camouflage, and unlike me where I had the burlap and mosquito netting concoction covering my back, you can make them cover your whole body and even make a hood. Just do a little measuring and cutting, I had a friend that used a hooded sweatshirt as a pattern to sew a net together and a pair of pants for patterning the leggings and attached the netting together. So before he added the burlap and mosquito netting it looked like he had a fishnet pair of pants and a fishnet hooded sweatshirt. So all he actually wore underneath was a t-shirt and pair of shorts, making excellent camouflage and it was very light and comfortable.  However the advantages of ghillie suits stops here… wearing body armor is difficult next to impossible in a ghillie and its pretty hard to access magazine pouches because if you were to wear your webbing gear it would have to be underneath or the ghillie is all for naught. As a solution to this you can make a larger yeti net to cover your back and legs you wear it almost as a cape. It looks ridiculous when you are moving but it is a good alternative to a ghillie suit if you still want easy access to gear and prefer to keep your body armor on. Yeti nets are more quickly constructed but they do have a tendency to tangle. I have done both and see advantages and disadvantages to both.

Whatever choice you make, whether to make a full ghillie or partial like I did, or a yeti net, just follow the basics, subdued colors, don’t use vegetation stick to durable materials like burlap and netting. You want to get as much coverage as possible (depending on whether you want to be able to wear your body armor or web gear) Be creative within the contexts of creating camouflage and you might surprise yourself and always field test when possible.

Next, after you have camouflaged your body you have the hand and face. Here is where camouflage face paint comes in handy. Now I know a lot of sets come with black however save that for any urban raids, where you need to just subdue your face and hands. Now to understand camouflaging, you need to understand the end goal. The human face in its natural form is very recognizable, a protruding nose, shadows formed by your eye sockets and lips naturally pursed. The idea is to make you face unrecognizable and appear more two dimensional rather than three dimensional, and also remove any shine produced by natural oils in your skin) I personally like to use either a nice light to medium brown or green.

I have a whole travel hygiene kit bag full of different colors and sticks but my personal favorites are the camouflage paint sticks, they look similar to a container of Chap Stick, but they have two sides with alternating colors, two common ones are light green/loam and black/olive drab. I personally prefer them because other than the black you can use all those colors as a base and they are about $2 per versus the $5 to $10 compacts that inevitably have colors you don’t use, and not as much paint in them. That is to say you can buy a couple compacts but I wouldn’t stock up on a ton of them unless you want them for barter/ charity. When selecting camouflage paint colors diversity is key, but also keep in mind your surroundings (you will want to stock up on extra of those particular colors), and always buy waterproof. Now I know I have touched on the use of black paint, they also sell white paint in sets, you can always use the black and the white to darken or lighten up other natural colors. As well as the black and white have a limited role in winter camouflaging.

Alright, first and foremost, you have the base layer I always applied a healthy amount of the base color on the back of one of my hands add a little spit to even it out and start applying to your face starting about half an inch into your hairline and all the way down to about an inch or two of where your shirt begins. Don’t forget the ears, work the paint into your eyebrows, inside your nose half a fingernail length for those of you who haven’t outgrown the habit, and your neck.

Once you have the base coat it’s time to start adding some other colors either in the form of stripes or blobs. I always preferred a mix of the two. Keep in mind to keep the stripes small (although tiger stripes look awesome that’s not what we are going for) And I was always taught to vary things up when it came to stripes don’t be afraid to use a mix of vertical, diagonal, and horizontal. Inconsistency is the key here. The base coat is to reduce your skins natural shine while the added stripes and blobs are to break-up the protrusions on your face. Also another goal of stripes is to try to mix the vertical and horizontal lines already on your face. For example, you wouldn’t want a stripe going horizontally across your eyes, aka "the raccoon look". Also you wouldn’t want a vertical stripe going down your nose. Field testing is a must it can help demonstrate what works and what doesn’t.

I always applied paint to the backs of my hands, even if you are going to be wearing gloves, there may be moments when you aren’t wearing them, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Follow the same steps for the backs of the hands obviously not as much detail is required as is for the face. And I always rubbed the remainder of paint that I would always wind up with on my fingertips into my palms not because I was necessarily trying to camouflage my palms but in an attempt to reduce the shine
As I mentioned earlier, I used a Yeti net for my bag that I carried on ambushes. As most of you have probably already purchased subdued colored bags, I think it goes without saying there aren’t enough camo nets in the world to camouflage a sponge bob square pants backpack or that coach purse you just had to have. I phrase I heard over and over in my career keep it simple stupid or KISS applies here, if you have to work too hard to conceal something it’s not worth it. I attached a yeti net to my bag using parachute cord, and rolled the excess up and secure it with a bungee while on the move. As far as gear I always kept it on the ground under a yeti net near me when stationary or on me if the suit I was wearing permitted or in a bag if not. But you could try to camouflage it by wrapping a little burlap around it again experiment see what you like and what you don’t like.
Lastly, but importantly, camouflaging your weapon. Again they have many… many kits available for purchase online but as always I preferred something fashioned by myself; many times it’s cheaper however, the reason I prefer it is you become better at something only by experimenting and experiencing it.  Even if you have a camouflage finish on your weapon the rules of camouflaging still apply you need to break up the outline of that weapon and make it unrecognizable. Also another quick aside even if you decide to stick to the original finish of your weapon in the last several years I have noticed a trend of offering different subdued colored accessories offered for many different pistols as well as most AR-15/M4 type rifles, ranging from buttstocks and pistol grips to rail covers and lasers/lights.  Research and testing is really the only way to find out what truly works for you.

I always used sections of camo netting and fashioned them similar to mini-yeti nets and attached them to the weapon with parachute cord. When attaching it always make sure you can still see through the optic or the sights and ensure the action doesn’t get tangled. (I once almost lost a squad mate due to his camo netting getting entangled in the action of his M249.) After you have sufficiently camouflaged your weapon one thing that people often forget to is take a look at their optics. A flash from an uncovered pair of binoculars or scope can give your position away to someone over a mile away. I learned three different techniques to camouflaging scopes they are: one the honeycomb, two the bird’s nest, and three the horizontal viewing slit.

First with the honeycomb [scope caps] that a lot of companies offer these as an accessory, which I think should be an immediate purchase with the optic. [JWR Adds: These channelized "Killflash" adapters are getting popular, for good reason.] However if yours gets lost or broken you can construct one using strips of the burlap fiber and small amounts of shoo goo.  It is time consuming but well worth the effort you basically create a square patch larger the end of the optic to be covered, fold down the excess and I used a piece of parachute cord and tied a square knot to attach it to the optic.

Second the birds nest, this requires a degree of patience and is a good technique to use if you happen to own an optic similar to a Trijicon ACOG, because they have about an inch lip between the edge of the scope and the objective lens. You weave a birds nest around the outer edges of the objective lens trying to keep the middle clear, a lot of experimentation is needed for this method because too little camouflaging and it is an exercise in futility and too much and you won’t be able to see.

Lastly, the horizontal viewing slit, the name pretty much says it all you take and cover all but a horizontal strip. On my ACOG I had I covered all but a one-inch gap for ambushes. Yes it reduced the amount of light but it also helped reduce the glare off the objective lens.

All the techniques I have mentioned throughout the article I have at least some if not extensive experience with, I used many of the techniques on multiple occasions obviously for desert warfare, but even as environments change techniques remain standing, just be adaptable and being willing to change. But always field test to ensure you are on the right path. Game time is too late to be changing certain strategies. Should you choose to build your own ghillie I would spend some time at home wearing it and spend some time familiarizing yourself with camoing up. Then, whenever you get a chance to spend a day in the woods, break it out. Take turns with friends trying to spot each other, you might just amaze yourself.

I think you might enjoy Jörg Sprave's slingshot channel on Youtube.com. His videos on his home made slingshot weapons, I mean he is something else!!  he has a slingshot rifle with scope, a pump action repeating slingshot sort a rifle or pistol device, one that shoots machetes (yikes!!!) and a cannon slingshot, etc, etc, etc.  I like the pump action job.  He even has a tutorial video on how he makes it.  He shoots .50 caliber lead balls and I think it is comparable  to  a firearm for knock down power and penetration.  he tests it on ballistics jell and it is impressive.  I think you will enjoy looking at his videos, just type in Joerg Sprave in the search engine at Youtube.com and he has his own "Sling Shot Channel".  - Darrella

Your readers that store modern electronics long term should be aware of this. There is a problem with all modern electronics that are RoHS compliant. RoHS stands for Reduction of Hazardous Substances. One of its
requirements mandates the use of lead free solder in all consumer electronics. This started in Europe and subsequently adopted here in order for the US to sell products outside this country.

There is a physical process know as tin whiskering, where by tin will grow microscopic metallic whiskers. See NASA's web site for extensive research and information. Please do your research on this and learn.

The lead in solder somehow inhibits the tins from growing, explaining why is beyond the scope of this article, read the NASA research, the growth mechanisms still remain unknown. There are a few US (and the US only) industries that do not comply with the lead free solder due to reliability concerns, such as NASA space hardware, aviation primary flight computers etc., US military hardware, life critical electronics in hospitals to name a few. They state that the people’s lives that depend on these devices outweigh the small lead quantity in the solder.

The tin will grow whiskers regardless if the electronics are powered or in storage or not. I have seen computer electronic failures caused by tin whiskers in as little as six months. The smaller the distance between leads, components etc. the shorter the devices life may be. This is an unpredictable physical effect. This information should be kept in mind when storing anything that bears the RoHS certification. I am not saying
everything will fail, but the long term reliability is affected. Could you imagine a deep space probe half way to Pluto failing do to a tin whisker? I fought this battle almost weekly when I worked for General Electric
Aviation. GE makes high reliability aircraft electronics and is under pressure from within to become RoHS compliant, I fought for the reliability and always had the support of the FAA, Boeing etc. I finally left due to the poor ethics and hypocrisy within the leadership team at GE. Life and safety outweighs all else. I cannot go against the word of God or my personal ethics toward my fellow man.

Basically if you have a large amount of material in an electronic format you do not want to loose in the long term, the first choice is to print a copy, if that is not an option then see if you can find an older computer, you may have to fix it, upgrade the software etc. to read the format you have data stored in, that was made before RoHS compliance was mandated here. They may be hard to find but if you find one it usually can be obtained for free. You do not want to be in a TEOTWAWKI situation with all your books including your Bible in your Kindle, Nook, etc, and have a tin whisker failure. Yes books take space but I have books my mom gave me that are over 100 years old and while fragile I can read them, so I allocate the space. Some of these books are even are kept in buckets with Gamma Seal lids, because of silverfish infestations in my neighborhood

James, again thank you for all you go and God Bless. - Jimmy in California

If you don't already have a copy, then I highly recommend that you get the book The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases. (The author is "Enola Gay" of the excellent Paratus Familia blog.) Some of the diseases described may become a lot more common, in the a major grid-down disaster, because sanitation will likely be pitiful--especially in the cities and suburbs. So get a copy for your bookshelf. Oh, and I've got to mention: Ironically, just a few months after publishing the book, the author's own family contracted an uncommon disease: Whooping Cough. After this happened, Enola Gay quipped: "It is not our intention to personally test each disease mentioned in my book."

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California bans carrying even unloaded guns in public. Oh, and speaking of The Mickey Mouse State: California Okays student aid for illegal immigrants. And: New California law lets 12-year-olds consent to preventive care for sexually transmitted diseases, without parental notification. If you live there, then flee! Vote with your feet, and move to The American Redoubt. California is now a lost cause, both demographically and politically. (Thanks to G.G. and F.G. for the links.)

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P.R.D. liked this one: The buck stopped here: Town of Ithaca man confronts panicked deer inside his workshop

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Grace H. suggested this gospel-rock music: "Shelter Me", sung by Tab Benoit, from the album, Power Of The Pontchartrain. (Lyrics by Buddy and Judy Miller.) I prefer traditional hymns, but your mileage may vary. You will recognize it as the theme music to the recently-mentioned "Sons of Guns" television show about a Baton Rogue custom gun maker.

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The New York Times profiles an urban homesteader: Back to the Land, Reluctantly

"Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were." - One of L.K.O.'s favorite unattribted Paraprosdokian sentences

Monday, October 10, 2011

Way back in 1979, when my wife and I were first married, I was working two full-time jobs to make ends meet. My wife, who had just graduated from college with a degree in elementary education, couldn't find work. One job I worked consisted of working three 12-hour shifts on Friday , Saturday and Sunday. I was working for a security company, and my job was to patrol an industrial park. That job wasn't too bad, as most of the patrolling took place in my vehicle - just driving around the industrial park, and checking for trespassers, and ensuring doors were locked.

The other job I worked - that was a tough one - but the pay was outstanding. I was making $10 per hour - and back then, the rate of pay was something like $3.75 per hour for most jobs. This was another security position, with a bit of a twist. I had worked with K-9s before, and also trained them for personal protection. On this job, I worked Monday-Thursday, from sunset until sunrise. What we did was handle the outside perimeter security around the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, that was about 50-miles outside of Portland, Oregon. As if it wasn't bad enough, having to drive over 50-miles to work, then 50-miles back home, after a long, long night. We also had to pick-up our K-9 partners along the way, and at the end of the shift, take our K-9s back to the kennels and feed and water 'em.

In 1979, we didn't have waterproof clothing or footwear. Oh sure, we had rubber overboots, the ol' "galoshes" as we used to call 'em. However, wearing those things all night long, made your feet sweat, and it was the same as if you weren't wearing waterproof boots - your feet were soaked from the sweat. Same goes for your clothing--there was no such thing as Gore-Tex back in those days. I tried wearing a waterproof rain suit - and once again, the perspiration couldn't escape and your clothing was soaked by the end of your shift. I switched to a military poncho later on. That helped - a bit.

I worked with a Doberman as my K-9 partner, and they don't have heavy coats, like German Shepherds do. So, about halfway through the night, these dogs would start shivering, and we had no way to warm the dogs. We patrolled all night long, through the woods and around the outside of the perimeter fence. It certainly made for a long, cold and wet night. A Thermos of coffee or tea helped take the chill off - at times. Still, no matter how hard I, and the other officers tried to stay warm, we just couldn't. We were always wet and cold - and this was during the Fall - and we get a lot of rain in [Western] Oregon in the Fall (and Winter) months.

These days, we have Gore-Tex lined boots and clothing, to help keep us dry and warm in the wettest conditions. Gore-Tex also helps wick away perspiration, keeping us nice and dry. I would have given anything to have some of today's water-proof clothing and boots back then.

Enter one of those "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" inventions - the "Commence Fire" emergency stove. I received a sample of the Commence Fire for test and evaluation for this article, and I must say, I was totally impressed with it. It is so simple, yet such a great idea! Now, obviously , the Commence Fire, isn't a backpacking stove, it weighs too much, at around 20 lbs. However, it's a great item to have at your hunting camp, or in your emergency supplies, for those just-in-case situations, where you need quick and instant heat, and a very intense heat.

What we have with the Commence Fire emergency stove is a black, 5-gallon can, with a lid. There are also holes drilled around the top side of the stove for ventilation. On the top of the Commence Fire, there is a hole, that has a chimney that you pull out. Inside the chimney is the fire starter material, water-proof matches, a couple metal cups, a few boxes of water and tea. Inside the Commence Fire canister, you'll find wood pellets.

The whole idea behind the Commence Fire stove is for a quick and hot fire - when you need it most. The Commence Fire was originally designed as a one-time-use item. However, testing has shown that it held up in good shape for more than 10-12 uses. You can buy refill packs for additional uses.

Now, you can go to the Commence Fire web site and read all the technical stuff behind this invention if you're interested in knowing how it all came about. It's worth the time to look at the web site, and watch the video on how to use the stove. This unit operates backwards from most fires/stoves, in that, it uses the "top lit up draft" also called "self-feeding."

Inside the stove there are hardwood pellets, as already mentioned, with tinder/firestarter layer on top. They also use Excelsior wood shavings lightly coated with paraffin on top to ignite it all. Sounds more complicated than it really is. The main fire burns from the top down, creating a smoky gas called "producer" gas, which is burned in a second extremely hot (1,200 degrees Fahrenheit ) fire on top, that completely burns up all the smoke for a super efficient, no-visible-smoke fire. Well, there is a tiny bit of smoke when you first start the stove, but inside of a minute or two, there is no smoke, just a super hot fire burning inside.

You can then take your water boxes, and put the water into the provided cups, with a tea bag, and inside of a few minutes, your water in boiling, and you have a nice, warm cup of tea. You could also substitute instant coffee or bouillon cubes for a soup broth. And, this stove's top gets extremely hot - so you could also cook on it, if you had a mess kit, or place a trout or other meat right on top of the stove and it will cook-up for you faster than you can believe it.

I waited until our Fall rains started here in Western Oregon, in order to really give the Commence Fire a good work out. It only took a minute or two, to get the stove up and running and a hot fire going. It a pouring rain, the stove stayed "dry" in that, as soon as the rain drops hit the stove, they evaporated instantly - we're talking a hot fire - that will burn from 1.5 to 2.5 hours. You can also add some dry pieces of wood to the fire by dropping 'em down the chimney, for a fire that will last a little longer.

I would have given just about anything to have the Commence Fire, when I was patrolling around that nuke plant all night long, in the cold and rain. It would have made a big difference between being cold and wet all night long, and having a chance to warm myself and my K-9 partner, making the long, wet nights more comfortable. I could have easily hauled the Commence Fire unit to my patrol area, and simply kept it out there all week long, and recharged it nightly for an opportunity to warm myself. It would have made a big difference and made that job a lot more tolerable--both for myself and my K-9 partner.

Now, the Commence Fire doesn't come cheap, but it could be a real life saver and blessing, when you need a hot fire in a hurry. The unit retails for $99 plus shipping. And, you can purchase recharge kits for $19.95 each. And, as I said, you can add some small branches to extend the fire once your pellets start to burn down.

Believe me, I would have loved to have had this emergency stove when I was out in the woods all night long, in the cold and wet rain with my K-9 partner. I think the Commence Fire would be a great thing to have around your hunting camp, and to keep in your emergency supplies. You can't honestly appreciate this type of invention until you are really cold and wet - then you'd be willing to pay just about anything for this sort of hot fire. It's a very good idea, and this is a new company. Check out their web site, and watch the Commence Fire in action.

