December 2011 Archives

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Why Keep Honey Bees?

Wandering into the woods and staying lost for months is something I love to do. I have been an Urban Guerrilla Survivalist for 24 years, and have been keeping bees for more than 10 of those years. With these experiences under my belt, I have begun to teach people how to be a survivalist, and one subject I focus on is the art of beekeeping.

Before I tell you the benefits of having bees and some cheap ways to keep them, I suggest that you find a book about beekeeping to help you understand the terms I use and show you more details on how to keep bees for the long haul. One of the best books I have read is The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture: An Encyclopedia Pertaining to the Scientific and Practical Culture of Honey Bees by A. I. Root. I also suggest that you try to find some beekeeping courses in your area—not only to learn more about it, but to connect with peers and mentors.

For my disclaimer: You should also research your local and state laws on beekeeping.

Apis mellifera, more commonly referred to as the honey bee, is one of the most beneficial insects in the world. Did you know that we have the honey bee to thank for one third of all the food we eat? Why, without the honey bee, we would mostly eat rice, wheat, and corn instead of the wonderful variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts we enjoy every day. Not only do honey bees help make more food from pollination, they make a wide variety of products as well.

The most recognizable product, honey, is a sweet food made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Aside from its common use in sweetening teas, honey is used to treat burns, alleviate allergies and use in IVs for blood transfusions. It is also well known as a key ingredient in king’s mead, honey wine and man’s first alcoholic beverage. It is great for cooking in place of sugar, and has more nutritional value than cane or corn sugar. Honey has an endless shelf life when stored at room temperature in a sealed container. Most raw natural honey crystallizes, providing the survivalist with an endless supply of sugar that never goes bad.

Bee pollen, or pollen from flowers that is collected by bees during pollination, is harvested and used to fight allergies and treating mild cases of hay fever. Medications that use pollen include Claritin (loratadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), and chlorphenamine. Pollen is a great source of carbohydrates and is used to provide athletes energy boots.

Propolis, a resinous mixture that honey bees collect, relieves inflammation, viral diseases, ulcers, and superficial burns or scalds. It is also believed to promote heart health, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the chances of cataracts. Old beekeepers recommend that a piece of propolis be kept in the mouth as a remedy for a sore throat.

Beeswax, a natural wax produced in the hive, has long been called the ancient man’s plastic, and is used as such today. Common products you see beeswax used in include body creams, coating for cheeses, cosmetics, fine candles, furniture and shoe polishes, modeling materials to create jewelry and sculptures, pharmaceuticals, among hundreds of other items. It is often mixed with other ingredients such as olive oil (sweet oil) and sometimes paraffin. For hundreds of years, beeswax was used as a sealant or lubricant for bullets in cap and ball firearms that use black powder. Beeswax was also used to stabilize the military explosive Torpex, before it was replaced by a petroleum-based product.

Apitherapy is the medical use of bee products—most commonly associated with bee venom therapy, which uses bee venom in the use of health conditions. The active component of bee venom is melittin, which has a powerful anti-inflammatory action. Bee venom is a complex mix of a variety of peptides and proteins, some of which have strong neurotoxic and immunogenic effects. The most well-known bee venom therapy is for autoimmune diseases and multiple sclerosis. Bee venom therapy is also used to treat arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, dissolving scar tissue (keloids), and herpes zoster, among other illnesses.

As you have just read, the benefits of keeping honey bees for products and pollination is infinite. Not only can you use these products yourself, you can sell them to make money at local farmers markets or boutiques, or barter with clans around the woods. I recommend keeping three to five hives at your home or survival camp. The benefits of the honey bee can not be matched for the survivalist.

How to Get Started

Now that I have told you some of the many the benefits of having bees, I am going to tell you the basic style of beekeeping and some cheap ways to keep bees. Again, my focus is on survival beekeeping, or “off the grid” beekeeping. I will give you a list of what you need, and then tell you how to make some of the items, or find them cheap. Once again, I suggest that you find a book about beekeeping to help you understand the terms I use and the different kinds of hives available for beekeeping. You can find books everywhere—used book stores and yard sales are the cheapest, and you may even find used equipment there as well.

As a beekeeper you must have protection. Beekeepers suits can be expensive—cost of protective gear ranges from $100-$200, depending on what you get (hoods and gloves, full body suits, etc.). Suits can be found online, in beekeeping stores, swap meets, or yard sales. However, if you’d like to take a thrifty approach you need to have:

  • High rubber boots, which can be found at farm supply stores or retail centers such as Wal-Mart. Make sure you own a pair that you can get in and out of quickly and can go over your pants.
  • Pants that can be tucked into your boots. I like to use duck tape to take the boots onto the pants so your legs and feet are completely protected.
  • Long-sleeve shirts than can bed tucked in to your pants.
  • Hooded jackets, which can be cinched tightly around your face, so only your face shows.
  • A ball cap worn under the hood—the starting point of a screened hood. To make this, stitch screen over the top of the hooded jacket and then use duck tape all around the screen to keep the bees out. The cap pushes the screen away from your face.
  • Welding gloves that you duck tape the ends to the jacket sleeves so you’re all sealed up.

Another inexpensive way is to use a rain suit that you can duck tape your gloves, boots, waist, and stitch a screen over the face.

Now that you are protected from head to toe, let’s focus on where you will keep the bees, or the bee hive. The most commonly used hive is called a Langstroth hive. It is made as an open top hive and holds frames that can be removed to inspect brood (aka baby bees or larva) and to pull honey out of the hive. You can order a pre-built hive or find plans to build your own hive from the internet. There are also many books on how build and use the Langstroth hive. I will repeat myself again: find a book and use it as a resource. And take any classes you can find in your area. I have been keeping bees for more than 10 years, and have lost hives over my learning experience. But just like any thing, you never know until you try.

The hive I am going to show you is calling a Robo’s barrel top drum hive. It is made with a plastic 55 gallon drum. From one barrel you can make two hives. These drums can be found at car washes, dumps, and food centers. Always wash the drum out first to make sure it is clean. He started by marking the barrel lengthwise to cut it in half. Although the barrel had a seam that would make it easy to cut it in half; he wanted to use the bung holes for entrances, so he ended up marking his own lines. It is possible to cut the barrel with a handsaw, but for the sake of time, use an electric saber saw. Once the barrel was cut in two,
build a box out of 2 inch by 3 inch lumber, to fit snugly around the barrel. This frame acts as a stiffener, preventing the barrel from warping out of shape. It also acts as the support for the top bars. This will also keep the top of you hive even so when you get your lid ready it will fit snug. Before the barrel half could be slid into the wooden frame, a portion on the barrel rim had to be cut off so that the barrel would fit squarely into the frame. Once this was done, the barrel and frame were put together and decking screws were used to secure the barrel to the frame. Counter sink the screws a little so the comb will not stick to the sides. The bees will make comb around the screws and it will be hard to get the top bars out with them stuck to the sides.

Next a set of legs were added. Try to keep the legs from extending out too far from the barrel and becoming a trip hazard while working on the hive. Also try to avoid covering the bung hole so that there is an entrance for the bees. When making the top bars out of 3/4 inch rough-cut pine (1 inch thickness) and made them long enough to extend to the outside edges of the support frame. The lid will cover the whole top so you want it even all the way around.
Robo uses corrugated metal for roofing. This will get hot but you do not have to paint it or stain it every other year. Make sure you drill two holes in the front and back of the hive to help with air flow. In the winter time you can place a cork in the holes to help keep the bees warm. In colder places you can place spray foam in the holes to keep the cold air out. You can either tie down the corrugated metal with rope or just set a couple of rocks on top. Since it is corrugated, there is plenty of ventilation as well. One sheet from The Home Depot is big enough to make covers for both hives. (In Robo’s demonstration, he built a stand to hold up the top bar so you can look at the comb—the bees comb mimicked the shape of the drum half.)
You need to put a little bit of wax on the top bar so the bee know where to start building comb, but other than that you have just made a hive from stuff that is commonly throw way. This is a great way to save drums, even metal ones, and use for something other than a trash can. It’s a great home for your bees, and keeps the dump free of landfill.
Note: Information and all pictures are taken from an article, Barrel Top Bar Hive, on Robo’s World web site.


Getting Your Bees

Now that you have your protective gear, a hive for the bees, and a book to reference, you are ready for the bees. There are nearly 20,000 species of bees—honey bees represent a small fraction of the species with between seven and 11 species and 44 subspecies—and they come from all around the globe. Bees can be ordered online, and from local bee clubs—most are shipped via UPS.  A package of bees can cost around $80-$200, depending on the species that you decide to purchase. The package weighs between three to four pounds, and has around 10 to 20 thousand bees inside, which is a good number to start building your hive. Bees can be installed into the hive in a manner of minutes—and if you take your time, you can watch them get to work in the hive immediately.

Naturally, my favorite bee is the free bee. Free bees can be found when bees swarm, which happens when the queen bee leaves a colony with a group of worker bees in search of a new hive. They often gather in trees or the eves of houses, which leave them in harms way by people who do not want them around. By offering to collect swarms, you can get free bees for your hive. Put an advertisement in the newspaper, or local listing, that you are willing to remove swarms. When the swarm first settles down and forms a cluster, it is fairly simple to capture. Swarms normally last no more than 24 hours, so you must be ready. To capture a swarm, you’ll need: 

  • A box or a bucket with a lid. I use five gallon buckets that have a hole in the top laced with screen so the bees are able to breathe until you can put them into a hive.
  • A soft brush and a wide scraper. These help to move the bees, if needed.
  • A ladder to climb on to get to the bees so you are not reaching up in the air swatting at them—sometimes they are  high in the trees, or the roof of the house.
  • Your protective gear—you do not want to get stung when collecting a swarm of bees for your hive.

When collecting a swarm of bees in a bush or tree, put the bucket below the area the swarm is in and give the branch a good shake. Let the nest fall into the bucket. Use the brush to sweep the remaining bees into the bucket, and then place the lid on the bucket. If the swarm is on something that you cannot shake, take the wide scraper and place it so you can scoop the bees and place them into the bucket. Use your brush to sweep the bees on the scraper and drop them in the bucket as well. When you have nearly 90 percent of the bees in the bucket, place the lid on your bucket and look to see if the remaining bees start landing on the lid. They will start to land on the bucket and fan, which tells the bees that the queen is inside the bucket and they are moving. Let the bucket set for 30 minutes and let the bees inside and outside of the bucket collect on the lid. Then pop the top of the bucket so all the bees drop to the bottom of the bucket and take the lid off. Flip the lid and brush the bees on the lid into the bucket. Then replace the lid and take the bees to their new hive.

When you get to the hive you’re going to place the bees in, open it and remove four to five frames, or top bars, out of your way. Pop the bucket on the lid once more so the bees fall to the bottom of the bucket and open the lid. Then shake bees in the bucket into the hive. Once you have the swarm in the hive, replace the frames or top bars and cover the hive. You have successfully placed your bees into the hive. Be sure to check the bees in one week to see if they are building comb.

Now you have your bee hive. Read your book and if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at I would enjoy reading about your experiences and looking at photos of your work.

As I said, I am a survivalist and love the outdoors and keeping bees will get you outdoors more. Like gardening, the work you put in yields great rewards.

Many people in North America wonder how they would survive in a world without caffeine [since coffee and cocoa are both imported].  An alternative to coffee could be Yaupon holly tea.  The Yaupon holly is used as a tea by various Indian tribes, and it has been studied as a commercial herbal tea drink.

According to my local colonial history book, colonists also raised Yaupon tea leaves for trade. It is related to yerba mate, a holly used to make a caffeinated tea in South America.
The Wikipedia article is rather confused on this point, but it is believed that the holly leaves need to cure and turn black to use for tea.  Curing the leaves is supposed to prevent the leaves from causing nausea (Yaupon's Latin name is Ilex vomitoria). 
Yaupon holly is a small native evergreen tree that will grow anywhere from Climate Zone 7 all the way to southern Texas. It has small smooth leaves, tiny red berries that attract songbirds, and it can handle extreme heat and drought. Yaupon holly comes in dwarf, regular, and weeping varieties. The most common cultivar is "Pride of Houston," which becomes a coarse open tree about 12 feet tall with small red berries in the winter.

It will thrive in areas where ornamentals like dogwood would be scorched, but it will also grow in swamps or sand dunes. Because they are so tough, you may see Yaupon holly trees used to landscape ugly industrial areas or as a screen, but it is also attractive enough be the centerpiece of a small landscape. - HC

I received the following note from Chuck Fenwick, the director of Medical Corps
"As I posted on my site, Medical Corps will no longer be organizing classes.  Our Lead Instructor, David Turner has agreed to take care of all the logistics of teaching the Medical Response in Hostile Environments class [under the new company name, PRNMed.] David, having completed nursing school during a two-year furlough, will be back teaching the class too.  I will also be teaching, but only have to show up and instruct.   Medical Corps did not bring forward our extensive student list because sharing e-mail lists is against Corps policy--even with a friend.  This means that the registration field has been leveled and we have started at zero.  See you at class! Stay safe, - Chuck"

Big American Brother gives hints on how to spot citizen terrorists. Since when did paying in "Legal tender for all debts, public and private" morph into something suspicious and "weird"?

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From the SHTFPlan blog: What To Expect From The Government After Collapse

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Some incisive commentary on Attorney General Eric Holder, over at the View From The Porch blog: The cheek of the man is unbelievable.

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T.C. mentioned a piece by MSN: Best places to live off the grid

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A short and sweet video clip to respond to some smears: Ron Paul: Libertarianism is the opposite of Racism

"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as [with] a shield." - Psalm 5:11-12 (KJV)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

An aspect of survival preparedness that is easily overlooked and sometimes ignored is the utilization of a home-based small business as a means of financial preparation as well as a method of acquiring and stockpiling survival necessities.  It appears likely that some level of collapse and restructuring of our financial and monetary system will take place in the near future.  Establishing your own business is a good way to protect against a financial system catastrophe and prepare for other disastrous events. 

Starting and growing a small business may seem a daunting task for many, however, it can be done with very little start-up capital by utilizing resources you may already have.  Some intangible principles needed for any business start-up should be familiar to most readers of this blog.  They include:  goal oriented planning, hard work, resourcefulness, ethics, sacrifice, and a good team to work with.  As a business owner, I can confirm that if you plan to start a business, be prepared to work many long, hard hours if you expect any measure of success.

Before considering starting a business, look in the mirror.  Define your core competencies.  In this country, business opportunities are endless so you must carve yourself a niche based on your strengths.  Everyone is unique and holds particular skills and talents.  It is essential that you identify and take advantage of these strengths not only in business, but in all aspects of life.  Know yourself.

The clichéd idea of goal setting is actually a very useful and essential tool in both prepping and business.  For many people, making a simple list is the most effective way of setting and executing goals.  I have found that it is important to keep two sets of goals at all times:  long term and short term.  A list of goals should be periodically updated as part of an ongoing assessment of your current and projected situation.  Without clearly defined goals it is easy to fall into a state of complacency and lose your direction.  To avoid becoming overwhelmed, start with smaller, more attainable goals.  Achieving these short term goals will facilitate the execution of your larger long term goals.  The satisfaction of achieving goals can become a genuinely strong motivating force.

Once you have defined your goals and core competencies, the actual process of starting a business is quite easy.  Most states have a web site that can assist you in forming your business.  Online legal services like can make it easy to do all of the proper filings.  Your lawyer can also guide you in the right direction.  Legal and state filing fees vary from state to state, but expect to spend at least $500 on this process.  Depending on your business and the state you are in, there may be insurance requirements as well.  It is important to consult a lawyer and accountant when considering starting a business.

I am a carpenter by trade, so start-up of our remodeling company for my partner (brother) and I was relatively inexpensive.  We already had trucks, tools, computers, etc., so it was really a matter of organization.  I have an associate’s degree in business and my brother has a bachelor’s degree in advertising, so we did start the venture with some business background.  We both also had extensive backgrounds in construction.  However, continuing education through books, trade publications, and classes has been and continues to be an invaluable resource for us.  Continually developing your skills and knowledge goes hand in hand with the growth of a business.  Whatever field of business you choose, it is important to not only have business skills, but to become an expert in your field.  There is no substitute for experience, so identifying and developing your core competencies is crucial.

We started our remodeling company in August of 2008, which was the start of the worst period ever for remodelers and home builders.  We worked out of my garage and the back of my Ford Ranger for the first year or so, and it was not easy.  However, because we started with what we had, and avoided the trap of heavily leveraging ourselves, we have seen consistent growth each year.  Our sales have doubled every year since start-up, we have one company vehicle (soon to be two), a 3,000 square foot shop in which we are building a 400 square foot design/sales center, one full-time employee and one part-time employee (in addition to my brother and I), a network of clients, suppliers, and reliable sub-contractors, and virtually zero debt.

You might be wondering what growing a remodeling company has to do with survival preparedness  Any business provides its owner(s) with an opportunity to acquire things they want without having to pay for them directly while providing a tax shelter.  I certainly don’t suggest doing anything illegal, so always consult a lawyer and accountant with any tax or liability questions. 

Our shop has a modest, but growing stock of lumber, hardware, fasteners, electrical and plumbing supplies, tools, kerosene heaters, cleaning supplies, and various other supplies and equipment that are handy for home repair and improvement (or future barter/trade).  The best part is that, through reinvestment of profits, we acquired all of this stuff without coming out of pocket.  Also, because these items are business expenses, our tax burden is decreased each time we acquire them. 

Another less obvious advantage to business as it relates to survival prep is the networking opportunity.  Our growing group of clients, suppliers, and sub contractors is a resource rich network of people that otherwise would’ve never been presented to me.  For instance, one of our sub contractors has a rural property that could potentially make an ideal bug out location.  We have actually performed some barter work with this individual, so future trade/barter lines have already been established.  He also has some heavy equipment (backhoe, bulldozer) which is always a valuable resource.  One of our clients is a local jeweler who also deals in coins.  I’ve been able to purchase silver coin and bullion from him at below market premiums.  He is also open to paying us in silver or gold for our work.  He maintains a reasonable stock of gold and silver and has the ability to test and meltdown metals as well.  Needless to say, this is a good contact.  Our main plumbing supplier regularly alerts us to future fluctuations in price for things like copper and plastic pipe and fittings allowing us to stock up on these items before price increases.  Having a large stockpile of copper pipe and fittings prior to a major currency devaluation would certainly not be a liability if SHTF.  Developing relationships with clients, suppliers, and sub contractors is an excellent exercise in survival prep as it is important to take advantage of all available resources before and after a SHTF event.

The survival prep principles and ideas that I’ve outlined as they apply to my business could apply to any business you could imagine.  I was at my local (locally owned) gun shop/range yesterday with some friends honing our shooting skills and realized that the patriots who own and operate this shop certainly have an excellent resource base for a post SHTF scenario.  I had actually done some remodeling work at this gun shop roughly seven years ago when the current owners took over, and they have really made strides in growing their business since then.  Their stock includes hundreds of guns and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition as well as tactical gear, knives, and other accessories.  They also offer training courses in shooting and self defense, and have a very nice indoor range.  The point is that this group of entrepreneurs identified their core competencies (guns) then set and accomplished some goals.  Now they have a large retail stock of arguably one of the most valuable post-SHTF commodities that you could imagine.  Not to mention, it must be pretty cool walking into work every day and seeing an Armalite AR50-A1 .50 BMG caliber rifle sitting on the shelf with a case full of shells the size of bananas.

There are countless way to go into business for yourself that could give you a major advantage as you prepare for whatever is coming.  If you love fashion and clothing, start a dress shop.  Seamstress skills and equipment will be extremely valuable post SHTF.  Do you love to cook?  Open a diner or restaurant.  It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a bunch of food and cooking supplies on hand.  Do you love the outdoors?  Start an online outfitter’s retail site.  Selling camping and survival gear is a great way to supplement your own survival needs.  Are you a talented writer?  Start a survival blog web site and publish books that contain invaluable information needed when considering preparation for any type of disaster.  On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t do that last one.  The bottom line is that almost any business endeavor you can imagine can provide some practical advantage to the prepper lifestyle.  You just need to apply some basic principles that you already have.  The gratification and independence achieved by building your own business can help you prepare for whatever happens in life in more ways than you might think.  Independent entrepreneurship is what made this country great, and I believe that that spirit is what will drive us through the hard times ahead.

Dear Editor:
I'm sure that the readers of SurvivalBlog will find this quote of interest, from an article entitled Ruins in Georgia mountains show evidence of Maya connection:

"In July of 2011, Waldrup furnished a copy of the 2000 Stratum Unlimited, LLC archaeological report to People of One Fire members.  Those with experiences at Maya town sites instantly recognized that the Track Rock stone structures were identical in form to numerous agricultural terrace sites in Chiapas, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. Johannes Loubser’s radiocarbon dates exactly matched the diaspora from the Maya lands and the sudden appearance of large towns with Mesoamerican characteristics in Georgia, Alabama and southeastern Tennessee.  Track Rock Gap was the “missing link” that archaeologists and architects had been seeking since 1841. 

"Archaeologists have been looking for vestiges of 'high' Maya civilization in the United States, when all along it was the commoners 'who got the heck out of Dodge City' when wars, famines, droughts and almost non-stop volcanic eruptions became unbearable.  The Itza Maya middle class and commoners became the elite of such towns as Waka (Ocmulgee National Monument) and Etalwa (Etowah Mounds)  Just as happened in England after the Norman Invasion, the separate cultures of the commoners and nobility of the indigenous Southeast eventually blended into hybrid cultures that became our current Native American tribes."

Regards, - Richard C.

Reader B.B. sent this: Montanans Launch Recall of Senators Who Approved NDAA Military Detention. Merry Christmas, US Senate

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You may remember reading my description of an Elecraft QRP ham radio transmitter in my novel "Survivors". Here is an update on that technology: the Elecraft KX3 Transceiver is now available for ordering.

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A reader from Saskatchewan wrote to ask if it was worthwhile to use paracord bootlace. I replied that I do indeed recommend them due to their durability and versatility. I specifically recommend making them about 18 inches longer than the original factory-made laces in your boots. This "a little extra" length gives you a very handy piece of paracord for use while in the field, even without sacrificing the length requisite for keeping your boots still securely tied. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, paracord can easily be disassembled, yielding a bundle of inner nylon strands that have umpteen uses. If you'd like to buy paracord boot laces that are pre-made, then check out those made by

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More Big City angst from the anti-self defense hand-wringers at the New York Times: Guns in Public, and Out of Sight. Don't miss reading the comments section, which includes this gem: "So 240,000 permit holders in North Carolina were convicted of 2,400 non-traffic crimes over five years? That is .20 percent per year. 200 felony convictions over 5 years comes out to .016667 percent per year. The average felony conviction rate for Americans is .35 percent - which is roughly 21 times the rate for NC permit holders." Leave it to the statists at New York Times to focus on the incredibly few anomalies rather than the big picture, that abundantly shows us that crime rates have declined, while gun ownership and concealed carry have increased to new highs. Concealed carry permit holders are not a crime problem. They're the solution.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us this little gem: Making Traditional Mukluks.

"The American people have no idea they are paying the bill. They know that someone is stealing their hubcaps, but they think it is the greedy businessman who raises prices or the selfish laborer who demands higher wages or the unworthy farmer who demands too much for his crop or the wealthy foreigner who bids up our prices. They do not realize that these groups also are victimized by a monetary system which is constantly being eroded in value by and through the Federal Reserve System." - G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, p. 33

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Introductory Disclaimer: Many ideas expressed within this article may not be legal in all jurisdictions.  Items covered and methods discussed are strictly theoretical in nature unless otherwise stated.

Many people have a love of fishing.  Take a pole, and maybe a youngster, down to the shore, or a dock, baiting up, casting out, and waiting for a bite.  It’s a great time to just sit, talk, and enjoy nature.  Right?
Not after TEOTWAWKI!  There will not be many ‘restful’ days, or nights for that matter.  Our group has a saying that: “Sportsman-ship goes out the window when Survival-ship comes in the door.”  Catching as many fish as you can properly make use of with a minimum of effort will become the rule.  It is wasteful to catch more of any game than you can make use of.  If you can dry and/or smoke ten pounds of fish per day don’t go out and catch a hundred pounds unless you have the means to keep the unprocessed fish from spoiling.
Looking back at the Native Americans and their ways is a good place to start. In the Columbia River Drainage they fished with both nets and spears.  They still do, where the white man hasn’t messed up the stream flow.
Let’s discuss several methods of catching many fish.  Gigging, Netting, Bow Fishing and Trot Lining.


Gigging involves using a device that resembles a spear with two or more points.  A quick search online for “fishing gigs” will show the full range of styles that have been used and are in use today.
Using a fishing gig generally requires being able to see the fish you are hunting, getting close enough to reach it with the gig, and doing all that in a stealthy enough manner that you do not spook the target.  Another method involves finding a spot that fish are known to pass, setting up and waiting for the fish to come to you.  Again, you must be ready to strike at the proper moment.  You may miss the first few times.  There is a trick of optics called ‘parallax’ that we will discuss in depth a little later on.  A fish is not where it seems to be and the gigger must learn about and adjust for this before many fish are gigged.


The net has been used down through the centuries and has evolved into very sophisticated ‘fishing systems’ used on all modern fishing vessels.  In this paper we are talking about a simple net you weave yourself and use up close and personal.  Go online and do a search for fishing net making.  You will find the size and shapes of the shuttles that are used, and the one very basic knot that creates all good nets.  Generally you need to decide where you are going to use the net before you begin to build it.  If it is a stream situation, then determine the width and maximum depth at the place you will be fishing.  If I were to make one, I would generally make a net that is one and a half times the width of the water and twice as deep as the water.  The size of the net openings is determined by the size of the fish you wish to catch.  For instance, if you are going out to catch all the fish you can regardless of size, then a net made with a mesh opening of 1 inch would probably be good.  If, however, you only want to catch large fish [say, for splitting and smoking] then a net mesh size that will allow the smaller fish to escape and keep only the larger fish then you want to make a mesh size commensurate with the fish size.

EXAMPLE: We have a large annual run of German Browns every fall in a small creek off a large reservoir. The larger fish can be well over ten pounds.  The creek is about thirty feet wide and 5 to 6 feet deep (at a spot that would work for netting).  Personally [If I were going to net this creek which of course I am not since it is not legal], my net would be about forty to fifty feet long and ten to twelve feet tall.  One note to remember, a 4” mesh net takes ¼ as many knots as a 1” mesh.  When you multiply that out to the total size of your net you might come to the decision to make a course net first.  Maybe you should/could make just a small one to keep the deer out of your garden, before you tackle a really fine net.

One word of caution.  You will read many articles and, in fact talk to many people who will write or speak of making a ‘gill net’.  I see the word tossed about as if it were the only net to make or use. A gill net is a very sophisticated fishing tool that is sized precisely to the size fish you are going to take.  Fish too small can swim right through it.  Fish too large will run into it and go away.  Only the ‘right’ sized fish will be able to poke its head nearly through the primary netting to the extent the much smaller gill strands of the net will catch behind the fish’s gills and hold it securely until harvested.  I will not say you cannot make one.  I will say I would never invest the time and precious materials needed in making and then maintaining a gill net.

Bow Fishing

Anyone who has used a target bow, a hunting bow, or a sophisticated archery competition bow might want to consider its’ use in the area of fish harvesting, provided of course that it is legal in your area.  For many summers when I was a kid I would take my trusty long bow, attach an old spinning reel below the grip with electricians tape.  I would take an old, damaged but pretty much still straight target arrow shaft, drill a small hole through the metal tip just about as far back on the ferrule as I could and still be on the metal.  I would drill the hole so a 1½ to 2 inch finishing nail would fit loosely.  The head end of the finish nail plus about a ½ inch would be bent 90 degrees? and hammered flat enough that I could attach a small fishing swivel-snap to it through a very small hole I drilled in the flattened nail head.  I would then slide the nail point through hole in my shaft.  The pointy end would now be bent about 45 degrees?, such that the swivel-snap and the point would both be pointed up the shaft.  Attach some old about 30 lb monofilament or braided line to the swivel-snap and wind about 50 feet onto the reel.
When I went fishing I would nock the arrow, open the bail on the reel and I was ready to fish.  Carp were always in season [and legal at the time to hunt with bows].  Upon spotting a likely candidate I would draw my bow and loose the arrow.  If I struck the fish I would play it on the spinning reel.  When I landed the fish all I had to do was make certain the barb went completely through the fish.  Then a light pull on the shaft would flip the barb/swivel-snap/nail over so it was pointed down the shaft.  Then the arrow could be withdrawn with minimum damage to the flesh of the fish, and no damage to the arrow.  I could be back to fishing in under two minutes once I had landed the fish.

The tricky part is learning to compensate for the parallax that occurs when you look into water at an angle. [The natural tendency is to aim too high, so if in doubt, hold low.] All I can say is, you will get lots of fish just as soon as you figure the angle out.  The variables include 1) the angle you are looking into the water at, and 2) the depth of the fish in the water.  Each shot requires a fresh mental computation.

Trot Lining

Simply stated, a trot line is nothing more than a long line with many hooks.  However, there is a little more to it than that. 
Not having lived in the southern states where trot lining for catfish is nearly akin to a religion, I’ll just share the simple way I was taught up in the Pacific Northwest.  In the 1960s I had what I consider to be a real honor to know a gentleman in the State of Washington I will call ‘Bob Ford’.  Bob was an octopus fisherman.  He was on a scientific register back east somewhere and he supplied octopus parts for many science research projects.  Bob ran three trot lines.  As I recall two of the lines were 1,000 feet long and the big one was 1,500 feet long.  They were set in the shelter of Dungeness Spit in areas where he knew the bottoms to be sandy and free of snags.  Bob would go out every day and ‘pull’ his lines.  He would start by going to his marker buoy and hauling up the 75 to 100 feet of anchor line that anchored the trot line against the tides.  He had a roller assembly on the forward, port gunwale where he placed the line as he pulled it.  When he got to the anchor he would move it over the pulley and keep on pulling on the trot line. About every fifty feet or so was a cedar box that was about twelve inches square and four feet long.  One of the twelve by twelve inch ends was open.  Each trap was on about a five foot tag line off the main trot line.  He would pull each box up to see if it held an octopus.  Then he would pull again to the next box.  Now you might say one person pulling well over 3,500 feet of wet, soggy line festooned with a bunch of heavy anchors and water logged cedar boxes every day, and sometimes twice a day, is a little hard to believe.  Well he did it.  He did it every day for over twenty years.  I knew him when I was the Keeper of a nearby Lighthouse.  At the time Bob was in his ‘younger’ eighties as he put it.  Nobody, not even the young loggers in the area, ever challenged him to arm wrestling!!  Every Friday morning the Oriental market buyers would come over from Seattle to bid on any ‘extra’s’ Bob had caught.

So, how does this story fit in?  Well, if you want to be a successful trot liner you need to follow every one of the rules that old Bob taught me.  1) You need a bottom that is free of snags, 2) you have to attach your hooks to the trot line in such a way that the main line will not get tangled and broken, 3) you need to put each hook on the end of a short leader, and 4) fish with the right bait.  Old Bob’s ‘bait’ was the cedar box.  You see, octopi like darkness.  They feed at night, but when the sun comes up they look for a cave to hide in.  Well, in our area there must have been a real cave shortage because the octopi would crawl into the cedar ‘caves’ and defend it all the time it was being hauled to the surface.  A really large octopus would even fight him when he tried to get them out of ‘their cave’.  In your case you too have to use ‘the right bait’.  Yours will probably be something you know the local fish like to eat.  In our area I am well stocked up with many flavors of ‘Power bait™’.  It stores well and the fish around me don’t seem to care if it’s five or six years old.  My mainline is 100 pound test braided synthetic line.  Every six feet there is about a ½ to 1 inch dropper knot tied in the main line. 
For each dropper there is about an eighteen inch, 20 pound monofilament leader with a swivel-snap [see my aforemention of bow fishing] on the dropper end and a #6 or #8 2x treble hook snelled onto the business end of the leader. (You may want to use a different hook and system for your local area.)  A short study on the web will teach you the dropper knot and how to snell a hook.  I direct you there because Mr. Rawles properly frowns on pictures or drawings as some readers have trouble downloading them.

The leaders are all carried in a bucket. They are all pre-baited and placed in the bucket with a little water over them so they don’t dry out.  Each end of the mainline has an anchor on it and an anchor line that goes to the surface.  I frown on marker buoys as too many people might see them from too far away.  A small piece of driftwood three or four feet long works just fine as an anchor line float and has a much lower profile.
I put down one anchor and begin to pay out the main line.  Each time I come to a dropper knot I snap on a swivel snap with its’ leader and pre-baited hook.  When I get to the far end I set my second anchor, anchor line, and marker buoy.  You should always put a marker buoy on each end so if one marker buoy gets loose or damaged you can go to the other end and not lose your trot line.
Depending upon your situation you may need to place small weights every so far to keep the line where you want it.  Many cat fishers set their lines in the evening and pull them in the morning

As I stated earlier: You have an obligation to get food and keep your family fed.  But, you have an equally important obligation of not taking more than you can make use of at any one time.  So, I recommend you start small until you get an idea of what a ‘normal’ catch might be.  One method to do this is to only put a swivel, leader, hook and bait on every second or third dropper while you are ‘testing the waters’.
As a side issue, we like crawfish.  They supply some of the nutrients our other foods might be otherwise lacking.  We have a stash of crawdad traps picked up for peanuts at garage sales.  Anything you can open, close, and punch holes in will make a bait can.  Why not make use of the fish offal, I think that’s the word.  I call them fish guts.  Use them to bait a few crawdad traps.  If you get more ‘dads’ than you can eat at one time [a rare occurrence at our house!] they can up great with a water bath canner and a little vinegar and pickling spice.

Disclaimer: Many thoughts expressed here may not be legal in some or all jurisdictions.  Consult your state's fishing and trapping regulations! Items covered and methods discussed are strictly theoretical in nature unless otherwise stated. - CentOre
(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.)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was reading back in the archives on the DVD I purchased and found a lot of discussion regarding communications security.  I played with a form of Digital Voice, image and file transfer for HF which could link a number of retreats together with voice, pictures and digital files with a method which in my thinking would be very, very secure.  Have you ever looked at AOR USA's digital voice, image, and data modems using analog HF, VHF, or UHF SSB?

A friend of mine here in my state purchased one and we ran a lot of tests under some of the worst summer conditions you could imagine and most of the time had very dependable, quiet static-free FM like communications on voice and I even transferred some photos from my daughter's camera which he was able to read even the name of the company on a drink cup at a birthday party.  My reason for this is that 99% of other hams and even FCC can't use this mode yet.  It only requires a special modem connected to your microphone input on your transceiver of choice, cut down the power to about half power, hook the microphone to the other end of the modem apply 10-16 volts (6 volts with jumper setting internally on the modem) and voila!, you are in business if the station you desire to communicate with on the other end has the same modem hooked to their radio.  The modem is automatic and normal operation is passed through on analog but when a digital signal is detected it switches to receiving in the digital mode. - Jack M.

Yesterday, I mentioned using a SOPA work-around: Today, I noticed that Ol' Remus at The Woodpile Report had a link to something even better: a Firefox add-on called "DeSOPA", that provides and offshore DNS ("dotted quad") number lookup service, in case your favorite site's domain name gets Borged by the FedGov and you get automagically redirected to a scary-looking FBI "anti-piracy" placeholder page. (I consider that just one notch below the classic "Big Brother" image.) And BTW, and unnamed SurvivalBlog reader who is a skilled software engineer is kindly creating a more robust variant of HTOIP--an application that converts bookmarked URLs to dotted quad IP addresses. As soon as it has a GUI "front end" and is well-tested, then I'll create a download page on my dedicated server in Sweden, and post an announcement. (You will need to know how to export browser bookmark and import the converted file that so it can be used. A document with screen shots that shows how to do this will also be posted.)

   o o o

Clever, clever hombres malos: Mexico's cartels build own national radio system

   o o o

Massive solar storm 'could knock out radio signals' over next three days, warn scientists. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

   o o o

New laws: No caffeine in beer, shark fins in soup

"The simple fact is, the government has to take resources from someone before it can dole them out to others. And this act of taking turns out to be economically destructive. It reduces the market’s incentives for entrepreneurs. The more you take from the productive members of society, the less productive they become. That’s the primary lesson of the history of socialism. Yet... many of our political leaders seem oblivious to this iron law of human nature." - Porter Stansberry

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Recently, due to financial considerations, we decided to end our garbage collection service. It wasn't a large expense, but our budget is tighter than ever these days and with some planning we realized that it was actually a luxury, not a necessity. Besides, those of us who are preparing for the likely future of a breakdown in society shouldn't really expect to have convenient curb waste disposal services, now should we? How were you planning on handling that day when it comes? You have 500 trash bags and you're just going to stack bags of trash in some out-of-the-way corner of the barn for vermin to sort through and spread health hazards? What about sanitation? When your water service cuts off and your toilet won't flush you can pump or haul water, or maybe you have plans to dig an outhouse. Let me propose some better solutions to you.

Now, I live in a rural area, in the unincorporated area of a county and not within any city limits, so much of what I propose is applicable to my situation here and will not apply to city dwellers. You need land to be sustainable in any real sense. Over years of living a preparedness lifestyle, I have realized that in the long run preparedness blends into sustainability. I have solar and wind power, a wood stove, a biofuel vehicle, a large garden, and now a composting toilet not because I'm an extreme environmentalist, but because the less I depend on the infrastructure of society, the less it matters to me whether it's there or not. If/when “something bad happens”, I don't have to do anything special. My fuel supplies stay stocked, my food supplies are rotated constantly as part of “normal life”. If the grid goes down suddenly the extent of my panic will be to turn on the shortwave and scanner to start collecting news. However, in this article I will try to contain myself to discussing the subject at hand, which is waste management.

The first step to dealing with “waste” is mental. You need to adjust your thinking to realize that hardly anything is truly “waste”. Almost everything can be reused or recycled, and then it's not “waste” any more, it's useful. Also, on the front end the less packaging and non-recyclable items you bring into your life to begin with the less you'll have to deal with on the back end. As our family lifestyle became more sustainable over time, I was amazed at the reduction in volume of “trash” that we had. I'll now cover each disposal method in turn.

First, there is burning. Let's say you just pulled out a frozen dinner to eat, or a new product from the package. Most likely the package was either paperboard or corrugated cardboard, perhaps wrapped in plastic (we'll get to the plastic). Let's start with the obvious: paper and cardboard burn very well and fairly completely if given sufficient oxygen. In our house we have a wood stove, and I use waste paper and cardboard as kindling to light it. Now that we're in the heating season I can dispose of quite a lot of paper waste this way. Several months before heating season starts I begin stockpiling all the paper, paperboard and corrugated containers, newspapers, and non-glossy sales circulars so we will have sufficient kindling all winter long. A note to stove owners: newer catalytic stoves are picky about what you feed them. Check your owner's manual for information about burning paper, because you don't want to poison the stove catalyst. My understanding is that if you stick to non-colored paper such as office paper this should be okay even in catalytic stoves. The rest of the paper and combustible waste I burn in the burn barrel. My wood stove ash gets used to make lye, and then lye soap with, so I try to only burn clean materials without brightly colored inks or glossy paper, as these could contain undesirable chemicals. The remaining depleted ash has less potassium content but is still a useful fertilizer, so I spread it on the lawn and around trees. A side note: I once calculated the fuel value of the paperboard container of a package of macaroni and cheese. It's easy enough to weigh the empty box with a kitchen scale, and the resulting weight is pure dry carbohydrate biomass, with an energy content of 4 Calories (that is, kilocalories or 4184 J) per gram. I discovered the box had about 200 Calories of energy! If you burn the box, that's less Calories of food energy you have to consume in winter to stay warm. Think of all the extra heat you're missing, just lurking in everyday “waste” products....

Now, the old familiar burn barrel has been well known ever since shortly after the introduction of steel 55 gallon drums. It suffers from low combustion temperatures and limited oxygen, leading to dirty and incomplete combustion. I have constructed a “turbo” burn barrel with a few simple modifications. I took an old rusty open-top drum and cut a 4-inch round hole in the side just above the bottom. This is easily accomplished with a power drill and jigsaw with a metal cutting blade. Even this one improvement will go a long way toward making the barrel burn better since air can now flow in the bottom, but this wasn't all I had in mind. I then attached a length of 4-inch aluminum flexible duct, the kind that's used on clothes dryers, and a small blower motor. I had a bathroom vent-type blower left over from another project, and it handily fits onto a 4 inch flex duct. Now what you have more closely resembles a blacksmith's forge than a regular burn barrel. Of course, for true off-grid use you'd need a DC blower instead, but I have about half a dozen different ways to generate AC. For 12 VDC, I'm sure a salvaged automotive ventilation blower could be modified to fit the bill, or perhaps even a computer-style axial fan, some of the larger ones can move quite a bit of air.

Regardless of the air source, you now have a burn barrel that breathes much better and will combust materials much more completely. It's perfect for disposing of any combustible waste materials including paper and yes, most plastics. If you look at the recycling symbol found on most plastic packaging you will learn what it's made from. Here's a quick guide:

1 - PETE (polyethylene terephtalate), combustible
2 - PE-HD (high density polyethylene), combustible
3 - PVC (polyvinyl chloride), non-combustible
4 - PE-LD (low density polyethylene), combustible
5 - PP (polypropylene), combustible
6 - PS (polystyrene), combustible
7 - Other (often polycarbonate or ABS), non-combustible

Remember that plastics are made from oil. Most forms of plastic, under proper high-temperature combustion with adequate oxygen, happily just melt and burn like oil. The problems with plastics are the ones containing chlorine in the formulation somehow. This includes plastics like PVC. If these are burned, hazardous chlorine compounds are formed. If no other means of disposal is available, these plastics will have to be given the second disposal method, burial or landfilling.

I am not technically qualified to offer advice on landfilling, but US Army Field Manual 21-10, “Field Hygiene and Sanitation” does offer some guidelines. Some items will have to be landfilled, such as the ash left over from the burn barrel, and those plastics which are not safely combustible. Currently, I am still able to drive to a nearby town and pay for disposal by the pound, so right now I am not having to landfill anything.

The next disposal method I will cover after burning and burying is composting. Any organic material can and should be composted. Composting is nature's own recycling mechanism, capable of turning waste back into useful materials and neutralize a wide variety of harmful substances! A properly built compost pile will heat up to sterilizing temperatures and not only kill bacteria and other harmful organisms but also neutralize many harmful chemicals too. All kitchen scraps, yard and garden waste, dead small animals, waste oil and grease, and other organic materials should go in the compost pile. Yes, many compost experts have long advocated the “don't” list of forbidden materials in the pile, normally including things like meat, fats, and pet and human wastes. At this point let me stop and strongly advocate that you go and read “The Humanure Handbook” by Joseph Jenkins. It's available free online, or you can buy a printed copy inexpensively from the usual sources. I can't recommend this book highly enough. In it the author does a thorough job of debunking many of the compost myths. He quotes a long list of sources and research studies to prove his points. In fact, most of the book is about composting in general, not just the title topic. Please do yourself and your family a favor and read this book.

[JWR Adds an Important Caveat Lector: While some of the advice given by Jenkins in his Humanure Handbook is good, I soundly reject his assertion that "humanure" can be used in vegetable gardens in all climates and at all times of the year. Outside of the tropics, in three seasons there is simply too much risk of disease transmission. Unless all of the waste from carnivores and omnivores gets above the viability temperature for bacteria, then it is a biohazard. If you must use "humanure", then use it only for flower beds and shrubbery. And for that, be sure to use a separate, dedicated set of spades and buckets that have their handles marked with red tape. Never use those tools in your vegetable garden!]

After reading the book, I constructed a three-bin compost system similar to the one shown in the book. Each bin is about 5'x5'x4'. You start constructing a pile by laying down a foot or more of absorbent organic material as a buffer. In my case, I had numerous cubic yards of wood chips left over from other projects, so that's what I used. Then on top of that you start building your compost pile, adding to it a little at a time as materials become available. The active materials stay covered with a thick blanket of dry high-carbon materials (think hay or straw) on top to retain heat. A long-stem compost thermometer is a useful tool to tell you how your pile is doing, and within days mine had heated up over 120 degrees. Most days it hovers between 120 and 140, and this is even with the arrival of fall weather and cooler temperatures. All known gastrointestinal pathogens die within 24 hours at temperatures of 120 degrees..

This ties in naturally with my next topic, sanitation. As part of my long-term sustainability plans I have a rainwater collection system and a large cistern, but if I lose my utility water supply my quantities of water will be very limited. Even with a modern efficient toilet, flushing water is still a major demand. I had been researching for a long time to find better alternatives when I learned about the humanure handbook and got an education in composting. However, my plans for a “plan B” got accelerated when my old gravity flow septic system started having problems. I won't describe all the details, but now we are at the point where it barely works and the choices are either to dig up and replace the drain field at huge expense or decommission it. Enter “plan B”, front and center. My old farm house already had a gray water drain connected to the clothes washer, but now I have rearranged the plumbing so the kitchen sink, dishwasher, and shower drain into it as well. Thank goodness for an old pier and beam farmhouse, and a generous crawl space, that makes retrofits like this possible.  For the toilet, I constructed the "lovable loo" according to the plans in the book.  You can also buy it pre-made online if you don't like woodworking.  It uses 5 gallon buckets as the collection receptacle, but all the composting happens in the large pile in the yard where it can be done efficiently at high temperatures.  It's amazing, but just adding some dry high-carbon material to the bucket to cover after each use keeps the contents aerobic and completely stops odor, flies, and other problems traditionally associated with portable toilets and outhouses.  Sawdust, leaves, straw, newspaper, finely shredded mulch, all work perfectly well.  It just needs to be relatively dry (to offset the moisture content of what's going in the toilet) and have a high carbon/nitrogen ratio (to offset the high nitrogen content of what's going in the toilet).  What else can I say?  It works.  Read the book.

Another aspect of sanitation is feminine hygiene. Instead of stockpiling large amounts of necessary products ahead of time, we found it made more sense to just go sustainable instead. Plans are available on the internet to make your own feminine pads, but for the time involved I think it just makes more sense to buy instead. Many thanks to the folks at Naturally Cozy, we can testify to the quality of their products. That's one less thing to have to worry about. For actual washing, we have a number of options but normally choose to use the spin-type pressure hand washer from Lehman's for small amounts of soiled articles like this that you might not want to mix with your regular loads of laundry. This works for future off grid use as well, since it's hand powered. More or less the same should apply to families with young children in diapers too. It doesn't make sense to stockpile the large quantities needed, and then to have a waste disposal problem on the other end. The best way to dispose of waste is not to have it in the first place.

For large-scale clothes washing in a grid down situation, we should still be able to use our electric washer (but not dryer) since we have several ways to generate electricity. We have two generators, one truck with a beefy inverter, and a large 120 Volt AC inverter on the solar power system. Any of these should run the washer at least occasionally. We have a significant stock of detergent and a very nice clothes line. For return on dollars invested on renewable energy improvements, you can't beat the good old fashioned clothes line.

Okay, we have dealt with the combustible trash and plastics, but what about metals and glass? Currently there are recycling centers close by, and some of these materials can even put a little money back in your pocket, but in the future these will need to be dealt with differently. For aluminum, probably the best “disposal” method is melting and casting. I am not currently equipped to do this, although it is one of the next areas of preparedness/sustainability I plan to tackle. A small furnace can easily reach aluminum melting temperatures. In fact, my turbo burn barrel can probably reach aluminum melting temperatures. Hmmm, use trash to dispose of trash? Now there's an idea...

I have not seen much in the way of glass melting and casting/blowing information, but I know that people do this for a hobby so information has to be available. Reusing existing glass bottles, jars, and containers as much as possible is probably the best interim solution, but what do you do with extras, or broken pieces? Being able to turn them back into useful goods would be much better than landfilling.

After all that has been dealt with, there is still hazardous waste. Broken electronics, batteries, chemicals, and other things we don't want to mess with. For now it usually possible to turn these in at special hazardous waste collection centers, or at special “collection drives” that our local governments sponsor a few times a year. When this is no longer possible, encapsulation and storage will probably be the only option. I should also note that any very old painted wood could possibly contain lead-based paint, which should not be burned. It probably shouldn't be landfilled anywhere except in a properly designed landfill either, so if you have some, get rid of it now or you may be stuck with a problem. Computers can be parted out into components and the remaining circuit boards take up much less space. There is nearly a pound of aluminum in an average hard drive, and one or two really useful rare earth magnets.

A disclaimer: we don't live completely off grid for electricity or water. We have a 600W photovoltaic array and small wind turbine that together run a 900 Ah battery bank and Sun Frost 12 Volt DC refrigerator and SunDanzer 12V freezer. The rest of the house is on utility power. If the utility goes down, the food stays cold even without me having to start the generator. I designed the system for 12 volts instead of 24 so I can recharge the battery bank from a vehicle if necessary, or even jump start a vehicle from the constantly-charged battery bank. Likewise, we use utility water but I can throw two valves and in a matter of minutes run the house plumbing from a 10,000 gallon cistern with rain water. The pumps (two, double redundant) can be run directly from the PV system, and the water goes through 5 micron filtration and a Sterilight UV sterilization system. In other words, the grid is still “Plan A”, but I can implement “Plan B” very rapidly and have tested it.

Living off grid doesn't have to be onerous. In most cases it's more work than the convenience of living on grid, but then what do you do when the grid goes down? Besides, the work is mostly good exercise and enjoyable. I like cutting and splitting wood. I love the warm radiant heat of the wood stove. I love the security of having my own power company, my own water utility, and my own gas station. Most people just rent their lifestyle month by month, but I own mine outright. Take away either the monthly income or the infrastructure, and “plan A” ceases to work rather rapidly.

Mr. Rawles;
I have had several customers coming into my store, lately, that have had their windows smashed and their bug out bags taken. I encourage all to have something in their vehicle to survive in place or to get them home, but DON'T ADVERTISE IT by leaving it in plain sight in your vehicle, especially if there is a firearm or ammo inside. Put it in your trunk, floorboard with a dark colored cover or vehicle interior color cover over it, or in an area with tinted windows.

Thieves are starting to get a clue that BOBs or G.O.O.D. packs are high value targets.

Sincerely, - Jim L.

