November 2011 Archives

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today we present the last entry for Round 37 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. (We had a few too many entries to post in this round. The extras will be posted and judged in the next round.) 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 (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, and E.)A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 (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.

WARNING: Lye is highly caustic and will degrade organic tissue. Do not allow lye to touch your skin, breathe in the fumes or be taken internally in any way. It will cause chemical burns, permanent scarring or blindness. Do not ever combine lye with aluminum, magnesium, zinc, tin, chromium, brass or bronze. When using or making lye, always wear protective equipment including safety glasses and chemical resistant gloves, and have adequate ventilation.
Basic homemade lye soap is useful for so much more than cleaning up the language of wayward children. Grandma used to rub it on dirty stains before washing. It is very soothing to sensitive skin, since the glycerin contained in homemade soap helps to clear acne, eczema and psoriasis. It eliminates the “human scent” on hunters. When rubbed on a poison oak, ivy or sumac reaction it will cool the itching when allowed to dry. Grandma used to tie a bar in an old sock and hang it on the porch as a bug repellent, and spread the scrapings around the base of the house to repel ants, termites, snakes, spiders and roaches. It was often used as a lubricant on machinery, drawers, and hinges.
Soap was discovered in Ancient Babylon as early as 2800 BC. It is thought to have been made for the first time when grease from the cooking pot boiled over and combined with the ashes from the camp fire. Our forefathers picked up the resulting soap and found that it was a good tool to keep themselves clean. Modern soap was made in regular practice as early as 300 AD in Germany .
The Saponification process
In its simplest form, soap is made from oil or fat, water and lye. Now, we buy concentrated lye and dissolve it in water before combining it with oil, but before modern lye could be bought at the store, people would take the hardwood ashes from their cookstove, store it in an old carved out tree or wooden barrel, and then pour rainwater through it to make the lye. They would test the strength of the lye by floating an egg in it. Then they would pour the lye into the warmed fat and stir it. When the fat and lye are combined, a chemical reaction takes place. There is no lye or fat left—they are combined to make something called soap.
Store bought lye is known as Sodium Hydroxide since it has more salt than does homemade lye, which is called Potassium Hydroxide. Sodium Hydroxide makes a much harder soap than Potassium Hydroxide. To make a harder soap out of homemade lye, add ½ tsp. of table salt for each pound of fat.
Tallow (beef fat), lard (pork fat) or vegetable oils can be used as the base for soap. These fats are called triglycerides. When the triglyceride is treated with lye, it rapidly forms the ester bond and releases glycerol (glycerin), the natural byproduct of saponification. Most homemade soap contains glycerin, which is why it’s so good for the skin; many commercial operations remove it for other applications.
Making the Lye
Lye making requires hardwood ash. Hardwoods include any fruit or nut trees and any of the following:  Alder, Apple, Ash, Aspen , Beech, Birch, Cherry, Cottonwood, Dogwood, Elm, Gum, Hickory , Locust, Maple, Oak, Olive, Pear, Poplar, Rosewood, Walnut, or Willow . Softwoods are to be avoided for this function: Cedar, Spruce, Pine, Fir, Hemlock, or Cypress .
In a wooden barrel or hollow tree, drill some holes in the very bottom, then set it up on a stand to allow room below for a pot to catch the lye water. Some people make a barrel with a removable plug which they remove after letting the water sit in the ash.  Under the stand, set a wooden or glass pot to catch the drip.
In the barrel, put first a layer of gravel, then a layer of straw or dried grass. Fill up the barrel with hardwood ash. When you are ready to make the lye, pour rainwater or other soft water through the ash. The minerals in hard water will interfere with the chemical reaction between the lye and the fat. The water may take up to a few days to drain through. The spent ashes can be composted or added to the garden.
In a specified purpose soap-making pot such as cast iron, boil the lye until a fresh, in-shell egg will float on top, with about half of the egg still above the surface of the lye. If it’s too high, add more water, if it won’t float, it needs to cook down a lot more or else be poured through a new batch of ashes. The egg will need to be destroyed after use. Another test of the lye strength is to dip a bird feather in it, and if it dissolves, the lye is strong enough. Don’t test it with your finger; if it’s strong enough, it will eat off the skin.
Rendering The Fat
After the animal (beef or pork) is butchered, take the fat and skin that you set aside and fill a heavy bottomed pot. Pork is the preferred fat for soapmaking. It’s best to render it outside so as to not stink up the house. We have used a homemade propane burner on legs, with a funnel to channel the air to make the flame hotter. Something similar could be made to use with wood heat. Simmer the fat in the pot, then ladle the liquid fat out of the cooking pot. We killed a 400 lb. hog and got about 10 gallons of rendered fat.
Making Soap—The Cold Process
If using commercially produced lye, it’s possible to use a cold process, where you warm the fat and dissolve the lye in water, then add the lye water to the fat and put in a blender and mix it, then pour into a mold. The emulsification starts when it “traces” with a spoon dragged over the rippled mixture.  It has to set for 6 weeks in the mold to be properly mixed.
1 lb. Commercial Lye soap recipe
¼ c. commercially produced lye
¾ c. soft water
2 c. (1 lb.) fat
6 lb. Commercial Lye soap recipe
13 oz commercially produced lye
1 ½ pt. soft water
12 c. (6 lb.) fat
Instructions: Suit up in safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Start with room temperature or cooler water. [Correction by JWR.] Add the lye to the water. This will warm the water substantially. Stir well, making sure you don’t breathe in the fumes. Set the mixture aside to cool, preferably outside or in a well ventilated area.
Melt all the oils together in a lye-tolerant pan. Allow them to cool to approximately 110°F or within 5° of the lye water.
Add the lye water to the melted oils, never the oil to the lye water. Stir vigorously until “trace” occurs. This can be done in a blender if you so desire. If you are stirring by hand, it may take an hour or more for it to trace.
Pour the traced soap mixture into your molds. Cover. Cut after 3-7 days. Allow to sit for a full 6 weeks to cure and finish the saponification process.
Making Soap—The Cooked Process
It isn’t recommended to use homemade lye with the cold process. The cooked-down lye water is added to the fat and then mixed as it cooks. The reactive time is shorter, since the mixing is done in the pot instead of setting in the mold. It still needs to set for four weeks or so to harden.
1 lb. Homemade Lye soap recipe
¾ c. lye water
½ tsp. salt
2 c. fat
6 lb. Homemade Lye soap recipe
4 ½ c. lye water
1 Tbsp. salt
12 c. (6 lb.) fat
The amount of lye will vary, depending on its strength. This is a starting measurement. The old timers would mix it up and see how well it set. If it was still watery, they’d add more lye and cook it some more. If it set up too hard, they’d add more water, because they didn’t want the soap to crack.
Mix the lye water, salt and fat in the pot. They need to be about the same temperature. The mixture is then heated and stirred until the emulsification (trace) happens. The heating and stirring enables adjustment of the amount of fat or lye, but nothing should be added until it is well heated. Pour into the mold. Cover. Cut after 3-7 days. Allow to harden 4-6 weeks.
Essential oils can be added to the fats before the lye is added. You can choose your own combination. The amount of essential oils needs to be part of the total amount of fat, so the soap isn’t made soft from too much oil. Botanicals, herbs, oatmeal, citrus peels, or any other desired additives can be added after the soap traces, and then it can be poured into the mold.
No metal should be used as a soap mold. It’s best to use a flexible material such as plastic, for ease of removal. I mostly search thrift stores for old plastic storage boxes. The old-timers made wooden molds with removable bottoms. Or you can line a glass mold with plastic wrap before pouring in the soap.  
Once you’ve used homemade lye soap, you’ll never go back to the store bought stuff. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s so much better than anything found on a store shelf.

I've heard from several readers about the absolute hatchet job that was recently inflicted upon me. The statist Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued a wholesale smear against me, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, and Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers. This was well-documented here: Brandon Smith: SPLC Labels Montana Patriots as “Extremist”.

The SPLC is is famous for interspersing legitimate conservative public figures amidst lists of assorted racists, neo-Nazis, xenophobes, anti-Semites, criminals, and Grade A Whackamos. This is the classic "Guilt By Association" smear technique. In my case, it could better be called "Guilt By Non-Association", since I have no connection with them, whatsoever. The SPLC even tried to label me as some sort of anti-government malcontent, simply because I use a Common Law presentation of my given name and my family's surname. (With a comma betwixt, to distinguish between the two forms of appellation.)

Just read my Precepts page, any of my published books, or even my Wikipedia biography page. You will soon see that I am an anti-racist and pro-Israel. (And see for example, my American Redoubt page, where I posted: " I can also forthrightly state that I have more in common with Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews than I do with atheist Libertarians. I'm a white guy, but I have much more in common with black Baptists or Chinese Lutherans than I do with white Buddhists or white New Age crystal channelers."

The bottom line: Please take purported "intelligence" reports published by the SPLC (and parroted by their fellow travelers) for what they are: none-too-subtle gray propaganda.

Dear Editor:
Regarding primitive means of extracting insulin, I direct your readers to this article (PDF and images available here.)
Note that the term 'spirit' in the paper means pure ethyl alcohol, and modern ethyl rubbing alcohol is not suitable as it contains denaturing poisons.
It's known that the mixtures must be kept at ice water temperatures or the insulin will be degraded. This is not intended for a kitchen chemist, some knowledge of chemistry and lab technique is preferred.
Referencing this article is not intended to give medical advice. - A.N. Onymieux


Hey Jim,
I read the call for an insulin producing procedure so I spent some time searching and came across a useful thread over at The Survivalist Boards. I am sure they are looking for more detail but thought I would send it just in case it could help them.

Thanks  - Tim


Mr Rawles,
I do not want to make it sound like I know anything about type 1 Diabetes. I know my mother has it or she has Type 2 and uses insulin for that. She used to control it with a pills but now has to inject. I never gave it much thought until my step-father recently passed away.

I also try not to buy into conspiracy theory's. I do believe in many ways that money changes the out come of many decisions and this could be one of them. Let's face it, insulin is big money.

A prepper fiend told me that he was type I and that he had a very good supply of insulin. He was working on saving up to buy a solar refrigerator and with that he might be able to live for two years after a complete lose of supply. I did not like the sound of it. Putting a time on it just did not site right with me so I did some research.

What I found was a patent applied for in 1970 titled: FREEZE STABILIZED INSULIN, United States Patent 3683635.

Basically, the the concept is to flash freeze insulin in liquid nitrogen. By doing this the liquid freeze within seconds and the water does not get to separate and form crystals.

My fiend found this very interesting and decide to try it for himself. He now rotates some of his supply through this process and he is still alive after over a full year. The reason I say some is that according to the information the shelf life expiration date is delayed. If the expiration is 1 year and you use this process at the 6 month mark, then you still have 6 months left when you thaw it. If this part is true then you really do not need to rotate or even use what you freeze. You just have to be able to keep it frozen. A really good solar freezer might be in order.

Your first question after reading this is going to be about obtaining liquid nitrogen. Most compressed gas suppliers sell it for medical use. You first have to buy a special thermos from them for about $25. Just tell them you are a chef and need it for some crazy dish your are making or to make something you saw on food network.

Good luck, and I pray no one will ever need to use the foregoing. - John M.


Mr Rawles,
I did a bit of searching and found a formula. It is pretty complicated but there are some practical bits of advice that are more realistic.

The plan was posted by a doctor and his wife who is a nurse and are both preppers and host a radio show on the subject. - Tricia

Dear JWR:
Israel Pharma Company has developed  ORAMED - Oral insulin.  this may be the long term solution, making it through studies, looking hopeful.

Thanks for what you do!  God Bless You. - Elizabeth B.


James Wesley:
The Doom and Bloom Blog has covered how to make insulin and penicillin, but you will need some chemistry knowledge and the equipment listed.To keep stored insulin cool in summer a roman evaporative cooler would work best as it only uses water and can be made out of 2 [unglazed] vases or [unglazed terra cotta] planter pots (with duct tape), a sheet and sand. Even though these where used by the ancient romans most videos showing how to make it are for charities in Africa [falsely] claiming that a Muslim invented it--long after Cleopatra was drinking iced drinks made by using these overnight in a dry area. How well they function depends on humidity. A warning about these coolers is that they can hit freezing temps which would be bad for insulin. It shouldn't be a problem in the summertime especially if you use 2 wide mouth planters, but Egyptians and Romans could make small amounts of ice overnight. Duct tape would be effective to use with the holes on the bottom of planter pots:
Roman pottery cooler.

Making Penicillin at home

Making Insulin.

I have a diabetic friend who I printed out instructions for but past the 6 months that insulin can be stored,he would probably have to take the recipe to the nearest teaching hospital, along with a live pig or bull. - Steve M.


Dear Mr. Rawles:
In regard to the letter from the father of a diabetic, on needing a recipe for Insulin.   Below is the recipe.
Not sound to gloomy, but I feel that in a survival situation, the requirements for making insulin are essentially impossible for anything less than a well equipped lab with one or more well
trained technicians.    The chemical requirements are daunting, the equipment extensive, the infrastructure (electricity, de-ionized water, etc. )  make it unlikely that a single person
could make insulin of sufficient purity and quantity to keep a Type 1 diabetic alive.  
In Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven's novel, Lucifer's Hammer,  one of the characters is a  Type 1 diabetic. He dies a few weeks / months after the meteorite impact, of Diabetic Coma.   I have to confess, I have thought about this before, and it appears that it is the inescapable conclusion. 
Preparation of Insulin:
Best and Scott who are responsible for the preparation of Insulin in the Insulin Division of the Connaught Laboratories have tested all the available methods and have appropriated certain details from many of these, several new procedures have been found advantageous have been introduced by them. The yield of Insulin obtained by Best and Scott at the Connaught Laboratories, by a preliminary extraction with dilute sulphuric acid followed by alcohol is 1,800 to 2,220 units per kg. of pancreas. [Here is a quote from Best and Scott:]

The [fairly modern] method of preparation is as follows. The beef or pork pancreas is finely minced in a larger grinder and the minced material is then treated with 5 c.c. of concentrated sulphuric acid, appropriately diluted, per pound of glands. The mixture is stirred for a period of three or four hours and 95% alcohol is added until the concentration of alcohol is 60% to 70%. Two extractions of the glands are made. The solid material is then partially removed by centrifuging the mixture and the solution is further clarified by filtering through paper. The filtrate is practically neutralized with NaOH. The clear filtrate is concentrated in vacuo to about 1/15 of its original volume. The concentrate is then heated to 50oC which results in the separation of lipoid and other materials, which are removed by filtration. Ammonium sulphate (37 grams. per 100 c.c.) is then added to the concentrate and a protein material containing all the Insulin floats to the top of the liquid. The precipitate is skimmed off and dissolved in hot acid alcohol. When the precipitate has completely dissolved, 10 volumes of warm alcohol are added. The solution is then neutralized with NaOH and cooled to room temperature, and kept in a refrigerator at 5oC for two days. At the end of this time the dark coloured supernatant alcohol is decanted off. The alcohol contains practically no potency. The precipitate is dried in vacuo to remove all trace of the alcohol. It is then dissolved in acid water, in which it is readily soluble. The solution is made alkaline with NaOH to PH 7.3 to 7.5. At this alkalinity a dark coloured precipitate settles out, and is immediately centrifuged off. This precipitate is washed once or twice with alkaline water of PH 9.0 and the washings are added to the main liquid. It is important that this process be carried out fairly quickly as Insulin is destroyed in alkaline solution. The acidity is adjusted to PH 5.0 and a white precipitate readily settles out. Tricresol is added to a concentration of 0.3% in order to assist in the isoelectric precipitation and to act as a preservative. After standing one week in the ice chest the supernatant liquid is decanted off and the resultant liquid is removed by centrifuging. The precipitate is then dissolved in a small quantity of acid water. A second isoelectric precipitation is carried out by adjusting the acidity to a PH of approximately 5.0. After standing over night the resultant precipitate is removed by centrifuging. The precipitate, which contains the active principle in a comparatively pure form, is dissolved in acid water and the hydrogen ion concentration adjusted to PH 2.5. The material is carefully tested to determine the potency and is then diluted to the desired strength of 10, 20, 40 or 80 units per c.c. Tricresol is added to secure a concentration of 0.1 percent. Sufficient sodium chloride is added to make the solution isotonic. The Insulin solution is passed through a Mandler filter. After passing through the filter the Insulin is retested carefully to determine its potency. There is practically no loss in berkefelding. The tested Insulin is poured into sterile glass vials with aseptic precautions and the sterility of the final product thoroughly tested by approved methods.

The method of estimating the potency of Insulin solutions is based on the effect that Insulin produces upon the blood sugar of normal animals. Rabbits serve as the test animal. They are starved for twenty four hours before the administration of Insulin. Their weight should be approximately 2 kg. Insulin is distributed in strengths of 10, 20, 40 and 80 units per c.c. The unit is one third of the amount of material required to lower the blood sugar of a 2 kg. rabbit which has fasted twenty four hours from the normal level (0.118 percent) to 0.045 percent over a period of five hours. In a moderately severe case of diabetes one unit causes about 2.5 grammes of carbohydrate to be utilized. In earlier and milder cases, as a rule, one unit has a greater effect, accounting for three to five grammes of carbohydrate.

Regards, - P.W.

Dear JWR:
I first became involved with the AR-15 platform in around 1990. My first two ARs were what I refer to as "garage builds"-- someone's amassed parts or parts kits and threw them together
These guns had both used and new parts, including at that time used M16 parts, and neither gun worked correctly or were very accurate.
It was due to these two poorly performing guns that I learned to work on the AR design.
Since then I’ve built and repaired around 150 guns.

In the past 20 years I’ve seen Colts, Bushmasters along with about every brand crash and burn, and I’ve seen the lesser known one do the same. But as pointed out in the article most of the makers of AR-15 type rifles do not make their own parts.

Like a chain, an AR is no stronger than its weakest part, I had a factory Bushmaster fail out of the box, when the buffer retainer plunger sheered within the first 5 rounds, and I have had Kit guns that have run over 5,000 rounds without a hiccup. Also proper assembly is paramount, and that is why sometimes the lower cost guns do not perform.
I have also seen no name kit guns hold sub MOA, and top end factory guns that wouldn’t go under an inch off a rest.

Preppers need to learn how their gun works, and do some research on what are possible problems, that they may need to address.
For the AR platform I’d recommend the following spare parts: 2 complete sets of springs, Spare extractor and pin, add a couple of additional extractor springs (make sure they have the rubber insert), 2-Spare buffer retainers and springs, 3 to 5 sets of gas rings, 1-Bolt carrier key and bolt set, 1 spare gas tube, 2 spare disconnectors (sear).
It pays to have both a set of drift punches and a set of roll pin punches, and while not cheap a set of roll pin starter punches especially for the really tiny pins, and a military armorer's manual for the M16.s

When an AR fails to function the first thing I check is if the carrier key is loose on the bolt carrier, even the smallest amount of looseness can cause problems, if the bolts are not damaged I just re-tighten them, some say to replace them, but as I said if they are not damaged I re-tighten and re-stake, some prefer Lock-Tite to staking and both work, but do not use permanent [clear] type Lock-Tite, as you may one day need to replace that key. But that has fixed close to 90% of the ailing ARs that I have attended to.  Next would be the gas rings, then the gas tube. If your AR wants to sometimes double or triple fire you likely have a worn disconnector. Make sure to also replace disconnect spring when you do the repair.

While you have the hammer and trigger out inspect the back of the hammer where it engages the trigger nose, and inspect the nose of the trigger for wear, there was a rash of poorly hardened Chinese parts on the market for awhile. Also, do not attempt a "trigger job", as only the surface area of the trigger is hardened. (NO Files or Dremel tools allowed) if you must, then use a fine india square stone.

Keep your AR clean and keep it lubed, I use bore cleaner and a bore snake on the barrel, everything else I hose down with carburetor cleaner, wipe off and dry, then lube with DuPont Silicone with Teflon. One important point with lubrication: What works in Florida, may not work in northern Alaska. - J.D.F.


While I agree with the majority of Pat's Product Review, there are a few things to consider when purchasing a new rifle. I have tried out a number of different ARs over the years, and consider myself pretty well versed on the subject. When it comes down to it, sometimes you get what you pay for. On the flip side of that coin, sometimes you pay extra for a name. Personally, I love my Colt. There are a ton of other great ones out there for a lot less money. I like the Colt because it is what I carried in the military and still carry as a full time LEO.

Whether you build a rifle from the receiver up or purchase a complete rifle, buy it right the first time or it will cost you more money in the long run. Also, if you decide to build the rifle yourself, be aware of differing sizes in parts kits for the [hammer and trigger] pin sizes. There are a lot of very affordable kits on the market right now that are a size .173". Beware, these don't fit most receivers. Get the right parts, as they are often not returnable. Most will take a .154" sized pin kit. I have had really good luck with Colt parts, as well as Rock River. I have heard of problems with a few less expensive parts kits, so do your research before you buy. If you simply can't pass up a great deal on a less expensive parts kit, then you'd better buy two to keep Murphy at bay.

Bells and whistles and accessories for AR rifle platforms can be debated forever. As a last item to consider for first time AR Rifle buyer: Don't be misled by the term" chrome moly". The chrome-moly versus chrome lined barrels are about $100 difference. When you buy one for the long haul, go for the chrome lined barrel. When it comes right down to it, the chrome is harder, will last longer, and will take the abuse of being heated up by extended rapid fire far better than the chrome-moly. Buy right the first time, save yourself problems and hassle.

Thanks for all you do. - Chip S.

Another perspective on an important news item that I've already covered in SurvivalBlog: 'Russian' hackers seize control of U.S. public water system by remotely destroying pump. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

   o o o

K.A.F. flagged this one: Feds want secrecy on ICE facility for Wake County

   o o o

R.B.S. sent this: Cursive writing becoming a font memory in Idaho.

"The New Testament tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to deal with them in terms of God's law. We owe them such fair dealing." - Dr. Gary North

Tuesday, November 29, 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 (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo, and E.)A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 (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.

First a little background: I am an Army Medic with combat experience. I have been a prepper since before I knew what prepping was. I teach wilderness survival and self reliance to the youth in my community as well as hunt, smith and homebrew. This is my personal take on the medical supply situation on a thirty six to seventy two hour bag basis. I have noticed that there have been several articles not just on this site but just about every other site I frequent about first aid kits and the ideal supply list. First off I have to say that many Americans may not be able to afford, let alone use 90% of some of the things I have seen listed. Now, granted, a band aid is a band aid and Neosporin is a cultural must in most American homes, but the addition of a c-collar or a NPA can be downright dangerous in the hands of a mall ninja. Secondly, some of these items are mostly hard to get and expensive. A collapsible liter is an item that I have seen recently, they can run you more than $100 apiece. C collars that are high quality can be $45-$50 dollars or more, and Lidocaine is something that you have to have a prescription for in most places. My third and final point is that a well stocked first aid kit is going to weigh in at upwards to 45-to-55 pounds... trust me I know. (I carried one for a total of 26 months in the desert.)

Now that I have gotten the rant out of my system, I will get down to brass tacks. Statistics show that in a disaster situation the three most common injuries are orthopedic injuries to long bone and small joints, lacerations to face, head and hands, and hypothermia. Once you get out beyond thirty six hours there will be infections, dehydration and stomach illness to worry about. So, in a nutshell I have eliminated most of the supplies that you would think to put into your gargantuan bugout bag.

The title of this article is "Gauze and Water." This is an old medic's [half-joking] guideline when packing for short jaunts into hostile fire territory. It eliminates the need to carry all the superfluous gear that we would normally take with us and it helps movement by lightening the medic’s load into something that is tolerable. For example, my jump bag has very few things that would be considered "advanced" first aid gear. My list is as follows:

  • One IV kit with 1000 ml normal saline
  • Four roller bandages (Kerlix)
  • Two medium Israeli combat dressings
  • One abdominal dressing
  • Two S.A.M. splints
  • One roll of three inch silk tape
  • One Combitube airway
  • Two rolled Mylar blankets
  • Three triangular bandages
  • Two C.A.T. tourniquets

With this kit I can treat up to five seriously injured patients to include airway and C-spine consideration. As most statistics show, combat wounds these days are primarily gunshot and shrapnel type wounds that cause severe blood loss. This method of injury causes the body to go into Hypovolemic shock and can kill in a matter of minutes if not seconds. Secondary injuries are long bone and digital injuries from blasts and vehicular damage that translates into bodily injury. Hypothermia comes in the later stages of shock and also as we all know is a big killer. Mostly we can treat any bugout situation as a combat situation in that your life is more than likely on the line.

For the seventy two hour period we can add in some Neosporin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Vagisil, and some Loperamide to treat about ninety nine percent of the small injuries and illnesses that may occur. Tylenol and Ibuprofen can be taken together as they are processed through different organs in the body but do the same thing, they alleviate pain and ease damaging inflammation. Ranger cocktails are 625 mg Tylenol and 800 mg ibuprofen every 6-8 hours. This combo can bring pain relief to most injuries that may occur. Neosporin or Bacitracin can be used to prevent and to treat some minor wound infections. The Vagisil is for fungal infections, such as athletes foot, jock itch and yes, vaginal yeast infection. Loperamide is a medication that is used to treat diarrhea. Again, please keep in mind that I am a medic and not a doctor so please do not let this serve as medical advice, this is just to inform you of treatments that are used for minor upsets and illnesses.
Off all the equipment in the list so far, the most challenging things to acquire and utilize will be the IV kit, and the Combitube airway. These are advanced interventions and as such , it would be best if you took a course to teach you the proper methods and indications for use. As for everything else there is nothing there that does not belong in a basic first aid class. With it you can stabilize most any patient, whether it be yourself or a loved one in a bugout situation. Special consideration must also be taken for anyone in your family or group that may take sustainment medications, such as High Blood Pressure meds, Diabetes meds, Neurological disorder medications or even contraceptives. Most of these medications can lead to a serious health issue or even death if the patient does not take them. Also consider that if you are taking anti anxiety medication or anti depressants and you aren’t taking them during this high stress bugout situation then you may experience a nervous breakdown at the wrong time or perhaps a psychotic break. Either way it will not be pretty or beneficial to the situation.

Now that I have outlined a more practical.... let’s say, concise, first aid kit. I want to relate a story about some of the injuries that have been treated with this very same “Jump Kit”. On patrol in Iraq, my unit was hit with RPG fire and a small arms ambush from about two hundred meters away. As you would expect, there was more than enough chaos without hearing “Doc!” coming from three different directions. As I made my way around our position I noticed that there were a total of four men hit. Two were serious head and facial trauma from the RPG blast, one was a bullet wound to the leg and the other had impaled his right forearm on a piece of rebar. Because I was more concerned with the soldiers with head and facial wounds I threw my tourniquets at the soldiers tending the bullet wound and the impalement so that they could perform the task of stopping serious blood loss from occurring.

Upon reaching the two soldiers that were injured in the blast I saw that one was conscious and the other, not. Since the one that was conscious could still talk, one must assume that his airway was fine so I moved on to the unconscious soldier. He had severe lacerations to his head with some bruising around his left temple as well as a large chunk of flesh from his lower jaw was missing. I immediately secured his airway with the combitube and applied a Kerlix to stop the bleeding from the jaw wound. With a little help from a ventilation bag, we kept the patient alive while I dressed his wounds and the other head trauma patient. Once that was done I assessed the other injured soldiers and used the S.A.M. splints to secure and pad the impalement and used one of my Israeli dressings and my last Kerlix to dress the gunshot wound. Once the dust had settled and we were ready to evac, I used one of my Mylar blankets to ensure that the soldier that was intubated was covered and warm. I still had not used up a few of my supplies and I didn’t have to drain the evac crews supply when they resupplied me.

Hopefully I have shown you that there is no need to go out and buy everything and the kitchen sink to stock a great first aid kit. Don’t concern yourself with band aids, the uses of kerlix are amazing and with the silk tape with the kerlix you can make miles of band aids of any size and configuration. The minor upsets that may plague you can be no greater than what you have prepared for with the few meds you will have to carry. And with all that space saved you can carry extra water and socks, and perhaps a small flask of scotch to sit back and relax with... or sterilize a wound with. So now, go out and prepare for your personal disaster and be prosperous. Think logically, and do not let prepping become all consuming, you still have a life to live.

I have lived in the UK for the last 25 years, but the first 25 years of my life I spent in what is now called an ex-Soviet block country, so I have a view from both sides.
In the Eastern Europe people would generally be more interdependent, for the simple reason that the society was less commercialized. In the West you can usually buy anything you need, so the biggest issue is to have money to purchase goods and services. In the East there was more reliance on the informal means, especially when times got tougher. Younger people, who have less money, by necessity would use these methods more.  If the society were to simplify itself and our relationships became more local and reciprocal, then those interpersonal skills would become more important than they are now.
Over the years I found that it is useful to know WHO to help. Helping others should be a two-way street. Unfortunately some people will use your help without appreciating your effort and they would not help you back if or when you need it. This note is about how to identify those who are not like that.

. I need to mention that there will be people you would always want to help without asking for anything in return – either because they are important to you or you know that they are in absolute need. Alternatively you are helping because you think that an idea or an organisation needs supporting. Or you are interested in the work itself and want to gain experience. This essay is not about those cases.

.  This essay is purely on how to test your acquaintances to find people who are perceptive to sharing and helping. It also saves time and is fun to do. You want to identify those who appreciate the effort others expanded for their benefit and who are willing to pay back in a way they can.

The fastest and easiest method is to ask somebody for help. It should be something small, that is well within their capability to do, but not something they think they have to do for you. You want them to exercise their judgment. If they do it – you thank them, reciprocate at a later date and they get onto your mental list of helpful people.
Unfortunately  I found it quite hard, as I am not good at asking for help, so I haven’t developed the techniques in this area.


This step is of limited use, but it still can give you an insight into how people operate. It is to set-up an disguised experiment, testing if people reciprocate. You set up a common resource and tell people that they are free to use it, but they should replenish what they have used. Then you discretely observe it over a prolonged time and make a mental note who replenished the used resource. You might find (as I did) that very few people will. While they would always pay back the money they borrowed, they don’t think of a common good the same way.
Example – some months ago I set up an informal scheme at work, where I put some chocolate on one of the cupboards and invited people to help themselves. I told them that if they think they have eaten a whole slab, they should buy a new one and replace it. This was running for several months. Many ate the chocolate, few replaced it, so you could be forgiven in thinking that the experiment was a failure. But it had some other benefits: it provided a nice atmosphere, nobody (but me) would take the last piece (which shows some appreciation) and if I identified some people who would have a communal spirit, that would be a bonus.
Another method would be to notice who buys drinks in a pub and if people buy their share. This is less likely to be meaningful, because there are relatively strict social rules about it (at least in the UK), and you want to test peoples’ hearts, not their adherence to the rules.
NB. This experiment is not worth doing unless the participants are all local - if they live far away, their helpfulness is of limited use if conditions deteriorate.

The following steps are dealing with what to do when somebody you know asks you for help and you are in a position to exercise choice; you are not obliged to help them. If your acquaintances know you as a practical person, you probably will be asked to help them quite often. When you are – this opens an opportunity for a new experiment.


When you are asked for help, say that you will help them, but first that person has to do something small to facilitate it. Usually there are some things that have to be done in preparation for the main work. Note that the person’s effort you are asking for can be small in comparison to the bulk of work required.
There are two reasons for this approach: first is to weed-out people who ask you to help them because they can’t be bothered to do it themselves and are too stingy to pay somebody else to do it as a part of their job. Secondly, if it is important to them, you want to help them.
You will be surprised how many people give up at this stage. If they do give up, it shows that they just wanted to use you as a source of free labour; you gain this new information and save yourself time and effort. Also people in this frame of mind don’t appreciate the efforts of others, so helping them would not be an investment either.
If they jump through this hoop, you know that the project is important to them (because they were prepared to invest some effort in it), so your work is more likely to be noticed.
Example 1:
Q: Could I borrow your wallpaper stripper, please?
A: Sure, but would you ring me tonight and remind me to put it in the boot of my car? Otherwise I will forget. My memory is pretty bad.
Example 2:
Q: Could you come to my house and put-up some shelves, please?
A: Sure, can you write which tools of (xxx type) you have? Also you will need to buy (screws, ..... –list here). Let me know when you are ready.
Example 3:
Q: Could you set-up my web-site, please?
A: Sure, I think the best approach would be if you designed it on a piece of paper, together with its functionality. If you need any patterns or pictures, would you collect those in one folder too? Let me know when you are ready.
Example 4:
(At a campsite)
Q: Would you be so kind and darn my socks, please?
A: Sure, but only if they are clean.
Note that in each of those cases you come out as a really helpful guy, even if that person doesn’t take you up on the offer. This is a ‘magic question’.
The beauty of the ‘magic question’ approach is that it doesn’t only apply to voluntary arrangements – it can also be used at work or in any other interpersonal exchanges: (Does the client really need this project to be done so quickly? Does my child really want that toy so badly? Does my wife really want that wall painted?).
The ‘magic question’ technique should be practiced whenever the opportunity arises, then it becomes a second nature. Children are perfect test subjects for practising the skill, because they ask for help a lot. They will also enjoy helping with the execution.


 Once that person jumped through the first hoop, it is time to do some work. This becomes more job-specific, but the general rules are:

  • make sure that you are helping the person, not doing the job for them. So if there is any part of the job they can do – they should.
  • If possible, they should stay with you while you are doing the work. There are four reasons for this:  First – they learn how to do the tasks, so it improves the practical skills of the people you know. Second – they may be able to do smaller tasks, which are helpful (like bringing tools or making cups of tea). Third – they see how much effort you expanded; people who are not practical have no idea how long tasks take, so they are likely to underestimate your effort. Fourth: It is more fun (and safer in many cases) to do work, when there are helpers around.
  • If it is not possible for the person to help (for example in some highly technical computer work), then they still should be around, perhaps doing something else. For example they could cook dinner for you or paint a wall while you are working for them. This is not ideal, but at least they see how long things take.

You want to avoid the situation that you work on your own over several week-ends and the recipient complains that the project took so long, they would be better off going to a professional and pay for it. This may well be the case – why didn’t they?


 For some time after the work is done (some weeks) tune into some signs of appreciation – a nice chat, a ‘Thank you’ note, or a mention of the results of the project and how well it works. A thoughtful and appreciative person would make a gesture showing that. If you lent something to somebody, the equipment should come back promptly in a state not worse than it was lent. It should be brought to your house, rather than you having to go somewhere to collect it.


Some time after the project is finished (weeks or months), ask the person for some (small) help. This should be something that is well within their capabilities. This could be running a small errand for you, or picking your children from school one day. Infirm people could be keepers of spare keys to your house or have a parcel delivered to their address when you are at work. Most helpful people would be delighted to reciprocate.
 Perhaps they can’t help you for good reasons – then they would normally say why they can’t help; it would be very specific and followed by an offer to do something else. But if they give you a feeble excuse (like ‘I don’t have time’ coming from a person with no children and no job), then you know they are just parasites and don’t help them again.

The techniques described above lead to more knowledge of the people around you, which you may have to rely on in hard circumstances. The usefulness of this approach is that it gives you the information about how helpful your neighbours and friends are, while building better relationships with the ones you want to keep. It also saves you a lot of time and effort, as vast majority of people are not willing to help themselves. If executed well it builds good will and the people around you don’t notice that you are testing them.
The technique (especially the ‘magic question’) should be practiced as often as possible, in as many unrelated environments and relationships as you can. Eventually it becomes a second nature. It allows you to concentrate your efforts on the tasks that are really wanted, rather than dissipate your energy, because the person you are helping can’t be bothered to do it for themselves.
This better focus and knowledge about the people around you should help you choose a stronger group of friends who have helped you in the past.

They are now blocking SurvivalBlog along with Zero Hedge and I Hate The Media from work where I work. Yes I'm on a government network. I assume that more of the alternative media sites are going to be blocked, shortly. I'll send you updates as they are blocked.  Thanks for your time. - C. in Northern Virginia.

I am a full-time National Guardsman. (Sorta a rarity.)   I just discovered a change when I tried to look at SurvivalBlog, as usual, on my lunch hour. It is now a blocked [by name] on our or computer network . I suspect that is because it has "blog" in its [domain] name. I was glad to read that your announcement that you are setting up a server offshore, and that you will also have a number of mirror sites with "dotted quad" addresses, available for alternatives.

I fear that some sort of crackdown on non-mainstream web sites is coming soon, in America. (You probably heard that there were another 150 sites blocked on Monday.) Thanks for setting up multiple ways to access [your blog]. My advice to fellow readers: Bookmark the dotted quad addresses of all your favorite news outlets and discussion forums, ASAP. Be vigilant. - The Non-Captain Kirk

Dear Jim,
To add to Pat Cascio's comments on AR rifle construction, I thought I'd share the following:

This document explains the criteria.

This chart puts them all together

One of the very critical components is the buffer tube on carbines.  The aftermarket tubes are of 6061 aluminum, versus 7075, and are milled, rather than being hammer-extruded.  They are about half as strong as mil-spec, and have less gripping surface on the threads.  This is probably one of the most critical areas of failure on the rifle.

Please note that Knight's Armament is not mentioned on this chart, but they will happily detail the internal redesign they've made that from all tests and reports is superior to the standard design and materials. However, it is also much more expensive.

The AR bolt carrier group is easily replaceable, but it's worth the extra money for the stronger components of tougher alloys to increase operating life. In addition, I differ from most and always recommend the hard chrome finish on the bolt carrier group.  While on active duty in the 1980s, I got to handle both parkerized and chromed groups side by side, and there was no comparison.  The Army went away from the chrome for several reasons, one of which was cost, but I believe this was a huge error on their part.  The chrome finish is tougher, more durable, has greater natural lubricity.  Heat treated and parkerized steel has a static coefficient of friction of about .8 (1.0 is the baseline).  Hard chrome has a coefficient of .05.  It actually performs better with minimal lube, as the surface tension of the liquid increases drag.

I will disagree with Pat on one point:  It is certainly possible to get a very accurate and functionally reliable AR in the $600 range, but it cannot be as durable in the long term as one built with better materials, which will always raise the price.  I would advocate an inexpensive rifle over none, but when opportunity presents, it should be assigned practice, range and backup duties, with better rifles taking the SHTF role. - SurvivalBlog Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson

J.K. in Colorado mentioned: Another Family Lost In The Woods.

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Time to Stock Up on Lightbulbs. (Thanks to B.B. for the link.)

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G.G. flagged this: Guns Better Investment Than Gold?

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News from The American Redoubt: Historic Eastern Oregon hotel going to auction. (A hat tip to loyal content contributor R.B.S. for the link. His comments: "Union is cattle and natural resource area.  Yes, it would not be an easy go but if you don't bring a Hollywood mentality with you to this part of the world, and are resourceful, someone with the right attitude might just make a go of it. It is probably a much better investment than Bruce Willis' house that is for sale in Sun Valley for a mere $15 million."

"The disciplined warrior, made irrelevant by by mechanized war, disdained and abandoned by the high-tech culture, is fading in American men. The fading of the warrior contributes to the collapse of society. A man who cannot defend his own space cannot defend women and children. The poisoned warriors called drug lords prey primarily for recruits on kingless, warriorless boys." - Robert Bly in Iron John, 1990

Monday, November 28, 2011

Over the past several months, I have been asked by many SurvivalBlog readers which AR-style rifle is the best. And, many readers mistakenly believe that some civilian brands of ARs are 100% "mil-spec." When I explain to them that their civilian ARs, no matter who made them, are NOT mil-spec, and the facts to reinforce my argument, I don't hear back from them.
So, let me explain why civilian ARs are not 100% mil-spec. Some AR makers mistakenly (intentionally?) advertise their ARs as being mil-spec, when in fact, they are only partially made up of mil-spec parts. Even Colt, who makes the M4 for the military, doesn't produce a totally mil-spec AR-style gun for civilian use. One point of my argument is that, mil-spec guns are made to be select-fire, whereas, civilian M4gerys are semi-auto only. Secondly, mil-spec guns of the M4 variety usually have a 14.5" barrel, and civilian guns, must by law, have at least a 16" barrel. Additionally, if you look at the bolt carrier in most civilian ARs, they are not of the full-auto design, nor is the fire-control group. I could go on and on, but I don't wish to receive hundreds of e-mails from readers wishing to debate this topic.
I've also heard from SurvivalBlog readers, who claim that only ARs made by the big-name gun companies are worth having, and the smaller, no-name ARs aren't worth having - that they'll blow-up in your hands, or they'll fail when you need 'em the most. I'll not argue that some ARs are better made than others, I concede that fact. However, just because your no-name AR only cost you $600, as compared to someone who has a similar Colt that easily cost twice that much, doesn't mean they have a "better" AR than you have. Also please note, when I use the term "AR or AR-15" I'm using it as a generic term - everyone calls their AR-style guns by different names..
Most folks are shocked to learn, that most big name gun companies simply don't manufacture every part they use in their guns - they contract many parts out. And, when it comes to ARs, and their parts, almost all of the AR makers have many of their parts made by someone else - who is also selling the same parts to a competitor down the road, or to a no-name AR maker. So, odds are, some of the parts in your brand-name AR, are from the same vendor that sold the same parts to the no-name AR maker. Once again, I'm not saying there aren't better parts in some guns, or that some barrels are more accurate than others. Sometimes you get what you pay for, other times, you are over-paying simply because of the big name gun company selling a similar AR.
Over the years, I've probably owned more no-name ARs than those made by the well-known makers of ARs, and that's a fact. I can only recall having a problem with one AR that I've owned over the years. This gun was made by Olympic Arms - however, someone put a different bolt/bolt carrier in the gun - they assumed, as do many folks, that it was simply a drop-in affair - it's not! The after-market bolt and bolt carrier were over-sized and caused functioning problems. This was not the fault of the Oly Arms, it was the fault of the idiot who just dropped the parts in. I finally got the parts fitted properly, and the gun was 100% reliable after that.
I decided to do a mini torture test, on an no-name AR that I recently purchased at my local gun shop. This gun was manufactured by Superior Arms, and I had to do some research on the company. They've only been in business a few short years, but most of the reports I read on their guns were very favorable. This gun was used when I got it, well-used. The only thing I did to the gun was clean it and lube it, and check the orientation of the gas rings on the tail of the bolt - everything looked great.
I contacted long-time bud, Jeff Hoffman, who runs Black Hills Ammunition and requested 1,000 rounds of his 5.56 mm NATO factory seconds ammo, 55-gr FMJ. This ammo normally isn't available for sale to the public. What we have with the Black Hills Ammunition factory seconds are reloaded rounds, and the cases might have tiny dents, or are discolored for whatever reason - they were picked out of the final inspection and classified as "seconds." To be honest, you'd have to look very closely at a lot of the rounds to see why they were pulled during the final inspection process - which is a testament to how well Black Hills Ammunition inspects their finished products.
The reason I specifically requested the Black Hills Ammunition factory seconds was that I wanted to see if the Superior Arms AR would be up to the task of shooting this ammo. I figured if there were gonna be any problems, the factory seconds would cause them. Before heading out to do my mini torture test, I loaded thirty, 30 round magazines, which gave me 900 rounds of ammo to burn through, without having to reload more mags. Yeah, I know, I had 1,000-rds of ammo, but I just plain ol' got tired of loading magazines, my thumb was sore!
Instead of going out to one of my usual shooting sports near my home, I headed deep into the Cascade Mountains - far from where people could hear my shooting. I didn't want someone calling the local sheriff and reporting there was a shooting war going on near their houses. So, I was at least 15-miles from the nearest house for my testing.
The Superior Arms AR was clean and lubed at the start of my testing and no further cleaning or lube was done during my testing. I started out burning through the first couple of mags firing as fast as I could. I knew I couldn't keep-up this pace for long - unless there was a Zombie hoard coming my way. So, I slowed down my pace, and towards the end of my 900 round test, my trigger finger was pretty tired, to say the least. It took me about an hour and 15-minutes to burn through all those magazines - maybe a little longer. Like I said, towards the end of the shooting, my trigger finger was tired, and the gun was extremely hot - even the trigger.
During my testing, there was not a single malfunction or failure with the Superior Arms AR, and no problems with the Black Hills Ammunition factory seconds that I was using. Every round went off when the trigger was pulled, and every round sounded the same - no dudes or any problems of any kind. So, what did I learn in my mini torture test? Well, that it's a lot more work than I thought it would be - starting with loading all those magazines, and then shooting all those rounds in one shooting session. I thought the gun might malfunction or have some kind of problem when it got extremely hot - but there were no problems to report with gun or ammo.
As an aside, the area I was shooting in, was about a 35-minute drive from my house - and the gun's barrel was still very warm when I got home - so that hummer really got hot during my testing. Needless to say, it took quite a while for me to get the gun clean after that shooting session. Everything inside the gun looked good to go, for another shooting session, too. Oh yeah, I've gotta get back out to the area where I was shooting and police-up all that empty brass - one of these days. I suspect it'll still be there when I get to it.
So, what did I learn? Well, this was only one gun, from a no-name AR company - so I can't speak for all the other no-name ARs that are out there, as to if they'll hold up to this sort of mini torture test - but I'm betting they will - assuming you start with a clean gun, that is properly lubed and in proper working order. I've gone out and shot 200-to-300 rounds at a time through an AR in the past - and that was fun. However, this shooting session was work, and it just killed me to "waste" all that Black Hills Ammunition .223 ammo, too. Jeff Hoffman has been supplying my ammo needs for 20-yrs now and always fills my requests when I tell him I'm just gonna "waste" ammo. Black Hills Ammunition are good people to give your business to.
My Superior Arms AR has the 11" barrel on it, with a permanently attached 5.5" flash suppressor on it. On a good day, I can hold about a 3" group with this shorty barrel. And, a couple days after my shooting session, I tested for accuracy again, and it was still about a 3" group gun - which is about as good as you'll get with the shorter barrel. I just happen to like the look of this set-up with the shorter barrel and longer flash suppressor on it. I also know that it reduces the effectiveness of the .223 round much beyond the 150 - 200 yard mark, too.
So, if you are on a limited budget, don't think you have to settle for second best when you look at buying a no-name AR. Check the gun over carefully - take it apart - and if a gun shop won't let you do that - take your business some place else. Try the charging handle - see if it operates smoothly, and try the trigger-pull as well - not that most ARs are known for outstanding trigger pulls. Don't be afraid to buy a no-name AR just because your best buddy has a $2,500 AR of some type that he is always hyping. Odds are, when you go out shooting with your buddy, your no-name AR will shoot just as well as his expensive AR does - if not better.
There's nothing "wrong" with ARs made by the big name gun companies - and I've owned quite a few spendy ARs over the years - some shoot better than others - but not a whole lot better. Sometimes it depends on the ammo you're using - many guns will shoot one brand of ammo better than another - so don't be afraid to experiment if you aren't getting the accuracy you'd hope for. I want to give an example of a big name AR maker - I recently purchased one of the Carbon-15 ARs that is made by Bushmaster - I liked the look of the gun and the light-weight. However, this gun simply would not group - it was more like a shotgun - it "patterned" instead of grouping. I traded the gun back to my local gun shop the next day and told them about the gun. They sold it at a gun show, and told the new owner, that the gun didn't group well - he still bought it!
The only ARs I tend to shy away from are the parts gun -you know the ones I'm talking about. Someone bought an upper receiver parts kit, and then a lower receiver and put it all together themselves - those guns scare me at times - I've owned a few - they worked, but I still wasn't 100% sure they would keep working, or had any knowledge of the person who assembled the gun - if they knew anything about how ARs work.
So, if you're on a budget, take a look at the no-name AR that might be half the price of the big-name AR next to it - you might be surprised how well-made the no-name AR is, and how well it shoots, too. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

I recently read an article at Zero Hedge about a bank run in Latvia.  The run was apparently brought on by accusations of embezzlement, document forgery, accounting fraud, and abuse of authority by two shareholders.  (Honestly, this is not about the US Congress emptying the Social Security Trust Fund, or Congressional insider trading)  The information on the bank's web site refers specifically to Jon Corzine and MF Global!  "Kinda like Jon Corzine, if not by the actual authorities, then by everybody else. And just like in the US where the lack of confidence in the system following the MF filing, so in Latvia the people have decided to hit the ATMs first and ask questions later. "
The pictures just by themselves make the article worth taking a look.  Coming soon to a bank near you? - S.M.

Mr. Rawles,
I'm writing this because there has to be a better way to prepare for everyone that feels the responsibility to do so without leaving type 1 diabetics behind.  I'm hoping you or someone reading this may have answers or can help in the search.  I had been prepping for a year or so in small but steady ways.  We had covered a lot of ground, everything from food storage to medicine, woodstove, small solar, guns, gardens, you name it and we continued to punch away at our personal list.  Then it happened, my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  It's hard to image a diagnoses requiring more dependency on medicine, especially for a family working to be as self-sufficient as possible.  My son is 16 and until this diagnoses he had been healthy, even athletic.  A total shock, and to make it even more stunning, one of his best friends, also an athletic child, had been diagnosed only six months earlier.  These kids have grown up together and now lighting had struck twice in the same place, simply unbelievable.  After a couple of months adjusting to our new life I went to work on prep. for the most important thing in our lives, the entire reason to prep. in the first place, my son and family.  I'm doing those things that seem to be the low hanging fruit (not to be confused with being easy).  We approached his doctor about having extra supplies on hand and were given a three month prescription versus monthly.  I'm working on the alternative refrigeration, but have a plan to use a forgotten family spring house in a pinch.  I'll likely pull the trigger on a propane refrigeration system in the next few months (right after paying property taxes).  I think it's also likely we can obtain some prescriptions for additional out of pocket supplies from our son's doctor and I'll be proceeding with that once I'm certain we can store it properly.  All this would help us in a short crisis, but I'm looking for a long term solution. 
Have you or any of your subscribers read the very inspiring story of Victor and Eva Saxl?  To make a long story short, during WWII Eva and Victor found themselves as refugees in China, and Eva a type 1 diabetic, was cut off from her supply of insulin.  Victor refused to give in to the inevitable and using the book "Beckman's Internal Medicine" and access to a friends "lab" was able to produce a insulin which kept Eva alive as well as several hundred other diabetics in the same situation.  I'm not certain what would constitute a Chinese WWII era lab...  The full story of Eva can be found on the Internet.  I've tried in vain to find a copy of Beckman's Internal Medicine or the exact formula and process used to make insulin the old way.  Either the insulin made by Victor or the formula invented in the 1920s by Banting and Best.  I'm sure this is something the drug manufactures and public safety officials do not want to be public knowledge.  After all a person could likely do considerable harm to themselves attempting to use a homemade insulin, but in an extended emergency, knowledge for anything that a person is dependent on for life shouldn't be a secret.  If nothing else I would like to have this information available to provide to local health officials or those with resources, if it is ever needed.  To find the book and formula/process I've scoured the Internet without success.  I've also gone as far as contacting the Banting and Best Institute at the University of Toronto.  Banting and Besting being the scientist that discovered and refined the process for animal insulin in the 1920s.  Initially the professor I corresponded with seemed extremely excited about the Eva Saxl story and the Beckman's Internal Medicine book.  He had instructed his staff to see if a copy could be found in the Universities archives.  However, after further inquires from him as to my interest in the book, his interest in sharing information chilled considerably.  Again, I can't blame him as the dangers and liability might be considerable, but I also can't give up.  I've also spoken to state health officials regarding the availability of insulin in a national or regional emergencies and while many hidden stockpiled emergency medicines would be available to some degree, those stockpiles to not including insulin. 
A few weeks ago I heard my son and his friend talking on the phone.  My concerns about a possible economic collapse aren't any secret to my family.  They are also smart kids and can watch the news same as anyone that pays attention.  They were talking about what would happen to them and how they would get insulin.  My heart nearly broke when my son told his friend not to worry, my Dad will find a way.

Steve M. sent a news article with this comment: "One more reason to live full-time at your retreat": Neighbors helping neighbors—to break into vacant houses

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Scientists create man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out millions if it ever escapes research lab. (A hat tip to F.J. for the link.)

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Jonathan B. sent this from northern California and southwestern Oregon: State of Jefferson Rises again!

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EPA targets families that generate heat off the grid using traditional wood-burning stoves. (Thanks to Steve M. for the link.)

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J.B.G. sent this from The Daily Mail: Think we've got it bad? Read about the British expats whose lives have become a nightmare in violent, chaotic Greece

"The first thing I did when I turned twenty-one was go out and buy a handgun. The reason I did that was because it made perfect sense to be armed and seemed totally foolish not to be. By the mid-1970s, I became aware of the fact that there was a growing survivalist movement – everything from food to firearms to retreat property – and that people saw themselves as somehow being able to survive a nuclear war or whatever else might lie in store, if somehow they could prepare. I always believed, as does [my fictional protagonist] John Rourke, that 'It pays to plan ahead.'" - Jerry Ahern

Sunday, November 27, 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 (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 (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.

In comes TEOTWAWKI. You grab your B.O.B. pack and lay feet to a packed truck and trailer toward a predetermined secret house in the boonies. After a long day of inventory, greetings, and ears peeled to the radio, you amp down from that first frightening night of your uncertain future. You lay exhausted, in 1 of 3 bed sheet curtain bedrooms, and suddenly find yourself all and sundry, plummeted into a collage of personalities and lifestyles you thought you were familiar with – but are you? In what once was your quiet home, your new place is full of distractions. “Who is that snoring?” “Who is practicing their guitar?” “Did someone leave candles burning?” “Is that body odor?” “Is someone having intercourse?” It all may sound a bit humorous now, but it won’t be so funny if you find yourself in a bad situation because you really didn’t get to know who’s in your group, and you didn’t establish any social rules for the group. I have a degree in Communications with an ongoing interest in Theories of Societies. And since I have read very little about living in small groups in survival forums, I wanted to dole out some advice about the challenges of living in small groups, and molding your group members and organizational plan into a decent stronghold- whether they like it or not.

I live in North Idaho, and in my experience I have seen only one small survival group so far that has it pretty well together as far as knowing each other. They are more like a Squad. They camp together, do drills together, run “what ifs” and gun talk over beers together. But they’re young, full of energy and free time, and mostly single. But honestly, the majority of people like me are ‘regular folk’ coming together with a few (new?) friends and family who all agree that they should development a plan, some supplies, and a stronghold of sorts in case of TEOTWAWKI. The result is more like a small village rather than a squad. We understand the value of pooling our resources -I have a flour mill, my friend has a James Washer.  Plus, we create safety in numbers, hence the name, Stronghold. But, many people, like myself, have ‘default’ members who are not into emergency preparation. Some have elderly parents, or maybe an unimpressed teenager or a spouse that thinks TEOTWAWKI is a cute hobby that keeps you out of trouble. Sometimes we recruit friends of friends. And, you know there’s no way your wife is going to let her best friend get left behind, even though deep down you know she, her heels and Armani purse won’t fair well in the foxhole. But most of us don’t really have a moral choice to abandon these people if the SHTF. And that’s just the beginning of the difficulties. Now stuff them all into a small place, struggling to survive.

There are many problems with small groups living in small spaces. It’s no slumber party like sometimes glamorized in books and movies. Most real-life social structures of small indigenous tribes and even more modern communes share a lot of the same difficulties and issues that a small survival community may encounter. Here are the 2 most problematic challenges to keep in mind.

Too Close: This has many connotations, but it’s solely the biggest challenge in small tribes. Although today’s society complains about a world where people are too detached, it can be disastrous living too close. A relative can be too close. Close enough to not respect you and spend time arguing with you because you were always the “bossy sibling”. Too close that you hadn’t noticed how lazy your brother is. Too close so that you neglected to know that your aunt and uncle didn’t store any food. Too close that you hadn’t really considered the fact that your parents are 75 and really can’t do anything but drain food and medical supplies- God love’m. Or too close to dismiss your rebellious 14 year old.

Too close can also mean proximity. Close quarters can feel very claustrophobic with others around. Some like lots of light, some think your wasting light. Some want to stay up until midnight talking, some need to sleep early. Some snore. Someone might find it perfectly normal to walk buck-naked to the latrine at night. These are all the kinds of situations you don’t think about until you are there, annoyed, tired, and too late for civil organization.   

Too close can also mean ‘closeness’. No one wants to hear it, but it is a big problem in tight knit communities. They get very emotionally and physically close, through hardship and locality, and through no other explanation, inappropriate intimacy can start to take place if unchecked. This was a huge problem in small indigenous Tribes where they were in very small quarters (like huts and igloos). The movie The Beach has a horrific, but realistic version of what could happen in a small community living off the grid. Granted, they lacked spirituality, so if your group has higher moral standards, the better off you are. Just make sure you all share that standard – more on that later.

Lifestyle: ‘Too close’ covers some of these issues like noise, lights, talking. But lifestyles of individuals also account for diversities in hygiene, diets, education (survival), Religion, and Ideologies (surrounding survival).

For instance, you might shower everyday, but you’d guess your friends’ friend, never showers. Granted, you might find yourself having to squeeze in bowl baths just to make you feel relatively fresh, but come on! This guy doesn’t even try! Someone else’s bad odor wasn’t what you had in mind while sitting at the communal dinner table. And speaking of dinner, whose food is whose anyway? Is it communal? Is it separate? The group must have rules.