As I said, it one of those "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" ideas. - Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor

(per FTC File No. P034520): I accept cash-paid advertising. The makers of the Commence Fire stove are not SurvivalBlog advertisers. They did provide Pat with one stove to test and evaluate and they recently began providing one free stove as a prize for our writing contest, but that had no bearing on my decision to run this review, nor did it have any bearing on the content of Pat's review, and in fact Pat had already written the review before the company's decision become a contest sponsor, and this will be the first time that they will see the review. To the best of my knowledge, as of the date of this posting, the maker and none of my advertisers that sell the products mentioned in this article or contest sponsors have solicited me or paid me to write any reviews or endorsements, nor have they provided me any free or reduced-price gear in exchange for any reviews or endorsements. I am not a stock holder in any company.

Hello James:
Take a look at Deb Shindler's blog post linking to a PDF download about reliably erasing data from SSD drives.   Here is just one sentence from the second paragraph of the PDF that really struck me.  "Third, none of the existing hard drive-oriented techniques for individual file sanitization are effective on SSDs."  Thanks for all you do. - Joe K.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read your article about US coinage and the opportunity to save nickels.  I must admit that your post about nickels is the first thing I linked to and that it introduced me to the many other valuable and useful topics on your blog.

I have two concerns about modern coinage.  The first is obvious and refers to the decreasing value of the coins themselves.  The penny is now essentially worthless and should be abolished.  We spend time making change.  We spend money creating, transporting counting and wrapping them.  Our tax dollar could be better used.  The nickel too should be phased out and its time to own up to the fact that the dime is the new penny.  In fact, using the Westegg inflation calculator we can see that a dime in 1947 was worth a penny in 2010.  (Unless of course you want to consider that in 1947 that dime was composed of 90% silver and so a dime from 1947 is now worth about $2.31 according to Coinflation.com.

My second concern is that the government has persistently changed the currency itself.  We have to pay someone to design the coin, approve the design (bureaucrat), engineer the dyes, et cetera.  This too is a waste of the Taxpayer's money.  Moreover, because the designs are unfamiliar it takes store keepers extra time to simply identify whether a coin is a nickel or a quarter and doubtless there are more errors made.  I find the change itself though insidious.  I think the great thing about US currency was its stability.  It never really changed.  It reflected that our economy was stable.  It conveyed that the money was permanent and worthwhile because it was US currency.  Now there is a sense that the money is worthwhile because it is a collector's item.  People want to get all 50 states or see Thomas Jefferson from every conceivable angle.

Every country has its great values and its great symbols.  Our country has the Statue of Liberty for example.  But because we are a great country we should maintain our currency as a great symbol.  We don't dress the Statue of Liberty up in an elf costume at Christmas and neither should we be dressing up our quarters, and then nickels and then pennies.

As a last thought, how about converting the dollar (with an average life span 18-to-22 months) to a silver coin?  The only problem is that it would weigh 1/32 of an ounce (which means it would be about 1/3 the size of a dime) - Bruce in Pennsylvania

JWR Replies: One alternative to dropping the penny and nickel from circulation would be redenomination--issuing new paper dollars with one or even two zeroes lopped off. The old paper dollars would be exchanged under a mandatory swap (most likely with a 90 day time limit before the old bills were repudiated inside the U.S., and considerably longer allowed abroad--perhaps 18 months.) Wages, prices, and bank balances would all be re-valued overnight. But the old coinage would continue to circulate at face value. Several countries have dropped one, two, three, or even four zeros this in the past 50 years, often without too much drama. (Such as in Turkey, Israel, Romania, et cetera.) Although redenomination would be a sign of surrender to chronic inflation and one of those Les Empereur Sans Culottes junctures in the history of our nation, a currency recall would have some merit. I predict that the new valuation would cause a short term economic boom as everything would suddenly appear "inexpensive." (With just one zero removed, a gallon of gas would be 36 cents, instead of $3.60, and a Snickers bar would be 10 cents instead of a dollar. Even the lowly penny would again have some genuine value. (There would again be "Penny Candy".)

Dropping two zeros would allow the issuance of new silver coinage. (The silver in a pre-1965 silver half dollar is currently worth around $15.00, but with a New Dollar--with two zeros removed--the silver in the 50 cent coin would only be valued at 15 cents. But I suppose it might seem quite strange to see gasoline priced at 3.6 cents per gallon.

And, needless to say, a paper currency swap would also make those of us that have been stockpiling nickels very happy.

As many of you know, Jan LeBaron, proprietress of Healthy Harvest, died suddenly on September 18th.  Jan touched each of our lives in a unique way through her friendship and her work at Healthy Harvest.  In order to honor her and have an opportunity for closure due to her untimely death, a small group of us decided to organize a simple event for those who would like to gather and reminisce about Jan.  This may also be a great networking opportunity as Jan was always encouraging people to connect and network with new people.   Whether you were an acquaintance or a friend, please join us for an evening of visiting and reminiscing about Jan.  There will be a potluck gathering in the gymnasium at Crossroads Community Church, 7708 NE 78th Street, Vancouver, Washington on Sunday, October 16th at 5:00pm.  If your last name begins with A-M please bring a main dish to share.  If your last name begins with N-Z please bring a salad or dessert to share.  Beverages and plates/utensils/cups will be provided. Please forward this e-mail to any of your contacts who knew Jan, and ask them to do the same, so that we can spread the word. To obtain a head count, please RSVP the number of people attending via e-mail to: froggyfriend23@yahoo.com  

H.R. here, to follow-up to one of the responses to my article:

In no way do I divert from the baseline of “Shoot, Move and Communicate”.  They are the very core for any affective operation.  If you take any or all of the three capabilities out of the mix than you have severely disrupted any operation!

There is a core concept to everything that should be thought about in anything that life throws at you…Crawl, Walk, Run.  When shooting you must make sure that you can complete a “Phase” before you move to the next one!  Let me break down what I feel is a complete graduation from each “Phase”.  I am strict in the way I expect my members to perform because I am putting my life in their hands and their lives in mine.  If there is any one failure then there is a potential life lost!

Note: All members advance together!  If anyone fails to complete the following tasks the whole group is held back.  “You are only as strong as your weakest member”.  Members that complete the tasks help out the members that do not until everyone completes the tasks.  ANY round out of the suggested zones is considered to be a failure and the task must be run again.

Crawl Phase:

  1. With Pistol and Battle Rifle, each member has 10 seconds to place 10 rounds in the 9 ring from 5 yards with a Winchester target from Wal-Mart SKU# 2905737004.
  2. Same as above, 15 seconds from 10 yards.
  3. Same as above, 20 seconds from 15 yards.
  4. With each, Pistol and Battle Rifle, from the ready, fire 2 rounds for 3x IPSC targets.  Impact must strike within the upper ½ of the A zone given 10 seconds from 5 yards. (2 ft. spread from edge to edge of targets).  Half of the El Presidente drill.
  5. Same as above, 15 seconds from 10 yards.
  6. Same as above, 20 seconds from 15 yards.
  7. With Battle Rifle at the ready, each member has 10 seconds to place 3 rounds in the upper ½ of the A zone of an IPSC target then transition to Pistol and fire 3 rounds in same zone.  This is done from 5 yards.
  8. Same as above, 15 seconds from 10 yards.
  9. Same as above, 20 seconds from 15 yards.
  10. With Battle Rifle, Iron Sights, each member has 10 seconds to place 3 out of 5 rounds in the RED of the Winchester #2905737004 target from Wal-Mart at 15 yards.
  11. Same as above, 20 seconds, 3 out of 5 from 25 yards.
  12. With Battle Rifle, Optics, each member has 7 seconds to place 3 out of 5 rounds in the RED of the Winchester #2905737004 target from Wal-Mart at 15 yards.
  13. Same as above, 10 seconds, 3 out of 5 from 25 yards.

Walk Phase:

  1. Same as Crawl Phase 1-3 with 5 seconds less for event 1, 10 seconds less for event 2 and 15 seconds less for event 3.  Target is replaced with IPSC target and rounds must impact the upper ¼ of the A zone.
  2. With Pistol and Battle Rifle, run a failure drill (2 rounds to the chest and one to the head) on 3x IPSC targets (2 ft. apart edge to edge) and all chest rounds must be in the upper ¼ of the A zone and the head round must be in the perforated rectangle (considered to be the A zone for the head).  At 5 yards, each member has 10 seconds with Battle Rifle and 15 seconds with Pistol.
  3. Same as above, 12 seconds, 20 seconds from 10 yards.
  4. Same as above, 15 seconds, 25 seconds from 15 yards.
  5. With Pistol and Battle Rifle, each member starts with their back to the target and at the sound of the buzzer must turn and place 3 rounds, center mass (X and 10 ring) on a FBI Silhouette target within 5 seconds from 5 yards.
  6. Same as above, 10 seconds from 10 yards.
  7. Same as above, 15 seconds from 15 yards.
  8. With Battle Rifle, while walking straightforward, place 2 rounds per 3x IPSC targets in upper ¼ of the A zone and repeat until member reaches 5 yard line.  Once at the 5 yard line, each member must place one round in the head per IPSC target.
  9. With Pistol, start at the 10 yards line.  Walk straightforward to the 5 yard line while placing 2 rounds in the upper ½ of the A zone of 3x IPSC targets.  Once at the 5 yard line, place one round in the head per IPSC target.

Run Phase:

  1. Same as Walk Phase 1-9 but targets are replaced with life-like paper targets and all rounds must impact the kill zone (equivalent to the upper ¼ of an IPSC target).  I would stay away from hostage targets for this drill.
  2. With Battle Rifle, from behind cover #1 (shooter cannot see the targets), at the sound of the buzzer lean out (keeping your body behind cover) and place 3 rounds in each of 3x life like paper targets and then run to cover #2 (remember to put your safety on before you move).  At cover #2 place 3 rounds in each 3x life like paper target.  All shots must be kill zone shots.  This drill starts at the 25 yard line (cover #1) with cover #2 at 15 yards and there is no time limit. I would stay away from hostage targets for this drill.
  3. Same as above now add 2x targets to be shot while moving from cover #1 to cover #2, 2 shots per target while on the move. I would stay away from hostage targets for this drill.
  4. With Pistol and Battle Rifle, from the 7 yard line, eliminate the hostage taker with one shot to the A zone of the head within 2 seconds.  You will only get one shot … make it count!
  5. With Pistol and Battle Rifle, place 3 out of 5 rounds in the RED of the Winchester #2905737004 target from Wal-Mart while shooting one handed.
  6. With Pistol, run the El Presidente drill with one hand. (2 rounds per 3x targets [I suggest life like paper targets], reload one handed also and run it again)  I would also suggest only loading 6 rounds in the magazine so that the gun is dry when you do your reload.  Run it for time and try to improve your best.
  7. With Pistol and Battle Rifle, run the El Presidente drill off handed (opposite hand).
  8. Same as above but one handed.

Rifles are zeroed on Winchester targets SKU# 2905737008.  Reason for zeroing on a square grid target is because the grid lines make 1” squares or 1 MOA.  Most of the optics that you buy today is adjusted in 1/4 MOA.  Which it takes 4 clicks to make 1 MOA.  This is calculated at 100 yards.

These are just some of the drills that we run.  There are many more that I have created that we continually work on.  All of these drills are run from 25 yards and closer.  We also do the “Run” phase from 50 and 100 yards.  We also add other variables in the mix; body armor, “dummy rounds and the “9 Hole Rifle Drill” We enjoy shooting to begin with so it becomes a bit of a competition to better each other.  We all know in the back of our minds that we may very well have to use these skills some day to save our very lives so we are all very serious on the range.

If you have the land and a little cash to spare, I suggest getting some old cars, car doors, all with the glass intact, to see how your bullet react when shot them from different angles.  Also you can study the cars and see just where you need to be, when using it for cover, to put as much material between you and your attacker(s).  And yes, the 9 hole drill will help you when shooting from behind a car.  All those odd angles are put in there for a reason. Happy Shooting, - H.R.

Dan T. sent this news story from Colorado: Welder goes into the Armageddon business.

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I just finished reading the near-future action adventure novel Castigo Cay, by Matt Bracken. It was a great read and I highly recommended it. Bracken is really hitting his stride as a novelist. As with his previous novels, you will also find that there are some useful tips woven into the storyline. Although there were some adult situations described in the novel, the author refrained from obscenity or and vulgarity beyond a few coarse words. (But given the violent situations, it is not a novel for kids or teenagers!) Without giving away any of the story, I can say that Castigo Cay a very well-crafted action yarn, that is thought provoking, especially regarding our personal liberty in the near future. Again, I highly recommend the novel!

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Your tax dollars at work: Fast and Furious weapons were found in Mexico cartel enforcer's home. And then there's the journalists that never got the word, or have conveniently chosen to ignore it: Smuggled U.S. ammo feeds drug wars. (Note that there is not one mention of the Fast and Furious--a.k.a. "Gunwalker"--scandal in the latter article.) This reminds me of Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". (Thanks to James K. for the latter link.)

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TTabs just posted another great video, shot this past Saturday evening, flying over the northwestern Palouse Hills (south of Cheney and Spokane Washington) : One October Evening - Trike Flying. He captured some images of gorgeous scenery and great flying. Low level flying is the best way to see and appreciate the undulating hills of the Palouse. BTW, ground effect flying is not for novices! (The two pilots have each logged thousands of hours of flying time.)

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My Inner Gun Nut would love to be in Tripoli, right now. When you scroll down, don't miss Photo #15: the shot of the guys pulling brand new early-production FALs out of the factory styrofoam. To die for...

"Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusions of counsel, until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong - these are the features that constitute the endless repetition of history." - Winston Churchill

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

My foray into the world of self-sufficiency began with two animals and a dream: two Nubian dairy goats, to be exact, and a whole load of criticism and laughter from those who thought I was crazy! “What do you know about raising goats?” , and “Why bother, isn’t it easier to just go buy milk at the store” Smirk, smirk. Little did they realize, this made me ever more determined to have the last laugh.

My husband was grudgingly tolerant, and my children were excited and blindly trusting their mother to know exactly what she was doing. After all my thorough research I jumped in feet first….and fell. And fell and fell again. But, after some blood, sweat, and tears I believe I have learned a lot and would like to share what wisdom I have gained with those who might be considering the dairy goat as a fresh milk source for their family.

Goats are an excellent choice for family dairy needs! They are intelligent, inquisitive creatures and they each have their own unique personality. Some have endeared themselves to me more than others and I am only a tad ashamed to say that I have my favorites. Most of my does (females) weigh around 130 pounds, and are easily handled by both myself and my small children. Their senses are sharp, and they are curious to a fault. I have one particular doe who will refuse to hop on her milk stand when I have swept the floor underneath it, because she knows something is different.

In comparison to a family cow, goats are much smaller, and obviously require less feed. They are less intimidating than a cow, and again easily handled by children. The only exception to this would be the buck (an intact male goat). Bucks can grow quite large, and some become aggressive or try to show dominance. We have a rather large buck on our property with enormous horns, and my children are strictly forbidden to go into his pen.

Goat’s milk, if handled properly, is delicious. It is not “goaty”, bitter, or distasteful. It is creamy, sweet goodness, and is good for you! Goat’s milk is easily digested, and some folks who cannot tolerate cow’s milk will have an easier time with goat’s milk. Please do yourself a favor and never judge fresh goat’s milk by the vile concoction in the can at the store.

I will only briefly touch on the subject of pasteurization. I believe this is a personal choice, and I do not believe there is a right or wrong choice. Please do your research and make an informed decision regarding what is best for your family. Regardless, your milk will need to be filtered before drinking. Filtering will ensure that any bits of dirt or hair will be removed from your milk. I use milk filters bought from a dairy supply catalog (Hoegger’s, Jeffers or Caprine Supply). I have personally tried using coffee filters and several layers of cheesecloth and those methods did not go over well for me. If you choose to pasteurize, it can be done stovetop with a stainless steel double boiler, or you can purchase a pasteurizer. You will need a thermometer if you go the stovetop route. I use a simple candy thermometer, but there are dairy thermometers available for purchase. Dairy thermometers come in handy if you so choose to try your hand at making cheese! In reference to raw milk please check with your individual state’s laws and regulations. In many states it is legal to drink raw milk [produced by your own goats] but illegal to sell it. Again, please do your research and try to be respectful of others personal decisions.

That said, I would like to provide readers with some insight that I wish I had had when I started out. I love and respect my goats for being providers(of milk or meat), however, should you choose to neglect or abuse them do not expect much in the way of getting anything back.

1. You will become a doctor. You must learn your goat’s body language, and recognize immediately what might be “off” behavior. Once a goat is obviously very sick, I would say you have about 24 hrs. to diagnose them or have them seen by a vet, or you will likely end up with a dead animal. There is a saying “A sick goat is a dead goat”. Most of goat care is focused on prevention, because once a catastrophic illness hits, very rarely will a goat pull out and be “normal”.

2. Do not expect to find a vet easily or at the last minute. Waiting until your goat is in the throes of a difficult birth, or until they are off feed running a fever are NOT the time to try to find a veterinarian. First of all, veterinarians who are well versed in goat care, or even those who will give it a half-hearted attempt are in incredible short supply. For reasons unbeknownst to me telling a vet that you have a goat is like telling them the black plague has infected your household. Most vets do not want to even talk to you-I have, in fact, had vets actually hang up on me when I mention the word “goat”. I have been so lucky to find a wonderful veterinarian who actually has been spot-on with most of my goats vet needs. It took me five years to find him. Until then I had to read everything I could get my hands on regarding goat care, illness, disease, etc. I wrote everything down in a “goat notebook”, and wrote down vaccines, antidotes, medications, side effects, common diseases, etc. I learned to recognize symptoms and make decisions quickly. There will be times when you just have to guess and hope you’re right, when death is imminent. Do not feel guilty for this, it is part of the trials of raising livestock.

3. Goats will not eat tin cans (although they may nibble on them out of curiosity). In all reality, goats are pretty picky eaters. They are small ruminants, meaning they have a four chambered stomach. They need roughage(hay, pasture, weeds, tree leaves) to maintain a healthy rumen. They love to browse, but will do very well grazing on pasture like a cow or a horse. Growing kids and lactating mothers are benefited by a grain ration. I use a loose grain mix with 16% protein mixed at my local grain elevator. Please do not overfeed grain or let children feed them grain unless you are certain they will not overfeed them. Grain can be measured or weighed, but if consumed in massive quantities can cause death by acidosis. Regular over-usage will result in fat goats which causes difficult births and overall unthriftiness. This can also cause susceptibility to goat polio, which I can tell you first hand is a heartbreaking disease. Goats also need certain minerals to maintain good health. There are minerals in block form, loose mixes, or you can even mix your own if you are so inclined. Please educate yourself by reading as much information as you can on maintaining a healthy rumen for your goats - it is vital to their well-being. In my experience the local extension office and 4-H manuals have been very informative!