JWR Replies: If your vehicle's window design forces you to leave the contents of the cargo compartment in full public gaze, then camouflage what is there! Put your G.O.O.D. pack or dufflebag inside a cardboard box and prominently mark it to make it sound like something absolutely worthless, such as: "Newspapers - Recycle" or, "Rabbit Bedding Wood Chips", or "TV Guide 2005-2010" That, in my opinion is better than simply putting an opaque cover over your gear, with the end result of making it look like you've tried to conceal something of value. And truly valuable items such as firearms should be well hidden behind interior trim or upholstery, where only the most determined thief will find them.

James Wesley:
Regarding the recent letter, "Learning More Than Just Weak Hand and Shooting": As one who has been on crutches several times due to surgery, had my left arm in a cast three times, a broken ankle, had a concussion, and many sprains throughout my athletic years, I tell people that you don't realize how much you do without thinking about it, and to think about it every day. Brushing your teeth, getting up and down from a toilet, taking a shower, going up and down stairs, working with tools, caring for your family (children, dogs, spouse) and friends, getting in and out of bed, getting dressed, and on and on and on. I tell people to try not using an arm or a leg for a few days, and go as far as wearing bandages or air casts. Pretend that one eye is injured, and wear an eye patch for a week. Try not to be able to talk (to mimic voice issues), and carry pad and paper and learn to gesture your thoughts -- it's like playing Pictionary and Charades.

I know from experience the amount of inconvenience any injury can cause. I know I would rather have a broken bone than a soft tissue injury 9 times out of 10 because they heal a lot faster. - Lee

At least once a week, I get another one of those endlessly-forwarded e-mails about the "China buying up Idaho" rumor, with a note attached, to the effect of "Well, Jim, that destroys any hope for the American Redoubt..." That is balderdash! Not only was the "Chinese Invasion" an exaggerated tale, but the scheme was dead before it ever got started. Read this piece from The Idaho Statesman, and then this one. Please don't let those wild rumors change you plans to move to any of the American Redoubt states.

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Rick. R. sent this: Health Story of the Year: Salt Vindicated

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KDD mentioned an interesting series of early Kodachrome images, titled: Dugout House, Pietown, New Mexico, 1940. JWR's Comment: Obviously a clever and adaptive response to hard economic times,

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Avalanche Lily pointed me to a brief piece over at Survival Mom that mentions a source for miniature condiments and other products: Minimus is your emergency pack’s best friend. Coincidentally, mini bottles of Tabasco sauce were recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog--primarily as a barter item.) But remember: True preparedness emphasizes convenience packaging for bugout purposes, but make-it-yourself self-sufficiency once at your retreat.

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Tricia R. forwarded this headline from Chicago: Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services. JWR's Comment: Just wait until antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs become unavailable, in a large scale disaster.

"The founders wanted to set a high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty,” Paul, the libertarian congressman, said Monday in a weekly phone message to supporters. “To lower that bar is to endanger everyone. When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured. The Patriot Act, as bad as its violations against the Fourth Amendment was, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act continues that slip into tyranny, and in fact, accelerates it significantly." - Congressman Ron Paul

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

After reading "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse", I thought I would share a few experiences with horse ownership. I really enjoyed the book, a real page turner. And I wanted to weigh in on the techniques and experiences outlined in the book concerning horses. Let me first say that what was portrayed in Survivors is indeed real and doable, however the techniques and experiences in the book require a good deal of experience and training.

For the beginning first time horse owner who isn’t sure how tight to cinch a saddle, I would say getting a horse to lie down is a daunting, near impossible task at best. Getting a horse down is difficult because the last thing a horse does before it dies is to lie down, not something they are naturally inclined to do on command. Also, horses are a prey animal and think in those terms, that is, when you can get them to think and not react.
My horse journey started in my mid-teens on my uncle’s horse ranch in northeastern Ohio. He had a slew of them, stallions, brood mares and geldings. His top stallion was a grand national reining champion and was not a horse for the casual or timid rider. He required a firm, experienced hand. My exposure to this level of horsemanship kind of escaped me at the time and looking back I would have made better use of this experience. Fast forward 35 years or so and I regret not taking the opportunity to really learn from the best.

Today, I own three horses, two geldings and a mare. The mare came to us when my wife adopted a wild mustang who was with foal at the time. The foal was born on the farm and on my daughter’s birthday so it is easy to keep track of her age. Two summers ago, we were able to take the mare’s mother to a wild horse sanctuary and set her free as she was unbreakable. By unbreakable, I mean unusually harsh methods of training would have had to be employed to get her to accept a bit and saddle. With her being raised in the wilds of Nevada (Alkali Flat Region) this resulted in her being hopelessly on high alert. We believe in a more humane, natural horsemanship method whereby the horse becomes your partner and a willing participant with will broken but with spirit intact.

Training is a real big issue and should not be skimped on in the beginning. When we realized that our knowledge and experience were woefully inadequate, we sought out info on the internet and found several trainers with programs that you could buy. My two favorites are Clinton Anderson and Chris Cox. (See SurvivalBlog's DVD page.) Both are outstanding and are past Road to the Horse champions. I have been to many Clinton Anderson events and training clinics and his methods are very adaptable to even a green horn with little or no training or experience. Both of these horsemen are the real deal and have proven methods at an affordable price.
A word of caution on choosing a method and trainer as there are many people in the market place who make lots of big claims. Our experience after having been taken advantage of a couple of times as we learned about trainers is results. If you look into the two horsemen above, you will find they are very stingy with their endorsements. They do give them but it is after the new trainer has been under their direct supervision for several years. The internet is full of wannabe “Horse Whisperers” who will take your money and not produce any lasting or tangible results. Just keep in mind that horse owners and trainers are like firearms owners, everyone has their own opinion and way of doing things and are not afraid to tell you.

Today, seven years later, our mare is a top notch, do anything, bomb proof ride that is eager to please. My wife just completed a nine month saddle series for barrel racing, pole bending and hairpin at our local horse club. While she didn’t place high enough to win a saddle, her 14 ribbons out of 27 possible, speaks to my wife’s and the mare’s ability. She is not a barrel racer per se but chose this nine month event to truly develop her skills and relationship with her horse. The journey to get them there was not always an inexpensive, pleasant or easy one. The lesson here is that if you are considering getting into horse ownership, it comes with many hidden challenges. Depending on your level of experience, an older well trained gelding is probably best. In a survival situation, western is the preferred style of tack and riding, in my humble opinion.

The geldings are quite different from each other and the mare. The paint is about 8 years old, beautiful to look at but a handful, we call him “Dennis the Menace”, he’s always in trouble. The quarter horse is 18 years old and you can leave him in the pasture for months on end then decide to saddle him and off you go, no worries. The quarter horsewas a rescue and we got him to keep the paint company as the mare will beat them both to a pulp if pastured together. Hence, you need multiple pastures if you have mixed genders. Stallions are only for the most experienced owners and have their own special requirements. The average 1,100 pound stallion is not to be trifled with under any circumstances. Wrecks happen in a snap; you “will” not “can” be seriously injured or killed in the blink of an eye. Even the best, well trained gelding can spook without warning resulting in injury for the horse or rider or both.

Veterinary care is the next big issue. Just this week Dennis the Menace, who can be very colicky when the weather changes, had a particularly bad episode of colic. A cold front moving through with 20 degree temperature changes can wreak havoc on a horse’s digestive tract, don’t ask why just be aware it is a real phenomenon. We treated his early symptoms ourselves with some Banamine which usually helps him through. After several hours he showed no signs of improvement and a call was put in to the vet. After examining the bowel by hand (yes, long plastic glove and up the rear, armpit deep), intubation and pumping water and meds down the nose, 2 shots, one to sedate him and the other an anti-spasmodic, he was put in a paddock to watch for the rest of the night. And yes they’re like kids, they never get sick at 9 in the morning, it’s always after dark and in the rain. The cost was $285 which was not that much considering that a trip to the university vet hospital for a surgical remedy can run in the thousands. You have to be prepared to make some difficult choices to treat or to put down. These are real issues and can’t be sugar coated. As much as we love Dennis, he is not worth several thousand dollars in veterinary costs for one episode. The mare probably is at this point but I pray we never have to make that decision. You must be prepared for this eventuality.

Tack, grooming and housing are other serious expenses that must be considered when deciding on horse ownership. Tack can be a huge cost to get into; we recommend used tack until you firm up you discipline choice to keep the cost of entry low. There are many good deals to be had on used tack and Craigslist is an excellent resource. If you choose to take the plunge you should choose which avenue of horsemanship you want to travel. Western, English, Western Pleasure, Reining and Dressage are just a few of the different disciplines you can try. In a survival situation your choice should be adaptable to light draft work like pulling a buggy or cultivator or other small implement. If you intend to have a horse pull anything bigger than a small buck board or one or two row cultivator you will need a big draft horse or mule. My neighbor has a big (19 hands, 1,800 lbs) Percheron mule that can really lean into a plow and work all day. When in a crunch situation every extra mouth had better be in a position to carry its weight. Horses are big vacuum cleaners that suck up large amounts of food and resources, plain and simple.

There are many intangibles involved in horse ownership and choosing the right horse. Each discipline requires its own set of tack, temperament and tools. In my way of thinking, horses are like employees; I would rather hire for attitude and train for skill than hire a talented but high maintenance prima donna. When looking at horses for sale, it is important to look at a lot of them as this will give you an idea of what a good temperament is and how to spot it. After you have narrowed down your choices don’t be afraid to show up unannounced or on short notice to make sure no shenanigans are afoot with drugging and such. I have heard on more than one occasion of people getting home with their new horse only to have major problems after the drugs wore off. All reputable sellers should be willing to spring for a vet check when you are ready to get out the checkbook and buy.

It is worth noting that there are over 100,000 unwanted or under-wanted horses in America alone as I type. The BLM manages the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption program. There are many more horse rescues throughout the USA. I would suggest that anyone seriously interested in ownership with the time, skills and energy can find many opportunities to come up to speed very quickly. If you think you will find yourself in need of a horse in a crunch situation, do it now while things are pressure free. Trying to harness Ole Shiloh to get to the General Store after the flag goes up could be a life threatening proposition if you’re not prepared.

In closing, it must be stated that inexperienced riders and green-broke horses “Green on Green” leads to “Black and Blue”. We have the scars to prove it and want to make sure if you are heading into horse ownership you’re forewarned. Go volunteer at a rescue or find someone who will let you muck stalls in exchange for training and riding time. That said, we have had a wonderful and pleasurable journey with our horses. They can be very troublesome at times and make you scratch your head in worry. They can also give you many wonderful times of enjoyment. There is nothing as satisfying as spending the day at an event or on the trail with friends. One last thing, it is very easy to be all gung ho in the beginning, it is also very easy to get sidetracked with other things and end up with an expensive pasture ornament. Horse ownership is a serious commitment and should not be taken lightly. Happy Trails!

Mr. Rawles, 
In many of your posts, and the posts on other sites, I see a recurring theme to practice with weapons using your "off-hand", but I don't see this same advice put out for any other activity.

All right, so a bit of background: I’m a pretty hard-wired preparedness guy, I prep, I practice, and I thought I was pretty well covered for just about anything until just recently.
I was at work and while transiting from one area to another I slipped and slammed my hand in a large steel latching mechanism on one of the blast doors in our facility. Now, I didn’t have an ice pack available, but the temperature was pretty low, so I just took my glove off, cursed a bit, and went easy on my hand until I got home.
Fast-forward to the next day when ice packs, elevation, and compression have done nothing to ease the swelling or pain, and I figured “Maybe I should see a doctor about this.”
Turns out, I had broken the second metacarpal in my right hand (the bone in the big part of your hand connected to the index finger). Now here’s the bad news, I’m right hand dominant, and the cast they put you in for that sort of thing immobilizes your index finger, middle finger, and wrist. Plus it tends to get in the way of what little grip you do have with your ring finger, pinky and thumb.  Also, even though the cast is fiberglass, the padding can’t get wet, so you have to try to keep the whole thing dry.
Basically it renders your right hand useless. And that’s where the lessons started:
At first I thought that other than slowing down my typing, I’d be good to go. I was wrong. You see… turns out pretty much everything is built for right-handed people. Want to start your car? Cool, be ready to lean in to the passenger seat so you can reach the ignition to turn the key. Want to use the pen pocket on your jacket? Too bad, it’s on your left forearm. Want to get something to eat? All right… open up a can. Wait, the can opener takes two hands to run (one to hold it closed, one to turn the crank). Okay, Plan B… use the can opener on your Leatherman…. Huh…it’s set up so that if you try to use it left-handed the body of the tool gets in the way. Fine, just use the darned thing upside down. Well, crud! Now how do you hold the can still? (hint: it involves sitting on the floor with no shoes on.)
And the list goes on and on; now I have practiced shooting off-hand, and even reloading and like one-handed… but it had never occurred to me to try to shave left handed, or tie my boots with one hand, or make dinner one handed, or for the love of all that is holy in this life, open a jar one handed. 
In this case, there was no real emergency, just a huge inconvenience for me, and a good deal of cheap entertainment for my friends. But had this been a critical situation, I wouldn’t have had the luxury of time to get the learning curve smoothed out, or the ability to just run down to the store when I broke half my glasses trying to wash them.
So what did I learn? I learned that I should always plan for the eventualities.  In a bad situation, a mechanical injury to your hands or arms is a distinct likelihood. And even the short term, partial loss of use of a hand is a huge limiting factor; more so if it is the dominant one. Meanwhile taking a little extra time out of your day to do something like shave with the other hand, or open a pop-top soda can one handed, or even just cut an apple with the “wrong” hand will give you valuable insight into your own abilities (or lack there of) and will help to reinforce the skill should you need to use it.
And frankly, I’d say it would be time well spent. - Jim S.

Tamara suggested the latest WorldNetDaily piece penned by Patrice Lewis: Peace on Earth, now buy a gun. (OBTW, be sure to also check out her blog, Rural Revolution, which is very strong on family preparedness.)

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Glenn Greenwald: Three myths about the detention bill.

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The inevitable rush, now that Iowa's CCW permits are no longer at the whim of county sheriffs: 'Unbelievable' rise in weapons permits. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson for the link.)

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R.B.S. suggested this: How SOPA Will Destroy The Internet.And some related news: Visualizing SOPA, the internet blacklist bill. Here at SurvivalBlog, we are taking some proactive measures. Please take a minute to bookmark SurvivalBlog's dotted quad address (, just in case. I further recommend that you do the same for your other favorite web sites. You can find their dotted quad addresses at

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Reader T.E. wrote to mention: " I found a company that sells bundles of 1,000 green polypropylene sandbags, for about $275 -- a very good deal.  The company is NYP Corporation."

"All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force." - George Orwell

Monday, December 26, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

How do we feed our pets when there is no dog food at the grocery or pet stores? Do we give up our pets or panic? Neither, we go back in the days before Iams or Purina and do what our grandparents did to feed their dogs. Now we can fed our pets in a balanced and considered way from what is now known about pet nutrition.

So what did people fed their dogs? People fed mostly table scraps or their developed their own recipes. There weren’t the hundreds of dog food varieties as there are now.

After World War II, Gaines and Kennel Ration began the pet food trend with canned horse meat. Mostly as a way of getting rid of surplus horses and using up cans made for the war effort. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s when dog food really come into its own.

The ironic trend is now going back to natural dog food. After the poisoned grain episode from China and the increasing cost of dog food. My dog, Adam, who I adopted came with multiple bags of very expensive sensitive stomach dog food (that he upchucked anyway). I decided I’d try my friend’s homemade dog food recipe she used.

With a degree in Animal Science, I decided to put my education to a practical use. So after several versions of the following recipe, here is the most balanced one. My German Shepherd dogs love it. My pup Adam went from 56 to 104 pounds and his liver functions have improved 100 points. This recipe is simple and versatile and far less expensive than canned or dry food.

I call it the “Third Recipe”, because all the portions are in roughly thirds; Rice, Vegetables and Meat. Once you get into the routine, it is very easy and you’ll know what amounts you are regularly using.

Important point to remember is dogs are omnivores, not carnivores, which mean they eat all sorts of stuff, not just meat. A meat protein diet will make a dog hyper and overly aggressive plus damage their kidneys. Feeding dogs is being sold as an “exact” science now. The basics of good nutrition are covered in this formula and inexpensive to feed.

The “Third Recipe” for Dogs

  • White rice boiled with an optional chicken bullion cube – carbohydrates for energy, easy digestion and bullion cube for favor. You can substitute potatoes occasionally. No pasta, will ruin a dog’s teeth.
  • Vegetables - frozen or canned or fresh - green beans or peas/carrots or mixed vegetables – I prefer frozen over canned – and green beans are best. Easily digested and have fiber.
  • Meat – chicken, turkey, tuna or beef or wild game or eggs
  • Two half meals – morning and evening- and the cup portions depend on the size of your dog(s).  All ingredients are roughly in thirds, but if you have an active dog, use more rice.

The most inexpensive way is to buy 25 to 50 pounds of rice is from Costco or similar retail outlet. Those little bags in the grocery store are quite pricey. I store rice in “Vittle Vaults” porthole screw top lid hard plastic dog food containers. Buy on these storage units on least expensive and free shipping and you use these for all sorts of bulk food storage.

You’ll need to make more rice every third day as it gets watery and becomes a great bacteria medium. You can use a rice cooker, which I don’t like to clean. Or make it from scratch in a stock pot. White rice recipe is usually 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.

If you are not used making rice, it takes a little effort at first.  So for two big German shepherds, I make four cups of rice at a time - eight plus cups of water, bring to a boil with a bullion cube and then add 4 cups of rice. I have on designated big stock pot Brown rice is harder to digest, tastes like cardboard and the point of the white rice is carbs for energy and easy digestion.

Green beans are the best all around vegetable. Green beans are fibrous, full of nutrients and pulls particles through the digestive tract. Mixed vegetables, peas and carrots are fine also. Vegetables, like corn and lima beans, aren’t broken down in the digestive tract and a waste of money. Shop around for the lowest frozen vegetables or seal-a-meal or can your own. Broccoli is fine if you are willing to perish from dog gas attacks.

You can use a variety of meats in this food. It depends what your dog will tolerate. Be careful not to rotate types of meat until you have a feel for what your dog can tolerate. I always cook the meat. There is too much contamination to take a chance on causing a hemorrhagic intestinal bug from raw meat. When adding to food, cut or pull the meat into smaller portions for better digestion.

Eggs are a very cheap and inexpensive protein. I hard boil the eggs and add one or two to the meal. You can fry or scramble if you want to spoil your pooches. Eggs and rice are the ingredients of expensive ID (intestinal diet) dog food from the veterinarian.

Chicken - is great, it is easy to digest and inexpensive. I crock pot or broil a $5 pallet of 10 chicken thighs from Wal-Mart. Chicken thighs have lots of meat and only one bone to remove. I add one chicken thigh per meal serving for my German Shepherds. When traveling I bring cheaper canned chicken breast to open and add. Chicken with bones removed is the perfect meat.

Turkey is inexpensive. Cook a turkey up when they are on sale, then package the meat into portions, freeze and take out as needed.

Tuna – I give this for only one meal a week. It is inexpensive if you buy the store brand and the oil/water is good for their coats. Too much processed ocean fish has mercury. So limit the amount.  Fish oil capsules from what fish? Goldfish? Natural fish is best.

Beef – Beef is hard for dogs to digest. Crock pot up beef stew meat until tender and broken down. So if you insist on feeding beef, crock pot for tenderizing and easier digestion. Hamburger is fine in limited amounts, but can be it is a little greasy and pricey to feed regularly.

Wild Game– Feeding your dog, venison or other game is okay. Just make sure it is thoroughly cooked. You don’t want your pet to get sick from some weird intestinal bacteria or parasite. Some wild game is very rich and less is more with pets. Just make sure your pet can tolerate this meat to avoid diarrhea and other intestinal episodes.

You can supplement your dog’s nutrition with a daily over the pet counter vitamin. A money saving tip is to buy the senior dog vitamins. They contain twice as much vitamin per pill. So, buy the senior dog vitamins, break them in half and you get two vitamins for the price of one.

As in all things in life, balance is the key. Dogs don’t mind eating the same thing daily. Do not give your dog gravy or lots of fatty food, as this can cause pancreatitis and could kill your pet.

This food can be put it into zip lock bags and frozen. Don’t blend this food into a paste that is bad for the dog’s teeth and causes the food to lose all the nutritional value.

Dry Dog Food
I do have some dry crunchy kibble dog food out. I prefer Purina, mostly because they are an all American ingredient dog food and never had recalls from overseas tainting like Iams or other brands. Purina One chicken and rice is a good all around dry dog food. Old Roy is a suspect dog food made in China. Science Diet is mostly corn based and not as digestible. Friend with kennels call Science Diet the poop making food, since it all gets eliminated. Eukanuba is a very fatty dog food and should only be fed to active bird dogs or dog with similar energy burn levels.

For three days with two meals a day, it costs me about 75 cents a day per dog on average. This is for the rice, green beans and chicken, even less with eggs or more with beef. Once you get into the routine, making your own dog food it is a very healthy and economical solution and better for your pet’s health.

Hello James:
I thought that the post on barter micro stores was superb.

I think additional consideration should be given to "dispense-from-bulk" strategies.  1 pound of petroleum jelly in single use (0.5g) pouches costs $48 from Sam's Club.  35 pounds (5 gallon bucket) of petroleum jelly costs $90 from an on-line candle supply company.  Similar cost spreads run between single serving bottles of vodka and one gallon bottles and salt in bulk and single serving packets.

It is pretty obvious that you will need a secondary container to carry the bulk materials if you are going to put the micro-store on wheels.  There are some very large syringe bodies available from farm supply stores that make dandy grease and petroleum jelly dispensers.  They are also graduated with markings on the side to add some credibility to the amount dispensed.  Virtually any kind of bottle can be used to dispense other liquids.

And while I love Tabasco sauce as much as the other man;  there are some significant logistical advantages to dried pepper flakes.  They are easier to measure out of bulk and I think they are easier to store.  Any Ziploc type bag will do.  Another advantage is that the seeds are usually viable.

Best regards and may the blessings of the season shower upon you. - Joe H.


I enjoyed the article last week on stocking a barter store. Back in 2006, I read where you suggested that ammunition in the most commonplace calibers would be a good thing to sock way as a barter item. That was truly sage advice. Ammo is great because it is durable, divisible and desirable. Like you say, you can't shoot a burglar with a Krugerrand. I took your advice in big way, and now have a handsome stack of ammo cans that covers one whole wall of my basement.

My modus operandi for my ammo investing is to never pay retail! I buy ammo only when I can find it is deeply discounted in retail stores. I also constantly watch for ammo at garage sales, guns shows, CraigsList ads, and even stores that are going out of business.

I followed your advice on calibers [like 5.56mm NATO, 7.62mm NATO, 12 Gauge, 7.62x39, 9mm, .45 ACP, and 22 LR], but I went more heavily toward the Russian calibers like 7.62 [x39mm] for the AK, the long 7.62[x54r] Russian for the Mosins, and 5.45 [x39mm] for the AK-74s.

While about 90% of what I've put away is in commonplace calibers, there were some bargains that I abso-tively couldn't pass up. This included: Seven boxes of .250-3000 Savage that I got for $4.50 per box at a garage sale, five boxes (250 rounds) of .455 Webley [revolver ammunition] that I got from a guy advertising on Craigslist, some .243 [Winchester], some .40 S&W, and 200 rounds of uncorrosive FN-made 7mm Mauser that I picked up in trade for some old webbing and canteens at a gun show. That deal worked out the same as if I'd paid just $3 for each box of 20.

About one-third of the ammo that I've put away is .22 rimfire--most of it's .22 Long Rifle, but also some .22 Magnum, and a bit of the scarce .22 W.R.F. and .22 Auto stuff. I can predict that .22 shells will be be traded like cigarettes were, in the [World War II] POW camps, and behind the Iron Curtain.

I should also make mention of the fact that I store all of my ammo in GI ammo cans. Every investment should be well cared for. Ammo will last a hundred years (or more) if you store it in cans with good seals, and you throw a silica gel packet in each can. I also have quite a few ammo cans that I've filled with magazines and stripper clips. Most of the magazines I've accumulated are M14, M16, M1911, M9 (Beretta 92), HK 91/G3, FN [FAL], Glock (the most common ones), [M1] Garand clips, Mini-14, M1 Carbine (30 round bananas) and various kinds of AK mags. Those too, will be like gold, someday.

My wall of ammo is the perfect barter item. I am certain that it will trump just about anything [in barter], when times are hard. I'll just parcel it our real slowly -- never letting on to anyone just how much I have. I'll be a secret millionaire, in a Mad Max world.

Thanks again for all the great info that you put out in SurvivalBlog. All of the other prepping blogs are just a pale imitation. I gave SurvivalBlog 5 Stars in the Reader's Choice Awards. - Clement in North Dakota


This was a great article, I'd already acquired some extra of most everything listed, here's a couple of thoughts...

Hopefully, things will calm down eventually to have a secure mini-store selling to strangers, but I had stocked up extra initially and primarily just to help my closest neighbors. Some I'll gift preps to, some I'll trade, but with all it will be done with an eye towards also maximizing and enhancing our own security here.

I want to convert those close by, best I can, from future potential roaming threats into, as much as possible, useful cooperative allies. I want to be surrounded by a buffer of ever more self-reliant and self-supporting helpful neighbors for mutual aid & protection.

I'd also much rather get a heads-up of any threats detected well before they get to our immediate Area of Operations (AO) and hopefully then already thinned out some, too, if need be.

With that in mind, regarding the list...

Ammunition; extra would go first to trusted capable neighbors who could then enhance our own local security, especially those who are open to working together in a coordinated way. I also have some extra  weapons, beyond our groups needs, for this purpose. Also, extra ammo in some calibers that I don't even have weapons for that are locally popular.

I've also put back an additional half dozen cheap FRS radios with rechargeable batteries, to be deployed only to those neighbors who are capable and willing to participate in establishing a com net for mutual aid and defense.

Taking excess paper wealth, after one's personal family preps are largely squared away, to get some extra preps for barter, sale or charity is good, but then always looking first to deploy them where they'll best serve to enhance your own family security, too, is  even better. - C.S.

Doug Casey on Getting Out of Dodge. This echoes what I wrote in my piece last week about "Taking The Gap." (Thanks to John R. for the link.)

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Kevin S. suggested a thought-provoking piece at the My Adventures in Self Reliance blog for anyone that is planning to "double up" with another family (or multiple families) for mutual security in the event of a disaster: Using #OWS as a learning tool of what happens in a collapse. Time-proven military sanitation standards should be your baseline.

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Reader M.J. sent a link to a forum post: The Last Homestead in America is For Sale. (15 miles outside Alaska's Denali National Park.) There might be a SurvivalBlog reader with the gumption to buy it.

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Kimberly mentioned an excellent blog about growing in a cold climate (Northern Idaho), called Subsistence Pattern. Kimberly summarizes: "They eat fresh veggies 365 days a year from their garden. There is lots of useful info in his blog's sidebars. He is an inspiration to me."

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson spotted this: Hong Kong culls thousands of chickens after bird flu discovered

"To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt….I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Avalanche Lily and I wish all SurvivalBlog readers a Merry Christmas! May the love of Christ our Savior surround you and yours, in the year to come! Trust in the Lord.


Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging

The Department of Health is creating local groups to design an emergency disaster preparedness plan for pandemic flu and other emergencies that would impact pregnant women and newborns, since they are a vulnerable group and need to be treated differently.  In our county, it has been decided that healthy pregnant women will deliver outside the hospital in some emergency situations, pandemic flu being one of them. Are we prepared to assist these women and their newborns?

Childbirth is a natural, physiological event. It is not, by definition, a medical emergency that needs to be "managed", nor is it an illness that needs to be "treated". Women's bodies are created and designed to give birth, and the majority of births are normal. (This article only deals with normal childbirth. Please see Challenges in Childbirth for situations outside of normal.) If you suspect that you may be called upon to assist at a birth, prepare and educate yourself as best as possible. Please see the list at the end of this article for my favorite references.

Be Prepared to Assist
Before you go to the mother's home, gather the following items to take with you:

Clean bath towels--as many as you can spare, and then some (you will get them back)
Clean hand towels--as many as you can spare, and then some  (you will get them back)
Clean face cloths--six or so
Clean set of large, flat bed sheets
Plastic sheet or clean shower curtain
Plastic garbage bags--both small and large.
Sterilized scissors--fabric scissors work the best, but other scissors or a razor blade is also OK.
Clean shoelaces, new if possible. If not, boil them for 20 minutes to sterilize.
Sterile surgical gloves--at least three pairs, six is better
Anti-bacterial soap
Clock or watch, preferably with a second hand
Notebook and pen
Non aspirin pain killers--Ibuprofen is good

Other items that are very nice to have during a birth and postpartum are: Chux brand disposable absorbent mattress pads (about 20), adult diapers (about 10), sanitary napkins (overnight style), bulb or ear syringe (boiled for 45 minutes to sterilize), receiving blankets for baby, knit beanie-style hat for baby, scale (fish scale is fine), pliable tape measure.

You should be freshly showered, hair washed and tied back, and have on clean clothes before you go over. Have trimmed finger nails and do not wear any rings. Bring a trusted friend (two are better), someone you would trust at your own birth.

Preparing the Birth Bed

The laboring mother needs a clean, private place to have her baby.  If a bed or a mattress is available, and if you have enough time, prepare it for childbirth as follows:

Take the sheets off the bed and put clean sheets on, preferably her sheets.
Lay the plastic sheet (or a shower curtain) over the clean sheets.
Put another set of clean sheets on the bed, over the shower curtain.
Put blankets, comforters and/or the bedspread on the bed.
Remove the pillow cases and put clean pillow cases on the pillows.
Put a plastic garbage bag on the pillows, over the pillow case.
Put another pillow case on the pillows, over the garbage bag.

If no bed or mattress is available, then lay plenty of blankets on the floor for comfort, then the first set of sheets, the shower curtain, the second set of flat sheets and finally the comforter/bedspread. If there is no time to make the birth bed, put several clean bath towels under her.

The room should be clear of clutter (at least on the floor around the bed), darkened (not black, think 'romantically dim') and warm. Line a small or medium size garbage can with a plastic garbage bag and keep it close by. Put on a pot of water to boil, let it boil for 20 minutes, keep it covered and let it cool.

Early Signs of Labor
As her body prepares for labor, the mother will notice several changes. She may pass a "mucous plug" when she goes to the toilet. This generally looks like a large blob of snot and will sometimes have a bloody streak.  This is no sign of trouble, just a sign that her body is getting ready.

Her water may also "break", or just "spring a leak". The amniotic fluid (water) is usually clear and odorless, which is a good way to know the difference between that and urine. Green amniotic fluid can mean the baby needs to be born quickly. Record in your notebook the date and time her water broke and what color it was.

She may also feel "crampy", grouchy and just 'out of sorts'.  All of these are good signs that labor is close.

LABOR (the first stage)

Labor is divided into three stages, with each stage having several phases. Stage 1 is where the cervix is thinning and dilating to about 10 centimeters to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal.  Labor can start and stop several times as phase 1 of stage 1 gets started. This start-and-stop phase (the latent phase) can last several hours, several days or a week or more, especially if this is the mother's first baby. Encourage the mother to continue her normal daily activities as much as possible during the early stages of labor. As long as she can walk and talk through a contraction (labor pain), she is still in the latent stage. (Many women go to the hospital at this stage in labor, only to be examined and sent back home.) When she can no longer walk and talk through a contraction, she is in active labor. Most women want someone with them at this point and this is when you will go to her home. Once you are there, scrub your hands with anti-bacterial soap for at least 10 minutes. Scrub extra well under and around your finger nails. If you don't have any sterile gloves, scrub vigorously with a brush up to your elbows for 20 minutes. Make a note in your notebook of the date and time she went into active labor.

During active labor, you take on a supportive and protective role. If her husband or significant other is available, include him in this circle of support. Grandmothers, sisters and friends can be a wonderful source of support, also. Be aware of any negative energy around her--if someone is negative, non-supportive or critical, you may need to dismiss them to another room. (You can ask them to make a big pot of stew, run to the store, take care of the older children, go get something, etc.)

Labor is called "labor" for a reason--it's work. Give the mom-to-be a lot of support and comforting words like, "You're doing a good job", "You can do this", and "We're right here".  Even just counting the seconds of the contractions can be enough. Some women want it quiet during a contraction, others need to hear voices. Some women will labor quietly, others will moan, hum, sing, grunt or even cry. Let her do what she needs to do, and honor her need for quiet or vocalization. She should be encouraged to drink water and use the toilet regularly, and eat snacks to keep her energy up. She should also walk if she wants to, or change positions. Many women like to labor on their side with a pillow between their legs, on all fours, or while squatting next to the bed. Laying flat on her back is the worst position to labor in, both for mom and baby, and should be discouraged. Some women will vomit, pass gas or have a bowel movement during labor.  All this is normal--reassure her, and clean up any messes promptly.

If the mother is not prepared for an un-medicated, out-of-hospital birth, then your job may be a little more intense. The mother may scream, hit, bite or thrash. She will mostly like curse and swear and say things to her husband she will regret. She may demand drugs or even a C-Section. (Even those who plan a home birth will sometimes do this.) It is extremely important that you remain calm at all times! Do not take offense, do not reprimand or scold, protect yourself and those around you from physical harm, and protect the mother also. You (or her husband) may need to get right in her face to help her refocus. 

Keep the birth bed as clean as possible, changing the towels or Chux pads regularly when they get soiled.  Place all dirty linens in a plastic garbage bag to be washed later, put all disposable garbage in a separate garbage bag.

Labor can be long and sometimes the mother will fall asleep in between contractions. Be very quiet and let her sleep. The next contraction will wake her up (if she is having difficulties dealing with the contractions, wake her up about 10 seconds before the next one starts). The last 2 centimeters of dilation are called "transition" and are the most intense. Many women will have a difficult time during transition and will need your undivided attention and lots of support.  When the cervix is fully dilated, transition is complete and the baby is ready to move down into the birth canal.  The body knows the real work of labor is about to begin and often times contractions will stop for 10 or 15 minutes.  This is normal and the mother should be allowed to rest or (preferably) sleep. No one in the room should talk or even move during this time. Some women don't have this break and immediately feel the urge to push. Make note in your notebook of the date and time she felt the urge to push.

DELIVERY (the second stage of labor)

Most women will have an urge to push when the time is right. She should follow that urge and push until it feels good. Labor is work, but pushing is rewarding--she can actually do something about those contractions.  There is no need to push until she is blue in the face; she needs to continue breathing and just following her body's rhythm.  The urge to push is also your cue to have someone put all the towels in the dryer or next to the fireplace/heater to warm them up. Put on a fresh pair of sterile gloves (or wash your hands again) and  put a fresh towel or Chux pad under her. Encourage her to "open up". Open her mouth and open her legs to let her baby through. If the area needs to be cleaned, use your boiled and cooled water and a clean washcloth to wash the vaginal opening and surrounding area.

As the baby moves down, remember that it's 'two steps forward, one step back'. It's normal for the baby to move back up a little after a contraction. Check periodically to see if you can see the head. When you do, be sure to announce it to the mom so she will know there is progress. When you can see the head, it's time to get her on the bed and ready for the delivery (if she's not already there).  Unless you--or the mother--are experienced in other birthing positions, I recommend she semi-sit on the bed with someone sitting cross-legged behind her for support (the support person should be sitting against the headboard or a wall).  You need to be at her bottom, others can be on either side of her. If the bed is long and you are having trouble being where you need to be, have her lay sideways on the bed. Have your towel person ready to bring you three warm bath towels and have them ready and waiting when the baby is born. If it is dark, have someone hold the flashlight for you so you can see baby as he is being born.

As the baby moves down, the skin and muscle tissue around the vaginal opening will stretch and stretch. Support the perineum by applying gentle pressure with a gloved hand on the perineum as the head comes down.  This will help prevent tearing. It is important that the baby's head be born gently and slowly. Do not blast the baby out or you will have a very torn mother (with possibly no one to suture her). Some babies are naturally slow in emerging, other times the mother will need to blow through a few contractions to ease that baby's head through. Do not rush this part, as exciting as it may be.  After the head is born, check around his neck with your gloved finder for the umbilical cord.  If you find the cord around his neck, unwrap it before the next contraction and before he is born. If there was any green when the water broke, suction the baby's mouth and nose now to prevent him from inhaling any meconium (the green stuff, which is actually the baby's poop). (Squeeze the bulb syringe away from baby, then insert syringe into baby's mouth and nose and release your grip to suction. You never want to squeeze the syringe while in baby's mouth or nose. Take the syringe out of baby's mouth and squeeze again into a towel to get the gunk out before doing it again.)  After the head is born and before the body is born, some babies will open their eyes and look around. This is normal and there is no need to rush. Most of the time, the shoulders and body will be born the next contraction with a satisfying push. Make a mental note of the time baby was born (or have someone watch the clock) so you can record it in your notebook.

Immediately after the birth

Once the baby is born, immediately put him on his mother's belly, face down, skin to skin and cover both of them with a warm towels just out of the drier.  Do not cut the cord! (Babies get 30% of their blood supply after they are born through the umbilical cord.  The umbilical cord also supplies oxygen.) Pay very close attention to him to make sure he takes his first breath. If baby is unresponsive after a few seconds, use a dry towel and rub his back briskly. Make sure his mouth and nose are clear. If he is "juicy" use a bulb syringe to suction out some of the mucous. Position him on mom's belly so that his head is lower than his bottom so that gravity will drain fluids. More than 90% of newborn babies take their first breath spontaneously or with minimal stimulation.

Gently born babies seldom scream and some do not even cry. Keep rubbing his back, then his chest  until he has taken several good breaths. Once he is breathing well, mom can bring him up to her chest (skin to skin to keep baby warm) and get a good look at him. Cover both mom and baby with warm towels and blankets. Encourage her to touch her baby and talk to him--do not disturb this initial bonding time if at all possible. Babies are usually born a purplish color and their heads can be an odd shape due to the molding that happens during birth.  As mom and dad bond with their new baby, watch and listen to baby. (Have someone else monitor mom's blood flow.) He should be pinking up and his lungs should be clearing up.  If you hear a rattle or gurgle, use the bulb syringe again. Keep stimulating if necessary. If you have a knitted baby hat, put it on him. The baby may be have white, sticky stuff on his body. This is called vernex and should not be washed or wiped off. Let it soak in or rub it in, even.  It is Mother Nature's best body lotion and prevents peeling later on (older midwives will often take some for themselves).

Once you have baby stabilized, turn your attention to the umbilical cord and the placenta (afterbirth).  Grab the cord with your thumb and two fingers to feel for a pulse. Once the umbilical cord has stopped pulsating, it is safe to cut. Use clean shoelaces and tie one lace a good inch or two away from baby's navel. (This can be done while baby rests in his mother's arms.) Use the other lace and tie it further away from baby, about an inch away from the first tie. Tie the laces as tight as you can! Take your sterilized scissors or razor blade and cut between the two shoelaces (or have the new dad do this).  There are no nerves in the umbilical cord, so you will not hurt the baby. The cord is tough, though, and you might be surprised at the bit of work required to cut it. Some cultures put gauze and tape over the freshly cut cord. Unless you have Goldenseal or other drying agent, this is not recommended and can result in a rotting cord stump. Baby is now ready to be put to the breast, if he hasn't already done so.

Breast feeding

The mother may start to shake a few minutes after the baby is born, this is a normal reaction to childbirth. Cover her with more warm towels or blankets to keep her warm, and monitor her blood flow. Encourage the mother to start breast feeding her baby as soon as possible. This will not only comfort baby, but breast feeding releases a hormone that will help the uterus contract. An experienced mother will need little assistance, but a new mother may be unsure of herself.  The general rule is "belly to belly, mouth to breast". Have mom sit up and position baby in the crook of her arm, with his belly right next to hers (he should not have to turn his head to get to the breast). Help baby get a full mouthful, not just the end of the nipple. Teasing the top of his mouth with the nipple will usually get his attention. Let him nurse until he is satisfied, but don't pull the breast out of his mouth (that's painful for mom!).  Have mom put a finger in her baby's mouth to break the seal, and then take her breast away. Give him the other breast if he wants it. She will usually feel contractions while breastfeeding and this is a good thing. 

Massaging the fundus

Continue to monitor her blood flow and check her fundus (the part of her belly above the pubic bone, where her uterus is).  You want to feel a firm lump there, like a grapefruit, to know that the uterus is clamping down and getting ready to expel the placenta. If the bleeding is more than a trickle after a few minutes, massage the fundus. Push down and around (a little like kneading bread) until the uterus contracts and you feel that firm lump. You may need to do this every few minutes if the uterus is "soggy".

EXPULSION OF THE PLACENTA (the third stage of labor)

Even though the baby has been delivered, the mother will still have mild contractions. Ideally, the placenta should be delivered within 30 minutes of the baby, and most of them are. Have a pan, mixing bowl or plastic garbage bag ready to receive the placenta. Hold the cord tautly (do not pull) and ask the mother to "give a little push". If the placenta is ready, it will slip right out and into the bowl. If it doesn't come out, wait 10 minutes and try again.   Take the placenta into another room, it can be buried later. It is the expulsion of the placenta (more than the birth of the baby) that can cause a hemorrhage. Be very aware of blood loss immediately after the placenta has been expelled.  A small gush of blood (a cup or so) and some trickling of blood is normal. A large gush or a continuous flow of blood is not.

Newborn exam

After baby has nursed and before he is dressed, you will need to weigh and measure him.  This can be done on the bed with parents and friends present. Use a bathroom scale (have someone hold him), or wrap him in a lightweight receiving blanket and hang the blanket on a fish scale. Record his weight in your notebook. Then take the tape measure and measure from the crown of his head to his heal. You will need to stretch him out straight to do this, and most babies don't like this. Be sure to explain to him what you are doing so he does not feel fear. A full-term baby will be between 18-21 inches long. Record this in your notebook.  Measure around his chest, across his little breasts, and around his head just above the eyebrows. Record these measurements also. Visually inspect him, count fingers and toes and look him over for anything unusual.  Dress him, put his hat back on and wrap him in receiving blankets.


Postpartum (the unofficial fourth stage of labor and delivery)

The baby has been born, the placenta has been delivered, baby has been fed and mother and baby are stabilized.  It's time to clean up. Have mom sit at the edge of the bed, and put her feet on the floor.  She may feel dizzy doing this, have her take a minute to acclimate before standing up. Help her stand up, or have her husband help her. Have her stand there for a moment before starting to walk. Walk right with her to the shower. Have someone follow behind her, ready to catch her should she fall or feel like fainting. Stay near her while she showers. She should try to urinate.  After she is out of the shower, help her dry off, put a clean adult diaper or two sanitary pads and a clean nightgown or pajamas (with buttons down the front for easy nursing). Comb her hair and tie it back for her. She needs to feel pretty.

While the mother showers, have someone glove up and strip the top sheet of bed sheets and shower curtain and the top pillow cases and garbage bags, leaving the second clean set of sheets.  (If there was not time to make the birth bed, strip the sheets and put on clean sheets and pillow cases.) Put all linens and soiled towels in the washing machine, add detergent and bleach, and start the machine. (If there is no electricity, put them in the bathtub when it is available.) Put all Chux pads, used gloves and any other disposable supplies in a plastic garbage bag and tie it shut.

If the mother has lost a lot of blood, it may not be a good idea to have her get up and walk. See if she can pee into a clean pad or towel. Clean her with your boiled and cooled water and a clean wash cloth, washing her face and neck first.  Change the water, get a new washcloth, then wash the vaginal opening next, then her bottom, thighs, belly and legs.  Put on a clean adult diaper or two sanitary pads and help her into a clean nightgown or pajamas. Have her roll to one side of the bed while you strip the other side, rolling it up next to her. Roll her over to the clean side of the bed while you finish stripping the other side. Comb her hair and tie it back for her.

Stay with her for three or four hours after the birth. If the after pains are uncomfortable, she can take Ibuprofen. Let her and her family sleep, but check her sanitary pads every hour. She should be bleeding like a normal heavy period.  Use this time to record more details of the birth in your notebook, do laundry and finish cleaning up. Double bag the used supplies (chux pads, gloves, etc) and tie it tight.  Check mom and baby one more time before you leave. Baby's hands and feet should be warm, and she should be pink. Her color should be good, too, and she should be able to urinate.  After four hours, the dangers of hemorrhage are mostly passed and you can go home and get some much deserved rest.

About The Author: Kelli is a Midwife's daughter, birth assistant, mother of home-birthed children and business owner.  She has worked with over 500 midwives across the USA.



Spiritual Midwifery, Fourth Edition by Ina May Gaskin. It's a 'hippy book' with lots of natural birth stories as well as good solid information regarding out-of-hospital childbirth.

Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper and Suzanne Arms. Includes a DVD of six live gentle births.

Newborn Breath -- Web site of Karen Strange--she teaches newborn resuscitation classes all over the USA and abroad. These classes are for out-of-hospital birth, anyone can attend.

The web site of the Midwives Alliance of North America.

Independent Midwives UK -- A site for locating a midwife in the UK. locate a midwife in Canada.

Citizens for Midwifery--to locate home birth midwives in the USA. locate a midwife in Australia. a doula in your country, or take a class yourself. Doulas are great birth assistants. locate an accredited midwifery school in the USA. They often offer classes or courses that non-matriculated students can take. It is also a good resource to find student midwives in your area.

LaLache League -- a great resource for helping mothers to breastfeed.

Some End-of-Year Advice from JWR: The wise old saying is: "Buy low, and sell high." I recommend that any SurvivalBlog readers that are still invested too heavily in equities take advantage of the current market rally, and sell most of your stocks and any remaining municipal bonds. Take the proceeds and buy into current dip in silver. Take physical delivery, and keep your investment silver well-hidden, at home. (Preferably in a concealed vault.) Later, as the bull market in precious metals reaches its peak, and as the real estate market bottoms, take your profits from silver and parlay them into additional productive farmland in a lightly-populated region. (The latter two investments would of course be separate from your primary retreat property and your core (barter) holding in silver coins. Neither of those should sold or bartered unless you are desperate.)

Poof! U.S. Retirement Assets Declined by $1.4 Trillion

John B. liked this instructive video segment by conservative commentator Bill Whittle: The Tax The Rich Mentality.

Joe K. sent an article that should be of interest: Mint Needs to Beg, Borrow or 'Steel'. I hope you are getting your nickels together, because that window of opportunity may soon close.

Items from The Economatrix:

2012 Economic Outlook:  Countdown To The End

Beware The Big-Bad Home Sales Revisions

Positive Thoughts About The Economy?  Really?

US Stocks Lifted By Economic Data

Gold Ends Lower As Upbeat Data Lifts US Stocks

10 Days and Two Candy Bars: Stranded student survives 10 days in her Toyota Corolla. This underscores the profound need to carry survival gear and water when traveling. (Thanks to Ian in Virginia for the link.)

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Congratulations to Mac Slavo of the SHTF Plan blog, now listed as #1 in popularity by the Survival Top 50 survey site! Congratulations are also due to The Survival Podcast, the top-ranked site in Survival Top 50's ongoing Reader's Choice Awards. (Note: You have to scroll way down to the bottom of the Reader's Choice web page to see The Survival Podcast and SurvivalBlog, in the rankings. Listing the top-ranked sites at the bottom of a deep page seems counterintuitive.)

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Emergency Essentials (one of our loyal advertisers and a a prize donor for our bi-monthly writing contest) is running a Mountain House sale until the 28th, with 20-to-25% off all cans!

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Yet another reason to live in the boonies: Sniper Detectors Coming to America's Heartland.

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Up in Montana, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Fanning has selected Pastor Chuck Baldwin as his running mate. I predict that the deciding factor in the upcoming primary elections in all of the American Redoubt states may hinge upon which candidates align themselves with presidential candidate Ron Paul.

"There is no name so sweet on earth, no name so sweet in heaven, The name, before His wondrous birth, to Christ the Savior given." - George W. Bethune

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

“When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh” Matthew 2: 1-2, 9-11, KJV.

When Joseph met the wise men at the door, imagine his surprise, when they carried in the expensive gifts. He probably didn’t know that anyone from that far away knew who Jesus was, but he quickly learned that they definitely did, because the treasures they brought were to worship Him as King, Priest and Savior. They brought the gift of gold, since He was the King of kings, frankincense, since He was the High Priest, and myrrh, since He was to die for the sins of the world.

Mary most likely had never had gold, frankincense or myrrh, since both Joseph’s and her family were poor; those were treasures that only the wealthy enjoyed. God planned that they would have these items to barter when they had to flee to Egypt to save the life of the baby. They probably traded the gold first, since it was the least precious or practical of the three. The frankincense may have been the most profitable, since it was used in religious ceremonies, though the myrrh was the most usable gift.  

Many theories exist as to who the wise men really were, but this much we know: They were men of learning and great wealth who watched the events of the world and trusted God to be in control. They were “from the east”, probably the Orient. Tradition suggests that there were 3 wise men, as well as numerous servants, but that is based only on the number of gifts; there may have been many more wise men.

Gold is the gift brought to worship Jesus as the King of Kings. The use of gold for money goes back hundreds of years before Jesus was born and has been used as a standard for value since then. Although the United States has not had any semblance of the gold standard since 1968, gold is still unofficially the gauge by which value is determined. When measuring inflation, the price of the item is compared with gold. Gold is considered to be the most stable in physical value. The value of the American dollar is quickly falling since the Federal Reserve is adding dollars into circulation (commonly called “printing money”). Each dollar is then worth less because the pie is cut into smaller pieces, so it takes more of those dollars to purchase the same item. Gold, however, does not change in value. Gold is still gold. Even though silver is considered to be a precious metal, it is still compared with gold, since it’s less stable in value. Gold was even more valuable in Bible times because it had to be dug up by hand with primitive tools, and there was less in circulation. Without gold, Joseph would have had to barter less valuable goods or services which would have taken more time.

There are a few other things that are known to be more valuable than gold. Wisdom holds higher value, because it causes the person to make better decisions in all areas of life and helps him to live a life with fuller meaning and purpose (Psalm 19:10, 119:127, Prov 3:14, 8:19). The law of the Lord is more valuable because it endures forever, it converts the soul, it brings wisdom to the simple, joy to the heart and light to the eyes (Psalm 19:7f).