Do you know who in your group knows what about survival? Do they have a specialty? Do they get nausea at the site of blood? Have they ever built a fire? You may very well have never even gone camping with some of these people. Some may not like camping at all! How much do you know about them? Can you trust them?  Everyone must have roles

And finally, examine your survival ideology. If someone walked up to your stronghold, what ideology will they feel from your group? Are you militant? Ex-military? Or, are you passive and hope to sneak by TEOTWAWKI by quiet evasion? Maybe you’ll play the innocent group, pretending to be a gritty backwoods family getting by only because the family hunts and fishes, keeping instead large caches? If some of your group is militant, some passive, and some play gritty, has that been explained, established, or planned for? And are all of you God loving? God fearing? Do you have a son who is Pagan? Spirituality can be a direct hit on the group’s values and it needs to be addressed. Everyone must have joint core values.

All in all, the bottom line is that every group must have roles, rules, and joint core values. If you feel you are the one in your group with the most overall knowledge and desire to survive, and no one else is taking the lead. You do it. The starting place for peace in your “village” is an organized and watchful moral leader.

You obviously need a plan - back to rules, roles and core values. I’m not giving an actual plan- making strategy–there are many articles on the Internet for that. But leading your group into a few group games and activities over Sunday afternoons, a holiday, or planned game night, it will help get your plan together and help get your “uninterested” default members a little better educated and maybe even more interested!

ACTIVITIES TO DISCOVER YOUR MEMBERS AND AND IDEOLOGY: Below is a bunch of activities for your group. By looking at your people differently (as a survival member), you can better plan the roles, rules and the core values in order to write the groups organizational handbook. And take notes!

1. Identify 5 core values that the group agrees with:
Core values are the basis on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. Examples of core values are respect, integrity, security, acceptance, belonging, choice, community, compassion, power, privacy, freedom, helping others, faith, team work, contribution, et cetera.. They govern personal relationships but requires no external justification – hence, the value to you alone. If you don’t share values, you build separation. If you don’t respect others values, you can’t have good relationships. You can find lists of values online as a starter guide to print out. Ask everyone in your group to go through these values and write down the 10 top values, which have the most resonance to them. Make sure they are thinking of Work Values, not personal values (at this point). The goal is to link 3-5 values that all of you have in common. Incorporate and integrate those values into all areas of organizational rules. 

It helps if you think of the most fulfilling times in your life, the most content, the most self confidence. You might find something not on your list.  You will find that these are the few things in life that you will “stand up for” and argue about, quit your job for, yell at your boss over.

From that list, ask each member to pick three values, not on the work value list, that are personal values to them. These are the values we need not share, but we have to respect. In order to memorize their top values, create a  “nickname”, so everyone can memorize their personal value. Try to work in this particular value with the members role whenever possible. Appreciate that persons value. Let them take control of it. Let them influence you with it. If it is spirituality, maybe they want to head up a morning of spirituality for other members. Nickname him “soulman”. If it is teaching, allow them instruct. Call her “teach” If is it learning, make sure they have lots of opportunities. Call him “Utube.”  If it is nurturing or helping others, maybe there is a space for personal counseling in the group. Call her “Freud.” Freedom? “Martin”. Teamwork? “Baseball” Make it fun, and you can even do this exercise via e-mail.

2. Discuss ethical dilemmas: Make a list of things that one may encounter in a small survival group. Read it aloud at the next get together -you will get opinions!

a. After a week in the new camp, many members are “forgetting the rules” and relying on others to enforce them. What do you do?
b. Something is stolen from the root cellar. What is the call of action.
c. John pushes James, knocking him over after a grapple over jealousy. How do you handle it?
c. Aunt Mary shows up at your Stronghold, with nothing but a broom. What happens to her?
d. One of your members has a very loud voice. How do you handle it?
e. The cook is snacking on the food as she cooks it. Is that okay? How should it be handled.
f. Someone is walking down the road with a rifle. Do you sneak down and confront them as a united front, or do you stay low and let them walk by. Why?
g. Group Dinnertime. Is it needed, or should the couples have time together? When does close get too close?
h. Someone has a dog that barks nonstop. What to do?

3. Finding Your Voice: Here are a few non-board games that will help you know your members better.

a. Your Message to the World

In advance to your meeting, ask all members to write a 10 minute speech. This is whatever you want to say, if you had 10 minutes to talk to the world on prime time television. Make it fun.

b. 3 sentences to a fallen world
This is a message to the world, given on a ham radio to “who knows who” after an economic collapse of the country.  You hold a ham radio in your (probably trembling) hand, and say what?? Make it realistic by having them hold a two-way radio or ham radio to do it. Again, make it fun!

c. Role Models

If you could meet anyone from history or from literature, who would it be and what would you ask them. What is it about that person that you admire?

4. Board Games: Below are a couple of commercial board games give you an opportunity to learn more about each other in different ways and educate them on survival situations.

The Worse Case Scenario Survival Game: Find out how much each of you know about a variety of survival subjects and learn more. It’s also a great opportunity to discover a members hidden knowledge talent.

Hunting and Fishing Trivia:
Another good learning tool.

A great game to find out each other lines of ethics and values. Prepare for couple to bicker a bit, which is a great way to understand their relationship too.

5. Make a list of ROLES people can take on in your group. Suggestions are positions like communications, logistics, cooking, gardening, counseling, medic, hunting, gathering. There are many lists of roles for a survival camp online. Make a list and start feeling people out for roles they might fit into and enjoy. Your Dad may not be able to dig foxholes, but he might be a great source of wisdom and council for others. And he might make a killer Huckleberry wine! Look for the strengths in the members whose strengths might not jump out at you at first. The exercises will help you know them better. Offer up these roles to those people. You may find them more interest than you imagined. My daughter has an interest in identifying plants in the wild, so I asked her if she would be interested in heading-up wild foods and herbal remedies. The opportunity for learning and leadership made her jump more passionately into the subject.  

6. Find your N.U.T.s:
These are non-negotiable, unalterable terms of your organization. As a group, list at least five for the group. They are like your 5 commandments of an organization. For instance, you might agree: If you steal from the group, you leave the group. Period. No exemptions. If you are late for duty, you will pull a double shift when you get there. Period. No Exceptions ever. Make sure they all agree and sign it!

Using these techniques, and all your notes, you will be better prepared to start your organizational handbook of roles, rules and core values. It can help immensely with the peace kept at your stronghold, and give confidence, security and familiarity in a situation that can be very stressful.

HOW TO DEAL WITH “DEFAULT” MEMBERS: Whether my family and friends know it or not, they are members and preparing for TEOTWAWKI. I use the below techniques all the time and it is working. I had a friend call me the other day and asked me to watch a video they found on youtube. The info wasn’t new info to me, but I was thrilled because they were engaged, learning, and riled up!

Holiday Gifts: Give up the useless sweater, and buy them something you know they haven’t bought for themselves to survive. Like long-term food! Or a B.O.B. pack. My adult daughter wasn’t much on board with the survival thing, but I assembled her an awesome “camping” pack for her birthday last year. Among the predicable camping gear, was a complete B.O.B. pack – her friends were blown away and wanted one too! This year I’m assembling one for my brother in Seattle- a more urban-earthquake ready pack.

Books: Buy and Lend them books: Patriots, One Second After, and Back to Basics. Get the audio book if they don’t read much or drive a lot. Look for specialty books that might peak interests in their particular expertise. 

Movie Night: Plan a movie night with a twist. Instead of Tron, make it The Road, or The Book of Eli or The Beach. Talk about it. I’ve also burned Youtubes for my parents, with documentaries on our economic destruction, and also on things like ‘how to plan a long term storage food cache.” And I watch it with them. Dad has decided to build a root cellar (and he’s built 2 in the past!).

The Food Bank: Ask each family to throw in $10 a week (or whatever they can afford) toward your community food bank. Each week take your $50 or so, and buy beans, rice, and others in bulk. They may not want to go out and buy stuff, but they may have no problem paying you to do it. I do this at Costco!

Activities: Invite them on hikes and just for fun, show them how to use items in your pack. Take them out shooting with your guns. Show them your stash of food goods. Get them excited and curious. Talk politics and mention videos or newscasts that concerned you. Draw them in to look for themselves without shoving it down their throats.

Make them participate. They are your family and friends after all. Go to their house for dinner or invite them to dinner, and over the after dinner chit chat and drinks, hit them with one of my six outlined activities explained for establishing roles, rules and core values.

Plan for Them: I was quite upset when my best friend didn’t have any desire to store so much as an extra can of tuna. The whole family is family to me. My initial reaction was “well don’t come knocking on my door if the SHTF!” But in realty, I know they will, and I know I will them in. In reality, I would rather die myself than to turn them away knowing they will die. So, I reduced my pride, and my pocketbook, and just starting putting away stores for them- sometimes you just have to do it. (I am grateful, however, that a year later, she is finally starting to plan for herself)!

Just remember that you can’t change them, you have to heighten the strengths that they have already.  Incorporate the core values, use their strengths, and organize the group. Take the finished plan to a meeting or distribute them by email and ask for feedback. If you take it upon yourself to be a good leader, knowing and addressing the issues that come along with small group communities and good communications, they will treat you like a great leader.

I am writing this because I have talked to so many people who believe that there is little they can do to prepare because they have no job.  There is a difference between having a job and working and although I have not had a real job now for over three years, I continue to work six days a week.  I had already been unemployed for almost a year by the time I started reading your books.  Having moved to this small city for a job in finance, I paid cash for an old mobile home in a trailer park rather than rent an apartment.  When I found myself out of work a few years later, I owned the mobile home and my aging sports car free and clear.  I also had a little money in a retirement account and what I had saved from the difference between trailer lot rent and an apartment.

Disadvantages to Riding Out TEOTWAWKI in a Trailer Park:

  • No privacy – Several other mobile homes can see everything you bring into the trailer
  • More crime – One night I came home to find police officers looking for drugs someone had thrown in my yard while being chased.
  • Nowhere to hide – 2” thick walls and no basement or even a block crawlspace
  • Nowhere to run – Mobile homes lots are small and there are only more trailers in every direction.
  • Public water – Even if mobile homes had gutters, hundred of other people would see the rain barrels.
  • No storage  – I had a shed, but no such thing as a cool, dry, place.
  • Rented lots – Most leases state the mobile home is security for the rental payments.  It’s like having a mortgage that never pays off.

Within every problem lies the seed of opportunity.   Looking for work takes less time than working 60 hours a week.  I qualified for the unemployment which was more than my modest living expenses.  Leaving my employer meant I could move or withdrawal my retirement.  Knowing the withdrawal of my retirement would incur a 20% withholding for taxes and penalties, I opted instead to borrow out some and roll some of it over into a self-directed IRA capable of owning real estate.  This gave me the added benefit of asset protection as retirement plans are generally exempt from bankruptcy or attachment by creditors.  Most people decide where they want to live and then look for properties in that area.  I decided to look for good deals and then evaluate their appropriateness. 

Finding Good Deals in Any Market

  • Never deal with just one agent – Search the MLS web site every morning and contact listing agents directly.  I found this by visiting several local realtor pages until I found one of them had embedded it in their site.  Good deals go too fast to involve a whole other firm.
  • Watch the auction sites – More rural foreclosures are showing up as the economy worsens
  • Tax Sales – Most of these are unimproved, abandoned lots or land.  Make sure you are in a state where you actually get the deed and do not have to wait out the redemption period.
  • Ask around – Maybe another prepper will sell you some of their land.  It takes several people to defend a position.

(These tips come from the YouTube video)

It did not take long to hit pay dirt.  One morning the MLS spit out a few acres about an hour from my home.  It was about half the price I had seen for comparable properties so I followed the directions on the MLS page.  It was on a former logging road off a road that dead ends into a hollow near a national forest.  This forms a natural cul de sac where vehicle access to the community can be controlled at one bridge.  I immediately called the listing agent, met with her and the seller and made an offer on behalf of my IRA for full asking price.  The seller had been forced to sell the property as part of a divorce settlement so he listed it with his sister not caring what it brought.  She had listed it for the minimum price her broker allowed and I was the first person to whom she had shown it.  To her credit, she had a list of interested parties by the time she met with me.

I borrowed enough from my retirement account to buy a monster box of silver when it was $16.16 per ounce from what was left in my retirement account after transferring the funds for the real estate purchase.  During the same period that the stock market recovered about 10%, my investment in silver has about doubled.  I have to repay around $100 a month to my own retirement account, but the only consequences of defaulting on this loan would be that the balance would be taxable as income in the year of default.

While the seller was showing me the property lines, he made a comment about the disagreeable hermit that has the only other residence on this gated former logging road.  Instead of confronting him about a key to the gate, I left a letter in his mailbox introducing myself and inviting him to lunch.  After lamenting that he would have bought the property for privacy (I can't even see his property line), we became great friends and he willingly handed me the key.  He has been a great resource and informed me that we do not post our properties with no trespassing signs.  Later this may change, but for now I can traverse hundreds of my neighbors acres without worrying about breaking the law.  This being different from the laws in my home state, I confirmed it with the largest land owner adjacent to my retreat.  He is an elderly cattle rancher who works and lives on the other side of the mountain.  One day as I was loading up my truck I heard someone yell 'Hello' which is really rare.  I peered through the trees to find an old man sitting on a stump.  I walked up the gravel road to meet my neighbor.  He had been riding his fence lines on a four-wheeler when it broke down.  I went and got my truck and ferried him back to his side of the mountain.  During the ride I made sure I can use his land. 

It took longer to sell my mobile home than I expected.  I finally got an offer the following winter contingent upon waiting for the buyers tax refund to arrive so he could pay me.  Since I needed the funds from the mobile home to finance building materials, I redeemed the time by meticulously searching Craigslist for things I need.  Here is a partial list of acquisitions:

  • 1980s diesel 4 x 4 pickup (I gave my friend a great deal on my sports car to pay for this.)
  • Wood/coal stove
  • Windows and doors for the cabin
  • A couple CB radios and a CB base station
  • Rabbit hutches (free for hauling away)
  • 2 one year supplies of Emergency Essentials survival food packed in 2008 from a guy who was moving to Mexico
  • Food grade water barrels (not the soda pop ones as sugar feeds bacteria)
  • Steel 55 gallon barrels with clamp on lids

Because I believed that food inflation would soon come, I also purchased a thousand pounds of various grains during this time which I packed with oxygen absorbers in Mylar lined buckets using dry ice as per the instructions in JWR's book, How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It.  When others were hitting the Black Friday sales for flat screen televisions, I was picking up solar power kits nearly half off.

The pickup truck was one of my first purchases because without it I would not have been able to pick up many of the things I found.  The mountain retreat is so remote that even in the summer I have to shift into 4WD.  Winter snows require tire chains.  By the time I closed on the sale of my trailer, the rear of the retreat property looked like a junkyard with little piles of material covered with camouflage pattern tarps.  Since the cabin site cannot be seen from even the gated former logging road and I built no driveway, everything was perfectly safe.

The thought of moving out of my mobile home and into a tent in the middle of winter was not very attractive.  Just because I can build a debris shelter does not mean I want to spend the winter in one.  Fortunately, I knew a single mother whose maternity leave was running out.  She did not want to put her child in a daycare so we made a deal whereby I stay with the baby during the day in exchange for room and board.  I continue to collect parts and inventory which I store in a rented storage unit a few miles from my retreat property.  During this time someone I knew from high school was arrested on felony charges.  Since he would soon be unable to own firearms, I picked up his entire gun collection complete with ammunition at a very good price.  When winter turned to spring, I was ready to start building on weekends.  The basic structure of the cabin is complete and soon comforts like the solar electric system and hot shower will be finished and I will be able to move on to the outbuildings.  I already found a multi-unit rabbit hutch free for the hauling and I am waiting on a chicken coop to not sell before another party accepts my offer to do the same for them.  Everything I build is mobile so as not to be improvements to the property itself which would violate the terms of my IRA.  Once I move there and start using the retreat, the funds I spent on the land will be considered a distribution from my IRA.  As this will only happen if I do not find another job, the penalties and interest should be offset by my standard deduction and exemption as I will have no other income in the distribution year.  

I continue to look for work in my field, and despite having several interviews I still have no offers.  The last interviewer told me that about a hundred people had applied for the one position.  Hopefully my experiences will help those in similar situations realize that as long as we practice thrift no matter our circumstances, we can turn obstacles into opportunities.  Complaining about setbacks do nothing but waste time better spent progressing toward the goal.  Steady plodding brings success.   

Cpt. Rawles,
A recent article was cause for concern and may be of interest to many of your readers: Soaring BPA Levels Found in People Who Eat Canned Foods.  I personally will be minimizing canned goods from the store and focusing on glass and dehydration for my own stockpile.  I have been told a very small list of companies have began to ship in BPA free cans, but I am not aware of who is on that list yet.

They claim the same thin plastic lining is used for almost all canned foods and leaches BPA, if true this is a big concern for those of us with a deep pantry of commercially produced canned goods.

Best Holiday Wishes, - Nate in Colorado

JWR Replies: I'm confident that BPA-free can lining will become the norm within a few years. So in the long term, the health effect will be minimal. In the meantime, this certainly makes home canning with glass Mason jars more attractive.

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the use of rawhide, I would recommend the short film "Lige: Portrait of a Rawhide Braider" (1985), that can be found at The film is just under half an hour in length and is fascinating for both the people portrayed and the information it contains about the traditional working of rawhide in "the region known as the Sagebrush Corner of northeastern California and northwestern Nevada".

The site contains many additional short films (free and licensed for individual viewing) that would interest readers of your blog - rural and traditional crafts, music, lifestyles are examined. Fascinating shorts that will bring back long forgotten memories for some and will educate many others. Regards, - J.F.

James Wesley,
I thought some of your other readers might like this. It is a conversion kit that turns your Ruger 10/22 into a takedown rifle.

It is also is available in a short-barreled rifle (SBR) configuration. [This requires a $200 Federal Transfer Tax, for U.S. residents.]

Either of these configurations could easily fit in a gym bag or backpack. - Adam P.

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large, Michael Z. Williamson sent this: Goldman Sachs predicts that U.S. will be world’s largest producer of oil in 2017

J. in Kabul sent this: Here You Go: It's Over (by Karl Denninger.) Here is a brief quote: "Oh sure, there will be rallies and there will be selloffs. But there is no longer a market, there is no longer a thing to trade, and there is no longer a reason to believe that superior analysis will lead to profit or even safety."

Warning: Coinage debasement ahead! Steve Rothman says it costs more to make a penny and nickel than the coins are worth.

Kevin S. sent this: 50 Best Bartering Sites for the Frugal Student. (Also of interest to preppers.)

From J.B.G.: Now UK faces a £5bn bill to bail out Spain... as ministers plan for euro collapse

Items from The Economatrix:

What Would Happen if an Asteroid Hit US Banks?

Student Debt Canceling Out a Generation of Homebuyers

Black Friday Draws Crowds, But Spending in Doubt

The Game is About Done

Fear Sweeps Markets as Germany Rules Out ECB Intervention

"Sierra" sent this: Depicting America's Greed: 10 Shocking Videos From Black Friday 2011 It shows all the various chaos that went down yesterday; everything from stampedes and frenzies to police attacks. Sierra's comment: "Just imagine if those hungry masses were going after food instead of video games!"

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G.P. mentioned this, from a Canadian newspaper: Breaking Apart the United States: Part II

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Grace sent us the link to Charm City Vacancy, a growing (now 33 pages long) collection of photos of abandoned houses in Baltimore.

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Special discount for SurvivalBlog readers: Camping Survival set up a coupon code "Keystone" for 10% off all their in-stock Keystone meats and broths.

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G.Z. recommended the Boys Book of Carpentry, now available as a free ebook. It was written before the era of portable power tools. It includes the use and care of tools, carpentry techniques, houses, bridges, furniture, etc.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" - James 2:14-20 (KJV)

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 (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 (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 finally grew up and opened my eyes to the chaos occurring across our country and the entire world, I knew I needed to prepare for the tough times ahead.  As I started my research, mainly online, I came across some startling observations. When I would type in “survival techniques” or “tips for survival” and such, the same results would appear. Article after article, blog after blog, site after site, and YouTube video after YouTube video of the same things showed up: Guns. What the best gun for survival, what guns do you need when TSHTF, and on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid hunter and gun nut. I like my toys just as much as the next guy (or gal--I know there are some gun-ettes out there). But even just starting prepping, I knew there was more to surviving any sort of disaster than just having guns around. So with some search engine fine tuning and a little more elbow grease, I finally came across this web site. What a relief that was for me. A place I could go to get real information and how I should prepare and the things I might need. After some time went by, I did more research and starting really getting into the mindset of how to go about prepping. Then at work one day the light bulb was switched on and I “developed” an easy solution that might ease people into prepping and survival.

The first ingredient in this P.I.E. is twofold. In my humble opinion it’s where the majority of people should start when realizing they need to do something for the future. The "P" is to PREPARE and PREDICT. Just skimming past the news and turning the radio dial led me to some programs that didn’t lend themselves to the typical left wing media slant. I felt like I was hearing the “real” news for the first time, not just what other people wanted me to believe. This is when I began the prepare/predict portion of the P.I.E. I felt like with the information I was given I needed to evaluate the current signs in order to assess what I believe is the future threat. I asked myself many questions. Do these signs point to a nuclear threat, an EMP, economic collapse and so on? What will I need to do to be ready for this event? Where can I find the information I need to get ready? A sudden sense of overwhelming can come over you when trying to sort everything out. You need to use the information and your intelligence to make this decision, but also don’t forget to trust your gut instinct and most importantly pray. Trust in The Lord to guide you through the decisions and the difficult times ahead. You should learn quickly that preparation doesn’t mean going out and clearing the store shelves of guns and ammo. (My wife let me know early on that buying things all the time wasn’t going to happen.) All this is going to do is get you into hot water with your companion and probably get you on some sort of government watch list. This is especially true if all you do is buy boatloads of guns and ammo. Acquiring things, useful things, should be a direct result of preparation with lots of research done searching for the proper equipment and getting the right deals. Instead of spending, start out by planning alternate routes from home and work to a safe retreat. This is also good because it lets your spouse know that you are serious about your family’s safety rather than just being a kooky gun nut. Also learning new and useful skills and mastering those skills is a cheap way to prepare and can be a good time spent with the family. Are you already a skilled tradesman of some sort, maybe a carpenter or electrician or a plumber? That’s good but my guess is that if you are prepping with others they have the same skill sets. It won’t do anybody any good to have a lot of people that have the same skill much good. Learn how to grow food, shoot, trap, first aid, radio operation and such, and then cross train everybody in your outfit to be proficient in other areas in case of injury or death. This is also a good way to find out who is really great at certain things and who has weaknesses. Also, it’s fun and important to learn tactical skills like stealth and OPSEC and others, but the fact is when your three year old is crying because of hunger, those things just aren’t as important. I realized that acquiring these skills is a good way to accumulate “things”, which feeds your prepper “fix”, but not spend much money if any at all. This information is also helpful to you even if there never is any sort of disaster unlike having a safe full of guns. Whenever I get the hankering for a new toy I remind myself, “it’s not the gun itself that will save me, it’s the time I spent training how to use it that will.”

Now that you have planned and prepared yourself for whatever you think is coming, what do you do? Be patient, hone your skills and learn them backwards and forwards. Be in tune with what is going on in the world and be ready to IDENTIFY the event. Watch and listen to the news (and I don’t mean the left-winged alphabet-named cable networks) but rather a reliable news source. I think most of us can agree the entire world is in disarray and things are happening each day to bring us closer to the coming chaos. Notice these signs and document them. Then you will be able to see you frequent they are becoming and stay ahead of the curve. Keep your eyed on the stock market and precious metals market. Get daily updates on the food commodities. Be sure to understand what is happening globally as well as regionally and locally. Anything that might indicate a even a small shift toward a disaster will give you an advantage over the masses. Once the chaos starts it will probably be too late for you to G.O.O.D. Don’t forget to trust your gut. If you feel like this is the time then MOVE IT. What is the worst that can happen if you’re wrong? You have to load and unload your vehicle. You got a good practice run in? At least if you are wrong, you have the opportunity to fix any mistakes you may have made during the exercise.
Well, now you have done all you can do.

You are prepped and you have identified all the signs of the disaster, what’s next. It’s time to EXECUTE. This is the time when all your hard work and alleged paranoia pays off so to speak. If you have prepared properly you have gear ready to go, your route mapped out, and you are hitting the road. I have never experienced this phase but I predict this is where a lot of people might panic. It is pretty easy to execute your plans when there is no imminent threat to you and your family. It is a different ball game trying to execute when your lives might be on the line. This is why the prepping stage is so vital. It should be like second nature to pack your gear and hit the road. This is also why it is so important to identify the signs. If you identified them correctly, then you will be hitting the road before TSHTF. We all know that plans usually don’t go off as expected. Even though this is the case it is of importance to follow those plans the best to your ability. They are the plans that have been worked over with a fine tooth comb and it probably won’t be the best of times to go out and “wing it.”

This might not be the most in-depth survival guide and it definitely isn’t the end-all-be-all of prepping, but I believe that it is a good outline for people just starting out to begin prepping. I found that it is a good way to encourage your spouse and loved ones to see your point of view without being labeled the family whacko. Don’t get discouraged when starting your research into prepping and survival. There is a lot of misinformation and just plain stupid information on how to start and what you might need. To be fooled by videos of guys in tight tee shirts with a basement full of guns telling you how to survive and prepare. Research, study and arm yourself with information before you ever spend a dime. If you have stumbled across this site, you are already off to a good start with a community of like-minded people and a treasure trove of information.

Many of us have considered how we would provide for our family’s physical needs, including medical care, during a prolonged crisis.  Indeed, it would seem foolish to be unprepared for trauma related to accidents, violence, fire, etc., when professional medical care might not be available for weeks, months, or more.  What most of us don’t think about, however, is the toll a long term crisis could take on our mental health.  This may seem to be a low-priority concern, next to food, shelter and security, but depression and anxiety related to traumatic events can have lasting and highly detrimental effects, ranging from loss of productivity, to violence and suicide. 

We may feel that we are tough and hardened to the rigors of even the worst scenarios we can imagine.  Many soldiers have felt the same way before entering combat and yet have still developed anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Anxiety disorders such as PTSD are common in those who face extreme mental stress, as they are related to increased activation in the fear center of the brain. These disorders are not a sign of mental weakness, but simply the result of facing extremely traumatic events and/or prolonged high-level stress.  Typical signs to look for are hyper-vigilance (jumpiness, loss of sleep, increased hostility), intrusive thoughts (inability to stop thinking about traumatic experiences), recurring nightmares, emotional detachment and depression.  Together, these symptoms can lead to suicidal thoughts and increase the risk of violent and abusive behaviors.
Accident survivors and victims of violent crime (especially rape) are commonly diagnosed with anxiety disorders such as PTSD, so it’s not just soldiers who are at risk.  It’s not absurd to think that our family members, our friends, and even we might succumb to these problems if things turn out to be as bad as some predict.   In a changed world where much of what we’ve taken for granted is gone, even the strongest and most resilient of us could have a tough time coping.  This is especially true for children, since they usually don’t deal with change and upheaval as well as adults.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, or even in a prolonged crisis, maintaining mental well-being may be as much of a challenge as maintaining good physical health.
Fortunately, early action can be very effective in reducing the fear and anxiety caused by traumatic events, helping those affected to cope with their situation and return to normal functioning.  Scores of books and manuals have been written on treatment methods for anxiety disorders, more than we have time to go into here.  This essay attempts to present a plan that is both easy to follow and easy to implement, and which can provide help to those suffering from anxiety when no professional medical care is available. The plan is based in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which stresses short-term treatment to change thoughts and behaviors, thereby reducing fear and stress.  To keep it simple, the plan focuses on two specific areas: exposure therapy and group support.

You’ve probably heard the term, ‘you have to face your fears in order to beat them’.  This is the basis of exposure therapy, to desensitize a person to traumatic events by leading them to face their fears.  One of the methods commonly used is journaling, simply writing out the bad experiences that caused the anxiety in the first place.  Writing out a detailed account of traumatic experiences has been proven to lessen their effect, reducing their power to prolong fear and anxiety.   The same idea works for recurring nightmares, but with a twist.  With bad dreams, the key is to write the dream out, but change the ending to how you would like it to end.  Don’t be nice or polite when doing this, but think at a ‘caveman’ level.  If someone attacks you in the dream, write out how you would destroy them.  Then read this ‘corrected’ dream each night before going to bed.  This idea comes from Navy psychiatrist Beverly Ann Dexter, and it’s been proven to work.  Journaling of both experiences and dreams is an important aspect of CBT, and provides a homework-like structure.  It is important that journaling be done every day, even if you’re writing the same ideas over again.  The repetition helps to lessen the effect of intrusive and recurrent thoughts and dreams, and reduces anxiety.  It sounds simple, but it works.

In addition to journaling, group meetings help in two ways.  First, they provide a context for the journal writings. The group setting provides a comfortable place for people to read their journal work aloud; the final step in the weekly homework process.  The writing and reading of journal work together help to promote desensitization to the initial trauma, and also help to instill resilience to future trauma. Secondly, group meetings provide peer support by allowing people to work through their own problems alongside others who share similar issues.  Group discussions help people better understand and cope with their own experiences, and listening to the experiences of others contributes to the exposure therapy aspect of the plan.

In group sessions it is important to have a moderator who oversees the process, allowing everyone time to share their thoughts and journals, while keeping comments from others in line with what is helpful.  Statements such as, “You should have…”, or, “I would have done…” don’t have a place in this process, nor does any hurtful or derogatory commentary.  Everyone should be focused on helping the rest of the group, even if their approach to problems is different.  Some people will be talkative, some shy, and if some don’t want to share at first that’s all right.  Take time to allow people to read their journal writings, and allow discussion to flow from the topics that come up.  Discussion helps to provide support, and shows group members they aren’t alone in what they’re going through.

An open (or public) group will do the most to help the greatest number of people, and it will take the least amount of time and effort to organize.  Open groups also help to reduce the stigma commonly associated with mental health problems, leading more people to seek help.  Groups should meet once a week, for an hour to an hour and a half, but meetings can be held more often if needed.  A group size of six to twelve often works best, but whatever suits your own purposes is fine.  Even if you work one on one with a family member, you can still get results, but you will be missing out on the benefits of group support.

What you will need: pads of paper and pens or pencils (not bad things to have anyway), a place to meet, and a mediator.  Meeting places should be safe and non-threatening, and meetings should be held during a quiet part of the day.  Mediators should have an even temperament and a fair amount of patience.  It also helps If they have some affinity with the group (for example a teenager or young adult would work best with a group of children), but the best quality is simply the desire to help others get through a tough time.  The average CBT session is time- limited, usually lasting about eight weeks or so.  Shoot for a six to eight week run of group sessions and see how people progress.  You should see good results in this amount of time.  If anyone still needs help after the group session has run its course, encourage them to take part in future groups.  Preparing to run several group sessions consecutively can help those who may need more time, and allow people who were initially reticent to seek help another opportunity to participate.

This is a rough overview which only highlights a few of the tools used to deal with anxiety disorders, but it does provide a framework for those who would be without any help during a long term crisis. Doing something is always better than doing nothing, and this is doubly true for anxiety disorders. They are more easily treated when discovered early on, but if left unattended they will often get worse over time.  Look for withdrawal, depression, hyper-vigilance and intrusive thoughts or nightmares, and remember that these signs can manifest several months after the original trauma.   

As we’ve seen with the generations of vets who have come home with PTSD, the consequences of non-treatment can be devastating.  Doing what we can to intervene at the early stages of an anxiety disorder can make all the difference, for us, our loved ones, and our community.

Thank you for your excellent web site and the forethought that has gone into making it so successful. I wanted to make a brief comment on the "Adaptation to Cold Environments, by D.W." piece which appeared 11/24/11.  One of the best ways to maintain internal body heat is by increasing specific foods in one's daily diet.  During extreme cold conditions, there are few foods that improve thermoregulation better than fats -- specifically, animal-based fats. 

Fat is an easily digested, readily utilized metabolic heater that "stokes the furnace" to help maintain body temperatures during extreme cold conditions.  Although our culture emphasizes reduced dietary fats, those recommendations arise out of current conditions where we are rarely exposed to true weather extremes (thanks to air conditioning and interior heating systems). 

Fat can be obtained from fatty meats and fish, bacon grease, fish oils, and even from coconut oil -- which is a superior source, by the way.  Vegetable oils, in general, are also effective, but possibly less so; their molecular structures cause their fats to be utilized differently than animal fats.  Although I have heard of individuals in the arctic drinking up to a cup of bacon grease (mixed with brown sugar) daily to help maintain body temperatures, each person's needs will vary depending on size and energy expenditure -- those who work outdoors in the cold will clearly require a higher daily ration.  Use of fats during a SHTF situation will depend on how much one has stored, and what alternative types of body heating (clothing, heaters, etc) are available, as well. 

Thanks again for an excellent and informative web site. - Anita E.

Mr. Rawles,
I recently picked up a copy of your novel, "Survivors". It was a great book and I flew through it in no time. When I was making the purchase on Amazon, I also saw as a recommended [nonfiction ] book titled Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart. I bought a copy of that up at the same time. After reading "Survivors", I read "Holding Your Ground". I think readers that like your writings and site would also like "Holding Your Ground". It presents helpful "how to" information on how to defend your home in the event of a societal collapse, information that I hadn't seen before. Next on my book list is "Patriots". Keep up the good work! - Jason B.

Regarding the recent article by CentOre, titled: Need a Power Source?  Got Water?: There is good info on the web site for the do-it-yourselfer to calculate potential horsepower and watts from any given wheel configuration. Pa in Pennsylvania

I won't claim to be an expert on hydro power generation, but would advise against two non-durable materials mentioned: Instead of aluminum pipe for a shaft, get some steel pump shafting from an industrial metals supply or a well supply. Aluminum won't hold up. Another is Teflon. While very slick, it will not last at all. I would suggest UHMW for the bearings if you are going to use plastic. Get in touch with a plastic supply to obtain some. It is not expensive, nor is the shafting very costly. - Michael H.

Dear Jim,
Yesterday's discussion of floating boat mills reminded me of a very thorough article on boat mills and hanging mills in Low Tech Magazine.  Anyone interested in this versatile technology should review it.  Allow me to commend the online magazine also.  With detailed articles on pedal-powered machines, human-powered cranes, ropeways, and other neglected technologies, it's both fascinating and practical. Best wishes to all and thanks for your hard work. - W.T., M.D.

F.J. found this at The Blaze: This Hobbit house is an honest-to-goodness man-sized home. Not only does it fit a family of four, but it cost just over $4,650 to build.

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The Prepper Website has begun incrementally posting a review/synopsis of my novel "Survivors". (Warning: lots of plot spoilers.)

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Nic recommended this video primer by STRATFOR's Fred Burton: How to Stay Safe in an Urban Environment.

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Kevin A. suggested an essay by John Silveira of Backwoods Home magazine: The threat of electromagnetic pulse

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And speaking of EMP, see: Gingrich warns EMP greatest strategic threat to U.S.--Claims it 'would literally destroy country's capacity to function' (A hat tip to the Guinea Pig Gal for the link.)

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: [and to] Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
I will gather [them that are] sorrowful for the solemn assembly, [who] are of thee, [to whom] the reproach of it [was] a burden.
Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.
At that time will I bring you [again], even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD. - Zephaniah 3:16-20 (KJV)

Friday, November 25, 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 (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 (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 family roots go back to Ohio’s Muskingham River area in the mid 1800s.  There are no raging cataracts or other major stream drops on the Muskingham.  At least, not in the first twenty miles upstream from McConnellsville.  Observing the river channel confirms this stretch at least, is subject to erratic, heavy flooding.  Despite this my pioneer ancestors still used the river to grind their grain, and provide power for several other industries.

How did they do it?  They had no metal to make pilings out of.  Wood piling would have just washed away at each flood since most of the watercourse bottom is bedrock.  Construction of a water retention dam with the water trapped in a pipe until sufficient ‘head’ is created to turn a turbine was not an option due to the very gentle fall.  In the roughly twenty miles stretch from Philo and downstream to Stockport the Muskingham drops a total of approximately 23 feet.

What to do?  What they did was build floating mills.  Logs were gathered and shaped.  At least two would be shaped similar to canoes.   More logs would be fashioned for cross members often called stretchers.  The two ‘canoe’ logs were held rigidly apart by the stretchers.  Think of a catamaran sail boat.  The raft is held against the current by a line from the barge that was led upstream and tied off to a convenient tree or rock.  Poles then kept the raft pushed out into the current so the paddlewheel would not strike the bottom.  Paddlewheel?  What paddlewheel?
A paddlewheel was fashioned that would fit between the two canoe logs with its axle perpendicular to the current and parallel to the surface of the water.  Many paddlewheels were fashioned with axles of wood, turning in wooden bearings.  Once my ancestors had a rotating wheel they could perform many functions of ‘modern life.  The raft, always floating on top of the water, would rise and fall with the river level.  In times of major flooding many rafts were lost, but many others were floated over the normal banks and tied off as tight as possible.  After the flood they were disassembled, the parts returned to the water where reassembly took place, renewing any parts damaged by the flooding or otherwise showing excessive wear.

Now, what do we care in our day and age, and, how can we apply this knowledge?  The basic principles still stand today.  Two uses that come immediately to mind are water pumping, and turning an alternator (hydro-electric power!).  If you are ever in the vicinity of the beautiful Metolious River near Sisters, Oregon, stop by the store in Camp Sherman and feed the huge, wild rainbow trout pellets off the bridge.  Look downstream toward the left or west bank.  There are a string of quaint vacation cabins lining this bank.  Many have two-pontoon rafts floating in the current pumping river water to sprinklers in their yards.

With but a small amount of imagination you could put a large pulley on the paddlewheel shaft, and a smaller pulley on an alternator.  You may have to play with the ratio combination of the pulleys because your paddlewheel will probably have more, or less power that mine since there are many variables:

  • Velocity of the current
  • Length of each paddle
  • Distance each paddle is submerged [maximum depth]
  • Number of paddles
  • Efficiency of your bearing system that will be supporting the paddlewheel shaft.

Why not get creative and put a water pump on one end of the shaft, and an alternator on the other?  Shifting between utilities could be as simple as putting the v-belt on the desired utility and removing the v-belt from the other.
Our little brook out here in the Oregon High Desert has a drop of approximately 43 feet in ten miles.  While I’ll not alert the neighbors by installing a floating mill right now rest assured I have all of the materials at hand to:

  • Provide water to our wheat field;
  • Provide battery recharging; and,
  • Provide fire water tank filling.

My bill of materials list that we have stockpiled includes a:

  • Length of 2 inch aluminum irrigation pipe for my main shaft;
  • Block of 2 inch Teflon to cut my bearings from;
  • Lot of 2 inch angle iron for my paddle arms; and,
  • A large selection of stainless nuts, bolts, and lock washers.

I am currently looking into using a five or ten speed bicycle frame with the paddlewheel turning the peddle gear and the load placed in lieu of the rear wheel.  Including the shifting mechanism allows me to vary the speed for various loads without any pulley or chain swapping.
There will need to be a bit of calculation performed to insure proper operation.  The variables include:

A.) Normal speed of the current;

B.) Normal depth range of the water, that is, the minimum you can expect and the maximum;

C.) The type of load your water mill will be expected to operate; and,

D.) What is the type, size, and quantity of drift [debris] must you plan on that will be striking your wheels paddles?

All these, and more, factors come into play in designing your wheel to insure proper operation.  Submersion depth is primarily influenced by variables B &D.  While the width is influenced primarily variables A & C. If your float system has sufficient reserve buoyancy you can construct a small shed or building on it and have covered space.   With covered space you could operate machines like your grain grinder right at the source of water power instead of muscle power in the kitchen.  My wife really likes the idea of having sufficient capacity to operate the ringer washing machine that we picked up from somebody’s front yard (After seeking and gaining the owner’s permission.  Their response to my request was, “Sure!  Want any help loading it?)
Proper mooring of your floating structure is vitally important. The mooring system has to meet three needs:

  • Hold your structure well away from the shallow water near the bank;
  • Hold your structure steady in the current; and,
  • Prevent your structure from sailing away during floods

There are at least two methods that I am familiar with for holding a raft away from the bank.  You can cut two stout poles, their length the distance you wish to hold your raft from the bank.  Lash the poles to the raft, one forward and one aft of the side you want facing the bank.  Now run a line from the upstream, bank side corner of the raft to a stout object well up stream.  A solid tree, a rock outcrop, etc. will work just fine.  With the line tied off solidly on the bank and to the corner of your raft the moving water forces will cause the raft to push in, toward the bank.  Your two stout poles will prevent this.

Another method is to use a stout line tied off well up stream and attached part way back on the side of the raft toward the bank.  Sailors call this a breast line or spring line depending on its actual use.  This line causes the raft to shear into the current.  Now, instead of stout poles to hold the raft off the bank, you will be using a pair of lines (In place of the poles.) to keep the raft in position.  Which system to use?  That will depend on local factors such as the height and slope if the bank.  A high clay bank would not hold the stout poles very well for very long.  Whereas a nice wide gravel bar shore may leave you nothing to tie lines securely to.

In our situation I will end up using both systems.  I guess I am a belt and suspenders guy.  In fact, since our stream is about fifty feet wide where we will cite the mill, I will run lines to both banks.  We picked this narrow spot since it is a bottle neck that creates a better velocity of the water than most of the pool stretches, etc.
I shun the idea of putting out anchors upstream, (sometimes called "kedging anchors") , from the raft.  There have been far too many instances of a log or large amount of brush hanging up on anchor line[s].  The only alternatives are then are the:

  • Line must break, or
  • Raft must submerge from the weight on the anchor line[s].

By choice I leave out, as an alternative, having someone watch for large debris and then removing or steering the log or debris around and off of the anchor lines as it would be a twenty-four/seven task at a time with much more important tasks to complete.

So, if your retreat has that pleasant little brook running through it, you may look at it in a whole new light now.  What other uses can you think of to make use of this little thought of twenty-four/seven power supply?  How about running a flour mill or washing clothes during the day, and filling a cistern at night so you have gravity water pressure to your home?  This might qualify as one of the original Eco-Friendly machines. Nothing, except for velocity of the water, is removed from the Eco-system.

(CentOre is a loosely connected group of people in the Oregon High Desert interested in improving our existing skills, and learning new skills that will enhance our odds when it hits.)

This time of year we have a lot of hides on hand – deer, elk, and even cow hides when we are butchering.  We’ve tanned them, traded them for gloves, given them away to others, but usually we just dispose of them.  Not anymore.  This last year we’ve been experimenting with using rawhide, and after a year, we are convinced having rawhide on-hand is one of the more valuable items for regular or emergency use.  It is quite easy to process, unlimited in its use, and readily available to most of us.  Hopefully some of our experiences get others thinking and considering how to make use of rawhide.

Tanning a hide for leather is quite a laborious activity, and while leather is very valuable and useful, its manufacture is intimidating.  Rawhide in comparison is quite easy to produce, and provides many of the values and versatility.  Rawhide is simply an untreated animal hide.  Any animal hide is useful, and I would recommend trying out rawhide from a smaller animal, preferably a road kill, as your first foray into this product.  The only tools needed are a plastic garbage can or barrel, and a good stick for stirring.  We are currently processing several hides and you can see pictures and follow the progress on our blog.

The best part of working with rawhide is that you can set it aside for long periods of time and not worry about taking care of it.  Even the unprocessed hides can sit if you keep them dry with some salt on them.  The salt will help keep bacteria down that cause rot or smell.  We made one deer hide into rawhide last year, and we used it up so quickly that we decided to keep all of our hides this year.

After pulling the hides off our deer, we trimmed off the larger pieces of fat and meat, then simply folded them and allowed them to dry out in the Wyoming air.  In wetter climates we have found the hides don’t dry very quickly or as thoroughly and recommend you salt the hide heavily before it dries to keep bacteria and smell down.  When the hide is dry we can simply fold and store it as is for up to a year.  Check on the hide periodically to make sure it doesn’t start to smell or go bad.  We sometimes dry them by the woodstove if needed.

If you prefer a cleaner hide (which we strongly recommend) and you have the time immediately after removing it from the animal, it should be scrapped to clean off all meat, fat, and membrane just as you would to tan it for leather.  If the hide has been stored for a while dried, lay it out and put some water on it, or soak it for about a day to loosen it up and make it easier for scraping.  A 4 to 6 foot long piece of 2x6 lumber is the best tool to drape the hide over, with the flesh side up for scraping.  Another recommendation is to use an 8” draw knife (two handled) for scraping with.  It makes the work more uniform and easy.

With the hide scrapped, it is ready for removing the hair.  Soaking the hide in water or solution is often sufficient to loosen the hide’s hold on the hair allowing it to pull off easily.  In the colder winter months, however, we have found it best to mix up a solution of water and hydrated lime at about 70 degrees F – about a quart of lime for every 15 gallons of water used.  Soaking the hides in this solution for a week is enough, and you can leave the hides in the solution up to 6 weeks if you need to.  Raising the pH of the hide is what we are after.  Right now we have two hides soaking outside at about 45*F and after 3 days the hair is starting to pull out.  We may let them soak more than a week because of the cold.  Be sure to regularly stir the hides to keep them in solution.  We also use a bucket of water on top of the hides to keep them from floating out of the lime. 

We use hydrated lime because we already have it on hand for gardening needs.  You can use (and many other folks do) other options such as lye, wood ash, or other alkali options.  Just be careful with protective gloves and goggles but give it a try.  Rawhide is fun because it is so basic and forgiving.  Play around with options and see what works for you – you really can’t go to wrong with rawhide.

Once the hair is slipping out remove it from the solution and when dry enough to work, we put it back on our 2x6 with the hair up and use a duller draw knife to carefully scrap off the hair.  It comes off pretty quickly, but be careful not to damage the hide – it is quite soft and can be cut or torn after soaking so long.  When the hair is removed, you will need to rinse and treat the rawhide to restore the pH back neutral.  If you have a source of running water you can put it in that for a day or two.  We have lots of rain barrels, and soaking in one of those for 2 days is typically good, followed by a few rinses in a bucket.  Next, we use a cup of vinegar for each 15 gallons of water used to neutralize the hide and get it as close to neutral [pH] as possible.  Years ago we had a swimming pool, and we still have pH test strips that are very handy for projects like this to see how we are doing with respect to the pH.

Guess what – that is really it!  The rawhide will need some stretching and scraping, but only if you want to do it, and only when you are ready to it.  At this point, we fold up the hide again and dry it out well by the woodstove to put it into storage.  Without the hair, a deer hide will fold up and fit in a shoe box, so it is nice and small.  I recommend smoking the hide outside if you can around a fire – it will dry it out very well, and the smoking gives it a nice smell and will help preserve it for later use.  If you don’t smoke it, adding a layer of salt will also be advisable.
Depending on how you plan to use the rawhide, you will stretch and scrap it more accordingly.  We have found by repeatedly stretching and scraping the hide as it dries, it becomes more translucent – enough so that it could even be used as an emergency replacement for a window pane if glass were broken and unavailable.  Stretching it less will make it thicker and more opaque.
Now is the real fun part of rawhide – using it for everything!  As an engineer, I love finding new tools or techniques that let me do the most with an item, and rawhide is one of the best I’ve found – ever.  This stuff is really nature’s 'duct tape', better than plastic, and begs for experimentation.  In the event of SHTF, I believe this stuff will be prized by all who have access and use it.
The most common use for rawhide is cordage and rope.  We’ve made a lot of plant-based cordage, and even made string with ligaments, but nothing is as strong or long-lasting as rawhide strips.  Cordage will become rough and stiff over time if not well used or kept dry, but with repeated use, working it over and over on metal or wood posts, and with some oil the cordage will be quite supple.  It can be twisted or braided and both work well.  If you plan to make a lot of cordage, I’d recommend getting a leather strap cutter – they are inexpensive and make great, uniform cuts.
Many folks on the internet have some great examples of using rawhide for knife sheaths and hard, custom formed containers.  We haven’t tried these yet but they look like fun.  With rawhide, the key is keeping it dry to keep its form.  When it dries out, it is tough, rigid, and durable.  When it gets wet, it softens and can be reformed – this can be a big advantage, too.  I also recommend oiling rawhide lightly to help make it more water repellant, but do so lightly as the oil itself can soften the hide.

Rawhide is a fantastic replacement for nails, which is how we use most of ours.  Small strips of cordage wrap easily like string when wet and then as it dries, it will shrink, tighten, and harden into a rock-solid bond.  Think of the rawhide bones that dog’s chew (another good use for your hide) and remember how hard those can be.  We use rawhide to bind arrowheads on shafts, and when covered in a protective, thin layer of pine pitch, the arrowhead becomes a solid part of the shaft.  The strength to weight ratio of rawhide is very good.  Early pioneers constructed "Red River Carts" entirely without nails, using only an axe, wood on hand, and rawhide.

I fixed a rake handle when it was stepped on and split by wrapping a s3x4 inch strip of wet rawhide tightly around the break, and tying it in place until the hide dried and shrunk.  That fix will outlast the rest of the tool.  Similarly, a loose head on a splitting maul was tightened easily with a long, 1x8 inch strip wrapped cross-wise and dried.  When roasting marshmallows, we found that a few wraps of rawhide are good enough in a pinch for a handle and insulate from heat quite well.  This led us to speculate that rawhide would be useful for any number of automotive repairs on exhaust, water, or engine related repairs, though we have yet to try them.

I have heard it is possible to boil up glue using rawhide, though I’ve never tried it.  Likewise I have never tasted rawhide, but know throughout history it was a common staple for famished travelers and pioneers.  In a situation of starvation, boiled rawhide will nourish better than boiled plastic – and let’s hope we never get to that point.

Rawhide applied around an object also is a great stiffener.  We have stiffened wooden bows with narrow strips of it wrapped or laid along the outer edge of a bow, and in some cases stiffened the bow too much with what seemed a small piece of hide.  A loose furniture piece or piece of machinery could quickly and inexpensively be helped along by that old deer skin.  A few years ago I gave a steer hide to a woman who made a beautiful set of rawhide pack saddle panyards with the hair left on it.

I’ve read of several accounts of Plains Indian shields made from buffalo rawhide stopping or deflecting bullets.  It is quite feasible, seeing the thickness and toughness of rawhide to imagine it working though I don’t think a modern rifle bullet would be stopped in such a way.  It does make you wonder about armor applications, though.  Our 12 year-old son is working a deer hide right now that he wants to experiment with to see if and how several layers of rawhide would perform against different caliber bullets.  Sounds like a great school science project in the making.  Another thought he came up with was putting a layer of rawhide on cowboy chaps or a motorcycle jacket for added protection.  Perhaps a shoe’s sole replacement or shin guards during rattlesnake season.  Our older son speculated at casting a broken arm in rawhide to protect it if plaster were unavailable – though rawhide is far from sterile and I would not recommend it on a wound, it was a good idea.  At least they are thinking of ideas and that is worthwhile in and of itself.

Even if you are not a hunter or rancher it isn’t difficult to get hides.  I’ve posted on Craigslist to give away cow hides after butchering and was overwhelmed with the volume of responses.  Posting online or asking around will put you in touch with hunters in your area, or ask at a local butcher shop or meat processor.  These are good folks to get to know for future emergency events anyway.  Another option is road kill – yes, it is gross and a little hillbilly, but the price is right, and small hides are easiest to work with.  I recommend being picky about the road kill you pick up ;-)  The price is right and there is a ready supply.

The last recommendation I have for rawhide is to avoid the larger animal hides like elk or cow in favor of a deer hide or smaller animal.  The larger animal hides are much thicker and heavier to work with and unless you have a big project needing these features the rawhide is less versatile.  Deer hides are thinner, more pliable, and more than adequate for most jobs.  For small cordage, squirrel or rabbit are actually my preference, so bigger usually isn’t better.  As we finish our latest batch of rawhide and put it into use we will post more pictures on our blog,

Rawhide has been the ‘duct tape’ of the world for centuries.  It is reasonably available, requires minimal effort, and offers great strength, versatility, and usability for so many situations it is worth considering for your preparations.  It will be a valuable barter item in the case of TEOTWAWKI.  God in His wisdom has provided us with yet another item for our needs and deserves our praise and thanks.  I hope these ideas and options are valuable or useful in your efforts.  It has been fun for us.

James Wesley:
As trees go dormant, you can look for saplings to transplant and seed to germinate. 

In the southern US, right now is the time to look for persimmon fruit to get seeds.  Persimmon grows on the edge of fields and as an understory tree. About the time of the first frost, the fruit loses it's famous sour taste and becomes sweet like an apricot. At this point,the fruit is wrinkling and starting to look spoiled but it isn't. Look for 1" orange fruit hanging on bare branches in moist areas, roadsides, and power line easements. Animals eat the fruit when it drops, but horses may suffer fatal intestinal blockage (phytobezoars) from the seeds if they are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of unripe fruit. 

The large dark seeds can be planted in pots and left outdoors all winter.  Because persimmon tree sucker aggressively from underground  roots, you can also dig up suckers and pot those.   There are male and female trees, but they will have to get several feet tall before you can tell them apart. 

Winter time is also a good time to transplant  mulberry trees.  Mulberries aren't planted much because they are "too messy" which is to say they make too much darn fruit in the late spring. Cultivated fruiting varieties  can have berries over 2 inches long, and in other countries they are a major source of food. They are one of those trees that thrive in rocky soil and harsh climates like Afghanistan, or they will grow very fast near water.  We found a grove of them in a utility easement with berries over an inch long and quickly picked a few quarts by shaking them onto a tarp. These were trees that were in shade, tangled, and never pruned.  A tree that gets minimal care might make 50 pounds of berries. 

I have dug up mulberry seedlings and suckers which are now growing in pots. I also planted ripe berries in a pot and after about 2 months each  berry had sprouted a small cluster of seedlings.  The seeds don't seem to need any treatment to make them germinate.   

Mulberry is a useful hardwood and as firewood has  roughly the same heat output as red oak. Persimmon is a hard high quality wood that can be used for tool handles and was used for the heads of golf clubs. Both persimmon and mulberry have been used for making longbows. 

Mulberry and persimmon are useful trees that will propagate themselves and need no maintenance. A little encouragement will lead them to take over an area. Mulberry is a very early season fruit, persimmon is very late season, so they complement other crops. Both are good food for wildlife, people, poultry, or swine.  And both of them produce useful hardwood. - H.C.

J.M.'s article on brain tanning mentions buildings and furniture held together with rawhide straps, and I thought I'd mention another such building. The roof of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah is a particularly innovative design for its time, and because of the builders' lack of available metals (the few metal fasteners in the roof were made from discarded ox shoes) most
of the structure depends on wooden pegs to hold it together. The builders wrapped parts of the wooden trusses in green rawhide; as the rawhide shrank during drying, it formed tight, strong straps around the trusses, preventing splitting and holding the wooden pegs firmly in place. These trusses and their rawhide straps remained in place from the building's dedication in 1867 until the Tabernacle was renovated in 2005. - Joshua T.

Michael Z. Williamson Re: Guns for a Tight Budget Minimalist Survivalist

Dear Jim,
While I much prefer modern autos, there are many good Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers from the early part of the 20th Century, in .38 Special (an easy to find, common caliber) that retail for $100-$250.  The finishes may be well-worn and ugly, but as long as the function is sound, these are an excellent choice.  The hand fitting done at the time usually exceeds what is done on modern guns.  I am especially enamored of the Smith Model 1905 Military and Police, and the Colt Cobra.

For shotguns, the classic single shot is available for as little as $80 in some forums, used in good shape.  I also really like the Stevens Model 520 takedown.  Mine disassembles small enough to carry in the bottom of a gym bag, and cost $250. Here is a picture of one.  There are many out there, usually reasonably priced, and there are plenty of spare parts for repairs.  It's a reliable shotgun, and compact enough to be discreet for travel.

I also like the 10-22, there really isn't a better choice.  It's easily improved, I just wish the factory did most of that up front rather than leaving it to the aftermarket.  It would cost the same to put in a decent trigger and round the rear of the bolt as it does to produce now, and save buyers a lot of hassle.

As to birdshot, this has been posted before, but bears repeating: Birdshot is for birds, not people.  The physics of this is that a column of shot acts as a fluid, not as a mass.  This means it splashes on impact with heavy targets.  One ounce of shot cannot hit as hard as a one ounce slug, or a smaller number of much larger buckshot. Remember that Dick Cheney's hunting partner was shot with birdshot and suffered minimal effects.  The range was not close, but both rifles and buckshot would easily deliver stops at that range.

Also, I would like to remind readers that the "storing magazines is bad for springs" myth is from a misunderstanding of mechanics.  A spring will not suffer harm within its design range.  What wears out a spring is cycles and metal fatigue.  Constantly cycling your magazines is bad for the magazines, and bad for the ammo that is being constantly bumped around.  Load it and leave it, unless you intend to shoot it. (One exception: Some box magazines for shotguns, such as the Saiga, can deform the plastic shotshell.  But his is a different matter.)