4. Buy a good book or two. This is something I wish had done years ago before writing down enough information to write a book myself!

5. Goats require a certain amount of dedication and perseverance. You will have to milk every day. If you cannot commit to this please save yourself the trouble of purchasing any dairy animals. You will also have to learn to give your own vaccinations, trim hooves regularly, assist with birth, deworm them regularly, provide fresh water and food daily, and much more. You will watch them give birth and you will eventually watch some of them die. You may even have to shoot them (or have hubby do it) if they are suffering. In a large herd euthanasia is not a realistic option.

6. Learning to milk will bring frustration and tears. Please do not give up-it is worth it. It will come naturally over time. I did have days that I ran from the barn kicking whatever happened to get in my way, tears streaming from my face, ready to commit a mass murder of those *!#! Goats. You will cry over spilt milk! Or at least feel a tinge of joy at the prospect of committing physical violence against those stubborn creatures!

Remember, just as a new nursing mother cannot “let down” her milk if she is anxious, or in pain. If her baby screams in frustration, she will tense up and the whole thing goes down from there. A goat will sense your nervousness or frustration, or even your anger. The best bet is to try to stay calm even if you must walk away for a few minutes and come back. Learning to milk my Jersey cow was one of the worst times in my life. I know now it was because I was deathly afraid of getting my head bashed in every time I put my face next to those enormous legs. My cow knew this-knew I was afraid, and she decided to become “boss”. Another reason to never let your livestock dominate you. If they refuse to back down, even after time, they become a danger to you and yours, and I would recommend sending them to slaughter.
Milking can become very relaxing as you get better and better at it. Music helps, too. Milking should always be done in a stainless steel bowl/pail and all your milking supplies meticulously washed after each milking. There are commercial washes you can buy, although I think Clorox and soap and water work pretty well. After time your equipment may develop a residue of sorts called “milkstone”, and you can also buy cleaner to take care of that.

Please don’t let this deter you. My six year old can milk (until her little hands get tired!). As with any new skill, it takes practice. One more thing-if your hand muscles tire even after you master milking, or you have arthritis, there are many kinds of milking machines out there. Some are even just simplistic pumps, similar to a breast pump.

7. Most of your does (females) will need to be bred once a year to keep a steady supply of milk. Many people who choose not to keep a buck for this purpose can usually find someone in their vicinity who is willing to let their buck “service” your doe for a small fee. You will need to do this when your does go into heat. Watch for these heat signs-Excessive bleating, tail wagging (called flagging), swollen, red vulva, discharge, riding other does. Some will display all, some, or none of these behaviors. One of my does has a few hour window where she will stand to be mounted by a buck. This is called “standing heat”, and sometimes it’s difficult to catch! Some breeds of dairy goats will go into heat year round, some only in season (usually September to March).

If you decide to keep [an intact] buck he will grow big and usually pretty stinky! He will urinate on himself, and do some pretty obscene things! A buck needs care as well, so even though it is difficult sometimes, please don’t neglect him. Hoof trimming is an area where bucks often get neglected. Who wants to pick up that smelly, urine soaked leg? I always enlist my husband’s help in dealing with my buck, especially if he is in rut. Please don’t ever turn your back on a buck in rut. That is unwise at best, dangerous or deadly at worst.

8. Have an idea beforehand what you want to do with your surplus goats. It is always exciting when kids are born, but then you have to figure out what to do with those boys. It is not realistic to think you will be able to keep them all. Yes, they are adorable when little, but they grow quickly.

Castration can be done in a few different ways. There is banding, which is simply placing a string latex band around the testicles with an Elastrator--a tool designed for that purpose. This will of course cut off circulation and cause the testicles to go necrotic and fall off after some time. If done too early, you risk the urethra not maturing enough and susceptibility to bladder stones. If done too late, it will be agonizing for your goat. I know this because it happened to me recently and after watching said goat literally screaming and writhing on the ground, I had to cut the band off. Now I have a young buckling trying to breed all his sisters, and I have to rid myself of him ASAP. He will either be sold to slaughter or will go in our own freezer. This was a huge mistake on my part, but being the softie that I am, I could not bear to see an animal in so much pain. This method seems to me more torturous as time goes by and I can hardly bear to do it anymore.

Another method is to find and crush the cords carrying the sperm to the testes using a tool called a burdizzo. This involves no blood and is considered a “closed” castration. I have no personal experience with this tool however there is a lot of support for it on the Internet.

The last option is surgical castration which , in my opinion, is not a feasible option for most folks, considering the price tag. A lot of people are in support of keeping a wether (castrated male goat), as a pet. In my experience they are sweet and wonderful for about two years. Then it seems that this would be about the time a buckling would be coming into maturity, and they get some dominance issues. I have known many goat people who have sweet and loving wethers. This has just not been the case for me. Your excess males can be sold for meat or 4-H projects, or as pets. It will be a decision you will have to contend with.

9. Last of all, try to find "goat people" to help you out especially the first few years. There were many times when I called upon others who knew way more than I did. I even called some late at night in desperation. They will be your best support system!

In closing, all of this may seem intimidating, but as with anything new you will find what works for you. As raising my own "kids", it has been a challenging , yet rewarding experience. And I promise you, you'll never see any sight more joyful than children playing with all their new "babies". It doesn't get any sweeter than that!

No matter what your level of preparation, it is important for you to include a well-bound, large print, red-letter edition of the Authorized King James Version (KJV) Bible at your location.  Besides its uses as a riser or as reading material, it is the only reliable source for knowing God’s will on a subject.  The KJV is a solid translation and has all the essential information needed to verify God’s direction for your life.  The large print enables low-light reading.  The red-letter passages record God speaking.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation you may need to know how to activate this Book of books. 

To get the most from the Bible, start by reading anywhere in the Scriptures and when you come upon a promise God made, underline or highlight the promise and include it in your prayers.  For example, you can quote Deuteronomy 28:1-14:  “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt harken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.  Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. …The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; etc.” and then ask God for the same in your life.  You cannot beat this method of activating God’s promises with your faith.

A key to understanding the Bible in its entirety is the revelation that The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God.  Jesus enjoyed calling Himself  “the son of man” because of this miraculous achievement of God that the Word became flesh.  The four Gospels introduce you to this Man.  The Lord Jesus Christ proved that everything He said was truth when three days after dying by public execution, He resurrected from death.   
One of the most important Scriptures is Matthew 13:12 “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”  Jesus was speaking here of having revelation of the truth.  Faith comes from the revelation of the Word of God to your spirit.   Many passages in the Bible, when read aloud, are encouraging to children.  Always have Scriptures to quote for building-up your faith.    

The Book of Acts can be viewed as the acts of the Holy Spirit among the apostles.  The letters from the apostles can be read as if they were addressed to you.  The final book of the Bible is the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It may be helpful for you to know that the seven churches called out in the Book of Revelation are seven progressive periods of the Christian church, originating with the Church in Ephesus denoting the apostle Paul’s time, continuing through the Church in Sardis depicting Martin Luther’s time, the Church in Philadelphia foreseeing John Wesley’s time and ending with the Church in Laodicea describing our time. The message here is that the Christian church today needs to repent.  The outcome of the book however, is not difficult to understand.  The Scriptures teach you to actively wait upon God and receive when you believe.

[Some deleted, for brevity and for the sake of not promoting extra-Biblical doctrine.]  

Even if you presently cannot imagine how you would benefit from the Holy Scriptures, make sure you pack a Bible.  - M.G.

There is a great reference for barrel cleaning and break-in procedures that is available free on web, courtesy of Krieger--a well known barrel maker. It is a reference worth printing out. - J. McW.

Just a quick note on the letter about home made gun solvent. He mentions that "All of these solvents comes in colored glass to keep out sunlight."
He goes on to mention hard liquor bottles as a possibility. My problem with them is their size. You can get the "pocket flask" but most often you see 750 ML and 1.5L bottles. Common old beer bottles will work just as well, may be easier to find, and will hold more manageable amounts.

For labeling such recycled bottles I like to use a medium Sharpie [permanent marker] and plain white paper with a wrap of clear shipping tape. Go all the way around the bottle with at least an 1/8 inch over lap onto the glass and between multiple rows of tape if needed. The tape is tough, UV resistant, and cheap.


In the home-made gun solvent article, hydrogen peroxide is mentioned. It shouldn't get near any aluminum parts as it can induce corrosion, pronto. We have been advised in aviation facility where I work that any solvents and cleaners used on aluminum surfaces should specifically state whether it can be used on aluminum and absolutely should not contain peroxide. I'd hate to see a reader clean a nice lightweight 1911 with aluminum frame with something containing peroxide, only to get pitting and corrosion as a result.
BTW, I've picked up the Kindle version of "Survivors" and gifted one (so far) as well. Thanks for SurvivalBlog and all you do. God Bless, - G.R. in Texas

One needs to avoiding cleaning [complete] polymer guns in an ammonia solution, as the ammonia will do irreparable damage to the plastic. - J.D.F.

JWR Replies: Those two warnings should not be ignored. Do not use this cleaner for Glocks, Springfield XDs, or other polymer-framed pistols or guns with any aluminum parts unless you have removed the barrel and are cleaning the steel parts nowhere near the gun's plastic or aluminum parts!

Those pesky derivatives, again: IMF advisor says we face a Worldwide Banking Meltdown. (In this case, it is credit default swaps.)

J.B.G. was the first of several readers to mention this sign of the times: Thieves steal from community garden

KAF sent this: Moody’s Cuts Rating on 12 UK Financial Institutions

G.G. sent this: Regulators Close Two More Banks, bringing the nationwide tally of bank failures up to 76 for the year.

Also from G.G.: CBO estimates $1.3 trillion deficit for 2011

Keely spotted this new item: Bold thieves steal bridge in North Beaver, Pennsylvania.

Nestle Chief Warns of Food Riots. (Thanks to Chris G. for the link.)

Bill N. sent a news story that has a pointed lesson. Bill notes: "A homicide suspect was killed when officers set up ambushes on trails. This reminded me of something that the [fictional character] ROTC cadet Doug Carlton mentioned in the novel "Patriots": 'Trails are for people that like to get ambushed.'"

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SurvivalBlog's G.G. flagged this: Tuvalu Goes Dry

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Gunwalker: Fast Leaks, Furious Congressmen. (Thanks to Thomas F. for the link.)

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I just "bumped into" the forums at the small but growing BumpFire.net. You will find some interesting threads there on many firearms topics--not just making rat-a-tat noises.

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Yet another regional cancer concern--note that this one has some locales in the American Redoubt. (Our thanks to K.J.F. for the link.)

"Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." - Ephesians 1:3-12 (KJV)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

A friend of mine was thinking of getting into the meat goat business.  Since I have been raising goats for several years now, she asked me a few questions to which I responded with the following.  I thought that preppers considering adding a goat or two to their menageries might be interested in these thoughts as well.  In the past five years I have learned a lot and it has taken five years to become really competent.

First off, it is important to get your goats from a reputable source.  I got mine at auction, which meant that I was getting other people’s culls.  Most of the does I bought this way were fine, but they did bring in some disease that I have had to fight ever since.  I knew to isolate the animals for two weeks before putting them all together, but that was not long enough for a classic problem to arise.  This is casseous lymphodonitis (CL), which is a bacteria that gets into the goat’s system through a break in the skin and manifests as an abscess, usually on the neck.  It is said that there are only two kinds of goat ranches; "the ones that have CL or the ones that will have CL."  Everybody gets it sooner or later, I am told.  You can have a specific vaccine made for it by sending a culture to a veterinary lab, but I haven’t done it.  I have tried the commercial vaccine, which is good on several strains, but it did not work on mine.  So, now I just lance the lumps and isolate the goat until it’s gone, but it seems to pop up again every so often.  At least I have never had a kid get it and that is the most important thing.  The disease seals itself off from the body, so there is no harm to humans to consume the meat, but it is illegal to sell the carcass of an animal that has it. 

Another reason people cull a goat is that she might harbor parasites.  It is said that 5% of the goats carry 80% of the parasites, so if a rancher notices one that gets wormy a lot or sooner than the others, he is going to be culling her.  Parasites are responsible for nearly all goat death and battling them is the most important part of raising a herd.  We drench with Ivermectin every three weeks through the summer, starting in March, or the month before kidding is expected to begin.  Each nanny also gets a drenching the day she kids because birth causes an explosion of parasites for some reason.  You check for anemia by looking at the inside of the eyelid, the pinker the better.  If I see that the Ivermectin isn’t keeping the goats in the pink, I switch to Cydectin.  It is recommended that you use only one type of wormer for a year because parasites develop immunity and you need to have a back up medicine that still works.  Don’t even bother with Safeguard, goat parasites are completely immune to that. 

The great goal of all goat people is to get to the stage where they don’t have to use any commercial wormer at all.  This is accomplished by frequent field rotation so that the goats do not re-ingest larvae as they graze.  Rule of thumb is to move the herd every three weeks to interrupt the life cycle of the pests and to move goats off a field whenever the grass is shorter than six inches.  Some goat people swear by diatomaceous earth as a supplement, and we have tried it with good results. 

To start with 5 or 6 goats, you wouldn't need that much fenced space. You want to use field fence or some other stuff they are calling "goat fence" with holes of approximately 8 x 12 ".  I just use the regular woven wire 39-inch stuff that sells for around $120 for 330 feet.  The benefit of the larger holes is that goats with horns are not likely to get their heads stuck and all goats seem to think that the grass is greener on the other side.  If you are going to grow meat goats, one good thing is that they are not the escape artists that the leaner dairy goats are.  They seem to know that they are too heavy to jump over unless they are highly motivated.  We also fenced off about half an acre to hold the billy when he is not in use as stud.  Again, a Boer buck generally knows he is too heavy to jump over the fencing and as an added bonus, the Boer males are usually quite gentle and sweet tempered. 

I would fence 10 acres to start and also invest in some solar powered electric mesh fencing so that you can rotate the goats from one section of the field to the next (to avoid parasite infestation).  General rule is that one acre will feed 6 goats, but I don't agree with that.  We run 30 to 35 goats on ten acres, but we have two extra ten-acre fields into which they rotate every 3 weeks.  This amount of land supports them fine as well as all their kids, of which we usually get around 50 a year.

Prior to when TSHTF, you will want to know about selling your kid crop for profit.  Recent butcher kid prices were $1.34-1.44 per pound for 40-50 pound kids.  50 to 70 pound kids were fetching 1.60 a pound.  Bigger than that and the price goes down.  So, you can get $100 per kid if you can raise them to a good weight before summer forage peters out, which is questionable around here.  My kids were not up to weight by the end of August this year, but I think it was because no one wanted to eat much during the heat wave. You will be paying at least $7 a head to the auctioneer and of course transportation costs because there are only a few places to sell goats.  Get on line and search for usda goat auction prices.  I am unable to get the URL to transfer in here, sorry.  They publish each week the prices they are getting, August and Sept being prime time for goat selling.

There is no need to be around to take care of the kids once they are born. Nannies are great for taking care of their kids. Of course, you will almost always get one bottle kid a season, where for some mysterious reason a nanny will reject a kid.  If you are going to insist that she feed that kid, then you would have to be on hand to catch her and make her do it 4 times a day, or you would have to be around to do that feeding for the first couple of weeks.  But the easier thing to do at that point is to sell the kid cheap, or give it away to a 4-H-er. I only feel that I have to be on hand for the births and most of the time, not even then.  Out of my 30 nannies this year, I was needed for only one breach birth.  I stay with them long enough to make sure the kids know how to eat and after that, they are on their own.  I do "jug" my new families, put them into privacy stalls for three days before returning them to the herd.  This is to make sure all is well, the doe is getting enough to eat, and the kids know exactly whom their mothers are, but you don't really have to do this.  If you are willing to lose a few kids, you can leave them completely on their own. 

If you leave your kids on their nannies, there is little that you need to be on hand for, but maybe you were thinking of taking the kids off and feeding them from a milk bar so that you can re-breed the nannies faster.  If you do that, of course, you will have to be around to fill those canisters.  But, if not, all you really should do is watch to make sure the kids are eating.  Right after they are born, they usually find the teat within a few minutes.  If a kid searches too long and gets tired before getting that first dose of colostrum, he may just give up and die.  So, I help them out in finding the teat.  Often though, a doe will kid unexpectedly and by the time I have found her, she will already have those kids cleaned up and nursing.  I would say only about ten percent of the newborns need any intervention at all, as long as the weather is reasonably warm.  About an hour after the kid has had its first meal, I check back to stir the kid up for a second meal.  They can get sugared out and sleep too long if their mothers don’t wake them and then they are too weak to get back to the breakfast table.  I find that it is usually a first time mother that doesn’t know to nose the kid back to life.  If a kid doesn’t get to the teat at first, I milk some of the colostrum out and give it to the kid in a syringe.  Just an ounce of that stuff is enough to save a kid’s life. 

Timing your kidding is the most important thing to being able to sit back and enjoy it.  I don’t put my buck into the herd until November 1, so that our kidding always starts in April.  If kids come in the winter, you MUST be there to dry them off, warm them up and get them in under a heat lamp.  They will almost certainly die if you don’t.  Much better to wait until all danger of freezing is past.  Gestation is five months and five days, so you can pretty much time your kidding for your vacation or take time off from work if you want to do all of the things I do.  Lots of people just let Nature take its course and they lose a few kids, but that is the price of not having to be there.  One great thing about goats is that they almost always kid during daylight hours.  I don’t think I have ever had one kid at night.  In April, one of us checks the herd every two hours during the daylight hours.  When we notice kidding happening, we stick around, but more often than not, the nanny doesn’t need us at all.  But, if a doe is in labor for an hour without kidding, you have to intervene, go in and get those kids out.  Most men’s hands are too big to go inside a doe, so I hope there is a willing woman on the ranch.  If you don’t intervene in a breach, you won’t just lose the kids; you will lose the nanny too.

The other big thing about goat tending is trimming their hooves and this probably takes more time than anything else we do for the herd.  If you don’t do this, you will get foot rot, the animals won’t want to go far to graze, they will re-ingest parasite larvae and then they die.  So, foot rot is no laughing matter.  You may get rot even with perfectly trimmed hooves and they get a kind of weepy skin condition in between their toes in wet weather.  I slather them with a commercial hoof antibiotic and give antibiotic (LA 200) injections if the case is a bad one.  A footbath through which the goats must walk each day would probably get me out of this chore, but I haven’t ever figured out how to make those demons go through one.  They hate wet feet.  Putting the goats’ feed stations on top of a circle of gravel or rock also helps to keep hooves drier and excess hoof growth in check.