Myrrh was given to Jesus in preparation for His burial, because it would prevent the stench of decomposition natural with death. The myrrh resin does not decay and is famous for its antibacterial properties. It has been used as far back as Jacob’s day (Genesis 37:25, 43:11), carried by camel to various parts of the “world.” In Ancient times, it was used to embalm the bodies of Pharaohs and other elite persons, which shows the esteem of the wise men for Jesus. When Esther was chosen for the harem of the King of Persia, she was given 6 months of beauty treatments with oil of myrrh and 6 months of perfume treatments, which probably included frankincense.

Myrrh is the Arabic word for “bitter,” and it has many healing, seasoning, and ritualistic uses. Mary would have used it to wash cuts, burns and other skin infections of Jesus and His siblings. When the children got a sore throat or mouth sores, they were given a little myrrh oil to gargle. They would have burned some myrrh and frankincense to repel insects and vultures from their chickens, milk cows or goats, sheep and donkeys. At the temple, myrrh and frankincense were often used together to make incense for worship. Myrrh has an earthy, bitter scent when it is burned, but when exposed to high heat, it expands instead of melting as other resins would. The gum resin was used as a flavoring in wines and vinegars. When Jesus was on the cross, He was offered a sponge dipped in myrrh vinegar and raised on a bamboo stick to help ease His pain, but He refused it because He came to bear the sin of the world. In the ancient world, it was a panacea for about every human affliction, from hemorrhoids to toothaches. Even today, it is a common additive in toothpaste and in veterinary practice. In Jesus’ day, one pound would be used in the wrapping of a body for burial, but Nicodemus brought “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds” (John 19:39) to prepare the body of Jesus.

Myrrh is a combination of the essential oil and gum of the small thorny tree called the Commiphora myrrha tree. It grows in dry, rocky soil in Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia and other Middle Eastern countries. It can tolerate temperatures down to about 30º F. To harvest the resin and oil, wounds are made in the trunk and the sap bleeds out to heal the wound which is then collected and purified. When fresh, the resin is golden in color but turns darker with age. It has been so rare and sought after that at times, one ounce of myrrh has been more valuable than an ounce of gold.

Frankincense was brought by the wise men in worship of the High Priest, since Jesus was to be the final High Priest that was anticipated all through the Old Testament. In the first century, it was commonly used in India to make incense for religious ceremonies since the burning incense represented the prayers being carried to heaven. Frankincense oil is considered to be stimulating, for the relief of depression. Both frankincense and myrrh have blood-moving powers. It was the trade of frankincense and myrrh that made the Arabians the richest people on earth by the 1st century A.D. The ash from the burnt incense was known as kohl and was used to make eyeliner. Both frankincense and myrrh have been used to treat leprosy.

In Exodus 30:23f, God commanded Moses to make a sacred anointing oil for use only in the temple. The recipe was to never be used outside of sacred use. It was to be blended by a professional perfumer. In the mixture, there was to be 25 gallons of myrrh oil, 12-½ gallons oil of cinnamon, 12-½ gallons of sugar cane extract, 25 gallons of cassia oil which is very much like cinnamon, and 1 gallon of olive oil. This oil was used to anoint the Tent of Meeting and the ark of the Testimony; inside, the table, the lamp stand, the altar of incense and of burnt offering and the wash basin, as well as all the priests that served in the Tent of Meeting. There was also a special formula for the blend of incense that was to be used in the Tent of Meeting: Equal parts of Stacte gum resin (the highest grade of myrrh), Onycha, Galbanum and Frankincense. All four of these spices were gum resin from different trees in the area, extremely valuable and sacred. This blend was to be salted, then ground into powder and placed in front of the Testimony.

Frankincense was also used as treatment for Hemlock poisoning, tumors, vomiting, dysentery and fevers, leprosy, cancer, arthritis, bronchitis, menstrual issues, immune deficiency, gonorrhea, and as an astringent. It is used as camel and human food, the roots eaten raw or used as a flavoring in beverages. The inner bark can be used to make brown dye, or as fish bait.

The oil of frankincense has a woody, spicy, sweet smell, very pleasant. It is harvested from the Boswellia tree by making deep cuts in the trunk, peeling back the bark in narrow strips, and weeks later, collecting the hardened sap that bleeds from the trunk. This is the oleo gum resin, from which the oil is extracted using steam distillation. It is as rejuvenating to the skin, as the smoke is the spirit.  The Boswellia sacra tree is native to Somalia and India. It is known for its ability to grow in extremely unforgiving areas, often out of solid rock which produced superior frankincense. Its native habitat is hot, dry and sunny most of the year, so it can’t handle any frost. It was far more valuable than gold and more versatile in use as well.

Myrrh is “bitter” and frankincense is “sweet,” which is why the husband speaks of his wife as a figure of the Temple mount as “the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense” (Song of Solomon 4:6). In this day and time, myrrh and frankincense aren’t valued as highly as they were, but there may come a day when they will return to their rightful place. The gifts of the wise men hold timeless value. Perhaps it wouldn’t be feasible in most areas of the United States to try to grow the trees, but it may be prudent to stock up on some gold and oil or oleoresin of myrrh and frankincense, or pray for some rich wise men to see a star directing them west to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Dear Jim,
I was very interested to read about the heated greenhouse in this article. I wondered if people have also tried insulating a greenhouse and designing it to maximize solar gain? I've seen a design used in the Himalayas which allows them to grow vegetables throughout the year despite -25C conditions, designed by the charity GERES. I uses a UV-resistant polythene sloping roof facing south, high-mass insulated walls to store the sun's heat and keep it in, some internal walls painted black and others white to help the solar gain, and finally a manually controller ventilation hatch - though I guess this could be automated if desired. There's a case study including photos at the Ashden web site. Thanks, - M.

Dear Editor:
Check out this web page: Directory:Walipini Underground Greenhouses.

Regards, - Roman

Thank you so much for your blog site. I’ve been a reader for nearly five years and have learned so much.
Regarding the post of items to have to implement a micro store when and if there is a TEOTWAWKI event, he was well thought out and quite thorough.
It will be wise for us all to not only be as prepared as we can be for ourselves, but to think about being prepared for those around us.
If we all prepare this way, there will be a lot of duplication. However, as you have said many times, there can’t be too much preparedness.
So, I searched my mind and my supplies and came up with a few other items that I think could easily be added without too much space.
1)       Small sewing kits
2)       Full size spools of thread    
more needles
big needles and stronger threads, cordage for the big jobs
3)       Paracord
4)       Patches of all sizes and strengths
5)       Knives: kitchen, folders, fixed blade
6)       Sharpeners and/or equipment for a sharpening service
7)       Soap
8)       Bag Balm, great stuff
9)       Zip ties
10)   Duct tape
11)   Viagra, I’m not kidding
These are just a few things that could be added that are space efficient that I have in my supplies.
I’m sure all of your readers could probably come up with hundreds of more items.
May God bless you all during this Christmas season, - K.R.Y.

James Wesley:
I really enjoyed this article. I think this scenario could be possible in a small well prepared community where food storage/gardening has already been taken care, letting people focus on some of the "niceties".

I have a few ideas I'd like to add:

I would suggest having maybe a dozen diaper covers (old school plastic pants style, like by Gerber). People will run out of diapers fast, and while the absorbent part can be made out of just about any cloth (old baby blankets, towels, dish rags), the part that holds the mess in is rather specific. You may be able to find them at your local Wal-Mart, online, or see if there's a local cloth diaper store nearby. They will run about $4 for 2 (on, although you can often find them used online. And by used, that generally means someone tried them once and didn't like them.
And if you stock these, you could also print out a few copies of instructions on how to fold a flat panel diaper for people to reference, as well as instructions for infant potty training (again, just look on the internet for both of those instructions. I hope to post more about IPT and cloth diapers later)

Handkerchiefs and flannel wipes may be useful to have a few of, but probably not too many, since most people could probably find something that would work around their house.

Crayons and Coloring books would be another great thing, for family/child boredom, or as a post-disaster gift. Crayons can be had anywhere during back-to-school season for 3/$1, and coloring books are $1 new. Get a dozen or so of these too.

It may be handy to have a package of hair rubber bands. These things are so easily lost or broken, and will only cost a dollar or so

If you stored a few rolls of Duck Tape, you could trade it by the foot or yard (wrap it around a pencil for easy transport)

A box of Q-tips might be nice for a while, although eventually we may have to learn to do without these.

Feminine items would be nice to stock, but realistically the reusable ones are fairly expensive (diva cup $25, cloth pads $9-to-$14 each) or take special material to make, so those who don't prepare may just have to go back to the old way of dealing with it,

Hope this is helpful. - Sarah M.

How many times must we shout it, folks? OPSEC, OPSEC, OPSEC! Man's life savings stolen after daughter leads friends to it. (A hat tip to F.G. for the link.)

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Kevin A. wrote to mention that he liked a five minute TED video: He Went Broke, Then Found Himself. Kevin says: "Interesting information that may spark interest in the SurvivalBlog community.
He earned a Ph.D. But with no practical skills, he thought he was useless. So he started a farm -- and stumbled upon a revelation."

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M.E.W. sent a link to an interesting article about a German library janitor that discovered a cache of ancient coins that could be worth millions.

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Gary U. mentioned a nifty ultra-compact lighter that is ideal for everyday carry: FireStash Keychain Lighter

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K.A.F. flagged this TomCast interview of William Debuys: Thirst in the Southwest

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." - Matthew 1:23 (KJV)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We now have indoor plumbing and a Wal-Mart, along with the millions of acres of wooded wonderland. Some of our forests are so dense and vast that even the DNR officers have become lost. We are alive with moose, wolf, cougar and black bear, to name a few. My husband and I are in our mid 50s and bought our 40 acres of forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula 20 years ago. Can you believe it; we paid only $13,000 for our woods and small cabin? Back then, no one in his or her right mind wanted to live in this harsh, almost Siberian-like wilderness, especially in the winter. It was a time when the only good paying jobs were in logging and mining and we still had a four party telephone system. Many places did not even have electricity. It is crazy how much things have changed in a few short years.

Back when we were settling into our new forest environment, we quickly discovered that the old-fashioned back yard garden becomes a lesson in futility until one learns that Mother Nature owns your butt. You do not do anything in this neighborhood, without her permission. Mesmerized by the warming of your world in early spring and the arrival of the first fawn, the chances are good that you have forgotten who is running the show. By mid spring, dear Mother will send a massive cloud of no see ems to eat out your eyeballs. By late summer, her army of Deer flies and Mosquitoes arrive to finish the job of reminding you that her justice is real.

At the beginning of winter, which can come anytime after the second week in September, Mother Nature unleashes her heavy cloud formations and delivers them in off Lake Superior. By mid-December, cranky, old man winter gets his gears moving and orders his cold winds to storm down from the Canadian arctic. The old guy mixes it up with Mother Nature and together they can dump an average snowfall for the season of 100 to 300 inches depending how close to the pristine, moody, Lake Superior you are. The Upper Peninsula is rich in soil minerals, however most soil for growing crops is horrible. A soil PH of 7 is a great find and is much treasured.

My reason for setting the stage is that one of the biggest obstacles of living up here will be fresh food. Having the ability to hunt and loads of dehydrated food is great but we need live, fresh food too. Therefore, the question is; how do you grow food in such an inhospitable climate and rotten soil? There is very little farming in the upper peninsula, and only one or two families make a living from strawberry u-pick farms, a couple of blueberry farms and a select few potato growers, that is it. Notice the crops mentioned like an acidic soil?

Our mission has been to grow a years worth of food without spending a shipload of money. Our ideal system would be a sturdy greenhouse and a low or no cost heating unit. Solar is almost useless during the time that we would need it the most, so we crossed it off our list. In the beginning of our homestead, we built a makeshift greenhouse out of windows the neighbors had donated to get them out of their garage. It was fun to build and use. Glass is wonderful for use as a greenhouse but the wooden frames eventually rot due to moisture and mildew. It served us well for almost 8 years but the needed repairs exceeded our budget, thanks to a lot of wind and a falling tree branch.

With paper and pencil in hand, we figured out the size of the new greenhouse we would need and the amount of cash we could afford to spend. We wanted to be able to extend the season by two months in both directions since our growing season barely makes 90 days some years. (Some of the old timers say that they have seen it snow at least once, in every month of the year.) It is also not out of the realm of possibilities for the temperature to fall to -40 or -50 on a clear night, although normally it only gets 20 below. There is just no growing anything from November to February here either, even if you had megabucks to spend on heating a greenhouse or had a good south-facing window. There just is not enough sunlight to do the job without very expensive artificial lighting. People living in Maine for example, do not seem to have the problem we do with dark cloud cover for those 3 months of the year. During December and January, it is totally, 100% dark at 4:30 P.M. (central), in the afternoon, another reason we won’t even try to grow in that part of the winter.

We began saving some our limited dollars and eventually were able to purchase a corrugated polycarbonate greenhouse, 16ft. X 20ft. (It is smaller than what we had hoped for, but money being hard to come by we settled on what we could afford.) I want to kiss the person who invented this type greenhouse. I was in love! It was delivered the second week of March during a blinding snowstorm. Needles to say, we did not get it up until June and much bad language from hubby. For the first couple of years we were unable to use it from late October to late April. We could only extend the season a couple of months in the spring and a few weeks in the fall, we wanted more. It needed heat to take advantage of what this beautiful polycarbonate building had to offer. After a winter’s worth of research, we came up with a plan. Using ideas and experience from several authors, we put something together that is relatively inexpensive to get started but holds up well and works fabulously. Most of it is made from scrap or junkyard salvage. For the very first time, I grew beautiful sweet potatoes. (These critters are delicious but space intensive. I just wanted to see if I could do it.) Here is what we did.

Before we put up the polycarbonate greenhouse, we had 3 yards of gravel brought in and dumped. At the time, we were only interested in making a level spot for the greenhouse. The spot we had chosen had a great south facing view but had a sizable slope to it. The hill had too much of a slope to put up a greenhouse without added material. The dump truck left a mountain of gravel right where we wanted it. We hauled and leveled the huge pile by hand which took about three full days. The instant the area was leveled and smooth, we unboxed the greenhouse parts and got things sized, measured and eventually, up.

When the time came to put in some sort of heating, we decided on a modified version that we found in a book called “Solviva”, by Anna Edey. Anna had a grant to build her experimental greenhouse, so she was able to have solar panels and all the gizmos and gadgets that go with solar as a back up heat. Too expensive for us, but what she covered in the book that we used was the example for a wood fired device she had in the center of her massive greenhouse. We used her idea and modified it to fit our greenhouse.

Parts list;
55-gallon metal barrel cut in half, long ways.
An old metal bed frame, taken apart.
Angle iron, one eight footer should be enough.
Steel plate 26” x 40” 1/8 inch thick. Thicker would work but this is what we had on hand.
4” chimney pipe, purchased~ not very expensive.
Two small hinges, taken from a barn door.
Woodstove gasket
First, we found an old 55-gallon barrel and cut it in half-long way. Make sure the barrel did not have toxic material in it. Next we hand dug a hole in the back center of the greenhouse, deep enough to fit the half barrel. I think the hole was about 20 inches deep, 45 inches long and 30 inches wide. You will need room to lower the half barrel into the hole and backfill around it.

Next, we found an old metal bed frame and dismantled it. We kept only the sidepieces, the two pieces that hold the mattress. Hubby then cut two lengths to fit either side of the half barrel, since the sides will be weight bearing. Next, he found some sturdy angle iron and cut four of them slightly longer than the width of the barrel; these will sit on the bed frame sidepieces. Fill in any gaps with wood stove gasket. (The first year we had this up and running, we put the barrel level with the gravel as that is what Anna did in the book. She also used longer angle iron across the barrel and sunk them into the backfill before laying down the sheet metal. Her model was much bigger due to the size of the space she was heating.) Next, hubby cut a sheet of steel plate ½ inch longer and wider than the half barrel. Looking at the steel plate long ways measure in 14 inches and make a cut on that line. On this, you will put two small hinges before placing it on the top of the barrel. The hinged flap becomes the door where you load the wood into your new in floor wood stove. Our design worked great for the first year but the second year we had such heavy snowfall that when the snow melted it filled the greenhouse with water. We have found that if our half barrel sticks up from the gravel about two inches or so, the spring melt will not leak into the barrel and put out the fire.

The first in-floor woodstove we made: Hubby cut a 4-inch hole in the end of the half barrel, and this was where the original chimney connected. It worked fine for the first few years but the connecting elbow filled with creosote, which clogged the pipe. We had to dig up the pipe from the backfill to clean it. Since then we made a new stove and put the chimney on top through the steel plate. It is much nicer but limits the space on top of the unit. The chimney should extend 2 feet above the surface of the greenhouse roof. It is better for draft and heat and smoke will not damage the plastic roof material. The re-enforced steel plate is used because once your in floor woodstove is finished and ready to fire up, you will want a waterproof container sitting on the steel plate. Once your bucket or barrel is filled with water and is heated, it acts like a pan of water on the kitchen stove. The heat and moisture add comfort back into the room. In addition, what we have found is that the gravel around the woodstove stays warm for a long time even when there is no fire in the stove. This area makes a nice place to put seed starting flats. The bottom heat is perfect for little sprouts to come alive. Even when it is minus 4 degrees outside and I will have little pale green life making their first debut against the rich black soil.

Here we are, the second week in December and we have just finished the last of the salad fixin‘s. We served a robust tossed salad for our Thanksgiving meal of Butterhead lettuce, green and red spinach, Tah Tsai (spinach mustard), Pac Choi and Kale. Once the last of the salad greens are harvested, it is time to clean the greenhouse and put her to bed for the winter. About the second week in February, I start the seed flats with new potting material and lovingly place the seed into their new home. Depending on weather conditions, how cold nighttime temperatures, I may let my seed flats stay inside the cabin for a week longer. Hubby cuts an extra cord of firewood in the fall just for the greenhouse. I do not want to use it all right away, so I may wait to fire up the greenhouse. In addition, I have better control of germinating temperatures when the seedlings are in our cabin at super cold night temperatures. About the end of March, I can use the greenhouse floor for germinating.

Another maneuver I used before the woodstove was installed, that turned out well, is making a greenhouse inside the greenhouse. I made a small wooden frame about 24 inches tall X 48 inches long X 48 inches wide and covered it with plastic. Place this mini greenhouse over the growing seedlings. Cover with a blanket at night to keep the daytime soil heat from escaping. It is surprising how efficient it is. If you do not mind using a little electricity, you can place a small electric heater in there too. I have started spinach and mustard greens and kale in September, placed them under the mini greenhouse in the greenhouse raised bed and had them spring to life when there was enough sunlight to make them happy. They were in a kind of holding pattern during the dark months.

Money is an issue

No money for a fancy greenhouse? Not a problem. For the price of a few feet of 6-mil white/clear plastic, you can have a nice greenhouse and can still use the woodstove idea. We experimented this year with an almost no cost way to extent the growing season.
We had some scrap 2 x 2s which we used to erect a frame. We also had on hand, scrap fencing material, some galvanized cattle fence and some chicken wire fencing. Whatever the material you use, it needs to be bendable. After we were satisfied with the frame construction, we mounted the fence over the framework and stapled to the 2 x 2s. Next came the plastic sheeting, which was also stapled onto the 2 x 2s. Because it can get quite windy in the fall and winter, I used regular clothesline rope to tie it down. We drove 6 stakes into the ground, three on either side of our new greenhouse. Next, I took the rope and went back and forth over the plastic knotting the rope around each stake as we went until all the rope was used, leaving enough to tie the end to a stake.
We have not yet, put a woodstove in this plastic covered greenhouse, but there is certainly no reason why you couldn’t. I would recommend, however, that you use a section of plywood to mount the chimney through the roof. The heat coming off the chimney can wreck havoc with plastic. Our plastic covered greenhouse sits in the garden where we previously made a raised bed. For this winter, I placed over wintering perennials in it. It held up very well through all the nasty windstorms we have had this fall. I was very happy with this setup.

You can see pictures of the in floor woodstove and the wire and plastic covered greenhouse here.

Some key reference books from our library:

Hi James,
In reference to A.'s recent article "How I Survived an Attempted Murder", we lived in Guayaquil, Ecuador in the early 1990s. I taught at the American School in Guayaquil called The International Academy. We bought an Isuzu Trooper and drove over 20,000 miles during our stay there. We visited many areas on the frontier with Columbia and Peru that were described to us a bandit country, often drove out into the mountains to distant villages that seemed to have hardly had any contact with Europeans or Americans. Several times drove all the way east of Quito over the backbone of the Andes out across the foothills and into the Amazon jungle.
Shortly after arriving in Ecuador, I let it be know that I was in the market for a pistol. A member of our school board who was the manager of a gold mine contacted me shortly thereafter. He had purchased Smith & Wesson semi-auto pistols to replace the S&W .38 Special revolvers that his guards carried.
He had three of the .38 Specials left to sell. My cost was $500 for a revolver, holster and one box of cartridges. We purchased one. It had a four-digit serial number.
It is noteworthy that having one of these guns was illegal, especially for foreigners.
Later roaming in a market place I entered a hardware store. I noticed that they had a selection of single shot .410 shotguns and single shot pistols for sale. I bought a .410 pistol and a box of shells. These were available to the public to buy.
It's construction was crude and the fitting of the hinge and breech face lacked tight tolerance. I secured this single-shot .410 to a tree for a test firing, and attached a small rope to the trigger. I stood back and fired it. Bang! It did not fall apart or separate into pieces. It was obvious from the powder marks that if fired in a bare hand you were going to get some powder residue burns on your skin. I always kept a pair of leather gloves handy if I had to fire it.
From then on, I was armed with two pistols. I could intimidate with the .410 and if I had to, produce the 38 Special in a flash. Never had to use either of them in a confrontational situation.
During our travels we often encountered police roadblocks. Producing a business card with my school name and the moniker of "professor of science" gave me status. Never did we have to endure a search of our vehicle. I have even produced the 38 Special and showed it to local police when away from the large urban areas.
They would point down the road and say, "bandito"... I just laughed and pointed my gun saying bang, bang, bang. They would laugh to and wave us on.
Arriving once in Agri Lagria out near the Napo Neuve river some 80 or 90 miles east of Quito. Found the town laid out in a central downtown square. A policeman was setting along one walkway. He watched us as we drove around. We were the only Anglo people there. On the second trip around the square I dismounted the vehicle.
Approached the police officer producing one of my business cards. Raised my shirt to reveal the pistol. He just read the card and waved us on.
Near this town we encountered a modern looking American style motel with six units each having four sets of rooms. A large swimming pool with slide and pool side cabana.
A restaurant and a walled in area that looked to be 5 acres with paths and plantings. It had high security and a safe parking area.
We inquired about staying. The young desk clerk was somewhat flustered and said, "you are our first guests." I did not understand this. This motel was not newly-built but it was not old either. I asked, "What do you mean?". He said the US Air Force just left. That day was January 1st when we were there. This motel complex had been built for those manning the US Air Force interdiction flights looking for drug running activities. The only guests for several years had been the US Air Force. They had vacated it in the days just before Christmas. We were their first commercial guests. We found out later that they had contracted with the Air Force and built this motel just for them.
Later while bird watching on the roads east of town we found the airport. It was new. Looked to be the standard 8,000 foot long runways and parking areas that the US Air Force builds. A new control tower gleamed in the sun. I, being retired US Air Force and having been involved in building and maintaining fake airports for bombing targets at Smoky Hill Weapons Range, Salina, Kansas recognized the layout.
We loved Ecuador. But we were not stupid enough to travel without weapons. In addition, you need to carry the business cards that attach you to some commercial institution that has some clout. As you travel you ingratiate yourself to the locals by buying the kid's food. Carrying  two coolers jammed with ice cold soda and candy bars. Also found that giving out the JFK quarters in pristine condition were good. That is what we used in the Peace Corps when I was in West Africa.
Shortly before we left the country, I approached the owner of a sporting goods shop in Guayaquil. He was very interested in buying my revolver, regardless of its legality. He wanted it. He offered me $400. At that time Ecuador and Peru had recently been engaged in military fighting over border areas. The US government had restricted all importation of commercial weapons into Ecuador. A well-dressed gentleman in the store was watching and listening. When I left he followed me out to the parking lot and offered to buy the pistol. I told him he could have it right then for $600. He never flinched. He took me to an ATM and withdrew 16,500,000 Sucres which was the equivalent to about $600 at the time. It took a while since the machine would only dispense 400,000 at a time. I should mention that he was driving a very tricked-out 4 wheel drive Chevrolet pickup that reeked of money. His purchase financed our eight-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, just before we left.
The jungle of the intermountain areas at 7,000 to 8,000 feet is a near constant temperature of 70 to 85 degrees year round. It has 100 shades of green and very hard to describe. A wonderful place to live when it is peaceful and quiet. But when the local people string tires across the highways and burn them in rebellion to the government, they get mean and nasty. But they never gave us any trouble we were passed around and treated nicely.
Up in the higher altitudes the real native people live in stone houses. The children will string flower/vegetation ropes across the highway. Holding both ends trying to get you to stop. They are beggars. But we always gunned the engine and accelerated not knowing whether they were shilling for adults that would come out of the ditch or nearby vegetation.
They would drop the vegetation ropes as we sped by. We often tossed some candy bars out the window as we passed by. But we did stop several times where we could see there was no place for adults to hide. The children were in very cold conditions with snow on the ground in places and in bare feet. They were a dismal grubby-looking lot. We gave them candy bars, but we kept the door locked. And those stops were always with one hand on a gun, the vehicle in gear, engine running ready to leave in a hurry.
We practiced extreme caution in Ecuador and immediately got ourselves armed. Because of this, we came home safe and sound.
At the school the Ecuadorians often were aghast at our stories of where we had traveled. Saying to us, "We were born here and we never go to those places because it is not safe." They were constrained by their own fear of the unknown. Class distinctions and fear permeate the country.
I found A's story entirely believable. But he was very situationally unaware not security-minded. Yes, he's right: He's very fortunate because he should be dead. - Joe C.

Reader Adam W. sent us a piece about a very expensive lesson in OPSEC: On December 9, 2011, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a residential burglary. A list of the stolen property includes:
7,000 - 1 ounce 2011 American Silver Eagles Coins in plastic sleeves
12 - [$1,000 face value] bags of 1920-1963 Silver Coins at 5, 10, and 25 cents
15 – South Africa Krugerrands,
20 - 10 pound bars of silver,
20 - 5 pound bars of silver,
30 - American Gold Eagles with Canadian Maple Leaves
10 ounce and 6 ounce bars of silver with Johnson Matthey and Engelhard stamps
$80,000 cash in bank envelopes

JWR's Comment: It sounds like the burglars knew exactly where to go. It is time for the police to interview their maid...

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Yishai suggested a piece by way of Instapundit: Gingrich’s Worthy Brain Pulse: An electromagnetic pulse attack is not a fanciful notion.

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G.G. sent this: Many in U.S. Are Arrested by Age 23, Study Finds

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J. McC. mentioned an article about maggot therapy for wounds.

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AmEx (American Expat) forwarded a piece by Marcin Jakubowski: Open-Sourced Blueprints For Civilization

"Public calamity is a mighty leveler." - Edmund Burke

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I've been a faithful reader of SurvivalBlog and several others for several years. I have downloaded the archives onto my Kindle and am about halfway through those, too. I am simultaneously fascinated, entertained, and horrified by what I have read. I have learned a lot, been totally confused/overwhelmed by everything electronic, amused and entertained by the fascination with firearms and ammunition, and all over the scale on 1,001 other issues. Can anyone ever be "fully prepped?" Probably not, but we are all working on it or toward it. This article is about how you can simultaneously help other "survivors" while helping yourself. Let's take a different direction and make you an entrepreneur for TEOTWAWKI. (This is going to be a point-counterpoint style article--I'll take some heat, for sure, but debate is always good. And, we're going simple with this article--It seems to me that simple is generally better than complicated).
A little bio first. I am not a kid. In fact, I am certainly older (65) than most of you reading this. Same wife (prettier than ever, confuses me even more today than the day we married) for 43+ years. Two grown and awesome sons, one a military academy grad/serving O-5, the other a major corporation marketing executive. (Even though I love to brag about them, OPSEC says stop now).
My military (23 years active/reserve commissioned officer, US Army) and civilian background (independent consultant) is leadership, operations, tactics, strategy, and senior executive staffing (and flying helicopters. I earned an MBA from a big-deal business school--you need one of those in my business for the credibility--but I believe I learned more about life as a tactical flight instructor at Fort Rucker than I have in business or graduate school). I know ("used to know" is more accurate, I guess; most of my weapons knowledge is dated, for sure) a lot about things that shoot (Infantry OCS--"Benning School For Boys"--grad in the 1960s, Vietnam combat vet, qualified on everything from the .38 revolvers to 81mm mortars and the 106mm recoilless rifle. I don't think anyone has written about that last weapon in this space--It would be very useful against the "Golden Horde" WTSHTF, wouldn't it? The last of those are somewhere out west on avalanche-suppression duty). I am not a "gun guy," but respect those of you who are. And, I hope (and predict) you won't get a chance to exercise those skills WTSHTF. More on that in a minute.
I am a long term prepper. Guess what got me started? I have been a coin collector since I was a kid. Believe it or not, when I was a teenager (if you were very lucky and looked through enough rolls of pennies), you could find 1909 S-VDBs and 1914Ds in circulation. If anything will raise your awareness of the value of money/decline in the value of the dollar, coin collecting will do it. Watching the metals markets and buying/selling coins and metals have consistently made me money and continue to do so today. (Even with the recent "haircut" we have taken in the metals market, as my bullion dealer, who lost a lot more money than I have said: "A loss isn't a loss until you sell." Hold on to your gold and silver; the prices will certainly come back. Watch for the dips and add more as you are able. Jim--My pile of nickels is getting big).
Here's a little "detour" on the subject of "junk" silver coins (I really dislike the term--They are a long way from junk, but we're stuck forever with the inaccurate handle), but it relates to post-TEOTWAWKI commerce, so this is a good place to mention it. I'll try to stay out of the weeds here. The U.S. Mint switched over to copper clad coins in 1965 (only a few collector [proof] coins have been made of silver since; these generally carry a numismatic premium over the "melt" value--too complicated to worry about here. Also, please do not ding me on the [latter] 40% silver halves. You and I know what they are, but why confuse the rest of the audience?), so you want pre-1965 dimes/quarters/halves in your survival stock. The metal changed, but the design of the coins did not--Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, and Kennedy halves are still being minted today, but in the debased (copper clad) metal. This gives you several choices. You can stock up on the old (pre-'65) silver coins in these designs or easily go one design back on the dimes and halves. Given the choice (and for a small premium over the Roosevelts/Kennedys), select "Mercury" (technically, "Winged Liberty") dimes and "Walking Liberty" halves for your survival stock. When the time comes to "spend" (or accept) them, the older designs will be more quickly accepted (they exist in silver only, not clad); the others will need to be more closely examined (to make sure they are silver, not clad). If you are putting away silver quarters, you are more or less stuck with Washingtons, which replaced "Standing Liberties" in 1932--those are pretty scarce, have more numismatic residual value, and probably not as useful for trade (again, a little too complicated). I have purchased gold and silver for many years from Gold & Bullion Reserves of Panama City, Florida. Larry Lee (PNG member) is a class guy and they sell for less of a premium than many other firms. If you go for halves, you can generally purchase "Franklins" for the same price as Kennedys. I think the Franklins are the better choice, again because of the confusion associated with the Kennedys (silver, 40% silver--Why would anyone want those? Worth less than a silver quarter, takes up twice the space, and confuses everyone--or clad, worth roughly nothing). Enough on that. This little detour on silver will probably generate more arguing and quibbling than the rest of the article.
I got serious about preparing for disaster with Y2K, as I worried about the possible meltdown of every way money moves electronically. Like everyone who prepared seriously, I felt a little foolish after the non-event, but I also learned lessons that have served me and my family well, as we have faced several "glancing blows" and one direct hit of hurricanes since. We have wasted almost nothing we stocked--There are still a few odds and ends in the garage, but I have used almost everything over the years. I actually used a Y2K replacement toilet flapper in the last week (nothing to expire there). The emergency food we had stocked--a full year's worth--made a nice contribution to the Rescue Mission (and tax deduction for us) after the fact. This provided a yearly model we continue to follow today--Win/win/win for the mission and freshness rotation/tax deduction for us. (Important record-keeping side issue: If you tithe to your church and you exceed this with additional contributions to other charitable organizations, be prepared to defend every dollar you have donated. The IRS is amazed and skeptical when someone gives away ten percent or more of their income. I have been audited every year for my charitable contributions since 2000. Save every receipt from every purchase and be sure to back this up with the charity's receipt and your itemized list. This has managed to satisfy the Feds every year). 
Let's set the stage for an opposing view of what I believe a "Post-TEOTWAWKI" U.S.A. will look like, at least around here. I see more order and goodness than many others who have written in this space. I believe the basic American instincts, beliefs, and attitudes of freedom, patriotism, fair play, charity, entrepreneurial spirit, and love of God and country (not necessarily in that order; rearrange as you see fit and continue with your own list) will ultimately trump the darker forces of chaos, violence, and evil--at least outside the major metropolitan areas and especially outside the Eastern "Megalopolis." By my mind, those cities and suburbs are already lost beyond retrieval; God help you and your family if you live there and you have decided to "bug-in." Nothing good is going to happen between Richmond and Boston.   
I live in a small metro area extremely conservative in nature, adjacent to a small military installation. I estimate there are several times more guns in my county than there are people--We have lots of "polite" people. If any community will organize itself to survive a societal meltdown, this will be the one. Even our power plant could be disconnected from the eastern grid and last for quite a while (even though their coal pile is limited by state law to 90 days' supply). So, my perspective in this article is primarily for folks living in and around smaller and conservative cities, not the big ones. (Side message for those of you reluctant to move because you are clinging to "wonderful" schools around a major metro area--We bailed out of one of those "top" school districts in Dupage County, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) with young children 25 years ago. Both sons did well in the local school system. Our older son went to West Point. Our younger son recently finished his Executive MBA and was an academic scholarship and college soccer player as an undergraduate. It's clear to me that the standards parents set at home are a lot more important than those prevailing in the local school system. Your kids will thrive, too, if you stay involved with them--set higher personal academic and behavioral standards than the local school system does, keep them busy and involved with the church, find and encourage them to participate in team sports, monitor their friends, and so forth. My mother used to tell me you can predict how well someone will do with their lives by measuring the quality of their friends. Members of our church used to tell us they wanted kids like ours--I told them we didn't do anything that they couldn't do. Helping your kids stand up to peer pressure is probably the toughest task parents can face--but the payoff is high).
Here we go. "It"--some sort of meltdown--has hit us: Here we are several weeks into some world-changing catastrophe. It seems to me the cause of the disaster matters very little; there are plenty of causes to bring about the crunch. Major cities on the East Coast have rioted/burned, thousands/millions are dead, survivors are hungry and streaming to the countryside. They are a long way from us. If a few stragglers make it here, they will almost certainly be absorbed (resort community with lots of absentee-owner condos--we are a "bug-out" location for preppers located in several major southeastern US cities), run off, or killed (there are plenty--plenty--of combat veterans here. This is a military and veteran community, remember? If you are still in the process of selecting a bugout, retreat, or relocation site, add that possibility (owning a summer resort condo as bugout location) to your calculations. (I recall from the SurvivalBlog archives someone predicting bad things potentially happening around military installations because of all the "under-employed" troops hanging around. I see no way "bad" things could happen--Anyone believing that has absolutely no experience in the character of young enlisted people currently serving (it's high)--Our former and retired NCOs and officers will feed 'em, lead 'em, and put them to work protecting us).
Here are my predictions: The county Sheriff's Department--augmented with plenty of volunteers, reservists, and community watch groups--has the violence tamped down and under control. It didn't take long at all for a county-wide ad hoc system of emergency radio to replace the 911 system (FRS, CB, ham, and so forth). Cell phones are working for local calls. (Another side issue: In hurricane territory, you keep at least one "hard-wired" phone in the house--Phone service is sometimes uninterrupted when the power is down. Cordless phones stop working when the power is off. I also have a satellite phone for backup communications with the kids). Looters and violent offenders--there were a few--were shot. Somehow, that served as a useful deterrent. Several school buses parked across the roads into town/bridges into the county have controlled and limited access from the outside. Our very polite/well-armed deputies manning the roadblocks are letting all residents and property owners through (those absentee condo owners with proof of it). Others have to have a sponsor to vouch for them and come and get them--friends, relatives, and so forth. Those not making the cut are given modest rations of food, water, and fuel along with good directions down the road.
Stores are mostly closed/shuttered. Law enforcement is still functioning and robust. There are armed guards securing "Big Box" stores. We have a large marine gasoline terminal (delivered here by barge on the Intercoastal Waterway); also armed guards there. Some service stations are still operating on generator power (cash only--silver is best; prices are inflated), but no one seems to be driving much; the roads are almost deserted. There was some sporadic looting downtown ('bad" neighborhood) and at a few isolated C-stores in the rural areas. Neighborhood watch groups organized pretty quickly, with neighborhood entrances manned and blocked. The churches were also quick to act, opening their food pantries (evidently, there was a lot more prep than anticipated and we learned important lessons on refugee feeding from Hurricane Katrina) and their kitchens. Our people are taking care of each other.
So. The situation is more-or-less stable least temporarily. We are living off stored supplies. Help is obviously not on the way; the feds and the state have their hands full elsewhere, big time. Imagine one of Malcolm Gladwell's tipping points--Which way will this one go? Chaos or civilized adaptation?
If you believe (as I do) that commerce is one of mankind's great civilizing forces--and, that it's pretty hard to stamp it out--it seems to me that all preppers have an important additional duty of using their entrepreneurial skills to help tamp down possible violence, help the less-prepared survive the crisis, and all the while improve their and everyone else's chances of surviving (even prospering) from the turmoil. I think a great way to do this would be through organizing your thoughts and actions now to operate a modest retail operation for barter, trading, and sales of useful and essential items for the general population. Let's call it your "Micro Store." Any prepper should be able to do this at some level.
My initial thought was to create a modest "template"--sort of a basic stocking list--of essential stuff in reach to just about every prepper, probably a footlocker or two of inventory that would be easy enough to move around by cart or hand truck and that would provide a rate-of-return of about five times the investment required to put it together, all the while helping out those who need what you have put away (and would be willing to pay for what they need).
I've looked at lists, lists of lists, made my own list and lists of lists. Thought about/thrown out lots of ideas. I decided to approach this as I would a project for one of my consulting clients.
I also consult for other consultants and have learned that elegant, complicated recommendations to clients often wind up in the bottom desk drawer and unexecuted, so I decided to (try to) keep this modest analysis as simple and as easy to execute as possible. The answer to the first question is actually the toughest. At the high end extreme, you would be the WTSHTF version of a Wal-Mart--not very practical--space, transport, security, costs, and so forth push us to smaller, more conservative strategies . At the low end extreme, you would have a few extra items--things you overbought/excess to personal needs--from your prep stock to trade for things you forgot or used up. With some analysis, we can obviously do a lot better than that--You are an entrepreneur as well as a prepper, remember?
Even though you might ultimately develop into a post-TEOTWAWKI retailer (as an ongoing business), I am not going to try to chart a path to that; that would be far beyond the interests of most of us and this article. Instead, I see several other things we might accomplish with a barter strategy (in no particular order--assign you own weights to these)--
--Through individual leadership, add to community/neighborhood stability. Trading is one of the key human behaviors separating us from the animals. Along with farming, trading helped civilize the world.
--Help other people. However well/poorly your neighbors have prepared, there will be things others need that you can stock up on now to exchange (sell/trade/barter) later. In a voluntary exchange of any goods, both sides receive utility. More on this later.
--Leverage your position and help yourself. For the entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to sell/trade goods for more than you paid for them. We call this entrepreneurial gain. Typical retail markup is 100-150%. In a SHTF situation, your potential markup will be somewhat higher than that, but beware of price-gouging; it could undue all the goodwill you have created.
The leadership issue is an interesting one. Who will be first to set up a trading table out at the wide spot on the highway? You will, if you are prepared. Customers will come and other traders will follow. Competition is good, not bad. Remember the story of the two lawyers in town? One lawyer starves, two prosper. (Before anyone challenges me on the security issue: Yes, I believe in securing both yourself and your stock. I will do that, too--I have the firepower--but that's a subject for someone else. This article is about trading, not security). Once we have a little trading area established, it should gather momentum to everyone's benefit.
Let's start breaking down how to leverage your "wealth"--shooting for your entrepreneurial gain--without trying to replace Wal-Mart, remember? What do we want to sell, trade, or buy? Again, several thoughts--
If you really want to attract customers, I suggest you should think about selling and trading and buying--all three. Here's why--
--Selling generally means accepting some sort of currency for your goods/services. Let's assume paper currency has lost its value. You have silver coins (if you are a regular SurvivalBlog reader and don't have some pre-'65 silver at this point, you can stop reading), but your neighbors--customers--probably do not have much of it. So, be prepared to buy something from them and pay them with your silver. This will start the money circulating process that will lubricate the wheels of commerce we are hoping to achieve.
--Trading/Barter is also useful, but there are two ways to do this--one as a trader, where two people exchange things of equal value for personal consumption or use, the other for ultimate resale (keep thinking as an entrepreneur). The best example I can think of here is the used book store--The customer brings in two books to the store and the store trades back one. The extra book is your entrepreneurial gain. You can trade it again or sell it.
So, what should you stock in your little store? My selections might differ from yours, but it seems to me these are the important factors to consider what to "stock"--
--Small, compact items with high value/utility make sense: Useful, in demand, painful if you don't have it.
--Relatively inexpensive. I think small ticket items make more sense than big ones--You'll be less of a target of opportunity and will create less resentments among your customers. This strategy is about the little things, not about dealing in used tractors or horses.
--Limited amounts. You're not Wal-Mart and will need to haul this stuff to your sales location and haul it home at the end of the day. I will assume a "normal" inventory might be a footlocker's worth you can put on a hand truck or a garden cart (or maybe the bed of a pickup truck). You'll keep most of your inventory locked up somewhere else for economy, ease of transport, and security.
"The List." I have scratched my head for years to come up with this. No one has a monopoly on good ideas, though--Feel free to add to the list and disregard whatever you do not agree with--
1. Alcohol. Let's get the sin out of the way first. As a regular "Gentleman Jack" aficionado, I have a case (plus) in stock for personal use. Yeah, I know. They say a man's taste in whiskey, cigars, and women gets more expensive as a function of age. Big bottles take up too much space and they will be too expensive for regular commerce, so I think a case or two of miniatures (like you see on the airlines) makes more sense. If we can get these into circulation, I think some will use them as money. Pick your poison. My local liquor store was willing to sell me a case of regular Jack Daniels minis for $138 and a case of Absolut brand vodka (I think the ladies would probably prefer that over the Jack) for a few dollars less.

2. Coffee. Yeah, I know. The sooner I stop drinking coffee, the better (even if there are multiple, medically peer-reviewed studies illustrating clearly that drinking coffee in moderation is actually good for you. Whatever). I'll stop drinking coffee when I can't get any more, so my basic stock is a case of beans. Coffee has to be one of mankind's ultimate comfort foods and will be in high demand WTSHTF, whether it is addictive or not. You might want to put away a case or two of instant in small jars for sale/barter/trade, but I think some single service packages (the little pouches that will make one cup) make more sense. I've seen these in the warehouse stores--200 Maxwell House instant one-cup pouches per case for about $30. Get a couple of cases, at least. Sales price--three pouches/cups for a silver dime.

3. Tobacco products. I thought about leaving this off the list (because of the stigma and the general nastiness) but reconsidered after I recalled something from graduate school. This came from an MBA econ course: Do you know what the hottest, most in demand trading item in WWII prisoner of war camps was? It was cigarettes. Not chocolate, not canned food, not coffee. True, times have changed, but there are still plenty of smokers who will want their nicotine fix as long as they can get it. And, they will pay for their smokes. In the big cities, cigarettes are already being sold one or two at a time--This is the model I see post-TEOTWAWKI. A carton or two will be enough for you to stock. Sell two or three cigarettes for a silver dime. (You can store them in plastic bags in the freezer to keep them fresh if you want, but my sense of this is that stale or fresh won't make much difference to dedicated smokers.)

4. Ammunition. There is so much content concerning ammunition already on SurvivalBlog, anything I might add would be redundant or under-whelming, with one exception. We are loaded up with squirrels in my neighborhood--We jokingly refer to it as "Southeastern U.S. Squirrel Headquarters." (Hickory, oak, pecan, pine, and an invasive species the locals call "popcorn" trees--you should see those little suckers shuck the pinecones and the mess that makes when they go for the seed kernels--support a huge population). I have killed several hundred with my trusty single-shot air rifle--Good for making me feel better after I see them stripping the baby grapefruit off the tree--but not dependable enough for the stew pot. They replenish themselves faster than I can pop them. When I was a kid, I had a bolt action Mossberg .22 I could load up nearly a full box of .22 [CB] "caps" or about half a box of "shorts." I wish I still had that little rifle. Caps and shorts would be great for squirrel hunting in the neighborhood--safer than "longs" or LRs, a lot less noise, and less expensive, too. Why not put away a couple of bricks of those for trade/squirrel hunting (and the rats that will be eating everyone's garbage)?

5. Lantern mantles. I learned about this one the hard way from backpacking and canoeing trips--You cannot ever have enough of these (if you have propane lanterns) because they are so fragile after you "burn them in" they are always disintegrating when you move the lantern around. And, there's nothing so frustrating as a lantern, plenty of gas, and no mantle to make it work. I've probably used a hundred or more over the years and can detect absolutely no difference between the no-name cheapies and expensivo Colemans--They all work the same and they all break the same. Wal-Mart has cheapies for $.44/each. Get 50 or so, sell for a silver dime each in your store. (At the current rate of about 24:1, that's a good one for you). You might also want to stock a couple of dozen lamp wicks.

6. Miniature bottles  (1/8 oz.) of Tabasco sauce. We are very likely going to be eating a little differently when TSHTF; Tabasco will make about anything that isn't sweet taste better (or at least cover up/camouflage the taste of raccoon or possum or whatever was in the trap). You could buy a case or two of the little bottles sold at the grocery store, but miniatures are a better choice. Here's a great example of how a little research can make a huge difference in the price of your inventory. Google "Tabasco miniatures" and you'll get over 100,000 hits, ranging from $1/bottle to case prices. I found my best price for the 200 piece case at (no personal financial interest in this; I've bought from them several times--Good service; extremely competitive prices). You might also want to stock a case each of mustard, ketchup, and soy sauce individual packets--All available at the warehouse stores; cheap. Sell two/three for a silver dime.

7. Toothpaste and dental floss. The little "travel" tubes are perfect for sale/barter, but they're too expensive to buy that way. I asked my dentist buddy to get me a case of each.

8. Beano. I love beans--every way you can think of, but especially homemade soup (navy beans cooked with ham left on the ham bone)--but starting with the second day, I am deep into intestinal distress and paying the price. Big time. So, I generally stay away from beans--I even get double rice instead of the refried beans when we eat Mexican. When TSHTF, we (you, me, and everyone collectively) will be eating a lot more beans than usual; my guess is that there are plenty of folks who will suffer with the beans for a while, until their "systems" reset. Get at least a dozen bottles (and you might even split them up into smaller quantities).

9. Antacid tablets. My aging stomach needs a couple of antacid tabs before bed, or I risk a bout of acid reflux. On the bean/rice/squirrel/raccoon (etc.) diet, I'll be going through a lot of antacids and I'll bet your neighbors will, too. Load up on these--I suggest at least a dozen jumbo bottles of 200 or so per bottle. These are cheap; no need to go for the expensive Tums--the store brand is fine and costs much less. Repackage your tablets into 25 per baggie for a silver dime (three for a quarter). Yeah, you could go with a stock of Prilosec (now OTC), but these are a lot more expensive than store brand antacids.

10. Salt and pepper. Pepper we can live without (okay-we'll suffer, but we'll make it. Without salt--We die). Interesting observation here--Even those folks who think they live just fine without salting their food are getting plenty of it from processed foods. The cravings will get intense when we're all eating unsalted beans and rice. Recommendation here is to buy a case of the s&p picnic sets at the warehouse club store and a case of bulk packed (food service) salt. Tell your "customers" to bring their empties back for refill or just bring the household salt shakers.

11. Chapsticks. It's cold outside in the winter and everyone will be outside more. There is nothing more miserable than needing a chapstick and not having one. These sell for $10/dozen at Sam's Club. I think they would be worth a silver dime each post-TEOTWAWKI. Stick to the brand name on this one--I've tried substitutes, which have all managed to disappoint.

12. Rechargeable batteries. This is a good one. I remember this suggestion from Dr. Gary North's web site as we were prepping for Y2K (seems like yesterday): Buy enough rechargeable batteries for as many neighbors as you can afford (say four AAs and four AAAs each) AND a solar-powered charger for you. Here's the deal: Give away a basic set--charged up--to whoever wants one. You'll trade a freshly-charged set for a depleted set. That will keep your customers coming back and thinking about your "store."

13. "Free lunch." This is another good one. Consider this your "loss leader" and a promotional strategy to attract customers. As you get your "store" started (the first week, maybe), offer customers a "free lunch"--a tasty bowl of chili beans or spicy noodles and a drink of "bug juice" (that's the red Kool-Aid)--for the first 25 customers or so as a promo strategy. After a few days, you can transition to a paid lunch--a dime or quarter in silver (recycling some of that silver change you put into circulation by buying from other merchants and from your customers).

14. The "bug juice" is another good idea. The water we filter/boil/purify may not taste so good and a sweet drink will be big, especially with the kids. I just priced these at the grocery store--packages (unsweetened) of cherry Kool-Aid are $.27/ea. and make two quarts. I bought 100 packages (compact; takes up very little space for the value). Your post-TEOTWAWKI sales price might be a silver dime for three or ten for a quarter.

15. Butane lighters. These are so cheap at the wholesale clubs and so profitable to sell (probably in high demand, too)--$7.95/100--get a couple bricks of a hundred/brick. Sell individual lighters for a dime each or three for a quarter. These are in the cigarette "cage" at Sam's Club. The clerk told me they are one of the favorite purchases of "C-store" owners, because they sell for $1 each at retail (we wish we could get that markup on everything, no?).