Mat Stein's new non-fiction book "When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival"has been released! Yours Truly wrote the Foreword. Let's do our best to push it into Amazon's Top 10.

   o o o

I heard from Mark Baciak of PNW Arms that his company's relocation to The American Redoubt is almost complete. They have moved their ballistics division over and should have their weapons division moved by January, 2012. They are moving to Potlatch, Idaho. They have also announced a "Black Friday" sale with a 25% discount on all in-stock merchandise. I should also mention that their new line of solid copper bullet pistol ammunition will be formally announced in April.

   o o o

John G. in California mentioned that Empire Masonry Heaters makes a prefabricated masonry stove kit that is relatively inexpensive ($3,900) and easy to assemble.

   o o o

Another over-reliance on GPS news story: Single-engine plane makes hard landing in Pasco neighborhood. (Thanks to J. McC. for the link.)

   o o o

John N. forwarded this bit of odd news from Nanny State Britannia:You can't buy that lime... it could be classed as a weapon: Shock for chef shopping at Asda

"My advice: We are moving closer and closer to what I call 'survival period' -- the period where the magic of compounding turns into what will be the poison of compounding. This isn't a time for timing. This is a time for action. Reduce your exposure to bonds and all items that provide fixed interest rates. Similarly, reduce your exposure to stocks except the gold miners. Look to expand your positions in inflation-protected assets, especially gold."

"Those who are holding stocks in the hopes of the usual rebound are going to be terribly disappointed in the years ahead. This bear market is going to be unlike anything we've ever seen before. In the end my survival vehicle will be gold. I say again, timing is hopeless. Gold will have purchasing power and true wealth as almost everything else is destroyed by this unprecedented bear market. The US Government is now so loaded with ever-growing debt that it has become a mathematical freak. We return to different times, when rising interest rates will eat up the US government. With $55 trillion in assorted debts, the US is in no shape to deal with rising interest rates. We are in a state of reverse compounding, leading to inevitable bankruptcy on a massive scale." - Richard Russell, Editor of The Dow Theory Letters.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Because of the apparent likelihood of the U.S. Congress passing the loosely-worded Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), we are in the process of moving the primary web hosting of SurvivalBlog to a dedicated server in Sweden. (The legislation could have far-reaching effects that will go far beyond stopping pirate sites.) Our URL will remain, but our dotted quad address will be changing. We'd also like to establish a couple of low-bandwidth offshore mirror sites. Any volunteers? (Eventually, we'd like all SurvivalBlog readers to have a list of of four or five dotted quad addresses bookmarked, so that you won't be without the SurvivalBlog , as long as there is any sort of Internet intact.)


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 (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 (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.

The human body can do little to adapt to a cold environment. This is in contrast to the body’s ability to adapt and become more efficient when exercising in a hot, humid environment. Cold, wetness, and wind challenge the body to maintain core temperatures above 35oC (94oF). Heat loss or inadequate heat production elevates the risk of physical discomfort, hypothermia, or surface injury such as frostbite. Blood flow bears principal responsibility for maintaining peripheral temperature in cold weather and is the metabolic vehicle for the transportation of oxygen and generation of heat.

The one adaptable characteristic that can contribute to better tolerance of recreational activity in a cold environment is aerobic capacity (physical work). When working muscles and the thermoregulation system must compete for the same limited blood supply, reduced demand for the same level of work in persons with higher aerobic capacity can mean an increased margin of safety when temperature regulation becomes critical. A second advantage is that at the same workload, aerobically fit individuals derive a greater percentage of energy from stored fat. This is in plentiful supply even in the slimmest of individuals. Therefore, a lesser percent is required from the limited supply of carbohydrate foods, which need to be conserved in any survival situation in cold weather.

It can therefore be concluded that the ability to exist safely in cold, wet, or windy environmental conditions does not depend on a robust, adaptable body, but on mastery and use of information that enables self-preservation. Two major areas of information are critical: (1) knowledge of physiologic phenomena relative to exercise and temperature regulation and (2) knowledge of the insulation, ventilation, and protective properties of outdoor clothing and how to employ such clothing to gain the greatest advantage in a cold weather survival situation.
Management of Thermoregulation:
  As metabolic machines, humans produce heat profusely during recreational activity. Heat energy increases as the rate of physical activity increases. Roughly between 80% and 90% of the energy produced is in the form of heat. Just sitting on the couch produces 60 to 70 kcal/hr, or a body temperature rise of 2oF if none of the heat is dissipated. A moderate hiking pace with a day pack could raise core temperature 8oF in an hour if the heat were not dissipated. Thus generation of metabolic heat can be a threat to proper thermoregulation. It is remarkably easy to overdress for activity in cold weather, to sweat needlessly, and to thereby lose heat rapidly. The adverse effects of sweating in a winter survival situation can be compounded by wearing clothing that sweat can permeate. This reduces garment temperature to that of a refrigerator. Clothing manufacturers have done a marvelous job of producing materials that preserve a warm microclimate for the body to maintain warmth at rest or at low levels of physical activity. However, most have not designed garments that can efficiently ventilate metabolic heat during more vigorous activity. To minimize the risk of this situation, a person surviving in a harsh environment must know what clothing is appropriate and how to use their garments correctly.

At rest body heat is lost primarily by radiation of body surface area. Radiant heat forms a barrier of warm air around a person, unless there is a breeze. In the presence of moving air or when a person is moving, significant amounts of heat are lost by convection. Loose fitting clothing pulled by body movement creates a bellows-like convection action of air between the skin and clothing, purging body heated air out, like smoke up a chimney. The neck, waistband, sleeves, pockets, and pant legs are the usual orifices. Using garments that have the ability to selectively loosen or close these “chimneys” to intentionally lose or conserve heat from the microclimate within the garment is always prudent.

Heat loss by conduction is the least frequent mode of transfer in a wilderness environment, although conductive heat loss occurs across the skin whenever it is in physical contact with matter that is 2 degrees C cooler or warmer. Some examples of heat conduction that occur in the outdoors include sitting on rocks, lying on the ground, or being in contact with clothing that has been cooled by evaporation of sweat or environmental moisture. Unquestionably, the most important mode of heat loss is through evaporation. A body engaged in physical activity of sufficient vigor to produce sweating will lose 70% of body heat loss through evaporative cooling. Because cooling occurs at the site of evaporation and, of most consequence, when evaporation takes place on the surface of the skin, the value of garments that can transfer, or “wick,” moisture away from the skin to be evaporated on outer layers of clothing is readily understood.

It helps to know the mechanisms of heat loss to critically evaluate the design and type of clothing material selected to be worn in a hostile environment. Being able to selectively control the amount of heat loss by evaporation and convection is the key to outfitting. Most important is the ability to regulate skin temperature in the trunk, where most sweat glands are located, the head and neck, and the areas of natural folds in the body such as the axillary (arm pits), crotch, and backs of knees. Using buttons, zippers, and Velcro fasteners and simply adding or shedding layers of clothing are methods by which to regulate heat loss. Despite manufacturer’s claims about product ventilatory capability, any activity of greater activity than walking requires conscious temperature regulation. The challenge is to maintain near normal core body temperature, to conserve body energy stores, and to lose body heat to the extent that sweating is minimal. This requires balancing clothing to be worn against expected climatic conditions and properly assessing the amount of physical activity that one will endure. All of these factors influence thermoregulatory balance.

Selection of Clothing:

Material properties important to outdoor activities: (1) THICKNESS. The thicker the material, the greater the insulative value, so long as it stays dry. (2) FIBER REACTION TO MOISTURE. Four qualities are important: (a) The ease of “wicking” action. Transferring moisture from body surface to material. (b) Evaporative ability. The rate of drying. (c) Moisture regain. The amount of moisture the material can absorb before it feels cold. (d) The amount of insulative value a material loses when wet. (3) THERMAL CONDUCTANCE. The less the conductance, the better the insulation. (4) RESISTANCE TO WIND.
  The most commonly used clothing materials for outdoor activities are wool, cotton, nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. The four material properties are different for each of the fibers cited.
   WOOL is a poor conductor of heat and therefore a good insulator. It has a moderate affinity to absorb moisture, but it can absorb a great deal, about 35% to 55% of saturation, before it feels wet. Its evaporative ability is poor, but its fiber suspends water vapor without decreasing its insulative value.
  COTTON feels great in summer time, however has meager value in a harsh environment, where conservation of heat may be needed. Cotton loses up to 90% of its insulative value when wet. It readily regains moisture therefore its moisture regain is poor.
  NYLON evaporates moisture quickly, is a good insulator, and has good quality of moisture regain. Because of its durability it is often the material preferred for outerwear. However unless nylon is tightly knit, it doesn’t screen wind and water well.
  POLYESTER is justifiably the most widely employed material in outdoor clothing today. Polyester is a poor conductor (good insulator), high in moisture regain, and in some forms good in wicking.
  POLYPROPYLENE, like cotton, wicks moisture well, but unlike cotton it has a very low conductive index and high evaporative qualities. These properties are what make it so popular as an under layer material for active outdoorsmen.
  DOWN and SYNTHETIC LOFT material are not often appropriate for clothing to be worn by the physically active. They certainly have value when insulation is needed for quiet situations such as fishing, sitting around a camp fire, using a sleeping bag, or other relatively inert functions. The greater amount of “loft” possible in the material, the better the insulative value. There are other synthetic hollow-core fibers such as QUALLOFIL, THINSULATE (THERMALOFT), or POLARGARD that approach the insulative value of down, and are much less bulky, lose less insulative  value when wet, and, being predominantly hydrophobic, dry more rapidly when wet.

Layering Clothing:

  UNDERLAYER: Warmth and wicking ability are the principal requisites for layers next to the skin. Polyesters designed for moisture transfer and polypropylene best satisfy the needs of this layer. Some manufacturers have added a small percentage of Lycra to the polyester to achieve a consistent snugness to the skin. This enables the garment to be somewhat more effective in both insulation and moisture transfer. On days when the temperature is above freezing , the under layer may not be needed.
  INSULATION LAYERS: Adequate insulation and ability to selectively ventilate are by far the most important characteristics of the insulative layers. When protection from wind and moisture is not necessary, an insulation layer may also be the outermost layer. Finding garments that are well designed for selective adjustment can be a challenge. Zippers or Velcro fasteners that vent areas around the trunk (core) are extremely important. Also ability to adjust tightness around waist, sleeves, and collar can augment the bellows action of clothing movement by providing a chimney for air circulation.
  PROTECTIVE LAYER: wind and moisture can be serious challenges to thermoregulation, so protection against the elements and selective ventilation are the most important functions of the outer layer. Tightly knit, tough shells of nylon or webbed layers of nylon polyesters are the most popular materials for this layer. Gore-Tex laminate remains the gold standard for qualities of both water resistance and breathability. In vigorous activity performed in rain or wet snow, however, no garment will satisfy the weather because body heat production overwhelms the breathability of any material. Special finishes can be sprayed or laminated to polyester weave or microfiber garments to be used as outer layers which may be somewhat less expensive and less moisture repellent but the tradeoff would be for more breathability.

The wide variety of gloves made from polyester fleece, synthetic down, and wool, with a nylon outer cover are appropriate. Glove liners should be used when more insulation is needed. As with all cold weather clothing, gloves should not fit so tightly that peripheral blood flow is restricted.

Appropriate footwear remains a problem in cold environments. Boots are vulnerable to moisture and cold wherever they are stitched, although sealing compounds and waterproof tape can help. Instead of trying to keep moisture and cold out of the boot at the expense of sweaty feet, an alternative strategy may be to use breathable and less waterproof boots such as Gore-Tex or comparable sock liners with the intent of keeping the inner sock dry.
All for one and one for all.

When I took the Appleseed training program almost everyone there was using either Ruger 10-.22 or Marlin Model 795

Academy Sporting Goods is running a Black Friday special on the Marlin Model 795 this Friday and Saturday only for $89. That is about $40 off the regular price -- a great deal for the money. - Bryan E.


Good Day, Mister Rawles:
In regards to the letter advocating bird shot rather than buck shot I humbly offer the following. Of all factors that come to play in choosing ammo for your bug-out, my opinion is that the cost of the ammo should rank close to the bottom of said list. Your cheap and plentiful ammo supplies should be at your retreat but no expense should be spared in ensuring you have the best gear to get you there.

Buckshot has a chance of stopping someone on meth. Bird shot? Less so. The archives of many a law enforcement agency will back that statement up. If you're banking on a head shot with the birdshot shells then best of luck to you.

The compromise is that you carry both but you only chamber the bird shot cartridge as the moment requires, or if you're paranoid that your avian appetizer will get away while you're chick-chacking the right ammo into place then keep a round of bird shot in the chamber and the rest of the tube full of something more substantial. Then, if some random crack-head tries his luck you can gather some definitive results in the field for yourself rather than finding out the hard way that you might have been wrong.

Seems prudent to me. Kind regards, as always. - The Apple Islander


James Wesley:
After reading many of the articles about buying a gun on a minimum budget I have to agree with everyone who said to buy the Ruger 10/22. It is a very good QUALITY gun. I personally love shooting mine. When at my local gun store and range I had the choice of picking up a very nice Ruger 10/22 with four magazines for $180 or picking up a random off brand .22 for $60.00. I think when it comes to this kind of purchase you really get what you paid for. I personally got a really nice Ruger at a great price and not an off brand piece of junk. The other reason I bought the Ruger was because it is easily customizable, the parts are common, and the ammo is DIRT CHEAP!

Personally when thinking about a hand gun for a minimal budget; I think you really have to reverse engineer the question. I think you have to think about ammo first. The ammo is a residual charge compared to a gun which you only purchase once. Personally you want to buy something in a common cheap round. The reason why I say this is because shot placement is the most important, and to get better at shot placement you have to practice. When you practice you send lead down range and when you are dealing with expensive rounds it empties your pockets very fast. I personally like my .40 S&W it has some stopping power and when bought in bulk it is pretty cost affective round. When talking about a very cost affective round I would consider the 9mm or the .38. They are both very common and cost affective. WTSHTF they will be the easiest to find because of how common they are. I know neither of these rounds have as much stopping power as others but once again I think the most important thing when shooting is shot placement.

Personally I am thinking about investing in a .357 because it has such a wide range of ammo it can shoot at different power levels.

Also check out Great deals on ammo when bought in 1,000 round boxes and they do free shipping when purchasing in 1,000 round quantities.

Best Regards, AZAM in Pennsylvania

Doubling Up Gets Popular: Tight budgets boost house-sharing. (Thanks to John in Ohio for the link.)

   o o o

JRH Enterprises is running their annual "Black Friday" sale going on now that includes genuine AN/PVS-14 night vision monoculars for $2,695 and Thermal imaging units that take "AA" batteries available as low as $2,775. They are also offering deep discounts on water filters, medical kits and other preparedness products."

   o o o

F.G. mentioned some wasteful, hoplophobic stupidity in Cleveland.

   o o o

G.G. was the first of several readers to send this: Survival Shop Reports Jump In Sales To People Preparing For “Possible Collapse”

   o o o

Ay, ay, ay: Gerber Apocalypse Survival Kit. (Thanks to F.J. for the link.)

“Fear not, but trust in Providence, Wherever thou may'st be.” - Thomas Haynes Bayly

Wednesday, November 23, 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 (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 (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.

In today's world, you might wonder why working rawhide and brain tanning buckskin skill would be a benefit to anybody, when you can run to the hardware store and buy an unlimited supply of plastic, nylon, fiberglass, and what not to do your jobs. And why would anybody in their right mind want to wear anything made out of buckskin? When you have designer jeans, and all kinds of clothing to buy, in most stores like Wal-mart, K-mart, or even the used clothing stores? One question you might ask is how much of these things will be available when the fiat dollar bites the dust, or if a number of natural disasters happen? And what about a total SHTF situation, where there are no open stores selling anything? Might be worth consideration?
Working rawhide will give you a good substitute in most cases for a lot of plastics, and if you learn to brain tan buckskin, you can make clothing as soft and comfortable as velvet, but let me tell you, it isn't easy work! And right off, I'd hate to arm wrestle an Indian squaw from the 1800's that did hide scraping on a daily basis, those had to be very strong women!   And let me tell you, after scraping both sides of a bull hide, you realize that your arms aren't nearly as strong as you thought they were. Lets start with buckskin first.
The tools you'll need is a very sharp knife, a scraper, (I'll get into that a little down the line) a 2x4 stud hide rack, which is made up of  4- stud 8' long nailed or bolted into a square, bolting is better with holes so you can adjust the size of the rack to fit the hide your working on,  and it's best to mount the hide as high as possible on the rack, to save your back. 4- 25' lengths of heavy cordage, bailing twine, or parachute chord, which I find works the best, to lace the hide on the rack. a 1/8" to 1/4" leather punch, or a knife will work in a pinch to poke holes about 2" apart around the edge of the hide, A large needle made from a coat hanger, to feed the cordage through the holes, and lace on the rack.
Now for the scraper, I took a large file, heated it up on the forge, pounded out one end, and ground it out like a chisel edge, put a 90 degree bend back about 3" from the edge, when you get it done, it should look like an old well used hoe with rounded edges, no sharp edges like a new hoe would have, as this will damage your hide when scraping. When you get that done, re-temper it. This can be done by heating it up to an orange heat, then quench it in a bucket of salt water. The harder you can get the edge, the less you have to sharpen it. Now mount this in a 2' handle, an old shovel handle, or any smooth round piece of wood. You can use pine pitch to mount it in a cut out and wrap it with rawhide. Or if you have a welder, it can be welded on a piece of 1-1/2" black iron pipe, are you starting to get the picture?
Now getting back to the hide, a fresh hide is best to work with while it's still wet, and the cleaner you can skin, leaving all meat and fat on the animal, the less work you have later. Now don't get the idea that deer hide are the only thing that make good buckskin, Elk, young beef calves, dogs, coyotes, wolves, antelope, sheep, goats, most any medium sized animal hides can make good buckskin. I use to have a local dairyman save me the calves that died, and instead of taking them to the local dump, they would dump them in my front yard, and I'd skin them out, then I'd haul the calf to the dump minus the hide and brain, and sinews, leg bones and hoofs. (good knife handles and making glue)
Most of the books I've read on tanning suggest salting down the hides, but I have found it's a lot stronger buckskin if you work with a fresh hide unsalted, salted hides I've found tear easy and don't have the strength you need in long term buckskin clothing. I've got a pair of pants I made about 40 years ago that are still as good and strong as the day they were made. but I also don't wear them daily like jeans.
Okay, you now have your hide laced to the rack and ready to start scraping. Start on the flesh side (the other side from the hair) and scrape in down strokes, it's just like shaving, you slip side ways and you get cut, same with a hide. And you'll find the more careful you can skin, with no knife strokes on the hide the easier it will scrape. you have to remove all fat and membrane from the skin, get as close as possible to your lacing without cutting them. And by now you will have pains in the back of your arms. A little side note here, when you get into rawhide and Buckskinning, you take great care to get a head or neck shot on the animal your hunting, I've found that a shot right behind the ear is an instant kill with most rifles, including a .22 Long Rifle.
 Once you get that side as clean as possible, turn the rack over and start on the hair. You'll find if you can mount your rack against a tree or against anything to work in an upright position, it works better than flat on the ground. You'll notice that the hair comes off with a layer of skin (the scarf skin) under the hair, this has to be removed, to get the brain penetration. And if you let the hide dry out for an hour after you do the flesh side, your scraper will make a tearing sound as you scrape. There again scrape as close as possible to your cordage and holes, without cutting them! I suggest working in a shaded area if possible, so the hide doesn't dry out before you get it scraped.
When all hair and scarf skin is removed, cut the hide out of the rack with a knife about an inch out from the holes and lacing, take the skin and wash it in a clean bucket of water, then let it soak. Meanwhile take the brains and boil them in a kettle of water, then mash them into the water, to where it looks like a white liquid, some people take a piece of cotton cloth and put in the pan of boiling water, then put the brains in the water over the cloth, and as it cools, mash the brains by pulling the cloth up and squeezing it with your hands and keep dipping it in the kettle until all the brain is mashed into a liquid, I never tried this, as I mash them pretty good with a potatoes masher. Then take the liquid brain and water mixture, pore it into a half full, (2 to 2 1/2 gallons) 5 gallon bucket of cool water, dip the hide in the bucket, and squeeze it until it's saturated with the brain water.
I have found that a 6' rope tied loose around a tree on both ends, works good to work the hide, put the bucket under the rope, take the hide and work it back and forth over the rope to where the water drains back into the bucket. When the hide is wrung out good dip it back in the bucket, and soak it up again. by dipping and wringing it out you are forcing the solution through the hide, and removing the hide glue between the fibers, keep this process up for about a half an hour then the last wringing out and working of the hide, let it hang over the rope for a couple hours, but just before it's dried, still damp, work it over the rope stretching it from one direction then the other, until it's completely dry. Now you should have a soft stark white buckskin hide. But this isn't really tanned like chrome tanning, if you get the hide wet in this state, it will get hard when it dries out again.
To prevent this from happening, it has to be smoked. By doing this you saturate the hide fibers with wood smoke pitch. I dig a hole about 30" deep 12" diameter, and take the coals from a fire drop into the hole, and drop in damp chainsaw sawdust in over the coals, then make a small teepee framework and clamp the hide with clothes pins or clamps, but make sure there is only smoke coming up out of the hole and not much heat! Keep turning the hide so all parts on both sides are exposed to the smoke coming up out of the hole. I like the hide to come out about the color of a buckskin horse, but the longer you smoke it the darker it gets and more water resistant. Just roll it up and store in a cool dry place until you have enough hides to make something out of them!
It takes me five hides to make a shirt, with fringe, four hides to make pants, and I did make my pants out of two large elk hides. Now getting back to the circle of hide you left on the rack, unlace it, so you have a big circle of hide, and now you can cut several feet of lacing from the left over piece. Good for lacing, or buckstitching your clothes, and dozens of uses for this lacing.
Now for the rawhide-
Use the basic same process as you did for buckskin, but after both sides are scraped clean, cut it out of the rack then and not go through the braining process. Some of the old timers use to not use a rack and just stretch the hide out and put ashes on the hair side, and keeping the hide damp for several days and changing the ashes, the hair will brush off with little effort leaving the scarfskin on the hide for more strength. But really has to be rinsed good before using! Using lime does the same thing and works faster than the ashes. Depending on what you have available.
My wife's grandmother had some chairs made back about 1900 by a Navajo carpenter made with 1" and 2" willow saplings, the bark was cleaned off the wood, and his joints were made with slots cut through the wood and laces into place with rawhide, and the seat was made with woven rawhide, and the chair was just as solid as the day it was made. So much for screws, glue, and nails in the white man's furniture!

I've also seen some adobe homes built by the Spanish back in the early 1700s in southern California, where log rafters were laced into place with rawhide, then willow saplings laced on to the log rafters, and I'm not sure what was over the willow saplings, this couldn't be seen from inside the house, but it supported the half round clay tile for hundreds of years.
One trick I learned using rawhide was making foot forms. Take a 2x8 about 18 inches long, draw around your foot on two of these, left and right, then drill a hole on the line, cut around the foot pattern, take a rasp and widen the cut so the foot form drops back into the form with about 1/4" clearance around the form, shave the foot form to where its rounded. Take the rawhide from around the neck of the animal, where it's the thickest, cut two pieces out about 2" wider than your foot. soak the rawhide for a day, then put it over the hole in the form, and using a mallet, tap the foot form into the hole, over the rawhide to where it's level with the form, then trim the excess sticking up out of the form  with a knife, let it set in the form for a day or two until it dried out good, then tap it out of the form, and you should have a rawhide soul that your foot fits into. I took an old warn out pair of boots, cut around the soul, threw away the old warn out soul, punched holes about a half inch apart around the boot and the rawhide soul and sewed them together with wet rawhide lacing. The lacing when it dried swells and seals off the punched holes, and made a good pair of moccasin boots. and in the winter if you spread out a fresh rabbit or cat hide inside the boot, it's nice and warm.
I know the animal lovers will be appalled by suggesting using dog and cat hides, but just keep in mind that WTSHTF, there is going to be a big problem with feral dogs and cats, as people not having the heart to kill them when they can no longer feed them, will just turn them loose to forage for themselves, causing problems for other people trying to survive in a changed world.
A trick about rawhide lacing, when you use it, soak it, and when it's wet and flexible, run it through a rag with tallow in it, but without stretching it as you pull it through, this gives it a protective coating, and makes it water resistant. Oh yeah, the tallow is the fat you saved from the animal you skinned and rendered it out in a frying pan, and pored it into a can for later use! About every five years or so, I wipe down my buckskin pants and shirt with tallow, and let it hang in the sun for a couple hours until the tallow souls into the skins, then smoke them again, this preserves the buckskin for a very long time. I've read that some of the old Mountain men wore the same buckskins for several years in the mountains hunting and trapping. The re-smoking reduces smells, and if you hunt in buckskins, wrap them up at night with pine needles, or cedar bark, to give you that sent the next day.
Once you get into rawhiding, you'll find hundreds of used for this long forgotten material! Many of the big ranches in the west during the 1800's had a hired Mexican or Indian rawhider, that worked full time on rawhide, ropes, bridles, reigns, chaps, and saddle repairs. This might be something worthwhile to learn for an uncertain future, especially if it can make you life more comfortable in the hard times ahead.

The response letter to Guns for a Tight Budget Minimalist Survivalist by S.M.O. caught my attention.  While S.M.O. makes some valid points, I would like to expound on some of his points and offer some other observations. 

I agree that the Ruger Model 10-22 semi-auto .22 Long Rifle carbine is a fine tool for the survivalist.  In fact, I believe that this rifle is such an asset that it should be the first gun that everyone buys.  It has been around for years and has proven itself to be dependable, accurate and reliable.  It is arguably the best quality for the money of all the comparable semi-auto .22s on the market.  In addition, due to it's popularity, it has a wide array of accessories (both Ruger and aftermarket) to allow the owner to customize it to his/her own tastes.  It's even produced in a compact version for women, youth or any body who just wants a more compact rifle.  Ruger has recently begun producing a 25 round magazine for the 10-22 which is based on the design of the original 10 round magazine.  As opposed to some of the aftermarket magazines, the Ruger BX-25 works.  It typically gets five star reviews on all of web sites that sell it.  I recently purchased one to see for myself.  It functioned perfectly in my rifle as well as in my brother's 10-22.

Although S.M.O. did not say as much, I have heard others imply that the .22 Long Rifle cartridge as inadequate for personal defense.  While I would not recommend the cartridge as a one-and-only defensive weapon, I certainly believe that it can play a role in defense.  During my 28 years as a detective I have seen several people killed with a .22 Long Rifle.  The cartridge is certainly capable and, as is the case with most bullets, bullet placement is critical.  Since the rifle has negligible recoil and is capable of utilizing a large capacity magazine, it is possible to watch where the rounds are going and to observe the effect of each round on the target.  

In a Get-Home situation, this rifle with the factory 10 round magazine and one 25 round magazine and 200-300 rounds of ammunition would provide for both food acquisition and a level of security with a minimum of weight and bulk.  The weight and bulk of the average AR or AK would probably be more than the 10-22 and 300 rounds of ammo combined.  And the weight and bulk of each additional 30 round magazine would be more than the 300 rounds of .22 ammo.  

The objective in a Get-Home scenario is to get to your destination as quickly as possible with as little trouble as possible. That means minimal contact with other people who might want to rob you and/or to kill you.  One of the attributes of the .22 is that it is relatively quiet.  A single round fired to take a bird or squirrel for food would not be as likely to be heard by a potential enemy as would a center fire round.  Also, shooting a quail with a .223 will provide you with a hand full of bloody feathers for supper.

I also take issue with the notion that 12 gauge bird shot is inadequate for defense.  Bird shot is designed to kill ducks, pheasant, rabbits and other comparable size game at ranges out to about 30 yards.  I am confident that it would be effective on a person out to about the same range.  I also believe that it would be very effective on a person out to about 20 yards.  Whether the shot penetrates to vital organs is not the ultimate determinate of effectiveness.  If an assailant received a load of bird shot in the face, assuming that he was not immobilized, I doubt that he would still be focused on continuing the attack.  I suspect that he would now be focused on determining if he could still see, determining the extent of his wounds and determining how quickly he can get out of the field of fire before he received another load of shot.

12 ga. buck shot costs about $1. per round.  Thirty dollars will buy you about 30 rounds of buck shot.  Thirty dollars will also buy you about 100 rounds of bird shot.
I like having some buck shot on hand, but I would probably feel better armed by having 300 rounds of bird shot than just 90 rounds of buck shot.  The best option would probably be 200/30.  Also, don't forget that you might want to shoot a bird once in a while.

I get the impression from various sources that there are a number of people who keep all of their high capacity magazines loaded just in case TSHTF.  That practice is largely unnecessary and it could cause magazine springs to weaken over time causing failure to feed malfunctions.  Until The Schumer actually does Hit The Fan, it makes more sense to only keep one or two magazines loaded at any given time and to rotate magazines every two or three weeks.  When TSHTF, then it would be wise to load all magazines.  The percentage of magazines loaded at any given time should be proportionate to the level of threat.  The last thing you want to be doing during a fight is to be loading magazines.  Loading magazines requires fine motor skills.  Fine motor skills are the first to go in a stressful situation.

Which brings us to S.M.O.'s statements on rifles other than semi autos for defense.  While I don't discount the effectiveness of actions other than automatic, the type and capacity of the magazines is the reason that these are not the best choice for combat.  That and the fact that they are not designed for sustained fire as the military clone rifles are.  All of these other than semi-auto action rifles have magazines far smaller than the average military clone rifle.  Unless you are talking about a bolt action rifle that can be loaded with a stripper clip, you are faced with extracting cartridges one at a time from a box or a belt or a pocket, orienting the cartridge and inserting it into the magazine.  This is much slower to begin with than removing a box magazine and inserting another box magazine.  And when you inject stress into the mix, the process becomes almost impossible.  And that makes the stress even worse which translates directly to your accuracy when you are able to shoot.  Add darkness to the mix and you can see how difficult it would be to try to use anything other than a semi auto with a box magazine or at least stripper clips in a combat situation.  - G.R.

JWR Replies: In recent years, a general consensus has developed that "magazine springs taking a set" is more or less a myth IF a magazine are properly constructed. There is no need to rotate them to let springs "rest."

"A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably." - John Bunyan

Tuesday, November 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 (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 (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.

Thanks for the blog. I have been been one of those avid readers that does not provide very much input, but I have some useful "how-to" information on heating your house in the temperate climate.  I live in Iowa at the current time.   A lot of this is hard to even put into words, because this style of heating is unique, and even more unique as I built the heaters my self.  I recommend anyone trying to do these, to do additional homework before attempting any of this.  I also studied “The Book of Masonry Stoves: Rediscovering an Old Way of Warming" by David Lyle, and “Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction ” by Thomas J. Elpel.  What I built was the “Missouri Masonry” stove which was and is a free booklet PDF from the Missouri DNR web site called the “Missouri Masonry pdf”. After I called Roger at the DNR, he said the booklet was made almost 20 years ago and he was not to worried what I did with my information I got from them.  At the time they had worked with the Missouri Department of natural resources and the US Department of energy to come up with the guide. Also I should note there is a company called Temp Cast.  If you want to buy them pre made, and some Russian Masonry heaters on You tube that are really neat.  I am a cable television technician by trade, but I took on all the brick laying skills myself, and by all means I'm no expert.  Any mistakes that I made were entirely mine, and yet the bread oven masonry stove that I built has been working  for years.   

Why would you want a masonry heater versus a wood stove or ordinary furnace?  I think the ultimate advantage I enjoy is that I don’t have to wake up at 2 a.m. to feed the wood stove.  Also, once I have fired the stove on around four loads of wood, I have to do nothing, for around three days in my not so well insulated house.  I do believe if my house was insulated correctly, that I would last for four to five days with doing absolutely nothing.  Yes wood is a pain to chase, and dangerous to fall but it feels better and is radiant, and has been cheaper than normal sources of heat.  The Masonry heater is more efficient in the use of the wood as it burns the creosote more cleanly.  The ash tends to be more fine and whiter.  The Whole of the heater is placed in the middle of your living quarters and acts like a big battery for heating anything within range of the heater.  A lot of people are going out and installing, outdoor wood stove furnaces , which throws a lot of smoke on their neighbors, and is less efficient because the heat is wasted around the heater and up the chimney.  With my masonry’s you can’t hardly tell I’m firing because after the initial start up smoke, there is very little smoke afterwards. It even feels good to cuddle the Masonry when sick or when your hands are almost frostbitten.  Kids can touch all parts of the stove except the metal parts, and not be burned.  The heat does not really blow since the heat is radiant, you could almost open all the windows, but the warm air escapes, but heat remains. 

First I made the Missouri Masonry with a Bread Oven,  I had moved into a brick building, with a thick concrete floor.  I got my Firebrick from some old clay tile kilns nearby.  Also to my advantage was that there was some arch brick which is important for temperature gains in the initial combustion.  I used a refactory cement called flue set on the fire brick core.  On the outside layer I used Menard's cement for the base and Menard's masonry mix for the ornamental brick. I built the chimney from Menard's double layer stove pipe.  The Glass Door I bought from a wood stove dealer, a blacksmith made the adapter for the door to swing on.  The little clean out doors are all from Menard's.   I built a homemade damper into the brick right under the chimney pipe with a metal plate. 

Okay, the second Missouri masonry is without a Bread Oven but has extra Flues to grab extra heat.  This time I used new Fire Brick  and parts similar to the bread oven. The square footage for each room with a masonry heater is 486 sq feet,  I think these spaces come out about perfect for the heaters, down to 30 below ;  could place a inside temperature around 62 degrees requiring more firing to keep heat up.

I feel that a lot of people, could benefit from my videos on you tube. I do have still photos as well. Since the design is a free download I hope to encourage masonry heaters instead of most other options. I am sure I made some mistakes, but I improved each time. I now know that I would not use aggregate brick and mix for fill, instead on the second one I cut all my bricks to fill in the arch gaps to make it sturdier and more square.  Also my clean out doors did not come out perfectly flat.  I also did not care if I had the bricks clean, and shiny as I just wanted heat not good looks.  Using a Miter saw with a diamond blade to cut bricks and a rubber mallet became invaluable.    
Here is a video on my bread oven.
And here is a video on my later masonry stove project, sans the bread oven.

As most of the readers of SurvivalBlog know, preparing for disasters can be a lifelong commitment and can be most costly, even when buying used or on-sale items.  However, after 30 years of prepping, I find that I do 40-50% of my shopping at secondhand stores, such as Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, and American Cancer Society, to name a few.
If you visit regularly and keep your eyes open, not only will you find a treasure trove of preparedness items, but the employees will get to know you and your products and put them aside and hold them for you before they get put out on the shelf.
Here is a list of just a few of the items that I've picked up:
PUR Scout water purifier - MSRP $80 / used $1 (actually new, never used)
Hudson Bay wool blanket, queen size - MSRP $250 / used $20 
Big Berkey water filter (with 4 elements) - MSRP $250 / used $29 (new/never used)
Big Berkey water filter (with 4 elements) - MSRP $250 / used $5 (new / never used. This was found just 2 weeks after finding the first one at another store across town)
BDUs - $5 a piece [for pants or shirts]
Carhart brand overalls (later found to have an original Leatherman tool in one pocket) - MSRP $75 / used $9
Levis Blue Jeans, Dockers, and Khakis - $4 to $5 a piece (for work clothes)
Fleece (in earth tone colors) - $2.99 (again, work/hunting/tactical clothes)
North Face Gore-Tex parka - $15
REI brand down sleeping bag - MSRP $175+- / used $10 (US made, circa 1985)
Presto 23 quart Pressure canner - $5 (I just replaced the gasket, tested it and it works great!)
Food Dehydrator (unknown brand) - $10 (almost new & works great!)
WWII steel canteens & canteen cups with covers -  I've bought at least 10 of each and the most that I paid was $10 (These were 1940s dated. At gun shows these sell for $25 or more.)
ThermaRest self inflating sleeping pads - MSRP $60+- / used $5
Kelty youth frame backpack (in OD green) - $10 (this came with one of the thermarest pads)
Canning Jars - 10 cents to 50 cents each.
Candles - 20 cents to 50 cents each
Crutches - $7 (probably used once)
Bedside commode - $10 (looks new, took it home & sanitized it, put it with the first aid supplies.
Medical supplies - Unopened packages of gauze & bandages, by the box
Sewing supplies
...and many more
This is just a short list of some of the treasures that I've found. so be consistent and keep your eyes open, you never know what you'll come across...good luck!

Regarding to the recent post by John concerning tight budget armaments I have a few suggestions. Over the past year I have acquired a small collection of Hi-Point weapons and I absolutely love them! They are american made, reliable and oh-so economical.

Mother's day before last I was looking for a unique gift for my wife (who also happens to be the mother of our five children!). I began thinking handgun. But, with the five kids and an aspiring 40 acre farm/retreat, budgets are almost always tight. Add to this the fact that my wife is a new shooter and I was not certain she would take to it, I didn't want to drop a big load of cash on a fancy piece that stood a 50/50 chance of becoming a paper weight. So, after a bit of research I settled on the C9. What a neat little gun! She loved it! Unfortunately, so did I. To avoid being an Indian Giver I was forced to buy a second one for myself, which has become my everyday concealed carry piece.

Both guns have shown near flawless performance. In fact we have had only a couple of mis-feeds, all with Bitterroot Valley Ammunition Company (BVAC) hollow points made from once fired brass. All other ammo has been perfect, and the more we shoot them, the smoother they get. As a side note, they love any and all +P rounds. I should note that in general I really like BVAC's ammo, but have relegated the reloads to practice, and keep something new and nasty in a +P self defense load in the "Serious" magazines.

The best part: Brand-New retail on these bad boys is less than $170, so you can get pistol, holster and a couple of spare mags for about Two Bills.

Next up in the Hi-Point product line is the TS9 carbine. I can't say anything bad about this one either. It is light, handy, surprisingly accurate, and has not had a single problem with any kind of ammo. I added a stock mounted magazine holder (carries two spare 10 round mags, one on either side of the stock) and other than that left it as is. This little carbine is a great home defense weapon, an excellent trunk gun, and light enough to carry forever. With good +P hollow points it is more than able to bring down mid-size game (think feral hogs and black tail deer) at open sight ranges. As an added bonus the carbine magazines also work in the C9 pistols, which is a big cost saver when stocking up, and handy in a tight spot! Brand-New the TS9 carbine runs just a shade over three hundred, and if you haunt the pawn shops you can find them in the two hundred range. If you don't mind the "Planet of The Apes" look, the original version can be found even less expensively.

Last on my list of super bargains is the Maverick 88 12 gauge pump action shotgun. These are built by an offshoot of Mossberg, and with the exception of the placement of the safety they are near identical to the 500 series pump guns. Mine has an 18.5 inch barrel, and a 5+1 tube. Stocks are black synthetic, and it came with a full stock and a pistol grip ("cruiser style"). The pistol grip went in the parts bin after the first box of shells, the "cool factor" was not enough to offset the "Oh god, I think my thumb is broken" factor. I have been very pleased with the gun so far and have fired everything from 2 3/4 field loads to magnum turkey loads, as well as all manner of slugs and buck shot through it. On sale at a little gun shop in North Carolina I picked it up new for $249. It is a tasty little "Zombie Gun" at a price that most budgets can absorb. If I were in a TEOTWAWKI situation and could have only one firearm, I'd take this one. The versatility of the 12 gauge is unbeatable- small game, large game, hominids of questionable intent, or the walking dead are all susceptible to one load or another!

I have been very pleased with the Maverick as it came out of the box, but if you want to trick it up and rail it out, it will accept most of the multitude of accessories made for its cousin the Mossberg 500.

These are my top three suggestions for the budget minded or financially-challenged prepper. With a bit of huntin' and peckin', you should be able to pick up all three for less than $800 (about half the cost of a single top shelf M4gery). Compounding the savings, this combo leaves you with one caliber and one gauge of ammo to stock, and only one type of spare magazine to buy (although I recommend a small number of the original 8 rounders for the C9, they fit flush to the grip). This arsenal would also be light enough to add to a "Camper-Hiker-Survival-Bugout-Kit."

Good Morning,
I was reading the post regarding Baltimore evac signs which kicked off a thought. The author states that the signs end at the city limits and the goal is to just get people out of the city. It appears to me that there are all sorts or articles as of late regarding zombies, even television shows about viral masses of folks wandering around the country. Is the presence of these articles and shows part of a larger PSYOP program?

A television show recently aired showing the bombing of an American city,with the goal of kill off the infected. As the story line progressed there were occasions where one or two of these "zombies" were wandering the rural countryside and groups in neighbor hoods (sub-divisions). The future will not have zombies of course, but there will be people wandering the countryside looking for food, shelter. Their primal instincts will take over and what was once a college-educated banker will become a parasite. These people will not know how to take care of themselves and will take from those who have prepared. Worse yet is that it won't be just one or two people. It will be hundreds, even thousands.

The economy in such dire straights, jobs being moved off shore, corruption running rampant in D.C. The appearance is that those who are supposed to be in charge are losing control or even worse have already lost control. Only the appearance...What is happening behind the scenes is better orchestrated.

I have so many thoughts bouncing around that I need to take the time to process it all to be more coherent. I am in the middle of reading John Locke's Two Treatises on Government and that book sends me into some wild thought patterns. So much is happening, but what is interesting is that none of it is new. All of this has gone down before. Anyway, I have read both of your books. Very interesting and potentially useful knowledge hidden in plain site. Regards, - Ron in Vermont

This was posted at A Message To The SPLC From A Montana “Extremist”. It bears special mention that the SPLC's slam piece was their oh-so typical blathering, with a mix of fact, innuendo, and myth. They cleverly mixed in mentions of racists and radicals alongside references to level-headed folks, including myself. When they slandered me, they didn't just use the time-proven "guilt by association" technique. They took it a step further and employed guilt by lack of association. They also slandered Pastor Chuck Baldwin, up in Montana as well as Stewart Rhodes, the head of The Oath Keepers. I've made it abundantly clear many times that I'm an anti-racist, yet the SPLC slandered my name by listing me with contiguity to the Aryan Nations and neo-Nazis. Obviously, they either missed reading my Precepts page, or they conveniently ignored it. Once again, I state forthrightly: I am an anti-racist and pro-Israel. I find it ironic that I'm hated by both the SPLC and by racists.

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F.G. mentioned a source for lots of free old radio, tube radio and engineering text books.

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Also from F.G.: Feds fail to get conviction on homemade zip gun, settle for ammo charge

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Insight: In Iowa, farmland boom means end of an era for many. (Thanks to Michael W. for the link.)

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G.G. sent this from Nanny State California: Kids Play With Toy Gun, Parents Lectured by Local Cops

"Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies." - John Adams, Letter to Zabdiel Adams, as quoted in Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 4 May 16, 1776 - August 15, 1776, (21 June, 1776, page 279 )

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'd like to describe the top five survival priorities, from a medical standpoint.  If you order any survival products, you should do it with some conviction after setting up your top five priorities.  If you order a survival package from us here at survivinghealthy without paying attention to priority #1, you are doing it wrong!  There are not a lot of sites that will discourage you from purchasing from them, but this is not one of those!  Please, prioritize your purchases for survival based on need.  Let’s review the top five medical list.
#1:  Water.  You will live 5-7 days without water, but function effectively for only about 48 to 72 hours without it.  Water has to be your first thought when it comes to survival.  Water is not simple though either, there may not be a tap to just turn on and drink safely after TSHTF.  Optimal water is your own natural spring…but how many of us have that available?  Not many.  Next, well water.  But, you have to have set up a hand-powered way to get at it and as water tables get polluted with poor sanitation, that well water may not be safe to drink anymore.  There are testing kits available, but so many and at such a huge cost difference it is beyond my capacity to advise you in this area.  Next, rainwater.  That is my plan for our family, and we have the setup done.  Lastly, is natural open sources like lakes, rivers, ponds.  After TEOTWAWKI, all these water sources could be contaminated from surrounding runoff or poor neighbor sanitation.  Best policy is going to be:  the cleanest source possible, heating to boil, then filter.  You do not have to boil water for 10 minutes, and it actually doesn’t have to truly boil, but has to get close.  There are lots of different filters available, and of course most people are familiar with Big Berkey filters, but we got ours from AquaRain.  We can’t tell you if it is any better, but it certainly is comparable, and is made here in the USA, in Missouri.  It came quickly, was well packaged and seems to function just fine.  Sure, there is probably a firestorm of comments coming about which is better and why, but basically buy one and make sure the capacity will meet the needs of your group.  Plan on two gallons per person per day (drinking, cooking, tooth brushing)  and check the output of your filter, making sure it exceeds that limit.  Do not make the mistake of using unfiltered water for you tooth brushing and then end up sick, it only takes a couple ounces a day.
#2:  Food.  Food is essential for survival, but is far less important than water for short-term survival.  It takes months to years to starve to death, and days to weeks before you function sub-optimally due to lack of calories.  Being hungry does not kill you, but it does make you very grumpy and after a few days your thinking does get messed up from lack of fats in the bloodstream.  The human body is an amazing thing, and can live for long periods of time without food, especially if there is adequate water intake.  In fact, when faced with a lack of food, an increase in your water consumption is always a good idea.  Not only does it fill up your stomach and help with hunger, but proper hydration helps the body process remaining stored sugars, fats, and proteins for survival.  A balanced diet will be history for 99% of folk WTSHTF, but for a good prepper there can be proper nutrition for years if approached correctly.  Do that now.  Depending on your geographic area, there will be different needs and capabilities for food.  Gardening in the Northland is limited, and storage in the Southland is hampered by humidity and heat.  There is no one perfect plan out there, talk to your trusted sources and make your plan for your group or family.
#3:  Safety.  If you have food and water, you are in danger after 3 days post grid.  There are two major safety concerns, "pre" and "post".  Pre-crash, keep your profile low and make sure that you don’t make it well-known that you are “one of those nuts”.  As soon as the crash starts, those that know you are one of those nuts who is \suddenly deemed to have "been right all along" will be at your door, often without flowers.  So, pre-crash safety involves quiet and calm, make your plans and talk only to those you trust, preferably those you plan to actually feed.  Post-crash safety is all about digging in and firepower.  The less you need to go out, the less exposure to health dangers such as disease, damaged infrastructure, weather threats and unfriendly humans.  A word about firepower:   You need to have it, know how to use it, and have plenty to load in it.  There are thousands of recommendations for safety and weapons, way beyond my scope and medically unimportant.  But, safety is medically important, so make sure you can protect yourself and yours from others that may mean you harm.  It will get progressively worse as the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months.  There will be unpleasant situations and you need to be ready to defend your homestead.
#4:   Shelter.    Shelter seems like it would fall under prevention, and certainly shelter seems like an obvious preparedness issue, but it comes after items 1-through-3 on the list.  If you have water, food, safety, and then some prevention covered; you are already likely to be at the shelter you plan to stay in.  Let’s just say for the sake of argument, that you need to get to your shelter/bugout location.  You need to have 1-through-3 covered to make it.  Without any grid, there is unlikely to be power or fuel, and your trip may take much longer and be much harder than you planned for.  The other issue that makes shelter its own topic is the issue of longevity.  Do you have some plan for heating in the cold and cooler in the heat?  If you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line times will be hard in the winter without a grid unless you have planned ahead.  Turn off your power during the next cold snap for about 3 days and see what the temperature gets to in the house (make sure it doesn’t freeze as that is really bad for your house!).  Even if it doesn’t get to freezing, walking around in a 45 degree house is not fun after a day and you may find that you need a lot more cold weather supplies.  South of the Mason-Dixon Line, your summers may be brutal if there is no cooling plan and you have never tested your shelter in the summer to see just how hot it gets, you may be unpleasantly surprised.
#5:   Prevention.  Lots of folks may criticize this list and its order, but prevention is important only after surviving a few days.  Your teeth will not crumble and your strength will not suddenly fail the day after TEOTWAWKI.  Prevention covers a wide variety of topics and is therefore lower on the list.  Prevention of medical problems starts with a good first aid kit.  Prevention of dental problems with good preventive care now and continued tooth brushing and flossing then.   Prevention of likely medical problems such as starvation and dehydration by planning for #1 and #2.  Prevention of death by planning for #3 and #4. 

Now that you are hydrated, fed, alive, and you have a cover over your head; you can make sure your first aid kit is up to par and your teeth will make it.  Many of my prior topics discuss prevention for fitness planning, vitamins, OTC meds, among other topics.  Please make sure your checklist is done numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 before you start to focus on #5.  Included in this group would be medication planning and prevention.  Make sure you have your chronic meds, and antibiotics for infections that will come up over the next weeks, months, and maybe years.  Remember my ad campaign slogan:  “Water…check, food…check, ammo…check, strep…now what?”  Prevention as a topic can go on and on, but do your best and again only after the first four checklist items.  In all seriousness:  do not buy an antibiotic kit without preparing for the other survival checklist items first.  Do not buy a gun before getting a good water filter.  Don’t get ammo before food.  You get the idea.  Prep smart, or don’t prep at all.  Stay strong people, - 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:

SurvivalBlog readers may recall that I've previously tested the Triple Eight Professional SOL Knife.  The 888 SurvivIt Tool is more versatile, and a bit more robust. The blade is AUS8 steel, and the handle is epoxy-painted steel.  It's assembled with machine screws and good quality pivot and fittings, so maintenance and repair is easy, though I don't expect it will need much.

The edge was not quite as sharp as I like, and I had some trouble cutting leather thong with the hook.  The serrated section, however, as short as it is, zips through heavy nylon, leather and plastic easily.

The handle is tiny, but comfortable enough even in my largish hands, and is well-designed.  I tested it in a hammer grip to chisel, in a standard grip to shave and whittle, and in a side grip for both drawing cuts and scraping. 

The edge geometry is excellent, and I was able to jab the blade well into various woods, both in the woodpile and on treated lumber in the shop.  It sliced into wood corners easily, sawed twigs, and scraped tape, bark and leather.

The mechanism is strong and sound and remains in place while the knife is held.  Keep in mind that there is no guard.  This is a compact tool, and its diminutive size means there are some compromises necessary.  Once you have a good grip, it remains easily in hand and is safe to use.  Just don't get careless.

In addition to the belt clip, there's a convenient thong hole for either neck carry, or just for a retention cord.

The suggested retail price is $34.95, but is usually available for less at most retailers.- SurvivalBlog Editor At Large, Michael Z. Williamson

Editor's Disclaimer (per FTC File No. P034520): SurvivalBlog accepts accept cash-paid advertising. To the best of my knowledge, as of the date of this posting, none of my advertisers that sell the products mentioned in this article 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. Mike Williamson was furnished one 888 SurvivIt Tool for test and evaluation, which he intends to keep for his personal use. He has received no compensation or inducements from Triple Eight.

We need more business leaders like Ann Barnhardt! As reported over at Zero Hedge, Ann Barnhardt, President of Barnhardt Capital Management (a cattle and grain hedge brokerage) writes an excellent letter to her clients explaining why she is shutting down her business and exiting the markets altogether. She cites the recent bankruptcy of MF Global as the last straw, and predicts the imminent downfall of brokerage firms and commodities dealers in the derivatives market.

This was mentioned on Rush Limbaugh's show as her "Going Galt" speech, in reference to Ayn Rand's character John Galt in Atlas Shrugged.

See: "BCM Has Ceased Operations Part 1 and Part 2". (Linked at Zero Hedge.)

Some highlights from Ann Barnhardt's letter:

"The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not.

The futures and options markets are no longer viable. It is my recommendation that ALL customers withdraw from all of the markets as soon as possible so that they have the best chance of protecting themselves and their equity.

In short, the problem is a SYSTEMIC problem, not merely isolated to one firm.

Finally, I will not, under any circumstance, consider reforming and re-opening Barnhardt Capital Management, or any other iteration of a brokerage business, until Barack Obama has been removed from office AND the government of the United States has been sufficiently reformed and repopulated so as to engender my total and complete confidence in the government, its adherence to and enforcement of the rule of law, and in its competent and just regulatory oversight of any commodities markets that may reform. So long as the government remains criminal, it would serve no purpose whatsoever to attempt to rebuild the futures industry or my firm, because in a lawless environment, the same thievery and fraud would simply happen again, and the criminals would go unpunished, sheltered by the criminal oligarchy."

Dear Jim:
I am writing in response to the recent posting entitled: Urban Evacuation--When The Plan is No Plan At All.

Several years ago when driving North out of Baltimore City, I noticed some blue and white signs which said:  "Emergency Evacuation Route"  They had a big blue arrow pointing North and nothing else.  The next time we were in the City I began looking for the signs.  I found them and began following them all the way.  They ran for miles out of the heart of the City and then just stopped ... somewhere near the City line.  But, the one thing I notice for sure is that they were pointing directly toward my area.

So, I've looked up Baltimore's Emergency Plan.

Here it is:  "Where do the evacuation signs posted in the City lead? The evacuation signs will lead you out of the city - They do not lead to bomb shelters."  The web site is now almost 10 years old.  The link to Maryland Office of Domestic Preparedness is not working.  As far as I am able to tell, the "plan" is to send Baltimore's residents out into the surrounding counties ... and nothing else.  Now, there were approximately 621,000 people in Baltimore City for the 2010 Census.  There are only two counties that surround Baltimore City - Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County.  The Chesapeake Bay is to the east.

So, Baltimore City is planning to send a large portion of those gentle, refined city folk to my quiet neighborhood.  The funny thing is that people from this area are for the most part unaware of the signs - after all, for the most part, we avoid going into the City.  Should a significant disaster occur that warranted City evacuation, we in the suburbs would definitely be in trouble.  I was worried about two extra places at the table for Thanksgiving dinner.  Just where am I going to put that approximate 150,000 uninvited guests? - Grace

Kevin P. sent an article about another arrest for an already disgraced member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) "crime fighting" pressure group. Since so many mayors from Michael Bloomberg's group are either under indictment or have already been convicted on a plethora of felony and lesser charges, I propose that we form our own lobbying group. Since Mayor Bloomberg has proposed such cockamamie legislation, I think that we should call our new group Citizens Against Criminal Anti-freedom Mayors And Mayors In Exile (CACAMAMIE).

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Reader George S. notes: " You know those $10 keychain cameras? They can be combined with a radio-controlled model aircraft to offer some interesting possibilities. Check out the videos embedded at this site devoted to the components and construction of such units, and their operation: The REAL (#11) HD Key Cam Thread."

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Somalia Piracy Spurs Private Navy to Start Within Five Months
. (Thanks to Kevin S. for the link.)

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S.D. mentioned that there are now more than a dozen free Morse code training apps available for the Android phone, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Just do a web search...

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 (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 (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.

"Nothing is left, nothing, for future times
To add to the full catalogue of crimes;
The baffled sons must feel the same desires,
And act the same mad follies as their sires.
Vice has attained its zenith." - Juvenal, Satires 1. (As quoted in The Treasury of David: Spurgeon's Classic Work on the Psalms p. 14.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today we present a guest article by Todd X., the Editor of the new

I still remember the conversation.  I was a freshman in high school, but I had the idea of  taking auto mechanics during summer school.  Dad told me that he would always pay for me to take a class because in the end, knowledge can never be taken away from you.  I didn’t take the class. I can’t remember why.  But his statement and philosophy has stayed with me forever.  Although it sounds cheesy, I consider myself a lifelong learner.  So, when I entered the world of prepping, I combined my love of learning with what I know of technology and learned a lot fast.

Information is growing at exponential rates ( see -  Lucky for us, that the exponential growth of digital media, includes information that is greatly valuable to preppers.  It used to be that you would have to take a class, buy a book or find someone with knowledge of a skill to learn and grow yourself in the arena of the “lost arts.”  But that is not the case anymore.  Turn on your laptop, get an internet connection and you are well on your way to learning the knowledge behind valuable skills to get you through any crisis that might be headed your way.

Blogs & Readers

There are so many great blogs out in the blogosphere.  And because so many good blogs are linked to each other, in no time, you can have a serious amount of prepping, survival, bushcraft, and homesteading blogs bookmarked in your browser. 

So, the unknowing prepper will start to visit each of these blogs on a regular basis to check for new content and information that will help in the quest to self-sufficiency.  However, traveling from blog to blog on a regular basis will get tiring and old, especially if you don’t find any new articles. The tendency after a while might be to start skipping out on checking your favorite blogs.  But then, you might miss out on some great information.  This is where blog readers come in.

A blog reader or RSS reader, captures the RSS feed from a blog.  The reader then displays every blog or RSS feed in one convenient place.  Blogs that have been updated or shown to be updated show all in one place and allows you to quickly browse through the new topics and select the articles that are truly of interest to you.