Goats do need some shelter.  They hate rain, but don’t mind snow a bit.  As far as food goes, goats need higher protein levels than other ruminants, so we feed clover/grass mixed hay in the winter, alfalfa for the last month before kidding.  We also set out several high protein vitamin and mineral blocks.  Goats are picky eaters and they are terribly wasteful with hay.  We use V-shaped square bale feeders with a tray beneath to catch falling hay.  You can also just set a round bale in the field, but pretty soon it will be soiled from goats jumping up on top, and most of it will be strewn around the ground. But a round bale of plain old grass is fine for filling them up, even if it doesn’t give them all that they need.  If you go this route, you should also feed a cup or so per goat per day of commercial goat pellets.  They push and shove each other in a mad dash to the dinner table when you feed pellets, so we have to make sure that the underlings in the herd get something to eat.  No goat will ever admit that she is full and will always tell you that she is starving. 

Few vets have much experience with goats, so you are on your own a lot.  You will need to learn about health issues, preventions and treatments. Whether to castrate or not.  Vaccinations.  Get some good books and make friends with other goat people.  Your local land grant university may have a goat expert and a small ruminant project, so you can go to classes or even just call them up.  And be prepared to fall in love.  You know, a sheep is a sheep is a sheep, but each goat is an individual.  They are clever animals and very personable.  You will quickly learn their language and be able to communicate with them.  After my dogs, my goats are my best friends.  Oh, that reminds me.  You don’t want to have a herding dog on the ranch.  Instead, you want a guardian, like a Great Pyrenees.  Any dog that starts to chase a goat should be banished from any dealings with them, for sooner or later that dog will give in to instinct and either hurt or kill a goat.  Even little dogs are a danger in this regard.  Your enemies are dogs first, coyotes second. 

And that also reminds me to tell you that goats don’t herd, they follow.  If you try to herd them, more often than not, they will just scatter and circle around the herder to get back to wherever they want to be.  We accomplish herd moves by pouring goat pellets into a wheelbarrow and walking down the lane with the herd following.  Goats are so smart that they learn any routine involving food in a matter of a day or so.  I just honk my truck horn and they all come running up from the field.  They can be stupid too, though, forgetting how they got where they are and wanting to go through a fence instead of back to a gate.  Just remember that you are smarter than a goat and if you think about it for a minute, you will figure out a way to get them to do what you want them to do.  One of the best bits of advice I ever got was, “if you are fighting with your goats, you are doing something wrong.”  Pay attention to what motivates them, which is always either food, the need to be in a herd, or the well-being of their kids.  Pay attention to what is happening in any move.  If kids get too far behind, you will lose them because they only care about Mommy, not pellets.  So, always make sure the kids are keeping up, slowing your movements to allow for that.  Keep the herd herded up as much as you can.  Any stragglers will be impossible to catch.  Watch the nannies too.  They will show you what they care about most at any given moment by looking at it.  If they start to lose interest in the food you are offering to make them follow you, it is a matter of proximity, so get closer. 

In conclusion, I know that I have neglected to tell you which items you should stock up on and how to tend the herd without any commercial products.  I have not yet addressed this issue in my own herd in a complete manner.  I would definitely pre-order a good supply of a long-acting antibiotic along with a drenching gun that doubles as a vaccinator.  Be sure to order replacement parts and lots of needles.  Get five good pairs of hoof trimmers.  An annual vaccine that must be kept refrigerated is Clostridium Perfringens Types C and D with Tetanus Toxoid.  I have stocked a five-year supply.  I also keep on hand about twenty pouches of powdered Corid for the treatment of coccidiosis, a condition that can be avoided for the most part by keeping goat quarters clean.  To get around purchasing commercial feed, we have planted twenty acres of alfalfa and that is a complete feed.  I feel that Vitamin B injectables are necessary just in case you see a goat convulse.  I also mix up my own “go juice,” which is a combination of water, corn syrup and vitamins.  I give this whenever a goat may need a quick jolt of energy.  Finally, I keep a powdered supply of electrolytes for dehydration.  There are many supplements and preventative or curative products on the market.  You will simply need to decide which ones to stock up on for yourself, given your specific circumstances.

Mr. Rawles;
Greetings from a new fan.  On the subject of horses, I can recommend the video from Pat Parelli titled The Seven Games. I have ridden horses for years but when I bought my own horse I got a few Parelli lessons from the owner.  It completely changed 30 years horsemanship almost overnight.  My horse is my friend now and much easier to train since I know how to communicate with him.  The cd's and the Parelli method is great.  

Yes, horses do require your time they are not an ATV that can be parked and left behind.  They are not for everyone, but they can do things that an ATV can never do.  Keep up the good work. - Rodney W.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that recommendation. And by the way, a friend recommended the Mike Bridges horse training clinics.  Mike is not the best known clinician but he's one of the best teachers and horsemen in the nation. He's based in Halfway, Oregon, but does clinics all around the country.

Did I witness a normal day in Texas or a warning of panic without access to food?

I was at my local grocery store the other day to pick up a few things on my way home from work.  It was about 3 p,m. and I was ready to checkout in the 10 items or less lane.  As the cashier scanned my last item and I was ready to swipe my card the power went out.  At first everyone in the store was fine and nobody panicked.  About 10 seconds later some of the lights flickered on again from a backup generator.  People went about their business continuing to shop except for those of us at the register since it was still down. I stood around with everyone else that was waiting to checkout for 5 minutes when someone from the store came over the intercom to let everyone know construction workers a block away had knocked out the power. Me and a few other customers joked around with the cashier about the weather and construction workers in general (I have no problem with them). 10 minutes into the power outage a few customers in a hurry with things to do abandoned their items and left the store. The small talk stopped for the next 5 minutes as everyone just stood around waiting for the registers to start working again.  I noticed I only had $1 of cash in my pocket and some of the other customers looked at their cash. The most any of us (about 10 people waiting to checkout) had was $30 cash. But the cashier couldn’t take cash because the system was down. I thought to myself what if my credit/debit cards stopped working would I be prepared?

So then the next five minutes was when things got a little sticky. Customers started yelling about how they had no food and they needed milk or baby food, now. One lady said: “What will I do if I have nothing to eat?” The manager and cashiers tried to calm people down but more customers started shouting about not being able to provide for their families. I thought to myself: there is another store about five minutes down the road, what will people do when there really isn’t food available? Just when I thought a riot was going to ensue the power was restored and the checkout lines were open.  All returned to normal and as I walked out the store, very thankful for my cash, silver and food stash at home. I saw many other unprepared people making their way into the store with no clue of what just went on inside. 

What will happen when the stores are empty or when the power grids go down? - Zach in Texas

Dear James:
Your commentary on the mainstreaming of survivalism reminds me of something I would like to share.  One statement, particularly, rang true:  "... surely you witnessed (your grandparents) carrying on with the rest of their lives being very thrifty, avoiding debt, and wasting nothing."

A few years ago, it became apparent that the economy was heading south and that family finances would be impacted.  My wife and I sat down with our three teenage children for a brainstorming session on how to cut unnecessary expenses.  We live in a community with all of the modern conveniences of prosperous upper middle income suburbia, and it was easy to come up with ideas for cutting back: 

Dismiss the yard and housekeeping services and do it ourselves.  Cut coupons and shop sales for groceries.   Minimize dining out and cook meals from scratch at home.  Drive an older used car.  Cancel the cable television contract.  Keep a vegetable garden.  Buy clothes at the thrift store.  Buy household items used at garage sales and on craigslist.  Cancel the fitness center membership and costly extracurricular activities for the children.  Go camping locally, or stay with relatives, instead of traveling for expensive resort vacations.  Get a set of clippers and do home haircuts.  Use the library, rather than buy books.  Sell or donate items no longer used.  Combine driving trips, ride bikes and take the school bus to minimize driving.  Cancel the children's cell phones.  Stay home for entertainment, play games and read books. Check videos from the library, rather than go out to movies. 

As we went through this process, we started laughing and were practically in tears by the time we finished. Making the list was an exercise in family comedy because every idea was something that we had always done.  Such sacrifices would probably shock many families in our neighborhood, but it was business as usual for us.  It was something my wife and I got from our parents; and, they are so frugal that they make us look like spendthrifts.  In reality, we do not feel terribly vulnerable to a severe economic downturn because we have always avoided debt and built tangible wealth by working hard, being thrifty and wasting very little.  

As it turns out, thrift becomes a game, a challenge, fun.  At a family gathering, my mother might mention that she found new tennis shoes at a garage sale for $1. Then my mother-in-law, or my wife, might one-up her by noting that she got a similar pair for 50 cents.  The competition is fierce!  The best part is that my children have embraced these values and it should serve them well in the future.

All the best, - John in Florida

Dear Sir,
I write to correct a glaring omission in the now-archived SurvivalBlog article "How to Butcher a Squirrel", by B.T.: There was no mention of scraping the "Vel" from inside the skin as this is the only fat available on a squirrel or rabbit.
Eating only lean meat protein can take a lot of energy to digest and if under cooked it may result in it taking more energy to digest it than you get from it so you deplete your reserves instead of adding to them.
Without this fat you have wasted the energy held within. Many of your trappers in the 18th century died of starvation while eating scores of rabbits, I would not want the mistakes of history to be repeated by those who do not know them.
Also I did not see any reference to Hantavirus or removal of the gall bladder or the inclusion of the  heart, liver and kidneys in the stew.

You do not know me but I have been living the life all my life. I was taught how to skin and dress a rabbit without a knife as well as how to cook it in its own skin--no waste!
My warmest regards and best wishes in the success of your new book, - Gavin W.

Absolute OPSEC Stupidity: Hiding Gold in All the Unusual Places. A reader in Nevada wrote to mention that he found Chad Venzke's home address in Wisconsin in less than a minute with an internet search. Even worse than waking up to find his yard dotted with holes would be waking up to see a pistol in his face, and a demand to "Take a little walk, with a shovel."

   o o o

For anyone that is considering moving to North-Central Idaho, be sure to check out the latest ultralight flying video by "ttabs". It looks like most of it was shot over Elk River, Orofino, Dworshak Reservoir, and the edges of the Camas Prairie. Great stuff! (This is the same gent who shot the fantastic video showing some of the towns in the eastern Palouse Hills region that were settings for my first novel, "Patriots.")

   o o o

Over at KK Cool Tools: Portable AC Power--Alien Bees Vagabond Mini. JWR's Comments: Not bad for $240. Note the USB output and Anderson Power Pole input (for 12 VDC charging) connectors. Obviously a very good design. OBTW, there are several reviews of this unit by professional photographers available at YouTube.

   o o o

More painful truth in The Eye of The BeHolder: Executive Branch: Republicans Say Holder Received at Least 5 Fast and Furious Memos. (See the PDF of the heavily-redacted memos.)

   o o o

France bans ketchup in cafeterias. (This news brought to you by The Ketchup Advisory Board.)

"And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day [that] the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
And he said, The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: [he is] my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
I will call on the LORD, [who is] worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry [did enter] into his ears." - 2 Samuel 22:1-7 (KJV)

Friday, October 7, 2011

I was pleased to see that Amazon.com has dropped their price on my novel "Survivors" again, to just $12.92. That's not bad for a hardback book, these days. The price drop is no doubt based on economies of scale. They keep re-ordering a lot of books from my publisher!

I'm a benchrest shooter and gunsmith, and I use quite a bit of cleaning solvent. When I used to buy it, I would buy it by the pint bottles. While not terribly expensive, it was still a cost. I asked fellow shooters what they used and most did as I did, buy it. Then I asked a very successful shooter what he used and he said "my own brew"! Just what I wanted to hear. He was nice enough to share his brew mixture, and that is all I've used since.

There are a couple main things you're trying to do, or combat, with cleaning solvents: carbon fouling and copper fouling. Carbon is the byproduct of the burned powder. Copper fouling is bullet jacket material that has plated itself in the bore. If you used lead bullets, you would have to contend with that, but I don't, so this is targeted for using copper jacketed bullets. Carbon is probably the toughest to get rid of, it is extremely hard and stubborn. It can build up and degrade accuracy. The best way to keep it in check is to not let it build up in the first place, by cleaning when the barrel is new and not shoot a hundred rounds before cleaning. But sometimes you have to deal with what you have, now. Copper fouling does the same thing, it builds up in the barrel and just keeps getting worse.

If you get a used gun and it is fouled pretty bad, you may want to use something other than this cleaner at first. Abrasive cleaners (JB's, Iosso) do a good job of getting through this stuff. It takes some elbow grease to work it back and forth and you need to keep changing patches, but it will get through it. Once the rough stuff is gone, then using this mixture cleaner will get the rest. [JWR Adds: The general consensus is to avoid abrasive bore cleaners, unless it is absolutely necessary. In my opinion, on a very pressing emergency would dictate that. Otherwise, nothing more abrasive than a brass bore brush should ever be used.]

[JWR Adds This Warning: All of the usual precautions for handling caustic and flammable fluids must be taken, such as wearing goggles and rubber gloves.]

So how to make it? There is an initial expense to this, but it goes a long way and my formula makes quite a bit. First, go to a GM car dealer, and buy a few cans of "GM Top Engine Cleaner", ask if they have it in the metal can. It is my understanding the newer Top Engine Cleaner comes in a plastic bottle, and may not be as effective. I'm not sure since I have the metal can cleaner. I would think it would still work okay. It comes in a 15 ounce can and it the basis for the cleaner. It has the chemicals in it for fighting carbon deposits. [JWR Adds: Very similar products are sold under various brand names as Upper Cylinder Lubrication & Injector Cleaner.] You can scale how much solvent that you want to formulate in a batch by the number of cans of Top Engine Cleaner that you buy. The second ingredient will be the hardest to get, and that is strong ammonia. Ideally, find a blueprint shop, large printing shop, and ask if they have 28% ammonia. It comes in a gallon jug. Trust me, don't sniff it, it will clean your sinus' like you've never known. The next ingredient is Marvel Mystery Oil that you can get in most auto parts stores. Lastly is regular Hydrogen Peroxide which you probably already have.

Get a colored glass container, brown, blue, something that is tinted. All of these solvents comes in colored glass to keep out sunlight. Some of the whiskey/bourbon/scotch bottles are brown and work fine [if prominently labeled "Poison" and with a description of the contents.]. Shake and pour in a 15 ounce can of top engine cleaner. Measure 25 ML of ammonia, 5 ML of peroxide and 5 ML of Marvel Mystery Oil and dump it all in. It won't explode, don't worry. Shake it all up and you have a top notch bore cleaner. The Top Engine Cleaner goes after carbon deposits, the ammonia and peroxide attack the copper fouling, and the MM oil acts like a penetrating oil that helps get under the deposits and keeps the bore conditioned.

The ammonia reaction to copper fouling will turn a white cleaning patch blue, or rather the patch will pick up the blue tint from dissolving the copper. It a good tell-tale indicator of how well the barrel is cleaned. You don't have to get every last bit out, but if there are heavy deposits, it will be a deeper blue, when getting fairly clean, it will be a much lighter blue.

I use this on all of my rifles, and for pistol barrels. Most of my rifles are bolt actions, and cleaning is easy, but use a bore guide to keep the cleaning rod from damaging the barrel. If you have an lever gun or semi auto, you may have to clean from the muzzle. Beware that you can severely damage the end (what is called the crown) by letting the cleaning rod drag over the edges of the barrel end. I would recommend getting a "coated" cleaning rod to help with this, but still, go slow and watch the rod position to keep it centered in the barrel.

There are a couple substitutions I've heard that you can use Mercury Quicksilver Gear Lube. It is a product made by the Mercury Outboard Motor company. It must have the same properties as the Top Engine Cleaner". The ammonia is the toughest to get, and may even have some restrictions now, given the state we're in. You need the strong stuff. The 28% I referenced is what I have. Most blue print shops now use large copy machines instead of the old "blue prints" where the ammonia was used. You may be able to find some strong ammonia at commercial janitorial suppliers. You can substitute Kroil Penetrating Oil for the Marvel Mystery Oil. Kroil is a penetrating oil, not exactly easy to find but it is available. - W.S.

The cover art on your latest novel prompts these comments about horses.  There may be  folks who are thinking that in the future horse power would be a viable alternative for transportation, agricultural, and other uses.   It can be.  But you need to be aware that horses are not just hairy vehicles, and they don’t come with an owner’s manual.  They are thinking, feeling, decision-making animals.  And regardless of how well trained they may be when you get them they will quickly settle, for better or worse, at your level of knowledge and experience.  If you don’t know what you’re doing you may fairly quickly wind up with a horse that is useless, dangerous, or both.

If you’re considering the use of horses in the future it would be prudent to learn all you can now.  And that means hands on learning.  Book learning won’t do.   The only thing that will keep you safe is knowledge and awareness.

A lifetime isn’t long enough to learn all there is to know about horsemanship, but it’s a start.  Find a competent teacher, start now, and enjoy the experience. - Rick S.

JWR Replies: Thanks for your letter. A good deal of the story in "Survivors" has to do with the lead character getting to know and work with his horse, an excellent gelding named Prieto. Yes, I agree that there is a steep learning curve.  For newbies, I recommend that they learn from a pro, and that they spend a lot of time around horses before they ever even consider buying one to bring into their family. (Yes, I do mean family.) Clinton Anderson's excellent series of instructional DVDs (such as Downunder Horsemanship- Gaining Respect and Control on the Ground) are a great start, but there is no substitute for lots of hands-on time. Frankly, most people's temperaments are better suited to buying an ATV than a horse.

When a news giant like CNBC starts quoting SurvivalBlog at length, then obviously we are starting filter into the mainstream of public consciousness. Here is an article that is a case in point: Buying Coins to Hedge Against Inflation. As one reader put it: "It brings a smile to my face when we're way ahead of the curve." By the way, I hope you've already got your nickels squared away. You've had plenty of warning, since I first mentioned this in SurvivalBlog back in 2007. The window of opportunity for acquiring nickels before their debasement is likely to close soon.

Don't get me wrong... I don't expect the nation to suddenly go all Rawlesian--with everyone from 18 to 80 toting .45s, voting for Ron Paul, getting right with God, putting in big gardens and laying in two year food supplies. The shift of a survivalist mindset won't come until after there is a major "Crunch". But once this shift occurs, it will be profound. In fact, I predict that in the aftermath of a full scale socioeconomic collapse, there will be no more "survivalists", per se. There will just be survivors, and statistics. The paradigm shift to prepper mindset will become so ubiquitous that it will simply be the norm. Hence, it might not even carry any special appellation.