16. Books. After all these years, I remember a great line from a book--I think it was from Pat Frank's novel Alas, Babylon--"Any book same as cash." This will be a guaranteed money-maker and/or barter item; people will be desperate for
reading material and will come to your store again and again if you keep plenty of books in stock. Trade two-for-one. Sell paperbacks for a silver dime, hardbacks for a quarter. The absolute best way to build your stock now (other than saving your already read books) is by hitting garage sales. Get your best deal by offering to buy all the books at a site--You'll get the best price that way. This strategy will probably work for DVDs, too (if your "customers" were smart enough to figure out how to keep their laptops charged up).

17. Pool shock. This might very well be your major contribution to saving the human race. As you might be aware, more people have been killed by waterborne disease than all the wars of history. In a grid-down situation, we do not lose just water purification, we also lose sewage treatment (and your neighbors will be polluting everything). This combination will be deadly. You have many options for purifying water, but a "belt and suspenders" approach will be the best bet to stay healthy--Use multiple strategies to protect yourself. "Pool shock" is calcium hypochlorite, a dry powder, sold in one pound packages for swimming pool sanitation. This chemical is remarkably effective at sanitizing water. "Recipes" I have seen online state that a grain or two will sanitize a gallon and that a pound package will treat 65,000 gallons (I'm not sure about that part--My pool is about 12,000 gallons and I use one package of shock/week. Use a fifth of a bag, then drink from the pool? Maybe not). In any event, you can buy this stuff at about any Big Box or pool store or online. I think I would give it away rather than sell it--A one pound bag is about $5. My last case (24 bags) was about $50 at Sam's Club. A case would be a great investment to help out the neighborhood. If you wanted to, you could easily repackage smaller quantities for sale in baggies for a dime a bag. (If you want to do something cool now, type out some simple instructions now on how to use the shock to sanitize water--you could easily fit a dozen of these on one piece of paper--then, print out 25 copies. Store your instructions with your shock "stock." When the time comes and you are ready to repackage shock into baggies, cut up the pages and put one set of instructions in each baggie).

18. Hand sanitizer. Another potential life-saver. With certain clean water shortages, hand sanitation will be a big issue and an important way to prevent the spread of disease and infections. This is a two-step sale: Purchase a bulk package of small hand sanitizer bottles at one of the warehouse clubs. Sam's has these--25 2 oz. bottles for $19.95. Your cost is $.40/oz this way. Sell those for a silver dime each (or maybe three for a quarter). Also buy several large bottles--two liter dispensing bottles of their private-label version (same stuff--thickened ethyl alcohol--as the branded product)--for $7.95. Your cost works out to $.118/oz. Use the big squirt bottles to refill your customers' little ones at two or three for a silver dime. This will be a great deal for everyone. (As I learned on the SurvivalBlog web site, this stuff burns like sterno. Even though I have plenty of other fuels to heat/cook/boil water, you couldn't go wrong by putting away a dozen of the two-liter bottles).

19. Mice/rat traps and poison. This one should be obvious--When the garbage piles up, the rodents will respond to the "stimulus," too. We fight a constant standoff with the critters in my neighborhood (can't seem to get to those that live in the woods--unlimited and undisturbed population)--and that's without the bags of garbage stacking up. We use a lot of the glue trays, but traps will last; the trays are single-use. Sales price--a dime for a mousetrap, a quarter for a rattrap. Poison is problematic--It will kill the rodents, for sure, but pets/kids, too, if they should get into it. I would leave poison to the professionals, to be safe.  

20. Sunscreen. Again, everyone will be spending a lot more time outside. Around here, even leathery beach people need sunscreen. This is a great dollar store purchase. Several of our local dollar stores have SPF 15 and 30 in six and eight oz. bottles for a buck. Get a couple dozen bottles; sell for a silver dime each. 

21. Bike tire repair kits. As soon as the gasoline supply chain fails, all sorts of old bikes will be dragged out of garages and basements. Many (most?) of these will have flat tires and few folks will have tube repair kits--but you will. Again, check the Big Box stores for kits--a couple of bucks each. You might want to get a dozen; sell for a silver half. Bring your tire pump to your micro-store and offer "complimentary" air.

22. Insect repellant. Living in near-jungle as I do, this one has special significance. I go through a number of Off spray cans every year working in the yard. With all the extra time we will be spending outside hauling water, gathering firewood, manning our Micro Store, and so forth, the bugs will be eating better than anyone. Check your local dollar store for deals on repellant. Price accordingly.

23. LED headlights (for your head, not your car). If you are any sort of camper and haven't yet discovered these, let me state for the record they are as cool as sliced bread. What an amazing supplement to the flashlight! Not only will they light the way around a dark, grid-down house, they also make great book lights. No flame, making them safe for everyone to use, anywhere. Here's the most interesting part-- most non-campers and non-preppers don't have any, for the most part. This makes them a great sale/barter item. I've seen discussions of different brands in this space, which mostly miss the point. They are now so cheap (check the dollar stores and buy a couple of dozen), you can throw them away when they break. I've got an expensive one and a bunch of Chicom cheapies; all work fine. The LEDs last forever (nothing is forever, but I've yet to lose even one to failure); the on-off switch looks like the first thing to break. I would stay away from the ones with "button" batteries and go for the ones that take AAs or AAAs. Depending on your cost, they would sell for about a silver quarter each or a quarter and a dime.

24. Sta-Bil or Pri-G. Consider this liquid plutonium. Get at least a dozen of the small bottles (treats five gallons of gasoline); sell for a [silver] quarter a bottle.

25. Hard candy. Another great promotion item--Get a couple of bulk jars at one of the warehouse clubs and give away candy to the kids (or to the parents to give to the kids) when they come to your store. These will bring everyone back sooner. A plastic jar of 200 "Atomic Fire Balls" was $6.95 at Sam's (the boys love these) and a similar size jar of Gummi Bears was $7.95.
Those are the most important items I can think of (remember our selection criteria and those things I think will move the best), but here are a few others. Seeds; you didn't need me to suggest that. 2 cycle oil (for the chainsaws). While you're at it, how about a fist full of files for chainsaw sharpening? Fishing gear. I didn't put that on my list, because just about everyone around here is already stocked for salt and fresh water, but it might be useful where you are--A little assortment of small hooks and such might be a good seller if you have some bodies of water around. Make up some little fishing kits in sandwich bags for a silver dime. Batteries. Candles. Condoms. Pain relievers (a big bottle each of store-brand aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen to dispense a few pills at a time as needed). Diarrhea tablets. Disposable razors.  I thought about adding P38 can actually has a case (100) of these for twenty bucks (and there are plenty of other sources, too). Notice I have gone light on the med stuff (outside my expertise; there are plenty of good suggestions elsewhere on this site), ammo, and food (I'll let my fellow traders take care of those).
Wrapping up. For several hundred dollars, any prepper can assemble and stock a "micro-store" that will help everyone survive until (or if) civilization recovers. Do it now. May God Bless you and keep you. Good luck with your entrepreneurial endeavors.

CPT Rawles:
I have read with interest all the good advice on sleeping bags and how to stay warm in very cold weather.  Most of the writers speak about a specific area they lived in, or traveled in, as a basis for the post.  There is a lot of good, sound advice out there by these writers.  I thought I might contribute my own personal opinion as well, since my own experience ranges pretty much across all weather extremes, and was under conditions far harsher than hiking, camping or hunting – at least for the most part.  I spent 29+ years in the US Army (mainly airborne and air assault infantry and a short time in the ALARNG SF).  My duties took me to many countries and I have slept out in the weather of countries like Honduras, southern USA, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy and Norway to name just a few.  I have experienced quite a range of temperatures and environmental conditions over the years.  In all these areas, I had to sleep with what I could carry on my back using a large Army issue ALICE pack and my time out in these conditions varied from a couple of days to over a month at a time.  I also didn’t have the option of going in if the weather was bad, the Army tends to frown on that for the most part.  My sleeping varied from leaning up against my ALICE pack with a poncho thrown over me to setting up for good sleep around an airfield waiting for a ride home (which, if you know about redeployment then you know that the Army gets you there in a hurry, but can be slow to get you an aircraft to get home). In some of these places I had the use of a HMMWV, but that was the rare exception, rather than the rule.  I want to focus on sleeping out in harsh conditions with only what you carry on your back – that is a far different proposition for most folks.  Even if you have a vehicle, if it breaks down or you have to dismount and leave the vehicle, you then only have what you can carry on your back.
My personal ideal sleeping setup consists of a hot weather and cold weather system, with both using a common sleeping bag as the base system.  While I know some people don’t care for them, I have never found a better base sleeping bag system than the current military issue system (you can buy these used from Coleman’ surplus).  It consists of a Gore-Tex bivy sack, heavy sleeping bag, light sleeping bag, and a compression sack.  I have three of these I bought as I PCS’d from various units.  The old down military sleeping bag was just too heavy and was not suited for wide ranging weather conditions, and I for one applaud the Army for replacing it with the current issue system.  Also for my base system I add an old heavy duty Army poncho (pre-dates the current rip stop nylon type of poncho),  a dozen bungee cords and tent stakes, and a cut up foam pad for insulation from the ground.  The bungee cords wrap around the frame of my ALICE pack against my back and the foam pad fits under it, so no space is wasted on these extras and the weight is negligible.  Yes, my old ALICE pack is still my go to pack for my use.  Old habits die hard.  The bungee cords, tent stakes and poncho make a great lightweight shelter and windbreak for one person and you can put you head on the kidney pad of the ALICE for a pillow so that your pack stays dry under the poncho as well.  Many configurations are possible with this setup and you need to experiment on what works best for you.  My favorite go-to setup is my poncho strung between two trees in an A configuration.  Don’t forget to tie off the poncho hood so that water doesn’t drip in from that opening.  The bungee cord allows for quick set up and tear down, even in the dark with no lights and under noise discipline conditions.  Yes, the Gore-Tex bivy sack is waterproof and I have just rolled it out and slept in it in the rain, but if you have the time, putting a poncho over your bag keeps it dry so when you stow it the rest of your gear doesn’t get wet (the poncho can go under the straps on the outside even if wet), and it gives you a dry spot to get your boots on and eat chow, etc.

For warm/hot weather (I consider this to be 35 degrees and up) you have to consider humidity in most places, and rain is almost a certainty, as are bugs, no-seeums, snakes, scorpions, etc.  When most folks think of sleeping out in hot weather, they think of warm weather, sleeping on the ground, and stars in the sky – life is good.  Well, those nights do exist, but are far more rare than you think.  What will make you miserable in hot weather is not the same as what will make you miserable in cold weather, and you have to plan for it.  Wind is not that bad in warm weather, but it can be, especially if temperatures are below 50 yet still above 35 degrees.  Then hypothermia is a consideration as well.  For warm/hot weather, in addition to my base system, I like to add a hammock or what the Army calls “Netting, General Purpose” tied off on the ends with rope and a mosquito net.  Both are light weight and very collapsible in your pack, so they pack well.  If you have the money, you might want to explore purchasing a Clark’s Jungle Hammock.  I have never owned one, but I personally know several old timers that do and they swear by them, rather than at them, which speaks volumes when discussing a hammock.  The hammock and Mosquito net are invaluable for keeping bugs and critters from getting at the buffet line that awaits them once you go to sleep and you can still use the poncho to keep rain off or as a wind break if necessary.  In a hammock, when the weather drops below about 65 degrees, remember you lost heat from the bottom, so you still need that foam pad under you.  Until I learned this lesson, I slept badly in a hammock in 70 degree weather.  You may think you are warm when you go to bed, but you will wake up soon from the cold.  As I understand it, the Clarks hammock has pockets under it you can stuff with stuff for insulation against this.  Also, if you have never slept in a hammock, you should sleep out in your backyard in one a few times before you try it under less desirable conditions.  Some folks cannot sleep in a hammock without falling out and others have to learn to sleep differently than they normally do.  Another method of a quick sleeping set-up in hot weather is to just put a poncho liner in the Gore-Tex bivy sack and sleep in that, however, I find as I have gotten older a little padding under it doesn’t hurt either.

For cold weather (I consider this to be below 35 degrees), wind is your primary enemy, as is moisture of any kind whether it is rain, sleet, snow, hail, etc.  Humidity, bugs and reptiles are not generally a problem at this temperature, however in some places in the world, things that crawl and slither have been known to seek out your personal warmth.  I well remember a cold night in Ranger school in Florida phase when my Ranger buddy woke up, stood up and started gathering his gear only to find out that a little old Pygmy Rattlesnake had burrowed under his poncho liner and was curled up asleep in a small hollow in the ground.  They had slept together all night with neither one the worse for wear, but to say my friend was a bit startled is to put it mildly - however, I digress.  Cold weather injuries like frost nip, frost bite, hypothermia, etc. are very real possibilities and you must plan for how to mitigate these.  In cold weather, I have to agree with the other authors that said sleeping in polypro with socks and a knit cap is the best way to go.  Now, I admit I wasn’t able to try the buck naked approach, since jumping out of my fart sack in the middle of the night buck naked just wasn’t done in most of the areas I was in – generally, hot or cold weather I stayed in my uniform taking off only my boots and my shirt.  Sometimes, depending on where I was and the conditions under which I was there, I slept in my boots and shirt as well along with my rifle.  Like I said, my experiences were a bit different from normal camping.   So for cold weather, I would always recommend 2-3 knit caps and a balaclava made of stretch material, polypro or silk underwear, heavy socks, etc.  I also carried an old hot water bladder that I could fill with water I heated over a heat tab and put in my bag with me if it was extremely bad/cold conditions.  I think the worst conditions I ever slept out in was during a NATO exercise in Norway, when after jumping in (ever been a living, breathing yard dart?) we had to live in snow caves for a week.  The snow caves made sleeping great since it was out of the wind, but if you were above ground the wind dropped the temperature down to almost inhabitable levels.

I never used a pillow other than my ALICE kidney pad or my rolled up shirt, so you can decide if you want that extra bit of kit or not.  I always put my clothes in my sleeping bag with me, in cold weather so they would be warm and for extra insulation, and in hot weather to keep scorpions and other critters out of them.  Always shake your boots out before putting them on – develop this habit early so you don’t get an unwelcome surprise from a scorpion or snake some morning when you haven’t even had your coffee yet.  If you decide to sleep with your boots on in cold weather or hot, unlace the boots so your feet don’t swell and change your socks in the morning religiously.  Also, when sleeping in cold weather, if you are eating MREs, put your breakfast rations in the fart sack with you so they aren’t frozen in the morning.  Same with your canteens.  I know it sounds like a lot of stuff in the bag with you, but it can be done and still allow comfortable sleeping – just don’t wait until you have to do it, to figure out how to do it – practice under good conditions first.  Also, be very cautious about sleeping in cold weather completely in your sleeping bag – if you breath into your bag you will create condensation that will form moisture on the inside of your sleeping bag and chill you to the bone.  You should arrange yourself so that your breath is going outside rather than inside your bag.

I am sure I have forgotten something, but the bottom line is to practice, practice, practice under decent conditions first, where if you aren’t comfortable it isn’t life threatening – survival gear is pricey, but knowledge is priceless. - J.K.R.

To temper this sensationalistic news reporting on the man-made H3N2 flu variant, consider: On Research Ethics

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A reminder to readers in the US that you have less than one week left left to purchase Primatene Mist Inhaler(s) over the counter, after 12-31-11 it will no longer be available. As most of you know, this is nothing more than Epinephrine in an inhaler and can be used for any type of anaphylaxis. The cost is around $21.

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NYT Smears Gingrich Over EMP Threat Comment. (Thanks to Yishai for the link.)

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Warning, Tyranny Ahead! Lawrence T. mentioned this: A proposed act of the New Hampshire legislature, requiring the department of transportation to post signs on roads that cross the border into Massachusetts.

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Roxanne B. sent us a news segment from Southern California (The Land of the Well-Tanned Sheeple): Residents Exchange Guns For Gift Cards. Baa-Baaaaaaa!

"Each man of the three companies bore a rifle-barreled gun, a tomahawk, or small axe, and a long knife, usually called a ‘scalping knife’, which served for all purposes, in the woods." - John Joseph Henry, An Accurate and Interesting Account of the Hardships and Sufferings of That Band of Heros, Who Traversed Through The Wilderness in the Campaign Against Quebec in 1775

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The key to building an emergency shelter is knowing how to improvise. Whatever the situation, whatever materials you have, if you need shelter from the elements, you'll have to make do. Be efficient; every calorie spent is a calorie you'll have to replace, so build your shelter using the least time and energy you can.
For the purposes of this series of articles, we're assuming you'll be on the move, and that your shelters are truly just for temporary, perhaps even one-night use. If you're going to be in place for awhile, then the rules about minimalist construction are off, and you should make your situation more comfortable, which is good for morale.

Gather your materials

Whatever you have on hand might be useful, so let your imagination run for awhile before you begin construction.
A crashed plane might still be in good enough condition to sleep in. If it's not, you may still be able to recover foam insulation from the seats, bits of carpet, or electrical wire (for binding and fastening). Don't overlook the stitching material in the seat covers.
A parachute, canvas, tarp, or poncho make excellent cover for your shelter.
An overturned lifeboat, canoe, or kayak can be propped up on sticks or poles to provide a solid roof and shade.
Some sort of binding is usually helpful. If you don't have to make your own rope you're already way ahead of the game. Remember Tom Hanks' character in Cast Away? He spent weeks making enough rope to build his raft, and used up all the rope-making material on his island to do so. Stock plenty of paracord in your everyday carry bag and your bugout bag.

Types of emergency shelter

Generally, the parts of an emergency shelter are: Support structure or framework; cover; insulation, and floor. You can build quite a variety of emergency shelters with these basic parts.

Simple A-frame shelter built with sticks and boughs
Simple A-frame. This involves a framework of sticks, a cover, and insulation. Remember, keep it simple, keep it small. Make the tent two feet longer than your body height, and just tall enough to sit up inside. While this seems a waste of space, if it's quite cold you'll spend a good bit of time inside the shelter. (If you're definitely spending only one night, make it shorter and it'll be easier to heat).
If you don't have some sort of man-made roofing cover, like a tarp, you'll be using boughs of some sort. Install boughs from the ground up to the roof ridge, with the stem of the bough pointing up so the rain sheds properly. If the stems are pointing down, the leaf and branch structure will funnel the rain into rivulets that will drip through the roof. Each succeeding row of boughs lies atop the row below, so rain sheds on top of the boughs underneath, and drains all the way to the ground.

A lean-to shelter is simple and can be built quickly
Lean-to. A lean-to is the simplest way to give yourself rain cover. It provides little protection from wind, but it does have a number of advantages, the main one being that it's very quick and easy to build. It also can work as a heat reflector, particularly if you happen to have a mylar blanket in your every day carry bag. You can line the inside of the lean-to with the mylar and reflect the heat of a fire.

Poncho shelter.
Poncho or canvas shade. Canvas makes an excellent roof over your head in case of rain, and also a wind-block that can be insulated with boughs or leaves for cold-weather applications. There are military-style ponchos with grommets at the edges that make it easy to tie it down as a shelter. Some have snaps that allow two or more ponchos to be connected for a larger shelter. Multi-duty items are always preferable, so I like the poncho better than the canvas.
Snow pit or snow bank. In areas with heavy snowfall, these make very comfortable shelters. Snow is an extremely effective insulator, and while direct contact sucks heat from your body, the air inside the shelter will easily maintain temperatures well above freezing. Just be sure to make a thick bed of boughs to keep you off the snow. In a wooded area, dig out your pit from around an evergreen tree such as spruce, fir, or cedar. NOTE: Shake the snow off the tree first! When digging into a snow bank, cut the ceiling in the shape of a barrel to keep it from collapsing. With either a pit or a bank, build your bed on a shelf: this allows the coldest air to sink, and you'll sleep warmer.
Fire-building inside the shelter can be problematic if there's a lot of smoke. If you can close the entrance with a tarp or poncho, a single candle will be enough -- that and your body heat will maintain about 50 degrees (10 degrees C). Trust me; I've done it and been very cozy.
Igloo. This is a specialty shelter. It's only recommended for extended stays or if there's no other shelter available. It requires a specific type of snow; it must be firm enough to cut blocks and shape them for a good fit. I'm sure there are many methods of construction, but the one I've found easiest and quickest is as follows:

  1. Build a circular wall, raising the blocks in a running spiral course up to a dome, and place the "capstone" last, in the middle of the dome. The diameter of your igloo should be about 1.3 times your height, which allows room to build a shelf for your bed. If you're 6 feet tall, that's about 8 feet diameter. If there are two of you, make it 1.5 times your height for a double bed.
  2. If you have a partner, build from the inside while your partner feeds you the blocks. If you're alone, prepare some blocks in advance and build from the inside until it's about knee-high, then finish from the outside. If your blocks keep collapsing, leave a cutout in the wall so you can move in and out of the shelter during construction and stack each block while inside. You'll have to "mortar" each block in place as you go. If necessary, build it as a cone instead of a spherical dome -- this helps prevent collapse during construction. A dome is more efficient, but do what you must to get it done.
  3. Trim the blocks for a good fit, but if your blocks are brittle, don't worry too much about small gaps as you go. You can fill them in later with loose snow. Once the dome is finished, warmth from the inside will melt the interior snow and refreeze it, cementing the blocks in place and strengthening the structure.
  4. Once the main dome is finished, if you haven't already, cut out an entrance tall enough to crawl out on all fours.
  5. Just outside this hole, dig out a trench a few inches lower than the floor of your igloo. This allows cold air to sink out of your shelter and into the trench.
  6. Finally, build a barrel-dome over this trench. If you have a blanket, canvas, or poncho, loosely cover the entrance of the tunnel to stop wind, but allow a small amount of circulation for fresh air. If such a cover is not available, use snow blocks.
  7. It is critical to leave a vent near the top of the dome if you'll be burning anything inside the igloo. It should be about the diameter of your thumb. A piece of pipe or rubber hose left in place is ideal, but you can just poke a hole with any available tool. If it begins to snow outside, be sure to maintain your vent periodically.

Once you know what you're doing, and assuming you're not fighting the elements or an injury, you should be able to build an igloo within an hour. But plan for two, just in case.
You can easily heat your igloo with little more than a candle. If no candle is available you can improvise a lamp with fat or oil and some sort of wick in any kind of pan. Remember not to sleep in contact with the snow; make a bed of boughs, blankets, or extra clothes.

. A properly situated cave will save a great amount of construction time and will provide an effective heat reflector. Remember that stone is a massive heat sink, though, and you don't want to be in direct contact if at all possible. If the best you can find is an overhang, you're still way ahead of the game -- just prop a framework of branches or bamboo and get busy overlaying it with boughs or leaves. [JWR Adds: SurvivalBlog's previously-posted warnings about caves all apply! These include noxious gases and angry bears.]
Whatever shelter you build, remember that its function must meet your needs. It's easy to get caught up in the construction process, perfecting things that are good enough already, and ignoring other important aspects of survival, like finding food water, and getting home.

JWR Adds: My favorite impromptu shelter, at least in the big timber country where I live, is a fallen tree shelter. The root ball left by a large blow-over is a ready made windbreak. Staring with a blow-down, one side of your shelter already exists, and the exposes roots make quick and easy attachment points for a tarp--or lacking that, for a place to interweave large branches or saplings.

James Wesley:
Regarding the recent article "How I Survived an Attempted Murder, by A. in Ecuador", I'm praying that A. has seen a ophthalmologist (not optometrist) about that flash in his eye.  Retinas can deteriorate quickly - if they can be fixed it is quite an intensive surgery and recovery - speaking from experience.  Consider the prospect of being blind in one eye for the rest of your life, not just while climbing a cliff to safety. It is wise to pay for the doctor visit! - F.W.


In A’s article he says he suffers from a flashing in his eye.  This could be a bigger problem than he thinks.  He could have torn, or detached retina or other nerve damage.  If it is a retina problem, get it fixed before it gets worse.  Laser surgery is simple, if painful.  A scleral buckle or vitrectomy are serious, and expensive, surgeries and will affect eyesight. 
I had detached retina several years ago.  It was far enough along that laser surgery didn’t help and a scleral buckle was installed.  I now have a blind spot in my right eye.  Please send an e-mail to A., urging him to see an eye specialist. Best wishes, - Kestrel

Okay, I hesitated to write, but here it is. I want the gal with the questions to get some good solid advice. First, I do not always agree with James Wesley Rawles, I read his site every day, I agree with lots, but not all of what he says. As for the sleeping bags, I do agree. I'm a 5'2'' female at 140 pounds. I've lived in Alaska for as long as my memory goes back. I camp, hunt, trap, all winter long. I've tried a lot of things, two sleeping bags, liners, bivvy sacks. I've slept out in -30 with -80 wind chill multiple times. Here is my advice. Spend the money get a Wiggy's FTRSS system. And if you are still worried about sleeping cold, then get a good hat, down booties and a nice sleeping pad. I have all three, but really have never been cold in my Wiggy's brand sleeping bag. Even when out musk ox hunting in the winter in a little valley where I'm sure all the wind from the Bering Sea was being funneled down onto us. My husband who is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds uses the same sleeping bag, and he loves it just as much as me. - L.R.

Reader Dale C. mentioned that he was poking around on the net and found a great resource for many different topics. For example, he found a very informative piece about harvesting trees for firewood. (See G1554 in the forestry section.)

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Evacuation plan for Brits in Spain amid warning euro collapse could leave them stranded. (A link suggested by my darling wife, Avalanche Lily.)

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Connie W. mentioned that there are thousands of new job opportunities in The American Redoubt, as oilfield service contractors like Schlumberger and Halliburton are ramping up their operations in Wyoming.

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In response to my e-mail, I heard from the company president that the long-awaited Kushnapup bullpup stocks for Saiga shotguns and rifles will finally be shipping in early 2012. He noted: "I've been really busy preparing shipping. All of the wait is behind us now, I'm shipping out all of the pre orders as soon as I can, we're not concerned about rumors on the internet either when only we know what's going on from the inside of the company. There was a slight detail I wanted to get just right on the stocks and they're looking hot. Hot off the press inject release and straight into the packaging. I did all I could to be able to ship for Christmas, but it's going to be more like bringing in the new years with a blast!"

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Steve C. was the first of several readers sent this alarming news: U.S. Bio-Security Officials Sound Warning After Scientists Create Deadly New Strain of Bird Flu.

"The home to everyone is to him his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence, as for his repose." - Edward Coke

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am an American in Ecuador, and I have a story to tell.  This happened in July and I should absolutely be dead. 

A little introduction to the kind of person that I am.  Growing up in Alaska and playing in the great outdoors has always been a huge part of my life.  When I was a couple of years old, my wonderful father would strap me on his back and take my sister and I fishing.  I absolutely love him for that.  The beauty and serenity of the great outdoors has always been a stress reliever for me.  My other hobbies, which of course involved the outdoors is organic gardening and gold prospecting.  My life in general has been one of a hermit.  I have lived in many states, but most of those years were in Alaska.  I always had a pretty great job as a carpet installer which allowed me to work all over the US.  One day I landed a pretty nice job in Whitehorse, Yukon Canada and decided I wanted to get out of the rat race.  I would work during the day and research on my dream destination during the evening.  Gold was skyrocketing in value the last few years and it is a passion of mine.  I had spent six weeks in Belize and Guatemala, and I really loved the tropics.  Throughout my research, I always came across Ecuador and as a very unexplored region with massive "golden" opportunities.  To top it all off, the small village of Vilcabamba is known for its fertile soil and perfect climate.  I decided this would be my mini-base from which to explore. 
I have always been a huge adventure fan and I feel like I had a past life as an explorer.  I always loved ancient history and the Inca culture especially fascinated me.  I worked continuously for eight months, enduring the insane weather of the Yukon territories to save up for my trip to Ecuador.  It was a pretty exciting day stepping on the plane to Ecuador. (Partly because I was still freezing my butt off in Whitehorse).  The only negative I could think of was having to learn another language.  I am still working on that!
Entering the third month of my trip, I had the worst day of my life and will most likely be my worst day until I die when elderly.  I had been making some multi-day trips into the jungle outside of the Amazonian town of Tena.  Before my final trip, I had completed two other trips of three days each.  I was sampling for gold by crevicing.  This particular river is very fast flowing and has eroded the area of the river all the way down to bedrock.  Gold is very heavy and will sink down to this layer of rock and it gets trapped inside the large cracks.  My job was to clean out the cracks in search of the elusive shiny stuff.  After my third trip in, I made a conclusion.  This river is very rich in gold! I managed to scrape out 2-3 grams of gold a day.  On the evening of the third day on the third trip in, I suffered through some
pretty heavy rains.  So heavy, that my special Clark's Jungle Hammock that was supposed to be torrential rain proof actually started leaking on me.  That entire night was very uncomfortable for both my little puppy and I. (I had been given a cute five month old puppy as a gift from a friend).  I was up most of the night trying to stay dry and had to get soaked rigging up a second cover over my hammock. 
The rain continued all night and the water level was quite high.  I decided to call it quits and pack up and head to my room in Tena.  In order to get to my area I was working, I had about an hour hike on a decent trail.  This area is absolutely beautiful and very pristine. I packed up and headed back up the trail.  I finally made it to the entrance of the trail system and noticed just how quiet the surrounding area was.  The entrance to the trail system is at the "Piscina" which means pool in Spanish.  It is a beautiful natural pool caused by a smaller river entering the larger one.  Usually the place can be fairly hopping, but not a soul was around due to the high water level.  I pulled out my cell phone and had no signal.  I didn't realize there was no phone signal for a couple of kilometers.  My phone's battery was dead, and I had felt downright stupid when I discovered I had forgotten to turn it off.  I knew there was a village only a few kilometers away, so I started my small journey.  About halfway to the village, I saw a couple young adults riding a single silver bike.  It had pegs, and one of the guys was standing on them. 

I greeted them and they waved back.  I asked them if they could call a taxi for me, not realizing there wasn't a signal in the area.  One of them said no signal.  I said thanks, and they both rode on ahead of me up a hill.  It was about 9:30 am at this point and I saw the same guys looking down at the river ahead of me on top of the small hill.  They waved again, and one of them pulled out his cell phone to check again and shook his head no.  They rode on ahead again around a curve in the road. This is the point where I started to feel a bit nervous.  Small alarms were setting off in my head.  I noticed on the ground there was a pretty pathetic stick, about the size of your average walking stick.  Just having the stick in hand relaxed me a bit.  There was a slight curve in the road, blocking my view ahead of me. I again saw the two guys looking down at the river.  The one who had a cell phone earlier again had his phone in his hand and nodded yes to me with a bit of excitement.  Yes, he was calling a taxi.  He had his phone to his ear as if he was calling one and they both approached me.  My puppy ("Tequila") started freaking out on me and I had never seen him act this way.  He was yipping in fright and this is where the nightmare began.
As the two guys got within five feet of me, the one without the phone charged me and closed the gap in a split second.  He was unloading punches on the right side of my face. I was completely focused on blocking as many punches as I could.  I had three things working against me at this point.  There were two of them, and one of me.  I had a 60 pound backpack completely strapped to my back, and lastly I was beyond tired from the crazy night I had.  In addition to having punches rocking my right side of my face, the second guy was working on securing my arms.  The one unloading punches managed to assist in tying up my arms and now the second guy started strangling me.  I was so focused on trying to avoid as many punches as possible, that it was almost too late before realizing I was being strangled and losing consciousness. I knew if I didn't break the strangulation, I was dead.  It isn't until a life or death situation like this that you gain tremendous strength out of adrenaline.  I managed to use every last bit of strength that I had to fling the man strangling me off.  I knocked him back a good five feet.  This is the point where the two guys realized they had to put me down or they would risk getting seen.  Between the two of them, they managed to drag me over to the edge of the cliff and heaved me off.
(An aside: As a kid, I used to spend half my life tree climbing.  When I was about 7 or 8, I was climbing a great oak tree.  I was about 60 feet up, when I slipped and fell all the way down.  As I was falling, I managed to slow my fall by grabbing branches, as well as slamming into them.  Believe it or not, I walked away from this with only cuts and bruises and not a single broken bone.  This experience I believe is what assisted me in saving my life.)
They dragged me to the cliff and threw me over.  I had a distance of about 20 feet free fall to a out jutting lip.  I slammed into it and started rolling down the very steep cliff.  As I fell, a combination of vines, tree branches and shrubs somehow slowed me down a bit.  I continued to roll, occasionally slamming into to bushes and trees but unfortunately gravity worked against me.  At this point I saw the river getting closer and closer to me.  In addition to the river, I also had a very large tree approaching.  I knew grabbing that last tree was my only hope and managed to grasp for it.  Slam!!!  With my wind completely knocked out of me I stopped the fall a mere 15 feet above the massive class 5 river below.  I later found out the total distance of this fall exceeded 100 feet. 
I laid there in disbelief marveling at being alive.  I am not a religious person, but I felt like some divine guidance had a part in keeping me alive.  The odds of surviving a serious beating and surviving the fall was nearly impossible to imagine.  Enduring this trial, I made a decision to give a little prayer of thanks to whoever was looking out for me.  After my little prayer a sudden realization hit me. My two attackers might still be above me and there is a chance they might be able to see me still alive! I then proceeded to drag myself up and to hug the side of the cliff as best as I could.  After about five minutes of catching my breath, I then heard the horrible sound.  The frantic yip of my puppy descending.  It is a sound I will remember for the rest of my life.  After a few seconds the sound ended in one final yelp and
never again did I hear my wonderful puppies yip.  My two very evil attackers threw an innocent puppy to his death while still conscious.  The realization of that hit me as hard as the actual attack.  These guys had no conscience and were absolutely evil.  Another couple of minutes passed and I saw my torn shirt get tossed over and join a pile of other bits of clothing and odds and ends. 
After about 10 minutes of hell, I decided to carefully explore area where I'd halted my fall.  There was a fairly scattered pile of rubbish laying in the area, from water bottles to torn clothing and boots.  Others had died here, most likely getting chucked down and into the river.  My survival-oriented mind told me a couple of things.  I can scrounge up some odds and ends from this pile of trash to assist in my survival.  I knew there was no hope of white water rafters coming down the river from the point I was.  The main entry into the river system was still another mile+ at the village I was originally heading to.  I thought maybe I could tie some of the torn clothing items together and hang it off the tree in case it could be seen from a distance.  I knew it was early, and due to the numerous water bottles I could
survive at least a night.  This is the point where I had a decision to make.  Stay here for the night and wait the murderers out, or go ahead and try to climb out. I couldn't even see upper part of the cliff above me, but had to make up my mind.  I knew once the adrenaline was gone, I would be hurting and had only a single eye to work with.  Time would be the enemy, so my decision was made. 
I am an experienced climber, from my boyhood tree climbing to some rock climbing.  I started out trying to scale to my left, but I came across a large area that was completely open, with absolutely nothing to grab on to.  I had no choice but head to my right.  There were numerous obstacles in my path, from massive, dense bushes, to again, large open areas.  I had to scale up and down over and under the numerous obstacles.  Throughout all of this, I was being stung by many dozens of vicious fire ants.  When you are clinging to shrubs and anything else to save your life, a little ant bite is nothing.  To top everything off, all branches and footing was completely slippery from the recent rain.  I had quite a few close calls and near death experiences, one being a situation where I slipped, fell another few feet and racked myself.  If that tree hadn't been there, I would have fallen all the way down into the river to my death.  After a good hour of scaling, I started to grow weary and desperate.  One point I reached an area that had no branches, shrubs or anything to grab onto.  A big open patch of dirt.  After a minute of resting and trying to clear my head, I noticed the area was dotted with decent sized trees and i know just how extensive the root systems of trees needed to be for survival.  I noticed a root looping out of the ground not too far away and it was this that gave me the idea.  The soil was fairly loose in the area, so I used one hand to dig as best I could.  It was actually a bit spongy and I was able to dig in fairly
deep. I found some solid roots within 6 inches and it was perfect for grabbing onto.  I could pull myself up a bit, but then what?  It was about 8 feet across to more trees and a continuation of my nightmare journey up and out. 
I knew I could continue digging for roots, but how would I know where to put my foot?  I broke off a few sticks and put them in my pocket.  I could use these sticks to mark the roots I dug out to provide some footing, albeit treacherous.  Success!  By pushing the stick into the hole, I was able to mark the very important locations for my footing.  My plan worked quite well, and I reached the area with more plant growth.  Keep in mind, I only had a single eye through out this entire climb.  I had to look over as best I could using my left eye only.  I was scaling to my right.  Another useful tactic that worked for me was grabbing the root base of even small bushes, branches etc.  I was able to continue pulling myself along on these rather small shrubs and in some cases branches.  Never, ever grab the middle, or even worse, the end of a branch.  You have your best chance of survival by grabbing towards the base of the branch.  It was a good 90 minutes or even a bit longer that I came across a miracle and my first real hope. 
A huge landslide had occurred quite some time ago and left some large trees uprooted.  I was able to use these trees like a ladder, climbing upward to victory.  I slowly climbed up, rejoicing at the sight of the road.  A sudden fear entered me, slowing down my celebration a bit.  What if my would-be murderers were still around? I made the decision to crawl into a pile of high brush that would conceal me to get an idea on the dangers of moving forward.  I rested in the same spot, unmoving, for a good 15 minutes or so.  The adrenaline was starting to wear off, and pain was returning at a very rapid rate.  As I was climbing up, I heard the sound of a motor heading from my right to my left heading to the direction of the touristy pool.  I knew wobbling back to the pool and hoping someone was there was my best hope.  I had this nagging fear that my would've murderers would be at the village I was originally heading to.  So I made up my mind and as quick as possible hobbled to the tourist pool.  I was constantly fearful or running into them, or having them sneak up behind me.  Eventually I made it to the entrance of the pool and saw the light.  A motorcycle was parked outside!  I quickened my pace and made it to the picnic area where I saw the most wonderful sight ever!  A family was having lunch.  They looked at me in shock as I approached, a bleeding mess.  I explained my situation as best I could in my broken Spanish and they quickly led me to their motorcycle, and to the rest of my life!
This ends my story.  In the end, I ended up with a massive black eye, a very sore chin, massive lacerations to my neck, a sprained leg and about 100+ ant bites, scrapes, and dozens of bruises.  Not a single broken bone throughout my body and no permanent injuries.  I made a full recovery from this physically, except for a strange flash in my right eye.  It only occurs when it is darker, but it is bearable.  For those who have helped me, physically and emotionally, a very grateful thanks.  I have dozens of other stories to tell, though none quite like this one. 

JWR Adds: A.'s story is a sharp reminder that traveling unarmed is foolhardy. As I've described before in SurvivalBlog, there are weapons options including walking sticks and folded umbrellas that can be kept close at hand in even to most legally restrictive environments. And keep in mind that the training to go with them is just as important.

I love these muffs. I've had a pair of Pro Ears Gold Predator earmuffs for 18 months, and I haven't found a flaw. So let me tell you what I've found that's good: The first thing one needs from muffs is noise suppression, obviously. The Gold series have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26. There are several factors that contribute to an NRR, one of which is frequency dependent. Pro Ears seems to have picked frequencies that are specific to shooting. The muffs have proven adequate for large bore rifles, .44 magnum revolvers and even make standing in the arc of a muzzle brake tolerable. They seal well around the ear, and are contoured to allow clearance of a rifle stock without bumping or dislodging.

Now to comfort, and back to those seals. The ear cups are a firm foam with a light leather cover. I've worn them for hours in hot or cold weather with no discomfort. They're hardly noticeable. There are
also convenient replacement parts available for maintenance.

These are active muffs, which mean they normally amplify, and shut off when noise passes into unsafe levels. The response time on these is claimed at 1.5 milliseconds. Most active muffs work by clipping the signal—they simply shut off. The Pro Ears work by signal compression and limiting—reducing amplification on a curve. It's more natural sounding, less jarring, and means no odd static sound when working around equipment at the edge of the safe level—rather than cutting in and out, they attenuate the noise.

In addition, they're equipped with a standard 3.5mm jack to allow iPod or radio use while working. The headphone sound quality is excellent, with two separate circuits, rather than a single split circuit. The batteries are easily changed, though I've not had to often. [They use the now fairly common size "N" batteries.] In addition, they shut off automatically after four hours to conserve battery life. If you're still wearing them, the knob on each muff is easily reached, and clicking them off and back on resets them. The volume level is adjustable, and the halfway setting is comparable to normal hearing. One can hear conversation, hand tools, movement, with weapon or industrial noise attenuated without obvious dips in sound.

As with many professional products, these are not inexpensive. However, with a five year warranty and readily available replacement parts, they're a better investment, in my opinion, than cheaper, shorter-lived muffs. They retail at $329.95, but are available in many outlets at good discounts. [JWR Adds: Pro Ears Gold Predator earmuffs are available through for around $283.]

Disclaimer (per FTC File No. P034520): SurvivalBlog accepts cash-paid advertising. To the best of my knowledge, as of the date of this posting, none of the 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. I was furnished a free pair of Pro Ears muffs by a third party who is sponsored by Pro Ears, as payment for other work. I have no direct interest in Pro Ears. - SurvivalBlog Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson

As a long time camper, backpacker, outdoorsman, and now K-9 SAR Tech, I understand that temperature regulation at night can be a problem.  Here are some of the tricks I've used:

I almost always use a silk bag liner.  This has multiple advantages: 1) silk feels warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot (2) silk protects the sleeping bag from dirt, minimizing the amount of needed washings and prolonging its life (3) in the winter, silk will make you bag about 5-10 degrees warmer (technically speaking, this "drops" you temp rating number- a 35 degree bag becomes a 25-30 degree bag).  All 3 are mummy bags.

I have multiple sleeping system, 3 primary bags, and I choose depending on the weather.  I use a 40 degree bag (Mountain Hardware) from the latter part of Spring through the beginning of Fall,  a Sierra Designs 30 degree bag for the transition into and out of Winter.  Both of these bags are synthetic.  During the coldest trips I use a Western Mountaineering 850 fill down sleeping bag rated at 5 degrees (with a liner this is -5).  You can't beat down for those really cold nights.

During warm months, stay hydrated.  This is a major tool for body temperature regulation.  Before sleep I'll drink a good amount of water, and this is also the time I bathe.  This will lower my body's temp.  It's like a cool shower before bed.  One great trick is to wet a bandana, ring it out, and put it on the back of your neck.  Make sure you've got adequate ventilation in your tent.  If you haven't used the guy lines this could be one of the problems, as the rain tarp begins to lay against the tent wall, increasing condensation because of the reduction of air flow. Choosing a quality campsite also greatly influences air flow.  If you can camp near water you're normally going to have some movement of air.

During the cold months I, as JWR already mentioned, always sleep with a knit cap on.  To keep my feet warm, I heat water and put it into a Nalgene bottle, put the bottle into a sock, and stick the sucker down into the bottom of the bag.  Warm goodness all night long.  I also eat a fatty, sugary snack before bed (a candy bar or something similar).  This gives my body fuel for the night, and I keep a snack handy in case I wake up.  I will also drink warm liquids.  My favorite is hot chocolate with a hunk of butter in it.  The butter provides extra, longer lasting fuel for my body's furnace.

Campsites in the winter should also be chosen based on temp.  No longer will I camp in valleys and on peaks, I like a place about halfway up the hill.  This seems to minimize exposure and the settling of cold air around me.

Last point- I always sleep naked, with the exception of a big, fluffy pair of sock I only use for sleeping.  They don't go on until I'm getting in the bag, and the same socks are used for the duration of the trip- one night to 30, and that's okay, because they never get dirty; they're only slept in.  Nakedness limits the layers between me and the bag, allowing the bag to more efficiently do its job of trapping air and using it as insulation.  In the AM, before I get out of the bag, I pull all my clothes into the bag with me for about 15 minutes to warm them up, so I don't lose heat to the cold cloth.  Pull the clothes in a layer at a time so you don't freeze yourself out (i.e. base layers for about 10 minutes, put 'em on, insulation layer about 10 minutes, put it on, outer layer 5-10 minutes, put it on)

Hope this helps, and sleep well! - D.B.

Hi Jim,
I can really relate to Nikki S.'s dilemma with sleeping bags.  In my younger days (mid 1980s) I lived outdoors for 2 years in a wilderness setting in a northern climate.  This was before manufacturers figured out men and women are built differently.  I was constantly dealing with an ill-fitting backpack and sleeping bags built for men.  One of my few claims-to-pseudo fame is that I worked with some of the major manufacturers in the 80's to design outdoor equipment for women.  My 5 ft. 6 frame was used as a template for some of the first sleeping bags and backpacks.  I did a lot of field testing of outdoor product for the manufacturers and was proud to be a part of the evolution in gear for women.
In the early days, when I had no choice, I would sleep in my polypropylene, wool socks and watch cap.  Even then I was still cold and would have to stuff my extra clothes into the empty voids of my too big sleeping bag.  If it was really cold I would heat up some boiling water and put it in my water bottles.  One would go down by my feet and I would curl up (trunk area) with the other one.  If I was camping in the summer and was too warm then I would not zip the sleeping bag all the way up.  I used it more as a comforter on top of me with my feet tucked into the foot box.  If a body part got too hot then you could easily slide it out from underneath the "comforter" sleeping bag to cool off.
These days, manufacturers make product in sizes and gender.  Look for one closer to your size, i.e., height, width at shoulders and hips.  In cold weather I still will wear a hat and start out with Thorlo socks on when I go to bed.  If you are still cold then add hot water bottles, or an extra layer such as a liner bag.  In warm weather I still don't zip my sleeping bag up and just use it as a comforter so I can easily regulate my temperature needs.
Which type of sleeping bag to buy?  Here is where I run contrary to what most readers of this blog would recommend.  I worked for 10 years as an outdoor survival professional and interacted with countless other people in the profession.  98% of staff would only use goose down sleeping bags.  However, we issued synthetic bags to the students.  The only exception would be if we were working a river course such as rafting or kayaking.  Then about 50% of the staff would go with the synthetic bag.  Synthetic bags are heavier and bulkier so if space is a consideration then this is not necessarily a good choice.  If you are car camping or not in a backpacking type situation then go with whatever works for you because size and bulk won't matter.
If you are in a backpacking type situation where you are going to have to carry everything that is going with you, then I recommend goose down.  If you are using goose down, then the trick is that you have to actually care about your gear, have a little outdoor experience and be aware of your surroundings.  (Thus, the reason we put students in synthetic bags).  To help eliminate the fear of your goose down bag getting wet there are a few things you can do.  I use a heavy gauge trash compactor bag to line my sleeping bag compression sack.  They are very waterproof and do not tear easily.  You could also use a small waterproof river dunnage bag instead of a normal sack if you are really worried about it.
I also pay a lot of attention to where I set up my sleeping area because I don't use tents.  I either sleep out under the stars or may set up a 6 X 8 polyester rip-stop tarp.  I don't set up too close to the fire or in an area where if it rains hard you are going to have a torrent of water running through your sleeping area.  If you are sill worried about your bag getting wet then you can put the bottom half of your bag in the trash compactor bag, throw a quality tarp over you or use a gore-tex bivy bag. 
In all my years of living and working in an outdoor wilderness setting I have never had the wet sleeping bag syndrome.  But then, I consider my sleeping bag as one of the most critical pieces of survival equipment and pay attention to its care and placement.  I've crossed a hundred plus river and streams while carrying a backpack and yes, I have taken a couple of falls.  As a result, my backpack did get soaked on the outside but all my stuff on the inside was dry because I use trash compactor bags to line the main compartments and sleeping bag.  They are worth their weight in gold! 
Take care and keep your powder and socks dry. - Skylar


I do better with a bag for women, my favorite is The North Face brand Cat's Meow for women. I add a silk liner if I need extra warmth. God bless, - Patti G


To the lady asking about sleeping bags: I rediscovered for myself a few years ago on a snow camping trip with my Boy Scouts the comfort of a hot water bottle. Since we are in Southern California so it is rare for us to camp in freezing temps and while we did rent extra warm bags for this trip, the first night was a chiller. The top of Mt. Pinos hit 12 degree F. and to a bunch from the beach it was not pleasant. While cuddling a hot chocolate the next morning it hit me that the easiest way to stay warn, with what we had, was to fill our Nalgene liter water bottles with near-boiling water, put one in a sock, and stuff it in the foot of the sleeping bag. I was amazed at how well this simple trick worked! The old folks from pre-electricity had something good going. Toasty warm feet all night, and the water was still hot enough for hot chocolate in the morning. Easily done if you have some way to heat water.
I would imagine that the same trick, with a few bottles of cold water, would work just as well in the summer heat. Wrap them in something to slow and absorb the condensation and snuggle. - JR

Mr. Rawles,

My experience as a reservist in the Canadian Army gave me a little bit of incite about sleeping bags, especially in extreme cold.  When I was serving, the Canadian Forces sleeping bag system was comprised of a valise carrier, a Goretex Bivy bag, a down-filled outer shell, a down filled inner, a cotton liner and a goofy "hood" with straps for the wearer to slip his/her arms through to keep the hood in place while they slept. 

An air mattress and ground sheet (a militarized tarp) were also standard issue.  This system worked very well in extreme cold and warm temperatures.  I slept comfortably outside a shelter as low as  -20C (-4F), inside a semi-heated tent down to -40C (-40F), and in summer months as warm as +20C (68F) by layering up and down as appropriate.  

The biggest downside of this system though was being down, one had to be very careful to air out and dry the outer shells in the event they got wet.  Of course, also being nylon, one had to be extremely careful to keep the assembly away from an open fire.

Your advice about keeping your head warm is well worth noting, but a critical lesson I can speak to first hand is to not put your head inside your sleeping bag with the rest of your body as you sleep.  In cold conditions, moisture from your breath will cause additional condensation to form inside your sleeping bag which will make you colder.  

I will note as well that that wearing a "sleeping cap" (a toque, as we call it up here in Canada), will keep you warm, however it will also mat down your hair significantly to the point where I found I'd sometimes wake up with bad a headache.  The issued "hood" alleviated this problem as it was loose, but many troops found the armpit straps very annoying.  One solution I had was to simply wrap my head loosely in a large scarf or a Keffiyeh.

Another consideration as well is to not excessively layer up your personal clothing when sleeping inside a sleeping bag.  My first winter exercise as an inexperienced Private, I wore long underwear and wool socks inside my sleeping bag and woke up the next morning miserable without getting a wink of sleep.  During the night, I was so warm, I had sweat excessively as a result of overdressing and the sweat actually made me colder at night.

It may sound surprising, but with a good sleeping bag system, even when it's -40C, one of the best things you can do (conditions allowing) is hop in and strip right down to your underwear.  When you wake up in the morning, keeping your inner layer of clothes inside the sleeping bag off your skin also warms them up nicely.