There are many readers out there.  But my favorite right now is Google Reader.  It is easy to use and you can get your feeds anywhere you have an internet connection, including your mobile phone.  Check out this link to see a quick video that explains Google Reader - .  And, you can visit this link for a short how-to-video on how to use Google Reader -  NOTE: Google Reader has just been updated.  The video describes the old Google Reader.  However, the new Google Reader functions the same.

If you don’t like Google products, there is a free piece of software that I used before Google.  It is a stand-alone reader that downloads to your desktop.  It is a little dated and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it will keep your anonymity.  The program is called Bottom Feeder. There are also others.  A quick search will point you in the right direction.

I created two videos on blogs for a teacher staff development a while back that might be beneficial on searching for and understanding blogs as well.  Part 1 - 

Part 2 -


I have to admit, there are times I feel like a prepping noob.  But for me, this next technology is a no-brainer!  YouTube is a great place to get informed on specific skills for prepping.  For instance, I didn’t grow up hunting and fishing with my dad, so I don’t even know the first place to start when it comes to skinning an animal or gutting a fish.  But I can see it on Youtube!  I can see it over and over and even ask the author or uploader of the video a question.  The great thing is that many of the people who upload videos to Youtube have the heart of a teacher and choose to do so to help others along.

One video that was very helpful to me was how to use a mylar bag for food storage.  Now, I know that this skill is basic common knowledge for most, but I had never done it.  I easily found articles and even pictures on how to do it, but it wasn’t the same as seeing someone do it right in front of my eyes.  I felt comfortable that I wouldn’t make huge mistakes when my bags finally came in….And I didn’t.

Once you find a great prepping video, take some time to click on the uploader’s name and checkout their “channel.”  They might have a ton of other videos that will help you in your prepping.  For an example, check out Southern Prepper's channel.


Some of you might be wondering, “why in the world is Twitter included here!”  Most of you would be right to think this.  I don’t necessarily care to read 140 characters worth of someone telling me their every move.  “I’m at the store #groceries.”  “I’m in the #dairy section.”  “I’m checking out #plastic bags.”  That’s not what Twitter is about.

Twitter is about sharing articles, blogs and other information that you might not have otherwise seen.  For example, let’s say that I’m following @prepperwebsite.  The Prepper Website posts a link to an article on a new blog that I have never heard of before.  The article is great and I realize that the other posts on this blog are very valuable too.  I might add that blog to my Google Reader.

Other information that might be shared might be news that is not being run by the mainstream media.  It is a way of communication that has reshaped how people communicate. 

Another thing you might want to do is to follow a trend or a search word.  Many people who use Twitter include hashtags to their tweets.  A hashtag is a way to set-off a certain term or idea on Twitter.  So if I post something about prepping, I might include the hash tag #prepper in my tweet. 

Go try it!  Go to and type in #preppertalk in the search box. Try #preparedness, #foodstorage and #survival too!  Try anything that you are interested in.  For something to show up in Google’s search engine takes a few days.  However, the search results in Twitter are real time and you can find new information quickly. 

A word of warning - When you use Twitter in this way, it can be addictive.  You can find yourself searching, linking and reading so much information that you lose track of what you were there for.

Check out this video I did on using Twitter for Lifelong Learning.


Lastly, I will touch on podcasts.  Podcasts are audio posts.  When someone creates a podcast, they upload it for anyone on the internet to listen to.  Most of the time, you can go directly to someone’s web site and listen to the podcast.  However, that means that you have to be at your computer, or at least close to it.  But just like there are blog readers, there are podcast catchers. 

Podcast catchers work exactly the same way as blog readers do.  You have to find the RSS feed and put it in your podcast catcher.  After you do that, the podcast is downloaded directly to your hard drive where you can put it on your Ipod or mp3 player.  Now if you have an Ipod and Itunes, this is a pretty easy setup.  You just have to search for podcasts in your desired field of interest. The podcast will be “placed” or “sync’d” with your Ipod when you connect it.  If you have an mp3 player, it is a matter of going to the download folder and transferring it to your mp3 player, usually a drag and drop feature as most mp3 players are recognized as another portable drive on your computer.

To see an example video of a podcast catcher in action, click here - .

To download “Juice,” the podcast catcher, go here:

To search for podcasts, you can visit - .

Recently, I have left my mp3 player behind for podcasts and just use my smart phone.  I recently upgrade to an android phone and downloaded the App “Beyond Pod.”  I search for my favorite survival podcasts and listen to them on the way to work through my car stereo system.  It is so convenient.

In Closing

To maximize your prepping efforts, you need to be informed.  Information is powerful.  Information is necessary.  And today, information is abundant.  You just need to know where to look. 

One last word, there is a difference between book knowledge and knowledge that is based on experience.  After you find the information that you are searching for, you have to put it into practice.  For instance, all the knowledge of gardening or skinning a rabbit doesn’t mean anything until you get your hands dirty…believe me, I know!

One last last word, a natural outflow of my learning has been my new web site.  I started two months ago and the response has been great.  I read every article, listen to every podcast and watch every video I link.  I also monitor every web site I link through Google Reader.  The site is a great place to get a varied amount of prepping information in one place.

James Wesley:

I agree wholeheartedly with your recommendation to seek affordable training through the Appleseed program. My wife and I were privileged to participate in the Appleseed event presented at the NRA Whittington Center a couple of years ago, and found it to be excellent marksmanship and safety training as well as a wonderful historical learning experience. At the end of the program, the range master told the story of a "dangerous old man" in the Revolution, and presented Rifleman patches to me and another "seasoned citizen". One of the many Boy Scouts in attendance blurted out: "Wow, look, two dangerous old men!"

I also agree with the recommendation to consider a WWII era bolt action military rifle as a cost-effective Main Battle Rifle. However, such weapons, while powerful, are also heavy, bulky and may be difficult for a new shooter to master. I'd like to propose some other ideas:

For a primary learning, small game hunting and "survival" tool, I'd propose a semi-automatic Ruger 10/22 rifle. I'd look for a used rifle in good condition, which should be available for under $200. A used rifle may be found with a scope already mounted for little additional expense, although a scope is not really a necessity. A simple nylon strap sling is an important accessory, as are extra magazines. I'd recommend sticking with original Ruger factory magazines rather than after-market, for best reliability. The 10/22 will function fine with inexpensive "bulk box" Federal or Remington .22LR ammo available at Wal-Mart and other discount outlets. I've had better luck with the Federal brand, personally. A 10/22 is easily customized if desired, but is perfectly capable in it's standard format. My wife used a 10/22 with an upgraded trigger and Tech Sights ( military style aperture sights at Appleseed. While a .22 caliber rifle is not ideal for self defense, it is light, easy to carry, accurate and puts out 10-25 rounds (depending on magazine capacity) very quickly. In a self-defense scenario, just remember to aim carefully and shoot till the threat is stopped, which is good advice whatever the weapon used. I personally believe that this is the first weapon any new shooter should acquire.

Next, for personal defense, I would recommend a handgun in a caliber of at least .38 Special. While a semi-automatic Glock or similar weapon in 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP might be ideal, they are still in the $450+ range, and can be somewhat complicated for new shooters to learn to operate. In this case, I would keep an eye out at pawn shops, gun shops and gun shows for a used but not abused Ruger Security Six, Service Six or Speed Six 4" barreled revolver in .38 Special or .357 Magnum (the .357's will also chamber and fire .38 Special ammo, which is less powerful, lower recoil and less expensive for training ammo). Smith and Wesson .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolvers can also be found at fairly reasonable prices, particularly "police trade in" Models 64, 65, 10 or 13, as well as the Ruger GP100 in .357. I'd recommend the medium framed, six shot, 4" barreled service weapons over a smaller five shot "pocket" type revolver. I wouldn't overlook a good deal on a six shot Ruger or S&W with a 2.75" or 3" barrel, although they usually command a premium over 4" models. I found a dirty but very functional Ruger Service Six stainless steel 4" .38 Special at a gun show for $225. Once it was cleaned and polished, it looks and functions like new, is very accurate and is one of our primary "house guns". Service size revolvers like these were the main sidearm of law enforcement and security officers for many years, and still provide a simple, durable, reliable and inexpensive personal defense weapon for a new shooter. The heft and barrel length are sufficient to dampen recoil to a manageable level, while providing the accuracy necessary to learn to shoot well. Ammunition cost can be moderated by using the most inexpensive .38 Special lead or full metal jacketed ammo for training, and buying more powerful .38 Special +P (or .357) hollow points for self defense use. A wide variety of ammunition is available in either caliber and such revolvers are generally reliable with all types of ammunition of the proper caliber. A 4" barreled service revolver can still be carried concealed in a well made "pancake" or "belt-slide" high ride belt holster, and rapid reloads can be facilitated using HKS or Safariland Speedloaders or Bianchi or Tuff Products "speed strips". Again, it's important to remember that handguns are low powered weapons and "one-shot stops" are basically a myth, so accurate shot placement and multiple shots must be expected to stop a threat. For a definitive primer on shooting a double action revolver, see this excellent new book by Grant Cunningham: Gun Digest Book of the Revolver.

For hunting and self-defense, another inexpensive and versatile weapon to consider is the 12 gauge shotgun. Available ammunition ranges from relatively light recoiling "bird shot" loads up to heavier recoiling buckshot loads for self defense to very stout recoiling rifled slug loads for deer, bear or other large animal hunting. Do not use bird shot loads for self defense, as the small, light pellets simply don't penetrate reliably enough to reach vital organs. I recommend the "tactical" 2-1/2" eight-pellet 00 buckshot loads as best for self defense, while reserving bird shot loads for practice and bird hunting. Used Remington and Mossberg pump action shotguns (generally with a capacity of three to five rounds) should be available for under $200. An even less expensive and simpler alternative is a single shot, break open shotgun such as one made by H&R. These should be available used for around $100. Be aware that either version, but particularly the lighter single shot, will exhibit fierce recoil with the heavier self defense loads. For survival use, a simple sling is a useful accessory, along with a butt stock mounted "ammo cuff" or a receiver mounted (pump version only) "side saddle" ammo carrier to hold extra ammunition. Barrel length should be no shorter than 18.1" to remain legal in the U.S. Many pump action models have replaceable barrels, allowing the user to switch between a longer barrel for bird hunting and a shorter barrel for self defense. Consider the "youth models" also, which generally have a barrel length of 20-22" and a shorter butt stock, which make them light and handy to carry and use, as well as being a better fit for smaller statured shooters. My son, now a grown man, grew up shooting a single shot H&R youth model shotgun, and can still make amazing wing shots with that little gun! See the YouTube video of Clint Smith for his ideas on using a simple, inexpensive shotgun for self-defense. I highly recommend Clint Smith's series of videos as training tools for a new shooter interested in self defense.

Finally, in lieu of a bolt action or semi-automatic battle rifle, I'd suggest that a new shooter consider looking for a good used lever action .30-30, either a Marlin 336 or Winchester 94 model. You can sometimes find old "house brand" versions of the Marlin, such as the Montgomery Ward "Western Field" at very inexpensive prices. I personally prefer the Marlin 336. These rifles are smaller, lighter, quicker into action and easier to carry than a WWII bolt action rifle. The .30-30 cartridge is superior ballistically to the 7.62x39mm AK-47 round while exhibiting lower recoil than the larger WWII rounds such as the 7.62x54R, and is available virtually anywhere rifle ammo is sold. The lever action rifle can be a very viable personal defense tool as well as a big game hunting tool, and has the advantage of not being a "military" weapon that might bring undue attention from authorities. As with the shotgun, a buttstock mounted ammo cuff and a simple sling are useful accessories. For personal defense, I don't recommend mounting a scope, although scope mounting is simple on the Marlin version. See Clint Smith's video on "Learn to Use the Gun You Have":

There are many different opinions on this subject, and you've just read some of mine. I'd like to emphasize that it is not a question of what is the "best" weapon, but what weapons can you afford to purchase and provide with adequate ammunition in order to learn to shoot them well enough to defend yourself if necessary. Don't obsess over the "power" of the particular ammunition or how many rounds of ammunition your weapon can spew out. Concentrate on learning to operate your weapon reliably while placing however many rounds available on target accurately and consistently. These suggestions will allow you to achieve this goal without spending too much money, and provide you with a lot of fun in the bargain! - S.M.O.

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for your blog site. Sorry to add to the "snowball" burden but when building a library make sure the paper used is not acid-based or in a few years it will all turn to dust. Use alkaline paper or "Archival" paper only. This will make the information available for many generations. See the Wikipedia article discussing the matter.

Numerous companies sell their alkaline and archival paper on-line and it is available in larger office stores. Also a chemical test pen is available that will test whether a given sheet of paper is acid or alkaline is available.

I have no connection with any manufacturer or seller of these items. Given the invasion of chinese counterfeit products it might be prudent to use this pen to check papers that purport to be alkaline/archival, just to be sure.

Also. If the papers are to be stored in plastic protectors make sure the plastic is polypropylene. Some plastics emit chemicals that break down paper fibers quickly, leaving nothing but fragments after a few years. The basic rule is if you can smell it, it will destroy the paper. Polypropylene is odorless and harmless to paper. Also many office supply stores sell archival-quality protectors labeled as such.

And Mr. Rawles. The prepper movement is maturing. Instead of people attempting to gather all this information individually and on their own you should start a prepper version of Wikipedia or something similar and make it available for download. It is always the details that kill, and it would be a shame for so many otherwise survivable individuals to fail simply because they are missing a small bit of information that could have been available. - GMAN

My old friend Rob L. wrote to mention: "A reminder to pass on to your readers in the U.S. that they only have about six weeks left to purchase Primatene Mist Inhaler(s) over the counter. After December 31, 2011 they will no longer be sold [even with a prescription.] As most of you know, this is an Epinephrine inhaler and can be used for any type of anaphylaxis. Cost is around $21." JWR Adds: Other inhalers still on the market will require a prescription. Am I now to feel safer on January 1st, knowing that there is an infinitesimally smaller amount of CFCs out there, "destroying the ozone layer"? (I'll have to avert my gaze if I see an asthma sufferer collapsed and gasping for breath. It is all for the Greater Good, we are told...)

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Science panel: Get ready for extreme weather. (Thanks to Sue C. for the link.)

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G.G. flagged this: Antibiotic-resistant infections spread through Europe

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Pit Bulls Slaughter 42 Goats. (Credit to F.G. for the link.)

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I heard that Safecastle has extended their 25% off Mountain House sale until November 21st. They offer free shipping, a wide selection and competitive pricing, be sure to place your order soon!

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers." - Romans 1:8-9 (KJV)

Saturday, November 19, 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 (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 (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 wife and I have just recently started prepping (about a year now) and were amazed to find out how little we knew, in regards to living a self sustaining lifestyle/homesteading.  We had recently moved from our big house in the suburbs where farm animals weren’t allowed, to a secluded 5 acre parcel just outside of a small rural town. We, in this troubled time are in the midst of trying to build a cabin (cash as we go) while preparing for The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI).  We started storing food while learning to garden with our newly purchased heirloom seeds.  My wife and I built a chicken coop which now houses 13 hens that are laying about ten eggs a day.  We have found our selves searching the internet constantly for information and soon a thought had occurred to me, if we lose the nternet, we are ruined!  I suddenly realized that information storage was just as important as food storage.  We have all this wheat, sugar, salt, beans etc..  But we don’t know how to turn it into edible foods!  Thus I began saving web pages on almost everything that had to do with cooking and gardening,  etc.. but the more I searched the more I realized I needed to know.  I bought a Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs, then found myself wondering how I would store so much meat without a freezer?  That led me to another purchase of a book on how to build a smokehouse and cure your own meats. 

All of this has turned into a “snowball effect” on information gathering, as soon as I learn something new, I realize the need to learn something else.  At first I began to save the web pages on my computer (file save as, for most browsers) knowing that I had a back up generator and even if the internet was down I could access them.  I created file folders on my computer such as cooking, gardening, chickens, pigs, automotive, etc... and began to fill them with any pertinent articles that I came across on the internet. Then my sister emailed me an article about solar flares and EMPs.  Argghh!  Now, we are going to really be ruined, how are we going to protect our vital information?  The next day my wife returned home from shopping and handed me two 3-ring binders with the plastic sheet protecters. I know how much printer ink cost these days, but if the founders of the library of Alexandria had an Epson840 do you think they would have quibbled about ink prices?    Who knows what the repercussions were for the loss of all that information.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation we need to protect our vital information.  Thus, I began the long process of printing all my articles and putting them into the little sheet protectors.  My wife and I made a book on gardening and one on cooking.  

This giant information snowball then had a strange side effect, it collided with our survival supplies list and actually began to dictate it.  The recipes we had downloaded called for ingredients that weren't in our food storage.  The growing season at our altitude wasn’t long enough to accommodate some of our heirloom seeds therefore we had to research how to extend our growing season (we plan on building cold frames next year).  We had no idea on how to pump water out of our well in a grid down situation.  Until we came across a writing contest round five Winning article “How to Build an Inertial Well Slow Pump for Grid Down Emergencies” by TruthFirst.  You can bet that those articles will be added to our ever expanding survival book.  It is not enough however to just store articles without reading them.  You don't want to wait until the SHTF to read an article only to find that the article requires an ingredient, part or component that you don’t have.  We have found it is best to start to try and live as self sustainable as we can now.  That way we can learn from our mistakes without the serious consequences those same mistakes would have in TEOTWAWKI situation.

I would like to share with you how our information storage got started in order to give you an example of what you might store.  Keep in mind that everyone’s survival plan is different, therefore everyone’s information storage needs will be as well.  You might have different food tastes; specialized diet requirements; geographical location; or particular medical conditions which you will need to plan for.  Our survival plan and information storage focuses on self-sustaining living since we all ready have our own property away from the city.  First, we started by identifying some of the basic needs necessary for survival.  Let’s name a few such as air, water, shelter, food, and security.  Now, lets take food as an example and break it down further into some sub-categories:

1. Food

A. Growing your own food
                        2)Heirloom Seeds vs hybrids
                        3)Climate Zones
                                                1.Pressure Canner
                                                2.Water Bath Canner
                                                3.Jars, Rings and Lids
                                                5.Canning Salt
                                                6.Canning Books/Recipes
                                                7.Heat Sources
                                    b)Root Cellar

B. Raising Your Own Meat

                                    a)Various articles saved on how to raise chickens
                                    b)Various articles saved on how to butcher chickens
                                    c)How to store chicken
                                                1.Freezer - added Foodsaver to survival supplies
                                                2.Added recipe for canned chicken to cookbook

I don’t want to bore you anymore with a dull outline as that could go on forever,  as you can see learning one thing can cause the need to learn something else.  I also don’t want you to think that we sit around outlining all night either.  We just start doing new things, like growing potatoes, which lead to us putting articles in our gardening book such as how to grow potatoes, how to harvest potatoes, then one day we were sitting there with like 300lbs of potatoes which led us to adding an article to our gardening book about how to store potatoes which added burlap sacks to our survival list. We downloaded some information about how to make a root cellar. We also canned  20 quarts of potatoes, so we added a recipe for processing potatoes to our cookbook. My wife then added a delicious potato soup recipe.  Another example is since we planted too late this year we had to research how to extend our growing season.  Thisin turn added an article to our gardening book on how to build cold frames, which led to the discovery of these really cool hinges with nitrogen filled cylinders that open and close the vent automatically (  We then found another article about how to get your green tomatoes to ripen and added it to our gardening book.   

            In closing, I would just like to say that there is no cookie cutter program for survival and that buying a bunch of random survival supplies only gives you a false sense of security.  Knowledge is the key to survival!  Start a gardening book and a cookbook. Try living off your food stores and see how many recipes you actually need, then print them off and add them to your book.   You will be amazed at how many ingredients you are missing, then add those to your food stores.  Learning how to survive takes years, it is not something that happens overnight. Don’t wait till the SHTF it will be too late! Try learning self-sustaining skills today.  Take that knowledge and store it in some three-ring binders, even if you think you will remember it.  The three-ring binders make a great reference, not only for yourself, but if something were to happen to you, your spouse, children, and group will have a wealth of knowledge to draw from.  Currently, my wife and I only have the Cookbook and Gardening Book.  However, lately I have been thinking about all the other knowledge we could need in a survival situation.  Here are a few ideas for our next books:

  1. A Maintenance Book filled with repair manuals for my vehicles, generator,chainsaws, tractors Etc... That could lead to a spare parts list like air filters, spark plugs, bar oil Etc...
  2. An alternate power book with information on how to wire solar panels and micro hydro that could lead to a basic supplies list like inverter, panels, wire and batteries.  Even if you cant afford the supplies at least you would have the knowledge necessary    to hook up a system.  In an absolute TEOTWAWKI situation it’s quite possible that you could  scavenge batteries from abandoned cars for your battery bank.

The list goes on and on, create your own knowledge books and share your ideas on the forum.  Maybe collectively we can store enough knowledge to keep us from reverting back to the Stone Age.  Remember information gathering has a snowball effect. 

Hi, Jim,
I had a very interesting conversation earlier this week in which I learned that Arizona emergency planners are no longer planning any type of evacuation for the city of Phoenix.  It is simply an impossible task.  Where on earth do you put some four million people (greater Phoenix area population) and how do you get them there?  I wonder what other cities/municipalities have officials who have made the same decision? 

It would behoove all survival minded people to take a very hard and honest look at their own cities and towns and put themselves in the place of emergency planners.  If your own logic and observations tell you that there's no way out, those planners have likely come to the same conclusion.

Kind Regards, - Lisa Bedford, Editor,

As a CPR/First Aid instructor, I'd like to comment on the recent article: First Aid: From Sprained Ankles to Gunshot Wounds, by Big Country. As an "EMT in training" Big County made a few mistakes in his article. He uses the old mnemonic ABCs for CPR and first aid care, this is an older guideline that was updated in October of 2010 by The International Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). In collaboration with the AHA, ILCOR produced the first International CPR Guidelines in 2000 and an International Consensus on CPR and ECC Science with Treatment Recommendations in 2005. Once again, in collaboration with the AHA, ILCOR is now coordinating an evidence-based review of resuscitation science, which will culminate in a Consensus Conference in February 2010. The proceedings of this meeting, was published in October 2010. Instead of the the "ABCs" of resuscitation we now use the memory acronym AB-CAB. Most of these changes are due to two factors in Basic life support (BLS) , simplicity of care and effective treatment of an ill or injured patient.

We no longer use a "pulse check" to see if someone's heart is beating because under most circumstances, if you are not breathing you will have no heartbeat! The heart and the lungs work together as one system. If you stop breathing, your heart stops pumping and visa-verse. Another thing to come out of the 2010 consensus was that if someone has had Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) They are having a circulation problem NOT an oxygen problem, and studies show that compressions should start ASAP with as little interruption as possible (even for rescue breaths) as possible.  

Although he does give great instruction on how to wrap a sprained ankle he neglects the basics of care of a strain or sprained joint. The acronym R.I.C.E. should be your guide. (Rest - stay off the foot, Ice - Use a cooling agent to ease swelling, Compression - use an Ace type bandage to keep swelling from returning, and Elevation - Keep the affected area above the heart). Memorize RICE , and you'll remember how to properly care for these type of injuries.

In my article on what goes into a well stocked first aid kit I wrote that the one of most essential things you could have in a first aid kit was a triangle bandage. In his kit he never mentions it, but in his first aid application Big Country mentions using one several times.

He also mentions to to check the "pulse" in that part of the body, to see if there is sufficient blood flow. Easy to do if you have a stethoscope, but what if you didn't have one in minimal kit he recommends? Simple, the same way nurses do, by checking the capillary refill in the finger or toe nails. Squeeze the fingernail for approximately four seconds, then release and watch to see if the blood refills the area in approximately two seconds.

All the other recommendation he makes are spot on! And my recommendation is to go and take a first aid and CPR class and make sure your training is current! - KM of

Thankfully, a swift retraction, after public outcry: Shooters Heard: Interior Will Not Ban Target Practice. (A hat tip to Lee M. for the link.)

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Jan S. recommended some interesting commentary on Smart Meters.

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And speaking of privacy risks, reader F.S. mentioned that all Android phones have a root kit called Carrier iQ that allows all functions to be logged without user knowledge.  It can be used as a key logger, location log, app use log, etc... He sent links to a short summary analysis and a full article that describes this huge COMSEC vulnerability.

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Jim O'Neill asks: Time to Break Apart the United States?

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The Talkeetna Patriot was the first of several readers to send this: Foreign hackers targeted U.S. water plant in apparent malicious cyber attack, expert says. (No doubt the first nor the last such incident. I've warned you about SCADA cyber attacks...)

"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand;

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations.

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

The appearance of them [is] as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.

Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:

Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and [when] they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.

They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:

And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp [is] very great: for [he is] strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD [is] great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." Joel 2:1-13 (KJV)

Friday, November 18, 2011

A reminder that both Ready Made Resources and Safecastle are running their last 25% off Mountain House sales of the year. Both companies offer free shipping, a wide selection and competitive pricing, so you might want to place your order with the closest company, just for the sake of shipping efficiency. (Ready Made Resources is in Tennessee and Safecastle is in Minnesota. I suppose anyone west of the Rockies should just toss a coin!) Note that because of the large volume of orders expected and the upcoming Christmas shipping rush, please allow up to thirty days for delivery. Both companies are confident that your will get your delivery before Friday, December 23rd. I highly recommend both companies, since they both have excellent customer service. These contemporaneous sales end on November 19th, so place your order soon!


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 (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 (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 attended a “survival camp” with my son’s Boy Scout troop and was surprised how many of the boys were unable to get a good fire started.  Today’s emphasis of “don’t play with matches” even seems to have most kids scared of fire.  A fire provides warmth, the ability to cook, and even a setting to bring the day to a close.  Building a sustainable fire quickly and comfortably is a survival skill that everyone should know.  Some preparation is required, however to be able to start and keep a fire burning.  Everyone’s kit should include some type of fire starter.  This could be anything from waterproof matches to a 9 volt battery or a piece of flint and steel.  Some type of kindling should also be in your kit.  Some compact examples include, dryer lint (a small pinch of that stuff most people throw out can easily ignite a lasting fire), sawdust (some people even coat it in a wax and store it this way), cotton balls (these can be soaked in alcohol or vaseline and kept in a plastic baggy), or even small strips of newspaper. 

When the need for a fire arises, one needs to be able to construct a fire that will light quickly and stay lit.  First, an area to build the fire in must be cleared.  An area in the center of your camp is ideal unless you are trying to stay hidden.  Clear a large area of sticks, leaves, grasses, or debris.  Find some large rocks or debris to create a fire circle to delineate the fire area from your camp.  Be sure not to use rocks from streams, lakes, or other bodies of water as these may contain small traces of water that when heated will “explode”.  If you are worried about your fire giving away your location, it is possible to build a covert fire.  This can be done by digging an actual pit for the fire to burn in and surrounding the pit with larger nonflammable items to act as a wall.  It is possible to construct a fire that can still give off heat and be used to cook over without it being seen from a distance.  It is also possible to build your fire in a non-flammable metal container as well (i.e.  50 gallon drum).  Once a fire pit is established it is time to prepare the actual fire itself.  It is important to select dry wood for a fire.  Branches and limbs that have fallen are a good place to start.  An old trick to determine how wet a piece of wood is is to break the wood.  If you get a distinct cracking sound, the wood is dry. If the sound is muffled or dull sounding than the wood may be too wet to burn and should be set out to dry.  It is also possible to find dead branches still attached to trees that will be dry enough to burn.  Also make sure you do not select and poisonous material to burn especially if you will be using your fire to cook! 

When setting up a fire you must consider that a fire requires oxygen, combustible material, and a source of ignition.  Your kit should contain two of these items and your body will provide the oxygen, however there must be a way to get it to the fire as it burns.  Two simple types of fire setups that meet these criteria include the lean-to type and the teepee type.  The lean-to type of fire is constructed by placing a large log to the side of the cleared out fire pit.   Finding the smallest possible sticks, stack these in a perpendicular row with one end on the log and the other on the ground creating a triangular space between the ground, large log, and small sticks.  This area will be where the fire will start and you can add oxygen by blowing into this tunnel or fan this area.  Continue to build on top of the small sticks with slightly larger sticks.  When this is complete, there should still be space between the original row of small sticks and the ground for starting the fire.  A second option is the teepee fire.  This requires a little more skill and three half inch to three quarter inch diameter sticks.  These should be arraigned in a pyramidal structure in the center of the cleared out fire pit with one end in the ground and the other ends all touching.  This can be modified by tying the sticks together or lashing the ends but will increase the time necessary.  Just arranging them so that they lean on each other should be sufficient to hold them up.  Taking small sticks and using the “pyramid”, stack around the structure to create a teepee keeping a small opening to light the fire and add oxygen.  Once small sticks are all around move on to larger sticks and build up a good size teepee.  This structure should collapse on itself as it burns.

Once the basic frame for your fire is setup you are ready to light it.  Take a small piece of the lint and pull it apart to create more surface area.  Use a match, striker, or other means to get a spark on the lint and it should begin to smolder and burn.  With gentle even breaths, begin to grow your fire.  Place this in the opening of the teepee or in the tunnel of the lean to and gently blow on the spark to get it to grow in size and intensity.  A steady slow exhalation works much better than many short breaths.  This small fire is all that is necessary to get the smallest sticks burning, though some people find it helpful to start with small dry leaves or dry grass and increase the size of the flame before getting to the sticks, although this will increase the amount of smoke given off by the fire.  These small sticks will burn quickly and move to the larger sticks.  Be sure to increase the size of the sticks as the fire builds and move to logs when the fire is of sufficient size.  It will be necessary to keep a supply of wood nearby or send groups out to gather wood throughout the night.  The larger logs may burn slower and with less light, but the coals will stay warm for hours. 

Cooking over an outdoor fire also requires a little forethought.  Before lighting the fire it may be necessary to setup some way to keep food over the fire, but still be able to retrieve it without burning oneself.  This can be done, obviously, with a long stick whittled down at one end.  You may also consider placing two large sticks on either side of the fire and connecting them with a string far enough above the fire that it will not burn.  It will then be possible to suspend your food with fish hooks and line directly over the fire to cook.  It is also possible to cook over the coals or flames using pots and pans.  One trick, though, is to coat the outside of them with a liquid soap first.  This will prevent them from scorching and will allow them to wash off very quickly with a minimal amount of water.

When your fire is out and it is time to leave it behind, there are still a few necessary safety items to consider.  Even if it looks like a fire is out and nothing is there except ashes, it is still important to douse your fire circle, pit, etc. with a large amount of water before you leave.  One should be able to safely put their bare hand through the ashes to ensure it is completely out.  No one wants to be responsible for accidentally starting a large forest or brush fire.  If you worry about leaving behind a sign of your fire, once it is completely out, the ashes can be scattered, buried, or covered over without fear of them re-igniting. 

It is possible to expose your children to safe use of fires without them even realizing they are being taught.  Having a bonfire a few times, roasting marshmallows with them, cooking smores are just a couple of ways to introduce them to fire building skills and safety.  Let them gather the wood for themselves, pick their own rocks for the circle, or pour the water on at the end of your fire time – kids inherently want to help with whatever they see their parents doing and this is an ideal way to let them learn.  It is also an ideal way to let them see a fire does not have to be a scary thing but can be used as any other tool for good or bad.  A fire is an ideal way to prepare meals, keep kids busy (gathering wood, telling stories, etc), and provide a centerpiece to camp.  One of man’s earliest gathering places was around a fire and may be again some day.

Letter Re: Planning Alternate Routes

Thank you for your blog, your service to our country, and the info you provide. I recently moved away from the Denver metro area to a more “rural” area in northern Colorado.  There are still lots of people, but we are not surrounded.  I have done my share of preparing and believe my “tribe” could survive for possibly a year or more during a breakdown in society.  After a year I would have to change direction in my quest to remain above ground.   A nuclear attack would be a different story for us. 

We travel a good deal between Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska with an occasional trip to Idaho.  This said, the reason I am writing is to challenge your readers to always find alternate routes to “home”, “bug out destination”, “safe spots”, etc.  I carry my day pack and BOB everywhere I go.  On any given day I am from 7 to 125 miles from home.  Rarely do I use the same route to get to my destination or return trip.  There is an abundance of paved roads in this area and well maintained gravel roads.  I know my local grid well.  Even at a distance of 125-250 miles away I am able to use several different routes to get to my destination and most are not highways.  The highways I try to use are two-lane and minimal travel (too slow for most people).  Luckily, I have lived in this three state area since the early 1960’s.   I kinda know my way around these parts!!!  I have been blessed (or cursed) with a somewhat photographic memory.  This blessing has diminished somewhat as I have aged but my recall is still very sharp and I practice my recall to keep it as useful as possible.

As I drive alternate routes I watch for landmarks for navigation and other “specific things” of interest.  Any landmark will be useful for travel especially at night.  I watch for towers, bluffs, silos, water tanks, tree rows, electrical substations, unique structures (including farm houses)—anything that can be spotted at a distance.  Looking for and finding sources of water along your “routes” is a must!  Creeks, ponds, stock tanks, windmills, drainage ditches, oil wells (watershed), abandoned farms--all are potential sources for water.  On the plains many houses and buildings had tanks and troughs under the roof line to collect water from rains and snow melt off.  Almost all these farmsteads had cisterns.  In your search for water you will likely come across wild game as they are driven to water also.  Truly abandoned farms can provide water, shelter, and food if the need arises.  I keep track of the miles between water sources just in case I may have to walk to the next source.  Remember, your next source may be frozen in winter so you have to be able to thaw it.  I am assuming you have ways to start a fire in your day pack or BOB.  Sorry...  I always carry food and water for four people to hopefully survive for 72 hours.  If we are not at our destination in 72 hours my plan B is to hunker down where we are and revise our direction of attack.  The plan may require finding food or water, finding fuel, and finding a different direction home.  I have two GPS systems, but I prefer to use a compass.  As long as I can spot one of my landmarks I can figure out which direction I need to go to reach my destination.  This may require waiting until daylight or waiting out a storm to find my bearings.  Thank the LORD I have never been lost on the plains or in the mountains.  I have been lost in a mall and a skyscraper, so I avoid them as much as possible.

A side note:  As I travel I find routes to avoid “major” intersections—especially on highways.  Even on paved roads and gravel or dirt roads I look for other ways to go around these major intersections, “T’s” in the road and dead ends.  In times of collapse these would be places of roadblocks and getting ambushed. So, being able to avoid them (especially at night) will greatly enhance your chances of getting home.  HOME: no matter what it may look like, or be, is where you want to be when things turn ugly.

Keep your vehicle stocked, your mind sharp, your thoughts positive, and your Bible handy.  Your destination can only be reached through the journey! Peace, - S.F.H.

SurvivalBlog's Michael Z. Williamson was the first of several folks that forwarded me this ATF classifies Chore Boy pot scrubber pads NFA firearms

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Commentary from Michael Yon: Pocket Spies.

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Kevin S. found some fascinating reading: Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Primary Megadeaths of the Twentieth Century

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Reader P.N.G. suggested this case study: Building Your Own 20kW Hydroelectric Power Plant

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I heard that the movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 has been released on DVD. I missed it at the theater, so I'll be ordering a copy. (I think that this could turn out like Serenity -- where a box office fizzle later went on to show great profitability on DVD.

"A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've begun drafting a new book, with the working title "Rawles on Guns and Other Tools for Survival." This book will include an appendix that lists Gunsmithing Service and Parts Providers. If you have any favorite gunsmiths or gun parts dealers that you can strongly recommend from personal experience, then please send me their details, via e-mail. In particular, I'm looking for those smiths that offer the highest quality work at reasonable rates. Because many of these gunsmiths are only known regionally, I'm asking for your help on this. Please include mention of their specialties, web page URLs, phone numbers, and some indication of their number of months of backlog, if known. (The best smiths often have backlogs.) 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 (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 (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 husband and I moved cross-country to The American Redoubt this past spring with our two young sons.  We had never even visited this area, but our research over two years caused us to fall in love with an area we had never seen in person.  My husband flew out on his own about a month before our move and found us a rental house on a couple acres within our budget.  He thought he saw fruit trees at the time and took pictures to show me, but we couldn't tell for sure.

Our transition was very tiring and tedious, but we are adjusting nicely to our new home.  The bounty from our fruit trees and other foraged edibles has us very excited about our blessings.  Our cup overflows - with fruit - and we almost have too much!

As we investigated our yard and watched the trees bloom, we understood that, indeed, we had several fruit trees.  One I felt sure was an apple and another looked like a pear tree to me, but I wasn't positive.  As the blossoms faded and fruit began to form, we knew we had at least three apple trees, but one was definitely different than the other two, as the blooms were pink and not white.  About mid-June I realized it must be a crabapple tree, so I began to research what I could do with this fruit. Growing up, we had a crabapple tree, but we considered it a nuisance with the fruit not fit to eat.

Lessons From a Crabapple Tree
I learned I could make many delicious goodies from crabapples, including jelly, sauce, and butter. I began picking them as soon as they seemed ripe enough. I actually didn't pick them at all, though - I shook them from the tree and then gathered them (along with my helpful young brood) into buckets. I then proceeded to wash them and cut off both ends for jelly making. My jelly didn't turn out so good and was more like a syrup, so I decided to use the rest for butter. I grew up on apple butter, which is a lot like applesauce, but  thicker and sweeter with spices added. It's used just like jelly or jam and smells wonderful while cooking. From the many buckets of crabapples we gathered, I now have 16 pints of apple butter in my basement.
I didn't waste the liquid from the cooked crabapples. This I canned also in quart and half-gallon jars and will use for hot spiced cider when cold, snowy days arrive. Though somewhat weak compared to regular apple juice, I plan to add frozen orange juice concentrate and spices to simmer all day in the crock pot.

My Crabapple Butter Recipe
Wash and cut off ends of crabapples. Place whole apples in large pan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until apples are pretty soft (about 30 minutes or so). Scoop out crabapples into strainer, leaving liquid behind. Press through strainer. In crock pot, combine crabapple pulp and one to two tablespoons of spices (cinnamon, cloves, and/or nutmeg) to taste. Cook on high for 8 hours until mixture cooks down to about half, stirring once every hour. At this point, you may can or freeze the apple butter or simply refrigerate and eat up, depending on the amount you have.

Lessons From Two Apple Trees
One of our apple trees ripened right along behind the crabapple tree, and we harvested about 8 buckets full from this tree. These apples are a light green with thin skin and a wonderful refreshing flavor.  The problem is they don't keep very long, even in the fridge, so we processed them quickly, eating as many as we could before they started to shrivel.  I made applesauce from these and also froze some sliced for pies later on. I have 10 quarts of applesauce canned and 6 quarts sliced in the freezer.

I also sliced some of the apples for drying. I don't currently have a dehydrator, but in the hot summer months my car heats up nicely, and I found that sliced apples dried within several hours on a hot day in full sun.

My Applesauce Recipe
I simply made my applesauce by cutting the washed apples in half and cutting off the stem and blossom ends. Then I cooked them the same way I cooked the crabapples, just covering with water. I then pressed just the apples through the strainer, reserving the liquid for canning as well.  I then processed the apple pulp in hot jars in a water bath canner. I didn't add sugar or spices to the sauce, preferring it more natural.

The other apple tree ripened later. These apples have thicker skin and are proving to be much better keepers. We will keep them in our cool basement as long as we can, eating them fresh.

* How Much Saved From Apple Tree Fruit - Apples are at least $1 per pound in season, but organic apples are even higher. I estimate that we ended up with at least 12 buckets of regular apples and about 4 buckets of crabapples. I estimate that each bucket weighed about 10 pounds.  This would make about 160 pounds of apples, which would cost at least $160 if purchased.

Lessons From a Pear Tree
The next tree to ripen was our pear tree.  We could see fairly early on after blooming that it was a pear tree, but I didn't personally have high hopes for it.  Growing up, I had a pear tree in my yard, and it never did well, always having very small, scrubby pears that were never fit to eat.  My husband loves pears, however, so I wanted it to do well for his sake (and our boys).  They never seemed to get soft on the tree, but they were getting bigger and bigger, so I decided to do some research.  Turns out, pears are better picked hard, as they will have a better taste and be less grainy.  Also, certain varieties do better after being placed in the refrigerator for a few days. Seems that they have a better texture after chilling.  Well, it worked!  Our hard pears got soft, sweet, and smooth!  Best pears I've ever tasted! We harvested about 4 buckets full and are mostly eating them fresh. Some of them, however, are getting old and too soft, so I've also made pear sauce.  Plus, since pears are much more juicy than apples, I have had to take an extra straining step with them when making sauce, thus getting some wonderfully sweet pear juice out of the deal.

* How Much Saved - The pears weighed about 60 pounds and would cost at least $2 per pound in the store, so our savings was at least $120.

Lessons From a Plum Tree
The last of the fruit trees on our land to ripen was the plum tree, which my husband discovered while exploring a little further over from the other fruit trees. We didn't know about this jewel early on and didn't have high hopes once we discovered it, thinking it wouldn't produce very valuable fruit. Needless to say, we have harvested 3 buckets full so far (about 36 pounds, we estimate) and have at least one more bucket full on the tree. These are the small Italian plums that sell for quite a bit in the grocery store. The first bucket we picked wasn't sweet, but once frost hit our area, the ones on the tree turned very sweet and delicious.  I wasn't planning to make jams or jellies due to what I believed to be a long, drawn-out process (and the fact that my crabapple jelly didn't turn out), but I decided to try a very small batch of plum jam to see if it would be worth it.  Plums are pretty easy to deal with.  These have pits that are freestone, which means they don't stick to the flesh of the fruit. This made it very easy to pit them. I simply washed them, cut them in half, and pulled the pit out. Many of these we are eating fresh, but I know we won't be able to eat them all before they go bad, so I have chopped up 8 quarts for the freezer for breads and cakes later. I also have 2 gallons of plum wine fermenting in the cabinet. With the rest that we don't eat fresh, I am making plum jam, as the trial run turned out wonderfully!

My Plum Jam Recipe
Wash whole plums. Cut in half and remove pit. Chop or leave in halves. I like to blend my plums in the blender, but for those who like chunks I advise chopping in small pieces and not blend.  Otherwise, leave halved and blend.) For every cup of chopped plums, I used 2/3 cups sugar. some other recipes call for more sugar (up to a 1:1 ratio), but I don't like too sweet, and this turned out perfect to me. For halved plums, make sure to heap the cup as high as you can get it (I fit 10 small plums per cup). Blend the plums in a blender or food processor. Add plum mixture and sugar with about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon per cup of plums to saucepan (don't fill more than half full due to mixture boiling up during cooking).  Bring to boil, stirring often. Boil vigorously for 15-20 minutes (needs to thicken somewhat). I used pectin for my first trial run, but it didn't do any better than my second trial without pectin. If you use pectin, just follow the directions on the package. If canning the jam, can right away while hot. Otherwise, let cool for about 30 minutes before refrigerating.

* How Much Saved - The plums weighed approximately 48 pounds, which would cost $2-3 per pound in the store to purchase. This saved us at least $120.

Lessons From Foraged Elderberries
Sometime after we discovered how wonderful our pears were, my husband saw some elderberries growing wild behind his work place. We weren't positive what they were at first, but upon researching and positive identification, we discovered what a treasure we had found. Elderberries are very potent against colds and flu, and we had already been using this wonderful elixir in previous years to help keep our immune systems strong. Turns out these berries are very prevalent here, as we saw more after we picked this batch. Make sure to pick only the dark purple/black ones, as the red ones are said to be toxic.

Here's what I did with the box we gathered. I made elderberry syrup, frozen blocks, and extract/tonic. For the syrup and frozen blocks, I first placed the berries, stems and all, in the freezer. I had read that this would make the berries easier to remove from the stems. It worked well, and I had my entourage help me pluck the berries (which they were happy to do!). After plucking them off, I then washed them thoroughly in a colander. Then I just covered with water in a saucepan, bringing them to a boil. I cooked them until they were soft, and the whole mixture was very dark purple (almost black). Next came the very messy part! I pressed them through the strainer, but I got a lot of seeds through, since my strainer is not fine. I then used a screen-type strainer with cheese cloth layered in it to strain out the rest of the seeds. Everything that the berries came in contact with were stained dark purple - so beware!

I then canned 3 pints of this elderberry juice/syrup and filled 2 ice cube trays as well.  After the ice cubes were frozen, I popped them out and sealed them in a freezer bag. These will be handy to add to hot tea in the winter to add flavor and immune-enhancing properties.

I also made an elderberry extract/tonic with vodka. This was more simple, as it didn't require any cooking or straining. I simply plucked and washed the elderberries as above.  Then I filled a quart jar halfway with elderberries, followed by vodka added to the top. This mixture sat in a dark place for about a week until it was very dark in color. I then strained out the berries and added 1/3 cup sugar, shaking vigorously. I then returned it to the dark cupboard. Over the next couple days, I checked on it and shook it again as needed.  It was ready for drinking after 2 weeks, but will last indefinitely without canning or refrigeration (as the vodka preserves it). I plan to drink a small amount when feeling "under the weather."  In order to remove all or most of the vodka, it can be added to a hot drink as well.

* How Much Saved - The elderberry extract I was purchasing each year to help ward off flus and colds cost me $13 per 8-ounce bottle. I now have on hand the equivalent of 8 of these, which saves me $104.

Lessons From Foraged Rosehips
Another foraged fruit we discovered that has great nutritional value is the rosehip. Rosehips are very high in Vitamin C, one of the richest sources, which is crucial in the winter months when colds and flu are at their peak. We discovered tons of the bright orange/red jewels on a family walk by a nearby lake. It was evident that they hadn't been sprayed due to their wild habitat, so we spent about 20 minutes picking as many as we could reach. I got a small pan full (approximately 3 cups). At home, I proceeded to pick off the blossom ends (with the help of my sons again), washed them, and then placed in saucepan just covered with water. I boiled the rosehips until they turned soft and the water turned orange/red. I then poured off the liquid and added more water to the mixture, wanting to get as much of the benefit as possible out of the hips. Each time I added more water, I would let the mixture sit a few minutes and then would mash down on the rosehips, releasing some more of the juice. When I felt I had gotten most of the benefit from the hips doing this, I then poured the liquid into ice cube trays. When frozen, I removed the blocks and sealed in a freezer bag. I got 22 blocks out of the mixture and plan to add these to herb teas throughout the winter.

Rosehips can also be used to make jelly, jam, syrup, or wine.

The rosehip and elderberry frozen blocks are especially useful for children. My boys love drinking herb teas with honey, and I can add these blocks to serve more than one purpose - They add nutrition and immune support, and they also cool off the hot tea for safer, quicker drinking.

General Lessons
* Just about any fruit will stain your hands if you work with enough of it - even if it's white fleshed. Wear gloves if you don't want to dry out and stain your hands.
* A china cap strainer is invaluable if you want to process fruits for jam or sauce - worth it's weight in gold for sure!
* With all this fruit, I have had to limit my young sons' intake so as to not cause intestinal distress. Eating two plums, two apples, and two pears per day is not good for young tummies!
* Harvesting fruit trees is hard, messy work, and you have to work quickly to decide how you will use all the fruit. However, it is worth all the work to know you have some delicious, nutritious fruit available for the winter months.
* Growing fruit trees is very educational and fun for kids, and they really enjoy helping at all stages. Get them involved!

In conclusion, we are very humbled by the blessings we have found on our rented land. We are reaping from that which we have not sown, and our bounty is so rich we feel almost overwhelmed (in a good way). We plan to plant some more trees while here, and even if we aren't here to enjoy the benefits, someone else will be. We are glad at that thought, as we know God will bless us again wherever we go.

What Can You Do If You Don't Have Fruit On Your Property?
In our driving around, we have seen tons of apple trees loaded with fruit that are going untouched by those living there. If we didn't have so much fruit ourselves, we would certainly stop and ask them if they will be using theirs. This works well, as we did this at our previous location. The apples we asked to pick were a nuisance to the homeowner, and they were glad to let us take them - They even said, "Yes, please take them, so we don't have to clean up the yard." I'm also amazed that the elderberries went untouched, even by the birds. Many people still have the mentality that they don't want to work for something they don't have to yet, and still others don't know how valuable certain fruits are, such as rosehips and elderberries.

We have seen nut trees also that are not on our property, but they don't appear to be ripe yet.  Once we see them falling from the trees, we plan to ask if we can gather some of them. Those things that are treasures to us as preppers are many times seen as a bother to others.  I recently saw a local Craig's List ad for someone asking for unwanted fruit. They clearly stated that it was for their family's use and not for animal use.

Don't let the fruit on your property go to waste. And if you don't have your own fruit, seek out locations for potential free fruit from those who don't want theirs. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much money you can save and how much more prepared you'll feel heading into the winter months. We saved a ton of money by working hard to process this free fruit on our rented property and the fruit we foraged wild. The total I estimate we saved from our free fruit is around $500, and that's low-balling it.

Dear Editor:
I am 24 years old and struggling to get a career started in a field other than hospitality. I cannot afford a retreat, and have not had much luck joining other groups due to my lack of skills to the level desired, and my lack of money to afford all the prerequisites many groups have. My question is how can I best prepare to live out of my backpack in a tight spot? I have been training in certain areas like physical fitness and minimalist hiking. I did just obtain my Wilderness First Responder from Wilderness Medical Institute. I also hope to obtain an EMT certification this winter. I have put together a bug out bag that I'd call 90% complete. One thing that's missing is any firepower. I simply cannot afford even the cheapest AK-47 firearm as well as the ammunition and training. What would you recommend? Cheers, - John 

JWR Replies: If you look around, you can buy a Turkish contract Mauser 8x57mm for less that $90, a Mosin Nagant 7.62x54r for less that $100, or a Yugoslavian Mauser 8x57mm for less than $200.  Big 5 Sporting Goods stores often have military surplus rifles for sale.

Watch your local newspaper classifieds ads for private parties with guns for sale. Also check the Big 5 sale flyer, weekly. ( Enter your own ZIP code to see the location of your local store.) You might also find a bargain at a local gun show.

As for low-cost training, I have just one word for you: Appleseed.

Reader R.B. recently mentioned obtaining 55 gallon drums to store diesel as it "lasts for years."
Gasoline will also "last for years" IF it is stored properly. I recently tapped into a 55 gallon drum that had been stored for 5 years - and was surprised to get 2-1/2 better m.p.g. while experiencing considerably more horsepower going up several mountain passes.  Some of this may be due to 5 year old fuel having a lower percentage of Ethanol than recent production.
USE A QUALITY PRESERVATIVE - I like Pri-G gasoline treatment, but STA-BIL seems to work as well, and use 25% more than suggested.

ELIMINATE AIR - Oxygen chemically reacts with gasoline. Use only a metal storage container, since air molecules gradually go right through plastic. Be sure to fill it the container to within an inch of the top. Put the cap on tight and wait for your rainy day.  - Chemist in the Rockies

Gerald Celente Hammered By Margin Call on Gold Futures With MF Global. Learn from this pundit's mistake: Keep your precious in metals in tangible form, in your personal possession, well-hidden at home. (NOT in "bonded vault storage", or in a brokerage account, or in any form of futures, or in an ETF, or even in a safe deposit box. Physical metal in your possession trumps all! This also illustrates that whenever there is a financial panic, a cascade of margin calls can be devastating.

California property assessments down only 4 percent from peak but home values are down by 37 percent. FHA default rates surge.

An interesting illustration of income tax inequality: What a Deal: Poker Champ Pays No Taxes on $8.7 Million. OBTW, if you are considering "voting with your feet", there are seven States in the Union that have no personal income tax at the state level: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee tax only dividend income and interest income.

RBS spotted this piece: Tough times: Life inside the hardest hit county in the U.S.

Items from The Economatrix:

Economic Collapse?  We're Soaking In It

Gold Rises 1.5% on European Hopes, Tracks S&P

Government Is Living in a State of Denial:  They Speak, See, Hear Nothing of a Debt Crisis

European Debt Crisis:  Deathficits

"There Is No Way Out For Europe" says Economist

I had a couple of queries from SurvivalBlog readers about this news article: Google map mystery of giant lines spotted by satellite in Gobi desert. My guess is that it is a radar MASINT test field. (Note the variety of bistatic angles.) Without delving into the compartmented codeword realm, I can mention an open source reference to something analogous: the imaging target field at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Here, I'll remind you that I wrote a series of articles about Fort Huachuca for Defense Electronics magazine, back in 1988. Hans Halberstadt, a well-respected and seasoned military photographer accompanied me there for a series of briefings and interviews. When a slide picture of their half-mile long resolution facility was shown as part of an unclassified post facilities overview presentation, Hans burst out laughing. He quickly mentioned the field's palm-size equivalent, at home in his studio. The Gobi test field, I believe, is something similar, but built for radar MASINT tests. It was constructed on a grand scale. Oh, BTW, the extensive pattern degradation at the lower edge of the field was apparently caused by the Gobi desert's rare flash floods. This probably indicates that the test field was built some time ago.

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Readers Ron N. and Jamie L. mentioned this piece by Paul Bedard: Obama Pushing Shooters Off Public Lands

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A great little article over at one of my favorite blogs, View From The Porch: But it's just a .22...

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F.J. spotted this: Prepare Your Bicycle and Your Body for Winter Riding

"The more you know, the less you carry." - Mors Kochanski, the grandfather of Canadian Bushcraft, and author of Bushcraft and Northern Bushcraft.

Wednesday, November 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 (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 (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 an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, Eagle Scout and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in training I know the importance of first aid and how it can mean the importance of  life and death. The proper first aid training is crucial in an ever changing world. I will discuss how to make a proper Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) that you can use for self and buddy aid. How to treat sprains, broken bones, environmental emergencies, bleeding control and sucking chest wounds.

IFAK- Choosing the right bag or case is very important. Make sure it can hold all of your gear and is easy to use for one handed operations. If you are on a limited budget Wal-Mart sells multi use hunting bags and cases or you can check out Coleman's Army Surplus. Another good bag is the Condor tactical Rip-Away EMT pouch that has MOLLE attachments that can be mounted on a backpack, vest or an optional shoulder harness. This pouch also has a Velcro design which lets you take off the pouch itself without removing the whole pouch from your equipment. This product is only $20. The contents of your first aid kit may vary depending on your personal needs. My kit contains medical tape, an LED penlight, several packs of Quikclot clotting sponges, several pairs of latex powder free gloves, tourniquets, bandages, alcohol prep pads, EMT/trauma shears, tweezers, tongue depressors (they make good finger and wrist splints) various sizes of ACE wraps and an assortment of bandages, gauze pads and Band-Aids. You can find these items at your local Wal-Mart, outdoor supply center or if you’re brave enough go to your local Emergency room and just ask for supplies and use a cover story on why you need the supplies. If you want the combat grade supplies just shop online.
The essence of First Aid: Stop life-threatening danger, protect an injured or ill person from further harm, and get proper medical help for the patient.

Airway- Open up the airway by the lift and tilt method, tilt the head up and lift open the mouth this creates an open airway for the patient if you believe there is a neck injury thrust the jaw forward

Breathing- Check for signs of air movement, the chest will rise and fall or you may be able to hear shallow breathing if not, then start CPR.

Circulation- Check for a pulse this can be checked by placing two fingers on the carotid artery in the neck (this is used for non-responsive patients or if you can’t find a radial pulse in either wrist) To check for a radial pulse place two- three fingers in the notch below the thumb, you may have to move around until you can find it. Do not check with your thumb because your thumb has a pulse of its own. Also check for major bleeding, open up clothing and examine your patient. This all together should take no more than 15-20 seconds upon initial contact.

Basic First Aid

Shock- When a person is injured or under great stresses his/her circulatory system might not provide enough blood flow to all parts of the body. Warning signs: feeling of weakness, confusion, fear, dizziness, quick weak pulse. Rapid shallow irregular breathing, vomiting, extreme thirst. Restore breathing and circulation, control bleeding, treat pain and treat wounds. Lay the patient down and elevate his or her feet 10-12 inches up to restore blood flow to vital organs. The new doctrine and theory says not to elevate the feet but most medical professionals still suggest doing this. If there is no head, neck or spine trauma then elevates both the feet 10-12 inches and the torso 30-45 degrees also. Also keep the patient warm with blankets, clothing and etc. Even if there are no signs for shock treat for it anyway. 

Sprained Ankle: Don't remove your shoe it will help support your ankle if you must keep walking. Wrap the ankle and shoe/boot all with an ace bandage or triangular bandage (handkerchief, etc.) Once done traveling remove the footwear and raise your leg and apply ice packs or cool towels to help reduce swelling. To wrap the ankle start the bandage at the bottom of the persons shoe or boot and wrap around several times. Once that has been completed start the bandage in a “figure 8” motion. This will help support the ankle. This method can also be used for sprained wrists.