I'm sure that most of you reading this have grandparents that lived through the Great Depression, and surely you witnessed them carrying on with the rest of their lives being very thrifty, avoiding debt, and wasting nothing. Just think of that effect amplified a hundred-fold. That will become the collective mindset of the next generation: Armed to the teeth, distrustful of statists and unsound currencies, and feeling compelled to always keep a very well-stocked pantry. That will be the new "normal"--the new mainstream. That should last for a generation or two. Then, inevitably, complacency will set in, and the cycle will repeat. That is human nature.

Mr. Rawles:
I just picked up your latest novel "Survivors" today at my local Barnes and Noble store.  Surprisingly, they had it prominently displayed on their "New Arrivals" display table!  Some time back, I had them order "Patriots" for me.  You would have thought I asked them to give me their only kidney.  How times have changed. 
I dearly love the disgusted, displeased look on the tattooed, goth, über-liberal checkout girl's face when I make my purchases.  It's why I still buy my reading material in the store. 
Love your work and the blog.  Thanks for your efforts! - Bill in Florida

JWR Replies: I should remind all SurvivalBlog readers to please give retailers other than just Amazon some business.   Although I used Amazon ranking as a benchmark for tracking the recent Book Bomb Day, there are other vendors that deserve some biz, including Barnes and Noble.  And for those of us that like to support local "Mom and Pop" bookstores, check out IndieBound.org.

F.J. spotted this: Better Sterno Alternative

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Idaho Bowhunter Reportedly Kills Charging Wolf. Moral of this story: Don't mess with an Idaho Granny that packs a .44 Magnum.

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David O. wrote to mention a "Horse of a Different Color": Oilfield Camouflage. With oilfield workers up in "The Oil Patch" in North Dakota now often making $300 to $500 a day, I suppose some of them have a budget for this... In related news: Double your salary in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota

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Rex B. sent this: ATF officials demoted in latest Fast and Furious fallout

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It wouldn't be a proper October without one of these news stories: The Race to Grow the One-Ton Pumpkin. (Thanks to regular content contributor F.G. for the link.)

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity.  An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."  - Winston Churchill

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yesterday (October 5th) I heard from my publisher that they are blazing through the first 35,000 copies of my novel "Survivors" so quickly that they've already had to order a second press run of 15,000 copies. That second printing was ordered just the day after the book was released. No doubt a good part of the strong demand can be directly attributed to SurvivalBlog readers. I can't thank you enough, folks!

Some folks have written to mention that they want to buy copies of "Survivors" by the case (for resale or for gifts). Be advised that they come 20 copies to the case. Some fairly deep discounts are available. You can contact the Atria/Simon & Schuster's wholesale order desk. Bookstores and folks that sell books at gun shows and preparedness expos can order in any quantity from both the publisher and any major book distributor, using these International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs): ISBN-10: 1439172803 or ISBN-13: 978-1439172803.


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Having worked as a counselor in various positions, I have had the opportunity to view the system from many angles. What I am seeing scares me and should scare you too, not the type of fear that freezes you or drops you into a strong state of denial but the fear that motivates you to take close inventory of what is important in your life and causes you to initiate a plan to protect yourself and those you love.
I must have looked like an odd duck when I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor. My co-workers were left wing liberals and I am very conservative. While they ate their tofu products for lunch, I ate deer, rabbit, squirrel, or something I grew or collected myself (much to their horror). When I ate the eggs from my chickens, one of my co-workers exclaimed she would never eat an egg from a chicken as all her eggs come from the store; the same woman was working on an education degree to become an elementary school teacher with full intention of working in a public school setting.
I am seeing people from all walks of life fearing 2012.… as if the doctor diagnosed them with a terminal disease with a set number of months left to live. I see various types of reactions:
*Individuals in complete denial - asserting our system could never fail - believing there are too many programs to help people that are having difficulty. These individuals view the government as a parent with an endless bank account that can continually bail out its delinquent dependent children.
*Individuals trusting their pastors who tell them preparation is equivalent to a lack of faith because God is going to rapture the believers up right before anything bad happens.
*Individuals who realize that they should prepare but don’t want to make sacrifices with their current financial budget so they ignore what they see and write it all off as a y2k scare.
*Individuals at various levels of preparing and many that believe totally preparation is not necessary as imagining a world without electronics and electricity is beyond their comprehension.
*And there are those who are living their lives the way they want to now with the intention of taking by force what they need from those who have been diligent in preparing.
The best advice I could give is sit down with your loved ones and make sure that you completely understand each other and are on the same page. After a 4 year courtship with a man who claimed he wanted us to become self-sufficient, I found myself single again when he left after a series of tropical storms hit our area leaving much devastation. My property held - just had the minor inconvenience of no electricity which I saw as a time to test our resources. He left after the power came back on - with the belief he was running to a world that would never change… would always have the lights on… would always have stocked grocery stores and convenient marts full of gas. He ran to a place he felt he could live it up and experience all the things he was not going to willingly ever give up. He ran to his friends that call us “preppers” loony like those who called Noah nuts for building an ark in the dessert. The rain is coming folks. In fact… pun intended… it never really has stopped where I am at.
I have had some time to contemplate what happened to my failed relationship and it made me realize that he will not be the only one of us who runs. Some will run right into the arms of the enemy and gladly share what they know and where they came from. Some will jump off the cliff with the others when the SHTF. Some times we won’t be surprised at this and sometimes we will.
Make sure you are on the same page as your loved ones. Everyone has a special talent or ability that they can bring to the survival package. If things are not working now before anything catastrophic happens, then you can pretty much count on them not working at all if something happens. Change … dramatic changes… have the potential to bring out the worst in people. Panicked people can’t think and often do stupid things.
Also make a plan for how you are going to deal with all those who will not be in your immediate family/group but show up after the collapse. If you are a survivalist or prepper, you are noticed no matter how inconspicuous you try to be. We are noticed because we are different and there is nothing wrong with that. But that difference will be why they will be headed our way and not to their buddies who didn’t do anything to “weather the storm”. What is your plan to protect your own? How far will you go to accomplish that? Is everyone in your family and group on the same page with this? Figure this out now - because during a collapse, there are too many other pressing things you will be faced with you may not have anticipated.

I found out how panicked a community can become when the power went out for almost a week during tropical storm Irene. Panicked people have difficulty thinking as it is hard for the average person to imagine a world without electricity. Some basic things got my neighbors through the week once I explained how to use some basic items most people have around their homes already.

1. Garbage pails cleaned with some dish detergent or bleach can become great rain collectors to collector house water that runs from a gutter. This water can be used for bathing, cleaning, flushing toilets, and when filtered - using a coffee filter set in a strainer can be used for consumption. This water can also be boiled for those concerned with drinking filtered rain water.
2. Those cute solar lights that outline people’s driveways, walkways, gardens, etc make great indoor lanterns at night. They can be placed in a Mason jar or plastic bottle (stake down) and carried around the house or set on a table or shelf. The more sunlight available that day - the longer they will be lit at night. This not only saves batteries and candles but is a safe alternative that many people already own.
3. Use items thawed items in your freezer first. If food seems questionable it is still probably safe enough to be used as feed for dogs or cats if used right away. At my house - the saying is - nothing goes to waste. If we can’t eat it, either the cats, dogs, goats, ducks, or chickens can. The very little that is left over after that ends up in the composting bin for use as my medium for starting seeds in late winter for spring planting.
3. Restless adults, teenagers, or children can find entertainment in board games, cards, or story telling. Devastating storms don’t have to be devastating to families. This can be used as a bonding time without having to fight distractions from electronics, television, phones, etc.
4. Humor… humor…humor… Use it generously… Laugh. Depression is contagious …. But fortunately so is a positive attitude which is what you are going to need to recognize resources you already have around the house if you get caught with your pants down and did not prepare.
5. Toilets do not need to be flushed every time you use them. Flush them if someone has a bowel movement - all other times keep the lid down until the smell tells you it needs a flushing. This conserves a tremendous amount of water. Placed any used toilet paper in a lined garbage can to be burned later - clogged pipes or overflowed septic tanks can only make matter worse at this point.
6. Your hot water heater is a good source of water along with your pipes in your house when you run out of rain water you collected in a storm.
7. Bathing - collected rain water can be heated up with a gas stove, wood stove, or even a pot on your grill. What is really nice is the grills that have the burner attachment to them. Do NOT bring your grill into your home. That is dangerous. At our house we heated up enough water on our gas stove for each person to get cleaned up by a modified sponge bath accomplished by placing the heated water in a bucket in our bath tub. With a cup, we would scoop out just enough water to get our bodies wet and pour it on ourselves, then lather up, and use the rest of the water to rinse - if you use a cup you will use less water which means less waste and less time to heat up the amount of water needed. Since we were in the bath tub while accomplishing this the water and soap suds stayed where they belong.

I found that the things that concerned my neighbors the most (ones who had no survivalist prepping mindset) was eating, bathing, lighting at night, and ability to use toilets all of which I showed them can be accomplished with a few simple items they already have around their house.

Good luck with your prepping. Make it fun. Maintain your humor. Hug your loved ones frequently - well not so frequently they think you are completely nuts. If you are reading this blog then you are already concerned about what you see in the world and see that some changes need to be made to ensure long term survival. Give yourself a pat on the back for it - you are already ahead of the masses--even if you feel you have a long way to go in your preparations.

My husband and I fell in love with a section of [what is now called] the American Redoubt long before I discovered SurvivalBlog.  We dreamed of retiring in that part of the country as so many of his co-workers have done.  We even went looking for property years ago in the hopes that we would have a place to go to in our old age.  We couldn't afford any at that time, but the idea stayed in the back of our minds.  Our dream was put on hold when he suddenly passed away, but after he died I got  my first computer, and I discovered SurvivalBlog.  God put the dream back in the forefront of my mind.         

Now I debated for quite some time whether or not this dream was truly from the Lord or just my wanting a change, but the more I read this blog and the more I listened to the radio and talked with my friends about the situation in America both economically and spiritually, the more that moving made sense. I resided in a very liberal state with no hope of redemption as far as I could see and I had a family to raise.  But I had other family nearby - especially my In-laws, and I felt I could not abandon them so soon after their only son's death.   However, earlier this year, at the unusual suggestion of my Mother-In-law, God gave me the opportunity to actually visit the area in question and provided a sweet and knowledgeable realtor to help me begin seeing the possibilities.  Once again I fell in love with the American Redoubt and felt that deep desire to leave where I had been for so long.  Through some eye-opening observations I experienced after returning home, it was clear to me that God was indeed opening the doors for a move.   That was Spring and after a whirlwind summer with some surprising "God moments",  I am now living in the American Redoubt.      

To give some perspective on the lessons I learned, I must mention that I had almost convinced myself that moving out of my city and state would never happen.  In light of that I had decided that a "bug in" position was the obvious choice for me while living in the city as I was located on high ground, had some extra space, a large yard and would probably be the only one in my family who had thought of preparing for when TSHTF.  I faithfully stocked up on as many items as I thought necessary - some recommended on SurvivalBlog or by blog contributors, some ideas encouraged from other preparedness sources.  I bought shelves for my kitchen pantry that allowed FIFO [rotation] for my stock of canned food; I created a second pantry in a seldom-used room and slowly filled it;  I added shelves in closets and filled them.  If TSHTF I thought I would be partially prepared for the family members who would land on my doorstep.        

As I am still learning about preparedness, I took the easiest path to begin and gradually added.  Food and toiletries came first followed by grid-down supplies. Then I bought chicks and raised them in my backyard (well aware of the vague language in the city ordinance) and when they began laying their eggs I shared them with the neighbors so as to calm any protest.  I installed raised beds in my back yard and planted vegetables and herbs until I was out of room and then I slowly put raised beds in my front yard in order to increase my organic crop.  My neighbors wondered why I had ripped out half of my lawn but accepted the fact that I didn't want to mow so much grass.  Around the perimeter of my yard I planted as many edible trees as my property would allow.  Every inch of fence would soon be covered in vines which would also help camouflage the raised beds from the street.  One could say it was bad OPSEC to have such obvious food sources, but my neighbors knew me well and welcomed the excess bounty and the conversation-piece yard.  Some of them began their own gardens and we shared around the block. It was almost like hiding in plain sight. And given the fact that I lived in a walled neighborhood, banding together to block off the Golden Horde would be feasible. So staying in my area was not too bad of an option considering the close-knit neighborhood, its location, and the proximity to family, friends and church.  What I didn't realize is how all that preparing would look to those family and friends as they helped me pack and move.      

When I decided to put my house on the market, my oldest son and I packed up much of the "stock" items to put in storage to prepare the house for sale.  I chose to empty the second pantry first and store the Mason jars I would not be using until after the move.  Since I labeled the boxes, they were innocuous enough on moving day.  I did not label them "emergency supplies" or "Long-term storage".  The only problem was the volume of boxes.  Being prepared means large numbers of items and there were a lot of extra boxes.  I wasn't certain they would all make the trip.      

After the house sold (one of those "God moments") and we were able to return to the north to find a new home (another God moment), we packed as much as we could in the weeks between houses.  That left the last-minute items, furniture, and the storage facility.  We emptied the storage facility and placed the boxes and items in the front room so as to ease the labor on the day of packing the moving truck.  We scheduled the day and some family and a sweet group of friends showed up to help with the final items.  That is where the OPSEC became an issue.  Packing the load was a challenge with many eyes wondering at the obvious numbers.   The curiosity continued with the unpacking crew.      

Have you ever needed a reason to explain why you have enough toilet paper packages to cover a bedroom floor?  Or why you have so many extra cans of beans or bottles of bleach?  Having two pantries is one thing when you are not going anywhere, but emptying them and finding room for them in a U-Haul creates new problems.  (We did learn that toilet paper works well for the nooks and crannies.  Uncle W. packs a tight ship!)      
Moving from a warm climate to a cold climate does allow for some explanations - especially to a "snow novice".  "Just in case we get snowed in" sounds reasonable enough for some items, but not for everything. 

Explaining certain heavy containers that actually hold the nickels you don't want discovered is a bit harder. Laughing them off as a generic coin collection seemed to pacify the curiosity.  Fortunately, no one saw the shotguns and we homeschool so the numerous boxes of books and curriculum was understandable.               

Having some items in five-gallon buckets raised some eyebrows but the chicken food is in buckets so I assume they thought I had a lot of chicken food.  (The chickens made the trip in a trailer and laid eggs along the way!!)  The large collection of Mason jars was obvious as I do canning and am learning to make jam and jelly. Most of those comments were about how much fun it will be to put up new types of fruit.   I tried to camouflage as many things as possible and label generically (which is a problem when deciding where to place the boxes while unpacking) but some things can't be packed until the last day and with all those people packing it was impossible to hide everything that needed to be kept private.  I was able to quickly hide some items in the car without anyone observing and some things were wrapped in blankets and trash bags.  Thankfully, I was also able to share from my bounty with the helpers and with others and hopefully bless them in a small way..  Perhaps they'll remember me as the woman who shared her stuff.  If I ever move again, I will try to do a better job of making my supplies seem less obvious or consume them before calling for help!      

So now as I unpack and unpack and try to fit everything into a new configuration,  I am hoping that my movers will forget the unusual supply of items they saw and lugged around.  I plan to settle in before the winter and get to know my new surroundings and maybe meet some like-minded SurvivalBlog readers.  The area I moved into already has some "survivalists" nearby of which I have been "forewarned".  I am truly looking forward to living the dream I shared with my husband that the Lord has graciously let my family begin experiencing.  I will take a good look at the OPSEC in my new location and perhaps one day if things go downhill the Lord will allow me to use my better hidden supplies to help others.  Maybe some of my "movers" themselves will begin thinking of their own future and take the necessary steps to begin their own preparations.  If they inquire, I will gladly point them to SurvivalBlog. - R.G. in the Great North

Hi Jim,
I just finished reading "Patriots" and can’t wait to being reading "Survivors". I live in the Queens borough of New York City with my family in an apartment building and was wondering if there were any specific guidelines relating to survival in a city such as New York? We do have the ability to G.O.O.D. but I am concerned about a situation where we would have to hunker down at home. I am just beginning to educate myself about survival techniques and strategies. Thank you in advance for any guidance, Sincerely, - Derrick A.

JWR Replies: I do not recommend hunkering down in a big city. Rather, I recommend getting out Dodge (G.O.O.D.) as quickly as possible, in the event of a disaster. (As my friend Bob G. humorously puts it: "Panic early, and beat the rush.") Many of the pitfalls of trying to ride out a major disaster in an apartment are described in my response to this 2007 SurvivalBlog letter: Hunkering Down in an Urban Apartment in a Worst Case Societal Collapse.

Another Self Reliance Expo will be held this weekend (October 7-8) in Salt Lake City. The last one (in Denver) was great. Don't miss it.

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I noticed some interesting discussion threads in progress over at the PreparedSociety.com forums.

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Freeze Dry Guy has announced an October special: 60 Serving Real Meat "Bug Out" Buckets with Freeze Dried Beef and Chicken. They are offering a special pre-order price of $109, with free shipping in CONUS, and a $20 "Survival Bucks" bonus.

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Steve M. sent this gem: Don't Rob A Convenience Store With A Cop Standing Right Behind You

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The latest from The Empire Nanny State: New York State Senators Say We've Got Too Much Free Speech; Introduce Bill To Fix That (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

"You know what's wrong with karate, Jerry? It's based on the ridiculous assumption that the other guy will fight fair."  - James Garner, as the television private detective character Jim Rockford, The Rockford Files episode "Backlash of the Hunter ", 1974. (Screenplay by Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Welcome to all of the first-time readers of SurvivalBlog, who've found the blog because of all the buzz about my latest novel, "Survivors". The archives of SurvivalBlog are immense, so you might feel overwhelmed and wondering where to begin. It is probably best if you read SurvivalBlog's About page and then my Quick Start Guide page.


Today we present another entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When I began to plan my families survival food stores, it quickly became apparent that if/when we lose our suburban grocery store lifestyle, my stores are only going to last a limited time.  I also realized that there is a point at which more food is pointless without more trucks to move it and more people to drive them and more mouths to feed requiring more food.  I live in Phoenix, in the suburbs, in the middle of one of the harshest deserts in the world, where any TEOTWAWKI scenario will be a G.O.O.D. situation.  Relocation now is a desirable but unattainable option, so I am preparing to the best of my ability.  The solution to this vicious food cycle is to develop a plan that incorporates short term emergency food with long term sustainable food generation.  To this end, my plan includes emergency food to sustain my family through transitional periods, a garden and a store of non hybrid seeds for future planting, and carefully selected livestock which the rest of this article will be devoted to.