If sleeping on the ground, pretty much regardless of the temperature, it's critical you keep yourself off the surface.  Surface temperature outside a heated shelter is almost always colder than your body temperature and lying on it, even in an insulated sleeping bag, will cause a lot of heat loss.  A cot, air mattress, ground sheet, evergreen boughs, even your outer layer of clothing work well to serve this purpose.  If using an inflatable air mattress it's important not to blow it up using your own breath, as air you exhale is at body temperature, and as that air cools, it contracts.

After waking up, it's a good practice to air out and dry your sleeping bag (if possible), not only to ensure it's warm the next time you use it, but also for hygiene consideration.  A damp, dingy sleeping bag WILL grow mold over time, so as is feasible, in addition to regularly drying it out, it is a good idea to clean a sleeping bag following manufacturer recommendations.  If it is not feasible to wash the entire sleeping bag, at the very least, washing the internal, cotton liner regularly is a good idea.  For non-military sleeping bags, a detachable, machine washable liner, I would say is a very desirable feature.

One closing remark on sleeping bags.  The Canadian Forces issue sleeping bag was, relatively speaking, a gigantic piece of kit.  It can be tempting, especially in constructing a lightweight bug out bag, to overlook such a large item, however, I have a personal experience that I think emphasizes why that may not be prudent.

In the military I once did a basic five day survival exercise course with the Canadian Rangers (the "Arctic patrol" Reserve force of the Canadian Forces) where we were paired with another soldier, given half of an Individual Meal Pack (IMP) ration (the Canadian equivalent to an MRE), issued a small kit with an axe, flint, empty coffee can, some snare wire and paracord and given orders to "survive" as if we were stranded.  We were in northern Alberta, and even with a Chinook and unseasonably warm temperatures (of about -5C), the heaviest winter kit we were issued (parkas, snow pants, mukluks) with a fire and well constructed lean to, it was very difficult to stay warm.  I didn't sleep  more than half an hour the entire exercise because I was so cold. (During that survival exercise, the Rangers took our sleeping bags away from us, before dropping us off.)

In comparison, I later attempted to sleep inside my issued sleeping bag following the techniques I outlined above, on pavement, unsheltered, when it was -20C with a wind-chill of -30C.  I was comfortable enough that I  slept like a baby that night. - L.N. in The Great White North


Howdy James,
Here’s some thoughts about choosing a sleeping bag for cold weather use. I was a scoutmaster for a rural Colorado Boy Scout Troop for 12 years, and most of our kid’s families couldn’t afford the latest synthetic -40 below bags. We found that using two sleeping bags, one inside the other, provided plenty of warmth even when camping in the High Rockies in the middle of winter. Two zero degree rated bags (summer use in our area) would be more than sufficient.
Your advice about covering the head is completely correct. We advised our kids to bring along a big fluffy bath towel for this purpose. It makes a very good thermal air dam at the top of your bag. You should always sleep wearing a stocking cap of course.
I had a friend who worked year round as a welder in the oil fields of Wyoming, and he taught me this trick; if your feet are cold, put on a hat. If they’re still cold, put on a second hat. If they’re STILL cold, put on ANOTHER hat! Eventually you’ll stop the heat loss and when your core temperature catches up, your extremities will warm up just fine. Try it, it really works! (but you do look a little goofy with 4 hats)!
Stay Warm, - Pistol Pete

Thinking Outside the Box Barn: Those Clever Nebraskans. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson for the link.)

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Gingrich Collapses in Iowa as Ron Paul Surges to the Front. I urge SurvivalBlog readers in the U.S. to keep up the momentum in Ron Paul's 2012 campaign by supporting it financially, and by displaying campaign signs and bumper stickers.

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Corey B. wrote to tell me that Self Reliance Illustrated has temporarily made their past issues available for free download.

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An interesting read: Retroactive Surveillance and The Digital Panopticon

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Joseph G. highlighted this bit of news: Shortages of essential drugs leave hospitals scrambling

"Understanding, replaces imaginary fears with real ones." - Mason Cooley

Monday, December 19, 2011

My sincere thanks to the readers of SurvivalBlog, for your generous support of Anchor Of Hope Charities, in memory of my late wife, Linda ("The Memsahib".) You've donated more than $5,800 this year alone and more than $45,000 in all to the Linda Rawles Memorial Fund. This fund benefits a Christian mission and boarding school and other charities in rural Zambia. Anchor's team from Indiana recently returned from Zambia, where they were busy putting new shoes on the feet of more than 9,000 children. (That trip was from November 24th to December 11th.)

Anchor Of Hope is a fully qualified 501c(3) nonprofit organization, with tax ID number 65-1316232. Their overhead, unlike many other charities, is minimal. To send a tax-deductible donation that can be claimed for 2011, please either make a donation via PayPal, or send a check dated and postmarked before midnight on December 31st. You'll receive a receipt for your tax records in January.

If you are one of the millions of Americans that is giving charitable gifts in lieu of the traditional neck ties, slippers, electric razors, and perfume, then please select Anchor of Hope or Any Soldier (our other favorite) as your charity. Thanks, and May God Bless You and Yours!


Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I've been a prepper for over 40 years, starting back when we were called survivalists. I still have the .22 rimfire AR-7 rifle and Ruger Mk. II pistol bought in the 1970s, as well as other gear. I've also always had a bug-out-bag (BOB) in my vehicles, and still do today, even though I'm retired to my retreat.

Over the years, the contents of the BOB changed as new items came out or old ones were discontinued (or discredited -- remember the Aqua Timer?). My BOB got larger, as I was now packing for two and my bug-out location got further away. I still unpack and examine it every year and replace what's needed.

I've also made BOBs for my wife and interested family members and friends. Since Hurricane Katrina, I've had more inquiries about my kit. When I show it to them, some are overwhelmed by the number of items, the complexity of some pieces and the amount of knowledge needed to make the BOB items work together. For instance, everyone knows hand sanitizer keeps your hands germ free; most are surprised to see how it can act as a fire starter as well.

I found that most people want to know what to pack now, but don't know where to start or what to get first. As an answer to them, I've come up with a five-level system for BOBs. This is based on many writings in books and online, as well as my own experience. There are other BOB-level articles and I've consolidated everything I've learned over the last four decades into this system.

This is a work of personal opinion, based on both study and practice. It is done from the perspective of an urban/suburban East Coast resident, living in the temperate Mid Atlantic region. Other areas might require for some modifications, but not many, I would think. I've include some explanation for items listed; I advise my friends to research further themselves. I've also taught skills for those interested (most recently, showing that you can boil water in a plastic bottle). For the beginner, this system hopefully breaks down BOBs into bite-sized chunks and lets them get geared up to a basic level quick. As is often said, any preparation is better than none.

Let's begin with some basic concepts. A BOB is intended to give you the tools and supplies you need to get from point A to point B. In its simplest form, it would be what you'd need to get home from work, school, or the store. A more intensive situation might see you having to evacuate from your home to a friend or relative's home. You might just have to flee a dangerous situation (think of the videos of New Yorkers fleeing the Towers as they collapsed).

In order to create our levels, we'll make certain assumptions, beginning with your transportation options. All the levels assume you are on foot. While you may not usually travel on foot, the difference between driving home and walking home may be substantial, and the likelihood of a vehicle breakdown, traffic gridlock, or the lack of fuel can't be discounted.

I don't list carry bags for the levels. Each level should have its own carry bag, the type and size depending on your situation and needs. You should assemble the items first, and then find an appropriate size and style case for them.

All of the levels are cumulative; each level assumes you have all of the lower level items with you.

LEVEL 1 -- EDC   
Any emergency kit begins with those items you want to have on your person all the times, referred to as Every Day Carry (EDC). These are the essentials you would never want to be without and they form the basis for all the other levels.

As numerous sources have stated, there are 3 abilities you will always need to have in a survival situation:
- the ability to cut things
- the ability to tie things together
- the ability to set things on fire

If you think about it, you could do all these things if you were set down in the wilderness with no tools at all. Rocks of certain types can be broken to form razor-sharp shards. Vines and bark can be braided to make cordage. And you really can make fire by rubbing two sticks together. The only thing you would need is knowledge and a lot of practice doing these things. Also a great deal of luck.

The knowledge part is crucial: you want to learn how to do these things, and others. Gear can be lost, broken, or stolen. Knowledge can't. Knowledge trumps gear, always.

These three basic actions, however, will be easier to do with some simple, small items you would always carry on your person.

The EDC level items are as follows:
- a knife;
- a butane lighter;
- paracord.

First, a knife of some type. It doesn't have to be big, it only has to be sharp. Depending on your situation, a good folding knife is likely the best choice. Pick one that has a blade lock. A multi-tool will work, as would a Swiss Army knife, although some models don't have a blade lock.

A butane lighter will provide you with hundreds of lights, and is much smaller than the number of matches you'd need to carry to light a fraction as many fires. They also are not as susceptible to moisture as matches. Matches are a 19th Century item; lighters are modern and better.

The best cordage you can carry is 550 paracord. Paracord has a core made up of 7 strands of nylon twine, and each of the 7 strands is made up of smaller nylon fibers. The outer sheath is a woven mesh of nylon fibers as well. A 5 foot length of paracord could be disassembled to make 30+ feet of twine, as well as hundreds of feet of small strings that can used as fishing line, dental floss, sewing thread, sutures and for repairing gear. The easiest way to carry it is as a paracord bracelet or fob attached to a zipper, your key ring, or your knife.

Once again, you should have your EDC on you every time you leave your house, no matter how short your intended trip.

The situation is this: you are on foot, trying to get home, which may take you a couple of days. You are in a civilized area; that is, you are in an urban, suburban, or populated rural area. Civil disorder is non-existent or minimal. Some businesses are open, and items and services can be purchased, although it is not business-as-usual. The weather is not severe and you are dressed appropriately. Water is available, but it will need filtering to be drinkable. You have nothing worse than minor injuries and do not need medical attention.  Basically, you need to walk home and can't/won't be able to get help doing so.

The Core level assumes you have your EDC items with you. Some of the Core level items you will also likely have on you as a matter of course, like a cell phone. Nonetheless, they are listed.

The Core level BOB includes the following:
- a map of the area;
- a poncho;
- a lawn & garden trash bag;
- a filter straw;
- a cell phone, with charger or extra battery;
- a quart sized ziploc bag;
- a bandana;
- 10 coffee maker filters;
- 3 energy or candy bars;
- a packet of tissues, or toilet paper;
- 1 pair of socks;
- $150 cash;
- small first aid kit.

The Core level kit will fit into a small travel bag, or one of the many gear bags made for outdoors or the military. Many women could carry all these items in their handbag.

The poncho gives you extra protection if it rains or is windy. It can be one of the cheap disposable ones. The trash bag acts as a sleeping bag; get in it and put the poncho over it. Get the thickest mil bag you can find.

A bandana (not a handkerchief) can function as a dust mask, a triangle bandage, a filter for water, a cleaning cloth and many other things.

The coffee filters are used to pre-filter water. Pour the suspect water thru a coffee filter into the ziploc bag. Drink the water from the bag with the filter straw. Don't use the bag to collect the suspect water; get an empty plastic water bottle and use that.

Changing your socks if they become wet will keep you going better than trudging through with only one pair.

Cash will allow you to buy things, even if the power is out (although some stores may not even take cash without the electronic cash register to record the sale). No bills larger than a twenty, and primarily carry fives and tens. Coins can be carried; stick with quarters and dollars.

The first aid kit needs some band aids, a small mirror (something in the eye) and anti-bacterial ointment. You will also want medication, including 3-days worth of any necessary prescription meds, OTC pain relievers (aspirin, Tylenol, Motrin), stomach upset meds (Pepto), and an anti-diarrheal. Include a few safety pins, and 1 or 2 sewing needles.

While not as essential, you would want to add the following to the Core level BOB as soon as you can:
- a compass;
- gloves and a hat;
- shoes;
- jacket/windbreaker;
- a weapon.

If your daily footwear isn't good for extended walking, you'll need to have a pair of broken-in walking, hiking, or athletic shoes. These can be kept in a small bag in your office and your car, so they are always within reach.

The inclusion of a weapon should be carefully considered. We are talking about a low-level emergency at this point. Police are still on the job and would not be expected to suspend normal enforcement of weapons laws. Guns likely require a permit to carry; knives are usually less-objectionable, if they have a blade less than 4 inches long. A fixed blade is stronger, but a good-quality folder will do the job. The knife can be the same as your EDC knife, if that one is big enough for defense. Chemical spray may be legal for carry, but this varies by jurisdiction, even within one state. A stick that functions as a cane or walking stick may not arose suspicion.

All weapons require training and practice. You should familiarize yourself with any weapon you put into your kit. If you have a gun, you would include enough ammunition to reload it once (total of two full load outs).

At this level, you face a greater emergency, one that requires you to evacuate where you are. This could be your workplace, your home, or a public area. You are on foot, in a civilized area (not in the wilderness). Stores are not open where you are, but may be where you are going. The weather is not severe and you are dressed appropriately. You have no major injuries. You may be on your own for up to 7 days.  

The Evac level assumes you are carrying your EDC and Core level BOB.

 The Evac level BOB includes the following:
- the Core+ level additions:
            - a compass;
            - gloves and a hat;
            - shoes;
            - jacket/windbreaker;
            - a weapon;
- ID & essential papers;
- $150 cash;
- 3 changes of underwear;
- 3 pairs of socks;
- a N100 dust mask;
- goggles;
- a canteen with cup & cover;
- a metal spoon or spork;
- water purification tablets;
- additional food;
- paracord;
- 2-3 butane lighters;
- a radio;
- advanced first aid kit.

The items that were additions to the Core level BOB are now essential. You will need the compass to make sure you are following your map. This is a skill you should practice beforehand. All items listed are in addition to the prior levels items (i.e., $150 cash in addition to the $150 in the Core level).

Additional clothing will become important in a week's time. Extra socks and underwear will keep you healthy and clean, particularly if it is raining or wet. Goggles and a mask will help you get out of an area filled with dust or smoke.

You will want to have identification, including more than just your driver's license. You will want insurance information, a credit card, telephone numbers (not just in a phone that may die). These can be paper copies in a wallet; you might want to also have electronic copies encrypted on a small jump drive.

A military-style canteen with a cup can be had at any surplus store. The canteen should be filled with water and refilled every 6 months or so. Some covers come with a pouch for water purification tablets. The cup acts as a cup or a pot to heat water in.

More energy bars will help, but for a week's trek, you'll want more kinds of food. Include canned meat, coffee or tea, bouillon or soup mix. You want things that don't need cooking, just the addition of hot water. 

You'll want to have 25 ft. or more, of paracord.

You can add a couple of twenty's to your cash, and balance out the rest in paper and coin.

The radio should be a unit that gets AM, FM and weather channels. A radio that operates on several power sources (battery, crank, solar, 12v, 110v) is best.

The advanced first aid kit would include a triangle bandage, tweezers, scissors, scalpel blade, gauze pads, gauze dressing, tape, more medication (allergy, nausea, topical cream). You can buy a pre-made kit, but it should be augmented.

If you didn't bring a weapon in the Core level kit, you need one now. If you have chosen a firearm, include a total of 40-50 rounds of ammunition.

You will not be allowed into a public shelter with a weapon and may have to surrender your entire kit. It is unlikely you'll get it back. If you must use a shelter, hide your kit outside somewhere and hope it's still there when you leave.
We're now talking about staying alive completely removed from civilization. There are no stores, or houses, or any other habitation. You are on foot, the weather is variable. You have no major injuries. While this may seem unlikely, we have read in the news of such situations, usually involving stranded motorists, or people on wilderness excursions.

It would be reasonable for the wilderness hiker to have all of these items, and more, when heading out on an excursion. Most people who head out on long car trips, however, won't prepare as thoroughly. You should not make a trip through remote areas without these items.

The Wilderness level assumes you have EDC, all Core level, and all Evac level items with you.

The Wilderness level BOB includes the following:
 - a tent;
- a wool blanket;
- a sleeping bag;
- an axe, or saw;
- snares;
- a full fishing kit;
- a rifle, with 100 rds. of ammo;
- a fixed blade knife;
- 2 gallons of water;
- a firesteel, plus tinder;
- a mess kit;
- sharpening stone.

This level of survival will require you to live in the open for an extended period of time, perhaps weeks. You will either need shelter, food and water, or the ability to make or procure it. You will certainly struggle if you have not learned wilderness survival techniques and practiced them.

A small tent will keep you from having to create shelter every day if you are on the move. A wool (or other warm material) blanket and a sleeping bag appropriate for the climate will keep you warm inside the tent.

An axe will allow you to construct any sort of shelter or furnishings, given a source of wood. You'll need a larger knife, capable of handling tougher work.

Snares, or snare wire, and a fishing kit appropriate to your area, will give you the ability to gather food while doing other chores, or even while you're sleeping.

If you have chosen a handgun for your defense weapon at the Core + level, the rifle will function primarily to provide food, as well as signaling, and will also give additional protection. The rifle should be sized to the region you are operating in and the game available.

Two gallons of water will last a few days, and the container will allow you to carry more water, once you have located and sterilized it. Rather than using your filter straw, you should use the water purification tablets and boil any open water you find. A mess kit allows you to boil water, and cook and eat food.

A firesteel produces a shower of hot sparks, even in wet conditions. These are enough to ignite dry tinder. You may have to replace the tinder you carry with natural materials you find.

Regular use of your knives and axe will dull them, making them dangerous to use. Sharpen them regularly with a stone, steel or other device.

The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI). Too much to write out every time, even the acronym. Some refer to it as SHTF, for "Schumer Hits The Fan". I'll just use Fan" to describe this sort of event.

Most folks think of a fan event as the result of a nuclear war, an asteroid strike, or the ever-popular zombie apocalypse. A kit for this level doesn't actually exist. There is no way you can store, carry and maintain everything you would need to survive the rest of your life with no outside assistance. Of course, if life is (mostly) wiped out by a pandemic, there'll be plenty of stuff lying around. But if you made it, so did others.

In reality, a fan event would be incredibly intense, but local. Think of the hurricane in Haiti, the tsunami in Indonesia, or the earthquakes in Mexico, Turkey, or the Philippines. Extreme weather in the USA isn't a good example, as we are so large that help usually arrives within days, if not hours (Hurricane Katrina being the worst example). Your Evac, or Wilderness level kit would get you through that, at least in this country.

Still, there is the remote possibility of a global fan event that changes all the rules, for everyone. In that situation, there're few places to bug out to, and the idea of a Fan level BOB is silly. Still, in the event you have somewhere to go, and to keep this article complete, I'll give you my idea for a Fan level BOB. Basically, you have everything to survive in levels 1 through 4. To prepare for Fan level, you need tools that will allow you to evade, escape, or fight.

The Fan level BOB includes the following:
- BDUs;
- footwear;
- gloves;
- battle rifle, plus ammo;
- additional ammo for handgun;
- optics for the rifle;
- night vision device;
- suppressors for handgun and rifle;
- tools of a trade.

The military equipment and weapons will help keep you alive in a Fan event better than commercial available versions. Real military equipment and clothing is better quality and more rugged than what you get in the store. Our army doesn't wear khakis and sneakers into combat for a reason. Get real mil-spec clothing and equipment where you can.

Staying out of sight is a better option than trying to survive a firefight, however. Optics and night vision equipment will help keep you apprised of what's ahead (and behind) so badness can be avoided. Suppressors are legal now, and would allow you to take game without drawing attention.

Let's face it: if you're alone in this situation, it's a question of when, not if, you'll stop surviving. Your only hope is to join a group, the larger the better, and try and make a life for yourself. The skills you've learned preparing for levels 1-5 will be a start. Unless they already know you, an established group will likely only take you in because you have value to them.

Medical, construction, electronics, farming, you'll need to have some skill to offer to a community that's probably patched together from the remains of the surrounding area. Having a trade. and having the tools necessary to conduct that trade, will go a long way to making you a priority for inclusion in a community.

The even better answer is, of course, to start or join a group now. If you find like-minded folks, you can all begin learning the skills necessary, as well as acquiring the tools and equipment you'd need in a Fan event. That will give you the best chance of not just surviving, but living to an old age.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Would you please address outdoor sleeping gear for women?
I feel like I am very prepared. However, the one glaring problem I have had my whole life is sleeping comfortably outside in about any season.  When I was 20, I just didn’t care but now that I am 40 and have five kids, not getting enough sleep is not an option.
I would love to hear how others, especially women, stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  The biggest problem I have is that I either sweat too much and freeze (doesn’t matter if its summer or winter) or can’t warm my feet enough and thus can’t warm up the rest of my body.  I’ve browsed the archives and the internet and utilized some of those suggestions, but it is mostly men writing and I’ve read that women’s bodies hold and lose heat differently. Thanks! - Nikki S.

JWR Replies: Please take the time to read my review of the Wiggy's FTRSS--a two-sleeping bag system. Because the FTRSS can be reconfigured into three different thicknesses to match different seasons or elevations, they are ideal for people that find that they either sleep too hot or too cold. These bags are outstanding, and made to last a lifetime. They are also American-made, which is a true rarity, these days.

Also, note that a proper sleeping cap is also crucial, for cold nights. The human body radiates an amazing amount of heat from the head and neck, because they are so vascular. If you suffer from cold feet at night, then the trick is: Cover your head! Perhaps some readers will want to chime in.

I was interviewed by John Jacob Schmidt, for a Radio Free Redoubt podcast that just aired on Sunday. The theme of this podcast hour was "Taking The Gap". It should soon be available for download.

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Reader D.B.C. sent some good news: Congress overturns incandescent light bulb ban. JWR Adds a Bit of Humor: It would have been a shame to see incandescents banned. BTW, reporters missed mentioning that enforcement of the proposed ban would have constituted racial profiling of people from South America. (Many of whom are of Incan descent.)

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How I Survived A Copter Crash And The North Woods.

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Ed Feulner: Countering An EMP Attack. (Thanks to G.P. for the link.)

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Good intent but lousy security consciousness: Stocking up for Doomsday: As economists predict meltdown, meet the families ready for the worst. And where are the weapons and training that they'll need, in order to keep what they've acquired? (Thanks to Norman in England for the link.)

"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The incredibly large volume of information available regarding emergency preparedness and survival is both wonderful and terrible at the same time.  There’s enough information to keep an enthusiast occupied for years and enough information to keep beginners away for the rest of their lives.

It can be a very daunting task for a new or inexperienced person to try and decide where and how to begin.  Should a beginner attend survival training, have a year’s supply of food, have their home hooked up with backup generators, move to the country, live off the grid and have stockpiles of firearms with thousands of rounds of ammunition? 

Depending on where you are researching, some people will claim that if you don’t have these levels of preparedness then you are doomed.  Is the saying, “If you can’t do it right then don’t do it at all” really the way to think when it comes to survival? 

Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to live off the grid, have a year’s supply of food stored away, have a stockpile of firearms and attend weeks of survival training.  But, the fact is I can’t afford that.  Not many people can.  These can be great long term goals but it’s not a realistic start.

My goal in this brief writing is to “ease the mind” of the people that want to start preparing themselves for emergencies but are on a limited budget and may be intimidated by the overwhelming amount of information available.  I want people to know that many times “something or anything” is better than nothing.

So to answer by question from above, is the saying, “If you can’t do it right then don’t do it at all” really the way to think when it comes to survival?  I say no. 
My experience in the area of survival began early in my life. I spent a lot of time exploring the woods and thorny brush of South Texas.  I quickly became handy with a machete, confident with firearms and learned the importance of hydration and taking care of wounds. (And I learned real fast what a diamondback rattlesnake looks and sounds like.)

I spent nine years in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper.  My first four years were in the infantry and I finished my time in as a combat medic.  I believe my experiences and training in the military have greatly contributed to my skills and confidence in being able to take care of myself, my family and others in an emergency. I do not consider myself an expert at survival and I would not describe my level of preparedness as even close to 100%.   But, I’m always working to improve my situation and I believe I know just enough to help guide a beginner in the right direction.   

In my opinion…
The best start is what you are doing now; seeking information.  “Knowledge is Power.”  What an amazing and true quote. I believe the Internet is wonderful! I have found that browsing multiple blogs and YouTube channels on survival, self-sufficiency and homesteading to be a useful resource.    You do have to remember though that just because something is published on the Internet doesn’t mean that information is the best or even true.  But, if you compare enough similar opinions and observations made by others you can begin to catch on to what ideas and concepts are legitimate and reasonable. That’s what makes the Internet so great because you can quickly compare multiple sources.  Remember also that you don’t have to study individual sources exhaustively or go back to the creation of the blog and read everything that’s ever been posted on it.  Begin by searching for information that currently interests you. 

Some folks will tell you not to rely on the Internet because if someday the “stuff hits the fan” you will not have access to it.  That’s certainly possible but remember I’m trying to help get the ball rolling with someone that’s new to this.  The Internet is the easiest, quickest and most cost effective way to initiate someone to the world of survival. You can work on purchasing books and other literature as the opportunity arises and you decide where you need to concentrate.  You will find many references to great books as you explore and learn about survival on the Internet.

Three of the most important “needs” when it comes to survival are shelter, food and water.  If I had to start with nothing and begin building a new preparedness kit from scratch my first tool would be a knife.  A knife can aid you in procuring all the above needs more than any other tool can.
Does it have to be a certain type or brand of knife?  No.  Some knife enthusiast may tell you that if you don’t have brand X then you are wasting your time.  I disagree. 
There are some high quality, durable and expensive knives available.  But you don’t have to start with those.  If you don’t have a knife then get one, any knife.  Try to get the best knife you can reasonably afford.  If this happens to be a $5 knife from the flea market then that is better than nothing.  A more versatile knife will have a combination plain edge and serrated edge.  If you choose a folding knife try to get one with a lockable blade.

One unfortunate caution regarding knives is your local ordinances.  Some jurisdictions have particular rules about blade length, lockable blades and various other irritating rules.  You might want to speak with one of your local law enforcement officers and inquire what the policy is and what is generally enforced.

Next you need to think a little bit about what you are building your emergency kit for.  The beginner should build a general purpose “survival kit.”  As you learn more you can create specialized kits/bags. You can have a kit to help you escape the city (bug out bag), survive in your home (bug in bag), get home from work (get home bag), hiking/camping survival kits and many others.  I will describe a few things the beginner may want to put in their kit next.

Without the knowledge of how to use the tools you have most of them would be worthless.  I recommend the next “tool” to be some type of compact book on survival. As you read through it you’ll quickly see how versatile that knife is. There are many good books that discuss various methods of building shelter, finding and making water safe to drink, getting food via hunting, trapping and fishing, making fire and performing first aid.  Collins Gem used to make a small durable survival book that would fit great into a small general purpose survival kit.  Try to find something like that.

After that I would get something to make fire with.  Actually, I would get multiple things to make fire with.  The survival books discuss in great detail how to make fire with friction devices. (Rubbing sticks together.) You can learn how to do that stuff when you have time.  For now, get a couple lighters, matches, flint/steel/magnesium fire starters or all three.  Upgrade as you learn more or your financial situation improves.  Most lighters are inexpensive and reliable.  Get these first.  Matches are great backup but need to be protected from moisture.  Magnesium fire starters are reliable as well but I recommend you practice and become proficient with them before making them part of your kit. 

The next two things to get before the precedence of items gets too subjective are a water container and a shelter device. 

A couple factory sealed 16 oz plastic bottles of water (the typical container so many people drink out of these days) are good because they can be kept safe to drink for long periods and don’t take up too much space. A drawback to these is they are not very durable. Some type of metal container is important as well so that new sources of water can be boiled to make safe.  A military style canteen with matching metal cup is a good inexpensive option.  As you develop your understanding of water procurement and how to make it safe you can purchase water purification tablets, filter straws and learn many of the other methods of gathering and making water safe to drink.

Depending on the situation, shelter can be one of the first priorities in an emergency.  For example, if you were caught in a snow storm it wouldn’t matter how much food and water you had.  If you couldn’t get to shelter you would quickly be in a deadly position.

One option is to get an emergency blanket.  Those are those compact aluminum foil looking blankets.  (Space Blankets) They do a surprisingly good job of retaining heat, are inexpensive and are very compact.  You can wrap yourself up in them, use them as overhead protection, lay on them as a barrier between you and the ground or a multitude of other uses. 
The military style ponchos are nice also.  They are made with durable material and they have grommets on them so that you can tie rope or other binding material to facilitate making shelter.  And of course they have a hood on them so that you can wear them over your head and body to protect you from adverse weather.  One drawback to this style of poncho is they don’t roll up particular small.  They are fine for medium to large kits but do not fit well in a typical compact survival kit.

The importance of other items in a survival kit are very subjective to an individual’s personal philosophy on survival.  Many lists and recommendations can be found on the Internet.  First aid accessories, rope, flashlights, mirrors, fishing line and hooks are some of the other items to consider.

Would a person ever be worse off for having an inexpensive item?  Yes, it’s certainly possible and this must be considered when making a purchase.  An example would be a fire starting device that doesn’t actually work.   So you would be worse off because you thought you had something to protect you but find out when it’s too late that you don’t.  (This underscores the need to test your equipment.)
Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from making that first step towards self-reliance and being prepared for emergencies.
Don’t be intimated by others who might make you feel that starting small is a waste of time or that the top of the line most expensive product is the only viable option.
Gain control of your destiny. Go get that knife, now.

Mr. Rawles,
I read with interest the blog today and then clicked over to the link suggested by Brittany K.: Deconstructing a Safe Room (infographic)

I appreciate all the information your site gives. I wish the writers of the Allstate Blog had consulted your site and listed it in their sources. One glaring item in their graphic is that the door opens outward. If debris falls in front of the door a person may not be able to open it. [As has been mentioned several times in SurvivalBlog, inward-opening shelter doors are the norm,]

Another point worthy of mention: In their “What Should Be In Your Safe Room” section they list that there should be a generator. I can just envision someone without much knowledge or experience trying to start and run a generator in their safe room and not have any ventilation whatsoever; a carbon monoxide death trap.  God Bless, - John in Ohio

Mrs. R. forwarded this: Todmorden. A town growing all its own vegetables...

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F.G. recommended a useful video on compensating for uphill and downhill shooting.

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Brett J. sent a link to this lengthy article: A Plague of Pigs in Texas

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Thad N. suggested a piece in the the excellent Random Nuclear Strikes blog: I weep for you, Scotland. (Four years in prison for possession of a knife?)

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Reader Rick D. spotted this video: The Deadwood Stove. (An improvement on the Grover Rocket Stove.)

"In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." - Luke 12:1-9 (KJV)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Portable Solar Power. They have some great, innovative products. Most of these utilize solar cells made in Germany and assembled into modular panels here in the U.S.


Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In a perfect world, if something went wrong, my family and I would get in our off-road vehicle and travel to my fully stocked large retreat cabin, that sits on a thousand acres of farm land, complete with it's own water source, (a spring fed creek and stocked lake), its own vegetable garden,  surrounded by plentiful game and its own moat. Our six-bedroom cabin, with it's own array of photovoltaic (PV) panels, charge controller, and battery system, along with our solar hot water system, and fireplace, and it's stocked pantry with several years worth of food and ammunition- would be waiting for us. My husband's military friends, who are all excellent fisherman, and hunters, could come with their families, bringing their own reserves, ammunition, and gear, and we could utilize our own private compound to “weather out the storm”. But unfortunately, I am not wealthy, and I do not live in a perfect world, and do not own a 1,000 acres or any of the things I previously mentioned. I do not own an off-road vehicle, do not have my own private gas well, so what do I do? It is relatively easy for those who are wealthy to prepare for emergency contingencies, but what about the rest of the population? What if you are one of the many unemployed Americans who are barely getting by now?  Or a retiree, living on a fixed income? A single mom? My philosophy is to make do with what you have, where you are.

Some of the things I've read about emergency preparations are ridiculously expensive and absolutely daunting for the average person.  So I decided to see what ideas I could come up with, for the average person, who is “just getting by”. Here's a compilation of some easy to do things, that anyone can do, and some of them cost nothing!

  1. H2O- WATER is the most important resource we have, and need, and  if a disaster were to  

 strike, rendering the Electric grid down,  most municipal water supply systems would go 
 down within a week., some less than that, as many do not have back-up generators. An emergency supply of water for each member of the family could mean the difference between living or not. A minimum requirement would be one gallon per person or pet, per day, and  extra for bathing.
a) Storing Water - If you're on a strict budget, re-use containers you are already bringing into your house. You will be recycling at it's best! Over a 10 day period, here's what I accumulated, at almost no cost whatsoever: Two gallon containers (milk jugs), Two 2-liter pop bottles, Two half gallons of juice containers, and a 1 gallon jug from lemonade.  That's over 5 gallons of water. Wash the containers fully and then fill with water. b) I line the perimeter of my closets, my pantry, and under the staircase of my home, with containers of water .  You can also store an entire row of them behind many couches or other large pieces of furniture, or under a bed, if you live in an apartment that does not have a garage. These are all “hidden” storage areas, that do not take up any usable floor space. If you wanted to add a shelf, you could double that storage. By using this free method, I can accumulate 20 gallons of water, without spending any money, other than the cost the city charges me for water, every month. After 18 months, I have 360 gallons of extra water.
  b)BLEACH Every time household bleach goes on sale, I buy a few gallons. Bleach is a very inexpensive anti-bacterial agent, and you can add a little to the jugs of water if they've been sitting awhile.  You may also want to rinse the milk jugs 9after washing thoroughly) with a 5 to one solution of water to bleach, to kill bacteria, before filling up.                                                    
c)PURIFIER: A portable water purifier would be a wonderful addition to any emergency kit, and can be obtained for less than $80. If you have to leave your location, this could be the difference between surviving or not.

a) DEHYDRATED FOODS ARE EASY TO STORE AND CARRY - Don't forget the proverbial Ramen noodles. I recently purchased a package of 10 packs of Ramen noodles at a dollar store, for only $1.00 a package. That's 10c a meal, or 5c if you split a package with a second person.  $2.00 worth of ramen noodles could feed 2 people for 10 days! Of course, this would not be optimum nutrition, but adding a little canned or dried meat, along with some vegetables, and you do have a complete meal b) CONDIMENTS-if you are down to just rice, beans and pasta, having condiments would make the food so much more palatable. Don't throw away those extra packs of ketchup from McDonalds. Ketchup can be used as a spaghetti sauce when water and spices are added.

I save the plastic one quart yogurt containers (both fresh and frozen), and put one in the kitchen for leftover condiments. When it's full, I put a fresh pak in the container, put the lid on it, and put it in with my food reserves. McDonald's always give you more ketchup and salt than you could possibly use. I recently was given a large handful of Parmesan cheese, garlic sauce and dried red peppers packets when I picked up a take-out pizza. These ingredients alone could turn rice into “Risotto” or plain noodles into “Garlic Pasta Parmigiana”. Keep a one quart zip-lock bag handy in both your kitchen and your car for those extra napkins. b) CANNED GOODS are not my favorite choice, but are another practical way to store food. I recently found black fried beans (large cans) for 89c a can. Canned milk is an excellent choice, and canned fruit, as well as canned meat, like SPAM.  Personally, I prefer the #10 cans, of dehydrated food. #10 cans (institutional cans) are a great value, if you are cooking for a large crowd, but if you have no refrigeration, they are impractical, heavy, and a pain to store, unless you have the proper storage containers. c) DRIED FRUIT-is relatively inexpensive, and easy to store and transport. I recently bought bags of banana chips, raisins, dried mango, and pineapple chunks for $1.50 for an 8-oz bag. Dried fruit is an excellent source of energy, and keeps you from getting constipated, when you have a diet lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables. d) TVP (TEXTURED VEGETABLE PROTEIN) is made from soy, and is an excellent source of protein as an alternative to meat. It is my all-time favorite, and requires no refrigeration (until it's been re hydrated). It has the wonderful property of  taking on the flavor of whatever you are cooking it with. If you want it to be a hamburger substitute, rehydrate it with beef bouillon. If you want it to taste like chicken, rehydrate with chicken broth.  If you're a vegetarian, rehydrate with vegetable broth or water. I love to use it as a meat sub when making spaghetti, and it adds more protein to soups and stews. Recently, I made a stew for 12 people using dehydrated minestrone soup, a handful of TVP, a handful of wild rice, and fresh red onions and carrots. I fed all 12 people for under $10.  In addition, it only took about 45 minutes to make, and everyone thought I had been making soup all day!  Great for cold weather! At this month, I purchased 4 10-oz packages of Bob's Red Mill TVP (one of my favorite brands) for only $8.23 (including shipping!) This constitutes 44 servings of protein, for less than 19c per serving! Use this instead of meat 4-6 times a month, for an average savings of $2.50 per meal,and use the savings to help pay for your food reserves! It does have an expiration date, so you would need to start using this after a year or so. Since I use it on a regular basis anyhow, this is not a difficult thing for me, as I am just replenishing what I use after awhile, still in keeping with my goal of accumulating 18 months worth of food. It' also great as tacos, and in chili. Another favorite dish is black beans, rice and tomatoes, with a handful of TVP added. The men who are big meat eaters do not even have a clue that they ate a “meatless meal”!

3)  SAVE IT! Those reusable household plastic items, like cups, grocery bags, containers like the 1 qt yogurt containers I mentioned previously, those would be invaluable in the event that commercially made items were unavailable.  I could write a book on the many uses for grocery bags. My mother taught me a trick: Fold them, and you can store three times as many , in the same space! In the event that you did not have running water, you could put one in your toilet, or on top of a 5-gallon bucket, and use it as an emergency toilet liner.  Your home would quickly become unpleasant , if you could no longer flush the toilet,and you wouldn't  want to waste valuable drinking water on toilet-flushing! They also make great trash can liners, when you don't have any for small trash cans. You can use one as an emergency glove, in lieu of a latex glove, for nasty cleaning jobs.

4) (HIDE IT IN PLAIN VIEW! A Food Reserve does you no good if it is stolen from you. In the event that a disaster of a catastrophic nature occurs, you could be forced to DEFEND your food reserves! A Mormon friend of mine has a fake vanity table, (complete with glass top!) and if you lifted up the fabric, you would find food reserves.  Any large quantity of the same uniform size could be used as a piece of furniture, hidden in plain view! A case of food, covered by a cloth, could also be used as an end table or night stand. Simply painting a cardboard box with black paint makes it resemble a piece of furniture, so if you cover it with a cloth and glass top, you have a cube of food reserves, that resemble a plain piece of furniture. If you have “dead space” anywhere in your walls, or in your attic, if it's insulated, you could also put in a reserve of dehydrated foods there. A PVC tub of food surrounded by other items in storage would not even be noticed. Another great idea is to take a large box, wrap it in Christmas paper, and use it for storage (make sure that the contents  are also in air-tight containers). It will look like Christmas decorations. A false bottom in a cedar chest or closet could house your valuable cans of food or shallow boxes.

5) CONVERT! At least a portion of your savings should be converted to precious metals. My personal favorite is silver dimes. I bought a roll of silver dollars before the millennium, at a cost of $10 per coin, for one troy ounce. That same roll today is worth FOUR TIMES THE PRICE I PAID. Dimes are a better choice as they would be a better vehicle for trading. Having gold coins might be great, but if no one can make change, they would be cumbersome.  In the event of a global disaster, trading silver could be worth much, much more. Since savings accounts are paying, at best, 1-2% interest, investing that money in food reserves would be my number one choice, and silver second.

6) BE PREPARED TO LEAVE YOUR LOCATION! If things get rough, and you live in a densely populated area, your only recourse might be to leave the area. For less than $100, you can put a portable tent, extra water and food reserves, emergency blankets, and clothing, in the trunk of your car, along with a medical kit, a flashlight, some batteries and other emergency necessities. Please do not put MREs in your trunk, other than for travel, as it greatly shortens the life span of the MRE. Keeping a full tank of gas plus a safe container or two of reserve fuel could be a necessity in turbulent times. Even if you have a “safe” location, you have to be able to get to it. Having a fully stocked cabin that is unoccupied (and undefended) could be paving the way for someone ELSE to survive. After about a week of no food, martial law would be enacted, and you may not be ABLE to leave. If you do not own a vehicle, store your stuff and gear in backpacks and duffel bags, that you could carry on foot , if necessary.  Every family member (other than infants) should have a packed bag. Extra underwear and socks, along with wet wipes, could be a wonderful blessing, if you ending up traveling for days, without bathing. Don't forget medications and vitamins! I have a mother who is in her 80s, and I refill her critical prescriptions every 27 days, so that I have a reserve should something go wrong, and the pharmacy is closed. Also, if you are living off food reserves, vitamin supplements can greatly enhance your health, when your diet might not be optimal. If there are herbal alternatives for your medicines, it might be wise to stock up on them, as well, since medications might be scarce or even unobtainable.

7) HAVE A FAMILY PLAN- Being prepared in advance, and having a plan will vary, depending on where you live. If the population is large where you live, consider moving to a small town or a rural location, preferably with at least a few acres for farming. Here are many rural “fixer-uppers available right now. I recently bought a house in a small town for under $6000, that is perfectly livable. My mortgage payments are only $150 a month. This is not my permanent home, but I can use it as a “safe house”, or a vacation getaway. For that little bit of money each month, I sleep better at night, knowing that I have taken positive steps to insure a safe place for us to go to, (or for other family members to go to).

8) MAKE A GAME OF IT! Being prepared is the responsible, prudent thing to do. You are not a “HOARDER” if you have slowly and meticulously saved to insure the survival of your family. Buying food in advance is the single best return on your investment right now, as food costs go up every month!  I like to set a monthly budget for my expenditures, and make it a personal challenge to see how soon I can accomplish certain goals, all staying within my budget . My husband was surprised to learn how much I had accumulated in just three short months.

9) HOW TO PAY FOR I T- Have a yard sale, and spend the proceeds on food and Emergency reserves.  Get a part-time job, and spend half on getting out of debt and the other half on buying food reserves! Sell something you don't need on Craig's List, and use that money! Using coupons and sales, it is possible to acquire quite a bit of stuff., in less time than you think! The local “BIG LOTS” here recently had a 20% off sale, on their entire inventory. I was able to take some of the money I earned part-time and made it go very, very far with the discount,  like boxes of pancake mix for $.80 a box. One of my last expenditures was a couple of good old cast-iron skillets. At only $12 each, those were are a real bargain, and they survive cooking over an open fire, quite well! Put your thinking cap on! Barter! Gives a new meaning to, “Will Work for Food!” Involve your entire family, and make it a habit that you pass on to your kids. When my kids were small, we would frequently have a “no electricity night”, and eat by candlelight.  We would play board games or do puzzles, and had a fun time, while we were saving money, and if we had a power outage, it wasn't the  BIG DEAL for us that it was for some. During very cold weather, my husband and I have a queen-sized “double” sleeping bag, that we place UNDER a down comforter on our bed. You can't even see the sleeping bag, and we are toasty warm, even in cold, snowy weather. Sleeping in sleeping bags by the fire was a “camp out at home” adventure, and my kids thought of it as great fun. Introducing your children to this concept on a regular basis (even if only once a month or quarter) is a great practice and will make you, and your family feel empowered and more secure. Remember, THE MORE PREPARED we all are, the SAFER we will all be. God Bless!

Hi Mr Rawles,
I would like to make a comment on the letter by Walker In The Woods: Sucking Chest Wounds and Exsanguination. Air is sucked through the wound during exhalation and then is trapped, causing pressure. This pressure slowly builds and will eventually cause the pressure to be applied to the heart. This pressure will eventually cause hypoxia and cardiac arrest as the lungs cannot draw in enough oxygen to keep the body going or the heart will be pressed to the point that it cannot function.

The physiology is that the resistance to air ingress is much less through the wound in the chest than through the pharynx and trachea. Normally, when the diaphragm contracts, it creates a negative pressure inside the chest which causes air to move from the outside into the nasopharynx and down the trachea and bronchial tree into the lungs. With an opening in the chest wall, the air moves through the wound into the pleural space because it offers less resistance than the long nasopharynx-oropharynx-trachea-bronchial tree-lung pathway. As the air accumulates in the pleural space, it exerts pressure on the lung and the lung and chest contents ( heart, great vessels, lymph nodes, etc.) then shift away from the side that has the wound. This moves the contents of the mediastinum (chest contents) toward the unaffected side and creates what is know as a tension pneumothorax. The increased pressure in the chest causes pressure on the heart and great vessels, and one can envision the heart and vessels being collapsed because of the increasing pressure  surrounding it, much like one of those squeeze balls gets smooshed by the pressure of a hand. Unable to fill completely (with the blood that is returning from the body to be sent to the lungs to pick up oxygen and then back to the heart to be distributed to the body), the heart loses it's ability to propel all of it's blood forward and the plumbing to the heart (vessels) cannot fill completely because they are collapsing too.  Less blood being pushed around means less oxygen to the tissue, including the brain.. 

If there is an exit wound, that wound must be covered with thick gauze padding and then an occlusive dressing (occlusive means that air cannot pass through.) this means using a piece of plastic to cover the gauze then tapping the whole thing down making sure to seal all four sides. Once this is accomplished the next step is to cover the entrance wound with an occlusive dressing, again sealing it on all four sides .

Although the author details an occlusive dressing taped on 4 sides on the entrance and again on the exit wound, if the air has entered the chest cavity each time the patient inhales, you need to leave one of those dressings taped only on 3 sides to allow air trapped in the chest cavity to escape upon exhalation so the chest contents do not start to shift to one side...The 3-sided occlusive dressing acts like a one way valve. The patient inhales and the flap is pulled down against the chest wall preventing air ingress through the wound. The patient exhales and increases intrathoracic pressure and air is expelled out of the pleural space, through the wound opening, under the non-taped edge to decrease the pneumothorax on that side and hopefully, prevent the tension pneumothorax.

Realize, the angiocath is used only for a tension pneumothorax, not a simple pneumothorax. If you put an angiocath into the 2-3rd rib space (between the second and 3rd ribs), you create an open pneumothorax and the patient will need a chest tube placed until the air leak stops. That is Hard, if not impossible to do unless you have a prepper doctor around, so make friends with a prepper doctor!

Disclaimer:  This letter does not constitute professional advice.  It is intended for general informational use only.   No doctor-patient relationship is implied nor otherwise established between the author and blog readers.

I would also like to thank the author for his service to our country. Thanks! - Lonestar Doc

One of the latest posts from our friends at The Poor Man's Guide To Survival Gear

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B.B. sent this: Egregious Department of Labor Rules Yank Youths Out of Agriculture.

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"Set phasers to stun." SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson notes that another bit of science fiction has become fact: A wireless taser, using laser-ionized air.

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K.A.F. sent this fascinating piece: Study finds how child abuse changes the brain.

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E.M.B. sent me the link to this interview: Joe Rogan on the Return of Fear Factor. Apparently, Mr. Rogan is a prepper.

"The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD." - Proverbs 21:31 (KJV)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

People have often asked me over the last nine years, “Haven’t you had to give up living a 'normal' life?”  My response has evolved into, “Define normal?”.

My off grid experience started in 1998 when my wife and I purchased out homestead property which was 1.5 miles from the closest power line.  We had previously purchased a propane generator (10 KW) and had planned on using it as a backup generator for times when the power went out, (which is frequent in the area we purchased our property) but we never imagined the costs of having power run to our property would be what was quoted to us.

The decision to go totally off grid was made when the local power company quoted us a cost of $16,000 to run the poles to our property.  Six hundred dollars per pole, thirty poles minimum to cover the 1.5 miles, “thanks but no thanks”, was our reply.  Hence we decided to go off grid and we have never regretted it since.

One has to accept the fact that going off grid does require a life style change.  Unless one is independently wealthy with a bottomless pocketbook, there are a minimum of four things which you must accept in my opinion.

  1.  The use of heat pumps and air conditioning is out.
  2.  Forget about using electric ranges.
  3.  Forget about using electric hot water heaters.
  4. The two biggest users of electricity will be the refrigerator/freezer and the well pump if you have one.

The four items above does not mean that you cannot be environmentally comfortable, or cook your food or have hot water.  It does mean that you have to adjust your life style and change how you will accomplish those items.

After much study we decided upon a log home design using 6” x 12' logs and using 6” insulated panels in the roof for insulation.  Total square footage of the house is 1,296 square feet on 1.5 levels.  Our heating system consists of a Kitchen Queen wood cooking stove.  This stove was selected because it not only is a cook stove but will heat up to 1,500 square feet.  We do have a propane gas range that is also used.   The range model we have uses a spark ignition system and not a glow bar.  This is especially important for the oven operation since with a glow bar, “juice” is constantly used when the oven is in operation.  (Reference number 2 above).  Using the wood stove requires an average of two cords of wood a year and bread sure does taste better baked in a wood stove.

Out electrical system consists of the following, and has been updated as our requirements have changed:

6 – BP 160 watt panels – mounted on roof
4 – ISOFOTON 150 watt panels – mounted on side of house
2 – BP 170 watt panels  mounted on roof

1,900 watts total

All these panels are 24 volt DC  panels and are wired for a 48 volt DC system.   Total amps DC = 39.58.

Outback Power systems combiner boxes are used to feed a Outback Power Solar charge controller, which feeds through a Xantrex DC disconnect.  Sixteen Trojan T-105 batteries wired in series and parallel provides for a 48 volt DC battery bank with a total of 440 amp hours of storage.  The life span of a well maintained battery bank system, keeping them clean, never letting the charge level fall below 50%, keeping the lead acid battery water level correct, is five to six years.  (We have just recently changed out our battery bank for new batteries).  This is the greatest recurring costs associated with the system.

The battery feeds a Xantrex 4048 sine wave  inverter (stay away from modified sine wave)  which inverts the 48 volts DC to 110 AC feeding a standard Square D breaker panel.  From the panel, the house is wired per code.

Our well that was drilled is 470 feet deep.  Luckily, the static water level is at 90 feet.  To provide sufficient reservoir, we placed our 1.5 hp 220 volt, three wire pump at 360 feet.  We choose a three wire pump because  with a two wire pump all the electronics are in the pump and if something malfunctions, the pump must be pulled.  With a three pump, the electronic control box is above ground and can be repaired/replaced with little problem.  The 220 volt pump does require a step up transformer to take the 110 volt to 220 volt.  Important in our system in that the transformer is wired after the pump switch.  This ensures that the transformer is not “pulling” a constant ghost load but only when the pump needs to be turned on.