Broken Bones: Two types - Closed and Open. Closed fracture is a fracture in which the bone did not break the skin also referred to as a simple fracture. Open fracture is when the bone pierces the skin also referred to as a compound fracture. To treat closed fractures simply splint the broken bone to immobilize it from moving. a good saying is "splint it where it lies" you can simply use tongue depressors for fingers and smaller breaks, tree limbs that are as straight as possible or even a thick magazine you can also buy Sam splints at local outdoor retail shops. Cushion under a splint is also good in which it helps it fit better you can use a sleeping pad, cloth, roller bandages or whatever is handy at the time. Once the splint has been placed bind the two splints together. Compound fracture: wrap the bone exiting the skin with gauze or sterile bandages the risk of infection are much greater with broken skin. After treating the piercing bone splint the leg or arm to prevent further harm. If bleeding is present control the bleeding first.

How to make a sling: Support an injured hand, arm, collarbone or shoulder with a sling made from a triangular bandage or neckerchief. Tie an overhand knot in the largest angle of the triangle. Place the sling over the chest with the knot at the elbow of the injured limb and one over the opposite shoulder. Bring the free end of the sling up and over the other shoulder and tie the two ends together behind the neck using a square knot. A square knot is simply using two free ends of a rope or bandage and using the right free end placing it over the left taking it under and then left over right and pull together just remember "right over left, left over right"

Some key notes when splinting: Assess the patient’s Pulse, Motor function and Sensation (PMS). If there is a fracture in the leg check the pulse in the foot to make sure there is still blood flow getting to that part of the body if not you have a more serious problem on your hands. With the Motor function see if the patient can wiggle his/her toes or rotate he foot again do not cause any further harm to the patient. Last is the Sensation seeing if the patient can actually feel you touching his or her foot, pulling of leg hair and etc. All of these will provide crucial information about the extent of the fracture. When splinting make sure the splint itself extends several inches beyond the joints above and below the injury. After splinting check the PMS again.

Environmental Emergencies:


(The following table is reproduced from an excellent paper on Environmental Emergencies by Capt. Tony Carraro.)

Stages of Hypothermia:

Body Temperature

(Fahrenheit )

Body Temperature








Intense shivering, difficulty speaking



Shivering decreases and is replaced my muscle rigidity. Jerky movements are produced, thinking is less clear, comprehension is dulled



Becomes irrational, loses contact with the environment, pulse and respirations are slow



Loses consciousness and doesn’t respond to spoken words. Heartbeat slows the cardiac arrest occurs.

First Aid for Hypothermia: Remove all wet clothing from the victim and change him/her into warm dry clothing. Don’t have him/her perform exercises; it’s okay in the beginning stages of hypothermia but the further it progresses the worse it becomes. Place warm water bottles underneath the armpits, and the groin area. Also apply a stocking cap to the patient’s head. All of these areas are the most at risk places to lose warmth. If necessary place yourself in a sleeping bag with the person. If he/she is awake and alert gradually give warm liquids at a slow rate.

Frost Bite: Get the patient out of the cold environment. Warm the affected area gradually. If this does not help heat water to between 100 degrees Fahrenheit – 105 degrees Fahrenheit. You should be able to stick your own finger or hand in there and not feel any discomfort. Do not apply any pressure to the frost bite area.


First Aid for Hyperthermia: Some signs and symptoms of hyperthermia are muscle cramps usually in the legs and abdomen. Weakness or exhaustion, rapid shallow breathing and a weak pulse. If the patient has moist, pale and normal to cool skin remove the patient from the heat if not possible lay him/her in a shady spot with their legs slightly elevated. Remove or loosen the patient’s clothing to help cool down the patient. If he/she is awake and not feeling nauseated have him or her sip cool drinks of water. Apply cool moist towels under the armpits and forehead. You can also apply instant cold packs if water is scarce which in times of emergencies it will be. Also be sure not to cool the body too quickly or you’ll send the patient into shock.
In any emergency survival situation you’ll come across people with weapons .Whether this be bow and arrows, firearms, knives, stones, baseball bats or even old fashioned tomahawks all will cause trauma. With this come soft tissue injuries and a number of other life threatening injuries. In the matter of external bleeding there are three types: Arterial which is the spurting of blood, pulsating flow and bright red in color. Venous (veins) which is a steady flow and dark red in color all the way to simple scratch or nick which is a cause of your capillary bleeding which is slow and has an even flow to it. A person can bleed out in a matter of seconds to minutes without the proper control of bleeding.

The simplest way to control bleeding of any aspect is to apply direct pressure. If the bleeding is mild and not too severe apply a sterile dressing with adequate pressure to help clotting. If the bleeding is severe or spurting quickly apply direct pressure with your hand DON”T WASTE TIME. Once bleeding has been controlled apply a pressure bandage. Never remove a bandage that has been placed to stop/control bleeding this can destroy clots and or skin. If the bandage has become soaked in blood apply another bandage directly over it and hold direct pressure.

Application of a tourniquet: This is to be done as a last resort. Have your partner or the patient (if he is responsive) hold and maintain direct pressure until the tourniquet is in place. Select a site no further than two inches from the wound. The tourniquet should be placed in between the wound and the heart (above the wound). If you do not have a tourniquet you can use a triangular dressing or a cravat. Wrap the bandage around the injury and tie a knot over the pad. Slip an ink pin, stick or anything hard into the knot and tighten until the bleeding is controlled.

Sucking Chest Wound

When the chest cavity is open to the atmosphere it is commonly called Sucking Chest Wound. Each time he/she breathes air can be sucked into the opening and the patient will have difficulty breathing. Some signs and symptoms of this include a “sucking” sound when the patient inhales, has a wound to the chest, and gasping for air. When treating someone with a sucking chest wound maintain an open airway. Apply an occlusive dressing that is at least two inches larger than the wound itself. If there is an exit wound also apply the same type of dressing to it also. When creating this dressing tape down all sides except for one this will create a flutter valve to help with breathing. When the patient inhales it prevents air from entering the chest cavity upon exhaling it allows trapped air to escape through the untapped section of the dressing. While preparing the dressing quickly place your hand over the wound this will provide crucial lifesaving moments. If an occlusive dressing is not available you can use a section of your latex glove, packaging from sterile bandages, and a section of a trash bag or plastic grocery sack. There are also many types of chest seals on the market today for less than $20.

With all of this information I hope it will provide you some basic knowledge of how to treat and respond to non-life and life threatening injuries. In some instances without the proper advanced level of care required for situations such as sucking chest wounds and internal injuries such as a broken femur that punctures the femoral arty they are sure to die but with the proper first aid you may add several minutes to days and months of life that they might not would have if it wasn’t for you. Study, take courses and save a life.

I read with interest the data on food inflation recently on your blog. This confirms my own recent observations about food and hardware store items. Additionally, I have observed a drastic shift in the behavior of the people around me.

When you think of survivalists you don't generally picture of a bunch of guys and gals in surgeons scrubs discussing weapons. But they do, now. I have been a surgeon for over twenty years, and in the last two years much has changed. Conversations that used to begin with, "Have you ever seen a case of...?" now begin with, "Gold is up $40 per ounce today", or "I just bought the new Ruger .38 Special...". It is telling of the times that instead of medicine we do talk survival--both personal and professional.

I am not an economist, but sleep better nights having converted most of my savings to gold and recently platinum. I would make your readers aware of the options of storing precious metals overseas at reasonable costs through Delaware Depository, or through a simple Canadian lock box. It is not considered a foreign account because technically it is just storage. I heard gold economist Ian McAvity say that it is wise to be like a dog and bury a bone in many back yards because you never know in which backyard you might end up...and one bonepile should be outside the legal confines of the US. I would also point out that platinum is not a metal the feds will likely confiscate, it will never lose all value, and takes less room to store than gold. At present the price is very much below the 200 day moving average, and is quite a bargain, If you believe in some sort of industrial future, which I do. In general, and I find this interesting, my physician friends and I, when discussing diversification of assets no longer talk about stocks or bonds but about silver vs gold vs platinum or palladium.

I do not see much info on medical preparedness in your blog, but I am insuring that I have three months supply minimum of our prescription drugs, and I am stocking up on Cipro, Doxycycline and Erythromycin--those cover most big infectious diseases as well as germ warfare diseases. I am also buying topical neosporin, Vitamin D (10,000 IU daily dose), Vitamin C 500 mg, Iodine 12.5 mg tabs (iodoral), and anti-inflammatories. I have a supply of bandages, mercury thermometers, Clorox and splints. As a surgeon, I am saving "out of date" but perfectly good, surgical supplies, and other medical items in case I find myself making house calls out of a black bag for barter. I began doing this after reading about the collapse of the Argentinean economy as experienced by a white collar engineer. Even if you are not a medical practitioner, if you have the supplies, someone else can supply the expertise--like distributing combat medical gear to the combatants. Based on the history of monetary collapse elsewhere, it was three months of chaos before some basis for buying and selling could be restored. It is critical that people plan for medical necessities because the supply of medical items will be as affected as food--if not worse. Pharmacies and hospitals have grown accustomed to daily resupply of their stocks. Diabetics and anyone who needs life saving medications especially must think ahead. Insurance plans may not pay for ahead of time medications, but you can often get cash discounts, and can simply purchase the meds outside of any insurance plan. (You may discover it is cheaper than your co-pay!) Where shelf life is not the issue, stock up. Shelf life is greatly underestimated for most drugs, and with refrigeration and rotation of stocks you can keep things longer if needed. - H.L., MD

Mr. Rawles,

I wanted to stress for G.R. in Texas that refugee camp living is far worse than anything experienced at Occupy Wall Street. Those were comparatively small encampments of comparatively wealthy people (in a global perspective, I work with populations who make less than $1 a day), with largely similar ideological frameworks, in cities that provided a fair number of basic services.

I've visited several refugee camps supported by tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid and I can say that when you have more than 10,000 people together aid money is barely enough to get basic supplies out to people. Logistics break down in disheartening ways. Even in supported camps in Haiti rape by gangs of men is endemic, rats are out of control, sanitation is completely inadequate. People in these camps are hopeless and stuck without work, completely dependent on ever decreasing handouts from NGOs or money from relatives. Some of these people had good work before the quake and just lost everything, pharmacists, accountants, nurses.

I know plenty of people who hiked out of Port Au Prince after the earthquake to get to buses to other cities, largely they did better than the people who stayed. But of the roughly 500,000 that left the city in the two weeks after the quake about 200,000 returned to live in the camps when they had nowhere to go and no options for food.

I honestly suggest people make global networks of friends now that they know can rely on in times of crises to help them get back on their feet. Making these agreements reciprocal helps. I would rather take my chances starting a new life from scratch in another town or country not affected by a disaster with the help of a friend than spend a day in a true refugee camp. In a refugee camp it doesn't matter if you are skilled or trained, you are not in control of your destiny. I hope all people who plan to bug out of a location have several friendly destinations in mind to get to. Sincerely, - Peter H.

Dr. Ted is incorrect. "Dropping below 15% protein risks Kwashiorkor – it’s the reason why those starving kids in the television commercials have fat bellies – lack of protein actually causes more fat to be deposited!"

More fat is not deposited. [A swollen belly in these cases is a symptom of] edema (fluid) that collects in the abdomen or feet. It comes from the capillaries when there is a lack of protein in the diet and the liver cannot produce enough albumin. Thus the blood is hypo-osmotic and fluid is lost into the peritoneum, also called third-spacing. - J.W.M.

By way of Tam's blog: Superhydrophobic spray means no more clothes to wash. This somehow reminded me of the classic Alec Guinness movie The Man in the White Suit.

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George S. sent this: 22 Signs That The Thin Veneer of Civilization That We All Take for Granted is Starting to Disappear

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AmEx (American Expatriate) sent this: When the Cashier Asks for Your Zip Code. AmEx notes: "With your name and zip code they can do a reverse lookup and determine your address. That is a real breach of OPSEC." JWR Adds:To minimize any paper trail, I try to make prepping purchases with cash as much as possible and when asked for my ZIP code, I answer "Sorry, but I don't live near here." (Which is always true, since I live way out in the hinterboonies, 20+ miles from the nearest store.) That usually stops all but the most pushy sales clerks.

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I just heard from a reader that The Cadet newspaper at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) recently carried a cadet-authored article about SurvivalBlog. That warms my heart.

"There are no great men. Just great challenges which ordinary men, out of necessity, are forced by circumstances to meet." - Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If you have had the chance to read "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse", I would greatly appreciate you posting a review on the 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 (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 (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 cannot even remember a time when I wasn't a "prepper".  Although until a few years ago, I had no idea of what I was preparing for.  Before the dawn of my awakening, I had serious urges to learn how not to kill plants and flowers. I wanted to grow my own food eventually, so I started with a trip to the local Big Box store, and bought some bare root fruit trees. Now in my mind, they are already dead, so if I could resurrect them, and keep them going, I was on my way. If they didn't survive my over-nurturing tendencies, then I wouldn't feel bad, as they were dead already! To my surprise, all but one survived the first year, and I tasted the sweet success of peaches fresh off the tree!  What I didn't know then, was that you always thin out the fruit the first year or two, or all the branches break. I learned the hard way.  That summer I built two 4x8 raised bed garden boxes, and planted up a storm. I read nearly every garden web site, watched all the you tube videos and read all the books that I could get my hands on, and learned about proper drainage, shading, and organic pest control. It is all a balance act as I found out, but I am now eating most of my diet from my garden. Quality garden soil is the key. Everything else can be managed. 

Along the way, I found articles  and blogs on TEOTWAWKI and WTSHTF. I read Bible prophecies, Hopi indian prophecies, and listened to those whom I trust, warn of impending disasters, and world wide trouble. Economic collapse, social unrest, changing weather patterns, and evidence of global disasters increasing in intensity, and frequency, answered any questions I might have had about the urges to prepare that I had been experiencing for many years.   In a disorganized way, I started buying long term food storage, beans, rice, wheat, and canned meat. At the time, I did not have a wheat grinder, and had absolutely no idea of what I would do with it, when the time came.  A plan would have been the smart way to start, but I eventually bought a hand grinder.  It was not until the electric grinder that I found at a yard sale, came into my life years later, that I actually ground the wheat to make bread.   Another lesson learned along the way : White wheat? Red wheat? Which do I use for bread? Gluten? Why do I need to add that?  Gluten needs to be added to make it rise better. After a few flat loaves, I asked  questions. Once again, I learned the hard way. I also did research, and learned that the nutritional value of wheat is increased by up to 700% by sprouting. What a find that information was, for my long term food storage plans. I will sprout my wheat, and throw it into salads! 

Momentum was building, as guns were acquired, CCW permit obtained, ammo purchased, water tanks, 72-hour kits assembled, and a trailer for hauling what I needed out of town if it came to that.   I'm a single mom here, with two grown boys, and I was feeling a little bit lonely as I used what extra money I made, to purchase more and more food storage, for at least a year's provisions. I personally knew of no one else doing this. I was feeling a bit like a hoarder, and occasionally had to do a reality check. Finding like-minded people on web sites, and blogs like was a tremendous help, to center myself.  Reading and re- eading the lists of organized ways to approach preparations has helped me move forward. I sure wish I had started that way.  Just after the real estate bubble burst, I saw the values declining so rapidly in housing, that I realized one of the most valuable pieces of advice given to me is to be debt free of consumer debts, and to own a house free and clear. I accomplished getting free of installment debt after a time, but the house mortgage was going to be a bigger challenge.  

I still had a little money in savings, but really felt uncomfortable with the money in the bank, after having narrowly avoided the markets' mini-crash in the late 1980s, and read about savings and loans collapsing.  So I decided to use what I had, to build my emergency short term, or long term retreat on a piece of land that I had purchased some seven years prior when I had been buying things to prepare without knowing why.  This was a perfect plan, to secure a small home that would be paid for, off grid- independent of city utilities of any kind.  It would be for me, a great investment, and a place to retire to as well. I work for myself, so for me, this was it. This was the only retirement fund I would have, a place to live.   Construction started two months later, after researching plans found on line. Again,  planning was lacking, as there was urgency in completing this project, and the builder was pressed for time too.  But my cabin stands proudly, in a rural area, 165 miles from the nearest city, and 15 miles from a town of 20,000.   

There is a fantastic neighbor across the street, but the first line of defense, is a fence! So that went up right away with the help of one of my sons, and some friends.  In spite of broken bits for the rock drill, cuts, bruises, and sore backs, we made it through the excruciatingly long week of stretching fence, and barbed wire on top. I did the hard part - I watched, and made lunch for everyone! :)  

The house is equipped with a composting toilet because I bought property without doing a percolation test first.  (Learning the hard way.) The perc test determines if a septic can be put in, and in this case, there were too many rocks!  Water must be hauled, but there are underground tanks that can be purchased inexpensively, to hold plenty of water. (you can buy up to 10,000 gallon tanks) I presently have 1,200 gallons stored, in 300 gallon tanks,  but will be installing two 1,500 gallon tanks this next summer. Wells dug in this area run $35,000 and up.  When in conservation mode, the average adult uses three gallons or less per day for drinking, cooking and washing (heated over the stove- sponge bath I would suppose)  So I will have plenty of water for over a year. The water system is pumped with a 1/3 horsepower recreational vehicle water pump, and an extra pump is hidden away for emergencies. Water is run through the cabin with pex line, which is easy to work with. I installed an on demand propane water heater for the shower, and kitchen sink. The Berkey water filter sits proudly by the sink, and is always filled. Extra filters are in the pantry. 

The cabin has a ventless propane heater, and a cast iron wood fireplace.  A funny thing about propane I learned last winter: In extreme cold, regulators freeze, and propane heaters do not work, nor do propane stoves and ovens!  Last winter I went to the cabin to experience the Christmas season in the snow. Hah to me. the temperature had dropped to -15 degrees Fahrenheit and everything in the cabin when I got there at 9 p.m., was frozen!  I think of SurvivalBlog, where I learned "two is one, and one is none". Oh thank goodness I thought, that I had just installed this new woodstove. I had not yet used it, but this was to be it's maiden fire.  Funny thing about fire places and wood stoves... there is a bit of a learning curve. I was being conservative of electric, because I wasn't sure of how charged the batteries were on the solar system, so I lit the oil lamps for light, which adds a cozy feel, and I set out to light myself a great fire! I remembered to be sure the flue was open, but I left the door open while I was attempting to defrost the cabin. I grabbed a cast iron pan from the kitchen, threw in a piece of chicken and some veggies, and shoved it into the wood stove.  Yum, dinner was great, but when I stood up and turned on the light to wash the dishes, I realized that the whole room was filled with smoke, and if I had installed a fire alarm, everyone within miles would have known what a dummy I was with my first fire!  

The smoke was so thick in the cabin that I had to sleep on the floor that night, because I couldn't breathe!  Yes, I did open the windows a crack, to vent the smoke outside, but I realized that there was a flue adjustment, and the door was suppose to have been closed.  (No wonder the cabin was still cold, outside the four foot ring around the hearth).  I called a friend in a panic, who after having a great laugh at my expense, told me how to adjust it to heat the house comfortably. (yes I learned the hard way - again)  

The following day was sunny, and a bit warmer but still no propane. No worries, I have a solar oven. It worked like a charm to cook lunch, but I soon realized that if I was to survive with this thing, I had better plan my meals a day in advance, because the sun is out for a limited time. No planning dinner at 3 p.m. in my neck of the woods!   The sun... A funny thing about the sun I discovered. It never makes appearances when you need it! I had decided with the cabin, solar was the way to go. So I started small, with two 175-watt panels, and eight T105 batteries, and an Outback pure sine wave inverter. Great system if the sun is out all day. Some days it is not. Darn that jokester the sun. It seems to be out all day when I am not there, but when I go to visit the cabin, it is cloudy. The battery bank is drawn down too quickly, and then Wham! I'm out of juice. No lights, no water pump, no radio, no charging the cell phone.  During the summer, which is the rainy season, it happens this way every day.  So I learned two more lessons the hard way:   Lesson 1. Always have a water tank that provides gravity feed to a house. Lesson 2. Buy more panels to charge the batteries up faster, or a wind generator.  I also have a gas generator, but it does require gasoline, and I am 15 miles from town. Lesson 3. Always keep a spare can of gas handy.   So now I have a great log sided shed built behind the cabin, to house the back up generator, and the 25 gallons of gasoline, the stockpile of charcoal, the 8 gallons of oil lamp fuel, the tools, washer (which will be run with generator power, and gravity fed water), dryer for use when it is raining, and all of the camping supplies.  

I have built up to a two year supply of food, soaps, Clorox, medical supplies, hundreds of matches, and flints for when it is raining, and I am outside for what ever reason. Handguns, rifles, shotgun, ammo to hold off an army,  300 + seed packs 1/2 heirloom, and 1/2 hybrid to sell or trade.  I am finally taking inventories of all that I have stored, to best rotate, and plan for future needs. I have learned that vodka is used for making tinctures with herbs, and I may consider buying a couple of cases to sell or trade in an extreme situation.   I am designing my green houses, and a heating system to extend the growing season well into winter.  I am collecting books to read, mostly non fiction, and movies to watch on cold dark nights. I have purchased 4 more solar panels 190 watt each, and before they are installed, I will be pricing the tracking pole mount. It increases productivity by at least 30%. 

I now have two 55-gallon drums, and hand crank gas pump, which will all be assembled and filled next summer. I expect to fill one with diesel fuel for barter or to sell. Diesel lasts for years, and I have distant neighbors who use it.  A four wheel drive vehicle is a must in a rural area during winter.  I would love to learn about ham radio, and to be certified to operate one.   I have a 10x20 covered chicken run with a coop at the retreat location and a small flock of eight hens. They live in the city for now with me, but travel to the cabin and stay in the summer for extended stays. They seemed to enjoy their last summer vacation. I always have eggs to share with neighbors.  Last but not least, My son and I purchased an older kick-start dirt bike, kept in our home in the city, with a 72 hour kit nearby, and an off road map from point A to point B.   Next year my project is to learn to use those fishing poles I bought at the swap meet!  Respectfully submitted B. R. in Arizona

I found this article interesting: Protesters Coming Down With the "Zuccotti Lung". Park conditions put demonstrators at risk for variety of sicknesses, officials say.

The weather and conditions at the "Occupy" protests are likely a microcosm of a post-Crunch refugee camp, along with the attendant diseases and problems associated with lots of people living close together in raw weather.
I think this should give pause to those who believe they can simply pack up and head out into the local woodlot and survive a Crunch-type event. You may leave home healthy, but inevitable contact with other folks will introduce the bugs that can end up killing you. A clean, warm, dry shelter at a fixed retreat goes a long way toward preventing or limiting communicable disease.
Blessings, - G.R. in Texas

Dear James,
I have accounts on Gmail, Yahoo mail, Facebook and LinkedIn. Like many people, I have found it convenient to stay logged in to my online accounts with my personal computer. While on LinkedIn a few weeks ago, I was “recommended” a business associate who I had not been in contact with for nearly 10 years. This alarmed me. How did LinkedIn make this association? So, I looked back through my Yahoo mail and found that I had corresponded with this business associate in 2001, via Yahoo mail.

Several weeks later, I was recommended a “friend” on Facebook who was a person I had talked to from a Craigslist post more than two years ago. It was related to a gold mining operation in Nevada, so recognized the individual right away. A positive conversation had ended without any further business relationship. However, what I found so alarming was that all of my correspondence with this individual had long since been “deleted.” There was no physical evidence of a relationship, but Facebook had mined the information from data not even available to me!
As a computer software professional, I have written applications to interface with Facebook data. There is a lot of information I can obtain about a person who is logged into Facebook and visits a web site application I have control of. I assume the other Internet software providers have similar data available to share.

The method of tracking online is referred to as “cookies.” Tracking cookies are set on your computer by nearly every commercial web site you visit. The tracking cookies from these web sites can be used by other web sites to find out information about your activity and who you are. If you are logged into a service provider, they can share information about you, without your knowledge.

While there is little you can do to ensure your online privacy, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. First of all, realize that ALL correspondence done on the “free” email providers is kept in a database indefinitely. Deleting it does not physically remove it. And in addition to that, consumers need to realize that if you choose to use a smart phone to browse the Internet, send/receive emails, send/receive text messages, etcetera, you are also giving out location data and even more precise personal data. Android-based phones are the most heinous offenders in the tracking of personal information. And don’t think just because you have a server-based, private email, that you are not being tracked. Any email you send or receive to users of one of these “free” email providers is also being stored in a database
The second, and most effective, way to help protect your privacy is to resist the urge to let your browser keep track of all your login information, and make certain all tracking cookies and other data are removed every time you close your browser. All browsers have a setting which claims to delete browsing data on exit. Just keep in mind that there is always some data stored, hidden on the computer, which will not be deleted. In Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can select Tools -> Internet Options and in the “Settings” for browsing history – you can choose to delete browsing history on exit. Each browser has different settings. Cookies are a convenience that presents a double-edged sword. Keeping cookies means that wherever you go on the Internet, providers can see information from your browser and share data with other providers.

Recently published information revealed that Google is processing large amounts of law enforcement warrants for personal data. Many of the warrants include information about people completely unrelated to any crime – People who have merely corresponded with an individual who is under some sort of surveillance. Don’t think that just because you live a clean and responsible life that your email and personal data have not crossed some line of surveillance. And just keep in mind that everything you do online can be tracked, stored and exchanged with others indefinitely without your knowledge or permission.

Thanks again to the SurvivalBlog editors for providing this terrific source of information.
Cheers, - Sheila in Cyberland


To follow up on a couple of recent letters about Electric Garage Doors as a Point of Entry for Burglars and Home Invaders: Keep in mind that pulling the [emergency] disconnect rope on a garage door just leaves it in a position where it can be rolled up by hand.
The motor for our garage door is not hardwired, but plugs into a standard receptacle box in the ceiling.  I keep a power strip plugged into that ceiling outlet, and the garage door opener plugs into the power strip. The power strip  dangles about seven feet off the floor and is tied off to the garage door motor bracket. 
To disable the garage door opener, I just turn off the power strip. 
The overhead power strip is also a very handy place for plugging in work lights and tools.
When vacationing, I bolt the dolt closed by putting a thin 2 or 3" bolt through the end of the garage door latch/lock/doorknob where it acts as a deadbolt by engaging the garage door track.  It seems all garage door latches have a hole drilled in them so they can be locked shut from the inside with a small padlock.   But a small bolt works just fine, and you'll never lose the key.   Then turn off the power strip and put a piece of duct tape over the switch to remind you to UNLOCK THE DOOR before hitting the button or the garage door opener will try to rip out the top of the garage door.  (Yes, I know how to repair a garage door after making that mistake .) - H.C.

I've seen a few trucks near my home in in Idaho sporting full body paint jobs using a Rhinoliner type application. I didn't get any pictures but here is a link to a photo os a Jeep in Arizona with this job done to it. Seems like a good, durable long term solution for scratches and weather damage. Regards, - Jason M.

JWR Replies: I agree that it is a durable finish and it also is quite flat, which makes it less reflective. Two potential drawbacks that I can see are: 1.) Until this type of "paint" job become more commonplace, it might make your vehicle stand out from the crowd, which could be an OPSEC issue, and 2.) There are very few things in nature other than shadows that are large blobs of black. So don't expect any camouflage advantages if you use a black bed liner coating. (Most bed liner companies still offer only black coatings.) But the good news is that more and more companies are starting to offer color options. Flat brown would be great, almost anywhere!

R.B.S. sent this: Swapping chicken pox-infected lollipops illegal.

   o o o

K. & D. recommended this: New urine powered fuel cell in Britain power to the people?

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Keeley was the first of several readers to mention this: Copper sword stolen from statue at Lincoln's Tomb

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Nolan sent this article from Canada: Couple retires in Rimbey home built from 30 steel shipping containers

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Reader Bill N.was researching windmills and found a maker in Texas that has a short description of how the older generation water-pumping windmills worked. Bill notes: "This design is over 100 years old and is totally mechanical so it would work in grid-down situations or if there was an EMP attack. Maintenance consists of changing the gear oil yearly and periodically checking to ensure that bolts are tight."

"All officers of the law are creatures of it and a creature cannot become bigger than a creator, and whenever an officer undertakes to set himself up as superior to the law or superior to the citizens, whose servant he is, his usefulness as an officer ceases." - Code of Conduct, Texas Rangers, circa 1875, as displayed at the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame, Waco, Texas

Monday, November 14, 2011

By coincidence, both Ready Made Resources and Safecastle just started their last 25% off Mountain House sales of the year. Both companies offer free shipping, a wide selection and competitive pricing, so you might want to place your order with the closest company, just for the sake of shipping efficiency. (Ready Made Resources is in Tennessee and Safecastle is in Minnesota. I suppose anyone west of the Rockies should just toss a coin!)
Note that because of the large volume of orders expected and the upcoming Christmas shipping rush, please allow up to thirty days for delivery. Both companies are confident that your will get your delivery before Friday, December 23rd. I highly recommend both companies, since they both have excellent customer service. These contemporaneous sales end on Friday, November 19th, so place your order soon!

For much of my adult life, I've lived in rural areas - and I prefer it that way. Even now, I live halfway between two small towns in Oregon, and I don't especially enjoy going to town for much of anything. I prefer to do a lot of mail-order shopping for many things I need or want. Over the years, I've been disappointed in many mail-order companies, their products and their customer service. I've done a lot of mail-order shopping from one particular company for the past 15-years or so, and that company is CDNN Sports and they have excellent service and their products are as-advertised. And, in most cases, orders ship the same day. So, it took a lot for me to look at another mail-order company.

I've probably driven past U.S. Tactical Supply in Albany, Oregon hundreds of times over the past 5-1/2 years, and yet I never stopped in their small walk-in store. U.S. Tactical Supply is only about three blocks for one of the gun stores I regularly haunt, but for some reason, I never stopped in this neat little store. I recently purchased a S&W M&P 9mm handgun, and I like to get plenty of spare magazines for any new guns I purchase. Only thing is, no one had any spare 17-round magazines for the M&P 9mm - not even Smith & Wesson! Believe me, I called all over the place, and no one had these mags. Enter U.S. Tactical Supply. I just happened upon their web site while searching for the M&P 9mm mags. I didn't even pay attention to where the store was located at first. Then it dawned on me, that I had driven past this stores hundreds of times. Now, my next problem: Would they actually have the magazines they advertised in captivity, and at the price (which is low) advertised. I checked, and they did!

Now, if you are looking for US military "style" clothing and gear, don't waste your time at U.S. Tactical Supply - just go and waste your time and hard-earned money at some outfit like Sportsman's Guide - where much of the clothing (and gear) they advertise in their catalog and web site is described as US Military "style." Those knock-offs don't even begin to come close to genuine US Mil-Spec clothing and gear. But if you want the best of the best, then take a close look at U.S. Tactical Supply. You can even request one of their small catalogs if you prefer shopping that way, instead of via their web site.

I hear from SurvivalBlog readers almost daily, and over the many months I've been writing articles for SurvivalBlog, I've learned you all are a pretty intelligent bunch. I've also learned that you prefer to get the best clothing and gear available - and that is commendable. I've also noted that many SurvivalBlog readers are interested in counter-sniper tactics and gear. Well, I'm here to tell you, look no further than U.S. Tactical Supply, for all your counter-sniping needs. Need a sniper data book, angle cosine indicator kits, ballistic cards, scope dope kit, Mildot, master, field density altitude compensator gear, camo accessories, tripods - you name it, U.S. Tactical Supply has it - and once again, it's not military "style" - it's all the real-deal.

Want the newest US Military multicam camo clothing? Yep, they've got it, and they sell it for well below what others are charging, Again, it's the real deal - not just military "style". I know a lot of SurvivalBlog readers are really into their Springfield Armory M1A rifles, and it's always hard to find accessories for their guns - look no further. Need some type of AR-15 accessories - they've got what you want. For example, they have EOTech and Aimpoint brand scopes. They also sell registered ($200 transfer tax) suppressors for your weapons. Other product offerings include MagPul accessories and A.R.M.S. brand scope mounts.

If you're looking for the new U.S. Military Danner hiking boots (U.S.-made). (These are the boots that the military is presently transitioning to.) U.S. Tactical supply has them.They are the only place I've seen 'em, to date. Need a really good tactical pack? Check out what U.S. Tactical Supply carries. Knives and multi-tools - how about Benchmade, SOG Knives and Gerber, for starters? Plus plenty of medical supplies and gear, too.

There's just a lot of outstanding gear in the U.S. Tactical Supply catalog and on their web site--too many to mention here. However, be advised, that this is some of the best of the best military and law enforcement gear on the market. The only things that I'd like to see them add to their line is some Blackhawk Products gear and clothing, and some ammo made by Black Hills Ammunition.

You should know that, U.S. Tactical Supply is also a DoD supplier, as well as a GSA supplier. While the store front operation is small, their mail-order and walk-in service is second to none. These guys take a personal interest in giving their customers the absolute best service they can. In today's world, that's important to me - and it should be important to you, too. If you want cruddy customer service - walk into Wal-Mart or any of the big box stores - they could care less if they can help you find something. Walk into U.S. Tactical Supply, or call them with a question, and they will bend over backwards to help you out any way they can. These guys are serious about their gear and their customer service.

The guys are U.S. Tactical Supply didn't know me from Adam, but they went out of their way to help me out. They even offered to hand-deliver one of their catalogs to me, after the one they mailed to me didn't show-up. How's that for taking care of a customer? And I'm 25-miles from their walk-in store! I have no vested interest in U.S. Tactical Supply - but I'm telling you, if you want the best gear possible for your long-range survival needs, then you need to check out their web site and printed catalog that U.S. Tactical Supply produces. If you want customer service that is the best around - give these guys your business - you won't be sorry!

If it sounds like I'm excited about this small company, I am! I like to give my business locally whenever I can. However, if this company were clear across the country, I'd still give them my business. If you're like me, and you don't want junk for your survival needs, then give them your business. And, unlike walking into one of the big box stores, most of the gear sold by U.S. Tactical Supply is Made In The USA, not China!

Captain Rawles,
First, continued thanks for your blog; I regularly read a number of web sites and in my opinion is ground zero for preparedness and socio/political/economic intelligence information. Second, I thought I'd pass on some additional proof (as if it wasn't already obvious) of significant inflation in food prices.
We shop at the local Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) cannery near Denver for wheat, pasta, nonfat dried milk and other bulk items. For those who didn't know, the Mormon canneries are open to non-members (at least for now) and the prices for bulk food goods is unbeatable. (See cannery locations). However, even this venue has experienced the ongoing inflation witnessed throughout our economy. (I grab an extra inventory sheet and date it whenever we visit to keep track of prices). Here are some numbers:

  November, 2010  November, 2011
Nonfat dry milk (25 lbs) $35.40  $47.20
White rice (25 lbs) $8.45   $13.00
Hard red wheat (25 lbs) $6.35 $11.45
Quick oats (25 lbs) $8.15 $15.95
Potato flakes (25 lbs) $22.10 $33.30

The average price increase is 63%, with wheat and oats almost doubling in cost the past 12 months. The Mormon canneries still have the best bulk food prices I can find, but stock up now, as food prices continue to rise and the Mormon church may not always sell to non-LDS members.
Again, thanks for all you do; may God bless you, your family and your ministry. - E.H. on the Front Range, Colorado

JWR Replies: Those numbers are skewed from the inflation cited by the major agricultural indices such as the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). I should mention that I got an irate letter from one reader who suspected that the LDS canneries were "price gouging." I really doubt that. More likely, the LDS canneries held back on price increases until after they had operated at a substantial loss for too long. The figures that E.H. cited reflect several years of food price inflation, not one year. But even still, it is clear that food costs have increased substantially in the past decade, as the buying power of the U.S. Dollar has declined. It is wise to stock up on food in quantity if you enough have safe, dry storage space. Bulk storage foods are a good hedge on inflation. And of course even without factoring inflation, the per unit cost is substantially less than buying foods in small consumer packages at a supermarket.

I love seeing articles that talk about the nutritional balance in diet.  Paul B.’s “Staple Foods Storage By The Numbers” is a good start, but I want to jump on and point out a few more details. 

Daily caloric intake recommendations depend heavily on activity.  Yes, the recommendation is 2,000 calories for an adult male with moderate activity (note - *not* exercise!), and 3,000 us reasonable in a survival situation given the need for hunting, planting, building infrastructures and defenses as well as defending.  However, if your plan is simply to hunker down and depend on your stocked resources, 1,500 calories is a better recommendation for adult males, 1,200 for females.  Children to age 10 or 11 need about 1,200 calories, regardless of activity level, teens generally need the same intake as adults, but add an additional 25-40% more calories for moderate to heavy exertion.

On the other hand, if you plan to have to walk or hike your way to a secure site, and are planning on a 3-4 mile pace for more than 8 hours a day, even 3,000 calories will not be enough. 
The type of exertion also alters the percentages given in Paul B.’s article.  Sedentary or low exertion requires lower calories and a higher ration of protein to fats and carbs.  The reason is that protein digests and is converted to energy by the body at a much slower rate than carbs.  Keep the fats down to 20%, boost protein to 40%, and stick to 40% (or less) carbs. High exertion levels require different food choices at different times of day – carbs in the morning, protein and fats at night.  The more you exert yourself, the more muscles need to be repaired.  Carbs are burnt fairly fast, but then the body converts stored fat and protein to energy – that needs to be replaced.  Extreme exertion requires a diet that is 30% fats, 50% protein, and 20% carbs!  Think marathon runner and triathlete levels of exertion – but if you’re working 16 hours a day gathering firewood, hauling water, hunting, tilling, plowing – you’re going to be burning muscle if you don’t replace it.

When resources are scarce, you may be tempted to skimp on fats and proteins and go heavy on carbs – after all, you need to lose weight and rely on that fast energy right?  Wrong.  Dropping below 15% protein risks Kwashiorkor – it’s the reason why those starving kids in the television commercials have fat bellies – lack of protein actually causes more fat to be deposited!  Also, lack of essential fats risks brain disorders (dementia), blindness, muscle spasm and heart attack.  Just as there are essential amino acids (proteins) that must be consumed in our diets, there are essential fatty acids that must also in our diet because our bodies do not make them.

One of the key deficiencies in Paul B’s analysis is consideration of the “completeness” of protein and fat sources.  There are 20 amino acids making up protein, and 10 of them are “essential” meaning that they must be eaten because our body cannot make them.  Likewise fats are made of fatty acids and there are “essential” fatty acids that are not (or are poorly) manufactured by the body.  Make not mistake – fatty acids are very important to the normal function of the body – particularly the brain, nerves and muscles.  Animal proteins such as beef jerky in Paul B’s example, are the best source of “complete” protein (meaning all of the “essential” amino acids are present), most vegetable proteins such as peanut butter are not complete with respect to all essential amino acids.  In the same manner, animal fats (especially fish oils) are the best source of essential fatty acids, and only very non-animal sources of fatty acids are complete with sufficient quantities of the essential fatty acids.  Note:  In a survival situation – there is no Vegan option!  Vegan diets are not sustainable without industrialized infrastructure – yes, you can stock – but once those stocks run out, they most likely cannot be replaced.  This is not to say that Vegan diets cannot be nutritious, but the four most complete vegetable protein sources are soy, quinoa, spirulina and chlorella.  The latter two come from algae and require large “ponds,” careful control of light, temperature, and water conditions.  Harvesting requires pumping, compressing, grinding, drying and more grinding – for a very small yield per single person effort.  The water the algae grow in is also considered highly polluted by today’s standards.  Quinoa is primarily a higher altitude crop, requiring temperature and humidity conditions not easily replicated at altitudes below about 2,500 feet a.s.l. – not something to be grown in everyone’s backyard plot.  Soy is the most universal, but a diet of more than 60% of protein from soy risks thyroid dysfunction and hormonal problems. 

However, survival stocks which include flour based on Spirulina (blue-green algae) and Chlorella are an excellent supplement.  Not only is it a complete protein-rich flour, but they both contain reasonable amounts of the essential fatty acids.  This part is actually very important – vitamins are not enough!  There are many essential nutrients that are not present in sufficient quantities in vitamin supplements.  Your best bet is variety.  Including protein-rich flour is an excellent way to convert back and forth between high carb, low protein and low carb, high protein diets. 
Again, animal sources are the best all-around source of vitamins and minerals, but watch the fats!  Not getting too much – but getting too little. Contrary to popular belief - -body fat does not come from the fat you eat.  Consumed fat is broken down into fatty acids and further converted to sugars.  Body fat and cholesterol is synthesized by the body when there is an excess of carbs!  Studies the trace the source of the carbon atoms in body fat depositions show that more of those carbon atoms come from the carbs and sugars we eat than from protein and fats.  However, fat does get broken down into its components, and if there are not enough of the “essential” fatty acids (or proteins) to make what the body needs, the excess “nonessential” fatty acids (and protein) is converted to sugars. 

Best sources of essential fatty acids are fish oils.  There is a lot of talk on Vegan boards about hemp oil and flaxseed oil – but there is an important issue:  hemp and seed oils do contain essential fatty acids Linoleic Acid (LA) and Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), but a large portion of the human race (esp. Asian and African populations) cannot efficiently convert ALA into the fatty acids necessary for appropriate brain function: eicosapentanoic acid - EPA and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid – DGLA.  Thus, these fat sources are not appropriate for everybody since large quantities of high-calorie oils are necessary to provide enough fatty acids for proper nutrition.  Also beware of low fat content, even of animal foods – for example, deer and many small game animals are very lean.  Diets heavy in venison and squirrel require fat supplements – some of the best sources are water fowl (duck, geese) and organ meat, particularly liver and kidneys.  One of the most nutritious and balanced foods is calf’s liver – just 4 ounces provides over 100% of most vitamin and mineral needs, complete amino acid and fatty acids, and approximately 50% of the recommended fat and protein content for a 2,000 calorie diet, yet contains only 300 calories!

When planning survival stocks, consider what your activity level will be, and what your food sources will be – if hunkering down, go for more protein and less fat and carbs.  If high exertion, go for far more protein and fats.  If all of your nutrition is going to come from your food stocks, make sure they are complete and varied.  If you plan on getting your protein by hunting and trapping, make sure you have fat and oil supplements. Survival stocks are just that – for survival – and not the time to worry about “too much” but rather to worry about “too little” of the foods and nutrition needed to survive.  - Dr. Ted

Hello Captain,
Greetings from one of your neighbors in the American Redoubt. I couldn’t help but be bemused when I read the article about the elderly couple being beaten and robbed of their gun collection. Not because they got hurt or robbed of course. But because of a couple other points:
She yelled for her husband to "Call 911!" I guess that goes to show that wisdom doesn’t always come with age. Were that scenario to happen at my home, my wife wouldn’t answer the door. And I can’t remember the last time I answered the door without my ,38+P caliber AirLite in my hand. As I’m sure you are aware, it is a rather small gun. And I have rather large hands so it’s not hard for me to keep it out of sight in my right hand behind my back as I open the door with my left. No threat, the gun slips into my back pocket and the visitor never knows it was present.
If I’m not home? On the nights that I go to my night class, when I come home I find the door locked. As I unlock the door I say in a fairly loud voice, “It’s me honey.” You see, I don’t want to get shot. She wouldn’t open the door if she didn’t know who was there and I always notice when I come in that she has her Glock 34 on the couch with her.
The other thing I found funny was where the article says the couple “have since joined their daughter on the East Coast.” Nothing like jumping from the frying pan into the fire! At least in Colorado he had the right to self defense even if he didn’t exercise it. On the East Coast, he not only gets to get beat up but he also gets to get prosecuted if he tries to fight back.
Since I’m at it, I thought I would make another point. I see many people on this sight talk about being armed, what’s the best gun, best round, how they would use their gun to defend themselves in an attack, etc. I have even seen some talk about how they think they’re safe because they went to some gun class or school and spent an unbelievable amount of money to have some prima donna spend two days teaching them how to use a gun for self defense.
I have worked with guys, and being a commercial mason all my life I’m talking tough guys, that say they would simply shoot the bastard if he attacked their family members, or them, or broke into their home as the above referenced article reports. I invariably ask them, “Oh yeah, where do you keep your gun when you are at home? (I keep my AR-15, shotgun, Glock, 1911, and my Sog Fusion tactical tomahawk all in different strategic out-of-sight areas in my home when I’m home along with my AirLite in my pocket; call me paranoid? we’ll see who’s paranoid and we’ll see who’s dead when the bad guys come) Of course the answer is almost always, “I keep it in the gun safe” or “I keep it on my nightstand” or “in my nightstand.”
Then I ask, “So you think if someone kicks in your door while you’re relaxing on the couch watching television that you’ll be able to get up, run in the bedroom, grab the gun, and shoot the intruder, before he can get to you? Even if you did get to it in time, what makes you think you’d be able to hit him? Do you think that if you were lucky enough to round the corner on your way to the bedroom without getting shot first that the assailant wouldn’t grab your wife and put his gun to her head or knife to her throat? Then when you step back out into the room with your gun will you have the guts, the confidence, to take the shot? Or will you immediately drop the gun as the assailant will command you to do because you don’t want to risk shooting your own wife or aren’t good enough and/or don’t know exactly where to shoot to cut his brainstem so he doesn’t cut her throat or pull his trigger on his way down?”
(Don’t think for a minute that a gunfight will be like in the movies. FBI crime stats say that a man who is well oxygenated and pumped with adrenaline can keep firing on you for 14 seconds after his heart has been blown clear out. You better know how to brainstem him or your gun will likely be useless to you. Look up Ferfal on the Web. He has lived it in Argentina and he explains all about how the first thing the home invasion robbers will do is take a hostage.)
“Oh, I’d be able to hit him, don’t you worry about that!” they say.
“Yeah, right. Good luck pal.”
You see, I’m rather well trained with handguns. And I have a couple of police officer friends who are tactical trainers who have blessed me with a bit of tactical knowledge. I have come to realize that most men think that the ability to use a gun is an inherent quality bestowed upon them just by virtue of the fact that they are male. The fact is, and I know you know this Captain, that that is an insane fantasy that has no basis whatsoever in reality. When a man (or woman) realizes his life is on the line and may end within seconds, and gets the accompanying instant and massive overdose of adrenaline, he will lose, at a minimum, 50% of his motor skills immediately.
With my back to the target and in surrender position (hands over my head) with the target nine feet away, I can turn, draw from my tactical holster, and place two shots in center mass in just under a second. I can do “Smoke and Hope” (do a web search on "Steel Challenge") in just over 4 seconds. I can do Vice Presidente in 5.5 seconds (three targets, two feet apart, two shots on each target, reload, two shots on each target). Not all alphas but all 12 shots on the targets.
The point is, these things are all done through psychomotor. They are done through programming. The conscious mind is only in the game long enough to make the decision whether or not my life is in jeopardy, whether or not to draw and fire; once the conscious mind makes the decision, the conscious mind is out of the game and the rest is done by the programming. The programming comes from constant practice. Similar to driving a car down the highway. You don’t have to consciously think about shifting, clutching, throttle, steering, it’s all handled by your subconscious mind.
I point this out to suggest to your readers that male machismo is not going to save you in a real gunfight. Two days of high priced training at some tactical school is not going to save you. If you want to survive a real deadly attack, you must train until these skills become psychomotor skills just like driving a car. As they say, owning a gun doesn’t make you armed anymore than owning a guitar makes you a musician. If you do not practice these skills to the point of transforming them into psychomotor skills, it is almost a guarantee that when you face death you will fumble the gun, miss the shot, freeze in place, fail to seek cover, fumble the reload, die.
My friend who is a cop, tactical trainer, and gun store owner has a sign on the wall of his store:

If you don’t truly believe that and act upon it, all the guns and ammo in the world won’t help you. You will fail when the moment of truth comes.
The best way to acquire these skills? United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). After several months of shooting USPSA matches a couple times a month your handgun will become like a trowel in a bricklayer’s hand, like a hammer in a carpenter’s hand, like a scalpel in a surgeon’s hand.
Then you will know, like me, that if you kick my door in, I may get shot, and I may die, but I guarantee you two shots in center mass — with my doubletap splits down to 0.18 seconds — before you can blink your eyes! And I guarantee you that if you take my wife hostage, gun or knife don’t matter, if you are within 30 feet of me, and you’re going to tell me to drop my gun thereby giving me time to set up on you, I will take the shot, I will brainstem you.
Oh, and by the way, I nor my wife will be dialing 911. No need. There won’t be an emergency. We’ll simply dial dispatch and tell them they got a mess to clean up. Kicking in my door will be the worst — and the last — mistake the Mutant Ninja Home Invasion Robbers ever made.

God bless you and all your readers Captain, and may none of us ever have to drop the hammer on another human being. - Maddog

Jim -
I read with interest Dave in Oregon's letter. This happened to a friend and co-worker: He had parked his pickup truck on the street, locked. Thieves broke into his truck, accessed the garage via the opener he had above the visor in the truck. Thankfully, this was in the morning when all were home, and the thieves were scared off by family members, but not before they stole his truck.
I would also add that many electric openers have a rope attached as a release if the power fails. However with a larger overhead door, say a standard two-car garage, when the door is down, thieves can push the door in far enough at the top to slide a hand in, grasp the release, and open the door.
Needless to say, if our vehicles are left on the street, the opener goes with the driver, whether in a purse or pocket. And I removed the release rope years ago.
Regards, - Dave in Colorado

Regarding Dave in Oregon's letter on Electric Garage Doors as a Point of Entry for Burglars and Home Invaders: Every electric garage door opener I have seen has a lock button on the control mounted in the garage.  Engage it (with some, you must press and hold it for three seconds) and it becomes impossible for someone to use a remote to open the garage.  There is a reason it says lock.  You can tell when the system is locked as a small light will begin to flash on the wall-mounted controller.  With most designs, you can still open and close the door using the main opener in the garage even with the system locked.
As for turning off the main breaker that powers the door opener:  I'd be real careful about doing that before finding out what other electrical items would be affected by shutting off the breaker--like a freezer full of food. - S.M.

Joseph L. sent a news item to file under "Emerging Threats": Police impersonators carry out string of robberies: Crimes involve robbers posing as plainclothes officers, immigration agents.

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Camping Survival (one of our loyal advertisers) has just announced a great new product. It is a combination flashlight, electric firestarter, magnetic tool, and wound cauterizer (The latter by qualified medical personal only.) Since these are just past the prototype stage, the price tag is fairly high.

   o o o

SurvivalBlog readers in Norway will find this of interest: A paramedic in Norway, offers advanced emergency medical training (also wilderness/remote medicine and mountain/expedition medicine) as well as emergency medical care for expeditions and other individuals who might need aid. He teaches his courses in English, Norwegian and German.

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Steve M. spotted this news story: Use of wood stoves on rise in U.S. (The US EPA is planning new rules.)

"Tis far better to have a stout heart always and suffer ones share of evils, than to be forever fearing what may happen." - Herodotus

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We had some problems with our dedicated server from Friday to Sunday. They are resolved now. The Permalinks and RSS feed should now be working. Thanks for your patience.


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 (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 (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 all read and see in the media where the world is going. Many debate the "How" of the "end": Economic collapse, solar flare, pole shift, "Planet X" and so on. I believe we should ignore the "How" and focus on what we as the human race will do "when this happens", whatever "it" is? Let's take a minute and think: Certain disasters will necessitate certain supplies, specific preparations, and or survival techniques. If you are like me you've dedicated yourself into the world of "The End" then you have most likely done your due diligence and prepared to one extent or another. Some with a fallout shelter under ground, to those with a closet full of food and bug out bag.

My whole vision of "The End" was, burned into my psyche by Francis Ford Coppola in his film Apocalypse Now.  The napalm burning up the jungle with the somber words of Jim Morrison's, "The End' pouring over the horror of that image. Yet, in all of our fear and relentless preparation I came to have an epiphany. What are we doing for the future, for the next generations to come? The following is a brief  list of what I've come to believe is the true meaning of "Survival" and "Preparation".

The Epiphany - Phase One
I am a spiritual person. I wouldn't say I belong to any organized religion, because I find that when Men and power, over large groups of people where money may be included,… abuse tends to follow close behind. Now, I'm not saying all churches or pastors, priests or Imams are evil and corrupt. But I find that I personally don't need a place to worship. God and Jesus and I have a close relationship. I'm not insane when I say we speak all the time. However, I do communicate with God daily. Perhaps being from a Lutheran background is why i worship this way. However you worship, and even if you don't this will apply to all Preppers.

My vision came when I was collecting information on how to refine "Bio-diesel" from used fryer oil, some fuel anti freeze and lye. The whole process seemed so simple. I couldn't believe you could run a regular diesel vehicle like this. I couldn't believe you can make so much in 12 hours with household ingredients. I wondered: who else could benefit from this information?  I felt like part of surviving was making sure that other like-minded people, survive as well. I started to question the whole process?  What if someone else out there, with only some soup and a tent in the back of their truck, when "it" happens is out of fuel? What if I had shared, what I had just learned, and they had that small bit of information. Maybe that man is able to save his family by getting out of town and avoiding the riots at the pumps just because of one small act of sharing information with someone else. Someone else who doesn't know that making bio-diesel at home is even possible? Naturally I did what many of us are doing. I read blogs for preppers. While online with some of you the epiphany turning into a calling. I know this may sound corny, but it's true.  I feel now that the simple act of sharing information to trying to survive isn't enough.

Phase Two (The Realization)

I started collecting information: survival information, escape and evasion in urban areas, local edible plants, how to make a generator out of a car alternator and a lawnmower, etc. Solar power and hydro power, natural insulation, how to trap animals and caching, food and ammo. All became my hobbies. I'm sure many of you can relate to my hobby. I began taking tactical shooting, rock climbing, repelling and emergency medicine courses and classes. But as halloween approached every channel had a zombie movie scheduled. I am a long time science fiction fan--I love that stuff. But I started thinking about some of the classic disaster and dystopian sci-fi films like Logan's Run, Escape from New York, and Night of the Living Dead. I also considered the more recent ones like The Road (which was originally a great novel by Cormac McCarthy), or I Am Legend.

This is where it all started to come together. This isn't just about us, and our immediate survival. We as a race will survive. We have survived extinctions before, with no technology at all. So I believe we will again.

What about after our generation? What about the children who don't know what  a television ever was or a computer? What about their children… they will know even less. I truly believe that it will be similar to the life of the people in The Book of Eli. Those younger people had no knowledge of writing or reading. Technology was almost like magic. So after our gardens grow, and our solar panels break down, and brushes in every generator wear out, then what? Where will we have left our future? They will be lost. Unable to repair or manufacture anything. This is when the truth of my new calling was realized: Survival isn't about water filters, and gas masks. Of course we need all of these items to get thru the initial event or events. But what our legacy must be to leave the information for future generations to rebuild as quickly and easily as possible.

Phase Three (implementation and execution)

Now that I'm out on a limb, and most of you treading his probably think I'm a kook. Just think for a minute: I know I use many pop-culture references and movies to explain my calling. But I am an extensive reader. and I believe that movies and books are a direct reflection of the fears and desires of the people who make and watch them. There is truth in them. As educated survivors die, of whatever reasons if they don't pass on their knowledge, to future generations it will all be lost to time.
This is how the "End" can Become a "Beginning".  We have made many mistakes as a people. We have also done many things right. My calling is to collect as much information about the most important and influential, inventions, theories, systems, philosophy, mathematics, linguistics, religions, etc. Once I've collected information I copy it onto flash drives, disks, paper and post on blogs. I try to get all of that important information in one place, so the next generation can have a better chance of having it to learn from.

I'll give you all an example: I collected 20 GB of information on everything from mining and smelting iron and steel, to how to build a printing press. Now some future person who hopefully was taught how to read could reproduce words and ideas for others. He could make and build a printing press. That took 3,000 years for us to learn. The idea of losing that forever, is my biggest fear. I have collected info on how to make glass, filament and light bulb. Or how to make a battery, and how to farm wind and sun. How to build a chicken coop, et cetera. If you are follow my train of thought then you understand why this is important for all Preppers.


My wife and I don't have children. But if we survive THE event that cuts the population by 80% then we will have a responsibility to the future. Beyond procreation. If we live to be old in our survival community, we would be teachers. We will all have to become teachers. You may not understand Calculus yourself. But part of your supplies should be stored information on multiplication tables through Trigonometry.  For the engineers and doctors that survive they will have the most responsibility to teach what they know to the next generations, But with volumes of reference materials, of all the sciences and arts in every community, the future doesn't seem so bleak. Infrastructure exists. It will not last forever. We as a people have a obligation to all of those brilliant, hard working people who invented, designed and built the world that we live in today. We owe it to their children and your children to share and store as much knowledge as we possibly can. So in the future, some bright young boy or girl might find your, Flash drive, or disk, or notebook and it inspires them to rebuild the national power grid, or fix the generators at Hoover Dam. Or it may be as small as feeding two families instead of one through a harsh winter with canning techniques?

This is how "The End can be a Beginning" The beginning of the new American Republic. The way it was designed by the founding fathers to be. By the way the first piece of literature in my collection for the New Beginning was the King James Bible, The second was the Constitution of the United States of American and the third was the Declaration of Independence. Those are the three most important survival tools in your bug out kit.