The idea of having to rely entirely on hunting or fishing for meat and other animal products does not seem sound to me.  Sport fishing becomes sport crawdad catching when the Game and Fish Department haven't stocked the rivers and streams of Arizona, and if the populations of major cities were suddenly all roaming the countryside trying to find food I imagine game would become scarce.   My solution: become the crazy neighbor with all the weird pets.  (I tried to be subtle, but roosters crow at five a.m. and my goats aren't silent all day long either.)  But, I have very strict criteria for all my 'pets'.  #1 They must be useful for feeding my family.  #2 They must be low maintenance and able to feed on forage.  #3 They must be small enough to be kept in my suburban backyard and small enough to go on the road if we need to bug out. #4 They must be hardy and disease resistant.  Cows, pigs and horses are too big for the backyard, too expensive and complicated to care for, and would be impossible to bug out with, but chickens, rabbits, and dwarf goats are compact, practical, low maintenance, and a renewable source of eggs, meat, and milk.   

Chickens/ Eggs

When I first started looking at small scale livestock, the obvious place to start was chickens.  There is no end to the benefits of the egg.  They are a source of protein and healthy fats that you can't get from gardening alone.  I purchased my first baby chicks as an impulse buy and thought they could just free range in my back yard after outgrowing the box in my laundry room.  Turns out the free range plan had drawbacks and after the dog ate my baby chicks we put a little more planning into action.  A year later, we have healthy, thriving birds, tons of eggs and we only spend 3 or 4 minutes a day caring for them. 

Chickens are very low maintenance critters.  In a back yard setting they need food, water and shelter.  Shelter can be just about anything that keeps the dog out.  Ours is a 4 ft. by 4 ft. cube made of 2x2 lumber enclosed by plywood on one end and chicken wire on the other, with a little door and some roosts.  Or, they can free range, but you'll want to clip their wings to keep them from flying over the wall, you'll have to hunt for the eggs, and instead of cleaning the coop once every few months you'll be cleaning chicken feces off everything all the time, and then there's that whole dog thing.  I feed commercial food, because it's easier in our compact space, but they can feed on forage alone, they like bugs and grass.  The watering is the most difficult part because it gets nasty quickly.  You have to change it frequently(like twice a day).  I solved this by making some nipple style bucket waterers.  Now all I do is check the water level of the buckets and top them off every now and then.  You can get the nipples for under $2 on line at farmtek.com and find information about making them through an internet search.   

I ordered my chicks on line because I was very selective about the breed.  There are hundreds of breeds of chicken and some are bred for eggs, some for meat and some for both.  I chose Wyandottes because they are a dual purpose bird, good egg production and still meaty enough for dinner.  They are also relatively quiet, docile, and bear confinement well.  The web site backyardchickens.com has detailed information on the characteristics of different breeds and links to mail order suppliers.  When you order through the mail you usually have to buy a minimum of 25 or they won't survive shipment.  Twenty five birds is a lot so plan on butchering some or go in with someone else or sell your extras on craigslist.  And of course a handful just won't make it through the first week so get at lease a few more than you need.  After that they are very hardy.  

Each of my five birds lay about five eggs in seven days giving us two dozen eggs a week.  I also have two roosters (just in case one dies) so that we can hatch our own fertile eggs.  To hatch eggs, you can buy an expensive incubator, but all you really need is a box, bedding, a thermometer and a hygrometer that can be found in reptile supplies at pet stores so that you can monitor and adjust the temp and humidity, and turn the eggs every day.  You do not need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs for eating.  A rooster will keep your hens bred resulting in eggs that are fertile and can be hatched out.  You only need one rooster for about a dozen hens, but it's always good to have a spare.  There is very little difference between eating fertile and non fertile eggs.  When you collect your eggs, the ones for hatching should be kept warm and the ones for eating should be refrigerated, or kept cool, this will prevent them from growing into baby chicks.  It takes about twenty days for chicks to hatch, it takes about five months for the hens to grow to laying age, then they will lay for two to three years, then dinner.  Butchering and plucking are not as difficult as they sound either.  The hardest part is waiting for them to stop moving after you kill them, (I'm girlier than I thought).  You can find anything you need to know about chickens on line, but it's a good idea to have a reference book in hard copy. 

In a G.O.O.D. scenario, we have a 2x3 ft wire cage that they all will fit into for transport in the back of our truck and I made a lightweight run out of PVC and cloth netting that can be easily assembled and broken down in the wilderness.  It is low to the ground and has a larger footprint, 5ft by 10 ft by 2 ft tall, so I can move it around allowing the birds to find forage during the day and be returned to the more secure wire cage at night when predators might be out.  After the initial investment of the birds and their equipment, and the work of building the shelter and setting up the bucket waterers and the homemade incubator, their daily care consists of dumping a cup of feed in their trough twice a day.  I spend 12-15 dollars a month on feed but I get 8 to 10 dozen eggs in a month. 


According to what I've read on line and in books, rabbit meat is among the most nutritious you can eat.  They are also easier to butcher than chickens, no messing around with feathers, and provide you with leather.  There are several breeds of meat rabbit.  I picked New Zealand because I found a local supplier.  Another meat breed is Californian and now we have one girl of that breed as well.  The pet rabbit world is a little offended by the idea of meat rabbits, so you might want to be subtle.  For instance, a craigslist search for meat rabbit will come up empty, but if you search for homestead rabbit or New Zealand rabbit you're more likely to yield results. 

Rabbits are easier than chickens to care for.  The trick is to be clever about their hutch set up to minimize extra work.  Each rabbit needs their own hutch or else they will fight.  We had two sisters together for a long time and thought they were fine, but as soon as they reached maturity they began trying to dominate each other and had to be separated.   We have very roomy hutches for them here in the backyard, but a few well placed pieces of plywood will divide one cage into separate spaces for each rabbit in a G.O.O.D. situation.  We made them out of 2x2 lumber, plywood and hardware cloth for some sides and the floor.  The bottom of the hutches are made of hardware cloth so that the feces falls through and the rabbits feet stay clean and dry.  This is important for their health.  Our hutches sit on a 2x6 frame on the ground filled loosely with straw.  This absorbs the urine and contains the feces.  Rabbit manure is extremely good for the soil so every three months or so we move the hutches off to the side and shovel the whole mess into a wheelbarrow and into the garden.  Rabbit manure does not have to compost.  It can be added straight to the soil.  The babies won't do well straight down on the hardware cloth.  So we add nesting boxes to the hutches a week before kindling.  The bottoms of the nesting boxes are made of tighter hardware cloth and filled with dried grass, and then momma rabbit lines it with her own fur.  The doe is completely self sufficient with her young.  Just keep her fed and she knows what to do.    

We feed a commercial rabbit food for the same reason as the chickens, it's just easier in the city.  But our californian doe is an escape artist and she lives under the shed for weeks at a time with no food provided from me.  I save all my veggie scraps and strawberry tops for them and give them weeds from the yard.  If they had to subsist on forage they would be fine.  We use the same bucket style watering system that we made for the chickens, with the same nipples and all.  We have one five gallon bucket from the hardware store sitting on top of the last hutch and a length of PVC pipe that drops down then angles and spans the length of the hutches with a cap on the end.  Each hutch has a water nipple poking in through the hardware cloth side.   Fill one bucket, water every rabbit, yeah!  A five gallon bucket is more than a month's supply of water for five rabbits and it stays surprisingly clean. 

Now for the good part, the gestation period for the rabbit is about a month.  They have 8 to 12 kits per litter.  It takes about two months for the young to be up to butchering size, which coincides with weaning so you only ever have to feed the doe. New Zealands give about three pounds of meat per rabbit.  So you're looking at 20-30 lbs of meat every three months per doe.  If we round that to 25 lbs, you're looking at 100 lbs of meat per doe per year.  This rapid turn around is what makes them so valuable.  Of course, not every mating results in pregnancy, not every litter is born alive, and sometimes mom isn't producing enough milk for all the kits, so the law of redundancy is important.  Breed more than one doe at the same time.  I'd rather have too much than not enough.  Rabbits are also less hardy and disease resistant than chickens, but keeping one particular animal alive is not as important.  If one isn't healthy, cull it.   Frequently save your strongest kits for new breeding stock.  It takes eight months for them to reach maturity, so plan ahead. 

The other main advantage to rabbits are their hides.  Tanning is surprisingly easy, but yucky.  All you need is an acid/brine solution, a plastic bin, and gloves.  I followed the directions in the book Backyard Livestock: Raising Good, Natural Food for Your Family, by Steven Thomas and George Looby (ISBN-13: 978-0-88150-760-7).  It worked great.  Water, salt and two ounces of sulfuric acid, which I found at a prospecting supply store, mix in the plastic bin, add the hides and shove it in the shed for a month.  I couldn't make shoes from the leather, rabbit is too thin, but there are a million other uses for it.  Tanning in a wilderness setting is a topic for future research. 


Goats are getting a little further into the realm of farming than backyard pets, but in the city I live in, a person can keep two dwarf breed animals in a suburban backyard, under the exotic pets exemption.   The Nigerian Dwarf Breed is perfect for this purpose.  They were bred specifically for milk and have a higher butterfat content than other breeds.  Their milk is also less goaty tasting than the stuff you can buy at the store.  They are about the size of a medium to large dog, smaller than my border collie, but bigger than my beagle.  They won't do well alone so you must have two.

They need a shelter that will keep them out of the elements.  A doghouse is fine.  They also need enough space to move about.  I wouldn't suggest letting them roam free in the backyard because it's easier to clean up after them if the mess is contained to one area and they will eat things you may not want them to eat.  We enclosed a corner of our yard with chain link fencing.  It's about 15x15ft, very roomy for them, and then we put down a layer of straw.  We have a heavy duty bucket for their water, we tried the nipple style and they figured out how to use it, but I didn't feel like they were getting enough that way.  We feed them alfalfa hay and a loose mineral supplement that includes copper.  They must have this.  It's also sold in bricks like a salt lick but the brick melts away in the rain.  We leave a few spoonfuls of loose minerals in a pan in the pen and it lasts for weeks.  We also feed them baking soda.  They have complicated digestion and baking soda helps them with tummy aches.  We just leave a little in the pen and they eat it when they want.  For a treat, they love animal crackers.  Grooming includes keeping their hooves trimmed.  If you buy goats make sure you get ones that have been tested for CAE.  CAE is a virus that causes a joint disease and animals can carry the virus with no symptoms.  It is non-communicable to humans so the milk is safe for consumption from an infected animal, but it is communicable to other goats through nursing and breeding.  If your goat has this virus they might eventually need significant veterinary care. In a survival situation you must have healthy animals or you've wasted your efforts. 

I have two female goats, one is barely up to breeding age, 8 mos, and the other is pregnant.  The gestation period is about six months and they have one to three kids usually, sometimes more.  I have been caring for them for a while now but we haven't been milking yet.  This next bit of info is the result of research and has not been tested by experience, yet.  Nigerians give up to a quart of milk per day.  You'll need a milk pail, strainer and strip cup, preferably all made of seamless, stainless steel.  Nigerians are small so your milk pail shouldn't be huge.  You wash the udders before milking, and then collect a test sample in the strip cup.  Look at it and smell it.  If the milk seems off, milk the animal, but toss it out.  If the milk looks and smells normal, keep it.  After you're done milking, pour the milk through the strainer to remove any hair that may have fallen in.  Pasteurize or don't pasteurize depending on you personal preference by boiling the milk to kill possible pathogens.  This will also kill beneficial enzymes.  Now you can make butter and cheese.  My grandmother made what she called "kick butter."  She put the cream in a gallon glass jar with some ball bearings and the women would sit and sew, or chat, while rolling the jar back and forth across the floor with their feet, kicking butter. 

My girly goats are not as low maintenance as my rabbits and chickens, but daily care still only takes a few minutes to toss out some hay and check their water and minerals.  When the kids come, the milking process will add 15 minutes twice a day to my chores.   Every few months we use a gas powered tiller and turn the soil under, burying the old chicken feces and straw, and then we lay down new straw.    Eventually this is going to be very, very good soil for the garden.

When the SHTF, we have a large dog crate that they will both fit into to travel in the back of the truck.  They walk on a leash and we also have a corkscrew stake and 20 foot tether that we can use in the wilderness to let them roam about during the day.   They can also survive on forage and a wilderness shelter can easily be constructed for them that suits the climate in question.  We do not have a buck because they need to be housed separately and we don't have the room.  I am trying to talk my sister into housing a buck for us in her backyard, but have been unsuccessful so far.  If the SHTF before I work out this detail we will be praying for a baby buckling to mate to our other doe and keep the whole thing going. (Our girls aren't related.) 

In Conclusion

This article is intended to provide an overview of the ease and benefits of raising small livestock in a suburban setting and a survival situation.  It is not all inclusive or a replacement for doing your homework.  Again, a good book to start with is the book Backyard Livestock: Raising Good, Natural Food for Your Family.  It provides a range of information on raising and harvesting animals. 

Since I began my experiments in small scale livestock, my family has completely changed our eating habits.  I started this because I want to know that I have the skills to feed my family if there are no  grocery stores.  But now, whether TEOTWAWKI happens or not, we are trying to become grocery store free.  It is rewarding in ways I can't capture with words.  Food from restaurants I used to love, tastes like cardboard and motor oil now.  My husband and I sit in the backyard in the evening surrounded by life.  I love watching him sweet talk the chickens when collecting the eggs.  My children are learning to respect nature, understand food, and give thanks to God for it.  My first experience with butchering was also very eye opening.  There's a reason why the first kill turned a child into a man in primitive societies, now I know I can do what it takes to feed my family. 

One final note, the skills you acquire from these kinds of things are far more important than the stuff you collect.  You can't expect to try something new for the first time in a crisis situation and have it succeed.  My first chickens were killed by our dog(we no longer own him).  My first gardening attempt was a dismal failure because my soil was bad and I didn't know to fix it, I do now.  My first litter of rabbits died because the doe didn't get her milk in and you can't bottle feed rabbits successfully, now I'm growing herbs that increase milk production to feed to my rabbits and goats.  And the first two goats I bought had CAE and we had to sell them and start over.  Everything is a learning process.  Our little "mini ranch" in the city is starting to thrive now that we're getting the kinks worked out, and I'm confident we could take this show on the road.  Get skills and experience before you are facing starvation.  Start small and take it one project at a time.  If you've never made food from scratch, start experimenting.  Make butter.  Sew a simple project.  Grow some herbs.  Can some food.  Don't wait for a life and death situation to learn how to be self reliant.

Mr. Rawles,
I just purchased the Kindle version of "Survivors" and can't wait to start!  But that's not what I'm writing about.  There's a very interesting video titled Kelly McCann's Crucible High-Risk Environment Training Volume Four: Mission-Essential Off-Road Driving, published by Paladin Press.  In a nutshell, the video is geared towards security contractors operating overseas, but contains valuable information for anyone (emergency responders, sheriff's deputies, etc.) who may need to use off-road vehicles under emergency circumstances (like preppers) without destroying their rig.

The video starts off by explaining the various setups you may find on commercially available SUVs (solid axle versus independent suspension, traction lockers, et. al.), and the type of gear that one should have for recovering a vehicle that gets stuck off-road.  The then get into the nuts and bolts of negotiating terrain without getting stuck or damaging your vehicle, and how to recover a vehicle that has become stuck.  In all, I found the video very informative, and I believe it has a good deal of information that would prove useful to your readers as well. 

There's much more content than my little description here can convey, but you get the gist.  The material is presented by former Marines who've operated overseas, both with the military and as private contractors, and they convey their information in a straightforward manner, warts and all; their conversation is laced with casual profanity and repetitive expressions ("bottom line" in particular) but the information is top notch. 

Also of note, is that you'd rather "rent before you buy", then Gold Star Video has pretty much the complete Kelly McCann/Jim Grover combatives library.  They function something like Netflix for martial arts videos, with the option to purchase if you like them.  Many of us are on a limited budget, and their service allows you to rent a video series for a month at $9.99 per video to give them a "test run" before purchasing.  Definitely worth a look, at least.

William J. sent this: Texan investor hedging with $1 million in nickels. Does this sound familiar?)

A Swedish newspaper reports: Germany has rush-ordered the printing of new D-Marks. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

Darin H. mentioned this: Gerald Celente: The Crash will happen sometime this month

Rhonda T. flagged this: "EU preparing bank rescues amid Greece doubts. Here is a key quote: "All roads now point to a mid-November crunch."

Italy downgrade deepens contagion fears over euro debt crisis. (Thanks to Al H. for the link.)

News from formerly pleasant Oxfordshire, England: Mob takes emergency water supplies during Banbury shortages.

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Today is the last day of the three day sale: Ready Made Resources is also having a 25% off sale on Mountain House foods where they are offering a free copy of "Survivors" when you order two cases Mountain House foods. Note that this offer can be multiplied -- i.e. you will receive five copies of the novel if you order 10 cases of Mountain House foods.

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The Los Angeles Times reports: Emails show top Justice Department officials knew of ATF gun program. Note that they termed it a "surveillance operation". But taxpayer dollars were used to buy some of the guns, so it was much more than that. Your Tax Dollars At Work! In related news: House Republicans Request Special Counsel to Probe Holder on 'Fast and Furious'. And we also read: CBS News Reporter Says White House Screamed, Swore at Her Over Fast and Furious. (So, it seem that it was the BATF that was "Fast" and the White House that was "Furious".)

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Tennessee Prepper sent an interesting link on farming weather predicted for the next 10 years: Hunker Down to Weather the Next 10 Years."'There are indications that the climate will become increasingly volatile over the next 20 years. Dry years will be drier and wet years will be wetter. Volatility may not be permanent, but it will be a fixture for the next 10-20 years,"

"Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine." - One of L.K.O.'s favorite unattributed Paraprosdokian sentences

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This is the release day for my novel "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". (October 4th, 2011.) Thank you for waiting to order your copies until today. Keep an eye on the book's Amazon Sales Rank, as the day progresses. This should be fun!

Survivors Cover

Here is some information on the novel, without any spoilers: Much of the novel is set in the Four Corners Region of the American Southwest. "Survivors" is unusual for a novel sequel. Unlike most sequels, instead of extending the "Patriots" saga further into the future, it is contemporaneous with the action in the first book. But it is set in different locales, with mostly different characters, with vastly different levels of preparedness. The novel begins from the perspective of a U.S. Army officer deployed in Afghanistan, just as "The Crunch" unfolds.