Solar power charges most effectively when the sun is shining fully.  Our average daily use is 70 amp hours daily. This big use items include:

  1.  Average of one load of washing a day. (A Staber model washing machine is used.  Can be safely used with an inverter)
  2. 16.5 cubic foot frost free refrigerator.  (We initially started out with a propane refrigerator, did an excellent job keeping things cold but after five years of use the small size, 9 cubic feet became an issue.  We went with an Energy Star refrigerator and purchased four ISOFOTON panels to cover the additional electrical usage).
  3. 9.0 Cubic foot Energy Star rated freezer. (We purchased two BP170 watt panels to cover the additional electrical usage)
  4. Well pump

Our present solar power system consists of:

6 – BP 160 watt panels – mounted on roof
4 – ISOFOTON 150 watt panels – mounted on side of house
2 – BP 170 watt panels  mounted on roof

1,900 watts total, generates an average of 120 amp hours on a good day of sunshine.  To cover the days when it is overcast, snowing, or raining, we have our previously purchased generator (10 KW) that is automatically controlled by the inverter to provide power and charge the batteries, as required. 

Hot water is handled by the use of an on-demand propane hot water heater.  We have a Tagaki brand that will provide up to eight gallons per minute of hot water and uses propane only when the hot water faucet is turned on.  This coming spring, a home built auxiliary solar hot water system will be put in place to augment the on-demand hot water heater.  The greatest advantage to the on-demand system is we have never run out of hot water--even when doing laundry and washing dishes at the same time.  The output is great enough that we could install a dishwasher if we wanted to.

As previously stated, the well pump is one of the biggest users of electricity and ways must be used to limit its use.  One of the best ways to reduce the usage off grid is to use lower water flush toilets.  The ones we use require only 1.2 gallons per flush.  Also scheduling laundry days to when the backup generator is running helps immensely since there is excess capacity when the generator is running.

I am constantly asked about costs.  “How much did all this run you”.   A fair enough question.  This is the breakdown as of November 2011.



6 – BP 160 watt panels


4 – ISOFOTON 150 watt panels


2 – BP 170 watt panels


Charge controller




DC disconnect


Mounting racks/hardware


Combiner boxes


Wire and Cables








As you can see, the total costs have been $16,390.  This includes having to replace the battery bank at a cost of $2,500 in March of 2009. 

Based on data from the local power company, below is the average monthly light bill for a 1,300 square foot home.

Average monthly light bill for 1,300 sq ft home


108 months


Based on  nine years (108 months) we are $458 in the black and do not have a monthly expense of $156 for electricity.  This enables us to invest in other preparations.

Is total off grid living for everyone?  An emphatic NO!  We are fortunate to live in an area that air conditioning is not a requirement.  Still, think back to when you were growing up.  Very few families I knew had air conditioning, we all used fans.  The fans made it much more comfortable. 

I must emphasize that all wiring in our home meets the current electrical code.  To do otherwise is foolishness.  Every part of the system we use, was done be myself and my wife.  (Luckily my brother in law is a licensed electrical contractor to keep my straight). 

We are so satisfied with our off grid system that even if the power company offered to hook us up to the grid for free, we would refuse.  In nine years we have not had a power failure, even during the worst winters of the past two years. 

Up-front planning and a desire to become more self-sufficient is a strong driving force to going off-grid.  Do your homework and you may find out it will work for you.

USB power is rapidly becoming standard for portable electronic devices, and makes it easy to charge them from either computers, 12 volt DC automobile sockets or 120 volt AC electrical outlets.  However, what do you do when traveling away from such conveniences?

The Brunton Restore photovoltaic charger and its relatives provide a variety of recharging options for the traveler or outdoorsman.

Fully charged, the unit can dispense at least two full recharges to phones, cameras, GPS or similar devices, from its 2,200 mAh battery. This was doing full recharges of a drained device from a fully charged Restore. I wasn't able to test Bluetooth units, but they are claimed at 7-8 recharges, and portable game consoles at 1-2 charges.

A full Restore charge on a sunny day takes about 10 hours.  From a computer, it takes about 4 hours.  From the car adapter or wall, it takes about 2 hours.  My tests concurred closely with their claims.  The unit holds charge for a long time.  I was only able to test for a week, but I'm quite sure it will last much longer than that. 

It comes with USB and Mini USB terminals and cords, a Mini to Micro USB adapter, and a combination adapter for car (12 VDC) or wall socket (120 VAC).  It has a small but bright LED light for locating accessories in the dark, which would also make a useful emergency footing light.  It shuts off automatically after 5 minutes.  It has LEDs to show charge level, and an indicator to show solar charging is taking place.  The power button has a red indicator to confirm operation that shuts off after a few moments, while the unit continues to operate.

The unit is solidly built with rubber bumpers all around, a strong hinge and a sturdy case.  While I didn't deliberately throw the device around, I was not gentle with it.  I left it out in rain and high wind over two nights, temperatures slightly above freezing.  I bumped it off tables and coolers.  I consider this normal usage for outdoor conditions, and the Restore had no trouble with it at all.  I put it wet in the freezer for a day, then thawed it. No issues.  It provided power while still below freezing. 

I did find the directions a bit unclear until I had a chance to work with the unit, but Brunton promptly responded to all my inquiries.  The instruction booklet is in English, German, French and Spanish.

For backpackers or preppers needing to travel off grid while still having access to modern communication devices, the Restore is a reliable and useful piece of equipment.  It retails at $120 MSRP, but is frequently available at significant discounts.

Full disclosure: I was furnished one unit for test, and return has not yet been discussed, but is typically done in 90 days, through the marketing firm.  Brunton may have charged it off as promotional, in which case I will be able to keep it, but I have not been offered to keep the unit at this time. - SurvivalBlog Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson

Dear Editor:
Perusing your wonderfully informative blog and static pages I stumbled across a bit of inaccurate information I thought you may be interested in correcting:

Silver dollar bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 765 ounces of silver

90% .50/.25/.10 bags ($1000 face) are calculated at 715 ounces of silver.

The "industry standard" is 715 ounces.

Respectfully, - Shawn

JWR Replies: To the best of my knowledge, what I posted was accurate.

Because of a long-standing congressional mandate, the silver composition of Silver Dollars has always been higher (per dollar increment) than that used in dimes, quarters and half-dollars.  Oddly, this dates back to a pre-Colonial precedent set by the Spanish Milled Dollar which was widely used in both international trade and local trade by our forefathers in Colonial America. (They were used alongside the British Pound, long before we created our own currency.)

There is indeed less silver in four quarters than in one Silver Dollar.

See or The Official Red Book, for details.

The "industry standard" that you cite is for dimes, quarters and halves, NOT for Silver Dollars.  If they are paying you based on a silver content of 715 ounces for $1,000 in pre-1936 silver dollars then they are robbing you.  (Not even to mention the numismatic value of the coins, which is always greater for silver dollars.)

There IS a difference in composition between U.S. silver dollars and the smaller U.S. denominations:

A silver dime presently has $2.3307 in silver content.   (Hence, 10 of those would be worth $23.307)

Meanwhile, a Peace or Morgan Dollar has $24.9205 in silver content.

The Red Book will show you the same thing, as expressed in weights, namely:

Silver Dollars:

Metal Composition:    90% silver, 10% copper
Total Weight:    26.73 grams


Metal Composition:    90% silver, 10% copper
Total Weight:    2.5 grams

Thus, 10 pre-1965 silver dimes (or four quarters) contain 6.48% less silver than that found in one pre-1936 silver dollar. That small difference in silver content adds up a lot in a $1,000 face value bag! ($1,613 difference in value, in today's market.)

And BTW, many coin dealers allow even less that 715 ounces per $1,000 for the silver content of "junk" (numismatic) dimes, quarters, and halves, to allow for the wear on coins that have been circulated. The circulation wear on silver dimes is particularly pronounced. (To illustrate: A $5 stack of typically well-worn Mercury dimes from the 1930s and 1940s is considerably shorter than a $5 stack of mint state 1964 dimes.)

An Important Proviso: As I've written many times before: I'm advocate buying precious metals only after you have your family's food storage and other key preparations fully squared away. Physical gold and silver in you personally possession are wonderful investments because they aren't someone else's liability. They are compact, recognizable, non-perishable, and divisible. I prefer silver over gold because gold has become too compact a form of wealth. Along with common-caliber ammunition, pre-1965 mint date circulated U.S. 90% silver coins will be great for use in barter, even if most other commerce has come to a halt.

And, to clear up a common misconception: Unlike dimes, quarters and halves: There is NO DISTINCTION WHATSOEVER to pre-1965 Nickels. The dates with a different composition are those minted from 1942 to 1945. These "War Nickels" are 35% silver, 56% copper, 9% manganese. As of this writing, they are worth around $1.75 each! All other U.S. nickels minted from 1866 to present are 75% copper and 25% nickel. (And BTW, Canadian nickel issues are more confusing, with a wide variety of compositions over the years, including those minted from 1955 to 1981 that are 99.9% nickel. But the later mintings from 2000 to present are 94.5% steel.)

Courtesy of David H. comes a link to a fascinating interview: Nomi Prins on U.S. Banks' Derivative Exposure. The counterparty risk in the opaque OTC derivatives market is potentially huge!

Reader Tom M. sent this prediction of social disorder in Europe and beyond: Why all signs point to chaos

They've learned how to work the system: 30 Major U.S. Companies Spent More on Lobbying than Taxes

Damon S. sent this: Silver price: Hey Silver Bugs, You Cryin’ Yet? [JWR's Comment: I'm using this dip as the opportunity to add a bit more silver to my silver stash in JASBORR.]

Items from The Economatrix:

Is A Physical Silver Shortage Spike Imminent?

You Can't Print More Gold

Dire Consequences as Global Growth Grinds to a Halt

Europe Crisis Drags On, Raising Concerns About US Banks

Brittany K. spotted this: Deconstructing a Safe Room (infographic)

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The nail that sticks up: Police seal off south China village, cut food supplies amid protests over land sales. (Thanks to Samuel H. for the link.)

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B.B. mentioned: Should you leave the USA before the collapse? Words of wisdom from someone who tried

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Until December 25, 2001, Freeze Dry Guy is offering 25% back in their Survival Bucks (Loyalty Dollar purchase credits) on Mountain House long term storage foods packed in #10 cans. They've also extended their sale on Long Range Patrol (LRP) rations. (They bought the U.S. military contract packer's entire over-run for the year!)

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Reader Jeff G. wrote to mention that the Survival Top 50 web site has added Readers' Choice Awards, where you can vote for your favorite preparedness blogs and web sites, by assigning 1 to 5 stars. They have a lot of sites listed, many of which are worthy of your rankings. For some reason, mine is listed way down at the very bottom of the lengthy page.

"To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt….I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The following is a chronological list of events and occurrences when the lights went out on September 8th, 2011, or what I like to call “The Great Blackout of 2011”.

3:38 p.m. - I live in San Diego, California, and when the lights went out I was at home taking a nap. For some reason after I got home from teaching that day I was exhausted (probably the heat) and needed to rest.  It was a good thing too because I would need my energy in the hours to come.  While I was sleeping I could hear my phone going off with the sound of text messages and calls but I ignored it.  The calls and texts kept coming and so finally I got up to check my phone since I thought it must be important.  It was.

4:00 p.m.- The second I got up I didn’t sit down again until much later that evening.  I was inundated with messages from friends and contacts from all over with messages saying: “The power is out everywhere!”, “the SHTF what are you doing?!”, or my two favorites “I’m bugging out” and “Is this an EMP?”  I texted my friend back that it couldn’t be an EMP because otherwise our cell phones wouldn’t be working.  After more information started coming through I learned that this was a massive power outage that had spread from southern California to as far as Yuma, Arizona.  As soon as I was informed of the potential that this could be a long term power outage I put the phone down and started preparing. It was around 4 p.m. and I wanted to get everything done before nightfall.  First things first, I went into all three of our cars and took out my emergency bags no sense leaving them in there.  I had made bug out bags for every person in the house as well as for every car.  These bags were essential since I basically took the necessary requirements of food and water and tripled it. Since we wouldn’t be mobile anytime soon with traffic backed up everywhere I knew it was best to stay put. I also didn’t want to have to worry about potential looters breaking into the cars and stealing the contents.
I decided to prepare for our first night without electricity.  I had to hurry since I knew it would be getting dark soon.  I gathered all of our flashlights and put them on the kitchen table, next I took out all the candles and battery powered lanterns.  I immediately pulled out all the batteries and spare batteries and began checking them.  This took a while.  I know I should have checked my batteries months prior - but hey, “shoulda, coulda, woulda”.

5:00 p.m.- Next up was safety and protection. At this point in time the information was that the power could be out for as long as three days.  The possibility of looters or riots in the days ahead came to mind and I didn’t want to be caught with my pants down.  I gathered all our firearms, checked to make sure they were ready to go and placed them in strategic places throughout the house.  I went around and checked to make sure all the doors were secure, fences were locked and dogs were okay.  I still had no idea how long this outage would last and I knew that I would be relying on them heavily for alerting us to any strangers or possible looters in the days ahead.  Both were large Shepherd mixes, one actually a fourth generation Rhodesian Ridgeback/Shepherd whose bloodline had been in our family for 30+ years.  My hope was that their size would play a huge part in the deterrent factor and if that wasn’t enough I knew that their bark was just as bad as their bite. 

This entire time I had the Ham radio up and running, as a member of the local CERT team I knew they would be giving out information and taking questions.   I was listening to the traffic reports throughout the county.  People were running out of gas and with gas stations unable to open for business the advice was for those who were low on gas to pull over in a shady spot if possible and get off the roads.  I knew my sister was in that traffic and I was worried.  She was seven months pregnant and had been sent home from work because of the blackout.  She had picked up my two year old niece from daycare but was low on gas because of being stuck in traffic for two hours for what was usually a 30 minute drive.

6:00 p.m.- Problems start happening.  I had not heard from my sister yet but I knew she was on her way to my house.  She was very low on gas but was still going to try and make it being that the only open gas stations were in Temecula, a city 20+ miles away.  The same was true for my brother in law who was coming in the opposite direction from work.  He had been stuck in traffic for hours and was low on gas as well.  To make matters worse no one was able to get hold of their son, my nephew.  This was due to the fact that all the cell phone lines were jammed.  We tried to go online to see if he tried to reach us via facebook which was still working for those who had Internet.  No messages.  At this point I started getting worried and annoyed.  I had friends texting me asking me if I had all my survivor gear out, or asking me what I was doing, or what they should do.  Meanwhile I was thinking that they were draining my phone battery (I know I could have charged it in my car but I needed it with me as I was going about the house trying to get everything done) that I might just need for that important call from my sister, or nephew, or brother in law who had still not arrived yet.  I knew some of them thought their messages were funny.  I didn’t have time to entertain or further enlighten them.  There was still so much more work to do.

6:30 p.m.- My sister finally arrived.  Not long afterwards so does my brother in law, then my other sister, her husband, and their two kids.  Everyone’s gas tank is pretty much on empty.  I fill up the car that uses the least gas so that my brother in law can go around looking for my nephew who we still weren’t able to get a hold of.  I give him my cell phone so that he can charge it as he drives around.  We soon find out that for some reason that part of San Diego - Rancho Bernardo to be exact was not able to receive any calls or text messages to cell phones incoming or receiving.  In addition my nephew was not able to access the internet via cell phone unlike others who were able to in different areas.  We were able to confirm this information later when my brother in law left to try and find my nephew.  While he was in that area he tried reaching us and us him to no avail.  He finally found my nephew at their house.  One of his friend’s parents had dropped him off and he was with the neighbors waiting when my brother in law finally arrived.

7:30 p.m.- It was now dark.  Everyone had safely arrived at my house and I was busy making dinner on the front porch.  I had spent a good amount of time digging out the portable propane stove from in the garage and setting up an outdoor makeshift kitchen.  We still didn’t know how long the power outage would last so I was trying to cook as much meat as possible.  Needless to say we ate pretty well that night. 

8:30 p.m.- Dinner time.  We had our dinner inside using several of our lanterns as light.  The kids seemed to be having fun.  We discussed what would happen in the days to come if the electricity still was not back in place.  We did have a location in the mountains about 1 hour away with other extended family.  We had two very large delivery diesel trucks which would be able to hold most of our important belongings the only problem was I knew we didn’t have enough diesel gas for both of them. We decided to wait it out.  At this time information we were receiving on the radio was that electricity would be restored later that night.  I was skeptic but hopeful.  I wondered if “they” were telling the truth or if they just didn’t want to stir a mass panic.

11:30- Bed time. After dinner we had cleaned the kitchen, washed the dishes, and given the kids baths all by lantern light.  I walked around the perimeter of the house again making sure all was well.  I looked around at my family most of them were already fast asleep together in the television room.  I looked at the time and realized how tired I was.  I had basically been working nonstop since I found out the power had gone out.  I climbed in bed.  Having no electricity sure was exhausting and the electricity had only been out for 8 hours!  I couldn’t imagine another day like this, though I knew if this was a possibility I had already done most of the work for things to be easier tomorrow. 

As I lay down to sleep that night a few thoughts went through my head.  Thank God we at least still had [utility-piped] running water.  And Thank God that everyone made it here safe and we were all together.  Thank God things weren’t worse. Other thoughts that occurred to me while the power was out and later the next day:

  1. I should have put the insulin in the freezer right away or in at least a colder compartment than the refrigerator (insulin gets ruined if it is too cold as well as too warm).  I practically kicked myself for not doing this first thing!  I was so wrapped up in everything else this completely slipped my mind!
  2. I should have bought that portable ice machine at Target.  It was only $130. 
  3. I really need to get out of the city.

Here is what I learned:

  1. The vast majority of the population is poorly prepared in every sense for any type of emergency.
  2. You can never have enough gasoline and even if you think you do get more.  It would have been an excellent selling or bartering item at times like these.
  3. Candy is an absolute necessity in preparedness.  Especially when there is no television or computer to send the kids off to to occupy themselves.  When adults need a few moments of quiet time, candy makes everything better, instantly.
  4. Having a Ham radio is an essential part of preparing.  The Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids saying needs to add that extra “C” for Communication as well as the “E” for Engineering.  Being informed just makes you feel better and in a strange way gives you hope when you know you can still reach someone on the other “end”.
  5. Handheld battery operated lanterns are awesome! You can hang them when cooking outside for a good source of all over light.  They are better than flashlights when walking down the hall or when going to bathroom and taking a shower.  You can just set them on the counter and you have pretty good visibility of the area around you.
  6. Survival preparedness isn’t really about you.  It is about protecting your loved ones. 
  7. Having properly prepared for an emergency makes you feel like gold.
  8. I really need to get out of the city. 

James Wesley:
We have opened up Kamiah Copy & Shipping Center in Kamiah, Idaho. (I consider Kamiah the unofficial capital of the American Redoubt).  Part of our services are private mailbox rental.  As a long time SurvivalBlog reader and contributor (you've seen my posts under the bylines B.H. in Spokane, Western Washington and North Central Idaho) I am quite familiar with the need for OPSEC and the desire for some individuals to begin to establish ties to the American Redoubt.
We are offering 5” x 12” mail box rentals for $10 per month.  A 12-month pre-paid rental gets you three free months.  We also provide mail forwarding services through USPS,  FedEx, or UPS.  Mail forwarding is $5.00 per occurrence plus shipping or postage.
From now till the end of 2011, for every 12 month rental we will make a donation to the Memsahib Memorial Fund of $10. 

Anyone interested can send e-mail to the address below.

Kamiah Copy & Shipping Center
505 4th Street
Kamiah, Idaho 83536
phone: 208-935-7500
FAX: 866-453-6781

Thank you, - Brendon Hill

If you've been waiting for a dip to buy some more precious metals, this is it. (As usual, I recommend buying silver rather than gold. And since platinum is at an odd point in its history where it is worth less than gold, I'd recommend buying a few Platinum American Eagles, Credit Suisse 1 Oz. Platinum Bars, Platinum Australian Platypus coins, or Platinum Nobles, if you can find any. )

Peter Schiff: How Are You Going To Survive When Gold Is Money Again?

Yet another advantage of The American Redoubt, to consider: Map of Electricity bills by state.

This dovetails with some of my writings: Will Nickels and Pennies Soon Disappear?

G.G. set this: Is Farmland the New Housing Bubble?

Items from The Economatrix:

Corporate Warnings Bode Ill For Earnings

Wall Street Tumbles On Europe, Intel's Outlook

Euro Zone Fiscal Pact Fails To Restore Confidence

If Silver Goes Down All H**l Will Break Loose In The Physical Market. (An interesting video describing some fundamentals in the silver market.)

Glenn Beck's GBTV has announced a new television series about off-grid living: Independence, USA. "Join the Belcastro Family as They Prepare for an Independent Life Off the Grid."

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Cheryl N. recommended: Antibiotics and Their Use in Collapse Medicine

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Paulette W. suggested this piece: Dark Arts for Good Guys: The Right to Knife

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Judy T. sent this news from Western Washington: Poacher shoots cows with arrows in Cowlitz County

"Anything that is on paper anything that involves a promise or a commitment is no longer valid because as we said there isn’t a rule of law anymore. People can steal from you. Your money can be confiscated. And think how easy now it is to confiscate people’s wealth. Most of our wealth in this society exists as zeroes and ones on a computer server. It takes no effort whatsoever to steal zeros and ones on a computer server. So what I have been telling people is you need to get into physical commodities. And the rule of thumb is if you can stand in front of it with an assault rifle and physically protect it, then it's real—it's a real commodity. That includes food, that includes water, that includes long guns and ammunition. That includes fuel. That includes precious metals—gold and silver coinage. Most especially silver coinage because silver is the metal of barter and transaction and currency." - Ann Barnhardt, former head of Barnhardt Capital Management. (She ran the firm before she went Galt.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Readers with Android phones will be pleased to hear that there is now a free "SurvivalBlog Reader" App available. It was kindly developed by "B.C". -- who I've just awarded a $200 Amazon gift certificate, as a token of my appreciation.


Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

With all of the injuries that we learn to treat in the Army’s combat medic training program, there are two killers that must be addressed immediately after any contact with the enemy. The first is the sucking chest wound... and I have to say, these quite frankly, suck. Forgive the humor but they do just that. The medical field describes these wounds as this: Sucking Chest wound- a wound received by way of penetration or laceration to the thoracic cavity which causes air and or blood to be trapped in the pleural space. Air is sucked through the wound during exhalation and then is trapped, causing pressure. This pressure slowly builds and will eventually cause the pressure to be applied to the heart. This pressure will eventually cause hypoxia and cardiac arrest as the lungs cannot draw in enough oxygen to keep the body going or the heart will be pressed to the point that it cannot function. This of course will lead to death. When treating these types of wounds, the medic must assess whether or not there is an exit wound, and whether or not bleeding can be successfully stopped without causing further bleeding inside the chest cavity. If there is an exit wound, that wound must be covered with thick gauze padding and then an occlusive dressing (occlusive means that air cannot pass through.) this means using a piece of plastic to cover the gauze then tapping the whole thing down making sure to seal all four sides. Once this is accomplished the next step is to cover the entrance wound with an occlusive dressing, again sealing it on all four sides. This being done there are several things one must monitor.

Breathing: This will be the most telling of vital signs, respiration rates will tell you whether or not there is a problem inside your patient’s chest cavity. Look for increased and/or increasingly strained respirations from your patient. If the respiration rate goes up and they are straining harder and harder to breath then you will need to find out what is going on inside the chest. Do this by listening to the chest on both sides with a stethoscope. If there are decreased lung sounds on the injured side you must let the pressure out somehow. The easiest and safest way to do this is to perform a needle chest decompression. This is a procedure that will alleviate pressure in the chest cavity and allow your patient to breathe easier. To do this you will want to find the second and third rib on the side with reduced lung sounds. This is usually just in line with the armpit. Once you have this location, find the pint on this rib that is also in line with the nipple. To do this you will need a 14 gauge angiocath that is 3.25 inches long. Place the tip of the angiocath at the place where the two lines meet and just above the third rib. Insert the angiocath until you hear a hissing sound. This is the air escaping through the lumen of the needle. Then advance the catheter portion of the needle and remove the actual needle itself. This will leave the catheter in the chest cavity. Now tape this down without covering the hole at the top and place the patient on the injured side if he is unconscious. If the patient is conscious then place him or her in a position of comfort. This will usually be sitting up with the hands on the knees or a variation of. We call this the tripod position. Get the patient to advanced medical care as soon as possible and monitor the patient’s breathing and blood pressure every five minutes. At no time should the patient be left alone, even for a second as the patient is very likely to become worse if left unmonitored.

Exsanguination is another term for massive hemorrhage. This will lead to hypovolemic shock and death if ignored and is the number one cause of preventable battlefield deaths in the combat world. The usual suspect of a wound that will cause this would be arterial damage that is not checked or stopped by the body’s natural defenses. This can be caused by amputation, laceration from flying debris, penetrating trauma that damages the vascular system sufficiently that the body cannot stop the flow and also by blunt trauma. In an austere environment there is not much you can do to actually permanently treat many of the injuries that cause this. Surgery is not a thing to take on lightly and never without proper training.

To stop any bleeding the first step is to apply direct pressure to the wound itself. After two to five minutes most bleeding will have stopped as the body will have had a chance to clot the area that is open. However, you will want to bandage the area with clean bandage material if it is available and apply a pressure dressing to it to keep pressure on it. If the injury is more severe than what pressure may fix then you will want to apply pressure to the artery that feeds the limb with blood. Once bleeding has stopped bandage as necessary.

With arterial bleeds that jet out bright red you will need to tourniquet the limb as close to the trunk of the body as possible. Do this as soon as possible as well as this will lessen the amount of blood lost and will keep the patient from going into hypovolemic shock. Once you have the tourniquet on, write the time and date it was placed on the patient in a visible area and also chart it on a record of the injury. The tourniquet is safe up to twelve hours but may cause some nerve and vascular damage if on for too long. Make sure that the patient is moved to medical help as soon as possible. This will ensure that the limb is not lost due to necrosis (dead flesh) and will also ensure the patient will get the wound closed as soon as possible. To avoid further infection of the wound place a bandage with plenty of gauze to cushion the wound and protect it from further injury.

My last bit of information in this article is to add a note from my personal experience. As a medic I see many things that will probably be with me the rest of my life. At the time it happens I have to remain calm and not let the patient know that the injury is as bad as it is. And at the same time I cannot be an uncaring automaton that simply follows a set of steps and forgets the part of the equation that matters most at that time, the patient. When dealing with a serious injury you will get freaked out, feel nauseous; want to yell at everyone around you and everything else in the world that will distract you from treating the patient. Remember, the worst thing you can do when coming up on a patient who is conscious and screaming because his leg just got crushed or blown off is say: "Oh Sh**". Remain calm, and do what you need to do, and remember to talk to him or her and try to keep them calm. If you have medical training and have been in the field long enough, you know how it all clicks off and your training comes to the fore. Use this to keep yourself from making a mistake, as it could cost someone their life.

Remember that this article in no way shape or form takes the place of proper medical training; I always suggest that people take at least a first aid course. First responder’s course is better as it covers some cardiac related issues and also some more advanced airway techniques but can be pricey and time consuming. I also want to point out that these things I have discussed in this article are considered advanced medical techniques and as such, I recommend that you use them only if there is no way to get help in time. To perform most of these you will need medical equipment that can be bought online and through medical supply stores. If you own an IFAK medical kit then you will have a good but limited selection of medical supply that will help in some of the extreme cases that I have outlined here so it would be a great idea to get one if you do not own one already.

And as always, please do not let prepping be all consuming, if you are missing house payments because you just bought that new rifle or that truckload of MREs, then you are missing the point. Disaster preparedness is not about praying for something to go wrong, it is a hedge against hard times. We should all live our lives to the fullest, and if you can find a way to do that and be prepared at the same time then you will be a much happier person. Take care and keep your eyes open, and failing that, listen closely to the signs that are given. Live long and love deeply.

I just purchased an very clean cosmoline-packed SKS at local gun show as my first rifle (other than a .22 LR) My only purpose to own it is Golden Horde repellant.

I know it's not your favorite, but it's the best my budget would allow right now.
Now that I've gotten the cosmo out, I just got a very clean cosmo-packed Mosin at a great price from a local dealer.
Is it redundant to own both weapons?
I'm no enthusiast just prepping for the worst.

I hate bolt action (especially since I shoot off left shoulder)  but it seems like it is cheaper to operate, scarier to face, and reach further downrange.
Is the worst I'll do is break even if I change my mind about owning both. (Even these cheap guns ain't getting any cheaper...)
If the SHTF then perhaps my father-in-law who trained on the M1 [Garand] could use one of these. (He won't buy one--he doesn't want to believe that TEOTWAWKI is possible)
Thanks, - James S.

JWR Replies: Assuming that you've set aside 1,000 rounds of 7.62x39 ammo for the SKS (or the cash to buy that much ammo, soon), then you should probably keep the Mosin.  But if not, then sell it. Always remember that a rifle without ammunition is just a fancy club.

Mr. Rawles:

As always, thank you for your excellent blog which is required daily reading for anyone who wants to stand a chance, post-TEOTWAWKI.

A quick note about Tuesday’s essay, “"I Can See You" -- A Digital View of Your Survival Preparations,” by Dave X.

Though the points Dave makes, regarding database files on every aspect of our lives, are valid, it is important to remember the PSYOPs of the secret police in communist East Germany, the Stasi. They tried to intimidate the citizenry into submission by implying that they had a dossier on every citizen. After the collapse of European communism it was found that they only had dossiers on the most influential 10% of the population. This essay could unwittingly be fueling that type of PSYOP, with the subtext being, “Don’t even try to defend yourself. We know everything about you so put down your weapons and kit and hand over your survival rations”.

The points I would like to make are:
1. The people who would control you need to make you think that you are overwhelmed by force and their knowledge about you. It may be true but it just may be bluff.
2. Post-TEOTWAWKI, and by that I mean nuked cities, its not likely that there will be any authorities to speak of that will methodically go from rural retreat to rural retreat to take your possessions.
3. Retreats are not designed for defense against the authorities in the normal operations of the nation; they are designed to protect against the Golden Horde, opportunistic predators, perhaps nuclear fallout and as a retreat from the carnage of post-apocalyptic cities.

Keep preparing fellow preppers. There won't be a government database, or perhaps even a government, post-TEOTWAWKI.

With Kind Regards, - Woodstove in Oz


I believe that Dave X.'s "I Can See You" article is worthy of rebuttal and I am uniquely qualified to respond because until recently I was one of those supervising bureaucrats that used the analytical tools mentioned in this article.  I only worked at the county level, but my friend of thirty years and best man at my wedding still serves in a similar position at the state level. 

I concede that there are those who are on watch lists based upon purchases made, information posted on the Internet, and licensees such as ham radio and concealed carry.  It does not take government resources to find these people.  I often hear someone bragging in a discussion group and email them a link to their property tax file and a satellite photo of their retreat in hopes they will get serious about OPSEC.
We do not compile this information at the state or local levels for purposes outside taxation and emergency response.  We do not have zoning outside of municipalities.  We do provide information to fusion centers created under a joint project between the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Justice which compiles data from public and private sources.  It is reasonable to expect that at least some of the people described above will be considered assets WTSHTF and be collected by the feds in the interest of national security - if they can be found. 

The key to not being found is to not be at the address our credit card statement goes (mine goes to a P.O. Box linked to a former home), the location where UPS delivered our case of high power ammo, or where concealed carry or ham radio licenses say we live.  In addition, we should not carry our cell phone to the retreat site nor anything else that can be used to track us there.

While the technology exists to theoretically do everything the author states in his article, in reality we can do very little at the state and local level because we simply do not have the manpower.  Yes, we can see your secluded acreage from the eye in the sky, but cannot see through through the trees well enough to add the cabin you built without obtaining a building permit to your property taxes.  We cannot see well enough to catch people poaching deer which they do here like it's their job.  We haven't even been able to assign homes without mailboxes an address for 911emergency call response.  In almost every case we find out about these things because your neighbors rat you out.  Nearly everyone in my retreat local hunts, and heats with wood, and has a garden, and cans so these activities will not single anyone out. 

Certainly there are a lot more resources at the Federal level and as the author pointed out, the majority of these resources have been around for thirty years.  We used them to unsuccessfully track Eric Robert Rudolf, the Olympic Park Bomber, for over five years while over a hundred Federal investigators plus local law enforcement combed the area where they knew he was living.  We use it today to unsuccessfully stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across our border with Mexico.  The Federal government simply does not have the manpower to do what the author proposes and we are barely keeping our heads above water at the state and local levels.  The other night we had to call an off-duty deputy and get him out of bed to respond to a shooting because there was not a single deputy on duty.  We so rarely stumble upon the plethora of pot plantations in our county that when we do it makes front page news.  Does anyone really believe that we are going to become more efficient after TEOTWAWKI when we are dealing with escalating violent crime and riots in the streets?

The powers that be will go after the low-hanging fruit.  The key to survival is to not be that fruit.  Let them be occupied collecting those who are home when they sweep for the Feds watch list, Ham radio or concealed carry licensees, or those foolish enough to put their retreat properties in their own name.  It is the nail that sticks up that gets hammered down.            

Dear JWR,
Cool article by Dave X., but doesn't this cut both ways? There's a ton of public information out there that discloses the resources of government and the locations of those resources, including locations of public officials. All that information can be viewed, and if it can be viewed, it can be saved, just in case it's needed after TSHTF. I don't need multiple databases and advanced algorithms to divine the actions and motivations of the people who may target innocents after a cataclysmic event. They are out there in full view now. All I have to do is notice, and click save!

Keep up the good work. - Q. in Virginia

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large "Mad Mike" Williamson alerted me to this uplifting news story about The Made In America Challenge. (Not surprisingly, the contractor lives in Bozeman, Montana, deep in The American Redoubt. Quite few of the vendors are in the Redoubt, too--such as Potlach, for their plywood.) Here's the list of U.S. vendors that the contractor uses.

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Another from Mike, and also sent in by reader Eric M.: DARPA's Shredder Challenge Solved. Obviously, using a crosscut shredder is now insufficient. Wet mulching or burning your shredder's "confetti" output is a sure bet.

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Some more charming privacy news: Startup Turns Your Cell-Phone Number into a Location Fix. (Thanks to Yishai for the link.)

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Reader T.H. sent me a link to a government PDF that doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling: The Department of Homeland Security’s Approach to Countering Violent Extremism. Pardon me, Ms. Napolitano, but who will define what is "Extreme"? Is my respect for the Constitution "extreme"? Is my respect for the Bill of Rights "extreme"? Is my use of use of VPN tunneling and other privacy measures "extreme"? Is the size of my gun collection or my supply of ammunition "extreme"? Is my multi-year food supply "extreme"? Is home-schooling my children "extreme"? According to Rand Paul, people like me are already under suspicion.

"It is obvious what's been going on. You have to start acknowledging these people for what they are, and that is moral degenerates who are basically sociopaths and psychopaths. Meaning they don’t feel any sympathy or empathy for other human beings. The only thing they care about is themselves. They will do anything. They will steal. They will lie. They will cheat. They will lie to your face. They will look in the camera with this tremendous earnestness and lie with fork tongues through their teeth in order to advance their wealth and power. And if we, as a people, don’t get real about this, if we keep having these Pollyanna visions that these people are all on our side and they are really looking out for us, and they are doing the best they can. [Then] we will be cork screwed into the ground and this nation will be reduced to a smoldering rubble. You've got to wake up." - Ann Barnhardt, former head of Barnhardt Capital Management. (Before she went Galt.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I design and operate databases for a living.  The newest of these are assembled on analytic platforms structured to “draw conclusions” for clients in a wide (and formerly random) variety of scenarios.  One of my developers is an analytic tools assembly expert who also works for some “security, emergency, and enforcement” government agencies in Washington, DC – all formerly separate agencies, and because of advancements in the technologies -- now “interoperating”.  I am also a prepper with a Bug Out locale that fulfills my “survival vision” and inherently has most of the natural survival essentials on site, but one which needs some structural work that would be visible to aerial mapping when implemented.  Another prepper colleague of mine who is part of our group has skills that I will generally classify as “ravine and bluff engineering”.  Together we have tried to develop plans to address the visibility problem, and in doing so have hit a “snag” and have come to a conclusion that might be useful to many readers.  So, it is with some expertise and some insight that I pose some thoughts for you today, with the hope that, if you are already knowledgeable on this subject, you might use these to simply update your information, or if you are not, that I might help to guide some of your decision making as I understand that your survival is at stake.

Two ideas:  Presume for the moment that databases have already classified you as a threat or even a likely insurgent. Presume that your resources and assets are already known and well-catalogued, and that access, use, seizure, and in a worst case scenario, potential counter-insurgency plans are in the “system” that can be implemented against you -- precisely directed at what you have been “certain” all along are the excellent and generally secret attributes of your plans in rural and remote areas. 

Most readers might agree somewhat with the first proposition, as previous military experience, FOID cards, post office signatures for receipt of gun parts and ammo, on-line purchases of water treatment, first aid gear, food storage etc. might be among a thousand other data points on-file somewhere with some kind of classification about you suitable to draw this conclusion.   Fair enough.  However, most preppers I have talked to argue that the second of these presumptions defies logic because they are so invested in how they see their retreat and in their belief that their “survival vision” is correct – a vision which can be generalized to be dependent on remote, defensible, small, self-sufficient, off the grid, and stealthy living.   On the surface such strategic plans seem great.  These might be the product of years of thinking, investing, and hard labor.  The location is likely to be vast and rugged or heavily forested.  It’s far from town.  Nobody’s around.  The prepper just wants to be left alone, poses no outward threat, and although he or she can and will defend themselves, they mean no harm to anyone.  These plans are defensive and to be successful, they rely on distance, infrequent communications, and private activities.  “Hard to find and not worth the effort” to take your stuff when TSHTF is the basic assumption.  This is the snag we have run into.   This may be a very false conclusion as I will detail below.

The facts are that local, county, regional, state, and federal database engineers, their supervising bureaucrats, and the analytic tools that they use every day have things sorted out quite differently.  On the basis of regulations and new standards for inter-operability, the whole system may operate on the basis that your “resources” are “not yours” and, when associated with other large scale “emergency planning” scenarios, that your resources may be classified as public resources that can be and are likely to be acquired and controlled. 

At the local level, this assumption is embodied in a concept now well developed into legal reality that the bureaucrats call “custodial responsibility” of your land.  Because in times of crisis some natural resources may become scarce and thus more valuable (you did choose your retreat well), and because they have granted you a “permit” to occupy and use the land, and because you do, then you are more vulnerable to an “intervention” than you may have thought.  And, worse, because this land information data is “integrated” and now “shared” and, in some instances, already merged with other personal data (perhaps your “threat” status?), when TSHTF, emergency management measures may go into effect that allow, and may even direct, emergency access to and use of your land.  Like opening river floodgates with the knowledge that whole communities will be inundated and destroyed, geographic information system (GIS) data often drives decision making and therefore, regardless of property rights, the gates will open and the torrent will roll out across the countryside.  The analogy is apt.  Rural and remote geographies may deliberately be used in emergency management situations to absorb some of the impact of civil disaster, to provide material resources, to disperse the energy of the unrest, and to reduce as much stress as quickly as possible on more densely inhabited areas and infrastructure.

This is a tough scenario for preppers, as it runs counter to much of our planning, and therefore this idea of public access and use may be dismissed by those who are betting that they are safely out of the way and that the riots and mayhem will be contained in urban areas.  But it is one which can be more easily understood and perhaps accepted after a cordial and scheduled visit by you to your county zoning office (or web site).  More on this in a moment.  First, some additional and quite prepper-sympathetic context.

Many of us have our remote retreats ready or almost ready.  Most of the money has been spent.  We have completed our “lists of lists” with some degree of satisfaction (there’s always more to do).  And now we are increasingly confident that we were “right” and that our efforts make sense.  Economic, political, and violent events are reaching crisis status worldwide and many of these now occur much closer to home.  We find ourselves in a departure mode, just trying (before we leave) to encourage previously skeptical relatives and friends to understand the inevitable outcome of these events; to join us, and to answer the call to perpetuate and perhaps defend our God-given freedoms.  We have come to a “final” acceptance that the world is going to cataclysmically change and that TEOTWAWKI is upon us. 

However, we may be quite mistaken about this.  TEOTWAWKI has already occurred!  And not in a way that we might have expected with the lights going out and cities on fire.   It happened in a small office in a rural or remote American county when the final little corner of a gridded digital foundation layer within an ArcGIS® and ArcView® database was scanned in and added after 30 years of data development – one that finally incorporates (perhaps) your own remote parcel of land.

Unaware (perhaps “untroubled” says it better) of the long-term “land planning” effort to complete of ubiquitous federal, regional, state, or county “mapping initiatives”, preppers have worked to gather their resources.  We may have even used GIS tools in order to acquire our land, set up our survival plan, and implement our survival vision.  And now, because all the indicators of genuine conflict are imminent, preppers feel that it is finally time to finally occupy and use their land – to retreat from people and events – to fortify and guard those second homes, retreats, and redoubts.  Thus, operational or tactical (rather than strategic) conversations about high ground, fields of fire, virtual and physical moats, sensors, buried propane tanks, sentry duty, and keeping marauders at bay more frequently occur. 

Our final preparation discussions may go further (now that most resources are in place) about how to care for other family members and trusted friends who may be ill or disabled, and how to provide assistance to elderly parents.  Yet, because some tiny bit of data was added to a database (even as far back as 1980 in some counties), the implementation of some of our own acquisition, defensive, and operational plans may be too late, and even unnecessary for reasons outlined below.  Building and burying concrete bunkers may not actually be a good idea… and setting up “tank traps” and defensive barriers may be a waste of time and resources and best put aside while we turn to more collaborative strategies and address more immediate needs such as tending woodlots, raising chickens, planting square foot gardens, networking with like-minded neighbors, and perhaps learning to do dentistry in case there are no dentists (Yikes!  Unlikely, but you gotta have some sense of humor in all this.)

The facts are that there are present in county offices in many small towns “experts with plans” that may surprise and even shock many preppers.   When you meet them on a friendly and professional basis, you will conclude that they are generally well-meaning and think their work for various government agencies is vitally important for the common good (think of rapid responses to 911 calls or management of hazardous waste disasters).  But, after all the good will, legal argument, and fuzzy feelings are expressed, they will tell you and may even show you what they have been doing and what they can actually do under the common rules for zoning: referred to in some states as Land Information Planning (LIP). 

LIP can be summarized as integrating and sharing data in “layers” of GIS data about the precisely-located Bug Out Place you think is your own – all of which is designed to fulfill and support the afore-mentioned custodial responsibilities by authorities.  The GIS digital system works by assembling “foundational” and common data elements, by establishing inter-agency government agency training, communications, and education programs, and by facilitating “technical assistance” for all kinds of authorities at the local, state, and federal level.

The simple truth is that they know where you are.  They know who you are.  They know what you have.  They may already know what you are doing or may be capable of doing (think of all the county departments that have your records digitized -- Deeds, Tax Rolls, Land Records, Surveyor, Planning, Zoning, Sheriff, Emergency Management, Agriculture, Forestry, and IT just to name a few).

Among the GIS layers (some scanned-in and digitized decades ago) are “new” and very sophisticated GPS-controlled geographic reference frameworks developed for parcel mapping, parcel administration, public access (including back roads and even footpaths if well used via Regional Road Directory (RRD), soils mapping, wetlands mapping, land use mapping. (Got a garden?  Hobby farm?  Spring?  Pond?  Shoreline? Serious acreage?, then “natural resources”, infrastructure and facilities mapping may already have you mapped. (Think in terms of electric grid, phone and computer services, gas and oil pipelines, water, septic, sewage, pumping stations, dams, bridges, etc.) There is also something called Forestry Reconnaissance, and “institutional arrangements and integration” (think police and emergency access).  Much of this foundational data across the USA has been completely compiled -- and nearly all of it is now updated by aerial observation on a semi-annual or more frequent basis.  You can’t hide what you are doing.  And, if you can’t easily do it now, you may not be able to do what you want to do later when TSHTF without a lot of help, time, and energy.

Want a visit from an “inspector”?  Then dig a hole.  Clear a field.  Add a roof.  Cut a fence line. Plant. Irrigate.  Mound dirt from an underground excavation.  Drive across dusty open land.  These visual and sometimes thermal “changes” on base layer information clearly appear on the GIS updates.  They are computer-compared and professionally observed.  They are automatically evaluated then flagged.  The flagging may prompt “interventions” at any time (think EPA) and may prompt other more unexpected activities once TSHTF (and possibly much more importantly and nasty) once these GIS databases are hacked and the core information is distributed to “unfriendlies” who are smart enough to want it and get it.    

This observation on our technological vulnerability suggests that building our “castles and moats” and spending our energy and money in hopes to hide out, get off the grid, and live peacefully in small tribes is not nearly as rational as we might wish, and that a secondary strategy should be adopted which recognizes that they can easily “see us”, that well-established, redundant, and hardened technology is our enemy, that TEOTWAWKI has already occurred, and that for some very good reasons we better rethink about what our “survival vision” really should be. 

Since our assets are easily observed and already ranked and prioritized by “value”, our survival preparation may more effectively depend on revealing and then linking these resources among ourselves, and by establishing new networks and creating closer relationships with others in our geographies with whom we can communicate, get to quickly, and achieve the advantage of mass in either defensive or offensive actions.  An understanding (maybe acquisition and use?) of GIS technologies and mapping can enable preppers to make more flexible plans and be much more “mobile” and responsive to threats.  With LIP as a controlling factor, using the information and technology may be more valuable than barbed wire and bullets to stem the tide.  More like-minded people must easily be gathered when authorities may be overwhelmed or when those authorities bring their own action against us as we are flagged as perceived or real threats. 

Summary and Conclusions
:  We may reluctantly concede that as individuals we may already be digitally classified as threats and therefore potential insurgents.  The bigger issue is that we may also have to agree that our hide-out survival vision may be incorrect and need substantial modification.  It is a fundamental mistake to think we are not “visible” in our retreats in the mountains or the woods.  Knowing that even small local governments have generally completed LIP initiatives, that the data is transferable and shared with  other databases, that authorities have assumed or have been legally granted “custodial responsibilities” for our property and our resources, we must contemplate modifying our vision from one where success is no longer entirely based on distance, infrequent communications, and on trying to create and carry out “invisible” private activities to one where closer proximity, more frequent communications, common use of data tools and technology, and more open and direct action can hold back the tide when TSHTF.

A personal note and an excellent example:  Throughout history there are countless examples of successful survival strategies and tactics, but one family story comes to mind that is worth telling as it relates to the use of geography and local resources, and to the development of a perception and a reality for an enemy that a fight they wanted was not worth making – where the battlefield was well understood by the defenders, where communications and mobility were key factors, and where the outcome was a great conflict successfully avoided and everyone survived. 

The setting was Cincinnati in 1862.  Confederate General Kirby Smith had arrived on the scene with a formidable, well trained and well equipped army, capturing Lexington Kentucky.  Smith ordered his junior officer, General Henry Heth to cross the Ohio River and capture Cincinnati.  With a real battle looming, Ohio was in an uproar.  Defensive resources were slim.  The Governor and Union Officers called for volunteers.  Riders went out to the surrounding counties and armed men responded to their call.  Nearly 16,000 civilians would come into town carrying “antiquated” weapons, and this body was properly and proudly referred to as the Squirrel Hunters.  These men had no military training, but “they could shoot the eye out of a squirrel at 100 yards”.  My own great-grandfather was among them.  The name and size of the group said it all, and within a few days, the Confederate forces withdrew and left the area.  Crossing the river under the fire of back country sharpshooters was not an option.  Well-understood geography, quick communications, and responsive people saved the day.

Citations, Locales, and Sourcing
: [Deleted by the Editor, for OPSEC.]