I didn’t want to be a “prepper”.  In fact, when I first starting hearing about survivalists and preparing for TEOTWAWKI,  I thought it was a bit extremist.  I have long been a conservative and Christian, but a skeptic as well.  When my sister-in-law started talking to me about stocking up on things and buying a water filter, I have to admit my initial reaction was not to jump on the bandwagon.  Oh, I followed our state’s recommendation to have two weeks’ worth of water and food on hand for a disaster, but that was about it.  The turning point for me was reading the novel One Second After.   My eyes seemed suddenly to open and I realized that it could really happen and if not an EMP, an economic collapse, or huge disaster could result in turmoil and an inability to survive if not prepared.  And "two weeks worth" would not be nearly enough.

You need to know that I have been a nurse for over 40 years and spent much of that time as a nursing administrator.  Part of my job was planning, coordinating and implementing plans.  In retrospect, you would think that would have spurred me into action.  Why it did not is beyond reason to me.  What the experiences I have had did, though, once I was bitten with the prepping bug, is to get me organized big time and see things from the perspective of “what you don’t have or know can really hurt you.”
In 1994, I experienced a flood disaster: the "500 year flood" in southwest Georgia.  In earlier years I had experienced plane crash, hurricane, tornado and ice storm disasters.  I have lessons from them all. I have now taken those lessons along with those from my family and have begun to work to really prep for WTSHTF.  So what have all the lessons taught me?

Firstly, make lists and keep making lists!  The “list of lists” was a big help and my family and I split up the various components.  We already live in a rural area, but my brother and sister-in-law purchased some land with a good source of water on it and she now has the Royal Berkey water filter.  We each committed to stocking food and other supplies.  The lists we found through Survival Blog were great, but we have continued to expand them as we have thought and talked about it.  I now keep paper near the computer, the television and even beside my bed. (Sometimes the best ideas come at 3:00 am and would be lost if I failed to write it down.)  Because I am organized, I have made Excel spreadsheets to keep up with what I have, want and still need in the way of prepping.  Being able to change the numbers from week to week without re-doing the list is helpful.  I have it on the computer, but also update the lists and print them out every few weeks since I may lose computer access WTSHTF. I keep a notebook with all the current lists and other pertinent information.  I also have a list of those items to always keep an eye out for.  I carry it with me all the time…..just in case.   Recently I have started my “Barter List”.  I had been adding to my stores all along extra items which might be good for bartering, but then I thought it might be good to formalize the list and keep those items separate.  I now have a storage bin where I purposefully add barter items I might need in the future.

Secondly, decide who is best to do what.  When I was involved in the flood in Georgia, I learned that some people are good at some things and really lousy at others.  My Daddy used to tell me I could do anything I set my mind to.  I certainly took it to heart and learned to do many things around the house I never thought I would (how to replace a bad light switch or fix the toilet, for example).  I also decided, though, that my brother is much better at plowing and planting than I am.  I can work with my sister-in-law and even my 86 year old Mother to can, freeze and dehydrate the food for storage that he has planted. 

I am our family’s healthcare person, so I have taken on the task of developing our store of medical supplies.  As an old critical care nurse, I had gained assessment skills which, till now, I was able best to use on the mission trips where diagnostic equipment is limited to a thermometer, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope/otoscope, BP cuff and glucometer.  Those skills will serve us well though when there is no doctor around.  I have tried to prepare for “Surviving Healthy”, as Dr. Bob’s web site says.  He has been a great resource in getting us prepared for managing health care issues when TEOTWAWKI happens.  The computer has also been a good resource for learning other skills which may be needed.  I had learned how to do minor suturing many years ago, but for those who don’t have that skill, there are videos available which provide excellent step by step instructions.

It is important that each category for prepping have someone who is committed to being responsible for it.  That person, then, should research it, plan for what is needed and work with the rest of your group to accomplish what is needed.  It really helps if that person has some expertise with the category and/or an interest in it.  If you fail to assign responsibility for some category, you will find that it may be overlooked and no one has done anything to prepare for it. We found ourselves skipping over categories we felt insecure about, but realized we had to assign responsibility or nothing would happen. 

Thirdly, remember that planning alone is useless.  I used to become extremely frustrated when I worked as a nursing executive with someone or some group who planned things to death.  Over-planning something can result in inaction and complacency which can prevent your being prepared when you need to be.  I believe in reasonable planning, but you really have to also carry out the plans. For example, you may decide that need a generator.  You can spend forever looking for the best generator for the amount of money you can afford.  This is especially true if you have no expertise in the area.  I could still be reviewing expert evaluations and weighing the pros and cons of generators for months to come (there is so much information out there).  However, sometimes you need to make a decision and do what needs to be done.  Find someone you trust and get their advice.  With generators, it was my brother.  With guns, it would be my ex-husband, a former law enforcement officer or my son or brother.  You get the idea.

Fourthly, don’t limit yourself to someone else’s list or ideas.   I find myself seeing things in a different light now that I have become a prepper.  Because I will be the resident healthcare provider, I find myself thinking about medical scenarios and how to handle them.  A number of years back when I was a nursing house supervisor, I delivered a few babies who chose not to wait for the doctor’s appearance.  I thought delivering a baby in an elevator was stressful, but at least when the elevator door opened, I had other nurses/resources to clamp and cut the cord and handle the afterbirth.  If I am faced with that scenario WTSHTF, I may be on my own.  We may be back to the “boil the water and find a shoe lace” days.  Well, I had rather be better prepared, so I began to look for ways to manage scenarios where the resources aren’t waiting at the elevator door.  That also means considering alternatives to what is at the medical supply company.  One great example came to me as I was cleaning out a drawer in my kitchen.  In the drawer I found three lovely tea towels given to me by a women’s church group after I had done a presentation there about a mission trip.  The towels are large and someone had embroidered the church name on the edge.  However, they are white and too easily stained, so they stayed in the drawer…that is, until I saw them in a new light.  They are the perfect size to make a sturdy sling for an injured arm or shoulder.  I now have them in my medical supplies with safety pins to complete the sling. 
I have also begun collecting information about other uses for household supplies.  I keep a tabbed notebook with information about uses for vinegar, baking soda, WD-40, etc.  One day WTSHTF, I will be reviewing my list, looking for which substance it was that would soothe a sunburn.  I find myself printing off articles or ideas any time I come across something which might be helpful, if not to me, to someone else.

That raises yet another point.  I am trained in healthcare and should be the healthcare provider for our group (and probably other groups as well), but what if I am the person needing healthcare.  Someone else needs to be trained as well as me in case I need the care.  That makes information about making rehydration solution, for example, even more important (I know the formula, but my mother may not).  Now when I see some information which could be useful when TEOTWAWKI occurs, I do not push it aside because I may know it already, but I consider it in light of the back-up person.  Similarly, I have been learning about water filtering and planting just in case my sister-in-law or brother is not able to manage the function.

I may not have wanted to be a prepper, but I have been converted and am happy to say I have been working to convince others to do the same.  Preparing for TEOTWAWKI is really no different than planning for a wedding or reunion—it is just on a bigger and much more important scale.  Preparing for that wedding means considering details so everything happens as you would like for it to.  You often make “what if” plans.  Planning for things that could go wrong helps you get the outcome you want.  The same applies to prepping for TEOTWAWKI.  Plan for what could go wrong.  Don’t assume the nurse will always be there to stop the bleeding and bandage up the wound.  Don’t make the mistake that you don’t need to know how to operate the generator because your brother can do that.  What if he is away when you need it? 

Planning is important and please do remember that a plan without action is like a ship with no sail or engine –dead in the water.  Make reasonable plans and then carry out those plans.  Keep your mind open to ideas other than your own and always think about other possibilities.  Someone discovered all those uses for household products like baking soda and vinegar.  With a little thought, you may be able to add some new uses to the list.  What if...?

I am considering using Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) for building my next house/retreat back in the United States  for when I feel that it is not longer safe to live abroad. 
For a relatively small incremental cost in a new home (3-5%), you have disaster proof, fire resistant, fortified home. I found this brochure (in PDF) that describes some of the advantages of ICF construction.
Best Regards, - AmEx (American Expatriate)

Hi Jim,
Just a short comment: As I read the piece about preventing home invasion robberies, I thought of another thing most people don't think too much about regarding this issue.
Most people who have electric garage door openers tend to leave the remote on the visor of their vehicle.

If the car is left unlocked in the yard or street, it is very simple for a ne'er-do-well to snag the controller and wait until no one is home to invade the garage, Or in some cases when you are home.  I would recommend removing the controller from the visor, and placing is somewhere where it is not obvious in the car, and locking the vehicle when you leave it all the time.

Also, when you leave home for an extended period of time, turn off the breaker that energizes the garage door opener, and latch the inside door lock to help deter burglars. It is possible for some criminal types to get an opener or several brands of openers, and go around changing codes just to see if they can open up doors in neighborhoods.

I realized this recently when I walked up to my truck and pushed the button from the outside when I need to get into the garage and didn't happen to have my key available.
Needless to say, my opener is no longer on the visor, or any other obvious place in the vehicle.

Blessings, - Dave in Oregon

The Greatest Truth Never Told #12. The Great Depression Is The Best Case

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Motorcycle Powered by Sewage. (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

   o o o

Spitfire redux: The WWII guns firing after 70 years buried in peat. (Thanks to Hope for the link.)

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Reader L.M.W. recommended a recent Day By Day cartoon strip on the Gunwalker scandal.

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Ron W. sent us this: Police raid Heckler & Koch in bribery probe

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." - John 3:16-21 (KJV)

Saturday, November 12, 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 (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 (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 a family, we have been practicing – and experimenting - for years.  It started with a small garden, which took the place of the kids’ swimming pool when they got older and lost interest. 

Our soil is a heavy clay, so after a couple of years of wrestling with the rototiller (it always won the battle), we decided to move up.  Of course, by that I mean raised beds.  So we bought some boards, and nailed them together.  Then we ordered a truckload of top soil, and wheeled it out back one wheelbarrow load at a time.  And since it was spring, we pushed each load through the mud and puddles.  Whew!

Our first years of raised bed gardening were enlightening.  We chose to use extended release fertilizers, and gradually learned how much to use and when.  The time-release stuff is a good idea, but don’t trust the label!  We found that toward the end of July, we had to add more to the surface, and gently scratch it in.  And then there was the year we decided to add organic nitrogen to our sweet corn bed – it was looking tired.  Unfortunately, we added too much and burned up our crop in a few days.  Lesson learned…  As far as pesticides?  Well we decided to not use them.  Surprisingly, we’ve had very little problem with pests.  On the other hand, the grandkids have had a ball finding the praying mantises and the ladybugs.  Every year, we use mulch to protect our beds, and to add humus to the soil at the end of the season.  In addition, we’ve systematically added sand and compost to our beds.  Loosening up the soil has shown great improvements in our yields. 

Around our raised bed garden, we’ve arranged apple and pear trees, and this year we planted grape vines.  Along the side of our house we’ve got blueberry bushes growing.  By the way – be prepared to accept the fact that you’re going to provide treats for the local wildlife.  I was excited one day while I was picking green beans when I noticed a nice big deer hoof print right in the middle of the bed.  Cool!  Deer are beautiful animals!  And there was no evidence that our visitor had bothered our garden in any way!  My excitement faded away the next day, however, when I realized that our Granny Smith apple tree had been completely stripped of all of its fruit!  And later in the summer, we found out that the birds are very adept at picking blueberries and sunflower seeds.  So yes – that’s always going to be a small glitch in the survival plan… [JWR Adds: Time for some serious fencing and bird netting!]

Overall our journey has been a series of experiments.  We’ve tried growing crops vertically.  The pole beans and vining tomatoes do great.  The cucumbers we tried didn’t do as well.  By the way, pole beans love sunflowers.  Kind of a two-for-one deal.  We’ve grown bush beans under corn, cucumbers under tomatoes, and onions and leeks lined up around and in between peppers and tomatoes.   We grow nasturtiums on the edges of our beds (and eat the blossoms in salads).  We’ve increased the variety of our diet by growing eggplant, okra (and we live in northwest Ohio!), parsnips, beets, celery, and greens (spinach, arugula, mixed lettuces, etc.).  We’ve grown a whole bed of carrots, and then stored them in five gallon buckets of damp sand in our pantry.  They were sweet! 

The key is that we try new things every year.  Sometimes we win; sometimes we learn new lessons the hard way.  But every year we add to our “bible”.  It’s a thick book of knowledge gained from our own experiences as well as tips and ideas collected from all kinds of sources – magazines, books, and the Internet. 

Over the last couple of years, we have experimented with several new things. 
First, we bought heirloom seeds from a reputable supplier.  We chose a variety, and we bought two or three times as much seed as we “needed” for the garden space that we have.  Just in case.  Then, we packed the seed packages together with packets of desiccants.  We then wrapped everything up together in zip-lock bags, squeezed out as much air as possible, and then wrapped the bags in freezer paper.  Into the deep freeze they went.  The next spring, we gently thawed them out in the refrigerator and after a few days, finally took them out and let them come to room temperature.  The final test came when we planted the seeds, and watched for the results.  Success!  The seeds germinated as well as any we had ever bought from the store.  Last year, we froze a supply of seeds large enough to last us for years. 

This year, our next major experiment took place in our dining room.  We had tried to start seedlings in trays by the window, but had never had real good success.  So last year we bought four inexpensive grow lights, and set up two tables in our Dining Room.  Each table had a shelf underneath, so we set up a light above the shelf, and another above the table-top.  Then we planted our seeds in the trays, and waited to see what would happen.  The results were good – too good.  The seedlings were ready well before the weather was.  “Lesson learned”, again.  Timing is everything!

Another experiment this year was to leave a couple of carrots, a few onions, and a couple of leeks in the ground (actually, we left them in last fall).  This spring, they all took off growing again (2nd year growth), and by mid-summer, we saw them developing flowers.  We left the flowers to bloom, and by the end of the summer, we harvested the flower heads.  After a few weeks of drying time, we gently ground up the flowers and harvested the seeds.  You would be amazed at the number of seeds we got from each flower head!  Next spring, we’re hoping that those seeds will bring us a new crop.

So far, I’ve only shared our gardening experiences with you.  But that isn’t all we work on…

If we intend to survive a real breakdown of society and order, we will need more than just a nice garden.  So we’ve tried to round out our learning with other subjects.  For example:

We can properly and successfully can our own produce, as well as dry our own herbs, and can meats and stocks.  We purposefully watched for sales at the “clearance stores”, and stocked up on canning jars and supplies.  We bought and learned how to use a pressure cooker.  Then we found a large pressure cooker at a garage sale for $10.  We picked up the tools and recipe books on sale or also at garage sales.  We use a cheap dehydrator to dry our herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, and rosemary).  We make our own apple butter, salsa, soups, and tomato sauces.  We pickle cucumbers and peppers.  Our holiday meals always end with a large stock pot simmering the goodness out of the carcass of our roast beast.

We have planned for power outages – we have stocked numerous bags of charcoal, propane tanks, candles, and oil for our lamps.  We can cook, see in the dark, and stay warm when it’s cold. 

For the future, we’ve collected books on almost every subject, and the tools to do things without the aid of a computer or electric power.  We have the tools and information to enable us to do engineering, drafting, gardening, hunting-fishing-trapping, butchering animals for meat, signaling, military tactics and strategy, and medicine – all the way from insect bites to minor surgery.  Our shelves are stocked with medical instruments and supplies, gardening and construction tools (hand tools), and canning and food processing supplies and tools.

We’ve scouted out possible sources of food and supplies.  There is some heavy industry in our town, and their factories could be a source of coal, tools, and building supplies.  Our neck of the woods is predominantly a farming area, though.  And we’ve noted the locations of the hog farms, cattle farms, and granaries.  The woods and fields have abundant deer, turkeys, and geese. 

For our own food supply at home, we converted a closet/storage area behind the garage into a walk-in pantry, and moved the door to connect it to the kitchen.  We’ve slowly built up our stocks of canned foods (vegetables and meats), dry pastas, and staples.  And when we have a little extra money, we spring for the special things that will make life more bearable in the event of TEOTWAWKI, like sauces, ethnic foods, spices, etc. 

And suffice to say, we’ve planned for our own defense.  We have weapons and ammunition, communications and vision gear, and routes and defensive positions scouted out in advance. Google satellite maps/pictures are invaluable.

We don’t broadcast our preparations and plans.  In fact, the key to our plan for survival is that we don’t want anyone to even notice us, so we certainly don’t go around bragging about our stocks of food and supplies. 

None of this writing is meant to instruct you on the exact steps you need to take for your own survival.  Every situation is different.  Every family is different.  But what we’ve tried to do is to search out the knowledge that’s available, and make a plan that fits the particular needs of our own unique extended family.  It’s important to understand that none of this happens overnight.  You learn and grow over time.  Our situation is always changing slightly, and we adjust our plans and preparations as we go. 

But we do want to encourage you.  You can do this!  A little at a time – a little every day, every paycheck, every holiday (my wife gave me a flint and steel kit last Christmas – the perfect gift!).  And every little thing that you do for yourself and your family will increase your chances of survival just a little bit more.

Good Luck! - From our family in Defiance, Ohio

I was fifteen years old when the Sylvester Stallone movie, First Blood was released.  I identified with John Rambo in an adolescent way, as I too had many times escaped to the woods near my Appalachian home.  I was raised in a fairly violent household and learned at a young age that rage is only temporary.  If I could just make it to the door, my long legs would carry me to the high grass where all I had to do was fall down to become invisible.  I was afraid to stay out all night when I was in grammar school.  Instead, I would sneak back into the house as stealthily as possible and sleep under the basement stairs.  A few nights under the stairs taught me the value of having a cache of food and blankets.  As I got older I came home less and less and began reading magazines like American Survival Guide and the few available books on the subject.  I still have one of those self-published books written in the seventies.  Before I could even drive, some friends and I converted an old tobacco barn, which had become landlocked when a new highway was constructed, into a cabin.  I even tied old metal gas cans filled with rocks to trip wires to alert us if anyone hiked in from the highway. 

My grandfather's home was another refuge during this time.  He was raised on a farm during The Great Depression where he would walk to the railroad tracks and flag down the train to town to trade his butter and eggs for sugar and coffee.  He dug his basement with a team of oxen after buying his home for $1,700 in 1934.  That basement contained a modern furnace, a backup coal stove, and two deep freezes filled with produce from a large garden and meat from hogs we slaughtered ourselves.  I always wondered why he had flashlights hanging in every room of the house.  It was not until he died in 2010 at the age of 99 that I found out he was afraid of the dark.  His Depression era carnival glass kerosene lamp has a prominent place on my dresser. 

As a teenager in the eighties I expressed myself with surplus camouflage pants and a black T-shirt proclaiming 'Kill Them All – Let God Sort Them Out.”  Sometimes I included a defused hand grenade on a chain around my neck as seen in the movie Uncommon Valor.  Times were different then and instead of getting into trouble, the chemistry teacher used it as a chemistry teaching point to describe to me how the grenade could be armed.  It was also around this time that I bought my first gun, a Charter Arms AR-7 survival rifle, with my Christmas money.  My first revolver was a .38 which I found (with ammo) while cleaning out someone's basement in exchange for $50 and anything I wanted to keep.  This revolver is the reason I was asked by local authorities if I was a survivalist.  A friend and I returned from a day of shooting in the woods to be pulled over by the local police for a routine traffic stop.  When these rookies saw the weapon laying in the back window of my sedan, we were placed in handcuffs and brought to the police station where my cousin, the police captain, gave me a good talking to and ordered them to take us back to my car.  This experience taught me a valuable lesson about OPSEC.  It was not until I owned a retreat separate from my primary residence, that I again revealed my lifestyle.  By then I was a mature adult.   

I attended college locally which I paid for in part by making lye soap and selling it at craft festivals.  I took every ROTC class that I could without committing to accepting a commission.  When I finally went away for graduate school in the nineties, I rented an apartment on a man-made lake for water security.  I brought along a generator and kerosene heater and plenty of firearms.  The linen closet was re-purposed for an extra pantry and lacking outdoor storage, I risked driving around with several cans of fuel in the back of my truck.  I returned home well ahead of Y2K and started a business with a large Amish and Mennonite customer base.  While not a member of their churches, I attended on occasion, visited their homes, and were invited to their weddings and funerals.  I learned a lot from those relationships.  I learned to live out my faith.  I learned that simple living brought independence regardless of income.  I learned the value of community.  When asked to complete a questionnaire by his government employer about his Y2K plan, my best friend merely wrote that he would come to my house.  I had done nothing differently to prepare. 

After Y2K I worked part-time as a firefighter and summers teaching wilderness survival and shooting sports at a high adventure camp for the Boy Scouts of America.  I owned a lot of real estate until I relocated to my current state, got married, and started a family.  I married a city girl who is not a prepper, but recognizes the value and supports my lifestyle.  She had just purchased a home in this small city before we started dating.  Since we cannot sell her home without paying down the mortgage, I added rain barrels and backup heat and sold my free and clear home on the outskirts of town to purchase land on which I built our wood-heated, solar powered retreat.  Using an asset protection trust, I purchased secluded acreage near the national forest.  It sits on a former logging road off a dead end road forming an easily defensible community of about twenty homes which sit in a hollow.  The logging road is inaccessible in summer without 4WD and tire chains are necessary in the winter.  I formed relationships with my neighbors who heat with wood and hunt on their own land.  This seclusion is just an hour from our home via the primary route or longer secondary routes in my EMP resistant tri-fuel 4WD.  I can even get my family out of Dodge by riding my dual sport motorcycle on the trail that parallels the local railroad.  I would prefer to live year-round at the retreat, but that would mean giving up our income stream and health insurance and expending savings, precious metals and food storage.  Checking for trigger events is the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night.  When the markets are open, I will get an automated text message in the event of an economic slide.  Hopefully, this proactive approach will allow us to bug out while the desperate masses are still paralyzed by their ingrained normalcy bias.  The benefit of a government job is one can leave for up to three days without advance notice in the event of a perceived trigger event.  Not only does one not get fired, but usually gets paid for those days.   

When I decided to purchase retreat land a few years ago, I inquired within my spheres of influence about buying a large tract together.  No one was interested in doing so, but many were interested in using the land afterward.  For this reason, I elected not to disclose the location to anyone other than my wife.  I will not have to make the decision of who gets in the lifeboat and who does not that so many who have prepared will be forced to do.  Two years of food storage only lasts a dozen people two months.  As the real estate market continues to collapse, I look for the opportunity to pay cash for a rural foreclosure with several tillable acres.  This would give my friends, who passed on the opportunity to become my partner, a chance to work the mini-farm as sharecroppers.

I have seen survivalism gain and lose and rise again in popularity during my lifetime.  I was drawn in by personal experiences and memories of gas rationing and popular movies.  For a while when the economy was booming, I quietly lived my lifestyle while watching other people become increasingly reliant on long, just-in-time distribution channels.  At first I was encouraged by this latest surge in the popularity of my lifestyle choice because I felt I was no longer alone.  As I dug deeper, however, I became disappointed.  It appears anyone with $9.95 can point a domain name at a blog and become an 'expert' by assembling misquotes of published authors on particular subjects.  Some popular pundits admit in their biography that they became interested in the movement after the 2008 crises.  Would we hire a surgeon who became interested in medicine just three years ago?  I would hope not, yet many people are betting their lives on someone who may not have actually done many of the things they are espousing on the web. 

I know the terms survivalist and prepper are used interchangeably, but it is starting to appear that a prepper is someone who prepares for some future cataclysmic change while a survivalist actually lives the lifestyle today.  Many preppers I have met remind me of those who play fantasy football.  They know all the terms and discuss online what one should do, but never actually 'play the game.'  I am starting to fear for those who shoot at paper targets, but never at anything that is shooting back even if only in a paintball tournament.  I don't recall anyone ever getting attacked by a paper target.  Preppers are not rotating out their food storage.  The other day I had to teach someone how to cook dry beans!  Many have never killed and butchered anything.  If one cannot live off-grid for a month during normal times, how are they going to fair when the utilities don't come back on?  It is almost as if this movement is becoming a religion where we talk about the good we should be doing instead of actually doing it. 

I realize that people have busy lives and understand the argument that some provision is better than none, but believe many preppers are giving themselves a false sense of security.  My concern is that they are making preparations that will ultimately belong to someone who is better prepared to fight for them or knows how to utilize them properly.  The other day I was in a forum where a prepper was bragging about where he kept his money.  Using just his user name, I visited two public access web pages where I viewed pictures he posted of the interior and exterior of his retreat and sent him a link to a satellite map of his rural retreat.  He was unconcerned that someone with different values than me might be doing the same thing and their SHTF plan may include his provisions.  I know that sometimes I seem a little harsh, but if I can convince one person to transition from being a prepper to being a doer, it is worth it any criticism I might endure.

I am providing a link to a web page on "Air Wells"--the history of harvesting  atmospheric water, in the form of water vapor, dew ,and fog.  I know this was done in ancient times, and when I was in Europe I went on several tours of old castles, etc.  At one of these sites I saw a odd building on the grounds, and asked what that was used for.  It was used to collect water from the dew in the mornings, there was a cistern inside, and the water dripped from the tile walls and collected in the cistern.  The outside walls were some kind of ceramic blocks with holes through so the wet morning air could collect inside. 
I had read somewhere once that the indians in the desert areas had survived on dew collected in the night and early morning before the sun burned it off.  They did this by leaving a blanket out in the air or waving it around in the morning air and when it became wet they would wring it out into a container and do this until they collected enough water for the day.  This method was demonstrated by a couple of Boy Scouts at the national Jamboree sometime in the 1970s as best I can remember.  I read about it in one of the science magazines at the time, as I recall, it was Popular Science.  The article said that two Boy Scouts got up early in the morning and waved a blanket around in the air to collect water, then wring it out into a garbage can.  In about 20 minutes they were able to collect 20 gallons of water in the 20 gallon garbage can.   
Also I read an article years ago about a archeological dig in the desert in Asia or Africa where they couldn't figure out how the city they found there survived in the desert with no apparent water source.  They found a clay tile pipeline that led to a hill.  There they found the remnants of an apparent dew collecting setup that supplied water to the city. 
Of course Rain water is the number one way to collect and harvest water, roof run off is good, but you must use a "roof washer" method to eliminate the bird droppings, etc as you don't want them in your "cistern".   I grew up on a farm in South Dakota, we did have a well which we used to water the livestock but it was very hard and a lot of iron and other minerals in it including iron bacteria.  We relied heavily on rain water for household use, since it is a soft water.  We had a gutter collection system that came off the roof to a " Y" pipe with a switch over valve.  When it started raining we let the  rain wash the  roof clean (about 20 minutes of hard down pour) and then went out and switched the valve over to drain the roof water into the cistern.  This is a great method , but I have seen "automatic" switchover valves, where the runoff water flows into a bucket and then once heavy with water it closes the valve to dump the subsequent water into the cistern. 

CAUTION:   I would recommend you use a charcoal filter of the "Whole House"-type to filter the water going into the cistern, and another one on the water line being pumped from the cistern to the house plumbing.  There are always contaminants in the rain water that could be toxic these days.  From time to time we would find a mouse or rat floating in the cistern and have to fish it out and chlorinate the water.  This could be prevented by sealing the cistern off very well so this won't happen. 
Also sailors at sea have often harvested water by rigging a sail or other canvas used for that purpose to collect rain water when raining and draining it into barrels or now days directly in the boat's water tanks.  At suppliers that supply the boating community there is a device that you fasten into a canvas and it allows a common water hose to be screwed onto it and drain the water away to a tank. 

CAUTION: Don't use a common green water hose for collecting water as they have been found to out-gas toxins into the water.   Use the white hose as sold by recreational vehicle suppliers for supplying water to campers, or use the black plumbing plastic pipe with garden hose style connectors.

I have an idea to put one of those fittings in the middle of a large tarp, connect it to a pipe, and roll the tarp up like a window shade and unroll it when it starts to rain that would minimize the collection of bird droppings on the water collection surface.  Then roll it up again after the rain stops.  If you put your water collection system on a hill above your dwelling , you can utilize gravity flow from the tank at the top of the hill.   Or you could put a tank on a stand above the dwelling and a roof or tarp above the tank to collect the water and also use the time-proven gravity flow supply method.  The beauty of these systems is that no power is needed to supply your water. (Except perhaps for pumping out the cistern, depending on how your house is sited in relation to your cistern.)   I hope this will be of use to someone.  - Darrell in Ohio 

Mr. Rawles,
The recent article, "Staple Food Storage by the Numbers by Paul B.," offers good insight into how to calculate for food storage and what foods offer more versus others.  Following his idea, I went to Self magazine's mentioned web site to see about other foods I had been planning on storing.  When I looked into the kidney beans information provided by Paul, I noticed that the nutrition data provided in his article was based upon raw red kidney beans.  The problem with uncooked beans is not only the difficulty in eating them, but they are potentially toxic when consumed if they are not cooked.  For cooked kidney beans, the nutritive value is a bit lower as well, and should be accounted for when doing the math on food storage. Regards, Matt S.

Roman sent the link to this great piece:  Storing Your Value--Old-School Wealth

G.G. flagged this: EUROPAC: We Have Entered The First Of Four Phases That Will Destroy Fiat Money

Some Context: How Bad is it in Italy?
The U.S. Dollar Has the Upper Hand Here. [JWR's Comment: The U.S. Dollar's relative strength versus the Euro is transitory. In the long run, our debt (as a percentage of GDP) will become all too obvious, and U.S. Treasury debt instruments will be propelled to double-digits yields in order to attract investors. That will be a precursor to an extended period of stagflation that may very well mean a decades-long economic depression.

K.A.F. sent this: European debt crisis spiraling out of control

Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not

Items from The Economatrix:

14 Reasons Why We Should Nationalize The Federal Reserve

Euro Zone:  Oil Could Hit $150 a Barrel in Near-Term: IEA

Staring Into The Abyss

IMF Chief Warns World Economy Risks "Lost Decade"

My buddy Pete in Switzerland mentioned a new marketing angle for oral rehydration solutions: Warrior Wound Care.

   o o o

Clearly, it is not safe to live near the Mexican border! SWAT teams dispatched as gun battle unfolds near Escobares.

   o o o

Kevin S. sent this: The Darknet Project: netroots activists dream of global mesh network

   o o o

The left-of center Mother Jones magazine recently posted this: Map: The Nuclear Bombs in Your Backyard. This map helps to confirm that the portions of The American Redoubt that are upwind (West) of Montana's missile fields are relatively safe, at least in terms of anticipated target structures in a superpower nuclear exchange. (A hat tip to Kelly D. for sending the link.)

"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit.
[Then] will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." - Psalm 51:12-13 (KJV)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Notes from JWRs

Today marks Armistice Day/Veteran's Day/Poppy Day/Remembrance Day, observed in many western nations. If you meet a veteran, thank him for his service.


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 (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 (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.

While remodeling our kitchen several years ago we purchased an antique coal/wood kitchen stove.  This stove was a replacement for a wood-only cook stove that had seen better days. With the economy crumbling and living in New Hampshire where winters can be long and harsh we thought it would be a good idea to have an alternative to our all-electric kitchen.  Power outages are relatively common here as well. Several years ago we lost our power for 8 days due to an ice storm.

We have lived in our current home for 33 years. It is a log home several miles outside of a small city of approximately 25,000 people.  For the most part we have burned wood and home heating oil for heat.  My only previous experience with coal came 35 plus years ago when we lived in town in an 80 plus year old cape with little insulation.  My father-in-law was an experienced coal-burner and set us up with a small coal stove in the cellar. 

Our original cook stove was given to us by a friend who found it in the barn of a house he had purchased.  The stove was in sad shape, but the price was right; free, just take it away.  After having it sandblasted and reassembled it sat in our kitchen for 30 years.  We only used it when the power went out or when the temperature got below zero for a couple of days.  Other than that, it was only lit on Christmas and Thanksgiving when I would cook a turkey or prime rib in the oven as a special treat. 

Our original plan during the kitchen remodeling was to get the old stove restored.  After searching on-line I contacted a father and son team in southern New England and brought the stove to them for an inspection.  It was in worse shape than we suspected, so a replacement was in order.  Replacing the stove opened up options we would have not had if we had stuck with the old stove.  I had not given coal any thought for many years.  When we walked into the stove shop they had a coal fired base heater running…it was fantastic! 

After wandering around the stove “junk yard” for several hours we settled on a coal/wood burning model from the 1920s.  This “new” stove had several options our old stove did not; a warming oven and a compartment under the oven for storing pots and pans.  It was also narrower in length than our original which helped the overall design of the new kitchen. 

We got the stove up and running during January of 2010.  There is a “learning curve” required to burning coal.  After getting the hang of it, you can light your fire in October and shut the stove down in April if you want.  I shut ours down every couple of weeks so I can clean out the fire box, ash pit, and the area around the stove so the ashes don’t build up. Ash build-up around the oven makes the heat transfer to the oven less efficient. Unlike wood that burns up rather quickly, coal will burn constantly as long as you are available to shake down the grates and restock the fire box several times a day.  I have also found that the coal burns at a more consistent temperature without the “highs and lows” you get with wood. 

The first season I purchased my coal locally through the last remaining coal dealer in the region as well as one of the local hardware stores that happened to have a supply.  I chose to buy bagged coal for convenience and ease of handling it.  Even at 61 years old I can handle the bags without much trouble.

Depending on your area coal may or may not be readily available in bulk. Bulk deliveries require a specially designed truck capable of lifting the bed and dumping the coal through a chute into a bin, usually located in the cellar.  In most areas bagged coal should be fairly easy to find.  Coal is available in several sizes.  Our stove uses “nut” coal; others may require “pea” or “stove” coal.  Some experimentation may be in order to find the optimal combination for your stove.  For me bags are easier, no coal bin, less mess and unlike cordwood, it can be stored just about anywhere.  Bags are either 40 or 50 pounds each depending on the supplier.

This year I got together with three other people and arranged for a tractor-trailer delivery of bags from Pennsylvania.  The truckload consisted of 22.5 tons of coal in bags on 18 pallets.  I borrowed a skid steer with forks from a friend to unload the truck.  You could unload it with a tractor or by hand. But I would plan on getting some younger, strong backs to help. In the end I kept 10 tons for myself.  The savings by buying in bulk was almost $170 per ton over purchasing the coal locally!  The cost per ton, delivered, was $270.  10 tons will last several years heating my house and shop which also has a coal fired boiler. 

According to a chart I picked up at the local plumbing and heating supply store coal at $270 per ton has the equivalent BTUs of oil at around $1.70 per gallon, propane at $1.10 per gallon, wood pellets at $190 per ton and [hardwood] cordwood at $200 per cord. 

I recently filled my oil tank with #2 fuel oil at $3.499 per gallon. Last week I bought propane for our gas cook top at $3.53 per gallon  Earlier this fall I bought some cordwood as well; 16” lengths were $180.00 per cord and 10” lengths (for the cook stove in the early fall and late spring) was $200.00 delivered.  Makes the coal look like a pretty good value to me considering how much easier it is to deal with.  Keep in mind, the closer you live to the source of the coal the cheaper it will be, we had about $1100.00 in transportation costs with our 22.5 ton load and it was still a “deal”.

Once I start the stove in the kitchen in the fall we do the vast majority of our cooking on and in it for the rest of the season.  In fact it’s rare for us to start the electric oven or our propane cook top in the winter.  Once you master the “art” of burning coal there is very little work involved. 

When I get up in the morning I open the damper on the smoke pipe and open the air intake under the grates.  This causes the fire to burn hotter.  While I am waiting for the fire to pick up I put my percolator and water for my oatmeal on the cook top.  After a half hour or so I toss on a shovel or two of fresh coal.  It takes a few minutes for the new coal to take off.  When it is going good I shake down the grates letting the ashes fall into the ash pan in the bottom of the stove. If we are not going to cook anything until supper time or the outside temperature is moderate I will shut the pipe damper and leave the air intake about 1/4” open.  On our stove this equates to about a 200°-250° oven, just right to keep the kitchen area warm during the day.  Every couple of days I empty the ash pan out back.  That’s it.  (Be aware that every stove is a little different; every chimney draws a little different so you need to adjust you technique to your situation.)

When I get home at 5:00 p.m. I repeat the process from the morning and normally cook supper on the cook top or in the oven as I feed/shake down the fire.  I repeat the process at bedtime.  Typically I put between 25-30 pounds of coal through the stove daily. 

Like just about everything in this life there are pluses and minuses to burning coal. Nothing is as easy as walking over to the wall and turning up the thermostat on your oil or gas fired furnace…but we’re talking about alternatives here.

Coal is not for everyone.  If you are considering an alternative to your oil/electric/gas heat, give coal a look.  In my opinion there are several distinct advantages to coal.  The BTU content of coal is superior to most other fuels per dollar spent, it is more convenient to store than wood, either in bulk or bags, it will not rot like wood (it’s already millions of years old) so you can buy years ahead and store it without fear of losing you investment.  It takes up much less space than the equivalent amount of wood or pellets.  As I get older I find it is easier to deal with a bucket or two of coal than the amount of cord wood that it takes to provide the same amount of heat.  From a safety standpoint coal does not produce creosote, so chimney fires are unlikely. Stoves designed to burn coal will also burn wood; wood stoves can not burn coal without the proper grates. 

On the negative side:  Coal is harder to obtain than wood, and unlike wood you can not mine it yourself [unless you are very fortunate to have a surface coal seam on your land].  Burning coal is dusty no matter what the hard-core proponents tell you.  You will be vacuuming and dusting more often. I have not heard of a use for the ashes other than as fill, and as a traction compound under your tires if you get stuck in snow or on ice. If anyone else has any other uses for the ashes I’d like to hear about it.

A side note that might matter in a SHTF situation is that coal burns without any visible smoke.  Looking at my chimney you can see heat “waves”, but no smoke.  Coal does have a distinct odor but in my experience wood smoke is more of a problem from an OPSEC perspective.  My closest neighbor is 1/8th mile away; I know when he has his wood stove running, I have been at his house and there is no indication that anything is burning at my location.  Being able to cook and heat in a grid-down situation without attracting attention could be a real asset.  Another advantage to coal when/if the SHTF is the ability to store large quantities out of sight.  It can be left outside, in a cellar, or even buried to be dug up years later…try that with cordwood. It also never goes bad…try that with fuel oil, kerosene or gasoline. 

If you are planning for a SHTF or a grid-down scenario I would look for an older stove that was designed/built in the late 1800s to early 1900s when coal burning was prevalent.  These stoves were state of the art at the time, burn relatively cleanly, are simple to operate, and require no electricity to run. Vintage (and new) cook stoves are available with options including warming ovens, cabinet models with storage underneath the oven,  left or right side fire boxes, fire box extenders for burning longer pieces of wood, water tanks, and water heating coils.  Many times the original users of these stoves also got their domestic hot water from them as well.  There are also coal fired stoves used for heating only, these can be used in a living area or in the cellar to provide heat throughout the living space. I am also experimenting with a small coal boiler that I have attached to my oil fired boiler for our radiant heat and domestic hot water.  I will report back as I make progress on that project as well.

I cannot thank you enough for all you do. Thanks to your "List of Lists" and articles I am well on my way.... above the 80% so to speak. 

As everyone is, I am limited by finances. So while I pursue the items I need I also wanted to pursue skills. That is the most important anyway. So I was searching the site for a list of practical skills. Skills many times can be practiced without money or with existing gear. 

Is there a list of skills on the site? And if not, then what articles would you say to start with? 

Thanks again for everything. - Ben J.

JWR Replies: In general, I recommend that you take a look at the SurvivalBlog articles and letters that I've indexed in the "Traditional Skills" category.
Also see these SurvivalBlog pieces in the archives:

Mr Rawles:
I had to send along the link to the news article about the failure of the nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) with the observation that I would have bet this wasn't going to work.
I say that as a retired Air Force avionics technician whose job was maintaining and flying as a crew member on the EC-135A, C, G, H, and L model Airborne Command Post Aircraft.  As well as in an advisory capacity for five years when the job was passed over to the Navy E6B in 1998.  Even on our best days with everyone doing the absolute best they could we would have to work around something.  That was with multiple communication options.
I knew the odds of everything being interoperable were going to be slim to none, and I wasn't disappointed.
Keep up the great work your site has really been a "go to" for me and my friends. Respectfully, - Bill T.

I was recently chided by a fellow blogger, for encouraging people to relocate to a lightly-populated region in the western United States. He mischaracterized my retreat locale recommendations by referring to me as "...some novelist living in Idaho who has completely discounted every state east of the Mississippi as unfit for survival."  For the record, I have never called the eastern states "unfit for survival", but I have concluded that one's statistical chances of surviving a grid-down collapse will be better in regions where the population density is low. I did not include any eastern states in my rankings of 19 states merits (and demerits) for retreat locales. In essence: More people means more problems, in a disaster. Parenthetically, that gent's post included several maps. Perhaps he should have included this map: Distance To McDonald’s A McDistance Map Of The Contiguous U.S. (Thanks to Roman for that link.)  And here is a graphic that compliments it nicely: satellite imagery showing the lights of the United States at night.  FWIW, the population density of the county where the Rawles Ranch is located is around five people per square mile. I feel relatively safe here, where "Street crime" is unheard of. (Our biggest worry is bears and wolves killing our livestock, not any two-legged predators.) My advice remains: If you can, go west!

   o o o

Congressman Ron Paul really tried to help out Governor Rick Perry at the recent candidates' debate, but the poor man was so flustered that he was beyond help. I hope that he does better that that if he ever gets into a crucial "Tell him yes on one and no on two"-type decision situations.

   o o o

Recession reshapes life in USA. The article begins: "The dismal economy is having a profound effect on the American way of life, from delaying marriage and divorce to reducing car ownership and private school enrollment, according to new Census data." (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

   o o o

T. J. mentioned this essay: The Truth about Violence--Three Principles of Self-Defense

   o o o

F.G. sent this: Elderly couple's large gun collection targeted in violent home invasion. Think OPSEC!

"But fame is theirs - and future days
On pillar' d brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell - when cold neglect is dead -
"These for their country fought and bled." - Philip Freneau

Thursday, November 10, 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 (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 (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.

Staple Foods Storage By The Numbers, by Paul B.

The most basic survival task that every person can do is to begin an emergency food pantry or stockpile or whatever term one wishes to use.  The problem I have always had is in not knowing the quantities of staple foods to store.  I know there are food storage calculators on-line that will give total amounts for various items but they don’t explain how to use those items on a day-to-day basis.  Part of the reason why this is all so problematic for me is that I never really knew that much about nutrition and what individuals need on a daily basis to survive.  You can’t really begin storing food until you know what you need.  So, I began researching nutrition to establish a baseline upon which I could build my food storage plan and to know how much food I would need for any given period of time. 

In my research I discovered that the recommended intake of calories for adults is 2,000 calories daily based on moderate exercise.  I would imagine that if the SHTF then all of us will be doing more than moderate exercise.  There will be firewood to be gathered, the activities of bugging out, extreme stress, getting one’s survival location squared away, home defense, and a host of other activities that will require more calories.  So, to account for this I’m going to set the daily calorie need at 3,000 which is 50% above normal.  Further research has shown me that the generally accepted daily caloric breakdown is as follows:

Fat: 20 – 35 % of total calories (average 30 %)
Protein: 10 – 35 % (average 15 %)
Carbohydrates: 45 – 65 % (average 55 %)

The body also needs water and micronutrients like vitamins and trace minerals.  I’m not going to focus on the micronutrients because they are very easy to obtain.  All one needs is a good multivitamin and then store as many as necessary based on the recommended daily dosage.  There are also many good articles that discuss water storage so I’ll skip that as well.  If we look at the caloric breakdown then 3000 calories each day yields the following:


3000 x 0.15 = 450 calories
450 / 4 cal per gram = 112.5 grams


3000 x 0.55 = 1650 calories
1650 cal / 4 cal per gram = 412.5 grams


3000 x 0.30 = 900 calories
900 cal / 9 cal per gram = 100 grams

Let’s consider protein for a moment and look at two foods typically stored by survivalists.  I collected the following data from Self magazine's useful web page:

Beef Jerky


Amounts per 1 piece, large (20g)

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                            
Calories                                                                  82.0 (343 kJ)          
From Carbohydrate                                                  9.4 (39.4 kJ)
From Fat                                                               46.1 (193 kJ)
From Protein                                                         26.6 (111 kJ)
From Alcohol                                                           0.0 (0.0 kJ)

Amounts Per Selected Serving                                                
Total Carbohydrate                                                  2.2 g                       
Dietary Fiber                                                              0.4 g                       
Starch                                                                          ~
Sugars                                                                        1.8%

Fats & Fatty Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                               
Total Fat                                                                   5.1 g                                   
Saturated Fat                                                            2.2 g                                   
Monounsaturated Fat                                               2.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat                                                 0.2 g

Protein & Amino Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                               
Protein                                                                     6.6 g                            

Allow me to point out that there is a considerable amount of math in this article and in some instances numbers are rounded for convenience, so if there seems to be an error then it may be due to rounding.   This is also just a demonstration.  If anyone actually follows this model then they will surely make all of their own calculations to ensure accuracy.  If you convert the jerky data to ounces (28g/oz) then an ounce of beef jerky has about 9.3 grams of protein or about 12.5 % of the daily requirement.  Thus if you were going to rely on beef jerky for your daily requirement for protein then you would need 12 ounces (112.5 / 9.3) prepped and stored for each adult in your survival community for every day of planned survival.  How much would two people need for six months? 

12 oz x 2 people x 180 days = 4320 oz or 270 lbs (16 oz/lb) or 122.7 kg (2.2 lb/kg)

For purposes of calculations that I’m going to make later I’m going to break down the beef jerky data into 1 ounce increments for all three nutrient categories.

1 oz of Beef Jerky:

Protein:  9.2 g ~ 8% daily requirement
Carbohydrates: 3 g ~ 0.7% daily requirement
Fat: 7.1 g ~ 7% daily requirement

Now, let’s look at different protein source.

Kidney Beans:


Amounts per 1 cup (184 g)

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                            
Calories                                                                     607 (2541 kJ)          
From Carbohydrate                                                  448 (39.4 kJ)
From Fat                                                                     3.9 (193 kJ)
From Protein                                                            156 (111 kJ)
From Alcohol                                                              0.0 (0.0 kJ)

Amounts Per Selected Serving                                                
Total Carbohydrate                                                   110 g                       
Dietary Fiber                                                              45.8 g                       
Starch                                                                             ~

Fats & Fatty Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                               
Total Fat                                                                   0.5 g                                   
Saturated Fat                                                            0.1 g                                   
Monounsaturated Fat                                               0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat                                                0.3 g

Protein & Amino Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                               
Protein                                                                   44.8 g                           

If you convert to ounces this serving size would be about 6.5 ounces of beans and provides about 40 % (44.8/112.5 x 100) of your daily protein requirement.  It would take 16.25 ounces of red kidney beans to get the daily requirement of protein.  Two people would need 365.5 lbs or 166.1 kg of kidney beans stored to get enough protein for 180 days of survival.  Again, let’s break kidney beans down into 1 ounce increments.

1 oz Kidney Beans:

Protein:             6.8 g ~ 6%
Carbohydrates: 17 g ~ 4%
Fat:                <1 g ~ 0%

So, one might think that beef jerky is the better choice since you need less of it each day, however a closer examination of the bean information shows that it is also a significant source of carbohydrates as well.  If one were consuming 16 ounces of beans each day then one would be getting 275 grams of total carbs which is about 67 % of the daily requirement.  So, if one relied on kidney beans for protein rather than beef jerky then they would need to store 67 % less carbohydrate based foods.  Considering the cost of beans over beef and with the additional carbohydrates, beans look like the better survival food. 

Unfortunately, with everything gained there is something lost.  The other dietary component that is necessary for survival is fat.  I’m going to keep things simple and not get into saturated vs. unsaturated fats or which is better.  This is survival not Weight Watchers.  Look again at the beef jerky information and you will see that it has a significant fat content.  Twelve ounces would contain 85.6 grams of total fat which would be 85.6 % of the daily requirement.  The beans have practically no fat which means that you would need an additional dietary component to get the needed fat. 

Let’s look at another darling of the preparedness community – peanut butter.

Peanut Butter – Smooth Style with Salt


Amounts per 1 cup (258 g)

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                            
Calories                                                                  1517 (6351 kJ)
From Carbohydrate                                                  204 (854 kJ)
From Fat                                                                1088 (4555 kJ)
From Protein                                                            225 (942 kJ)
From Alcohol                                                            0.0 (0.0 kJ)

Amounts Per Selected Serving                                                
Total Carbohydrate                                                  51.6 g                       
Dietary Fiber                                                              15.5 g                       
Starch                                                                         12.4 g
Sugars                                                                        23.8 %

Fats & Fatty Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                               
Total Fat                                                                  130 g                                   
Saturated Fat                                                            27.1 g                                   
Monounsaturated Fat                                               63.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat                                                32.5 g

Protein & Amino Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving                                               
Protein                                                                    64.7 g      

This serving size is 9.2 ounces (258 g/28 g per oz).  Breaking this down into 1 ounce increments yields the following:

1 oz Peanut Butter:

Protein:             7 g ~ 6%
Carbohydrates: 5.6 g ~ 1.5 %
Fat:                   14.4 g ~ 14 %

I would have expected peanut butter to have more carbs and 9.2 ounces is not a small portion.  That’s over half of a 16 ounce jar!  Speaking of 16 ounce jars, let’s look at peanut butter in terms of 8 ounce half jar servings.  This would be a convenient bench mark for storage.  Two people would need one jar per day.

Percent Daily Requirement:

Protein:             48 %
Carbohydrates: 10.1 %
Fat:                    113 %

If you wanted to look at it more loosely you could consider 8 ounces of peanut butter as being roughly 50/10/100.  Those are nice round numbers on which the rest of your daily requirement could be based.  It makes for a very convenient starting point that could be reduced as needed to accommodate other food components.

Let’s keep going with this and start with our peanut butter foundation and add kidney beans for additional protein and carbs.  The additional 50 % protein requirement would be about 56 grams.  A review of the bean information shows that 56 grams of protein would be a little more than the 1 cup serving size.  At this point the exact math isn’t important so I’m going to say 7 ounces.  This would also give an additional 120 grams of carbs or 30 % of the daily requirement.  So, with just one half jar of peanut butter and 7 ounces of kidney beans you would have 100 % of your total protein requirement, 100% of your fat requirement, and 40% of you carbohydrate requirement.

Now, let’s look at something a little more complicated like bread.  I bake a lot of bread and my basic recipe is 2 cups flour, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 0.5 tsp salt, and yeast.  For the sake of space I won’t list all of the separate nutrition charts but simply give the totals. 

                                    Flour (2 cup)           Honey (2 Tbsp)  Olive Oil (2 Tbsp)

Protein:                          32.8 g                    0 g                      0 g
Carbohydrates:             198.8 g                   17.4 g                 0 g
Fat:                                     4.6 g                  0 g                      28 g


This recipe yields two good size loaves so the percent totals per loaf would be as follows:

Protein:             16.4 g ~ 15 %
Carbohydrates: 108.1 g ~ 25 %
Fat:                    17.3 g ~ 17 %

Here is where some adjusting can come into play.  When we first did our totals for peanut butter the fat content was 113% of the daily requirement for each 8 ounces and I simply rounded this off for convenience, but that additional 13% is significant especially when pairing peanut butter with other fat sources.  Since the bread also has a significant fat content it would be advantageous to adjust the amount of peanut butter consumed rather than going so far over on fat.  If we went with one loaf of bread and a half jar of peanut butter the total fat intake would be 130% of the daily requirement therefore the amount of peanut butter needed could be reduced to 6 ounces.  Here are the total percentages for a loaf of bread and 6 ounces of peanut butter.

                                   Peanut Butter                     Bread                      Total
Protein                       38 %                                   15 %                       53 %
Carbohydrates            9 %                                    25 %                        34 %
Fat                              85 %                                  17 %                      102 %

Even with these two components we still need half of our protein requirement and two thirds of our carbs.  If we add 8 ounces of kidney beans then our totals are as follows:
                                   PB (6 oz)           B (1 loaf)              KB (8 oz)             Total
Protein                       38 %                  15 %                      48 %                     101 %
Carbohydrates            9 %                    25 %                      32 %                      66 %
Fat                               85 %                 17 %                      0 %                       102 %

We’re still short on carbs so I’ll add some additional honey.  Rather than use ounces I’m going to use tablespoons.  The problem with our measuring system is that there is a difference between a weighed ounce and a fluid ounce.  These two values cannot be interchanged so going with a fluid measurement is better for something like honey.  Allow me to make my one man pitch for America to convert to the metric system.  Having used it on my job I can say that it is so much easier than trying to remember cups and pints and all of our other archaic units.  The original nutrition data for honey was for a 1 cup serving so this can be easily converted to tablespoons by dividing by 16. 

1 Tbsp. Honey:

Protein:                  0 g ~ 0 %
Carbohydrates: 17.4 g ~ 4 %
Fat:                      0 g ~ 0 %

If we add 9 tablespoons to our equation then our final total is as follows:

                              PB (6 oz)          B (1 loaf)      KB (8 oz)   H (9 Tbsp)    Total
Protein                  38 %                 15 %              48 %           0 %               101 %
Carbohydrates       9 %                   25 %              32 %          36 %              102 %
Fat                         85 %                 17 %                0 %           0 %                102 %

All of the three components are met and it is clear exactly how much food is needed.  Remember, this is a daily plan.  What is outlined is all of the food needed for one entire day.  You could eat it all at once or portion it out through the day, but this is all that is needed along with a vitamin and water.

It might seem odd that I have not mentioned fruits or vegetables.  I was surprised to discover that fruits and vegetables are mainly sources of the micronutrients and in some cases carbohydrates.  Since micronutrients would be available from our multivitamin then fruits and vegetables would not be needed except for one other important thing.  They are a source of dietary fiber which is necessary for regularity and helps prevent colon cancer.  The last thing anyone wants is a bad case of constipation while trying to keep the family safe from the bad guys.  In my research I learned that the daily requirement for fiber at our survival calorie load is 40 grams.  Again, dietary fiber is available from fresh or preserved fruits and vegetables or one could simply include a commercial fiber product like Metamucil into their food storage plans.  Before we get too far afield on fiber we should go back again and look at our current food information and see that the original bean data lists 45.8 grams of dietary fiber and the peanut butter has 15.5 grams.  I didn’t list the nutritional information but our bread recipe would also supply 3.3 grams of fiber per loaf.  Doing the calculations for 1 ounce and 1 loaf increments yields the following:

                 1 oz Peanut Butter         1 Loaf Bread            1 oz Kidney Beans
Fiber         1.6 g ~ 4 %                    3.3 g ~ 8 %               7 g ~ 17.5 %

Our new total is as follows:

                               PB (6 oz)      Bread (1 loaf)   KB (8 oz)    H (9 Tbsp)   Total
Protein                   38 %             15 %                  48 %            0 %              101 %
Carbohydrates        9 %               25 %                  32 %           36 %            102 %
Fat                          85 %             17 %                   0 %               0 %            102 %
Fiber                       32 %             8 %                    140 %           0 %            180 %

So, with this daily survival diet one will be very regular, but additional fiber is a healthy bonus.  Regardless, it’s just a rough first draft.  It might be possible to reduce the honey content and substitute in something else and make other adjustments as necessary.  I’m going to call this Survival Daily Meal Plan #1.

Items per Person per Day:

6 oz. Peanut Butter
2 Cups Flour (274 g ~ 10 oz)
11 Tbsp. Honey  (165 ml ~ 5.5 fl oz)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (30 ml ~ 1 fl oz)
8 oz Kidney Beans (224 g)
0.5 tsp. Iodized Salt (2.4 g)
Bread Yeast or Starter

What would be required for two adults using this one daily plan for a six month survival period?

Peanut Butter: 6 oz x 2 people x 180 days = 2160 oz or 135 16 oz jars.
Flour:  10 oz x 2 x 180 = 3600 oz or 225 lbs (102.2 kg)
Honey:  5.5 fl oz x 2 x 180 = 1980 fl oz or 15.4 gal (59.4 L)
Olive Oil: 1 fl oz x 2 x 180 = 360 fl oz or 2.8 gal (10.8 L)
Kidney Beans: 8 oz x 2 x 180 = 2880 oz or 180 lbs (81.8 kg)
Salt: 2.4 g x 2 x 180 = 864 g or 31 oz or about 2 lbs
Yeast or Starter

Let’s try another one that I’ll call Survival Daily Meal Plan # 2.  This time I’ll substitute 6 ounces of beef jerky for the beans and see what happens.  I’m also going to drop the additional honey and try a different substitution later.

                                    PB (6 oz)            B (1 loaf)          Jerky (6 oz)            Total
Protein                       38 %                    15 %                  48 %                      101 %
Carbohydrates            9 %                      25 %                   4 %                        38 %
Fat                             85 %                     17 %                  42 %                      140 %
Fiber                          32 %                     8 %                     0 %                        40 %

Our totals are way off which shows that trying to start a plan with two foods rich in protein and fat leads to overages and doesn’t allow many substitutions.  Clearly what we are seeing is that foods need to be complimentary with higher fats and proteins paired with higher carbs and fiber.  So, let’s continue with our second meal plan and substitute the jerky for the peanut butter.