Unlike the protagonists in "Patriots", most of the characters in "Survivors" don't have a deep larder, so they are forced to scramble and improvise. There are just a few crossover characters between the two novels, such as Ian and Blanca Doyle (whom you will remember from "Patriots" as the husband and wife Laron Light Experimental airplane owners living near Luke Air Force Base.)

The cover art for the book was masterfully rendered by mixed-media artist Tony Mauro, Jr. of New York. He took my vague one-minute verbal description of what I had in mind for the art, and he nailed it. I am very happy with his design and his choice of color palette. It really captures the essence of the novel. (The lead character, Andy Laine, is depicted on horseback in Texas, in the midst of The Crunch. You'll see how closely Tony matched the storyline when you read the novel.

"Survivors" is being published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. This first released is in hardback. It retails for $24, but Amazon sells it at the deeply discounted price of $14.40.) It will be followed sometime in 2012 by a trade paperback. (The latter is the same binding format that was used with "Patriots".)

The publisher tells me that the first print run of hardbacks was 35,000 copies. This big initial printing was in part based upon Amazon's strong pre-order of 15,000 copies. I'd prefer that readers in the U.S., Canada, and the UK order through Amazon. (If your order is at least $25, you can qualify for Amazon's free "Super Saver" shipping. See our Catalog Page for ideas on other items that you might want to order, to bring your total over $25.)

I should also mention that Kindle, Nook, and iBook e-books as well as the audio book are also now orderable. The award-winning Dick Hill narrated the audio book. (He also narrated "Patriots".)

Where to Buy Your Copies of "Survivors"

Hardcover Book Sellers:
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound
Boomerang (Australia)
Amazon.de (Germany)
Whitcoul's (New Zealand)
Amazon.co.uk (UK)

eBook Sellers:
Kindle (Amazon.com)
iBook (iPods and iPhones)

Audio Book Sellers:
Boomerang (Australia)
Amazon.de (Germany)
Whitcoul's (New Zealand)
Amazon.co.uk (UK)

The hardback will also soon be available to U.S. armed forces servicemembers, through the All Services Exchange Catalog.

If you've already read it, succinct, positive reviews at the Amazon and Barnes & Noble web sites are greatly appreciated. For example, here is one that was just posted:

"I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of Survivors and truly enjoyed reading it. If you liked Patriots you will love Survivors! While Patriots was about 50% technical manual and 50% novel, Survivors is much more a story but still has enough "technical" in it to keep a true Rawles fan happy. Survivors is a wide-ranging book that takes place with different groups in many locations who are much less prepared than the groups in Patriots. That makes it very interesting, coupled with the fact that Rawles dosen't mind killing off a character you like once in a while to keep you guessing. I especially like the "Kentucky Seed Lady", Sheila Randall, who shows that you just don't lay down and take it when things go bad but get to work instead. Also, who wouldn't like Andy Laine and his story of sacrifice and scrappiness to get home from Afganiston when things go bad. The world and timeline that Rawles has created will continue to support many new books in the future. Survivors (unlike Patriots) leaves you with some unfinished business which, I assume, will be tied up when [the second sequel] Deo volente comes out.

I also have to mention that even though I have read Survivors I ordered a new copy so I can get the great cover art on my bookshelf (the advance copy has a plain cover). The art fits the theme of Rawles world and the story itself perfectly. Great story, great read, educational, interesting and timely - just what you want in a book. Nice work James Wesley Rawles!" - Robert A. Jacobsen

Thanks for your help in making the Book Bomb Day a success!

Shortages Lead Doctors To Ration Critical Drugs. (A hat tip to Brian D. for the link.)

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Couple recovering from home bear attack. Important safety tip: Keep a loaded gun handy at all times, for both two-legged and four-legged predators! (Thanks to F.J. for the link.)

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Fed Plan to Consolidate Power Over Nation's Power Highway Has States Nervous

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A bit more truth comes out: ATF Fast and Furious: New documents show Attorney General Eric Holder was briefed in July 2010. Meanwhile, we read: Whitehouse Document Dump Raises Possibility of Second 'Gunwalking' Program

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I've been having fun watching the almost real life Sons of Guns television series available via Netflix streaming. I say "almost" because a few of the situations seem a bit contrived and/or too coincidental to be mere happenstance. The show is about a father and daughter that operate Red Jacket, a Class 3 manufacturer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They have an eccentric crew of enthusiastic gunsmiths with very positive attitudes. (And, refreshingly, much cleaner vocabularies than the wrench-turners in all those "Monster Garage" type shows.) Other than the fact that the producers glossed over the $200 transfer tax requirement for full auto, SBRs and SBS transfers in the U.S., the show is quite good, overall. Many of their modification work involve suppressors, Saiga 12 shotguns, and other guns in the AK family.

"Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli." (Loosely translated: "According to the intellect of their readers, books have a destiny.") - Terentianus Maurus, De litteris, De syllabis, De Metris

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tomorrow (October 4th) is Book Bomb Day for my latest novel "Survivors". Please wait until midnight, Pacific time to place your order. The book is already ranked #170 in overall sales rank and #23 in Amazon's "Action Adventure" books category. I'm hopeful that it will get in to the Top 20, overall, and the Top Three in the Action Adventure category. (There is some weighty competition, with authors like CJ Lyons, Stieg Larsson, George R.R. Martin, K.C. May, and Brett Battles.) At least my book won't be competing against multiple "Twilight" vampire novels, like "Patriots" was, on its release day.

Competing for attention, the Australian near-future war of resistance movie Tomorrow When the War Began will also be released on Blu-Ray on October 4th. And simultaneously, the Elves of Cupertino are expected to announce the iPhone 5. In the publishing world, "The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two: The Son of Neptune" will be released the same day. Since that book is part of such a wildly popular series, I expect that it will jump to #1. (That book's predecessor was both #1 on Amazon and #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.)

Hopefully there might even be room for "Survivors" in Amazon's Top Ten.

"Survivors" Rankings In The Past Week:


Amazon Rank

September 26 384
September 27 365
September 28 308
September 29 281
September 30 212
October 1 176
October 2 170

Tomorrow, I'll be graphing hourly updates. And hopefully I will also have a live ranking feed from Amazon, if my #2 Son can complete coding a shell script.


I'm scheduled to be on both the Peter Schiff show and the G. Gordon Liddy show, tomorrow. (Tuesday, October 4, 2011.) Both shows will be available as podcasts.

Pat's Product Review: SOG  Knives - SEAL Knife 2000 & SEAL Pup

SOG Knives makes some of the best cutlery around, bar none! I've been using their knives for many years, and have never been let down by any of 'em, including their multi-tools. My youngest daughter, who is a Combat Medic in the US Army, carries a SOG folding knife everyday - that says a lot! I've had several SurvivalBlog readers write and ask me to do a review on the SOG Seal Team and SOG SEAL Pup fixed blade knives, and I'm happy to oblige.
The SOG SEAL Knife 2000 has been discontinued, and was replaced by the SEAL Team Knife, it's basically the same knife, with a few exceptions, one being that the blade shape is slightly different. I don't have the new SEAL Team Knife on-hand, so I can only report on the older model, the SEAL Knife 2000.
Now, there has been several "official" SEAL knives made over the years, by a number of different companies and custom knife makers. However, if memory serves me correctly, SOG was the first commercial knife company to be awarded a contract for an "official" SEAL knife. Bids went out, with specifications for a fixed blade knife for the US Navy SEALs. Some of the requirements were: tip breaking stress, blade breaking limit, sharpness, edge retention, hand twist off force, two week salt water immersion tests, gasoline and acetylene torch resistance, chopping, hammering, prying, penetration tests, cutting six different types of rope and line, plus an intense hands-on competition in the field. SOG Knives won the competition against all comers, including some custom make knives.
Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the US Navy SEALs know these guys are the best-of-the-best in Spec Ops. Their training is extremely difficult and demanding, very few candidates make it through the first two weeks of training, to be sure. The SEALs also demand the very best in everything, including weapons and equipment. These guys can be out on a recon or patrol for weeks at a time, with very little in the way of support, so they demand weapons and equipment that won't fail, period.
The SOG SEAL Knife 2000 has a 7" blade made out of AUS 8 stainless steel - one of my favorites. The knife is 10.3 oz, making it light enough for close combat and heavy enough for many everyday tasks and chores. The handle material is some type of black synthetic called GRN, and it's super-tough to be sure. The knife comes with a black Nylon sheath, however an optional Kydex sheath is available as well. The handle material has finger grooves on the bottom for a sure grip under all sorts of conditions. Normally, I don't like this feature, as the grooves always seem to be in the wrong place for my fingers, on the SOG SEAL knife, the grooves are in the proper place. There is also a lanyard hole on the butt of the handle, which is a must-have feature when working in and around water - where the SEALs operate. The blade has a soft powder coating on it for a non-reflective look, again, something that is necessary when working in the dark.
I've had my sample SEAL Knife 2000 for several years now, and I've put it through all manner of tests around my meager homestead. I've used the knife for cutting chores, as well as digging - which is was not really designed for. The blade holds an edge a good long time, even when subjected to digging. The knife is fast in the hand, which makes it a good choice for close quarters combat work.
Needless to say, I couldn't possibly duplicate all the tests the SEALs subjected the knife to during their testing. However, over many years, I've given my sample a good work out, and it has held-up to everything I've thrown at it. About the only "damage" to the knife has been scratching the powder coating on the blade - no big deal!
The late Col. Rex Applegate, who employed me for about three years told me that during WWII, the OSS did a lot of research into what makes a good combat knife. One of the requirements was that the knife had to have a blade of at least 6" in length, in order to stab through heavy clothing and reach vital organs. The full size SEAL knife easily meets that requirement with it's 7" blade.
The blade is also partially serrated on the SEAL knife, and that's a good feature if you have to cut a lot of rope or poly cord, as the serrations really rip through even slick and wet rope or poly cord. The blade holds an edge a good long time, and one of the things I like about AUS 8 stainless steel is that, it's easy to re-sharpen. What's not to like here?
The new SEAL Team Knife is just now coming on the market, and it retails for $160.50 and that's a good price for a knife this tough. [JWR Adds: And it is already available at discounted price under $100, through Amazon.com and a few online knife dealers.] If it's good enough for the US Navy SEALs, then it's good enough for anything you or I can throw at it.
Now, this may come as a surprise to you - I know it did to me. I was told by SOGs marketing guy, Chris Cashbaugh, that the SOG SEAL Pup fixed blade knife is actually more popular with the US Navy SEALs than the full-sized knife is. It is also a better seller to civilians than the full-sized knife, as well. As I'm sure you know, a knife is used as a tool more than it is used as a weapon, and the smaller SEAL Pup seems to fill the bill nicely.
With a 4.75" blade made out of AUS 6 stainless steel, it's about the right size for most everyday chores that the SEALs or anyone else can throw at it. While I would prefer to see the SEAL Pup make out of slightly tougher AUS 8 stainless steel, the AUS 6 seems to hold up very well, in my tests.

The handle, like it's big brother, is made out of black GRN synthetic and has finger grooves as well as a lanyard hole. The blade is powder coated, giving it a non-reflective finish. A Nylon sheath comes with the SEAL Pup, and you can also get the optional Kydex sheath if you want for a few bucks more. The knife weighs in at 5.4 oz and the blade is partially serrated. Retail is $98.50, again a good buy in my book.
I've also has my SEAL Pup sample for quite a few years, and to be honest, I've used it more than the it's big brother - go figure? Actually, for many everyday tasks and chores, the smaller SEAL Pup just works better than the bigger knife does. The bigger knife is, without a doubt, better for close combat, chopping and slashing applications. But the smaller "Pup" makes easier work of everyday chores.
I honestly wish I could report something negative about either the SEAL Knife 2000 or the SEAL Pup knife, but there's nothing wrong with either of these knives. SOG makes some very fine knives and tools.

Some folks I know are totally turned-off when they see "Made in Taiwan" on the blade of any knife. Look, manufacturers can contract for whatever quality they want, from Taiwan. If you want a crummy $5 knife, they will make one for you, and you'll have a piece of junk. If you want some of the best knives around, and I consider the full-sized SEAL knife and the Pup, as some of the best, then that's what the factories in Taiwan will produce for you. I have no problem with any knife being made any place in the world, and I can care less what's marked on the blade, so long as the knife is of good quality. Sure, I like to see "Made in the USA" marked any products just as much as the other guy does. However, I believe if either of these knives were produced in the USA, the cost would probably be at least a third more to double the retail asking price. Again, what is stamped on the blade as to where the knife is made is not crucial. SOG simply doesn't make and sell junk!
So, if you're in the market for a knife that won't let you down, then take a close look at the SOG SEAL and Pup fixed blade knives. You could do a lot worse, but I don't know if you'd do a lot better, just by spending more of your hard-earned dollars. If these knives are good enough for the US Navy SEALs, then they are good enough for me (and you). - Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor

Mr. Rawles:
Here is a quote from a recent news story: "A 67-year-old man found alive days after his car plunged 200 feet off a mountain road built a makeshift camp, ate leaves and drank water from a nearby creek to survive, his daughter said."

Interesting. "Non Life Threatening Injuries"! 

Lessons learned:

(1) Leave a trail of breadcrumbs? Let folks know where you're going, your route, and when to expect a check-in. This lesson is oft repeated in stories of fatalities.

(2) Put some water in your car's backseat. Hook the seat belt to it so it doesn't become a missile. Plan for a few days; if not a week.

(3) Communications? Combine an idea from a commercial — a weather balloon on a tether. Signal fire. Air horn. FRS or CB radio. Whistle. 

(4) Society needs to engineer roads that can detect accidents or cars leaving the roadway. I remember in the 1960s a Nevada State Trooper told me that the road crews would create a small ridge of dirt a little off the road so that they could see when a driver fell asleep and drifted off the road. He said they found people a considerable distance away from the road. That seems like a cheap way to detect such accidents.

(5) As always, awareness. It's a dangerous world out there for us very fragile humans.

Now imagine this happening in The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI). Scary!

Regards, - F.J.

Reader C.D.V. kindly sent me a map of the most rural counties in the U.S., compiled by Purdue University. This map is a great tool to help in selecting retreat locales. By the way, you can right-click to zoom in on the map. Do you notice a correlation with my designated American Redoubt states? Interesting. (And BTW, here is the source page and there is an accompanying Rural-Metropolitan Levels map, and here is the key for the second map. And it is also interesting to correlate that data with the Frontier designation of some counties.

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The folks at Safecastle are now providing a free hardcover copy of my new book "Survivors" with qualifying purchases of Mountain House three-can packages. They are also including a free Aurora Firestarter. I may be biased, but that sounds like a great deal, to me!

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Meanwhile, Ready Made Resources is also having a 25% off sale on Mountain House foods (from Monday through Wednesday) and offering a free copy of "Survivors" when you order two cases Mountain House foods. Note that this offer can be multiplied -- i.e. you will receive five copies of the novel if you order 10 cases of Mountain House foods.

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G.P. sent this: TEOTWAWKI: The perfect solar storm. (A nice succinct piece by Travis Kelly, a newspaper writer in in Grand Junction, Colorado.)

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Pierre M. spotted this: As Prisoner Exchange Begins, Los Angeles County Officials Predict Doom

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Methinks that the "Just Us" Department has found their convenient scapegoat: New Fast and Furious docs released by White House. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.) Oh, BTW, some have surmised that the entire BATFE might be disbanded. But I'm afraid that is just wishful thinking. I suspect that there will be some grandstanding and organizational shuffling. But inevitably this rogue agency will simply be re-named and the same agents will be sent out to continue trampling our right to keep and bear arms.

"We've all had to rewrite the scripts of our lives the last few weeks, we've learnt a lot and we've had to figure out what's important, what matters - what really matters. Its been quite a time." - Caitlin Stasey as Ellie Linton in the film Tomorrow When the War Began, (Screenplay by John Marsden and Stuart Beattie.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Just two days to Book Bomb Day! Tuesday (October 4th) is Book Bomb Day for my latest book "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". Please wait until Tuesday to place your order, so that the book will get a big boost in Amazon's sales ranks. (When I last checked, "Survivors" was already ranked at #152 in Amazon books (overall), and #20 in the "Action Adventure" category.) Thanks!


Today we present the first entry for Round 37 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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, 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.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, C.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and D.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 37 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Currently I have a couple hundred tomato seeds in my supplies. For the moment, I am focusing on cv. "Raincross Rock" as that is saved seed for a variety I happen to be developing. If I continue to grow and save this variety each year, those few seeds pretty much means that my friends and family (and hopefully many generations into the future) will be assured of a bounty of tomatoes each year. Such is the promise of seed saving!

However, not every plant in every place is a great candidate for seed saving. Plants have rules, too, and while the rules are simple, it is really best to follow them. Thus, this guide.

First of all, it is usually best to save from known varieties that are either heirlooms or open-pollinated. Both of these categories represent stabilized cross-breeds that will tend to breed true. Thus, if you save a "Roma" tomato, the seeds will also show "Roma" characteristics. The difference between these is that heirlooms come with a lineage which is at least 50 years old and sometimes a great deal older than that, while open-pollinated crops are newer, but they are still generally stable and very useful for seed saving. One caution here is to never save from a variety that is labeled "PVP", or “Plant Variety Protection.” That's essentially a plant patent. These people have invested thousands of dollars and seeds in protecting their work. Please be mindful of their efforts.

Obviously, a plant grown from vegetative tissue-- like potatoes, yacon, oca, garlic, some onions, horseradish, etc.—will be genetically the same as the parent plant and are thus obviously true to type.

Hybrids represent what is essentially an unstable cross. In other words, if you save the seeds of a hybrid pepper, the plants the next year will probably resemble the parent varieties used to make the cross more than they will the plant that was expected. Sometimes this can be useful if trying to make foundation stock from which to breed one’s own variety, but in general it is best avoided. There are a multitude of reasons not to save anything with genetic modifications, either. At the top of that list is that all of those genes are patented and cannot be used in any way, which can lead to civil litigation trouble.

Assuming an heirloom or open-pollinated variety, one needs to know what type of genetic tango the species uses. There are two basic divisions—incrossers and outcrossers.

Incrossers have a variety of pollination mechanisms that ensure a high level of self-pollination. Such species—tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, peas and beans are great examples—usually do not require much isolation from other plants to stay true to type. Ten feet of separation pretty much guarantees purity. Additionally, it is not necessary to save seed from as many individuals. Often, it is possible to save seed from a single specimen without harming its genetic bounty.