The first 9mm handgun that I ever owned was the S&W Model 39. I carried that gun on-duty as a private investigator for a long time. I had a lot of confidence in that gun. And, back then, it was considered a real light-weight pistol at around 28 ounces, and it held 8+1 rounds of 9mm ammo - more than enough to stop most hostile actions, with a spare 8-rd mag on-hand, it was a hot seller. The Model 39 wasn't exactly a compact pistol by any stretch of the imagination. If you wanted something smaller, many folks went to itty-bitty .25ACP pistols of some sort - and they were (and still are) notorious for not stopping fights.
The biggest problem back in the 1970s was that, the only 9mm ammo you could get, that would reliably feed in a 9mm handgun was FMJ (Full Metal Jacket). And, it was not known as a fight-stopper. (And it still isn't). There were a few jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) and soft point (SP) 9mm rounds, but none of them really fed 100% all the time in my S&W Model 39. Still, I carried that gun for a long time, with 9mm FMJ ammo. Call me young and dumb - back then! Today, my choice would be one of the better JHP 9mm loads - which are proven man stoppers.
We've come a long, long way from the S&W Model 39. Today, we have all manner of sub-compact 9mm handguns, that reliably feed all manner of JHP ammo. I still remember the first Kahr 9mm handgun I saw - I bought it! I simply couldn't believe how super-smooth the double-action only trigger pull was on the gun. Many gun writers have said that Kahr is the Rolls Royce of DAO trigger pulls, and I'm not gonna dispute that.
The 9mm round still isn't my first choice (today) as a man stopper. However, with the better 9mm JHP rounds on the market, I'd have no problem carrying a 9mm handgun as my main gun. Black Hills Ammunition, Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Winchester Ammunition all have some hot-stepping JHP rounds that are good fight stoppers. And, they also have +P rounds as well as +P+ rounds, too. Those really brings the stopping power of the 9mm round way up on the scale as a fight-stopper if you ask me. However, not all 9mm handguns are rated to handle the hotter +P and +P+ rounds - and I don't think any maker will actually warrant their handguns to stand-up to +P+ use.
The gun under review here is the newly released Kahr Arms CM9. This is their new economy version of their 9mm sub-compact line-up. The slide is stainless steel, with a polymer frame. Magazine capacity on the CM9 is 6+1 rounds, and the gun only comes with one magazine, but spare mags are readily available. With a 3" barrel, and a double action only (DAO) trigger pull of about 6 pounds, the little Kahr weighs in at only 14 ounces. Not the lightest sub-compact 9mm on the market, but it's near the top of the list. The sights are also polymer, with the rear being drift adjustable for windage, and have the bar-dot combat type of sight - fast and easy to pick-up, even with my aged eyes. The length of the gun is 5.42", height is only 4" and the slide width being .90" - so this is one tiny 9mm pistol. There is no external/manual safety on the CM9. However, [like a Glock] there are internal safeties that prevent the gun from accidentally firing if dropped.
I will say, though, that the poly Kahr pistols don't have the same super-smooth DAO trigger pull as the metal-framed Kahr's had. However, that's not to say there is anything "wrong" with the trigger pull on the poly guns. It's still smooth as butter - just not quite as smooth as the older metal frame guns were. I still think the Kahr line of handguns has one of the best DAO trigger pulls on the market.
As always, read the owner's manual before taking your Kahr out for a test run. Kahr still advises that you shoot at least 200 rounds of ammo through their guns to break them in. Over the past couple of years, I haven't had to do that - with the older Kahr's I did. However, it's still a good idea to run about 100 rounds of whatever self-defense ammo you want to carry in your Kahr to make sure it will function reliably with that particular load.
I had no problems with standard FMJ 9mm ammo, and I also ran some +P JHP through the little Kahr from Winchester, Black Hills and Buffalo Bore. I had no problems with any of the +P JHP ammo - but it did let me know that I had some hot ammo in the gun, and I wouldn't want to shoot +P through this Kahr all day long. The only ammo I had problems with was the Buffalo Bore +P+ ammo - it was just too hot for the Kahr to reliably handle all the time. Buffalo Bore makes some really hot 9mm +P+ ammo and some handguns won't handle it - period! While the CM9 did work with this Buffalo Bore load about half the time, I wouldn't trust the gun to handle it in a self-defense situation. This is why you have to test the self-defense ammo you plan on using, to make sure you gun will function with it 100% of the time. The light-weight of the CM9, plus the slide velocity was the killer with the Buffalo Bore +P+ ammo. I concluded that the slide was moving too fast and the stout magazine spring still wasn't pushing the rounds up fast enough so the slide could catch them and feed them into the chamber.
My preferred 9mm JHP round for the little CM9 is the new Black Hills 9mm 115 grain +P TAC-XP all copper bullet round. This is really new from Black Hills, and I'm impressed with it. The gun also performed flawlessly with the Winchester Supreme 124 grain JHP +P round, and this would be a great choice in the CM9 as well. With either the Black Hills or the Winchester +P rounds, you know you've got a handful of power there, and you need to really hold onto the little Kahr. I tried to limp-wrist the CM9 to see if I could get it to malfunction - it didn't - but that's not to say it won't. As with all polymer guns, you really need to lock your wrist - if you don't, you're inviting a malfunction - when you least need one.
In all, I fired over 300 rounds of ammo through the little Kahr, over several days, and there were zero problems - excluding the +P+ ammo. Maximum distance was 15 yards, and I think that's a fair test for accuracy with a little 3" barrel pistol. I was getting groups around 3" at 15-yards, and that's good enough for such a little gun, with such a short barrel. All firing was done standing - I didn't sandbag the gun.
The little Kahr CM9 did buck with the +P loads, as expected. However, with standard velocity 9mm FMJ loads, the CM9 was pretty tame - and for such a lightweight gun, that surprised me. I honestly thought I'd get more "kick" from a 14-ounce pistol.
All things considered, the Kahr CM9 earns a place as a back-up to whatever my main gun might be. The only reason the CM9 didn't earn a spot for me as my main gun is that, given the short barrel and limited magazine capacity, I'd like something more for a main carry gun. Now, that's not to say that you can't carry the little CM9 as your main carry piece - I know several people who do carry sub-compact 9mm Kahr's as their one and only gun, and that works for them. A friend of mine, a retired FBI Agent, who also served as a firearms instructor at the FBI Academy, routinely carries his Kahr sub-compact 9mm as his one and only gun. He owns several Kahrs in 9mm and .45ACP.
As always, if you decide to carry the little CM9 as your one and only gun, make sure you purchase and carry at least one spare magazine with you. My choice of carry would be in an ankle holster for the CM9. I personally know several guys who carry their Kahr's in a pocket holster or an in the waistband holster.
Full retail on the CM9 is $565 - a bit steep, but you can usually find them for quite a bit less if you shop around. If you want one of the smallest, and most concealable 9mm pistols on the market, and that has one of the best DAO trigger pulls - then check out the new CM9 at your local dealer. You could do a lot worse for your money. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

I have to agree with the recommendations for using Ichthammol for treating splinters and abscesses.  Put it on the toughest, tiniest sliver and overnight it is out.  Another extremely helpful use is to treat ingrown toenails, a condition that might necessitate minor surgery otherwise.  It is truly wonderful stuff!  Anything that smells that bad has got to be powerful medicine. - Maine Cruiser

Gerald B. recommended: The Engineered Euro Crash - William Engdahl on GRTV. Engdahl explains how the Greek government concealed the extent of their debt by using exotic derivatives provided by Goldman Sachs, and how Greece was later slammed by George Soros and "the Big Boys". JWR Adds A Bit of Humor: But don't blame Goldman Sachs, since any Greek will tell you that derivatives were invented in Greece. (After all, everything was a Greek invention.)

Zero Hedge reports another Latvian bank run.

Gold Model Forecasts $4,380 Gold Price. [JWR's Comment: I'm generally anti-chartist, but this provides some food for thought.]

Looking for Inflation? It’s Hiding in Smaller Package Sizes

Andre D. sent this: Nigel Farage Was Right!

HSBC Sues MF Global Over $850,000 of Gold

Items from The Economatrix:

Europe Facing Either German Domination or Financial Collapse

The Detainee: A Tale Of Collapse (Fictional, but well-written.)

The often-cited "Selco" forum posts with first-hand accounts of surviving the war in Bosnia have been gathered and edited by the Editor of SHTF Survival Q&A: A First-Hand Account of Long-Term SHTF Survival.

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"The Old 16R" sent stumbled across a fascinating account while doing some research on food storage.  He summarizes: "From what I can tell from the somewhat garbled [automated] translation, it seems that a chunk of old masonry fell from the second floor of a building on the grounds of a hospital in Germany.  When the blocks fell they revealed an attic storage room that had been sealed up for decades.  The room had apparently been used to store field mess supplies during the US occupation of Germany, shortly after WWII.  Some of the cans look to be in bad shape, but others are surprisingly clean."

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The makers of the Flashlantern are offering readers of SurvivalBlog FlashLanterns with a compatible Dorcy LED flashlight for $69.95, just until Christmas. It is noteworthy that although the Dorcy flashlights are made in China, the FlashLantern is precision made in the USA. We have tested these here at the ranch and they work quite well, throwing a very useful ring of light. The FlashLantern is incredibly sturdy.

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J.B.G. sent this: Norway butter shortage threatens Christmas treats

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Ready Made Resources has announced several bonus offers that run through December 31st, 2011: On any Mountain House order over $2,500, they are giving away your choice of a Goal Zero 30 Watt solar panel or a Big Berkey water filter. On Mountain House orders over $1,000, they are are giving away a Katadyn Combi water filter. And on Mountain House orders over $500, they are giving away a free Ultimate Survival Tool Kit.

"The Fed thinks they are playing with a thermostat - the house is too cool so we dial it up a little bit, now it's too warm, so we dial it down. In reality, they are playing with a nuclear reactor. If you get it wrong, you're going to have a meltdown." - James Rickards

Monday, December 12, 2011

I've received several e-mails and letters from SurvivalBlog readers, asking me if and when I believe that a "cashless society" is coming. My response is: Yes, I do believe that it is coming, but I can't say when. There are some that have argued that a currency collapse will be used as the pretense to implement a multi-continental or even global digital currency. Most likely it would be in the form of a debit card, similar to what has been popularized in Germany with EuroCheck (EC) Cards. I mentioned these cards in my most recent book, "Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse". These cash equivalent debit cards would resemble outwardly a bank debit card, but would be issued by the Federal Reserve, and would be tied to your Social Security Number. Like a debit card, they would have a PIN used for password protection.

Say that a cashless society comes about. What will happen to all of the old paper currency? There will obviously have to be a deadline for it to be turned in for exchange. (For a credit on your card.) But what about coinage? Will that also be phased out? Officially, yes, but I predict that unofficially, there will still be a lot of it in circulation, in an entirely unofficial Gray Market.

In my estimation, coinage cannot be completely banned, for several reasons:

1.) Large numismatic collections exist, with many owned by wealthy and influential people. There is a long-standing legitimate reason to preserve them. It is noteworthy that even the notorious gold coin and bullion seizure by the FDR Administration under Executive Order 6102 exempted numismatic coins. To ban coin collections would cause a huge uproar and surely be deemed an illegal "taking" by any reputable court.

2.) There are millions of forgotten piggy banks and coin jars in private homes. For these small coin hoards to be declared contraband would be absurd.

3.) The melting of coins for their scrap value would soon become universally legal. (It is presently considered a crime.) It would clearly be in the government's best interest to have the defunct coins "out of sight and out of mind." But obviously some coins not yet melted down into ingots would have to be legal. I predict that governments will simply put a deadline on convertibility. Past the deadline, you would be "stuck" with the old coins, just as you would with the old paper currency.

4.) Coins have long been used mounted in jewelry and even in sculptures, and exceptions would have to be made to keep those coins legal.

5.) There is an important distinction between paper currency in the U.S. and our minted coinage: The paper currency--Federal Reserve Notes and their electronic ledger entry equivalents--are debt-based and created by the Federal Reserve (a private banking cartel) in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving. But all of our coinage is created directly by the U.S. Mint, at taxpayer expense. So any effort to ban coinage would face a much stronger challenge in the courts on Constitutional grounds than a ban on paper currency.

With the safe assumption that it will still be legal to hold (but not necessarily conduct trade in) U.S. coinage, we can therefore conclude that:

A.) A large portion of the currently-circulating coinage will be turned in for redemption through banks and credit unions to the U.S. Treasury, for credit back to citizens, digitally.

B.) Use of foreign currencies for private domestic transactions will be banned shortly before or concurrently with announcement of the digital currency. (Like the Mafia, governments hate competition.)

B.) Gresham's Law dictates that a large portion of the citizenry will turn in their relatively worthless post-1965 dimes, quarters, Sacagaweas, Suzies, and Presidential Dollars. But many people will wisely hang onto their pennies and nickels, since their base metal value is higher than their face value. And it goes without saying that nearly everyone will continue to hoard their 90% silver pre-1965 coins as well as their 1965-1970 (40% silver) half dollars.

C.) A gray market will immediately spring up in pennies and nickels, for small transactions, and pre-1965 silver coins for larger transactions.

D.) I further predict that both the coinage gray market and vast barter networks will quickly catch on in part because of interest by some Christians who fear that digital currency is The Mark of The Beast, as prophesied in the Revelation of John.

E.) Even though officially discouraged, the coinage-based gray market will not be vigorously prosecuted. Doing so would be politically unpopular. And because the collective value of all of the coinage in circulation is miniscule compared to the ocean of paper dollars, it will be considered a non-issue--something "not worth bothering with."

Here are some numbers to consider (with a snapshot of values as of 11 December, 2011), courtesy of the fine folks at

Description Denomination Metal Value % of Face Value
1909-1982 Cent (95% copper) $0.01 $0.0235320 235.32%
1982-2011 Cent (97.5% zinc) $0.01 $0.0053489 53.48%
1946-2011 Nickel $0.05 $0.0526885 105.37%
1965-2011 Dime $0.10 $0.0198488 19.84%

So, in essence, a nickel is still worth a nickel, but a dime is now just a copper token only worth about 2 cents. This makes it obvious that pennies and nickels are worth retaining, but the larger denomination coins are not.

(By the way, Coinflation also publishes some very useful information about silver coins. Be sure to bookmark those pages and print out reference hard copies of the key tables.)

Take a few minute to re-read my article about stocking up on nickels. With the advent of a cashless economy in mind, it makes even more sense to save your nickels!

Hi Mr. Rawles, 
I am happy to see the additional information to address abscess drainage in a SHTF situation. Thanks to Dr. Prepper for the  drawing salve idea. I did a pub-med search and found the icthammol does have antibiotic properties although I could not find the mechanism for white cell migration to the surface. I know ranchers use this stuff and modern medicine doesn't always have all the answers. Thanks.

Ladydoc is exactly right about using a big enough incision to get wide drainage without going into healthy tissue-very good addition. I also liked the fact she clarified that even if you did not have lidocaine you still need to drain the abscess. Thanks.

As far as packing an abscess, there is plenty of evidence in the new literature that there is no need to pack, it is painful and may actually delay healing. Read: O’Malley et al. Routine packing of simple cutaneous abscesses is painful and probably unnecessary. (Acad Emerg Med 2009;16:470-73.)

There is also new literature to suggest that lidocaine with epinephrine is also safe for those abscesses on fingers or noses, but since I think the prudent thing to do is to find a prepper doctor in the instance you have a finger or facial abscess, I was addressing the the other instances. Read: Plast Reconstr Surg. 2001 Feb;107(2):393-7. Do not use epinephrine in digital blocks: myth or truth?

I know tradition dies hard in medicine, but being a doc in an teaching hospital, I have to keep up with the newest literature or the residents would soon discount my teaching.  I guess this serves to show there is no "one right way" to do things in medicine. - Lonestar Doc


Dear Mr. Rawles,
As an avid young follower of your blog, I would like to comment on the article titled, 'How to drain an abscess'. I am presently a neurosurgery resident in, and my exposure to operating room procedures involving drainage of abscesses makes my advice applicable in this case. I have drained abscesses with various general surgeons and trauma surgeons during my earlier training. In concordance with the well-written and practical article, an abscess may be drained without
the use of local anesthetics.

In fact, the pH of the tissues surrounding an abscess is too low to permit the natural use of local anesthetics in the '-caine' family. For example, for lidocaine to permeate into the axon of the nerve fiber, to block the membrane channel on the axon surface and to halt transmission of the pain fiber (which is the goal of lidocaine), the pH must be high enough (physiologic levels in healthy tissue is adequate) so that lidocaine is in the unprotonated form.

Essentially, infected tissue is acidic, and the form of lidocaine cannot enter the cell membrane and will not help the individual. Draining abscesses in all that I have witnessed where local anesthetic is very painful. The best outcomes I have witnessed for the patient is to limit pain by performing the procedures as quickly as possible. A cruciate incision is all that is necessary, large enough to allow irrigation with saline and self-drainage. Unroofing the abscess is done by most of the surgeons I have assisted to prevent reclosure of the dome of the abscess and recurrence.

Thank You again for your great web site, as well as your books. I have moved from a rural area of upstate New York to Philadelphia for residency, and I can only more agree with you that we live in a vulnerable society. My friends and I have a love for Austrian Economics and with that, we have only been more and more concerned with the state of our currency, the more we learn about our economic practices. Thanks again, Sincerely, - G.M.

Jim Rogers: “The U.S. Federal Reserve Is Lying To Us”

By way of Tamara's View From The Porch blog: Like it or not, the euro is doomed. Tam's comment: "Formerly the province of goldbugs, nationalists, and other assorted doomsayers, predictions of the Euro's imminent demise are going mainstream. This is the inevitable result of letting Arthur Bach and Ebenezer Scrooge share a joint checking account."

An interesting 20 minute interview with Jim Sinclair. He discusses: increasing precious metals market turbulence is looming, MF Global, a key change in bankruptcy laws (that benefits derivatives holders), hypothecation, and a fundamental shift in the safety of securities clearinghouses. Some choice Sinclair snippets: "The market mechanism is broken", he predicts "Quantitative Easing to infinity", and opines: "You don't need [a] major nation invasion to have a Third World War when one takes place every day in the bond market." He also stresses personally holding physical gold and silver. Most importantly, he says: "Take care of yourselves, because nobody else is going to do it for you. Be your own central bank, and be your own clearinghouse."

Items from The Economatrix:

Guns & Gold:  The Trading Strategy For Our Times

Consumer Sentiment Up, Trade Gap Narrows

Europe Has Never Faced Bigger Risk of Exploding--Sarkozy

French Banks Downgraded By Moody's

I deliberately held off on mentioning anything about the "FBI pressures the LDS cannery for lists of customers" brouhaha that was created by Alex Jones, even though I had more than 150 e-mails from readers in the past four days urging me to cover the story. Something about the incident just sounded fishy to me. So now the truth comes out, in SouthernBellePrepper's video blog: Answers on Mormon cannery controversy. (Credit to M.D. Creekmore, over at at The for the link.)

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Life imitates art: Police to test laser that 'blinds rioters'. (Thanks to Morris for the link.)

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I read that Pantry Paratus is currently running special for free shipping on any order over $100.

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Alaska Governor Sean Parnell Proposes $4.9 Million For Emergency Food Caches. (A hat tip to Jason W. for the link.)

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Speaking of Alaska, several readers sent this: Frozen beer helped man trapped in snow drift survive. (Driving anywhere outside of city limits in Alaska without carrying a sleeping bag and other key survival gear is foolhardy! Ditto for the Lower 48, in winter driving conditions.)

"Because all of the large nations in the Eurozone are still suffering from deficits above the supposedly required debt-to-GDP limit of 3%, none of them is in a position to bail out the PIIGS without borrowing even more. The PIIGS' solution -- which is nothing but a stopgap measure -- is for the semi-profligate governments in the North to co-sign on the bank's loans for the totally profligate PIIGS. The banks will lend to the North, and the North will then buy Eurobonds, which do not yet exist and are unconstitutional. The semi-solvent North can delay immediate default by PIIGS by lending them money to pay the banks interest on their
existing debt. No one will pay down principal. Every nation will steadily borrow more. This is Ponzi-scheme finance, and everyone knows it.

The debate is over which profligate nation's signature on the debt will persuade lenders to buy the new debt at low interest rates. The lenders know that these loans will not be repaid. All investors in sovereign debt, from the Great Depression until today, have assumed this. Liquidity is provided by other buyers. If anyone wants to sell his bonds, there supposedly will be buyers. The sellers assume that they will be able pass on the Old Maid: the IOU-fiat-money certificates issued by fiscally profligate, deficit-running governments." - Dr. Gary North

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Spokane was sparkling with light and still bustling when I looked out at it from a downtown building last night. So beautiful in the darkness. My thoughts went out to the hundreds of thousands of little children, women, grandmothers, grandfathers, boys, girls, and men those lights represented. Not just people – persons, each one unique, each with God’s calling on their lives for His purposes. Yet most of them are lost: hopelessly adrift in an empty, frantic, stupid, shallow culture of blindness and conformity and entertainment. Like the people of Jonah’s time they metaphorically don’t know their right hand from their left hand. They’re not so much like sheep anymore these days (I have sheep and know their nature), they’re more like stereotypical lemmings rushing to their mass suicide, in a million different ways.

My heart goes out to them – there, but for the grace of God, go I. There are so many of them. Thankfully, interspersed among them are those who are good, who are strong, who are aware and informed, who can be counted on to rise to the occasion in a crisis. Many of these are already prepared for the spectrum of nation-destroying crises which loom ahead in the mist of time: EMP, pandemic, a New Madrid earthquake, mini-ice age, drought, nuclear terror, persecution and tyranny. And still more – you know the list...

They – like my wife and I – have worked, studied, sacrificed, and planned so that their families will be shielded from the brunt of whatever comes that our sovereign God permits in these last days. Together we preppers are “brothers in arms” as it were, in this exceptional pre-crisis mobilization.
I’ve long pondered what my purpose in these days might be. And I’ve concluded that it’s not enough – for me, at least – to survive merely in order to survive another day. There must be a greater purpose. And so there is.

A few weeks ago our pastor shared this passage that held a vital insight for me: A person once asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘… you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31 (NLT)

Much to my surprise, no matter how preoccupied I become with the many concerns and issues and problems of our day, my heart always comes back to my Creator. I may wander, but He guides me back. I'm drawn irresistibly to him, as the Sun's gravity holds the earth to its course in space. I may not always show it – how I WISH I did – but Jesus has become the center of my existence. And in Him is great strength, and the peace I so desperately need. Most of you know of what I speak. It’s certainly not about what great followers “we” are. It’s about how great HE is and how he captivates our hearts. And in this way we begin to fulfill the “most important” purpose of our lives.

But there is a fundamental second goal – a deep purpose worth living – and dying – for: to “love our neighbors.” Unfortunately, the task of preparing for an End-of-The-World-As-We-Know-It catastrophe is well nigh overwhelming, particularly at the beginning. Prepping can easily become so intensely focused on studying/training/purchasing for self- and family-preservation, and it’s so intrinsically defensive, that we lose all perspective. And as “survival” becomes everything, so we slowly begin to forget that the path of satisfaction and joy, healing of our own hearts’ wounds and an enriching sense of purpose – those things we long for and work so hard for – is found in serving others.

And, yes, it’s just hard to think charitably about the very ones who might become in desperation the dreaded Golden Horde and prey on those we love. “It’s their own fault, they could have gotten informed, they do not deserve our help, they played while we prepared, they are fools…” – it’s all, tragically, true. But this is what the virtues of mercy and pity and compassion are all about! Tragedy and calamity and danger do not negate the simple truth of this second “most important commandment.”

This is easier to consider if our preps are well along. But even if we are in the “panic phase,” realizing we’ve begun “too late” to prep, we can still do something now. We need not wait until all of our own plans are totally complete before we consider others. It’s true, that we cannot save them all. We just can’t. But can we really just do nothing and hunker down while the world goes mad around us? We turn our backs on them today only at our own peril and loss. Yes, certainly, our families come first, then the local survival community – our team, our friends. Yes, we must avoid giving potential adversaries information about our capabilities and resources that they might take advantage of (i.e., OPSEC), and plan for a strong defense if and when that time comes, and all those other wise things.

OPSEC is an important principle, but it cannot be the most important factor. There is always risk (sometimes unforeseen risk), in everything we do and not do. I dare say there are ways to help others that would not risk OPSEC at all. It's really a continuum, from zero risk right up to sacrificing oneself for a reasonable, worthy cause. Some risks are worth taking.
Even while we work to protect our own we can be reaching out to make a difference. If we don’t, who will? You know that answer.

This calls for bold and daring action. We can prepare and teach and warn and equip in a hundred creative, savvy ways. Photocopy articles to share, “jump start” the widow’s preps with rice and beans and wheat (don’t forget the diatomaceous earth!), and make plans with other preppers how we might work together to feed and rescue our unprepared neighbors.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36 (NLT)

Like the four intrepid Bielski brothers in WWII Poland who saved 1,236 Jews from death at Hitler’s hand, our call, our purpose in this regard, is to “save as many as we can.” And the strategy and scope of that will be different for each of us! Never forget that God has given us each unique skills and resources and station in life for a purpose.
Pray about it, and watch for the opportunities. Find a way. Save as many as you can.

Once there was a great storm that washed thousands of starfish up onshore. As an old man walked the beach he saw a young boy picking up stranded starfish and quickly returning them to the sea.
The man approached the boy and said, “What are you doing? The sun is rising. What difference does it make? They're all going to die anyway.” As the boy rose from gently tossing back yet another starfish he said, “I made a difference to THAT one…”

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have read your five page article Mass Inflation Ahead - - Save Your Nickels.  You stated that: "...should Uncle Sam decide to devaluate our present fiat currency, holders of piles of nickels will typically make them unexpected beneficiaries of a 10X, 100X or even 1,000X gain of the purchasing power of their coins."  You went further to say that "Governments just assume that most citizens just have a couple of pocketfuls of coins at any given time.  So if a currency swap were to happen while you are sitting on a big pile of nickels, then you would make a handsome profit.   To 'cash in', one could merely spend his saved nickels in the new currency regime."
I happen to be sitting on a bunch of brilliant circulated post-1964 quarters and new dollars (Sacagawea and Presidential) purchased directly from the U.S. Mint for numismatic investing purposes.  Will I equally benefit from a currency swap as well or that just applies to nickels or other coins whose base metal contents make it worth more than its face value?   Would my survival techniques and instincts be better served  if I convert these coin holdings and buy nickels or 90% silver coins?  Thank you! - Nestor

JWR Replies: You only have two ways to gain with your quarters and "Golden Dollars": numismatically (which is marginal, unless they are Mint State 69+ uncirculated) and in the event of a formal currency swap. (Dropping one or two zeroes from the dollar.)

The problem is that the base metal value of most post-1964 coinage other than pennies and nickels is pitiful.  According to, a quarter's base metal is worth 19.84% of its face value while a "Golden Dollar" is only worth 6.12% of its face value. But nickels are already worth more than their face value (presently 105.34%), so you stand to gain even if there isn't a currency revaluation. Inflation--whether gradual or sharp--in the long term will make the currently-circulating nickels worth multiples of their face value. So nickels have three different avenues for appreciating value.

I do indeed recommend trading in your post-1964 quarters and dollar coins for boxes of nickels or for a smaller quantity of pre-1965 silver quarters. Ideally, you should have some of both.

Note that because of the laborious sorting required, I do not recommend stockpiling pre-1982 pennies. That, to my mind, is an exercise suitable only for retirees that have a lot of time on their hands, strong backs, and lots of secure storage space. (Pennies are much more bulky than nickels, per dollar invested.)

FWIW, I predict that a newspaper headline in 2013 or 2014 will read: "Where Have All The Nickels Gone?" Once a substantial portion of our populace realizes their relative value, nickels will be swept out of circulation in just a few months. It takes the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) to catch on to these changes. But Gresham's Law is inescapable. Get your nickels now, before the inevitable Greshamization occurs. I don't casually throw around terms like "inescapable", "inevitable", and "inexorable". With Federal indebtedness spiking, and expected to continue to spike, mass inflation cannot be avoided. (They certainly can't tax their way out of the debt. The National Debt is now $15.1 trillion, and your family's share is about $659,000.)

Dear Mr. Rawles:
A few comments, in no particular order, regarding the recent article “How to Drain an Abscess, by Lonestar Doc”.
Lonestar Doc is absolutely correct that an incision and drainage (I&D) should be handled by someone with the appropriate training and experience to perform the procedure.  However if you are in a situation where you as a non-medical person need to drain an abscess, such as described by Lonestar Doc, it is important to proceed with the I&D whether you have Lidocaine for anesthesia or not.  The pain of an I&D without anesthesia does not outweigh the need to drain the infection, which in the most extreme circumstance could be life-threatening. 
If you do have Lidocaine on hand, look to see if you have Lidocaine with epinephrine or plain Lidocaine (no epinephrine).  The bottle will be clearly labeled as “with epinephrine” and the label will usually be red.  Lidocaine with epinephrine must not be used on small digits and body parts, usually taught to medical students as the rhyme “fingers, toes; ears and nose”.  The epinephrine constricts the small arterial blood vessels and decreases bleeding but in these small areas it can decrease blood supply enough that the area dies. 
If an abscess is larger in diameter than 5 cm (about 2-½ inches) my surgeons and wound care consultants will still leave a loose packing of gauze, changing it every 1-2 days.  Leave a small amount of the gauze sticking up out of the incision so you can grab it for removal.  Use smaller amounts of gauze every time the packing is changed to allow for healing from the inside out.  Packing the site too tightly causes pressure on the underlying tissues which may cause it to die. [Necrosis.] Use loose packing. 
If an abscess has already started to drain but still feels fluctuant or “squishy” you may need to make an incision to provide better drainage of the pus.  The process is the same; just incorporate the draining site in the incision since that’s where the pus is already concentrated. 
When making the incision, you don’t have to bury to entire scalpel blade and handle in the abscess.  A small stab and then draw the blade through the skin to make the cut will help to keep the blade out of deeper tissues.  Make the incision long enough to allow good drainage from the abscess without leaving a hole the size of the Grand Canyon.  If you have an abscess 4 cm in diameter, a tiny puncture wound the size of a pencil lead isn’t going to give you enough drainage.  If you make the incision too big you will get into normal tissue and have a lot of unnecessary bleeding and tissue damage.  Try to make the incision along the skin lines to help with healing of the incision site.  To find the skin lines, gently pinch up about 1-2 inches of skin.  Whichever way the skin makes folds is the way the skin lines run. 

If you don’t have a scalpel, then a #11 X-Acto knife with a clean blade will work.  The blade doesn’t need to be perfectly sterile (you are cutting into a pocket of pus after all) but it should be as clean as you can make it. 
Lastly, as with most medical problems, prevention is more desirable than treatment.  Good hand washing, don’t pick your nose and wash your body regularly with soap are all important strategies in avoiding abscesses. - Ladydoc

Another great use for Gentian Violet is non-surgical treatment of onychocryptosis, the twenty-five cent word for ingrown toenails. I discovered this old treatment one bored night on Emergency Room call at an Indian reservation hospital, flipping through some hundred year old surgical textbook.

Just paint the nail folds and nail liberally. If antibiotics available, and they weren't when the book was written, I usually use some erythromycin.

The Gentian Violet desiccates the nail fold and toughens it, treating the ingrown nail. While it's not a 100% cure, it works well enough I still use it in my practice. I tell the patient to return when the Gentian Violet has worn off. Rarely do they need further treatment. - Dr. John in Arizona

F.J. suggested this: How To Make A Minnow Trap Out Of Soda Bottles

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Yishai sent this news from England: Thousands of homes without power on coldest day of winter

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Important safety tip: Keep shooting until your opponent is no longer a threat! Chilling 911 tapes illustrate woman shooting home invasion suspect

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Iran Releases Video of Captured US Drone Plane. (BTW, you gotta love their 1980s-style trucker's hats. They look like something out of Smokey and the Bandits Revolutionary Guards.)

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Federal judge decides who is an ‘authorized journalist’—and who is not. This case sets a bad precedent on the legitimacy of bloggers and other journalists that aren't mainstream.

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Declan McCullagh reports: DHS abruptly abandons copyright seizure of hip-hop blog. The implications of these government policies go far beyond music.

"All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In the past Americans expected to be prepared.  Whether it was helping to raise a barn, saving seed for the next spring planting, or being part of the local militia, it was expected that you would be ready.  Today we have become increasingly more dependant on others to do such things for us.  Many people wonder if we need to know how to save food, cut wood or light an oil lamp.

If you are reading this you are probably fully aware of the value of preparedness, but maybe someone among your friends, family or neighbors needs convincing.  And convincing these folks is important because they are the ones who will show up at your door when things go wrong. While preparedness has gained vastly more acceptance than it had twenty years ago, some audiences will still be resistant to simple ideas that seem like common sense to most of us. Why the resistance?  Why is it so hard for some to see that it’s a good idea to be prepared?  It’s all in the perception.


If you are reading this, sitting in your bunker while thumbing rounds into AK mags, you probably need to get out more, and more importantly you are part of the problem rather than the solution.  The common perception of the “survivalist” is of the local nut case hoarding guns, ammo and food.  The guy is probably out of shape and doesn’t have much of a plan beyond hoarding guns, ammo and food.  He just sits there fantasizing about the day when those sneaky Russians finally push the button, or the rascally Chinese parachute onto the streets of Hometown USA.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for bunkers, for topping off the AK mags, for managing food stocks and ammunition stores and really a few extra pounds won’t hurt if you maintain some type of fitness.  So what is wrong with the image as often perceived?

First off, if you are living in a bunker mentality, get out of it.  It’s not good for you or anyone around you.  Life is short and it can happen without you.  As crazy as the world is today, if you don’t get out and enjoy what you can while you can, you may be depriving your family and yourself of healthy and enriching experiences.

The other common misperception is that we are all doing this just for a The End Of The World As We Know Ia (TEOTWAWKI) event.  "Tea-ought-wah-ki" has kind of a Native American sound to its.  It is that cataclysmic event that sends people spinning into the bunker mentality, and it is the least likely thing to happen.           

The fact is that preparedness should cover a vast spectrum of eventualities.  From the weekend power failure to the local tornado to the post apocalyptic.  If all we ever talk about is a Mad Max existence, we will be marginalized and discounted by the very people we may be trying to reach, and rightly so.

We are missing out on the opportunity to point out that preparedness is for that winter storm that paralyzes the city.  Preparedness is for that unexpected job loss.  You have a year supply of food and some cash saved up, you can get through until you get back on track.  Preparedness should simply make life’s little hiccups more palatable, make regional disasters endurable and make cataclysm survivable.

Coming on too strong is a common mistake in trying to convince people to prepare.  Showing them what preparedness is good for is more convincing; let the state of the world do the rest of your talking.  

Politics can be a part of coming on too strong.  I find it easy to get worked up into a rabid frothing frenzy regarding today’s political environment.  It doesn’t help your position to do this and frankly, it is largely irrelevant.  Left or Right of the political spectrum has nothing to do with being prepared.  Being prepared and self-sufficient can, and should be apolitical.  Being prepared is about what is within your realm of control.


Look in the mirror.  Are you wearing an ACU boonie cap, 5.11 vest and woodland BDU pants?  Aside from the fashion faux pas of mixing camo patterns, what’s wrong with this picture?  Save the camo for your time in the woods, or don’t buy it at all, that stuff can be expensive and over rated.  If you are having a discussion with a relative that just doesn’t quite get it yet the camo/military/contractor clothing puts up a wall between you and a potentially receptive audience.   I’m not saying you need to go tie-dyed and dreadlocks to get through to people, I’m just saying that some people pay a lot of attention to what you are wearing and what you are wearing may influence how you are perceived and even how you portray yourself.  Relax.  Go with the casual regional norm.  Go gray, as that is an important survival skill too.

Physical Fitness

Let me step back a bit about the earlier overweight remark.  Having a few extra pounds may be of some benefit in a survival event.  Being too obese to get out of your own way, never will.  Physical fitness may be one of the most easily overlooked elements of preparation.  Again, this runs the full spectrum.  From being fit enough to take a chainsaw to that tree that is blocking the driveway after the storm to being able walk several miles at a time with a pack because that is suddenly your world.

Physical fitness pays off in how you present preparedness. You don’t need to be a svelte triathlete for me to listen to you about preparedness. If, however, you are sitting there guzzling beer and eating pizza out of the box propped up on your gut telling me what you’re going to do during the apocalypse, yeah, I’ll probably discount whatever you have to say, even if its valid.  Is that right? Is that fair?  Nope, that’s life.  I’m not as good a person as I would like to be, the world’s not as good a place as I would like it to be either.  Another overlooked element to preparedness is accepting the world for what it is rather than what we want it to be.


Operational Security (OPSEC) while perhaps being overused in preparedness circles, is important.  It means keeping information about your preparations and plans closely guarded.  OPSEC is a term better suited to our military brethren, discretion is all we need.  Be careful who you tell what, and don’t tell anyone everything.  The point of this piece is that we need to get the word out on preparedness, and we need to do that in a way that gets people interested and engaged.  We don’t want to go around spilling our guts to everyone, that puts up that wall too.  The benefits of getting people interested in being prepared is that if everyone is striving for a level of self sufficiency then there are fewer we have to look out for or worry about when things get worse.  Some people will always look for the path of least resistance and that will mean instead of prepping, their only plan is to show up on your doorstep.  So don’t detail any of your plans or preps with anyone outside your most immediate circle of trust.  It has been my experience that there are some men you can trust with your money, some men you can trust with your wife and some you can trust with your life, but it is rare that you can trust one man with all three.  If you can, he is in your immediate circle of trust.  (I find I have a very small circle.)

Publicly Using Term Like OPSEC
As I said, OPSEC is a term probably best left to our esteemed military brethren.  Another quick way to put that wall up when trying to get the word out about preparedness is to try to sound too “tactical”.  Leave the military jargon to the military, even if you were in the military.  Most often, by trying to sound like a “Tier 1 Operator” you just wind up sounding a lot like a moron.  Most “Tier 1 Operators” I know don’t even sound like that (for some reason they tend to talk more like laid back surfers).  Throwing a bunch of military terminology into a conversation can have the same effect on the perception as throwing a bunch of Spanish words in when you don’t speak Spanish. 

Your language, your appearance and your knowledge all contribute to your legitimacy on any topic and preparedness is no different.  To get the word out on practical preparedness, you have to come across as a legitimate authority on the subject, not a bunker dwelling moron.

Preparedness isn’t a military or political endeavor.  Preparedness is a patriotic and moral obligation.  Preparedness is the embodiment of the rugged individualism that has always made America great and it is becoming a lost art.  We have to save it and the only way to save it is to spread the word effectively.  Remember that the reality is that what you are saying is only important if you can get yourself heard convincingly.  Doing our part to promote preparedness is doing our part to help bolster our family, to help steady our community and help save our country. 

While much has been written about the essentials of survival (emergency shelter, fire-making, water purification, defense, hunting, bug-out-bags, etc.), few survival experts have focused on ideas and tactics for maintaining morale and good mental health in a stressful and possibly sustained emergency situation.  This essay is intended to arm the reader, figuratively speaking, with some tools for helping people stay positive and energized while under stress.  These tips and ideas will be useful for any group, whether or not it includes children, or an individual.  The games are not my inventions; rather, I’ve picked them up over the years from work at camps and with team building groups.

For your kit:           

  • Consider including a travel chess set; you can make or purchase an inexpensive vinyl roll-up chess board and plastic pieces that add negligible weight or bulk to your bug-out-bag but can provide endless hours of mentally stimulating and fun activity, at the same time developing and honing strategic thinking skills.
  • A deck of cards with instruction sheet for different games.
  • A simple rubber ball (remember those solid pink ones from when you were a kid?)  The repetitive motion of rhythmic bouncing against a wall can be meditative; a ball is all you need to play a competitive game of handball with a friend.  This item may have other survival uses as well (to get a line up into a tree, perhaps?)\
  • A compact book of stories that can be read and re-read.  Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books is delightful for adults and for kids and makes for a great read-aloud; readers can create fun voices for the different animal characters or put on short plays to tell the stories.

Games for when you have room to run around and can make noise:

  • Everybody’s It – in this energizing tag game that gets everybody laughing, simply determine boundaries and start playing!  Every person is “it” and can tag anyone else; once tagged, a player is out and must sit or crouch where they are.  A fun twist is to let out players continue in the game; they can tag others, as long as they don’t move from their position.  The last person standing is the winner.
  • Elbow Tag - everyone finds a partner and they stand together with elbows linked. Each pair spreads out throughout the playing area. The leader picks one pair to be the first players involved in the chase; one is the runner and the other is the chaser. If the chaser catches the runner, they switch roles. If the runner chooses, they can hook elbows on any end of the any pairs standing in the playing area. When this happens, the person in the pair who has not been hooked onto must run and become the new runner. Play this game until people get tired or bored; there is no winner or losers.

  • Snake Tag - start out with three to four in a group. Try to get as many groups as possible and leave a person as "it". Have the members of each group attach together by holding onto the waist of the person in front of them to form a snake. The person in front is the head and the person in back is the tail. To start, the person that is "it" must catch the tail of one of the snakes and attached to it. If he is successful, the head must come off and he is now "it". You are to twist and turn your snake to keep from losing your head.

  • Eye Contact Partner Tag (Good for indoors) - pair up players. During the game the only person that you can tag is your partner.  For the tag, you must make eye contact with your partner.  All players must keep their eyes open (except for the occasional blink) and at shoulder-head level during play (so no looking up in the sky or down at the ground). Most non-“it” players will make eye contact with other non-“it” players as to avoid looking at their partner. For a better tag ratio, limit eye contact with any other player to 5 seconds.  Before starting make sure everyone understands the boundary area – the smaller the better (keep it safe). Then ask each pair to decide who will be “it” first. All the “it”s gather in the middle of the playing area. (At this time the non-“it”  players are looking for some sort of hiding advantage within the playing area.) When the facilitator says “go”, the “it”s go off to find and make eye contact with their partners. Once the tag is made the new “it” must turn around three times before going after his or her partner for the tag-back.

Games that don’t involve running around:

  • Common Links - divide the players into 3 or 4 groups. Each group has to come up with 5-10 facts that are common to everyone in the group (and write them down?). After about 5 minutes, gather all the groups together and share the 5-10 facts. For each fact that the group has that no other group has, they get a point. So if two groups had "have a dog" they wouldn't get a point for that. The team with the most points wins.
  • Sing Down - split group into teams of 3-5 (they’ll need pen and paper) and direct them to list as many songs that include a given word (e.g. “blue”) in the title or lyrics.  After about 5 minutes, call time; they may not add any more songs to their lists.  In turn, each team must sing part of one of their songs.  Teams may not repeat songs that have already been sung; if they do so, they are out.  The winning team is the last to have a song remaining on their list.

  • Graveyard - One person is chosen to be the gatekeeper. Everyone else lies down on the ground; after the countdown from 10, no one can move. The gatekeeper has to catch people moving to get them out. Once a person is out they can help the gatekeeper try to get other people out. The gatekeeper cannot touch anyone but can say funny things to get people to move or laugh.
  • Rhythm Maker – the group should sit down cross-legged on the floor in a large circle; the rhythm maker's job is to change the rhythm of the group. A volunteer leaves the room and later comes back into the middle of the circle to guess who the rhythm maker is. Make sure the group understands that they do not want to be obvious about who the rhythm maker is. The person guessing gets three chances to guess whom the one changing the group’s rhythm is. If she guesses correctly, she gets to choose who the next rhythm maker is after the previous rhythm maker leaves the room to get ready to guess. Therefore, rhythm maker becomes the one who guesses, the one who guessed becomes the one who chooses the next rhythm maker unless they could not guess correctly, then they have to be the security guard. (The one who makes sure the person who is going to guess does not peek).

Ongoing games:

  • Stinky fish – the group has a clothesline or other clip, which becomes the undesirable “stinky fish.”  The object is to attach the “stinky fish” to a player’s person (not their pack or any item they are carrying) without them noticing.  Now they are “it” or the “stinky fish” and have to find an unwitting player to which they can attach the clip.  This game can go on until the “stinky fish” is lost; you’d be surprised how long a group might keep it going.
  • Who’s Got the Fruit? – each player chooses the name of a fruit; each fruit may be claimed by only one player.  This is a virtual tag game; whoever has “got the fruit” is “it.”  The way that the person starting the game (or whoever is “it” at any point during the game) passes off the fruit is by saying the name of a player’s fruit three times in succession without being blocked; a targeted player blocks an attack by interrupting the sequence of 3 by saying the name of the fruit him or herself.  For example, if I have “got the fruit” and want to get rid of it, and one of my fellow players is “apple”, I might say “apple apple apple”, or I might more casually work the word into conversation:  “I sure miss apple pie…apple apple!”

Other ideas and resources:

A quick internet search using the terms “minute mysteries” or “brain teasers”  will find countless activities you can add to your repertoire.  Crossword puzzle or Sudoku books would also be welcome in many a survival camp.  You could plan calisthenics or stretching as a group, using yoga cards or your own memories, to get people together and focused on feeling good.  Most activities can be made into games or friendly competitions with the right attitude; it goes without saying that a positive attitude and orientation towards collaboration may be the most crucial tools in your survival toolkit.  The best thing about these activities is that you don’t have to wait for a survival situation to use them!

James Wesley:

At a slide show about extreme trekking in the tropics, I asked the speaker what they used as a topical antibiotic and antifungal medicine while on the expedition.  The speaker said they relied on Gentian Blue, an antibiotic that was used in World War I and II.

Gentian Blue (or Crystal Violet) is used as a clothing dye.  The early chemical industry put a big emphasis on the development of dyes. In the race to discover the first antibiotics, every chemical on the shelf was tested, and Gentian Blue was found to have powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitical properties. 

Gentian Blue is still used to treat bacterial and fungal skin infections and thrush (yeast) infections of the mouth. It might be useful for the treatment of drug resistant Staph infections.  It is not used for the treatment of deep wounds because it can permanently tattoo the tissue, but in a survival situation this might not be an issue. It will also indelibly stain cloth, so it should be handled with care. Gentian Blue is considered nontoxic enough for oral use (and it has been used to treat VD). It is not approved for internal  use because of possible cancer risks, but if I were suffering from gangrene, I would not let that worry me.

Gentian Blue used to be available on the pharmacy shelf back with the bottles of iodine. 2% Gentian Violet Solution can also be ordered from - Greg S.

I am writing about a topic that has bothered me for some time: Why are preppers so hatefully persecuted? We know from the Bible that this is not a new phenomenon, as Noah was severely persecuted for the preparations God ordered him to make. Could you please put it out to your readers?

Thank you very much for your time, - Drew in Idaho

JWR Replies: Envy is a sin that is all too common. That is just part of living in a sinful, fallen world. Those who are unprepared often feel both envy and guilt for not providing for their own families. Instead of correcting this fault in themselves, they instead lash out at those that have prepared. This is one reason why the details of our preparations should be kept private. If you aren't circumspect, then you might become the target of an angry mob, in a disaster.

Wind turbine explodes as the worst storm for 15 years batters Northern Britain with hurricane-force gusts of up to 165mph

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Kevin S. suggested this: MakeUseOf Cheat Sheets

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Some Nanny State news from formerly Jolly Olde England: Playground stripped bare by council jobsworths after play equipment falls foul of EU health and safety rules.

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And meanwhile in Denmark: Charge for cash transactions proposed. (Thanks to Jeff H. for the link.)

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The deadline for Safecastle's Freedom Awards contest--the new Media recognition program in the area of survivalism and preparedness is December 31, 2011. Your entries to SurvivalBlog's ongoing writing contest also qualify for the judging in this award.

"A wise man's heart [is] at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.
Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth [him], and he saith to every one [that] he [is] a fool.
If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.
There is an evil [which] I have seen under the sun, as an error [which] proceedeth from the ruler:
Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place." - Ecclesiastes 10:2-6 (KJV)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Nearly everyone into prepping have a bug out bag (BOB) the contents vary from person to person, but mainly they allow the carrier to have what they think they will need to survive at least 72 hours. If needed they will provide food, water, shelter, perhaps some medical items, and maybe some self defense items, in the interim of waiting for help  or getting to another location.

The  BOB is usually limited to a limited armed response, and anyone that has to Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) would be better served in getting loaded and moving, rather than finishing the preparations such as loading magazines, finding spare batteries for tactical lights, and so forth. Also if you are bailing out with only your BOB you are pretty limited in responding to a threat, and rather than try to fit everything in one big bag, it is easier to move with two smaller bags.

While avoiding any type of confrontation is the best bet that cannot be guaranteed if one is in a situation that means they have to bail now, they have no time to pack or load a vehicle, and that everything has gotten pretty far out of hand, pretty fast. It is no longer the brown stuff is about to hit the fan, but it is coming like a cyclone right at you. It is you ether were not paying attention, or something delayed your departure.

About a year ago, I realized that for me to field a loaded rifle against a threat would take 5-to-15 minutes. The rifles were in the safe downstairs, and all of the magazines and ammunition were upstairs, pretty much the same story for the shotguns. I would have to get the safe open grab a rifle, run upstairs find magazines and the ammo and load the magazines. Everything was organized and secure in case I needed it, or so I thought. It was in fact too secure.

I first got the idea of an Armed Response Kit (ARK) from retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, during one of his Bulletproof Mind seminars.  In responding to school killers (He refuses to use the term shooters) officers were responding with only three magazines for their service weapon, and in a stand up confrontation would be forced to leave the engagement, due to running out of ammunition, The school resource officer at Columbine had to disengage as he had no reloads for his J-frame revolver, and as another officer inside kept the killers penned in the library, firing approx. 40 rounds before he had to pull out. As the Colonel says one man with a rifle in the first five minutes has more value than 100 men with rifles two hours later.

He suggested a small “go” bag that officers could grab from their cruisers on the way in, loaded with extra magazines and ammo. In other words a go to war bag, no
fumbling trying to find or load magazines, it s pre loaded and ready to go.

So this year I began working on my ARK, and looking at others, even semi commercial units being sold on the internet. I have set up in my opinion the ultimate ARK.
The mission of the Armed Response Kit is nothing more than being prepared for sustained battle, it is in fact a war bag, and nothing else, if you want something else put that in your BOB. Mine is modeled after those designed for going after active shooter killers. The key here is to have two bags set up, one the BOB to sustain life for a period of time from 3 to perhaps 7 days, and the ARK to defend that life with.

The first item to consider was the bag, and I looked at a lot of them, Maxpedition, 5:11 etc, and settled on the Drago Ambidextrous Shoulder bag, the reason I choose this bag is twofold  the first being the bag has a number of MOLLE straps to add extra items, and second when I open the main compartment the lid opens away from my  body, which mean it does not get in the way when accessing items from the bag., such as reloads. My second choice was the  NC Star First Responder Bag, it is a bit smaller, and does not appear to be as robust as the Drago.  On the outside of the bag using the MOLLE system I attached two pistol magazine pouches, one AR-15 magazine pouch with a 30 round AR-15 magazine and a Condor Rip away EMT bag, filled with trauma care items, If people are encountered and are wounded I can literally tear the bag off and give it to them to perform Point of Wound Care, or someone else to provide care.  On the shoulder strap itself I affixed a Blackhawk Flashlight carrier, and carry a Hellfighter X-15 Light, This light puts out 150 lumens, and has carbide spikes to break windows, or faces. The last item on the outside is a mini Ka-Bar resting under the EMT bag. Now, moving into the interior of the bag, there is a Pistol pocket at the rear, inside rests a spare 1911, Colt Commander in 9mm, my carry gun is an Wilson Combat CQB 1911 in 9mm. So the same magazines work in both guns, as a note my back up gun is a Para-USA Carry 9, so the larger magazines also fit this gun--they just stick out a bit.

In regards to carry, my primary is the Wilson Combat CQB 1911, 2 spare magazines, 2 Boker knives, one on the right side, and one on the left,  a Surefire Defender flashlight, and a mini baton, when going to town the Para Carry 9 is added to front left pants pocket. When I go to the city I add two magazines, the ARK and the Colt Carbine.

Moving to the main compartment I have 6 additional 30 round AR magazines,  one Dyna Stopper compression bandage, one Military compression bandage, one Israeli Combat Bandage, and a CAT, a pair of 5:11 gloves, and a Surefire flashlight.

The lid compartment holds two 20-round AR-15 magazines, the front pouch hold two carabineers,  and a 10 foot nylon drag strap. (If someone is wounded, and in the danger zone, I use the strap to drag them to safety.) The front pouch also holds 25 feet of paracord, a Gerber FAST knife,  a multi-tool, and a spring-loaded center punch, and a Sharpie marker. In the water carrier is bottled water.

The carabineers and drag strap can be used to pull a wounded person to safety, or used to secure a door, the para cord can be used to open a door you think might be booby trapped, the center punch can be used to break glass, and the sharpie can be used to mark cleared areas. Now fully loaded it does weigh nearly 20 lbs,  but I have nearly 250 rounds of rifle ammo and 30 rounds of pistol ammo, and a spare gun, when going to battle you will near regret having too much ammo.