                                    Jerky (6 oz)            B (1 loaf)              Total
Protein                       48 %                        15 %                        63 %
Carbohydrates             4 %                         25 %                        29 %
Fat                               42 %                        17 %                        59 %
Fiber                            0 %                         8 %                          8 %

We need some carbs so how about another survival food – brown rice.  Here are the 1 ounce totals:

1 oz. Uncooked Brown Rice

Protein: 2.2 g ~ 2%
Carbohydrates: 21.6 g ~ 5.2 %
Fat: 1 g ~ 1 %
Fiber: 1g ~ 2.5 %

Now, the easiest thing to do would be to try and make up the remaining carbs with rice so lets do that and see what happens.

                               Jerky (6 oz)            B (1 loaf)              BR (14 oz)                Total
Protein                   48 %                      15 %                        27 %                        90 %
Carbohydrates        4 %                        25 %                        73 %                      102 %
Fat                          42 %                      17 %                        14 %                        75 %
Fiber                       0 %                        8 %                         35 %                        43 %

That’s not bad, but I’m going to add one more ounce of jerky to get the protein total just a little higher.

                               Jerky (7 oz)           B (1 loaf)              BR (14 oz)               Total
Protein                   56 %                     15 %                      27 %                         98 %
Carbohydrates         5 %                      25 %                     73 %                        103 %
Fat                          49 %                     17 %                      14 %                        82 %
Fiber                       0 %                        8 %                      35 %                        43 %

At this point we could add some olive oil for additional fat and a commercial fiber product, but let’s try a different route.  One thing that we don’t have in either of our meal plans is a dairy component for calcium so since we need more fiber and fat, a high fiber cereal with reconstituted dry whole milk would fit the bill.  Here are the totals for 1 ounce of dry whole milk and a 30 gram serving of Kellogg’s Bran Buds:

                                   Milk                                    Cereal
Protein                       7.5 g ~ 6.4 %                        2.1 g ~ 2 %
Carbohydrates            11 g ~ 2.5 %                        24 g ~ 6 %
Fat                              7.5 g ~ 7.5 %                        0 g ~ 0 %
Fiber                           0 g ~ 0 %                             13 g ~ 33 %

Here is where things get a little tricky.  You can’t just drizzle dry milk on a piece of bread like you can with honey or olive oil.  To be palatable you need to use the recommended amount which is 4.5 ounces in water, so I’m going to put 4.5 ounces of dry whole milk and a serving of Bran Buds into our chart.

               BJ (7 oz)    B (1 loaf)  BR (14 oz)    DWM (4.5 oz)    BB (30 g)    Total
Protein   56 %           15 %         27 %              30 %                   2 %              130 %
Carbs     5 %              25 %        73 %               11 %                   6 %              120 %
Fat         49 %            17 %        14 %              34 %                    0 %              114 %
Fiber      0 %               8 %          35 %               0 %                    33 %            76 %

Clearly some adjustments need to be made so I’m going to double the cereal component for plenty of fiber and take away one ounce of the jerky and four ounces of the rice.

                 BJ (6 oz)   B (1 loaf)   BR (10 oz)      DWM (4.5 oz)  BB (60 g)   Total
Protein     48 %        15 %            20 %               30 %                  4 %             117 %
Carbs        4 %          25 %            50 %              11 %                   12 %           102 %
Fat           42 %         17 %            10 %              34 %                   0 %             103 %
Fiber        0 %            8 %             25 %                0 %                   66 %           99 %

That’s not bad.  Some additional protein is not a problem.

Items Per Person Per Day:

6 oz. Beef Jerky (168 g)
2 Cups Flour (274 g ~ 10 oz)
2 Tbsp Honey  (30 ml ~ 1 fl oz)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil (30 ml ~ 1 fl oz)
10 oz Brown Rice (280 g)
60 g Bran Buds (~ 2 oz)
4.5 oz Dry Whole Milk (128 g)
Yeast or Starter

2 Person Totals for six months:

Beef Jerky:  6 oz. x 2 x 180 = 2160 oz or 135 lbs (61 kg)
Flour:  10 oz x 2 x 180 = 3600 oz or 225 lbs (102.2 kg)
Honey:  1 fl oz x 2 x 180 = 360 fl oz or 2.8 gal (10.8 L)
Olive Oil: 1 fl oz x 2 x 180 = 360 fl oz or 2.8 gal (10.8 L)
Brown Rice: 10 oz x 2 x 180 = 3600 oz or 225 lbs (102.2 kg)
Bran Buds Cereal: 2 oz x 2 x 180 = 720 oz or 40 18 oz. boxes
Dry Whole Milk: 4.5 oz x 2 x 180 = 1620 oz or 101 lbs (46 kg)
Yeast or Starter

Now that I have some other foods to work with I think I’ll go back and revisit the first meal plan and see if I can adjust it slightly with rice instead of beans.

                           PB (6 oz)   Bread (1 loaf)    BR (10 oz)   H (9 Tbsp)   Total
Protein               38 %          15 %                   20 %             0 %              73 %
Carbohydrates    9 %           25 %                   50 %            36 %             120 %
Fat                      85 %          17 %                   10 %            0 %               112 %
Fiber                   32 %          8 %                     25 %            0 %                65 %

This time I’m going to lower the peanut butter by one ounce, remove the honey, and bring back some kidney beans.

                           PB (5 oz)   Bread (1 loaf)   BR (10 oz)    KB (6 oz)   Total
Protein               30 %          15 %                  20 %             36 %           101 %
Carbohydrates   8 %             25 %                  50 %             24 %           107 %
Fat                      70 %          17 %                  10 %               0 %              97 %
Fiber                  20%             8 %                   25 %              105 %        158 %

Well, it didn’t improve much but at least there isn’t so much honey involved. 

If I were going to plan for survival based on these two meals then I would alternate them daily as the dairy portion adds necessary calcium for bone health.  Doing this yields the following totals for two people for six months.

Flour:  10 oz. x 2 x 180 = 3600 oz. or 225 lbs. (102.2 kg)
Honey:  1 fl. oz x 2 x 180 = 360 fl. oz or 2.8 gal. (10.8 L)
Olive Oil: 1 fl. oz x 2 x 180 = 360 fl. oz or 2.8 gal. (10.8 L)
Peanut Butter: 5 oz x 2 x 90 = 900 oz or 56 16 oz jars
Beef Jerky: 6oz x 2 x 90 = 1080 oz or 67.5 lbs (30.7 kg)
Kidney Beans: 6 oz x 2 x 90 = 1080 oz or 67.5 lbs (30.7 kg)
Brown Rice:  10 oz x 2 x 180 = 3600 oz or 225 lbs (102.2 kg)
Bran Buds Cereal: 2 oz. x 2 x 90 = 360 oz. or 20 18 oz. boxes
Dry Whole Milk: 4.5 oz. x 2 x 90 = 810 oz. or 51 lbs (23 kg)
Yeast or Starter

Now I know exact quantities of staple foods I need and how to use it.  This is only scratching the surface of food storage possibilities.  Any number of meals could be created using any survival foods.  The key is to use the daily dietary requirements to determine exactly how much food is needed.  Also, all of the calculations made have been for adults.  Divide by 2 when considering small children.  This is also just for temporary survival.  If the crisis lasted indefinitely then one would obviously have to transition to subsistence agriculture or find more food. 

The final recommendation that I would make is to follow the 50% rule.  I don’t know if this has been put forth by anyone in SurvivalBlog before, but I have to think that surely it has turned up somewhere.  The 50% rule mandates that if you have stored enough food for six months then at three months, when 50% of your supplies are exhausted, reduce your caloric intake by 50%.  This will extend your stockpile by an additional three months.  After another three months if things show no sign of improvement then reduce by 50% again.  If you started with 3,000 calories a day then you would be down to 750.  Yes, you would get hungry, lose weight, and probably experience light- headedness upon exertion, but you would survive an additional three months.  Remember, just because you have prepared for a certain number of months does not mean that the crisis will conveniently end when you need it to.  Following the 50 % rule will double the length of time your food reserves will last.

Jim, et al:
 I recently read an enlightening ABC Australia news article: Greek Crisis - Migrants getting the blame.  Surprise surprise – the social experiment of open borders and monetary union is not working so well in Greece !
Greece has a population of 11million apparently and there are 1 million illegal immigrants and free loaders. Combine this with a retirement age of 45 there is little wonder the country is in the poo. 
Being an accountant, I did a few quick calculations.  Assuming that the population was spread evenly to an average death age of 80 (which it is not) I calculate that there are possibly a maximum of 4,125,000 in the working age from 16 to 45.  Now half of these are disabled, or women who may get married and raise a family so that halves the pool to 2,062,500.  Then probably one-third of these are public servants/bureaucrats so that reduces the pool by another third to 1,375,000 of productive workers who pay taxes and produce goods and services that the rest of the economy needs.  This means that a maximum of 12.5% of the population is supporting the rest. Oh and I forgot unemployment – say if there is 20% unemployment that drops the pool down to 1,100,000. – Which is surprise, surprise 10%!  What a weight the Greek Atlas has to hold: 10% of the population supporting the other 90% on their shoulders!
And the best the bureaucrats and bankers can do is pile yet more and more debt on the shoulders of the 10% just to pay the interest of the billions of dollars in loans that already exist.  I think that we can safely conclude that Greece is stuffed (that is technical economic terminology used in Australia!)
Yours Sincerely, - W.J. in Oz

I debated about writing this, but in spirit of sharing with your readers the recent usage of a Ghillie suit in a real world situation, with very surprising results.
This event occurred as a what to use for the neighborhood halloween, trick or treat crowd, and it was quite a crowd.   We live in a fairly large suburban subdivision on the outskirts of Phoenix. My wife and I have as much fun as the kids who are almost always with parents or a group of adults. My problem was what to "dress up as", the wife has her ghost outfit, and mine was a an idea to try out  Ghillie suits, to determine just how effective it might be in a "real world" situation.  I am 6 feet tall and weigh about 200 lbs.  I tried both a forest multicolor, and a snow pattern which is white with black highlights.
The crowds, start about 4:30 in the afternoon, it still fairly light, and continued till about 8:30. Our light gray stucco home is on a corner lot, with a couple of 20 foot tall palm treess that have trunks about 2 feet in diameter with large green palm branches hanging down to about six feet off the ground. These palms are in the front yard about 5 feet out from the front of the home. We have two, two-car dark brown garage doors separated in the middle by the dark brown recessed front door that has about a 5 foot wide inset alcove.  (I want to give you an idea of the layout.) There are two large streetlights, one on the corner by the palms, and the second across the street about 30 further down from this one they utilize the softer yellow sodium type bulbs that provide a less intense light output. 
I positioned myself against the stucco wall by the front door, or against the palm trees throughout the evening.  I expected nothing, but was blown away by the results. My wife positioned herself with the treats on a chair in front of the garage door, where she stood out like a headlight. I was about 10 feet away standing as still as I could.  from the very first both the children and adults concentrated on the ghost in the chair or came to ring the front door bell.  During the fading light period I was noticed with little interest or the person(s) trying to ascertain who or what I was from as close as three feet to as far away as perhaps about 20 feet.  If I jumped out the effect was total with most of the adults and almost all the kids.  My wife would ask them afterwards what they thought I was or what I was.  The comments by most of the adults men and women was "Wow, we did not even see him."   One of my neighbors, who is a former Marine and combat veteran told his wife after she had jumped about two feet in the air, "That's a Ghillie suit, hon." By the way he was on the sidewalk about 20 feet away and did not figure out what I was until after I moved.   I changed from the snow colored Ghillie, to the multi color green one at dark.   The comments by the neighbors were we were the hit of the evening, and I was asked where they could get one. I am amazed at the ability to evade the attention of people even during a heightened [attentiveness] event like Trick-or-Treating where the person's heightened focus is able to be fooled by becoming a part of a tree trunk or a by leaning up against a house [like shrubbery].
I have over my career over 40 years in several fields tried homemade, and store bought Ghillie suits, there are a lot on the market, I am not marketing or endorsing products here, just letting you know this one worked and I had a lot of fun besides.  These suits were purchased on line, they are about $70 and are made in China under the name of Red Rock outdoor gear.  This is a XL/2XL and is a five-piece suit with a gun cover, it has a stuff sack which works very well.  I would rate the suit very high on the buy list, and during a time of need it I think its a smart purchase item. My only modification was to buy a pair of suspenders to hold up the pants as the drawstring does get it done. As far as negatives the suit will wear and maybe tear if you are trying to crawl or move through brush, and so forth, but as a stationary usage items or in open country it should work. 
Bottom line this was a perfect opportunity to test out a survival item with out 'standing out' as a oddball with the locals.  Of course OPSEC and common sense always rule. 
God bless or Godspeed in your survival preparations. - John in Arizona

Jeff M. sent us the link to this article with a nifty accompanying video about re-purposed missile silos: Condo at the End of the World.

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I heard that Freeze Dry Guy has acquired the entire U. S. Government contract overrun of Long Range Patrol / Cold Weather Ration entrees for 2011. Don't miss out on this extraordinary deal!

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Brad S. suggested this great video: Unconventional Warfare Strategies - Negotiation Skills 101

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J.B.G. sent this: Thieves leave deputies riding on the rims

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The mainstreaming of prepping continues, as evidenced by this web page developed by the great State of Texas. (Thanks to Steve McC. for the link.)

"Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable." - Gen. George S. Patton

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanks for all the letters and e-mails about my latest book "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". I'm glad to hear that so many of you enjoyed reading it. I would greatly appreciate some brief reviews on the and Barnes & Noble web sites. Just a 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 (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 (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.

If I am to survive TEOTWAWKI, then I intend to live in a style to which I’ve become accustomed.  That is, I intend to continue enjoying music, sweets, wine, cups of hot tea in the winter, stories, plays, and humor.  I plan to keep my pets around.  I hope to do so with the full participation of my family, however it evolves over time.

I began working on maintaining this style almost 20 years ago, when we moved to a hobby farm in one of those “fly-over” states that has good soil and low population.  The farm is capable of providing the basics.  It is highly unlikely I will have to evacuate this area.  The farm has a well with potable water, in addition to multiple natural springs, and we have enough buildings to shelter equipment, family, and livestock.

When we bought this place, it was a small, row-cropped mess, with massive erosion problems.  We had scores of weeds and very little wildlife.  Of the weeds we had, few were edible, even by the standards of Euell Gibbons (as described in his classic book Stalking The Wild Asparagus.)  Although we had cattails, have you ever tried eating them?  They may sustain life, but the bulbs are by no means great cuisine by my standards.  I can’t speak personally to their use as a substitute for flour, though that may taste better than the bulbs. 

Each year I’ve worked to prevent erosion, improve the soil (with compost), and increase both plant and wildlife diversity.  After 20 years, my efforts have improved the arability of the land, decreased the erosion, and greatly diversified wildlife (especially reptiles, amphibians, and birds).

I began by planting an orchard big enough to feed my family, several other families, and roaming wildlife.  This orchard has peach, pear, apple, and plum trees.  I also planted a number of grapevines and berry bushes.  And, of course, our vegetable garden is full of heirloom varieties from which we save seed from season to season.  (I obtained the heirloom seeds, berry plants, grapevines, and orchard saplings through membership with Seed Savers Exchange, based in Decorah, Iowa.)

Then I researched wild foods native to the area (or escaped from human plantings and spread wild through the area) that taste better than cattails.  Based on that research, I collected seeds, rootings, and/or saplings (with permission from neighbors, if appropriate) and planted them on our land.  Among the wild foods I now have producing food are wild grapes, raspberries, wild plums, black walnuts, asparagus, and ground cherries.  Best of all, birds, squirrels, and other animals help spread these wild foods even more widely than I planted them.  I sometimes come upon non-poisonous wild foods, such as morel mushrooms in the spring, when I’m really lucky.  I have yet to figure out how to reproduce these where and when I want them to appear, but I’m grateful when they do show up.

All of the food varieties I grow are disease resistant, so I don’t have to use any chemicals on them.  I compost any plant trimmings, leaves, and food waste as fertilizer.  The resulting produce provides nutritious food.  But just getting enough to eat is not my idea of style.  That’s just staying alive. Style involves other things, such as sweets for my sweet tooth and wine with my dinner, and a lovely cup of hot tea in the winter.  For my sweet tooth, I have fruits, berries, and maple sugar.  Any of the fruits can be made into wine (as can the dandelions (the yellow flower only) that grow rampant). 

At the same time, I planted some 2 foot high sugar maple saplings—lots of them.  Like all types of maple trees, sugar maples can be used to produce maple sugar (the sugar maple sap is just higher in natural sugar content).  Now, 20 years later, some spiles (whittled from non-poisonous tree shoots), a bit and brace to bore holes in the trees, buckets to collect sap, and a fire of deadwood with a kettle over it are ready to reduce sap during the spring run.  (If you try this, be aware that you get only about 1 part syrup from 40 parts sap.  You should also know that this must be an outdoor operation, as the moisture resulting from reducing the sap to syrup will strip your wallpaper faster than any commercial product on the market!)  So now I have a natural sweetener for my natural sweet tooth.  And every year the trees send forth “helicopter”-like seeds that produce more sugar maples.

As for the hot tea I crave in the winter, I collect and dry raspberry leaves during the spring, just as the flowers begin to bud out.  I am careful not to strip any cane of all its leaves, but instead take a few from each plant.  I dry the leaves thoroughly (currently using an electric dehydrator, but the back window of a car sitting in the sun works quickly, too).  Then, when winter comes, I place 3 dehydrated leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water and let it steep for 5 to ten minutes.  I currently collect rose hips to make tea as well, but roses are rather fussy plants that sometimes require fungal control.  I don’t count on the rose hips to survive “the end of the world.”

One additional consideration is that the food, wine, tea, and sugar I produce can serve as a good basis for barter with neighbors.  Since you never know what you might need in the future, it seems optimal to have items to barter to fulfill those needs.

I also started my homeschooled children playing instruments from the age of five on.  We play all kinds of music and I collect books of music and lyrics of all types.  None of our instruments require power (other than lung and tongue, or finger power) to play, and together we can raise a joyful noise.  Some of the instruments are quite portable (such as the trumpet, flute, and harmonica), while others are stuck in place (my grand piano).  So another part of my style will continue uninterrupted—music whenever and however I want to play it or listen to it.  ([The famous polar explorer] Shackleton knew this when equipping his expedition to the Arctic, so I paid heed to his advice.)

As another part of homeschooling, I encouraged my kids (and myself) to memorize poetry, plays, and stories.  We spent long hours writing poetry, plays, and stories.  In addition to our original works, I built up an extensive library of useful non-fiction, and enjoyable fiction.  So the part of me that absolutely loves to relax with a good story can continue to do so—whether that story is oral, printed, or composed on the spot.

My whole family also practices creative arts for enjoyment.  One daughter knits and draws.  One paints, weaves, and embroiders.  I sew and dabble in a little bit of everything.  These arts can be useful (those cattails I don’t like to eat can be woven into nice rush-type seats for chairs), but they can also define the difference between enjoyment and drudgery in day-to-day life.  And while none of us has done significant pottery making, our piece of land even has a “red clay spot” (as identified on USDA soil survey maps).  This clay could potentially be used to produce pottery.

Now, this part may seem too girlish, but I like a place that doesn’t smell too awful.  Earlier settlers considered this when building the old farmhouse we live in.  So, while I’ve got a 5-gallon bucket, fitted with a toilet seat and kitty litter for the short survival times (such as tornado weather), I also have small lilac groves just to the northwest and just to the southeast of the house.  These are ideal settings for any future outhouses (the northwest to be used in warm weather, when winds prevail from the south and east, and the southeast to be used in cold weather, when winds prevail from the north and west).

Even my pets (a very important component of my lifestyle) have a place at the end of the world.  One dog, well over 100 pounds, is built perfectly as a draft animal.  He is already trained to harness and is learning to pull loads of deadwood from the pastures.  (We have frequent wind and ice storms, so dead wood is a seemingly endless commodity on our place.  I use handsaws to cut it up.)

Another dog, a mere 30-pounder, patrols the border of our land continuously.  Nothing gets past his attention.  And quite recently, he realized I’m starting to suffer some hearing loss.  He decided (all on his own) to be my “hearing ear” dog and alerts me to visitors, mail delivery, and the game animals (deer, geese, turkeys, pheasants, and rabbits) that pass through our place.  Our cats work to keep down the rodent population in our buildings and the garden.  And my hens provide eggs…until they provide stew meat.
As for other protein sources, we have a lot of available wildlife.  We have bow and arrows for hunting, and traps for smaller prey (up to the size of groundhogs).

Lastly, I’ve worked hard to instill a sense of humor and play into my children.  We try to find the humor in everything that happens to us (even if we need some distance before we can do so).  Then we re-tell the story, enact the story as a play, or otherwise make the humor stay alive.  For without humor, what’s the point of going on?

Excellent article on the Field-Test Improvements to a Go Bag by Todd S.  A couple of suggestions for your readers.  First, as an experienced backpacker, I agree with the assessment about the socks.  Athletic socks just don’t cut it for backpacking.  In fact, no cotton socks will work effectively.  Two moisture-wicking pairs of socks is sufficient for several weeks at least. I have learned, however, that the moisture-wicking performance is lessened with each day of use unless the socks are washed with soap and dried.  The sweat from your feet contain salts and oils that will degrade the performance of the socks.  As a result, I recommend that you carry an additional small bar of soap to wash socks and underwear frequently.  More importantly, take several safety pins.  Use these to hang wet socks on the outside of your pack so they dry.  Rotate socks during the day: wear a dry pair to start, and around noon, swap socks and hang the used ones on the pack with the pins.  This will prevent blisters and keep the feet warmer, and will extend the life of the socks.

Second, I recommend having a couple of sheets of aluminum foil (24”x12”) folded up in a baggie.  These can be used for cooking, and are especially helpful to cook small game such as fish.  Some folks think they can just shove a stick through a fish and cook it over the fire.  But the meat of trout will begin to fall off the bones before it is thoroughly cooked.  But you can wrap meat (or foraged plants such as bulbs) in aluminum foil and place it in the coals to cook the meat without losing any or dropping it in the dirt.  It can also be shaped into a bowl for boiling water stewing.

Third: maps and compass weigh far less than GPS units and do not require batteries.  I eliminate ALL electronics (except for a flashlight) from a true go bag designed for any wilderness travel.  It may be “nice” to hear a radio, but in a true TEOTWAWKI situation, it seems like a luxury item.

Forth: the dependency on firearms for meat is unwise.  I will carry a firearm, but I also carry wires and string for snares and a small survival book that shows how to set snares and deadfall traps.  That way, most materials can be found or made from what is on hand in the wild, and the traps you set are “always working” silently.

Finally, regarding a “sleep sack” versus a sleeping bag: I cannot disagree more.  The experiment was done during the summer in warm, dry weather.   If this were to take place in the other 10 months of the year, a good sleeping bag will be the difference between life and death of hypothermia.

F.J. suggested this piece at LifeHacker: Build a Mini-Metal Lathe from Broken Power Tools

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Here is a review in The New American magazine: James Wesley Rawles' New Book: "Survivors"

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F.J.R. spotted this over at Instructables: Easy Dual Fuel Furnace Burner

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I heard that Ready Made Resources now offers a Home Blood Typing Kit, with free shipping. This kit shows both O, A, B, AB and + or - RH. If any members of your family haven't become blood donors and thus determined their blood type, then it is important to test them, yourself.

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George Ure: 12 Mistakes That Welcome a Home Invasion

"If you look at the troubles which happened in European countries, this is purely because of the accumulated troubles of the worn out welfare society. I think the labor laws are outdated. The labor laws induce sloth, indolence, rather than hard-working. The incentive system is totally out of whack.

Why should, for instance, within [the] euro zone some member's people have to work to 65, even longer, whereas in some other countries they are happily retiring at 55, languishing on the beach? This is unfair. The welfare system is good for any society to reduce the gap, to help those who happen to have disadvantages, to enjoy a good life, but a welfare society should not induce people not to work hard." - Jin Liqun, the supervising chairman of China's sovereign wealth fund, speaking to al-Jazeera television, November, 2011

Tuesday, November 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 (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 (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 live about 30 miles north of Denver, Colorado – where there's a metropolitan population approaching three million.  I own a 4x4 vehicle, but rarely go to the mountains and decided it was time to find a bug out location without having to go there.  Perhaps I should mention that I’m a 60 year old female, and my husband thinks the whole concept of survival is complete rubbish!  And while I own a GPS, I’m going to show you how to do this for free so you can prepare for a TEOTWAWKI situation.

The USGS has maps that are scaled at 1:50,000.  The “New Generation” maps are not good at all.  These maps will have “information” and “ads” over part of the map.  That’s where you want to target….places where most people won’t be able to see on the maps they buy in the local stores.
I recommend you start with something that you know.  I’m going to start with my childhood home.  Once you can find something familiar to you, then we will advance to looking for a BOL that is unknown to you.
But first, here are the basic steps we are going to use, the examples will be below this.  Click on this link
Pick your state, then under “scale”, click on  24000 and search.   Note that there is a column for the date the area was surveyed.  The older the better as you want to be looking for mines, caves and springs.  Some of these survey maps go back to the 1800s!
Where it says “map name”, type in a city close to where you want to go.
Click on the far right hand column and the map will download.  Be patient, it takes time.  I have found that the circa 1980 survey maps are probably the best.   Note:  if the city you are looking for is not on the map, scroll to the outside perimeters of the map and look for other map names along the borders or in the corners, then download that map name.
You will want to download the USGS topographic map symbols and make note of the symbols for mine entrances and caves which looks like the letter “y” laying on it’s right side.  Don’t confuse mine shafts with mines and quarries. Next, find the symbol for spring or seep.  A spring is a blue dot and a seep is a short blue squiggly line.  Maps older than 1980 will probably not use these same symbols.
An older map, such as an 1893 map, will show you where towns were that are now ghost towns.  A great place to look for earth covered log cabins or ground cellars.  These maps will also show you roads and railroad beds that are no longer maintained. 
Once you have found the spot on a topographical map, you can then find the coordinates, plug them into google earth and zoom in to see exactly what’s there today.
Example # 1, my childhood home.  

(Click the links to follow along)
I grew up just northeast of Noblesville, Indiana, so I picked “Omega” as my town name.  As you can see, there are maps dated 1962, 1977 and 1994.  I picked the 1977 map to download.  Remember, it takes time to download these, so just be patient.
These maps are in PDF format, so you will need to download Acrobat’s PDF reader if you don’t already have it on your computer.
Next, I zoomed in to 200% and found my childhood home at the corner of East 266th Street and Cornell Road.  Funny, when I was a kid there were no such street names.  I lived on the Arcadia pike at the “6 mile jog”.    You can even see the little black square where our home was, right at the jog in 266th street where Cornell goes to the south.
My childhood home.
From here, we want to obtain the GPS coordinates.  To do that, simply scroll all the way to the left or right, to the end of the map and pick up the number which in this case is about 10’. But it’s a little north of the 10’ lines, so I’m going to estimate it at 10’ 5”  Scroll to the top to pick up the degrees which is 40.  So my latitude is about 40°10'5"N
Go back to the home location and this time scroll straight to the top or bottom of the map. This finds me between 54 and 55’.  Scroll to the left where it shows the degrees at 85.  So I will estimate my longitude is about 85°54'5"W
Next, you will need to download and install Google Earth.  In the box where it says “fly to” enter:  40°10'5"N,  85°54'5"W
I came up about ¾ mile south of where I grew up, but close enough on Google Earth that I can track back and find the actual spot!
Once you have the spot on Google Earth, you can scroll around, look at terrain, find old mine entrances, look for old roads, paths, trails…just have fun exploring the area by air.
If you look on the Google Earth map of my childhood home, there is a woods just south of the place.  You can see the creek going up to the right hand side.  There’s a pond located at 40°09'50/-6"N,  85°53'57.54"W.  In the photo, I’ve put white arrows to the pond.  But look to the west with the small lines – there’s an old wagon trail going east off Cornell Rd.  In the winter when the trees are bare, you can actually see the path, but with the leaves on, you can still see an indentation where the old path is.  You can actually follow it on the left side of the creek north to where the George and Lucy King homestead was where it crossed the creek, then follow it on the east side up to E 266th Street.  It’s these old abandoned trails that you want to be looking for.  Places that are no longer traveled, that are not on any current maps.  I do have this “road” on an old 1835 map of this area.  But the path is still there today.  (Please note that this is all private property that is no longer owned by my family, so don’t trespass, just enjoy from Google Earth!)
You may want to download all the different maps for your area as I found that none of them show 2 cisterns (overflowing wells) that were in this area.  One was just ½ mile south of where I grew up, on the west side of Cornell Rd.  There’s a house there, but nothing marking the well.  Interesting.
Now try to do these same steps for a place that you know.  It’s a great way to learn how to do longitudes and latitudes and how to find your way around Topo Maps and Google Earth.
Next, we’re ready to find a but-out location without ever going there….in a place that you don’t “know.”
Example # 2:

Here’s an example you can easily follow to get you started.  I wanted to find a place I went camping nearly 35 years ago.  So I clicked on “Colorado”, set the scale to 24000, and the map name of “Garfield”.  I then downloaded the pdf for 1982 and I zoomed in to about 200% to get a better detail.
The latitudes are on the far left and right side of the map.  Scroll down to 38° 32’30”68 N. (Because I’ve already completed the steps, I can give you exact locations to make this easier.) Longitudes are across the top and bottom (you may need to zoom out to find the spot) and go to 106° 17”30”.  You should have the town of Garfield in view.  Zoom in to 200%.  You will see a 4x4 trail going north up “Taylor Gulch”.  Be aware that many 4x4 roads on the map are literally ATV trails, but can be maneuvered in a narrow 4x4. 
As you follow this trail north, you should see the Garfield Mine.  Notice that this is the “Y” on the side, so it is a mine or tunnel opening.  Just north of that are 3 more mines, then the “Lilly Mine” with an opening, another mine above that….several mines with tunnel openings in this area.  That Lilly Mine is where I used to camp.
Pay attention to the elevation.  Garfield is at 9509 feet and the Lily Mine is at 11,300 feet – way too high for a BOL.  You should see a creek coming down Taylor Gulch.  This is a dash/dotted line, so it is a seasonal creek from snow runoff.   But if you look just to the north and east of Garfield, you will see “Hermit Springs.”  Water!
So now, let’s look at this on Google Earth. In the upper left hand corner, under “search” click on the “fly to” tab and enter
Latitude: 38°33'5.36"N
Longitude: 106°17'28.94"W
Enter it as simply:        38°33'5.36"N  106°17'28.94"W (You can simply cut and paste.)
This will take you to Garfield at the opening on Hwy 50 for Taylor Gulch.  Pretty close to the above coordinates from the topographical map.  Now, zoom in until the road numbers show up. (be sure to click “roads” on “layers” on the left side in Google Earth.)
You should now see that the road is numbered Co Rd 228 and you can travel north on that road and you will see that each of those old mines are now being re-mined.  Not a good BOL.
But while we’re here, let’s find Hermit Springs.
Enter:    38°33'20.40"N   106°16'25.21"W
Today, the springs is in a nice tree covered area and there’s an old mining road going up the ravine to and past the springs.
Being 60 years old I’m certainly not going to bug-out to this altitude.  But there are thousands of mines in the Colorado mountains and many are at much lower altitudes.  I simply wanted to show you how you can find mines and springs without spending money on a GPS. 
The last thing you should consider in preparing your bug out location are road closure gates.  We have many on Colorado highways that simply say “test location.”  My personal opinion is that they are there specifically for a TEOTWAWKI event.  Know where they are between your home and your BOL  If they are in your “path” – find an alternate route.  When I tried this out, I found out that I literally cannot get out of Denver without bypassing numerous gates!  I simply need to be out of town before the TEOTWAWKI event, or plan to break through the gates.  And I thought about that, but what if there are guards at each gate?  Great way to keep everyone in town.  But with my BOB packed and ready to go, I’m willing to take a risk and G.O.O.D. before the gates go down!

PS.  I tested this last week – took a drive and went to the actual place that I had picked out.  Drove right to it.  I found a nice seeping spring with water.  My surprise was a cistern just down the road that was not on the map.  The location has an abandoned mine that BLM has not closed off at this point.  It is also about one mile from a good running creek.  Great location!  I hope you can find one with this method, too!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have been reading your blog on a daily basis for about a month now and I have been involved in preparing myself and my family for approximately the last year. Today I read Pat Cascio's review of the CRKT Tao Pen, a brilliant tool, and one that I am sure to purchase soon. My father had a similar pen many years ago, a basic heavy aluminum pen, which he carried wherever he went strictly for the purpose of self defense and much less for the convenience of having his own pen. My father, younger sister, and myself have all been involved in martial arts since we were young, and continue to practice today though we do not attend a specific school. As a martial artist and former boy scout I always try to be prepared, and because of where I live I always carry a knife, both a basic locking folder and a basic Swiss Army pocket knife. I carry a pen specifically for its use as a self defense tool, as opposed to using my knife because using it could land me in a lot of trouble, and it comes in handy when signing paperwork at my place of employment.

I love the idea of the Tao Pen, but I did want to focus specifically on the point you made about airline travel and other public places the pen can be taken that other self defense weapons cannot. Similarly a cane shares the same benefit. At a former dojo, we hosted a seminar from a Master who specialized in using the cane as a self defense weapon. He made it clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensures that citizens who require the use of a cane cannot be denied its use. Additionally, the cane is generally not perceived as a weapon, not surprising as its use implies the individual is unlikely to be a threat due to his or her need to use a cane in the first place and so it is unlikely that it would be taken away. Image does after all play a role in whether you are assessed as a threat, and sometimes its best to appear less of a threat than you really are.

The cane as opposed to a pen when carried in public areas, airports, trains, or other types of public transportation where other self defense weapons are banned, offers advantages such as reach, weight, and versatility. The cane offers its user the same protections that the pen offers, but also keeps your assailants at a greater distance. Furthermore, the cane provides a means of hooking and tripping an assailant, and can also be used in the same manner as an escrima stick to strike, trap,
and break when properly trained in its use. While I am not really at an age where I require the use of a cane or walking stick I could still carry one if I didn't mind drawing attention to myself but my dad who is older than 40 at this point and had several pins put in his ankle to correct an injury from his service days takes his whenever he has to fly or is going to be walking around with a bunch of crowds or entering a situation where its use is possible. If a self defense weapon, that isn't a "self defense weapon" is sought after I would recommend learning to use the cane and begin carrying it with you wherever you go it is highly effective and protected by law. Best Regards, - Coastal Texas Prepper

The recent posting of Pat's Product Review: CRKT Tao Pen, brought something to mind: I too work as a Security Officer and let me say this is a great idea. As to your issue of flying without a weapon, I have been including a pair of socks and four D size batteries in my carry-on luggage for several years. I have never been stopped, or questioned about these items. However if need be, those batteries dropped into a sock could make a nice little field expedient sap. I personally have never hit myself or anyone else in the head with this improvised sap, so I can't say exactly how effective it is, but it doesn't look like it would be fun to be the recipient. - RedFiveAlpha

JWR Replies: There are a lot of similar improvised and "at hand" weapons that are relatively innocuous in appearance, depending on the circumstances. For anyone traveling by car, road flares and a medium-length Mag-Lite flashlight look innocuous. (A 3-D cell light doesn't look much like a baton (unlike the 6-cell monsters), but yet it can still be a devastating impact weapon. A lit road flare will encourage nearly any right-minded goblin to flee in fear.) For pedestrians and rail commuters, walking sticks and umbrellas (depending on the season) don't even get a second glance--especially for those of us in the graying generation. For air travelers, even a stiff pocket comb can be an effective weapon. See Larry Wick's Split Second Survival video.) For bicyclists, a frame-mounted tire pump can be effective as in impromptu baton, especially if it is a variety that can have its sliding handle lock in the closed position. Depending on the jurisdiction, bicyclists and runners can also justify carrying either "dog chaser" stick or a large container of pepper spray--such as those sold under the brand name Guard Alaska. Commercial truckers often carry a "Tire Checker" baton, which can of course serve dual purposes. And anyone that works at a retail store can often justify carrying a box cutter pocket knife. (If carried in a well-worn utilitarian leather belt pouch, then they just look like a "tool of the trade." But make sure that you also have a business card that identifies you as a "retail sales associate" or something similar. )

Ttabs has done it again with another great ultralight low-altitude flying video, over the north end of the Palouse Hills region, in eastern Washington. Be sure to watch all of it. He jumps a band of mule deer, near the end.

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Dr. Bob recently wrote and posted a detailed series of article on vitamins. (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:

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The Ryans over at Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest just posted: Book Review Lights Out by David Crawford.

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Darrel from Ohio sent this: Emergency arc welding with three 12 volt batteries

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Veteran contributor KAF sent this: Make a felted soap scrubbie

"Paper is poverty,... it is only the ghost of money, and not money itself." - Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Edward Carrington, 1788.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Long gone are the days when you could actually carry a pocket knife, or multi-tool on a commercial airline. I remember the day, when you could walk onto a plane, and if you hand a handgun (cased) just hand it to the pilot, who would secure it in the cockpit. When you got to your destination, the pilot would hand your case handgun back to you.
So-called "security" measures started sneaking up on us, at airports, ever so slowly. They started limiting us to pocket knives of a certain blade length and no longer. Then they started banning multi-tools altogether, as well as pocket knives, nail clippers and even nail files. For the most part, when you get on a plane, you are left without much in the way of a self-defense weapon of any sort.
Enter Columbia River Knife & Tool with a collaboration with my friend, Allen Elishewitz, a very talented knife maker and martial artist. I've reviewed Allen's custom knives in the past, and found them to not only be expertly crafted, but a thing of art as well. My good friend (don't tell him I called him my friend - it'll go to his head) Rod Bremer, who owns and operates CRKT. I've known Rod almost since he started CRKT and have probably reviewed more of their knives than any other writer out there. There's a reason for this. As most SurvivalBlog readers know, I look for value for my money, and quality, as well. CRKT delivers on both counts.
Rod Bremer is always on the lookout for something new, different and unique. And, he has asked me to keep my eyes open for something different in the way of knives, and I've alerted Bremer on several occasions, and CRKT picked-up those designs in a collaboration between themselves and the custom knife makers. Over the past few years, CRKT has really brought out some neat new stuff. One of the best, in my humble opinion is their collaboration between themselves and Allen Elishewitz, in the Tao Pen.
To be sure, the Tao Pen isn't just any ordinary pen. Besides being a high-quality writing instrument, it can also be used as an impact weapon, as well as a lethal weapon, in dire situations. The Tao Pen is brutally strong, as it's made out of 6061 aluminum, that is precision-machined and hard anodized - in several different colors.
The idea behind the Tao Pen, as a self-defense tool, is three-fold. At the lowest threat level, the impact crown can be used to strike an assailant on the head or hands in a raking and thrusting movement. This is the lowest level of self-defense use, and it might just end any further violence aimed at a person. The Tao Pen, in my humble opinion, as a life-long martial artist myself, is best employed in an over-head striking motion to the top of an assailant's head. This would cause considerable pain and could end a confrontation with one blow.
However, if the second level of use with the Tao Pen is called for, you can use the more pointed butt of the pen to thrust towards the pressure point behind the ears, armpit or even the throat. Be advised, that any blow to the throat can lead to death - so be careful here on the level of force you need to end an attack. One can also jab an attacker in the eyes with the Tao Pen - if they can't see you, they can't hurt you.
The third level of defense, if the attacker persists, is that the point of the pen can be used in a thrusting move for penetration into soft tissue of the throat, chest, stomach or other areas of the body. My only problem with this technique is that, the cap of the pen has to be removed to get to the point of the pen - this takes time. However, you might buy this time, if you've used the other techniques, and the assailant has broken-off the attack for a moment. My suggestion would be to have the pen's point already exposed if you feel an attack is coming - don't be caught in Condition White - where you have no idea what is going on around you. Stay in Condition Yellow - be aware of your surroundings and what is going on, so you'll be prepared should an attack happen.
Many SurvivalBlog readers live in areas where pocket knives aren't allowed to be carried. And, in some areas, the laws are written as to how long a blade length you can have on a folding knife - not good! I refuse to live in a Communist state that has these kinds of laws. I carry concealed on a daily basis, and the only time I'm out and about, without a handgun on my person, is if I'm entering a public building, like a court house - where firearms are forbidden - as well as knives. In cases like this, the Tao Pen can come in handy. I'm not aware of any place where you can't take a pen with you - even on airplanes. This is where the Tao Pen really shines - it's not only a pen, but a well-made weapon, in sheep's clothing.
I refuse to fly any more. I don't want to submit myself to having my rights violated by getting searched, or having an x-ray taken at the airport. So, I simply don't fly any more. However, were I to fly, I would have a Tao Pen in my pocket - you never know when you might need something more than your hands to stop an attack on a plane these days - every advantage is needed!
My oldest daughter works plain clothes security in a large retail store - they are not allowed to carry any weapons - not even pepper spray or handcuffs. What she does carry and use everyday is a CRKT Tao Pen - it's there for report writing, as well as use as a last-ditch self-defense impact weapon if needed. The store she works at doesn't even allow their security personnel to run after shoplifters - so many get away. However, every now and then, they have a "fighter" and must wrestle the person down if they elect to attack the security personnel. The Tao Pen is there - if needed.
Over the years, I've taught my martial arts students to use any sort of improvised weapon they can lay their hands on - and to use their hands, feet, elbows and knees as a last resort - it's better to strike someone with some sort of "weapon" in your hands, instead of empty hands - whenever possible. You'd be amazed at the many types of "weapons" my martial arts students have come up with over the years - even if one is shopping in a grocery store, there is a plethora of weapons there - not counting the knives in the kitchen cutlery aisle - there are all manner of canned fruits and veggies that can be held in your hand and used to strike an attacker with. However, if you have the Tao Pen on your person - you already have a very effective weapon to use.
The Tao Pen isn't inexpensive, then again, quality never comes cheap - it retails for $69.99--but they can often be found available for much less, through Amazon or eBay. The thing is built like a tank, so it should last your a lifetime. And, should the ink cartridge run dry, CRKT has Fisher refills for it. Check out the Tao Pen, you'll be impressed. - Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor

I am 69 year old Connecticut native, grew up on 100 acre farm in Eastern Connecticut during the 40’s and 50’s. [The late October 2011 snowstorm caused a lot of damage and the lengthy power failures upset a lot of people. See: Tempers flare over six days of Connecticut power outages.] I know most of the hardest hit areas, and am also a prepper!  Like most of New England, our state was clear cut during the 1700s and 1800s.  I have seen old photos of our rolling hills with nary a tree to be seen.  As a child on our farm, I never remember a winter power outage, and I do remember big snow/ice storms!  This is because the 2nd and 3rd growth timber was small and not overhanging power lines, and the many rural subdivisions had not yet been built.  Most people lived and worked in our then wonderful cities and the local manufacturing plants. 
Over the last 30 to 40 years, due to higher taxes, many businesses have left, people have left the inner cities and been able to buy a new home in the suburbs.  We have had a huge residential building boom, and people were happy to live in mostly upscale communities with tree lined lanes.  We are paying the price!
We had many power outages in last August due to Tropical Storm Irene, and most people were not prepared with supplies, and most could afford the basics.  They did NOT learn!  We have become soft and dependent on the Government!  They complained in letters to the newspapers, and to television reporters, and even complained about the MREs given to them from the local fire departments.  My little shoreline town is a very wealthy town and even here, they complained and many were not prepared.  Even the elderly people have not prepared!
Propane stoves and companies that sell the tanks and service them are readily available in our state, and are safer and easier for our aging population to operate.  We have one in our living room with three large tanks.  Enough to take us through most of the winter.  These citizens can afford to do this, but have chosen not to.  For a few hundred dollars, they could have a little camp stove, a twig stove, a sterno stove, a charcoal grill (we have all of these) and dried and canned food.  No need to go hungry or freeze to death.  Food from the freezer can be put in large plastic totes, weight the lid down with rocks or bricks and put it outside in the shade.  We have five months of cold here, and the frozen food will stay frozen. 
I am equally frustrated that the town officials do not have town meetings to talk about how to prepare.  In fact, though my elderly sister and I want to keep a low profile, I think I will e-mail our Town Selectman and tell him that I will personally give a brief talk and provide a list of what every homeowner should have so that they are safe, warm and fed when the next outage occurs. 
I have read all of Cody Lundin’s books, your books, the Army Survival Manual and other such literature, and we had parents who were always prepared.  Perhaps I can get through to some of our citizens! - L.H. in Lyme, Connecticut

Mr. Rawles:
I'm a long-time SurvivalBlog reader.

There was a recent post about dry batteries and where to buy acid.  I live in rural Ohio, in farm country.  I have had no problem buying battery acid at a local auto parts chain store.  I am always adding to [batteries for] tractors and combines, et cetera.  Never thought of it being hard to get.   Last time I bought it it came in a 6 quart container for around $30.

Keep up the great work. - Sheepman Dave

I frequently get questions regarding long term, reliable, battery backup systems. First some comments regarding Lead Acid batteries, and then a possible answer to long term backup batteries that can be stored dry almost indefinitely until they are needed.ry

There is at least one manufactured that that sells “Bone Dry” lead acid cells. DEKA sells their commercial line of wet cell batteries wet or dry. Look at their Commercial Line data sheet. The acid for batteries can be obtained from them, from Grainger Wholesale, or also through several hardware companies. Do a Google search for Battery acid. For the home chemists, 98% H2SO4 can be purchased from Biodiesel suppliers such as DUDA Diesel. (Mixing the correct acid gravity battery acid from concentrated acid requires the correct knowledge and procedure, or you will go to the hospital with severe acid burns – no fun, especially in a TEOTWAWKI situation).

The better alternative to Lead Acid batteries is to switch to Nickel Iron, aka "NiFe" batteries. These batteries were formally used in many industrial applications, and also to supply backup switching power to electrical substations. They have a rated lifespan of 25 years and longer with proper care. The only reason they fell into disuse is because they are not as efficient as Lead Acid or sealed NiCd cells  and need regular watering with distilled water, unlike sealed lead acid batteries. NiFe efficiency usually runs around 80%, so you may have to add a few solar panels to make up for the inefficiency. (Simplified: You put in 100 watts, and only get 80 watts back). NiFe batteries, as the name implies, use electrodes of Nickel and Iron, and a caustic electrolyte (Usually Sodium or Potassium Hydroxide, with some Lithium Hydroxide added.) I have run across 30+ year old NiFe batteries in eastern Europe, that are still functioning almost like new.

The nice thing about NiFe batteries is that they are not sensitive to overcharge, freezing, neglect like not charging them, etc. The electrolyte is shipped in dry powder form, and only when the NiFe battery is needed, is the electrolyte prepared. This allows the cells to be stored almost indefinitely. Preparing the electrolyte only requires mixing the caustic powder with distilled water, in the proper proportions. The usual cautions for mixing caustic solutions apply, since the NiFe electrolyte is like a strong oven cleaner, and will cause severe burns if not properly handled, although it is [a bit] safer than battery acid.

One importer of Chinese NiFe batteries is Be Utility Free. There are also  two others, Iron Edison, and ZappWorks. The ZappWorks web page states that their cells are manufactured in Dillon, Montana. [JWR Adds: Not only are they from a company in The American Redoubt, but they have a competitively low price, per Amp-Hour.] I don't know if these companies sell their cells wet or dry.

For more information and more vendor names, check out Regards, - The Consultant

Imbedded-For-Life journalist Michael Yon had some great comments on lights and night vision gear. (BTW, if there was ever a journalist worthy of contributions, it is Michael Yon. He does take PayPal donations. Michael is one of my heroes.)

   o o o

For anyone considering a retreat in northern Michigan, I just heard about Houseworth Realty, in Alanson, Michigan. Doug Houseworth is a realtor that understands the special requirements of retreat properties.

   o o o

Finally, after two+ years in limbo: 'Red Dawn' remake to come out next year from FilmDistrict. It looks like it will be released in the summer of 2012. I was disappointed to read about the post-production digital bow to political correctness, but it still promises to be a good film.

   o o o

An update on Hardened Structures (one of our advertisers) let me know that they now offer EMP/HEMP/CME shielding design services as part of their architectural and engineering work. They also specify and provide generators, photovoltaic power systems, and much more.

   o o o

Talk about a target rich environment. This guy needs a belt-fed LMG, or at least a Saiga 12 with a drum magazine.

"Beyond the path of the outmost sun through utter darkness hurled-
Farther than ever comet flared or vagrant star-dust swirled-
Live such as fought and sailed and ruled and loved and made our world.
They are purged of pride because they died; they know the worth of their bays;
They sit at wine with the Maidens Nine and the Gods of the Elder Days-
It is their will to serve or be still as fitteth Our Father's praise.
‘Tis theirs to sweep through the ringing deep where Azrael's outposts are,
Or buffet a path through the Pit's red wrath when God goes out to war,
Or hang with the reckless Seraphim on the rein of a red-maned star.
They take their mirth in the joy of the Earth-they dare not grieve for her pain;
They know of toil and the end of toil; they know God's Law is plain;
So they whistle the Devil to make them sport who know that Sin is vain.
And oft-times cometh our wise Lord God, master of every trade,
And tells them tales of His daily toil, of Edens newly made;
And they rise to their feet as He passes by, gentlemen unafraid. 
To these who are cleansed of base Desire, Sorrow and Lust and Shame-
Gods for they knew the hearts of men, men for they stooped to Fame-
Borne on the breath that men call Death, my brother's spirit came.
He scarce had need to doff his pride or slough the dross of Earth -
E'en as he trod that day to God so walked he from his birth,
In simpleness and gentleness and honour and clean mirth.
So cup to lip in fellowship they gave him welcome high
And made him place at the banquet board-the Strong Men rangedthereby,
Who had done his work and held his peace and had no fear to die
Beyond the loom of the last lone star, through open darkness hurled,
Further than rebel comet dared or hiving star-swarm swirled,
Sits he with those that praise our God for that they served His world."

- From the Dedication page of Barrack-Room Ballads by Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hi Jim,
I continue to be amused by prepper concerns for the vulnerability of their vehicles to an EMP event.  I have followed the EMP issue closely ever since becoming a NBC qualified officer in the service, many years ago.  In 1984, by accident and through a military book-of-the-month club I received a copy of Warday and the Journey Onwards, by Whitley Strieber. Reading the book was another wake up call for me, another step towards becoming a full-fledged prepper.  A few years later, through my wife, I met a friend who was a top expert on EMP.  He explained about the various wave forms of EMP and the possible susceptibility of electronics to EMP.  He also detailed that hardening of items was not difficult, but often overlooked by civilian engineers.  He had spent many years helping the military successfully harden gear against EMP.    

Fast forward to 2010: I started listening to EMPAct America on Blog Talk radio where I heard my EMP friend speak, and where I have frequently heard authors like you and William Forstchen speak.  Forstchen of course wrote the book One Second After. In that book the EMP event takes out almost all automobiles instantly and gridlocks the roads, streets and interstates.  This led me to discuss the likelihood of vehicle susceptibility with my EMP friend.  He directed me to the EMP Commission results. (This was a commission set up by the US Congress.)  There I read not only the executive summary, but the full report.  Later I discussed the report with my friend.  He reiterated, (and I quote loosely), “If you are focused on the direct and immediate effects of EMP to your automobile, you may be disappointed and you will have missed the main point.  The effect of an EMP event could be the collapse of interdependent and critical infrastructures, particularly loss of the electric power grid and the resulting inability to get fuel for your car.  Only a few cars will stop right away.  But they will soon have no purpose if there is no fuel.”  

So the all the details are laid out in the commission report, for the following areas, Infrastructure Commonalities (including SCADA systems), Electric Power, Telecommunications, Banking and Finance, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Transportation, Food Infrastructure, Water Infrastructure, Emergency Services, Space Systems, and Government.  But I want to quote the automobile transportation section in detail from page 115:

“We tested a sample of 37 cars in an EMP simulation laboratory, with automobile vintages
ranging from 1986 through 2002. Automobiles of these vintages include extensive
electronics and represent a significant fraction of automobiles on the road today. The
testing was conducted by exposing running and non-running automobiles to sequentially
increasing EMP field intensities. If anomalous response (either temporary or permanent)
was observed, the testing of that particular automobile was stopped. If no anomalous
response was observed, the testing was continued up to the field intensity limits of the
simulation capability (approximately 50 kV/m).
Automobiles were subjected to EMP environments under both engine turned off and
engine turned on conditions. No effects were subsequently observed in those automobiles
that were not turned on during EMP exposure. The most serious effect observed on running
automobiles was that the motors in three cars stopped at field strengths of approximately
30 kV/m or above. In an actual EMP exposure, these vehicles would glide to a
stop and require the driver to restart them. Electronics in the dashboard of one automobile
were damaged and required repair. Other effects were relatively minor. Twenty-five
automobiles exhibited malfunctions that could be considered only a nuisance (e.g.,
blinking dashboard lights) and did not require driver intervention to correct. Eight of the
37 cars tested did not exhibit any anomalous response.
Based on these test results, we expect few automobile effects at EMP field levels below
25 kV/m. Approximately 10 percent or more of the automobiles exposed to higher field
levels may experience serious EMP effects, including engine stall, that require driver
intervention to correct. We further expect that at least two out of three automobiles on the
road will manifest some nuisance response at these higher field levels. The serious malfunctions
could trigger car crashes on U.S. highways; the nuisance malfunctions could exacerbate
this condition. The ultimate result of automobile EMP exposure could be triggered
crashes that damage many more vehicles than are damaged by the EMP, the consequent
loss of life, and multiple injuries.”

So the bottom line is, yes you should be concerned about an EMP event, either naturally occurring or nuclear induced, but not because it is going to instantly make your car stop running.  Take time to read the whole Commission report and you will know where the real dangers lie.  Thanks, - W.J.

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 (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 (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.

In September of this year I took my JanSport Trail Series external frame backpack, aka “Go Bag” into a controlled field test. It was a 2-day, 1-night, hike and camp excursion into a rainforest in the Olympic National Forest in Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. The purpose of my trip was to test my Go Bag as thoroughly as possible. What I learned surprised me and two days worth of practical experience greatly enhanced my previous two years of “theoretically” planning. The concept of a Go Bag for me is not “bugging out” or leaving my home for greener pastures. A home “bug-out” scenario is a whole different ball game and generally requires a different plan. Rather, a Go Bag for me is an emergency backpack which will help me survive at least a week if I am stranded without a vehicle and/or away from home in some sort of catastrophe or civil/environmental emergency.

The primary theme for this article is that there is always a way to improve a Go Bag or make it leaner. I went into this field test with a 40 lb bag and quickly found out that this amount of weight was too heavy for me. It didn’t allow for good foot travel without some significant exhaustion and muscle pain. Each person has their own limits for weight and comfort and I certainly found mine during this experience.

Although I endured the trip for a total of 12 miles, it was not without a lot of discomfort. I lugged my Go Bag plus a full water bladder, a handgun, extra cartridges, and two knives along a mostly flat path through the forest next to a river in great weather (~70 degree Fahrenheit afternoons, and shady). During this time, I learned several invaluable lessons about the importance of keeping a Go Bag light and practical. With the changes described below, I was able to reduce the weight of my Go Bag by over 7 lbs and at the same time improve its usefulness and the quality of the contents. In a ‘real-world’ emergency…..mobility and practicality are everything.