Most crops, however, are outcrossers. Outcrossers are a bit pickier. First of all, they like to spread their pollen widely. These crops often use the wind or insects to help spread the pollen between different individuals to assist in the process of maintaining as much genetic diversity as possible. This means that to keep a variety of corn absolutely pure, it might need an isolation distance (distance between varieties) of two miles! This might be a little less depending on the local winds, but generally speaking it is a lot more than the home garden can hope to achieve—particularly if there are neighbors growing a different variety! Also, it is necessary to find a large number of individuals to save seed from. Outcrossers are prone to something called “inbreeding depression” which is essentially a lack of genetic diversity through the generations. Inbreeding depression can cause yield or vigor loss. It is caused by either not saving seed from enough individuals or from trying to save from individuals that are too similar. The number of individuals needed to be saved from varies by species and can range from 6 plants to as many as 200!

Additionally, some crops require special treatments such as fermentation or being saved over the winter so that they will go to seed the next year. In places like southern California , it is relatively easy to vernalize such a crop so it will go to seed, but this can be a bit more challenging in climates with severe winters. The key is that the plant needs to experience cold conditions that are then followed by enough warmth to trigger the reproductive process. For example, in Riverside , California , Zone 10a, chard planted in February often would flower in May of the same year. The increasing warmth of spring was enough to trigger vernalization. To do the same in southern Colorado , the chard would need to be kept alive through the winter either through mulching of roots (cutting back the greens) and season extenders or by harvesting and saving the roots in a cool, humid area.

Here are a few crops for the amateur seed saver to consider.

Beans and Peas

Beans and peas are among the easiest of crops to save, which is one excellent reason that they are a popular component of the “seeds in a can” gardens. If the beans get to harvest stage, it is not hard to get them to the seed saving stage: simply allow some to grow beyond the edible harvest stage until the pod is nearly dried out. At this point the pod will probably be tan or yellow. Shell the beans gently from the pods and allow to dry at room temperature. If they are hard like a dry bean that would be cooked with, then they are ready to be saved. The beans are strong incrossers and require trivial separation between varieties. Simply plant one variety per plot, and separate bean plots with a different vegetable.

Peas are treated almost identically: wait for dry pods, shell, dry at room temperature, and store. Saving enough pods at the end of the season to make up for what was planted that year is a very sustainable practice.


Yes, I’m coming back to tomatoes. Since I am working on my own variety, I do have some experience in saving tomato seed. Tomatoes are pretty much incrossers. To save from multiple varieties, about 10 feet of spacing between varieties is generally needed. An exception is the potato-leaved varieties, which need a bit more spacing. The cross that resulted in the formation of Raincross Rock came from two vines that were practically touching.

I am a proponent of fermenting tomato seed. Some people merely dry it, but others say fermenting helps reduce disease. It is really not that difficult. Save only from tomatoes that are fully ripe red (or whatever the ripe color is). When slicing open fruits to dry them, have a spoon and a glass at the ready. Scoop the seeds and the surrounding tomato gel from the fruits and place that in the glass before slicing the tomato into slices for drying. When there are enough tomatoes for a batch, there usually is a nice glassful of tomato seed goo. Put a paper towel over the glass and set it on top of the refrigerator or somewhere out of the way. Wait several days until a mold has formed. Scoop off the mold (along with seeds embedded in that) and throw it out. Rinse the remaining seeds and dry them. They tend to stick to paper towels; aluminum foil as a surface to dry on works reasonably well. At this point they truly need to be in a dry, wind-free location. Once the seeds are dry, they can be bagged for saving.


Is it possible to discuss tomatoes without discussing basil? There might be a law about that. Basils are outcrossers whose pollen is primarily insect-carried. As a result, a considerable distance (100-150 feet) is needed between varieties to keep them true. Alternatively, try using a screening cover that prevents insects from getting through. Or, just simply save seed from one variety at a time.

To save seed, stop pinching the basil (if doing so) and allow the flowers to form. Once the whole stalk has turned brown, it has died, and the seeds can be harvested. Carefully clip the whole stalk over a plate or bowl. Sometimes the seeds can just be gently tapped from the stalk into the bowl, but often they will need to be gently crushed and then winnow the chaff. The seeds are black, the chaff is brown. Use sieves as much as possible and then gently blow the chaff, which is light, from the heavier seed.


The first thing to remember is that there are multiple species of squashes, although they all belong the genus Curcubita. It is very possible to grow four types of squash and still maintain pure seed saving so long as they are all from different species. That is important as squashes are outcrossers. The pollen is primarily carried between plants by insects, but this can mean separation distances of ½ mile or more.

As an example of accidental crossing, and I doubt one of my friends will ever forget this: I planted what I thought were her zucchini seeds and wound up with this sprawling giant plant that threw white crooknecks. Well, as it turned out, the cross was a good one and we’re anxiously waiting to see if the next generation holds true. But this was entirely an accident, as she had forgotten that she had another Curcubita pepo in her yard. We were lucky that the inadvertent cross was more serendipity than disaster!

Therefore, be very careful which species being planted if the intention is to save seed. The saving process itself is not hard. Let the squash grow far past harvest time, and then harvest when it is totally ready. It can sit another few weeks. Then cut the squash open. For summer squashes and zucchini, just save the seeds. Of course, for winter squash all that yummy flesh needs cooking and freezing or eating. In either case, rinse the seeds clean of debris and dry them on a towel. Once totally dry, they can be bagged.

In conclusion, hopefully this will inspire responsible seed saving, with an eye towards maintaining the genetic legacy that is indeed the inheritance of the heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. May all gardens grow and prosper!

I'm a country kid who never knew other people were hopelessly dependent on "the system". I got interested in being prepared while serving as a US Marine during a Mountain Warfare and Survival course in Bridgeport, California. I now live in Wyoming which has just opened up concealed carry to responsible citizens without having to have permit.

While reading your books you've talked about employment near a retreat in the American Redoubt. I work for the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC). They pay very well and offer a retirement following 20 years of service. New officers start out at about $17 an hour with no state income tax. The two main facilities work four days-on and four-off, on twelve hour shifts. If you research  the locations of our facilities all of them offer immediate access to remote areas that are defensible and offer year round hunting and fishing with water sources. I recommend Wyoming. It's reasonably affordable to live here. [Some deleted, for OPSEC.] The WDOC is always hiring. Thanks, - W.K.


I agree with your critiques of Jon W.'s article, so I won’t belabor those points.  There are a couple of points Jon makes that I would like to add to:
First, since Jon is taking a very practical approach to the weapon consideration and refers to his family, and to the possibility of fleeing with what you can carry, my response will continue in that direction.  I’ve considered weapon choice very much and come to some of the same conclusions. However, I personally disagree with the AR as the only platform.  AKs are extremely common in the united states, and we know they are reliable in adverse conditions.  But AKs and SKSes also have another advantage over 223: their caliber is powerful enough to kill deer and in most states is legal for such.  So if you are actually thinking that your combat rifle might have to double as a hunting rifle, which it might if you’ve had to flee your home, then an AK or 308 will serve both purposes.  This led me to purchase a Saiga .308, as it has the receiver and parts of an AK but the knockdown power of a 308.  It also has a hunting legal 5-round magazine, so if anyone snooped around looking for assault weapons, all they would find would be a 5 round semi-auto hunting rifle that just happens to look like an AK.  As for full capacity magazines…I have those too, but can keep those hidden with my ammo stash.
Now about having other weapons: I have planned weapons to fit each of the needs and capabilities of my family.  22s for the kids, and a very accurate bolt-action in .223 for the wife.  For pistols I have revolvers that use .38 Special for target practice and .357 Magnum for serious business.  They are light yet highly reliable.  Jon states that he “doesn’t plan” on getting into a fight with pistols—no one ever does.  But if there were a SHTF situation and the government was trying to confiscate weapons, it’s easier to mix and mingle in any town or populace with a pistol under your shirt than with an AR over your shoulder.  Not to mention the fact that you might just have your pants around your ankles answering the call of nature when those bad guys pop around some trees and your rifle is leaning up against a tree out of reach.  Pistols can stay with you at times you have to leave your beloved rifle somewhere inconspicuous.
Finally, as for shotguns, I live in a mountainous state with plenty of deer and elk, but I suspect that in a real SHTF situation every yahoo in town would be killing them and food would be difficult to scrounge by year two.  Birds, on the other hand, number in the millions and a shotgun can be used to bring home a nice fat duck or goose, game that would be a real challenge to hit with a .22 rimfire.  In conclusion, when choosing your hammer, it might be unwise to limit yourself to ones so small they are only good for crafting birdhouses, or so big they are used for railroad spikes. - C.S.R.

Mr R,
I certainly agree with your comments on the recent guns article that spent so many words criticizing Mel Tappan’s approach to firearms.

To your comments I will add the historical perspective that in his day, there was no standardized assault cartridge as is now found in the .223 and .308, nor were people amassing huge numbers of cartridges for their arms as is common today. As I understood Tappan, one reason he was therefore advising the accumulation of many different rifle type was so that it would be possible to make use of any cartridges that might come along. I think that was a sound philosophy then and nearly as sound now, although everyone would agree that his books are dated. Glad you put in a word for him. I'm looking forward to the new book. - R.F. in Ontario, Canada

This is in reference to “Thinking About Weapons” by Jon W. It is apparent from the tone and content that the author thought only as far as hordes of Mutant Zombie Bikers.  I would suggest that any survival firearm that spends more than an extremely small percentage of its time as a combat weapon belongs to a person who isn’t going to make it. The dislike of the Three Gun battery assumes that you never need a sidearm for up close and personal, [and the need to carry it concealed]. It further assumes that you can take birds in flight (perhaps the author can with his AR, I prefer a 20 gauge shotgun) and that you are precise enough to hit small game in the head so that you don’t destroy the meat (I prefer a .22LR).

Finally, and perhaps my most serious objection is that he assumes his AR will never malfunction. As someone who survived combat in Viet Nam because my M1911 worked when my M16A1 went click (on a half full mag – it jammed) I can assure you that "2 is 1 and 1 is none". Faced with a choice between a .45 ACP or a very expensive club, I’ll choose the .45, thank you. For the price of a decent AR-15, I can own a 20 gauge shotgun single, an AK-47 with 500 rounds, and a solid .357 Magnum revolver.

As to lighter ammo, that is a red herring. When I was in RVN, the troops liked to carry a thousand rounds because they needed them. I know the arguments about better civilian ammo but I much prefer the stopping power of a single 7.62 [NATO] instead of the multiple shots required of 5.56 ammo. Lighter ammo loses it edge if it takes three rounds (or more) of 5.56 to do the job a single 7.62 will do. If weight is my primary concern, then I’ll have a .22 LR to go with my .45.

I strongly advocate looking at your survival situation, determining what weapons mix makes the most sense from a survival point of view. Then see if that weapon can do the other jobs required of it. The weapon that can perform the most functions acceptably well (one of these must be self defense) is the first choice. It might well be a pistol/carbine in the same caliber combination that is still cheaper than most reliable AR’s.  I personally do not like the AR platform (see RVN comment above) for survival. It is fun to shoot, I’d have less trouble with Ruger’s Mini-14, but I just don’t think the 5.56 is enough round for the broadest range of survival requirements. It is always easier to use a round in a situation that is less demanding than its design than to use it in a more demanding situation. I know that 7.62X39 (AK round) has been used to kill elephants by poachers in Africa. I just don’t think needing a 100 rounds to get the job done makes the AK an “elephant gun”. Deer have been taken with .22 LR but I don’t think the .22 is a solid deer rifle. Get a long arm/handgun combination that fills most of your survival needs. I don’t foresee needing “The Infantry  Attack” as a primary survival reference. - Capt Bart (at SurvivalCache)


A one gun platform for a group is indeed flawed. Just ask the military about Afghanistan and Iraq. The AR platform is good for close in combat against AK armed folks, who are in range and so are you. This war brought back the M14 to help with the longer range fighting, especially in the Afghanistan countryside. Our military forces go with a balanced approach. Most of the squad or platoon is armed with the AR variant. Some members are armed with a 7.62 NATO platform for harder and longer hitting. The mix has been a good compromise.

Most folks will be a "bug in" thing with us banding up with close friends in their neighborhood. The majority of folks don't have the option of money to buy a distant retreat. Most folks with a survival mindset have a 223 caliber. And a few have something larger. My wife and son will be using a Mini-14, which cost a lot less than an AR variant. We will be able to share ammo, but not magazines. I have a Springfield Armory M1A with a good scope. I'm very good with it out to a long range. This should convince a lightly-armed mob to go elsewhere before they get into our mutual range. Don't count out those deer rifles too, for long range shooting to turn or soften up a mob. I then have a SOCOM 16 for close in heavy hitting supporting the lighter guns of our group. The magazines for both guns are compatible and my son can use the SOCOM. if need be.

Again, convincing the looters it's easier to go elsewhere is the key. That will, I know, be a problem with a highly trained group attacking us. The best that we will be able to do is make it expensive for them. If your on your own pick what is good for you. When forming a group you will need balance for overall defense. - Sasquatch


Captain Rawles:
Although I violently disagree with his choice of the AR platform as the ultimate do-all rifle, Jon W. makes a couple of good points.  Getting caught by bandits without your main "war"
weapon might be fatal.  Unless you plan to hunt as a patrol, you are vulnerable while you are tramping around in the woods with a less capable weapon.  In combat, you only get one chance, so you better use every advantage you have.  During a societal breakdown, I think life may take on the flavor of a siege.  I might have a dozen weapons, but there is only one that I will carry full time.

BTW, for what it's worth, I don't trust the AR platform at all.  I have used this weapon for 30 years in the Army and when it gets dirty or your ammo is questionable, it will jam.  Under field conditions, I would much prefer something else with more punch that can handle dirt better.

I also agree with his observations about pistols.  They are specialty weapons made to conceal.  They make a lot of sense because you can't always run around with your battle rifle and full combat load without drawing unwanted attention.   If you need one, get one, but you will never draw it in preference to a long gun unless your rifle quits working (like ARs are prone to do).  Carrying both makes little sense to me unless you are planning to shuck your battle-rattle so you can appear less formidable.  A canteen is a much better use of weight. - JIR

Good Day Mister Rawles,
Thank you, as always, for the good work you do every day. Regarding the letter you posted yesterday on survival firearms I feel the need to offer a thought.
It seems to be a recurring theme that folks talk about storing "X" many rounds of 7.62 NATO versus storing "X times 2" rounds of 5.56 NATO (.308 and .223 respectively).

I'm forced to wonder how many Hollywood-esque gun battles these folks foresee themselves engaging in and also surviving.

I may not be a combat hardened war veteran. Point of fact, I live in a country where I cannot legally own a battle rifle. Yet my layman's perspective indicates that when the SHTF you would be wise to be holding the biggest, baddest battle rifle you can physically handle.

Besides, as Jon W states:, as Jon W states:

"More than twelve million ARs are in civilian hands in the United States.  This doesn’t count those held by law enforcement, the National Guard or Army Reserve, and the active military.  There is more .223/5.56 ammunition in this country that any other caliber except .22 Long Rifle.  There are more spare parts, more accessories and more people trained specifically on the AR platform than on any other weapon."

If you survive the half dozen gun battles it takes to deplete your bulky .308 ammo stores then by that time there should be plenty of other ammunition [of various calibers] left on the ground for you to pick up. However, prior to that there's no great reason to fall in with the crowd.

Kind Regards, - The Apple Islander

F.G. flagged this from The Wall Street Journal: House Is Gone but the Debt Lives On

Max Keiser provides some manic comments on the European debt crisis, the Euro, bailouts, the ECB, the Fed and the potential loss of sovereignty for some nations on the European periphery.

CNN: Forecast says double-dip recession is imminent. (Thanks to C.D.V. for the link.)

Jonathan B. sent this: How to Stop a Second Great Depression. (Note that this is coming from globalist billionaire George Soros, so don't be surprised to see "more government" as the proffered solution.)

John R. sent the link to this interesting table: US National Debt by Presidential Term: Per Capita and as Percentage of Gross Domestic Product

Over at Alt-Market: Christine Lagarde’s IMF Action Plan: Reassure The Idiots

Gun crime continues to decrease, despite increase in gun sales. ' Here is a brief quote: "The FBI recently released its Crime in The United States statistics for 2010. Overall, murders in the U.S. have decreased steadily since 2006, dropping from 15,087 to 12,996. Firearms murders — which made up 67 percent of all murders in the U.S. in 2010 — have followed this trend, decreasing by 14 percent." The statists don't like hearing that "More guns equal less crime", but facts are facts.

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Generator Sales Surge After Recent Wave of Storms. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

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F.G. sent this from The Wall Street Journal: How the Stinger Missile Changed Everything. BTW, this article echoes some assertions in an article that I wrote for Defense Electronics magazine that was published back in November, 1988: "Stinger: Requiem for the Combat Helicopter."

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Arizona Sheriff Explains Fast and Furious. (A hat tip to B.B. for the link.)

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There is a fascinating (and lengthy) discussion in progress, over the Survival & Preparedness sub-page on the FALFiles Forums: Building an Impregnable Fortress.

"Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
And many more believed because of his own word;
And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." - John 4:34-42 (KJV)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

We've completed the judging.

The winner of First Prize in Round 36 of the SurvivalBlog writing contest is being awarded to David J. for: Small Scale Alternative Energy in Suburbia which was posted on September 22, 2011. As his prizes, he will receive:

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 $300 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize goes to Tamara for: Creating Hiding Places Without Handyman Skills, which was posted on September 7, 2011. She will receive:

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 goes to Gonzo for: Lessons in OPSEC: Hurricane Irene Versus Hurricane Isabel, which was posted on September 13, 2011. He will receive:
A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, and C.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Runner Up Prizes ($30 Amazon Gift Certificates for each) go to 16 skilled writers for these articles:

Some Observations on Non-Electric Lighting by Ron B.

One Big BOV, by KC-4-JC

Do-It-Yourself Water Filtration, by Robert B.

Foraging: How To Make Yourself Starvation Proof, by Mike F.

Bitcoins: A Practical Primer, by Yishai

How To Butcher a Squirrel, by B.T.

Everyday Carry Items, by J.C.R.

A Folding Kayak as a Survival Vehicle, by Jann B.

The Ice Walking Survival Stick, by Carmen G.

Building a Fire in a Post-Collapse World, by Entropy

You Are At Your Retreat -- What Now?, by D.H.

Making Your Water Filter Last, by F.J.B.

Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids and Hygiene, by Jason L.

An Early Baby Boomer's Bug Out Bag, by Jen L.

Start Small, Plan Ahead, and Set a Realistic Timetable, by Christian Rebel

The Little Things, by D.M.L.


A New Prize: Starting with Round 37, there will be a prize added to the Third Prize package: A