Night Vision Monocular: The concept of having “special ops” capability during an emergency on-foot situation is enticing but not very realistic. The unit I have (although smallish) was too heavy and too ineffective for practical use. The attached IR illuminator does help the night vision ability but the battery that powers it is an unusual type and always needs to be fresh….and mine wasn’t. In contrast, my 130 lumen, waterproof, AA battery, LED, adjustable power flashlight lit up the dark forest like it was daytime for a long distance – good enough for me to see what might be lurking out there. If at some point in the future, a small lightweight thermal sensing unit becomes affordable I might go that route. However, for the time being my philosophy will be if I don’t see it, I won’t worry about it.
            Net Weight Change = -17.8 ounces

Socks: I wore regular white athletic socks inside my hiking boots and hauled in an extra pair along with a vacuum-packed pair of high-quality moisture wicking hiking socks ($15). I quickly learned that I didn’t need 2 extra pair of socks. The high-quality socks are the ones to keep in the Go Bag. The athletic socks were too light and caused a major blister. One pair of moisture wicking boot socks in addition to the ones I’m already wearing will do the trick.
            Net Weight Change = -1.6 ounces


MREs: During the hike I packed in 3 A-Pack MREs (with heaters). Although these were relatively satisfying meals, I came to the emotionally tough conclusion that multiple MREs are too heavy and too wasteful [of space] for their survival value… weight. Some of the components in the MRE were not eaten and/or not used: old raisins, marginally edible cookies, plastic utensil, orange drink powder, salt/pepper, etc… Even though each little item was fairly lightweight, they were all wrapped in plastic and every extra ounce of weight adds up. I’ve spent a lot of money purchasing MREs and will continue to store them away at home for future use and to give to others but for Go Bag purposes it just boils down to the weight-versus-value comparison. Going forward, I will only pack 1 MRE and supplement it with other vacuum packed dry foods (eggs, chili, soup) that weigh less and keep the nutrition-to-weight ratio where it needs to be.
            Net Weight Change = -43.4 ounces

Small (1” x ½”) Soaps Sheets: This is a ridiculous item and the silliest item I’ve ever bought for my pack. The moisture in the air and on my hands clumped the sheets together and an individual sheet was so thin it was only enough to clean about 1 finger. These sheets were hard to extract with wet hands and the small container is not waterproof and easy to lose in a big pack. This was certainly a ‘boneheaded’ idea so going forward I’ll carry a small bar of non-scented soap in a plastic travel case and call it good. Bears will alert on almost ANY scent (not just food) so using unscented or low-scented soap is very important.
            Net Weight Change = +5.5 ounces

Water: DON’T pack bottled water. Fill what you are carrying from a jug of water in your car or from another source before you start. I filled a bladder for my pack before I left and again several times along the trail from streams using my Kuryakyn portable water pump/filter. I did have a couple small bottles of water in my pack that I eventually drank but I later realized that I shouldn’t have hauled them in. I also used the filtered water in my pack bladder for cooking. Don’t head out without some ability to carry & filter (or treat) your water.
            Net Weight Change = -12.0 ounces

Cook Stove: One of my “luxury” Go Bag items is a small butane hiking stove that collapses into about the size of a tennis ball. Yes, I had to also haul a small canister of fuel but I won’t be making a change to my pack here – the stove is portable, fast, small, and lightweight. In a true emergency situation, I’d not use the canister fuel/stove combo unless absolutely necessary. In my opinion, this is one of those items that is still worth the weight to haul.
            Net Weight Change = 0

Batteries: I packed 6 extra rechargeable NiMh batteries but learned within a few hours that all of the spare batteries were dead or weak. I forgot to recharge them before I left (I guess I was just too busy planning for the trip). The lesson learned here is that no amount of batteries will help if they are not fresh and/or you do not have a good recharging or replenishing strategy. From now on, I will only bring 2 extra rechargeable AA batteries and rotate them in and out of my pack to ensure that they are fully charged at all times. My approach to power requirements is that any electronic device I carry uses only AA batteries so I can use the same set of batteries across multiple devices if I need to.
            Net Weight Change = -3.8 ounces

Charger: The cheap & inexpensive solar battery charger that I took with me on this trip has since been replaced with a better model. The cheap charger had too many wires to connect, it was not waterproof, contained cheap components, was too bulky, and it took too long to charge the batteries. My new one is a lightweight, flexible, efficient, fold-up solar array designed primarily for charging AA’s. This new unit only weighs 6.6 ounces WITH the 2 AA batteries and can charge them to full power in 3-4 hours in full sunlight. If you want to plan for relying on batteries for days or weeks without access to power….do not go out and buy a cheap solar charger like I did. Spend the extra money and get a good one.
            Net Weight Change = -2.6 ounces

Tent: I purchased a 2-person tent for my Go Bag because I thought that I needed the extra room. What I learned was that it only added pounds to my pack and required a larger area to set up. At the end of the day, I let others in my party use my 2-person tent and I used a small, high quality 1-person tent which was lighter and smaller in profile. I had no problem fitting into it even with my lightweight portable Ultralite cot (2 lbs, 7 oz) and sleep sac.
            Net Weight Change = -32.0 ounces

Insect Repellent: I had no idea how many bites and stings I received until I got home and was miserable for several days afterward. I had packed a small “tube” of repellent but didn’t use it enough, although even if used properly it would have only lasted 1-2 days. The lesson here is that more is better when it comes to insect repellent. In my opinion carrying a few extra ounces of repellent in the pack is a good idea. Sure, there are many “natural” solutions that don’t add weight to a pack, however getting all “Bear Grylls” and rolling around in the mud to protect my skin just doesn’t work for me.
            Net Weight Change = +2.0 ounces

Communication: My Yaesu VX-7R Ham transceiver that I carried can operate at low power on a 2AA battery adapter and is also waterproof. With my low-profile, tree-drop antenna it is worth its weight in gold to me in an emergency situation. If you have a HAM radio license, a portable transceiver is one of those items I suggest you DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT. If you are not a HAM, a small pocket-sized waterproof AM/FM radio is still a very important tool to have with you.
            Net Weight Change = 0

Fire Starting: I thought I had this part of my preparation covered in spades before this trial run but I quickly learned otherwise. My “waterproof/windproof” matches were hard to start and the striker component to my magnesium fire starter went missing. Although I finally got an occasional match to light, it really made me realize how serious this issue could have been in a real emergency. After returning home I went out and purchased an outdoor-rated micro butane torch lighter to use for my primary means of getting a flame going. This little unit is super small (1.1/2” x 2” x ½”), lightweight, refillable, windproof, waterproof, shock proof, and reliable. It uses a piezoelectric starting method so batteries and flint are never needed and will last 30 minutes (continual flame) on a full tank of butane. It cost me about $40 but I am betting that this is money very well spent. I’ll probably use this little gizmo on other occasions also. Obviously, if I find myself in a “Mad Max” environment, I’d likely not get the opportunity to find a butane refill bottle anywhere. However, 30 minutes of continuous hi-pressure/hi-heat flame will last months as long as I’m frugal.
            Net Weight Change = 0

Utensils / Cook Set: One of the most obvious lessons I learned during this experience (other than that my pack was too heavy) was that the “boy scout” type cook sets are unnecessary where pack weight is a primary concern. This was one of those items I originally thought would be an “essential” Go Bag item but I have since changed my mind completely. It occurred to me during the trip that I could actually use a very large coffee cup as a cooking pan, a bowl for eating, AND a drinking cup. For utensils, my cheap plastic spork worked okay but it was flimsy and I worried that it would break over the long haul. I have since removed the cook set and the plastic spork and replaced these items with a ceramic coated X-large coffee cup, a titanium spork, and a hi-heat resistant mini-spatula.
            Net Weight Change = -11.1 ounces

Other Food / Snacks: I tend to vacuum pack everything from clothes to food to whatever else I don’t want to get wet. So my trail mix and beef jerky packed into small individual sized packets worked well as snack food. I also purchased, packed, and consumed some high quality powdered eggs and some little beef sausages for breakfast – a winning combination for taste and weight-to-calorie value. Another home run idea was to pack some little single servings of instant coffee from Starbucks (VIA). However, my lesson learned in this category was to include a couple of those little plastic clip bag sealer clips for keeping the food fresh in the vacuum bag after it is initially opened. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about the bag clips on this trip but I certainly have them in my Go Bag now. Ziploc baggies are also good for this purpose but that requires taking empty baggies and then risking that they get lost, torn, or dirty.
            Net Weight Change = +1.0 ounces

Sleep Sac: A normal full-sized sleeping bag is too heavy of an item to carry in an emergency hiking scenario especially if you already pack a “space” blanket like I do. However, I felt I needed something more than just a tinfoil sheet so I purchased and hauled a “sleep sac” for my field test. The sleep sac compresses to about 1/3 the size of a regular bag but when unfurled fits a regular sized person and is good down to about 40F. In fact, I actually packed my sleep sac inside of my Go Bag because it is small enough to fit and I want to make sure it stayed dry. This trial run was my first chance to see how the sleep sac worked and it worked well on all accounts. A winter scenario however might be a totally different ball game.
            Net Weight Change = 0

Entertainment: At the end of our first day my party found ourselves sitting around the campsite (no open fires were allowed) after dinner in an awkward “down-time” moment that seemed to last forever. Our bear-line was up, tents made-ready, food and utensils cleaned and put away and we just sat there without much to do. I have since purchased a set of full plastic playing cards for this type of contingency.
            Net Weight Change =+4.2 ounces

GPS: Carrying some sort of tracking device is always a good idea if you can afford the extra weight. During my hike, I found that using my DeLorme PN40 not only reported my speed, distance, track and ETA but it also gave me something fun to do when trudging along on the trail. My only concern was battery usage. Its two AA batteries died on the hike out the next day so now I know that checking my GPS screen every 15 minutes is WAY too frequent for that type of scenario. I also learned that even with a 40 lb pack on my back and a blister on my foot, I was hiking at 2.5 to 3.0 MPH which gives me a good reference point for the future.
            Net Weight Change = 0

Rope: I actually added a little weight to my pack after this trial and bought a better rope (stronger and longer). For the trip I had packed and carried a small bundle (15’) of 3/16” rope not wanting to burden myself with something heavier. The trail and camping spot on this hike were located in bear country, but fortunately the park service had already installed bear wire systems so using my own rope was not required. If it had been required I would not have had enough rope to do the job properly. I really needed at least 30’ of rope to get my “smellables” out of ‘bear reach’. The thought also occurred to me that the rope I was carrying did not have enough load capacity to suspend my own weight had I needed to do that. The lesson learned here: don’t spare the money or the weight when it comes to rope and having too much rope will only hurt if you’re bungee jumping.
            Net Weight Change = +6.3 ounces

Clothing: Planning a hike into a rainforest naturally triggered me to haul my thin rubber raincoat and waterproof hiking boots. On this particular trip I found I didn’t need either of these items. Additionally, I forgot that I had already stashed away a small plastic poncho in my Go Bag which would have worked fine in a rainy situation. This for me was a lesson in redundancy and why it is so important to memorize every last item that I’m hauling. For urban Go Bag scenarios, a good pair of running shoes might be a much better idea than big ‘ol hiking boots. Since I live near the mountains, I’ll keep the waterproof boots and the raincoat in the trunk of my car but they won’t be ‘normal’ pack items. My raincoat and boots were not usual go-pack items for me so they didn’t actually add or detract from the weight of my Go Bag.
            Net Weight Change = 0

Weapons: For protection I carried a full-sized 10mm Glock (G20) with an extra 15-round magazine, a 12” survival knife and a large pocket knife. In retrospect, I didn’t need the pocket knife and the extra magazine. In a life-threatening situation, if I can’t kill it in 16 rounds forget about another magazine. If I can’t kill it with a survival knife after shooting at it 16 times, the pocket knife won’t do me any good anyway. Keeping it real, I’ll only carry the 10mm Glock with 15+1 rounds and the survival knife from now on. I could get by with a lighter, less powerful weapon but I don’t ever want to haul something that may not do the job. My Glock 20 can do the job no question about it. On a side note, carrying bear spray for trekking through the woods or mace for trekking through suburbia is always a good idea. Here is my rule of thumb for self defense in order from first to last: 1. Walk away slowly (avoid the confrontation) 2. Use your brain for alternatives (i.e. hide or stand still) 3. Use a non-lethal deterrent 4. Use a lethal weapon as a last resort only if your life or the life of someone near you is seriously threatened.
            Net Weight Change = -18.7 ounces

In Summary
Aside from being a great outing and just having a little fun and camaraderie, this Go Bag trial was an invaluable experience and I’d recommend the same for anyone looking to optimize their preparations. For the record, this article doesn’t speak to everything I’ve stuffed into my Go Bag (first aid, duct tape, fishing kit, cot, tarp, etc….). I simply reported on the items that I felt I learned the most about…… good, bad, or otherwise.

Total Go Bag Weight Change = -7 lbs. 12 ounces

My next go bag trial will likely be an overnight urban session in the wintertime where the conditions are radically different from this field test.

JWR Adds: I do not recommend using tall, high-riding backpacks for Bug Out Bags/Go Bags/G.O.O.D. kits. Any pack that extends more than a few inches above your shoulders greatly limits your peripheral vision and makes you vulnerable to attack from behind. This explains why Patsy Packs are so rarely used by military forces.

I have seen a lot of things online about colloidal silver being an option to protect yourself from the barium aerosol chemtrails being sprayed over my city. I don't know how I feel about the idea of inhaling silver particles into my lungs. Do you have an opinion on this subject? Have you used a colloidal silver inhaler system yourself? I trust your advice and I await your response. Thank you,
- Diana X.

JWR Replies: First, I must mention that I've concluded that chemtrails are an elaborate myth. (An example of Urban Folklore that has been debunked.) The technology needed to somehow infuse poisonous chemicals into the exhaust of jet engines would be impossible to hide. Ditto for the transport and decanting of the umpteen tanks of toxic chemicals. The legions of mechanics and truck drivers needed to carry out this alleged conspiracy out would have surely seen it, and the equipment would have long ago have been photographed. Those photos would be all over the Internet. We need to put this myth to rest, once and for all.

Second, colloidal silver is for treatment of viruses, bacteria, and fungi.  It does not detoxify your system of any chemicals.

Lastly, do not take colloidal silver other than brief periods of time, for acute ailments. Long term use is detrimental and will turn your skin blue.

Liquidity crunch, ahead? CME increases margin call; markets will be under pressure. (Thanks to C.D.V. for the link.)

Greek Tragedy, Act II: Der Bild reports that some businesses are getting ready for reintroduction of the Greek Drachma. TUI rechnet schon in Drachmen:
. For non-German readers, here is a rudimentary translation. This might not be "Das Ende der Welt, wie wir sie kennen." But it might be The End of the Euro As We Know It.(Thanks to S.B. in Holland for the link.)

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) recommended this over at STRAFOR: Special Series (Part 1): Assessing the Damage of the European Banking Crisis

R.L. sent this: Bank Of America Derivatives Timebomb Shows System Is Corrupt To The Core

K.A.F. sent this: Back To European Sovereign Exposure: Moody's Will Downgrade Austria's Erste Over Attempt To Hide Billions In Sovereign CDS

Items from The Economatrix:

Those Who Know Will Understand

Situation is Ultra-Bullish for Gold & Silver Bullion and Stocks

Greek Government Teeters on Brink of Collapse as Crisis Deepens

Job Market Improves Modestly as Unemployment Falls

G.R. in Texas was the first of several readers to mention this product from Australia: Dentist In A Box

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Not so fast--we're furious. Fast and Furious: NRA to Launch National Campaign Calling For Holder's Resignation

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K.A.F. sent this from The Washington Times: Feds concerned about hackers opening prison doors

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F.G. sent this: New book details starvation during the siege of Leningrad

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Tempers flare over six days of Connecticut power outages. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

"Oh, the wonders [the gospel] will accomplish! It wipes guilt from the conscience, rolls the world out of the heart, and darkness from the mind...It will put honey into the bitterest cup, and health into the most diseased soul. It will give hope to the heart, health to the face, oil to the head, light to the eye, strength to the hand, and swiftness to the foot. It will make life pleasant, labour sweet, and death triumphant. It gives faith to the fearful, courage to the timid, and strength to the weak. It robs the grave of its terrors and death of its sting. It subdues sin, severs from self, makes faith strong, love active, hope lively, and zeal invincible. It gives sonship for slavery, robes for rags, makes the Cross light and reproach pleasant; it will transform a dungeon into a palace, and make the fires of martyrdom as refreshing as the cool breeze of summer. It snaps legal bonds, loosens the soul, clarifies the mind, purifies the affections, and often lifts the saint to the very gates Heaven. No man can deserve it; money cannot buy it, or good deeds procure it; grace reigns here!" - W. Poole Balfern, 1858

Saturday, November 5, 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 (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 (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 needed a road trip to clear my mind and consider my G.O.O.D. route while on a road trip.  My Saturday journey was west on I-70 from Denver on a sunny fall day.  Around 60 miles up the hill from Denver is the gateway into the Colorado Rockies which is the Eisenhower / Johnson Tunnels that cross under the Continental Divide into the Summit County. These tunnels help avoid the winding but beautiful Loveland Pass that is often closed due to snow and poor conditions in the winter. They send the Hazardous Material trucks over the pass when the road is in good condition. When the conditions are bad the Colorado DOT closes off the tunnel to regular passenger traffic and allows the Hazardous Material trucks through at intervals. Heading home several years ago to the Denver area from a Utah Canyon Lands visit we were heading east through the Johnson Tunnel we came upon a car engulfed in flames. Tunnels and fires are not a good mixture as most know. The owners were no more than 30 feet from the rear of the vehicle and the fuel tank. They were also between the car and oncoming traffic. The exit of the tunnel was only 300 yards from the entrance in front of them. In a dangerous situation it’s about situational awareness, escape route and common sense. The last is not so common anymore.  The area these tunnels allow access to is a popular winter and summer recreation area for many of the Golden Horde in the Front Range Denver metro area. Denver is now a micro Los Angeles with gangs of all types and all the ills of any other major metro area.  Interstate 70 is often jammed with traffic on any Friday, Saturday and Sunday of any week of the year with recreating families, working folks and many trucks. Often it’s a 90 miles of traffic jam coming from or returning to the Denver area.  One small storm or accident and this trip can take more than four hours to complete. It would be my last route of choice if any occurrence was to take place in the Front Range. I have been told the civil defense officials have plans to close off this and other major routes into the mountains to all that are not residents in the mountains in the event of a biological or nuclear incident. I could just envision every weekend warrior would have their family loaded in the SUV with all the guns and supplies they could carry heading into the mountains with visions of surviving off the land. The subsequent shooting gallery and the short lived numbers of game animals would be decimated in short order.  Maybe a trip east to the plains and river valleys of Colorado you would give you and your family a better chance of survival.

After descending from the tunnels into the crossroad town of Silverthorne my intended location of the journey was at the business of Cook’s Welding, now called Security Disaster Shelters. Owner Riley Cook is now active in the ultimate shelter business.  His now completed shelter, cache unit and sample tunnel segment sits prominently in the yard of his fabrication shop.  These are massive structures ready to be placed in excavations to be removed from sight or thought of the Golden Horde. The main shelter’s structure started as a reclaimed molasses tank and is at least 40 feet long and 10 feet in diameter. Two heavy entry hatches on either end protrude upward over ten feet over the top of the horizontal structure. Several air intakes are at each end of the vessel. A pseudo tree stump covers one intake to illustrate the stealth possibilities that could be employed in it’s final location.  Each air intake has lever valves to be utilized as blast suppression.  A German air filtration system is placed on the input of the intakes to remove biological and radioactive particulate. Intakes are also provided for a generator and separate battery storage pod. The intakes have traps that are slotted to provide contaminant drains in case a liquid is introduced down an intake. The living quarters provide several beds, a galley, dining area and ample storage above and below the false floor.  It feels like a submarine inside but well light with a white interior and a well laid out living situation. This unit is impressive to say the least. It would be the ultimate retreat and a substantial investment for the ultra survivalist.

In addition to the shelter a separate vertical conical shaped structure stood in the yard.  It’s a food stash that stood 16 feet tall with a robust hatch on top. This unit started out as a reclaimed concrete truck mixer drum. The ample size hatch had a ladder within it and many shelves to place your food and supplies. Lifting lugs are welded on it to handle and lower it into its secure location. Next to it was oval access tunnel segments to be bolted together to add horizontal and easy movement to alternate entries, the side entrance of the caches or additional shelters.  A limited number of preparation minded could afford these elaborate facilities. It would not be impossible to construct smaller less expensive versions of these storage caches. All these structures intrigued me since in my past life I was a welder and tradesman.

Informative preparedness seminars were provided by a local Volunteers of America leader. The discussion of Community Emergency Response Training (C.E.R.T.) was presented.  Along with this training and American Red Cross training the credentials provided could get you on either side of the yellow tape. To some extent that would be good to have the skills and training to help those in need and in the throes of disaster but it also puts you in the harm’s way. Your personal values and the situation would have to dictate the level of commitment a person would involve themselves at the time of crisis. We discussed the fact that some safety response individuals don’t show up during catastrophes ( e.g., Hurricane Katrina). They are taking care of themselves and their families

Enlightening discussions with some of the other attendees followed the seminar. The exposure the locals have in this active mountain town on a major route of the displaced and traveling Golden Horde was discussed.  They are painfully aware of their exposure to this possibility.  It was refreshing to be with like minded folks with the same concerns. I have all but given up talking to others from work and other aspects of life about preparedness issues. My family is aware but still live life as everything will remain the same.  At this point of the game those that opened their eyes have and those that have not are in the “normalcy bias” as described by Porter Stansberry.  It’s unfortunate so few have opened their eyes and ears to the coming storm.  I hope the lord will have mercy on us all.  I discussed food storage and supply needs with Bob Farris owner of Farris Survival LLC. He has a store in Englewood, Colorado for over seven years.  Business has been good for him. When he started it was slow at the beginning. I visited his booth back in September at the Denver Preparedness Fair and it was also helpful. We talked about the Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interpreted. We both concurred that we may be entering at least seven years of dearth. It unfortunate our current Pharaohs did not have a Joseph to gather corn and plenty while we have had it available to us. Ethanol maybe a curse to all mankind  in the future and seem foolish in hindsight. It just seems questionable to be converting food stuffs into fuel. We have to be our own Joseph for our own tribes now. Sandy Tidell, an independent Consultant for THRIVE foods in Siverthorne had samples of a couple entries in crock pots. It was a big improvement over the rice and beans I have in my storage.  I think some variety is essential in your food storage.
I’ve effectively resigned myself to sheltering in place south of Denver with my supplies and guns.  I have provided supplies to family members at slightly more remote mountain locations to help them and give an alternate retreat location for other family members and possibly myself. I know this might be a fatal error to shelter in but I just don’t have the resources to buy a retreat location since my home will not sell in this economy. My neighbors are all struggling and have a spirit of apathy. I have offered my rototiller, heirloom seeds and fertilizer to a next door neighbor that has an open and large backyard. His wife was interested but he did not have the will to receive the offer.  I’m not sure  what more I could do but to set an example but with the danger of injuring my OPSEC.
It’s a precarious situation that we are all in. Living in a bedroom community between two major metropolitan areas is almost a worst case scenario short of living in the hood. This will be an area were the traveling groups will stop off at to resupply as they make their way back and forth to the cities. The town has the town police, county police and state police offices within it. I still don’t believe they will be able to quell the violence of TEOTWAWKI. They will be protecting their families and I don’t blame them. You just have to prepare the best you can for the worst and hope for the best. Do something every day no matter how insignificant or large. It will all add up to a better situation for you and your family. I wish the best for all.

Mr Rawles,
In the past I have read articles on people wanting new batteries on hand such as car, tractor and deep cell as part of there preparedness plan. one of the problems was they were unable to purchase dry batteries without the sulfuric acid in them. I recently had to purchase  a few new sets of batteries for my tractors and learned that John Deere stocks their batteries dry and when you purchase them, they add the acid and give them to you. I'm sure you could buy them from them dry. Now where and how you would get the sulfuric acid later I don't know, haven't researched that. I asked if John Deere made deep cell batteries and they do. Expensive. maybe all deep cells are. They said makes their own batteries and likes to ship them dry for better shelf life. seems to be the only ones who do this. The local Case IH dealer gets theirs from Exide (or should I say Exide makes them for Case [to sell under their brand name])  and they come wet also.  Hope this helps. Thanks for all you do. - Mike E.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that great tip. It is noteworthy that simply spinning a battery dry (as most makers do when they sell "dry" batteries) will not stop the plates from gradually sulfating. If a battery has been tested at the factory, then ipso facto it has been filled with acid. For true long-term storage, a battery's cells should be rinsed several times and the battery thoroughly dried before it goes into storage.

Carboys of battery acid are available from many industrial and marine battery dealers. WARNING: All the usual safety precautions for handling strong acid (around 6 molar) apply!

F.J.'s BOB article was dead on - Kudos!
We tend to approach things head on as opposed to tackle out problems at angles.  Why do I say it this way?  I challenge any of your readers that have issue, first, in a calm environment to take a pleasant – stress free hike in both the summer and the winter.  Leave on a Friday afternoon, and come home on a Sunday.  Be somewhat adventurous – Hike in Friday night, set up camp, then Hike 10 to 12 Miles Saturday.  Then Sunday Hike out another 6-8.
Pick a date two months in advance and go with a friend or a group – and don’t change it. (Yes, this probably sounds like the Boy Scouts of America planning.)
Have fun and report back.
“Huh you say? What’s the point?”
Well - -you don’t know what the weather will be like, you have to think about what to pack, you hopefully will know your water sources but should have a full hydration pack starting off with and at least two Nalgenes.  Then when you get back, lay out into two piles everything you used in one pile, and everything you did not in the other.
I’m 220 pounds, over 40 and out of shape , and thought I was going to die – but I did it that weekend, 22 miles in 2.5 days.  I figured I could buy a new sleeping bag when I was schlepping that thing across that mountain vs. my beloved cliff bar – oh but my very cool 7 inch survival knife…..looked cool.  I felt like Don Rickles in Kelly's Heroes and wanted to pay someone to carry that for me instead of carrying it – or the extra set of tent stakes I had, or the silly camping hammer I carried (now I look at rocks in a totally respectful manner!)
It teaches us something  about ourselves if nothing else – and that is what is essential and what is not.  One of the other dad’s went on to tell me the following week how his son did the entire AT with a tiny pocket knife (we were friends, but he helped me learn an important lesson).  Again, putting things into perspective – yes in a TEOTWAWKI time and place, my 7 inch survival knife will be much better than cool – it may be the line between life and death- but so may the decision between taking that versus 200 rounds of .45 ammo and humping it maybe two miles  before collapsing from a coronary – again providing we know ourselves.  That weekend I learned a lot – and hopefully will lose a lot more. - "Charlie-02"


Dear Mr. Rawles:

I had to reconsider my BOB when my wife tried to move it off the bed in the guest room and realized she couldn't even lift it, let alone carry it for miles if needed. I had a small bag packed for her too, but her's is mostly clothes while mine carried a lot of the "common" gear. If anything happens to me she'll need to be able to grab my bag. I also had to consider that I'm no longer able to carry that much very far anyway. My solution is to use a large rolling Stanley FatMax toolbox, instead. I found a nice one - with big wheels - at the local big-box home improvement store for less than the cost of a decent pack.

I was able to pretty much combine both of our two packs into the tool box and managed to add more food. I still keep a pack too, but it's a lot lighter now and has the just the essential stuff I grab all the time for short hikes, overnight camping trips, and such anyway. I can still manage to lift the box into the back of the truck or get it into a car by myself if needed. But I now know that I'll use a lot less physical effort rolling that box along than trying to carry it all on my back if I have to. - Deputy Dan in Georgia

G.G. flagged this: Five days later 435,000 still remain without power in Connecticut

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When seconds count, the police are only 30 minutes away (in downtown Detroit):  DDOT Drivers Refuse To Work: ‘They’re Scared For Their Lives’. Thanks to Todd G. for the link.

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Just a few preps would have meant the difference between life and death: Couple Found Dead Two Hours Before Power Restored. (Thanks to C.Z. for the link.)

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Largest Sunspot in Years Observed on the Sun. (Thanks to Bret S. for the link.) And speaking of outer space events: Quarter-mile-wide asteroid coming close to Earth. One troubling quote: "The asteroid stretches a quarter-mile across. Smaller objects come close all the time, Yeomans noted, but nothing this big will have ventured so close since 1976. And nothing this large will again until 2028." Troubling, because that only accounts for known (cataloged and tracked) asteroids. There are often big, uncataloged ones that escape attention until after they have passed by Earth.

"Once the euphoria of the initial announcement faded and as people have begun to closely examine the details of the European debt deal, they have started to realize that this “debt deal” is really just a “managed” Greek debt default. Let’s be honest – this deal is not going to solve anything. All it does is buy Greece a few months. Meanwhile, it is going to make the financial collapse of other nations in Europe even more likely. Anyone that believes that the financial situation in Europe is better now than it was last week simply does not understand what is going on. Bond yields are going to go through the roof and investors are going to start to panic. The European Central Bank is going to have an extremely difficult time trying to keep a lid on this thing. Instead of being a solution, the European debt deal has brought us several steps closer to a complete financial meltdown in Europe." - Michael Snyder

Friday, November 4, 2011

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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 (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 (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 family is the most important thing in my life. I sometimes ask myself, what will I do if there is some event that will leave me stranded away from home? Maybe the event is minimal and my vehicle works, I just drive home. What if it is something more serious like an EMP disables my vehicle and I have to walk home, would I be able to make it home to take care of my family. This is why I have a Get Home Bag (GHB) and I try to keep myself physically fit. My main concern is the gear, the route selection home and more importantly the physical fitness that would get me home in one piece with energy to spare.


The things that are always on me when I am at work are a good pocket knife, a quality multitool, flashlight, money and a good pair of boots. What I have in the vehicle that I always drive to work is my get home bag, 1 gallon of distilled water changed out monthly, a blanket and a good pair of running/ walking shoes.  The gallon of water goes in my canteens; I drink the rest to get me hydrated before the journey. The running/walking shoes and the blanket go into the GHB in case I need to change shoes as a result of hot spots on my feet and the blanket is to keep me warm. My get home bag is a backpack that blends in well with a population that may be migrating home, not one that is camouflaged or tactical looking. I want to blend in with the sheeple so that an opportunistic predator will not give me a second look but one that is subdued so that if I need to hide someplace dark to avoid people, I will not stick out. The clothes that I wear at work are ones that are a dark color, durable and that you can work in without them causing too much discomfort. The gear I carry is in my GHB is very basic, the idea is to get home as quickly and down and dirty as possible, without too much weight but that still will still keep me alive if I have to hole up for a few hours up to a day.

  • 1 dark earth tone or camouflage-pattern 8x10 tarp
  • 75’ roll of cordage(the inexpensive kind that you can get for less than $5),
  •  Hank of 550 paracord (≈25’)
  •  Shemagh,
  • Butane lighter(goes in pocket when I start moving)
  •  Magnesium fire starter,
  • Rubbing alcohol,
  • Penny stove,
  •  Small roll of duct tape,
  •  1 qt military canteen with cup, stove support and cover,
  •  Military grade chemical lightsticks (2),
  • Small first aid kit in a 1qt Ziploc type bag
  • Two 1gal Ziploc type bags and a 55gal trashcan liner,
  • Fire resistant aviator gloves,
  • 2% tincture of iodine,
  • A sack that used to hold drums of linked 5.56 ammo for the M249 SAW that will conveniently hold a 1 qt canteen with cover
  • 2qt canteen with cover and carrying strap
  •  Some granola bars, peanut butter and crackers packets, cliff bars or power bars
  •  Map of the area
  • Some seasonally appropriate clothing( Jacket, gloves, hat, extra pair of socks, etc)

I know that some of these items are tactical or military based but those items stay in the bag until needed and what can I say, you go with what you know and the military items are all high quality, durable items that are inexpensive and that you can get nearly anywhere. All of this including water weighs approx 15 lbs. This is a good weight because I know for a fact that depending on where I work I may have to travel between 15 and 25 miles to get home. For me that could take as little as 4 hours at an uninterrupted pace to days if I have to hole up or take the long way around to avoid trouble. That is why gear selection is so important but so is physical fitness.  You can have all the best gear in the world but if you cannot carry it two miles then it is doing you no good in getting you home. This is not a 72 hour BOB, this is an ultra light no nonsense pack that is to get you home in one piece. The items that I pack into the bag are intended to be a onetime use and inexpensive, (purchased at stores like Harbor Freight with coupons clipped from magazines or newspapers) so that if I lose them or have to ditch en route, it would not be a big loss. The other thing to consider when you are thinking about spending a lot of money on the kit that if you are in a foot race with someone who wants to hurt you, if you drop your gear as a diversion you might make a clean get away.  If it is inexpensive, you can laugh at how mad they will be when they find out that they only got a canteen of water and a pack of crackers. It is important to remember to keep your most valuable items on you or in your pockets.

Preparing to get home starts days, weeks or even years ahead of time. This comes in planning the route or routes home. How the roads are laid out?, do you anticipate many people on the roads?, where are there creeks or rivers in case you need to refill your water supply?, are the creeks or rivers crossable if bridges are out or blocked?, what are my alternates if any of your roads are blocked?, can you go cross country if needs be?, will I need to pass through bad neighborhoods?, what are some hole up areas if I do need to hunker down? What are some resources that I can utilize at work? Am I physically able to make the trip and will I be able to fight or think clearly when I get to my destination?


There are four components of physical fitness with relation to getting home in a SHTF scenario. Endurance, speed, agility and strength. All of these can be accomplished with family in one way or another. This helps to build strong bonds and gives everyone an idea of the physical capabilities of the others in the family. Now the legal disclaimer: Your should not start an exercise program without consulting a doctor and you should discontinue if you feel faint or short of breath. You should also start an exercise regimen slow and gradually build up to where you want to be. If you try and do too much you increase the possibility of injury and then you are no good to anyone WTSHTF.

ENDURANCE. Being able to travel long distances over varying terrain with or without gear and with the possibility of little to no water or food. This is one of the things that will occupy the most training time because it is not something that you can build up twenty minutes a day, three days a week. This requires you to dedicate some real time, hours sometimes. One good way to incorporate a long walk or run a week is to involve your kids. Get them on a bike and let them ride while you walk. I recommend when you get to a decent fitness level that you start bearing weight and workout with more than you would carry in your get home bag. If your get home bag weights 15 lbs, carry 20-25 lbs, because if you can carry 20-25 lbs over long distances, you can carry 15 lbs over the same distance with less effort. If you intend to carry a sidearm while getting home but you may not want to draw attention to yourself while training, take a 2.5 lb weight plate and run your belt through the center home to simulate the weight of a sidearm. You can also take another plate and put it on the opposite side of the simulated sidearm to simulate magazines. Walk for time or distance, if you have an hour to spend, see how far you can go. If you only want to go 2 miles, see how fast you can do it. Build up until you get to a point where you can walk 75-80% of the distance hat you would walk if you have to walk home. If you require a 2 day walk to get home, cut the distance from work to home in half and use that as your goal.

. Being able to get to top running speed quickly when the need arises. This is a lot more fun to work on with your kids. Try having foot races with them; give them a head start if you are faster or start even if they are faster than you. It can also be incorporated into your endurance training, in the middle of your long runs or walks, pick a point in the distance and break into a dead run until you get to that point then resume your walking. It simulates getting away from a human predator, family dog or angry bull if you decide to cross the wrong pasture. Speed training is one of the most taxing forms of exercise; it requires a lot of energy and makes you work with more intensity. The good thing about this is that it gets easier as you build up your lactate threshold. Lactate threshold is that limit where your bodies can no longer remove the lactic acid as fast as it is producing it. This is the stiffness you feel in your legs when you are doing wind sprints. Speed training is an important factor in getting home because you may have to evade a human predator while on your journey. The quicker you can get to full speed and the longer you can sustain it, the better your chances of getting away. This type of exercise should be done no more that 2-3 days a week because of the toll it takes on the body.

. It is being able to start, stop, turn and jump quickly. This is an important aspect of getting home because you may have to dodge a human predator, jump over a wall or log and move in and out of tree lines or around obstacles. The way to incorporate this fitness aspect with your family is play tag or a similar game with them. This is a great way to keep you and your kids quick and nimble. Other ways to get more agile is the exercises that you did in middle school gym class, suicides, run sideways, run backwards, box jumps or jumping rope. Agility training is also very hard on the body so you need to do this in moderation and like I said before, start off slow and build up.

. This is being able to lift or carry heavy objects possibly over long distances. This is the one thing love doing with my kids. I do pushups with the smaller ones on my back. Do squats with the kids on your shoulders or carrying them piggy back. Teach them to do a proper pushup. Core strength is very important and can be worked on in front of the television. Assume a modified pushup position but stay on your elbows and hold your body in a plank position. These can also be done on each side so your work your oblique’s. Another great place to go with your kids and get a workout is at the local park. Although these are usually designed for children, they can be used creatively to get some exercise. Monkey bars are great for pull-ups, varying types of pushups can be done on the apparatus, and reverse pushups can be done on a low bar; climb up and over rock climbing walls. Your kids will love doing this with you and you will have fun doing it. Once again start off slow. If you cannot do pull ups start off with negative pull ups, meaning, step on a box to get you to the high point of the pull up and lower yourself slowly. Also you can use a friend to hold your feet to assist you in doing regular pull ups. Over time you will be able to do pull ups without assistance. Another good way to gain strength is frontier skills. Cutting, splitting and stacking wood by hand will make you strong in a hurry. The feeling of strength or power you get when you can split an oak log with one shot cannot be beat. There is no gym out there that will get you in shape like digging post holes, splitting wood, and carrying odd shaped objects, or hoeing the ground by hand. These last few exercises are not just for getting home but being able to work for an extended period of time doing manual labor in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

The last thing to address is being able to think under pressure and when you are tired. When you finish a physical task how is your thinking? Is it clouded from the effort or can you put the physical exhaustion aside and think clearly? I have come up with ways to train yourself to think under pressure. The physiology of adrenaline pumping through your body and the after effects of exercise are similar. What I try to do when I have done something exhausting like exercise is to do something that requires a higher level of thought, and I do not mean philosophy. What I mean is after exercising do an easy crossword puzzle, field strip your weapons or do simple arithmetic. These activities will help train you to keep your thinking clear when you are tired, during a high pressure situation or when the fog of war sets in.

The question that you need to ask yourself when judging when you are physically fit enough to get home is, will I have the energy to fight when I get home? Will I be able to chase someone or a group of people away when you get home or if you get home and there are roving bands of looters in the area, will you be able to pull an all night guard duty after traveling from work a great distance? The crux of determining whether or not you are where you should be in your physical fitness quest, are you able to go to the limits of your mental strength and fitness for 24, 48 or 72 hours?

The last thing I want so mention about getting home is that there are going to be a lot of people on the road trying to get home, help those that you can, but if there are people that mean you harm and you cannot get away, then strike first and with violence of action.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave or forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6

Greetings to you Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for the blog, which is much appreciated here in the UK. I wanted to share just a few lines on the matter of bug-out-bags (BOBs) in the light of my recently re-established contact with some friends in Libya.

A discussion of the politics there would not be appropriate for your site, though I would ask you and your readers to consider the possibility that they may have been lied to by the mainstream media and their bankster chums.

My friends, decent, middle-class people (an engineer and two doctors) had no involvement with politics at all. Unfortunately they did share a tribal name (similar to a surname) with the despised leader and target of recent aggression. And that was enough.

Life was progressing normally, there were a few demonstrations about not-very-specific complaints, youths having run-ins with the police: You don't pay that much attention, do you? Then one night a friend phones and says: "Get out, get out NOW, the killing has started and they're coming for you."

So you grab your stuff and get the h**l out of Dodge: no time to pack, the women still in their pajamas, you drive to a more friendly town. What did you grab? ID documents, laptop and mobile phone, cash. You aren't going to live off the land, there is no land, only desert.
So you stay in the friendly town, but over the next few weeks that gets bombed, blown up and it falls to the opposition also, so you run again. Only by this time its only the womenfolk running: the men have been captured, fighting, defending themselves. You don't know what has happened to them, last you heard was that they were in custody (the extra-judicial killing has toned down a little because of the presence of the world’s media, but the gang-rape of women with the wrong name continues.)
But the womenfolk have run, this time giving false names and bemoaning the “loss” of their IDs in all the confusion and fighting. They get through, and are now living in the house of a sympathetic distant relative. There, blood is still thicker than water. But they cannot go out. At all. Day after day inside the house, staying away from the windows. That was up till two days ago, my last contact.
I don't know how it will end. Badly I suspect.

So, lessons to be learned? The most valuable things in a jam are cash and communications: call your friends, your family, your comrades, get news, pass on news, negotiate.
Internet and social media, Twitter and texts all got shut down quickly, but the mobile phone network itself was kept running because that's what everyone cant do without.
Its worth thinking about, having a mobile, a spare in the car, maybe another in the BOB.

Of course, there’s a tendency to think “that couldn't happen here, not to me” and maybe it couldn't, not in exactly the same way: but we have differences of colour, of religion, of politics, of gang, of social class. You might not believe me, but all the trouble I describe is just because of a surname, that's all, nothing more, nothing hidden. Just your name.

The more I think on the subject, the more I feel life could get very ugly very quickly given the right amount of stress.
My best wishes to you and you readers. - The Old Bladerunner.

Mr. Rawles,
As I see, you are already receiving responses to the BOB article and I wanted to chime in.  The main reason for my BOB, which is in the trunk of my car, is so that I could attempt to get home in the event of a disaster while I'm at work.  My office, in Memphis, is about 26 miles from my home, in northern Mississippi.  If it's not possible to get the car out of the parking garage, or even it I could only get a portion of the way by car, it would take many hours to walk all the way home, especially in an earthquake scenario, or if there is local, civil unrest.  There would be many unsafe areas to travel through in that event.  So, yes, my BOB is heavy, and I might end up having to abandon some things; but if at all possible, I want everything I can think of that it would take to get me both safely home and provide some comfort if (which is likely) I had to be out in the dark of night on the way.  I have flashlight and batteries, lighter, freeze dried and other small food items, water, poncho, rope, small knife, radio, a flare, extra ammo, and other items.  Since so many hours of every week day are spent at work, it seems to me quite likely any disaster event could occur during the workday and I want to be prepared so I can try to make it home to my husband where we have longer term supplies at hand. 
Thanks for all your good work.  I appreciate you. - Theresa L. in Mississippi


Thanks for all you do to help get people prepared. I know I've found this blog invaluable in getting my own preparations underway.

I have seen many responses to the Bugout Bag article from last week. I would say that for me, the weight of the bag is less an issue because my entire kit is not in my bag. Items I need most (flashlights, spare mags, knives, that sort of thing) are on my belt, or drop down bags attached to the belt and strapped to my legs. Many other quick access items are in pockets or hooked with carabiners to my MOLLE compatible vest, or in the pockets of my heavy duty cargo pants. The camping equipment, bulk food, and stuff I don't necessarily need at a moments notice are in the MOLLE bag on my back. My medical kit is in a detachable bag on my MOLLE bag. Having my equipment distributed over a greater area of my body makes the overall kit much more manageable than having all my stuff crammed into the large bag. It's also far less strain on my back. I would suggest to your readers that not everything needs to go in one place, and thus the weight of the bag is less of a major issue. Bulky items and heavy things go in the bag - little stuff can go just about anywhere. - Miss T. in Ohio

Dear Mr. Rawles,
A few thoughts on winter bugging out:
In the frozen north, the middle of winter is an unlikely time that anyone would choose to “bug out” of their house or anywhere else in -40 weather unless some major catastrophe forced them to do so in such extreme weather conditions. It would not be smart to leave the protection of having four walls and a roof around you even if the grid electricity and heat no longer works.
That being said, I do have an extreme winter BOB It currently weighs in at 50 lbs. The core basics of the bag contain the following (in no particular order):
1 - Katadyn hiker water filter.
2 - Various ways to instantly start a fire, including some “canned heat” gel fuel cans.
3 - Multiple knives of various types along with multi-tools.
4 - Ice fishing kit, sling shot and pellet pistol.
5 - Enough food to last me at least 3 days with a small mess kit.
6 - Rope, tarps, and heat reflecting blankets.
7 - First Aid kit.
8 - Winter clothing of various types which includes quick drying items.
The above list is only a fraction of what I can fit in to a 50lb winter survival bag and there is much more inside than what I listed above. In my opinion and experience, heat, water and food will be the first priorities to seek in a bug out winter environment (in that order).
There are some obvious problems with a winter bug out. It’s useless trying to carry water since it will freeze in no time and adds a huge amount of weight to any carry situation. You would need to melt snow or ice along the way for water needs. And of course, filter it before drinking.
As with water, any canned food that contains water can burst open once it freezes. In winter conditions you really don’t have a choice about the food you pack. It will have to be dry goods that can be cooked in boiling water from a fire or other heat source. You will have to find water along the way and be able to convert ice and snow into potable water.

I have to assume that I would already be wearing my daily winter gear if I ever needed to bug out during a -40 cold snap. It would be impossible to pack such thick back up clothing inside a large bag that already weighs 50lbs. I would literally be leaving with the clothes on my back and the other items in my bag.
Batteries for flashlights and other items quickly become useless in extreme cold unless you can carry the items next to your body to provide a constant heat source. A cell phone would be useless in a couple of hours and would be nothing more than extra weight and annoyance you have to carry. In a real crisis the cell phones probably won’t work anyway.
Lastly, in a winter environment, heat is the #1 priority. You can’t boil water or cook food if you are freezing to death. Your hunger pangs will turn to joy and you will have plentiful water… once you get the heat going.
From The Frozen North, - Mike M.

Stanley no longer sells replacement gaskets for their older thermoses, but a large industrial O-ring will suffice. Find a hardware store with a large selection of O-rings and you're good to go.

In fact you can often find old Stanleys very cheaply at thrift stores or garage sales simply because they no longer have a good seal. - DB in Oregon


Just a quick note with some info that might help. One liter liter/quart Lexan Nalgene bottles (an presumably other brands, though I haven't tried them) make great Hot Water Bottles when filled with boiling water and covered with an old boot sock.  Just make sure the lid is screwed on firmly and then tighten it just a bit more once the lid is good and hot.

The Hot Water Bottle I have the most experience with is nothing more than a 2 liter soda bottle that I filled 75-80% full of water and then squeezed all of the air out before closing the bottle.  This allows it to expand as it is heated in the microwave without rupturing.  If it gets firm when it is hot let a little more water out until there is no pressure on the bottle once it is good and hot.  Kept in an old boot sock and heated in the microwave each night (Experiment with how long it will take with your oven) it will keep you warm for more hours than most of us get to spend in bed in a couple of nights.

Many mornings we awoke with ice on the inside of the windows and our breath readily visible while being nice and warm all night with this simple combo while living in an uninsulated cabin a few years ago.  The 2 liter soda bottle was heated nightly for something like two winters or a bit more before it failed so they can be pretty durable. - S.D. in West Virginia

Reader Thomas S. sent the link to this fascinating piece: The 20 Cheapest Zip Codes In America.

   o o o

I usually file public statements by Dianne Feinstein under Vapid Transit, but this one must go under Hegelian Dialectic: Feinstein Uses 'Fast and Furious' to Make Case for National Gun Registration. (First, the Federal government creates a problem, then they re-assign blame, for their ultimate goal--bigger government.) And BTW, the "94,000 guns" figure is both specious and laughable. They ran traces only on the guns that they thought might have come from the U.S. There were hardly any traces requested of the US BATFE on the thousands of full auto (select-fire) guns such as M4s and military production AK-47s that have been seized in Mexico.

To answer one of Feinstein's suggestions: "'We have to do something to prevent criminals [in Mexico] from getting those guns,' Feinstein said." Okay , here is your answer, Dianne: Disband the Federal government's gun-running agency, the BATFE, post haste!

   o o o

B. in Pennsylvania sent this article about a court setting a bad precedent: Jury: Cops didn't jump the gun in car search. B.'s comment: "Philadelphia, the cradle and deathbed of Liberty." By the way, things are different in our corner of The American Redoubt. Here, at least we have some semblance of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments. Here in The Redoubt, if you get pulled over for speeding and the topic of conversation with the lawman turns to firearms, it is usually: "What's your favorite caliber?", or "How comfortable is that holster?", or "Did you get your elk yet?"

   o o o

Yet another flash mob, this one up to some good: Copenhagen. (Ravel's Bolero is perfect for this, since it is one lengthy crescendo.) Thanks to Geri G. for the link.

   o o o

James A. mentioned a microhydro Pelton wheel generator maker that I had overlooked.

"Let's do some quick math. If you add up the value of every stock on the planet, the entire market capitalization would be about $36 trillion. If you do the same process for bonds, you'd get a market capitalization of roughly $72 trillion. The notional value of the derivative market is roughly $1.4 quadrillion." - Graham Summers, The One Market The Fed Doesn't Want You To Know About

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Do you have any favorite quotes that relate to preparedness, traditional skills, economics, or individual liberty? If so, then please e-mail properly attributed quotes to us and they will likely be featured as Quotes of the Day. (We've now archived more than 2,200 quotes.) 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 (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 (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.

Preparing for death is probably not the usual topic discussed on this board, but a recent illness in my family has put this issue squarely in my face.   It is my hope that all reading this blog will live many more years and will leave this earth either via the Rapture or natural causes at a ripe old age.

That being said, death is something we have to consider in our plans.  I approach this topic from two angles: 1) losing a loved one in a non-Schumer situation, 2) losing a loved one in a Schumeresque situation.  I hope to cover the spiritual, emotional and financial aspects of both scenarios.

The situation: My mother-in-law has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor for which there isn’t a cure.  Just like a bolt from the blue, this tumor has taken everyone by surprise.  Part of the frustration about this, is that my mother-in-law is in her early sixties and in overall good health.  Her family genetics suggested she would live well into her eighties.
The docs call this thing the Terminator of brain tumors.  It kills plain and simple and there isn’t a Sara Connor to take this thing out.  Our family is taking this pretty hard as one would expect.

Now what does this have to do with prepping you might ask? 
Hopefully we have been following the advice and recommendations we read on this blog about storing up food, water, ammo, etc.  Most on this blog are prepared to ride out a Schumer type situation ranging anywhere from one week to a year or longer.

But are we prepared for the ultimate “bug out” situation?  Death.  The stark reality of this situation is that we will get one chance to be ready for it.  Unlike prepping for disasters, the choice you make regarding the issue of death, and ultimately, of Heaven and Hell is final.  There are no do-overs.  No second chances.

1) Non-Schumer Scenario

Spiritual Aspects of Death

It is my prayer that all who read this blog have accepted, or will accept, Jesus Christ as their Savior.  The Hope and Promise of Christianity is that we are made a part of God’s family.  I believe the Bible clearly teaches there is a Heaven and a Hell.  The Bible also clearly teaches the only way one can be assured of an eternity in Heaven is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  In John 14:6 the Bible records Jesus as saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (NASB)
To me that is about as clear as it gets.  There is only one way to Heaven.  I want to go on public record as saying Christ saved me when I was eleven years old.   Since then, I’ve tried to live my life the best I can according to His principles; though I must admit I fail Him every day.  The beauty of Christianity though, is that I don’t have to be “good enough” to get into Heaven.  Christ has already paid for my sins and there is nothing I can do to earn my way into Heaven.  Ephesians 2:6-8 tells us:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (NASB)
The decision one makes about Jesus Christ determines which destination you will spend eternity:  Heaven or Hell. 
One of the benefits of Christianity is that we will have an eternity to spend with Him and our departed family members.  I once heard a pastor (Dr. Johnny Hunt) make the following statement regarding part of the Hope that is found in Christianity:  “For those who are Christians, we can take comfort in knowing that when our loved ones go home to be with the Lord, we will be with them longer than we will be without them.”
That’s a profound, but very true statement when you think about it.  It is also a comforting statement that will help with the emotional issues we face during death. But what about the loved ones who have been left behind?  There will be emotional and financial issues to deal with that will place stress on the surviving loved ones.
In dealing with the spiritual aspects of death, my wife and I have found that it has been best to be as up front with the children as possible.  They are Christians, but are still young and have a lot of questions.  Why do people have to die?   Why isn’t God healing my relative?  Am I going to get a tumor and die?  Where is Heaven?
Like me, you probably won’t have all of the answers to their questions so I recommend we bone up on what the Bible has to say about these issues.  Now is a good time to start thinking these through.  Ask with faith in prayer and God will give you the answers as noted in the Book of James 1: 2-8.

Emotional Considerations
Be supportive of your spouse.  Understandably they will not be thinking rationally and will be focused on their dying loved one.    This is where the ‘for better or worse’ part of the marriage vows comes into play.  You must be prepared to pick up the slack around the house.   For guys this means you may have to help get the kids ready for school, get breakfast going, laundry, cleaning, etc.  Make it as easy as possible for your spouse remembering that you will be going through this with your parents one day.  Recognize your own stress level and keep a cool head.  The children will be watching you.  It’s ok to let them see your emotions, but you can’t act hysterical.  You are the glue for the family at this point. 

If your relatives are out of town it is recommended to keep a bag packed and your vehicle ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Like a Schumer event, you don’t know when ‘The Call’ will come and you will want to leave as soon as possible.  It would be a bummer to have your ride in the shop when you need it. There are a lot of issues you need to consider before a loved one dies.  These are not fun topics to think about, but if you haven’t planned for them they come at you fast and furious.  These are not decisions to make when your emotions are bouncing all over the place.

Have you discussed end-of-life care?  Is there a living will in place?  Have you discussed what ‘heroic measures’ the doctors should take…or not take?  Do you know what the wishes are for the funeral service?  Where will the burial be?  Are all immediate family members, i.e., brothers, sisters, etc, in agreement on these questions?
In an unusual bit of prepping, my folks have created what they call the Death Folder.  In it are all of the vital papers, copies of powers of attorney, last wishes, etc.  It is a great idea in that it relieves you of the majority of decisions you have to make in these circumstances.  If you have one of these, be familiar with it.  I highly recommend you put one together if you don’t have one.  Consider it part of your “bug out” bag.

Financial Considerations
If you are the primary bread winner in the house you need to review your life insurance.  Is there enough to cover your mortgage, pay off your debts, provide for college for the children, enable your surviving loved ones to maintain their prepping plans, etc?  Talk to an insurance professional as to whether you need term or whole life.   
You also need to consider how your life would change if your spouse were to die before you.  Depending on the age of your children there may be extra costs for day-care.
If you aren’t a believer in life insurance, be sure you have some form of assets your loved ones will have access to in either scenario.  You don’t want to leave them in a financial bind.
Following Dave Ramsey’s advice, I’ve elected to go with term life to cover these needs.  Term life is very affordable right now. I work in the insurance industry and I’ve seen cases where the surviving family did not have insurance and the financial constraints in which they were left when the breadwinner died.  I‘ve also seen the other side where a family received the proceeds from the life insurance policy which relieved their financial concerns.  (Disclaimer: I do not work with Dave Ramsey or any of his affiliates.  I am not a licensed agent so I cannot sell you anything. I am not disclosing the company I work for as I do not want my company to be mistaken as endorsing, or not endorsing, any content associated with this blog.)

2) Death in a Schumeresque Times

Losing a loved one when circumstances are normal will place an incredible strain on the family.  But what happens if you lose a loved one in a Schumer event?
You will still have to contend with the emotional and spiritual aspects of death.  Most likely, you won’t have to worry about the financial concerns.   But death in a Schumer event presents additional things to consider.

Impact on Plans

 Undoubtedly, you have made your prep plans with the roles your spouse and other loved ones would assume.  Hopefully you each have learned one or more skills you will need in these situations.  The basic survival skills such as building a fire, shelter, water purification should be known by everyone.  But what about the specialty skills?   Let’s face it, we can’t be masters of all topics.
Maybe somebody is very adept at medical procedures.  One may be proficient at animal husbandry.   Have you learned to can food or field dress an animal?   What about security?  If you are trying to provide security with rotating shifts there will be one less person available.
The loss of a family member with one or more of these skills could seriously impair your prep plans; especially if it is just your immediate family.


There is one other aspect of this that may come off as cold and unfeeling, but it is a reality we have to contend with.  When a loved one passes away under any circumstances we want to have a proper burial and pay our respects.  We will want time to mourn for our loved one.  But time to mourn may not be available right away due to circumstances.  There may be time for only a few words or moments of reflection.
Then there is the responsibility of properly burying our loved one.  This should be done respectfully and quickly with an eye towards both physical and mental health management.  The World Health Organization offers some good advice on how to properly handle these situations. 
Methods to minimize infection when handling a deceased body include:

  1. Use gloves if available
  2. Wrap the body in a plastic sheet or bed sheet if available
  3. Wash hand with soap and water after handling bodies
  4. Avoid touching your face or mouth with your hands

Time and temperature are other considerations to contend with.  The hotter the climate the faster a body will decompose.  In hot climates, the body will decompose to the point where facial recognition is not possible within 48 hours.  In colder climates this process will be slower.
A proper grave should be prepared.  There is no official depth for a grave but typically one dug about six feet deep will be sufficient. 
The location of the grave relative to your home is important as you want to have this located a minimum of 200 meters away from water sources and areas where crops are planted.  It is recommended that the bottom of the grave should be at least two meters above the groundwater table.
There should be a formal service for the departed loved one if circumstances permit.  This will help provide closure for family and/or friends.
If you are in a bug out situation, depending on OPSEC, you may want to mark the grave for posterity and as a means for later visitation.      

Emotional Considerations

A whole new set of emotions will have to be dealt with in this scenario.  To say you are in a stressful situation already is an understatement.  This will only add to it.  The time you have to grieve will vary depending if you are bugging in or out.  It may be hard for the children to understand why you have to keep moving and you can’t visit mom or dad’s grave.  You may not have time right away to answer all of their questions, but you need to promise them you will.


The final message to convey in this article is that even in spite of death, life will continue for those left behind.  We can honor the life of our departed loved ones by living that life as they would have wanted us to.
I am sure there are other aspects of this topic I have not considered and I welcome any input from my fellow Preppers.  If nothing else, I hope these words get us to think about this very real situation.
In summary, a Schumer situation is something we may or may not have to face.  But Death, unfortunately, is something we will all have to deal with.  As with all things, it’s best to be prepared.

A major bank failure in Europe that began in September didn't get much press coverage here in the United States. But is bears special mention, because it underscores the fragility of the global credit market and credit default swap derivatives. A victim of the ongoing Greek Tragedy, the Franco-Belgian