I keep this bag loaded and ready to go at all times, along with a Colt 6520 LE lightweight carbine, it has a 16 inch barrel, and that is the shortest I recommend. Due to the requirements of the NFA, 16 inches is the shortest legal length for civilian rifle barrels. And while 14.5 and even 11 inch barrels are out there, [except as registered SBRs in the United Sates] they have flash hiders welded to them, so you have the same length, with lower performance, as powder is still burning after the bullet exits the barrel.

I can be ready to roll in less than 30 seconds, even in the middle of the night I can simply grab this bag and be ready to respond. When I go to change out the ammo, I load another set of magazines and replace the ones in the bag with a fresh load.

Of course in setting up an ARK, like a BOB you can customize it to fit your needs, in mine you may see redundancy, but I’m a true believer in Murray on the battlefield, guns break and malfunction, knives break , or are lost. Again I find the weight to be comforting rather than a burden.

If a shotgun is your preference you could dump shells in the main compartment, but to me the Condor Shotgun Pouch makes more sense, it holds 25 rounds in loops, so there would be no fumbling with shells., and can be loaded in such a way you could have your pick of slugs or buckshot, and will attach via the MOLLE system.

The same setup could be done with a tactical vest, and would be more comfortable to carry, but the vest might take time to adjust depending on the season, weather it is summer or winter I simply throw the strap of the bag over my should and go.

You may have to stand and fight before, or during a G.O.O.D. trip be ready, with an ARK.

As a regular SurvivalBlog reader and a prepper, I would like to say western Nebraska is as close to the American Redoubt without being there. I have considered the reasons you have not include Nebraska, and though they are valid for eastern and central Nebraska, I believe if you stick to the western section, the Platte River Valley and the Sand Hills offer an attractive option.

The main things I find appealing, inexpensive fertile crop land, good plentiful clean water, a plethora of wildlife (Elk, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, and Turkey) great fishing holes everywhere, and few people per square mile. Having relocated here from western Montana, I discovered many folks are a hardy lot, and for the most part rugged individualists.
I started building my local retreat in 2001; I purchased five acres of pasture land with a tree belt and a shallow well for watering critters. The cost was $20,000. I have it pretty well established, and was getting settled in to ride out the coming storm. In September, on an outing to view some merchandise offered in a classified, I stumbled on an opportunity to good to pass up. I ended up negotiating for a small 40 acre farm (that includes 5 acres of woods) with an old propane heated 5-bedroom farmhouse, a 40' x 60' steel “Chief” building with concrete, electrical and water. The place is all hog wire fenced, broken into different size parcels, with a corral, all steel fenced with chute and 3 heated water bunks. It has a nice 30' x 40' wood barn, a 6-stall horse enclosed stable with tack room, two hay barns, a chicken coop with run, a rabbit hutch with run, out house, garden shed, and full water rights off the North Platte River. I ended paying less than $200,000 with 3.75% 30 year financing, it was an affordable option.

After living three years debt free it was difficult to jump back in to debt, but we have rented the new place on a short term month to month agreement, and it covers the payment. We plan on hammering the mortgage hard and having it paid off three years, with the plan of building a newer “off grid” home and selling the current “off grid” home by 2015. Since it is 15 minutes from our current home, we believe worst case scenario, we can be on the place and make it work, if need be.

These types of deals are out here, and Nebraska has a low unemployment rate, so if you want to work there are jobs to be had. The biggest negative I see and feel every year, is the tax rate. Though I don’t think there are too many more years it will be a huge issue. When the wheels come off the applecart, most “revenuers” will probably be wary of old “gun totin farm folk”.  I just wanted to give your readers a bit of  ”Husker” perspective. By the by, two other things I find advantages to Nebraska over Montana, are the severity and length of the winters, and the length of the growing season. My gardens produce earlier and longer, and as Nebraska is the number two cattle producing state, fertilizer is readily available, in bulk and at the local cafe.

In closing, I finished "Survivors"  (and loved "Patriots") and have passed it on to family members--folks that I still hope to bring along as time permits. I sometimes feel like a lone voice in the wilderness of complacency, but I keep plodding along aware of the normalcy bias, and hope for the best. Keep the faith! - Scooter in Nebraska

Mr Rawles,
The letter from Lonestar Doc about skin abscesses is both appropriate and essential. I would like to add a few points that may not have been clear.

1. Never squeeze (pinching between fingers with force) an abscess trying to get it to pop (remember your mother's admonishments about pimples?) Squeezing may be successful in getting pus to come out, but you force the bacteria and toxins into deeper tissues and possibly blood vessels which may cause distant secondary infections. In certain areas like the face, it could be a lethal complication. If an area seems to be draining, Gently push ("palpate") down on either side of the area - if more fluid drains then continue to use other conservative methods or get definitive drainage.

2. If an area is red and hard, but not yet full of fluid ("fluctuant") and if the origin is bacterial, it will become an abscess without treatment, whether antibiotics or drainage. But if there's nothing to drain yet, what do you do? Go ask your grandparents - in drug stores of the past a staple item was "drawing salve" - something that you smeared on the affected area and cover with a bandage. After a few days the area would drain pus, relieving the problem. Medically, what is occurring is that the white cells in the area are being encouraged to migrate to the surface where the salve is applied, liquefying and thinning out the overlying skin until the area can drain naturally. This prevents the abscess from extending into deeper tissues with all the associated risk. Drawing salves are over the counter and can still be found today or ordered by the pharmacist. They have names like coal tar salve, homeopathic drawing salve, and a brand name is Ichthammol Drawing Salve Ointment, available on

3. Hot compresses - a tried and true method for treating infections in the skin, simply take folded cloths in hot, but not boiling, water and apply them to the area. When the cloth becomes room temperature, place a fresh one. The hot, moist cloth increases blood flow and again encourages the white cells to get to the surface instead of deeper, and the abscess will drain with time and patience.

Abscesses are serious business even today, and before the antibiotic era accounted for significant amounts of deaths and morbidity; in short, an untreated scratch could literally kill you, if the infection migrated to the vital organs. With careful attention to keeping clean and not ignoring the early signs you will improve your chances significantly. - Doctor Prepper

Grace H. pointed me to a wonderful mapping site for soil surveys.  This is an ideal tool for anyone researching retreat locales. Just type in a locale name. 

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I was doing some web wandering and found an interesting piece: Former “Seasteaders” Come Ashore To Start Libertarian Utopias In Honduran Jungle. And from there, I found a link to this fascinating page: A Map Of Where All 7 Billion Humans Are Cramming Together. Note that the dot sizing used is counterintuitive--the larger the dots, the fewer people. (This illustration certainly adds credence to my exhortation to Go West when choosing retreat locales.)

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Emergency Essentials is again running their Holiday Giveaways. The current prize is a Katadyn Hiker Microfilter. All giveaway entries will be eligible for the Grand Prize - their "Traditional 1200" One Year Storage Food Supply.

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For those that bemoan the lack of affordable handguns, SurvivalBlog's Mike Williamson pointed out a great deal on Kel-Tec PF-9 (9 millimeter) handguns being offered by Cheaper Than Dirt, with your choice of gray or black grips. Yes, this design has a single-stack magazine, but that makes the gun very slim and concealable. Disclaimer: Cheaper Than Dirt is a SurvivalBlog advertiser, but they did not solicit this mention.

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Over at the Paratus Familia blog: Operation Organization. (This was posted coincidentally with a reorganization of all of our medical supplies and vitamin supplements, here at the Rawles Ranch, with the assistance of a friend (and fellow blogger) who shall remain nameless. If you are like me and have been prepping for decades, it is easy to lose track of what you have. The only proper way to maintain fresh and well-balanced supplies is to do regular inventories.)

"Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subject to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the ends justify the means would bring terrible retribution." - Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most of us have heard of them and many of us have had to creep surreptitiously to the nearest emergency room to have one drained. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, someone is going to have to do the dirty deed and take care of the darn thing. This is a short description on how to try to fix an abscess and to determine when do you really need to break into the antibiotic storage? I must warn you you up front, do not do this if there is any other option. If there is medical care available, they are the ones who do this. If this is a SHTF situation and you are on your own for who knows how long, this just might be something you need to know. I do not take any responsibility for those cowboys out there who jump in and do this when there is perfectly good medical care available. This is a survival blog and this should only be undertaken in a survival situation. Never should you practice medicine without a license. If the country/world collapses and there is no doctor or other medical resource, this is general medical information if this particular health problem arises. Proceed at your own risk .

Skin abscesses have become epidemic in this country. Go to any football locker room and you will see one or two with evidence of a previous abscess. What is it you ask? It is a collection of pus and bacteria and “inflammatory fluids” all collected in a space in the skin or under the skin. Yes, you can get an abscess deep inside, but unless you have previous medical training, you will not be able to get to those. And realistically, even those with previous medical training will have a hard time, without all the bells and whistles, getting to a deep abscess.  This short essay will help you deal with a skin abscess in a survival situation. Realize, this is simply for a survival scenario. If there is medical care available, you need to take advantage of their knowledge and skill set, but if not, pus under pressure needs to be opened up.

Most abscesses we see on or in the skin are caused by a few skin bacteria that normally live there and are given the opportunity by way of a small skin tear or nick to set up an infection. The first few days, it starts to grow and although it may start out as a pimple, it soon grows to a hard, red, hot lump that is very painful… It may even be surrounded by an area of redness; cellulitis in the medical parlance. The person sporting the lump may actually start to run a temperature and feel lousy.

One of the most common abscess forming bacteria we see nowadays is Staph aureus.  This bacterium comes in two varieties: Methicillin resistant “MRSA” and Methicillin Sensitive: “MSSA”.  The methicillin part refers to the bacteria’s character in response to a specific antibiotic. MRSA is the dreaded acronym everyone hears about from football teams to surgery suites. Although it is a bacterium you may associate with abscess, there are many more bacteria that can cause the furuncle or boil or “risin” (my personal favorite) that you see on your body. Whether the bug is MRSA or not, the treatment is the same and that is to open up the pus pocket, irrigate it out and then decide, do I really need antibiotics for this or not? Most of us will be hoarding our precious antibiotic supply in a SHTF situation and there are really good reasons for not breaking into an antibiotic supply for abscesses. 

Diabetics with immune systems that do not work so well are a special challenge. They often get an abscess that has multiple bacteria (polymicrobial) and in their particular situation, any infection is potentially life threatening. I don’t have an answer for this, in a SHTF situation. Even with modern medicine, diabetics lose feet and legs at an alarming rate from simple injuries like stepping on a needle or rubbing a blister on their heel. They can also get a rapidly moving infection that looks like an abscess and progresses in a few hours to a full blown septic shock that would be untreatable in a disaster situation.

So, you discover an abscess on one of your survival mate’s body, or they bring it to your attention or “Ruh row” (as Scooby so fondly says), you get one. The first decision is: do I need to open this up?  Not all lumps are abscesses. One of the giveaways is pus or purulent fluid draining from the lump.  If there is “pus in der”, you can be almost sure you have an abscess. Be sure to get a history about a possible foreign body like a sliver or shrapnel or thorn, etc. If there is pus, try to delineate the margins of swelling (we call it induration) and push lightly on the lump to see if it feels “boggy”. That is a sign that there is still inflammatory fluid, white cells and bacteria collected in a little lake under there.

The next decision is can I drain this? The biggest deterrent to drainage is what is under the abscess. I say this to caution you that if you go cutting into someone’s abscess, you better have an idea of what is under the thing and how deep can you go  without cutting any big blood vessels, nerves or structures your friend may need to pick up and get outta Dodge…

Have a medical book with you that show you what the underlying anatomy is. Frank Netter Anatomy is a great set of books to have where there is no doctor, but they are expensive and heavy. Look for a little anatomy book on Amazon or some other bookstore to keep with your medical supplies.  Just a note, Gray’s Anatomy is the book that seems to jump to mind for lay persons…I do not find that particular book very helpful. [JWR's Adds: Here I should mention that the widely-available "Classic Collector's Edition" reprint of the 1901 edition of Gray's Anatomy is practically useless. It has sparse illustrations and the terminology is out-dated. I second the recommendation for Frank Netter Anatomy.] Browse a few books at the library or a medical library before the SHTF to find a book you can understand and find stuff in.

There are a few places where I don’t even cut, (e.g.: near an eye, around the anus or on the fingers), but if there is no other option and no hope of another option (emergency room or doctor) because the world fell apart, I would try at least to drain it with a large bore needle (like a 16 or 18 gauge needle) even if I would not frankly cut into it.

So, you have identified an abscess, you know it is not overlying any high price real estate like a carotid artery (look that up in your anatomy book-good practice for finding stuff in it) and it is red, hot, swollen , boggy and painful. Remember I said, not all lumps are abscesses, so be careful…Once you have identified it, put on some of your medical gloves and take about 4 ml of lidocaine from your stock supply and ask the patient if they are allergic to lidocaine or any other anesthetic. If they tell you “no”, then  clean the overlying skin off with your medical antiseptic ( chlorhexidine swab, iodine swab or alcohol), use a 27-gauge needle to  inject right under the skin, a line of lidocaine that welts up like a little road across the middle of the boggy part of  the abscess. You need to stay pretty superficial and the line goes right across the top of the abscess. Should look like a little “trail” across the top. Once you inject enough to make a little wheal, then remove the needle and direct downward into the abscess being careful not to go too deep into the underlying structures. Inject the rest of the lidocaine into the area performing a “field block”. You can inject at 12 o'clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock using about ½ ml. Wait for about 10 minutes. Then take a scalpel and cut through just the skin right along the little wheal you made with the first injection. Once you are through the skin, hopefully the pus comes pouring out as it is under some pressure in there filling up the little lake under the skin. You can take a Q-tip and gently move around the pocket to break up little pockets in the abscess and then take a big syringe and fill with clean tap or purified water and wash out the wound like you would wash out the inside of a sink with the sprayer.  If the thing is bleeding, make sure you put direct pressure on it and hold that until the bleeding stops. Put several of your dressing bandages on top to soak up the rest of the stuff that will be draining out over the 24 hours or so.

Most newer information says you do not need to leave anything in the wound to keep the skin open. Once drained you need to decide, do I give antibiotics? The answer is no. Drainage is the treatment for abscesses. Antibiotics do not do anymore than drainage does so save them for someone who needs them because they will be really hard to come by in TEOTWAWKI.

Again, don’t cut any patient on the hand, right around the anus or near an eye. Barter with a doctor or medic to help you with that if there is one in the area. They have a better idea of what the stakes are if it is in a high rent district like that…..

If you were able to drain this effectively, the wound should start to look less red and swollen by the next day. The hardness (induration) should also start to get better. Once the pressure is taken off the surrounding skin by drainage, the person should also get some relief immediately once it is drained. Tell the patient to keep it covered while the residual pus drains out and to try to wash it twice a day in a stream of water that is clean or purified. You don’t need sterile water, but you don’t want to introduce a bunch of other dirty bacteria into the wound you just drained and irrigated.

Disclaimers: Remember, this is not to be used in the country we live in, on the present day. You cannot practice medicine without a license in this country or you could go to jail. If the SHTF, and there is no one around to get medical care from, you may have just learned a skill that can keep someone from getting really sick or dying.  This article does not constitute professional advice.  It is intended for general informational use only.   No doctor-patient relationship is implied nor otherwise established between the author and blog readers.

I am praying that you will never need to use this.

Texas Drought Visible in New National Groundwater Maps. (Thanks to L. M. for the news tip.)

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Pierre M. sent us a tale of the Hegelian Dialectic, Perfected: Documents: ATF used "Fast and Furious" to make the case for gun regulations

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File under Poor Choice of Targets: Mugger left bloodied after attempt on MMA fighter. (A hat tip to J. McC. for the link.)

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House Busters: Television Stunt Goes Awry, Sends Cannonball Rocketing Through Homes. Just because a technology is old doesn't make it ineffective.

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Mary in South Carolina was the first of several readers to send this: Greeks Turn to WWII Starvation Recipes Cookbook to Survive Bad Economy.

"You cannot be defenseless against evil. To discard the means for people to defend themselves leads to the kind of holocaust we have seen over and over again."  - Alan Keyes

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today marks Pearl Harbor Day -- December 7, 1941, 70 years ago today. My Quote Of The Day comes from the lyrics of the song Smoke On The Water. (No, not the better-known song of the same name by Deep Purple.) This one dates from 1944, by Western Swing singer Red Foley. I suppose that many in the Kumbaya crowd would consider the lyrics politically incorrect.

With the World War II generation now nearly gone, it is time to reflect. I, for one, have not forgotten their sacrifice.


The following another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of C.) 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, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Unemployment is rampant. The government is bankrupt. Foreclosures are everywhere. And one day soon, you may find your local grocery store has closed and shut off your supply of Hot Pockets. Most of us have never had to grow our own food. Those that have grown their own generally do it as a hobby – or as a way to get a vine-ripened tomato without selling a kidney..

Climate zones 8 and 9 [found in much of Arizons, parts of Florida, and the regions at the north end of California's Central Valley] are not a gardening paradise. If you go further south, you can grow tropicals year-round (like papayas and mangos) – further north [or into higher elevations], and you get fewer destructive insects and more options (like horseradish, gooseberries, and European pears).

However, that’s not to say you can’t grow food here. You can grow plenty to eat. Most of the Southern US has many native edibles of varying quality: beautyberry, sumac (not the ones with white berries), hickory nuts, blackberries, shepherd’s needle, Chickasaw plums, mulberries and many more. Our long season allows gardeners multiple harvests as well, provided they can outrun the insect population and beat back the nematodes.

The trick to growing here is generally two-fold: water and organic matter. Droughts must be overcome with proper irrigation, and our sun-beaten sandy (and sometimes clayey) soils benefit greatly from mulching, manure and compost.

It’s been said that it takes thousands of square feet to feed a person for a year. In a small lot, this is often impractical – but there are ways to maximize your yield. Long-term planning will allow you to harvest tons of food (literally) from an average yard. The trick? Fruit trees and shrubs, along with edible perennial herbs. One peach tree can easily produce 40-100 lbs of fruit a year. According to the University of Arizona agricultural extension office, the average yield of a grapefruit tree is 350 lbs a season. Also according to the University of Arizona, an 8-year old pecan tree will usually bear 40-50 pounds of nuts at maturity. Of course, if you plant that tree in a 1/10th acre lot, you’ll kill your chances of growing sun-loving annuals forever. However, if you create a “guild” by planting a pecan tree, surrounded by a ring of smaller fruit trees, which are then interspersed with smaller fruit-bearing shrubs, you have created a high-density food factory that will out-yield – even taking into consideration some tree over-crowding – any garden and do it with much less work.

Good trees to consider include many members of the citrus family (though allegedly no longer recommended by the University of Florida due to the spread of greening and canker), loquats, persimmon, pindo palms, olives, chestnuts, walnuts, pecans, pomegranates and low-chill plums, peaches, pears and apples.

Shrubs include blueberries, blackberries, cattley and pineapple guavas, prickly pear and edible bamboos. A few notable vines could also be added: grapes, kiwi and passion fruit. Hops vines are another good addition if you’re going to start brewing when your work dries up and you can no longer afford to buy bottled beer. And if your hops “fails to thrive,” thanks to our warm climate, wormwood is a passable substitution as a bittering agent.

Among perennial plants, the herbs are king. They may not provide much in the way of food, but the spice they add and the medicinal benefits of their consumption make them invaluable to a survival garden. Sage, rosemary, mint, hyssop, lavender and oregano are excellent starting plants.

Planning your crop planting to ensure yield over as much of the year as possible is a good idea. However, you’re not limited to eating dirt during the winter if your squash crop happens to fail.
Proper management of your harvest is key. We’ve all heard someone say “I have a ____ tree and it bears all at once… most of them just rot! We can’t give enough away!” People that say things like that have lost the ability to reason and will be the first to be eaten in the apocalypse. Preserving is not difficult. It can be done through drying, freezing, canning or fermenting.

The Indians dried fruit and meats to take them through the winter and you can do so, too. A dehydrator is an excellent investment – and building a solar dehydrator is also worthwhile in case the electrical grid is rendered inoperative by an EMP strike, fuel shortages, a labor walk-out, abnormal sunspot activity or other disasters.

Freezing generally requires blanching vegetables (to deactivate decay-inducing enzymatic processes) in boiling water. Fruits can just be frozen as they are, with seeding, skinning, pitting, chopping or whatever preparation you prefer done ahead of time.

Canning requires more work at the front end and some specialized equipment such as mason jars and lids. It’s a little-known fact that you can also re-use almost any jar from the store for canning. Look at the rubber seal under the metal lid of the jar. If it’s intact and the lid fits snugly, you’re good-to-go. Despite the manufacturer’s instructions, mason jar lids can also be sterilized and reused. Just make sure that the pop-top seal is intact when you pull your preserved bounty off the shelf in the future. If the seal compromised--as evidenced by a popped top--then throw it out. Because another thing that mixes poorly with survival is Clostridium botulinum. And while on the topic, a pressure canner is superior to the water bath method in its ability to destroy potential pathogens. Boiling water is fine for high-acid foodstuffs (fruit), but don’t do green beans or corn that way. It’s not worth the risk.

Fermentation is probably the least utilized and most misunderstood method of preservation. In fermentation, you’re actually encouraging the growth of beneficial organisms and letting their excretions preserve your food. Wine and beer are yeast-based ferments – a sugar-to-alcohol conversion that renders the final product less appetizing to decay-inducing organisms and more appetizing for partygoers. Acid-forming bacteria were originally the preservers of sauerkraut and pickles. And various other molds and sundry animalcules have played their part through human history in the creation of cheeses, miso, sauces and other delicious foods. Without refrigeration, fruits and vegetables break down quickly. Encourage the formation of the right species of microorganism via brining, oxygen inclusion or exclusion, or other methods and you’re well on your way to ditching the fridge. Not to mention the major health benefits incurred by consuming the beneficial species that colonize your fermented harvest.

WHAT TO GROW           
When considering what to plant in a garden, the first question that is often asked is “well – what do you like?” That’s a good start; however, in survival gardening, the first question should probably be “what can you survive on that requires the least input to the highest yield?” If your answer is “okra,” you may just want to go ahead and starve.

Sweet potatoes and cassava are two of the best root crops for our area, yielding well even with low care – and they also contain a high caloric load. Sweet potatoes beat cassava on nutrition – and their leaves can also be used as a green. Cassava leaves are edible too, but only after steaming. Otherwise, you’ll be ingesting cyanide. Cyanide and survival are generally at odds with each other.
Grains are less useful in the home garden, except as perhaps a cover crop or animal forage. The yield to input/work ratio is poor and the space required makes their cultivation impractical for home-scale agriculture.
Cabbage and other members of the crucifer family are excellent choices, with cabbage being the king thanks to its ability to be turned into sauerkraut.

Winter squash is another good choice. Many of our squashes, such as the “Hubbard” squash, were originally popular because of their ability to keep for six months or more in non-refrigerated environments.

Planning an area for blackberries is also an excellent idea. Thornless cultivars such as Ouachita and Natchez grow well in the hot south and will out-yield many other crops. Children love them. What other recommendation is needed?

Tomatoes are also easy to grow and may actually improve in flavor when canned or dried. Peppers are another member of the solanaceae family that does well in this region.

Tobacco, though a little difficult to start from seed, is a worthwhile addition (addiction?) to your home garden even if you don’t smoke. The leaves will be an invaluable bribe to smokers suffering from the shakes. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and the leaves can be distilled into a nicotine insecticide that devastates aphid populations.

Beans are another good choice. The “yard-long” or “asparagus” varieties thrive in the heat and will out-yield most other pole cultivars. Bush beans do well also. Peas will grow in the early spring and add valuable nitrogen to the soil as they grow.

Forget about asparagus, celery, rhubarb and head lettuces [in Zone 8 or 9]. They are a waste of time.

Keep your friends close – and your garden closer. Putting high-maintenance plants in a raised bed at the back end of your yard is a recipe for failure. Keep them where you can immediately be aware of any pest or water issues. Right by the back door is usually perfect, with your compost on the other side of the garden from your house. Doing so allows you to easily discard spent plants and apply compost without enlisting the aid of a wheelbarrow, a grandchild, a pack animal or a catapult. Work smarter, not harder! Make sure a water source is nearby and that you also have vehicle access, if possible, to allow you to bring soil amendments, fertilizers and mulch right to your garden.

Using heavy mulch in your garden will eliminate most weed issues. Gather leaves in fall and winter, along with grass clippings, pine needles, rotten straw or other organic matter and put it alongside your garden space for use as needed. A heavy mulching in fall will keep cool-season weeds from emerging and also allow worms to stay moist and breed in the soil, bringing valuable oxygen and nutrients from the surface into your beds. Cover cropping in winter with peas, lentils and various crucifers also adds organic material and is a cheap way to keep the soil intact – not to mention providing some vegetables for the table when the main harvests are done.

Plant trees as soon as possible. If you’re limited on space, stick to smaller varieties. Again, the square-foot yield you’ll receive from a mature tree requires little input compared to an annual vegetable bed. Leave space for trees – you’ll be glad you did – and remember: the best time to plant a tree was ten years ago.

Now is the time to start planning and growing. Do your research and experimentation before you’re required to live off your land. And if there’s a miraculous turnaround and you never need to go farther than the supermarket to stay fat and happy – great. You’ll at least get some delicious preserves from your fruit trees and will have learned a bit more about food production. Finally… relax. If you can’t manage to grow enough vegetables, you’ll certainly be able to subsist on the grasshoppers and hornworms attracted by your efforts.

Editor's Note: David is in the Florida Master Gardener program in North Central Florida.

Just a quick note to those interested in obtaining a simple cost-effective Faraday Cage-like enclosures to protect small to mid-size electronic devices. As has been mentioned in SurvivalBlog before, the large steel cans of popcorn sold at the large box stores this time of year make great EMP-proof storage containers. After emptying the popcorn just place your electronics into the can and place the lid on top. No need to ground the container.

I place my Fluke multimeters, spare Solar charge controllers, spare handi-talkies and mobile radios in these tins. Thanks for all you do. - Larry D.

Andrew Price (who is well-known for his Dryad Bushcraft and A-Z Bushcraft web sites) plans to make a film in New Mexico: TEOTWAWKI - a fictional documentary. I've corresponded with Andrew since before the days of SurvivalBlog, so I can vouch that this won't be a typically Hollywood hatchet job.)

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Camping Survival has added a new closeout items section, with some amazing bargains.

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F.G. flagged this: Disaster preparedness leads the way in holiday shopping this Christmas season.

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Consider the recent headline from Japan about the Eight Ferrari pileup. The amazing thing is that the Japanese national debt piled up faster than the value of those wrecked cars in the time period that it took to clean up the mess. (And here in the U.S. of A., we'd need to wreck a fleet of Ferraris every hour for the equivalent, since our own National Debt is increasing at the rate of more than $1 million per minute.)

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Congrats to video blogger Cody (a.k.a. "Wranglerestar"), who moved his family to a new 50+ acre retreat in the Cascades that features a 100 year-old ranch house. BTW, I recommend subscribing to updates to his collection of videos.

"There will be a sad day comin’
For the foes of all mankind
They must answer to the people
And it’s troubling their mind
Everybody who must fear them
Will rejoice on that great day
When the powers of dictators
Shall be taken all away.

There’ll be smoke on the water
On the land and the sea
When our Army and Navy overtakes the enemy
There’ll be smoke on the mountains
Where the Heathen Gods stay
And the sun that is risin’
Will go down on that day."

- Red Foley, Smoke On The Water

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I 'm pleased to announce that we've added yet another prize to the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest, starting with the recently-started round: A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of This new prize brings the combined value of the writing contest packages to around $5,000 per round. (The total varies, depending on the number of Honorable Mention prizes awarded.) Many thanks to and to their parent company Stone County Ironworks for their generous support of SurvivalBlog!

I will soon be interviewed by John Jacob Schmidt on Radio Free Redoubt. The theme of this podcast hour will be "Taking The Gap". My goal is to exhort listeners to re-prioritize their finances and set a goal--with a date attached--to make the move to the American Redoubt. (This region includes Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.) I urge preparedness-minded Christians and Jews of all races and from all walks of life to make the move, soon.

I sincerely believe that the American Redoubt the will be the safest and most free place to live in North Americas in the 21st Century. Granted, there are lots of other regions that are relatively safe. (Even a few in the eastern U.S.--like the Cumberland Plateau, in Tennessee, as Joel Skousen has suggested.) But the American Redoubt has some outstanding attributes (such as low population density and isolation from major population centers), and very few drawbacks. May God Bless all SurvivalBlog readers, and grant them protection, regardless of where thy live!

I should explain that "Taking The Gap" is a British football term, adopted as slang by citizens leaving Rhodesia in the 1970s and 1980s.  Most of them that wisely left preserved much of their wealth, whereas those who stayed after Comrade Mugabe's ZANU-PF party consolidated power in Zimbabwe had their life savings wiped out by currency export controls and the subsequent hyperinflation. Many of those that continued to own farms were forcibly evicted, and a few were raped, tortured, or killed.

Other illustrations of the Take the Gap concept can be seen in the recent war in Darfur (where a few merchants wisely left, early on), the Balkan Wars of the 1980s, the plight of the Vietnamese Boat People of the 1970s and 1980s, those who escaped from behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Jews that fled Germany and Poland in the 1930s. (And of course the fate of those who imprudently lingered.) I hope that considering those precedents in light of America's current economic peril will help crystallize the American Redoubt relocation concept.

Please consider:

1.) We still live in a free country, where families can migrate between the 50 States, at will.

2.) There are still good opportunities to relocate businesses and to find work in the Redoubt region. But finding steady work will prove difficult if you wait until the nation is in a full-blown Depression.

3.) The chance to sell houses on the east and west coasts still exists, but that might evaporate in the next few years, as real estate prices continue to decline and the average "time on market" expands. If you wait too long, then you may lose the equity in your presently-owned house.

4.) Land and home prices in much of the Redoubt region are still reasonable, and some retreat-worthy properties are available. If you want to build, there are now plenty of contractors and subcontractors available, and they are sure to put in very competitive bids. (A sign of lean times.)

5.) Prepper-friendly churches, synagogues, and home churches are plentiful in the Redoubt region.

6.) The window of opportunity to move all of one's possessions/livestock/vehicles/liquid assets will be slammed shut in the event of a societal breakdown or the institution of martial law.  I can't stress this more highly: Be an early, voluntary relocatee, rather than an 11th-hour refugee. 

7.) As I've already stressed in previous writings, being an absentee landowner is a poor excuse for living at your retreat year round. If you are forced by circumstances to live away from your retreat, then stock it well, preferably using a hidden basement room or a root cellar with a concealed entrance. (Burying the entryway under a pile of firewood works well.) Keep in mind that in the event of a sudden collapse, you might have just ONE TRIP outta Dodge. You may not have the chance to go back for second load.

8.) For any proficient English-speakers that live overseas in an over-populated or otherwise "at risk" nation, it is not too late to immigrate to the U.S. (And if you do, then please consider settling in the Redoubt.)

9.) You can network with others that plan to move and those that have already moved, through the Radio Free Redoubt Forum, the bulletin board, the Free State Wyoming Project, the Mental Militia's Gulching/Self-Sufficiency Forum, and at

Whether you call it Taking the Gap, Going Galt, Getting Out of Dodge, Gulching, or Strategic Relocation, is just a matter of semantics. Of real importance is your recognition that moving soon to the American Redoubt or to another safe region is a wise course of action.

Mr. Rawles:
I would be interested in your comments on the AR-57 conversion for AR-15s and its potential use after SHTF. - Mike K.

JWR Replies: Mostly for purposes of experimentation, I bought both rifle and pistol AR uppers in the 5.7x28 caliber. (I own just one "Pistol " marked AR lower, sans buttstock), and also have a 10"  5.56 barrel for it.) En toto, I have put nearly a thousand rounds through my two 5.7 uppers. I found that the pistol upper in 5.7 functions well, but the rifle upper in 5.7 jams frequently for some reason that has been difficult to trace. These jams smash the cartridges, and are slow to clear, since they necessitate removing the magazine. That was disappointing.

The top-mounted magazine allows very low prone shooting, but I found that it was almost a three-handed operation to swap magazines. I can't imagine ever having it be as quick and convenient as traditional magazine swaps. That would take a lot of practice.

Most importantly, since it is still essentially and oddball caliber and under-powered, I consider the 5.7x28 cartridge a substantial STEP DOWN from the 5.56 mm NATO in power and range. So I plan to continue to use my 5.7 uppers as transitional trainers for my younger children, and perhaps some varmint shooting, but nothing more.

In essence, the AR-57 has good looks, but it simply doesn't have a lot else going for it, at least in the context of disaster preparedness. My recommendation is to skip it unless you plan to carry an FN Five-Seven as your primary sidearm. Again, since it is an unusual chambering, that approach would necessitate laying in a lifetime supply of ammunition. Buying guns in oddball calibers goes against the conventional wisdom of common standardized calibers for survivalists.

Kevin's article on budget prepping touched me to the core. We all began the journey, at the begriming, with all the problems/challenges of those young or older and the common denominator of the demands of family/job/time/location and the most important limiting factor: fiscal resources.

Please bear with me while I lay the groundwork for this subject, throughout my prepping learning curve of about 55 years which started when I was about five years old,  began with my parents trying to spoon feed me information as a young child, with their own prepping experience, which they never thought of themselves as being in any sense "preppers", they viewed it as being survivors during a terrible crisis called the "Depression era of the 1930s". They were  late teens city dwellers in Chicago and because of lack work, food, and hope. They were forced to move to the country where caring relatives with a farm provided them with shelter, food, and farm work in order to earn some survival money.  Realize--because real history is not taught in our learning institutions--that the Great Depression lasted almost a decade and it was not an enjoyable picnic that records about the upper class try and portray.  My parents existed on canned rabbits, racoon, and deer in mason jars for meat, canned everything else you could only dream of for side dishes. By the way, racoon meat is very lean and tasty when the stink fat on the surface of the carcass is totally removed.  Beef and pork were raised for income and regenerating the herd, few farmers/ranches had a lot left for their own families it was a luxury for most.   In addition my farther, shoveled coal by hand from the barges, on the Illinois river at 50 cents a ton which was considered a fortune during the Depression and he hunted at night for raccoon or whatever could be located.

My learning about their experiences was thru teaching how to act as a human being, stories about their trials, training me "how to" by doing it with them, from Dad I learned hunting, and everything that goes with it, including how to be a man, from my mother I learned that sewing, preparing and caning food, washing clothes, and cleaning where not just for a female,   we know call that cross training.  The spoken words from them, gave me fond memories of their story of life, one of mom's sayings was "Eat for the hunger that is coming." I used to laugh about that, but guess what, I no longer laugh. 
Kevin's  story is the paradox we all face to some degree, most people have the awareness and instinct but how to take the actions to plan and execute those ideas for not only yourself, but even a greater hurtle to bring that level of understanding and commitment to your partner and family/relatives to join you in that commitment 
"be prepared".   We all dream about having unlimited funds in order to complete a 20-person self-contained hidden underground shelter connected to a 10,000 square foot casa, with provisions for 10 years and of course its on a secluded on 100 acre hidden retreat 50 miles outside the nearest town in the great northwest. I would estimated that less than 1/2 of 1% of those who prep have anything even close to that.
Our reality, was recognized I believe by Teddy Roosevelt saying  "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  That is our yardstick, any fallback plan, or bugout to a retreat should be a part of the equation, the more we plan leads to more potential action, that leads to having versus not having. Remember lead by example, I don't want to preach, pardon and forgive me if it comes across that way.  My intent is to thank Kevin for a very pleasant, eye-opening article which states in very honest terms, his situation. A lot of us face the same.  We have time, we have the means to varying degree. So if you can only afford a can of food, or a box of candles, or an inexpensive firearm with ammo then take the action.   Do we join a group? Lets be up front: It takes a lot of time and energy to [form or] become part of a "group" so we are faced with protecting our own families first.
Happy Trails, - John in Arizona

Tina R. sent a link to a recent Dilbert cartoon that has a some biting commentary, presumably about the ongoing OWS protests.

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As Christmas is approaching, please don't neglect worthy charities, such as Please send our deployed troops your prayers, good wishes and tangible support. UnderArmor brand synthetic T-Shirts (made in both Army and USMC regulation colors) are a sure bet.  If a soldier receives too many, then the excess will be the ultimate barter item, in summer months.

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California demographic shift: More people leaving than moving in.

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The Pentagon Is Offering Free Military Hardware To Every Police Department In The US. (Thanks to Jim S. for the link.)

"A lot of people think that what is going on is a bailout for the  eurozone.  It’s not; it’s a bailout for the banks on both sides of the  Atlantic. It’s not a coincidence . . . last night Standard & Poor’s downgraded credit ratings for about 20 major banks, including  banks like Bank of America [and] Morgan Stanley." - Peter Schiff

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

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) and E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have been involved with the buying of land and homes since I was able to carry a hammer or a two by four. While I have worked many different jobs, I have always returned to my love of real estate over the years. Currently, I own several houses, and my proudest achievement, is the acquisition of 40 prime acres in Montana! This is after almost a year and a half of searching in The American Redoubt for the piece I wanted at the price I wanted with the restrictions I wanted. Now that I have my slice I would hate to let all my research go to waste, so I would like to pass this info onto you.

Family Roots in the Northwest
My father is originally from Kalispell, Montana, and moved to the east coast in the late 1960s to finish school. Not one to sit idly by, he went into the real estate market in Virginia in a big way, something he still does to this day. Part of successfully working in real estate is being able to do the work yourself, and as his son I was expected to work with him from a young age. Doing the work yourself involves more than swinging a hammer; you have to know the ins and outs of the law, the courts, and how people work. In doing so I have picked up a lot of information, real information on buying and selling property that I want to impart onto people looking to relocate to their own 40 acres in the Redoubt.

Buying property in the Redoubt can trip people up from other areas in the United States. I know there are many factors to be considered in Montana land that does not come up when buying Virginia land, especially when buying houses.  To help the novice along, I have created this guide of the issues and pitfalls you will need to be aware of while you shop for your little piece of safety.

I should make clear; I do not have a dog in this fight. I have no urge, or desire, to sell you anything. I do not work as a realtor. The only property improvement I do, I do for myself and I am not for hire. The tips I pass on to you are based solely on the experiences of an experienced amateur. For specific issues on a certain piece of property I strongly recommend you contact a practicing land attorney or agent working in the area local to the land you have a question about. Let me stress local, because you want someone who knows the nearby courts and the regional pitfalls working for you.

First things first, how to find the land!

The rest of my tips will do you no good if you do not know how to find what you want. As I have said, I am not a realtor, but I can show you how to get around without one until you really need one. Realtors are great, don’t get me wrong, but you don’t want to waste your time or theirs. It really helps to narrow things down before you contact one. That way they can build a clearer picture of what you want and helps you to better express your expectations for the property. For example you would look silly insisting the house you want have a basement when the local water table is only three feet down.

For demonstration purposes I am going to be using the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana a lot for my examples. This is the area I was researching the hardest because I still have family that lives there.  I knew I wanted to be in that valley when I relocated. You, of course, have the entire Redoubt to choose from so take advantage of that.

The first huge tool for finding where you want to go is itself. Look at the maps that have been linked at the Retreat Locales studies page. Things like population density maps, distance to a McDonalds, and city light satellite views can all help you determine just where you want to put your new family home.

Secondly I recommend a site called Zillow. This site works as a real estate aggregator. It grabs information from multiple sites and puts it all in one place. What I love about this site is the filters. You can set it so that it only shows you plots over 20 acres under a certain price point, or has 3 bedrooms, or 2 baths, and so forth. it allows a lot of factors to help you search out those deals that are a match for what you want. Like all my other suggestions, this site is totally free to use.

Zillow’s other huge advantage is it does a ton of research for you. It will tell you how long the property has been on the market and who the listing agents were. This is useful for judging desperation to sell and might be a good way to find an agent.  It will tell you the taxes assessed on the property for the last 5 years and what the tax value is, useful for deciding on an offer price. It will also tell you the last time the property sold and for how much, which is good to know for gauging how underwater the seller may be. Finally it gives you an estimated value which you can compare against the asking price.

Next, I extensively use Craigslist. Out west there is very much a self help mentality and this is reflected in the large amount of real estate posting on Craigslist. What I typically do is take the listing and run them back through Zillow or Google Earth to get a look at the property. There is a lot of for sale by owner stuff that goes on Craigslist that does not show up on Zillow so this is not a duplication of effort.

Finally I look at  This site is where the government sells their properties repossessed by HUD and the Veteran's Administration (VA). There are some really good deals to be had on this site, but you have to be careful as the paperwork can be really daunting. The reward is special financing such as VA vendee that can be as low as no money down for owner occupiers (a term that means you actually live at the property you just bought) and 5% for investment property (useful if you are going to have to build and plan to make the move later on). Fannie May and Freddie Mac offer homepath financing for owner occupiers that is also very attractive and allows for very little down.  In addition these organizations will often take an offer of at 60% of the tax assessment value of a piece of property. Please be aware though that any significant savings is going to seem almost not worth it after the months of dealing with government agents who don’t actually care if they sell a house and the Bank of America loan process.

Finding an agent

Now that you have located an area, and scoped out a few choice properties, you are going to need to get an agent to represent you. Agents typically get paid by a percentage of the sale.  They can be paid either by the buyer or the seller depending on how the closing is structured. You want to find an agent who charges around a 4% commission. 6% is the maximum so look around a bit to find a reasonably priced agent. You will also benefit from an agent that is prepper friendly. Luckily has a list of those who work in various regions; you will find them listed under survival realty on the right.  Follow that link and talk to those agents. I am sure they will be happy to represent you. A prepper friendly realtor is going to be a better agent for you because they won’t waste your time on unsustainable land and they know you are going to become a neighbor and will want to at least not directly rip you off.

The Californication of the West

When you start looking at land in the Redoubt you might notice something a bit odd. You are going to find properties priced at a million dollars just miles away from equivalent properties priced at a hundred thousand. This is due to an unusual economic factor that happened for several decades but has now ended. I refer to this as the Californication factor. The best examples I have seen of this are in the Bitterroot Valley and Flathead Valley in western Montana.

The story goes a little like this. Many years ago a smart entrepreneur bought a lot of cheap land in the Bitterroot Valley. With all this land he needed a project, and his project became selling it to movie stars. He returned to California and told all of them about a mystical land were people were down to earth, the air was clear, and the paparazzi got buried in unmarked graves for asking too many questions.  This land was the Bitterroot Valley. Over the years many moved out there. To give you an idea how many, here is a list I found of a few of the movie stars that have come to the Redoubt. Actress Glenn Close owns a coffee shop in downtown Bozeman. Ted Turner has a sprawling 120,000-acre ranch outside of town. Just 20 miles away, in Livingston, Jeff Bridges and his wife have a home and own a coffee shop and Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid are neighbors. Near Big Timber, a tiny ranching town 30 miles east of Livingston, Tom Brokaw, Michael Keaton and Whoopi Goldberg have all dropped anchor. Mel Gibson has a spread a little farther east, near Columbus. Kiefer Sutherland, Emilio Estevez, Joe Montana, Christopher Lloyd, Huey Lewis and Andie McDowall all have homes in western Montana.

As the stars arrived other Californians came and they wanted to buy up these spectacular views and they ran the Bitterroot Valley into the ozone layer in prices, and spread from there, one area being Flathead Valley. For a decade Californians came in with wads of cash and very little sense, much to the anger of the local population, and bought everything in site with no rhyme or reason. This drove the prices through the roof in some areas and as a knock on effect raised prices all over.

To give you an example of how out of whack some of this has become I want to use a couple of examples. Let’s take 20 acres of forested range/mountain land. In the mountains of Virginia they are asking $1,000 to $800 an acre for undeveloped land. In northern Idaho they want about $1,500. I have seen as high as $40,000 an acre in some parts of the Flathead Valley of Montana, especially on the east side.

Unfortunately for these people, the $40,000 per acre asking price is just "hopes and dreams" at this point. The market has crashed and the Californians have left. The problem is a lot of people have locked into those ridiculously high rates based on nothing more than wishful thinking and stubbornness.  The real tale of the tape comes when you tell Zillow to show you all the recently sold properties in these areas and it comes back with zero. I don’t think this is a reporting error. I think nothing is actually selling.  Part of the appraisal process is to base the price on what nearby pieces of property are selling for. If nothing is selling then there is no real basis and you end up with these wild fluctuations.

The reason for bringing this up is you will need to be flexible in your search. On the west side of Flathead Valley, ten miles across, land is going down to $5,000 an acre or even less. If you look in areas like the Yaak River Valley and go closer to Canada it gets down to $3,000 an acre. The best part is these areas are less built up, not more. They are going to be better pieces of property from a prepper’s perspective.  In this economy, with those locations, you should not really be paying more than $2,000 an acre for an ideal piece of property.

What is the ideal piece of property?

My ideal piece of property located in the Redoubt is over 20 acres, borders forest service land on at least one side, has a small stream or spring but no river, a pond or lake, water rights , rights of way, has no covenants, leans, contracts, easements, and is accessible from a public road. It may or may not contain any structures and if it does they are not in consideration of the price I will pay.  There are some very specific laws and ways of doing business in the Redoubt that effect land choices and I have listed them in my criteria above to serve as a warning when looking at land. Let me explain them in turn because these are also an area of the big differences people will find in buying open land in the Redoubt that is unusual from the cities.

Contiguous Forest Service Land

This is a highly desirable trait for the piece of property you are looking at to purchase. A lot of properties will say they are bordered on at least one side, and up to three sides, by Forest Service land. You will see this so much, after a while it will begin to sound like a scam. There can’t be this much Forest Service land in the area can there? The truth is yes, there is. All mountain tops are forest service land. When the Homestead Act went away the federal government inherited all the land that was not claimed. This was eventually turned over to the park system and Forest Service and became Forest Service land. The Redoubt, in many parts, is absolutely riddled with Forest Service land.

This is great news for preppers looking for property. You want a forest service land border. This means that no one is going to come in and build a subdivision or some other waste of space in that area. In addition, you are allowed to use this property to cut wood, hunt, and fish on. It’s like having a rich land owning neighbor who does not care and who never comes around. Especially desirable are streams coming from forest service land because that will mean you are the first source user of that stream helping to ensure clean water.

Water Rights and Water Sources

Out west water is a huge issue. They understand better than anyone that water does not come from a tap, but from aquifers and other natural sources and is a finite resource. Many of them depend on the flow of water for their livestock, their crops, and their own lively hoods. Entire range wars have been fought over water and the ability to get to it. So when looking at a piece of property you should make sure you know what the water situation is.

In the east riparian water rights are the norm. This means if I own the banks of the river I own that piece of the river and have rights to the unrestricted flow of that river. In the west they have use-based rights. This is typically expressed in the oldest user gets the most say over whom else gets to use the water,  A sort of senior/junior member system where any senior member can restrict the rights of any junior member.

In Montana, for example, this gets even more complex. All water in the state of Montana is the property of the state of Montana and is controlled by the state. When buying property you need to look up the status of the water rights on your piece of property. For example, you can search Montana's water rights database. A title search will also reveal the status of the water rights on your land. These rights may surprise you. Even with no surface or flowing water you might find a neighbor has an irrigation ditch across a certain piece of land and holds those rights indefinitely. This means you will not be able to build near that piece of your property and they have free access to your land to maintain this ditch.

So when buying property make sure you know where the water is and how you are going to get it to your property. It would be devastating if you plan to pipe water to your new home like the previous owner did and find out you can’t because some other senior water member said no.  In some areas it is even illegal to drill a well and you could be totally blocked from all water sources.

A final factor on water is that in many of the Redoubt states water navigation is an inherent right of all people of the state established in 1985 by the Montana legislature in the stream access law. All citizens can use any piece of water they wish at any time. They cannot cross private land to reach a lake, but are allowed to follow a stream or river through a piece of property if they wish.  This is why I recommend finding a property with nothing larger than a non-navigable creek. Since a small creek is not really navigable someone could not use it to legally scout across your property. I once had my eye on a beautiful piece of property on the Yaak River. It was 40 acres split between the banks. Then I found out that with this law anyone would be able to canoe right through my property at any time. I would also be unable to build a road or foot bridge to the other half of my property as I could not restrict passage with a bridge. This in effect meant the other 20 acres were useless to me.

Rights of Way

This issue can be even larger than water access through your land. The issue of rights of way and easements is a major one that must be researched when buying any land.

One very common easement is a right of way across your property granted by deed or court action allowing another property owner access to their property. With the lack of roads in the western areas it is very often possible that a piece of property can become land locked by other properties. To fix this, when selling or dividing land, owners often place a right of way onto a piece of property to allow access to another piece. This means that you can potentially buy a piece of property that someone else is allowed to cross parts of at any time they want. Worse yet, it is entirely possible they will develop multiple homes on this other piece and the next thing you know you have a steady stream of cars driving by your retreat all night long. This will, of course, play havoc with your OPSEC.

In the reverse, make sure the piece of property you are looking at also has access. Having to negotiate a right of way through the courts can be an expensive process. Make sure that if your property does not border a road, that you have access to one by a deeded right of way. That way, if your neighbor ever sells their property, you will not have to worry about losing access to the new owners.  This is known as an "easement appurtenant" which transfers with the land.

Another type of easement, or right of way, to be aware of is for public utilities. You need to check and see if there any existing utility easements that have not been exercised on the property. There is nothing worse than buying a piece of land and then having high voltage lines or a pipeline driven right through the middle of it. Existing easements are not often mentioned in ads either. No one wants to advertise 20 beautiful acres with tall high-tension power towers in the middle of it. This gives an outside entity a right to be on your land without asking your permission, is unsightly, and can possibly create a refugee line of drift straight onto your property. 

I strongly suggest you read the easement entry at Wikipedia. It can explain the different types of easements and how they are handled.  It is extremely informative and covers a lot of the nuances of easements if you should find yourself dealing with one.

Timber Leases
Timber can be, and often is, sold separately from the land in the west. Sometimes this is done as a timber lease that is assigned for a period of years. At sometime before the close of the lease, the lease holder has the right to come in and remove the trees from the property as designated in the lease. The deforestation can vary, but assume the affected area will look like a battlefield when they are done.  These leases can be as long as 25 years. Of course people selling property don’t want things to look like that, so often they will ask the lease holder to wait until after the property is sold to exercise these rights. So when looking at property make sure you find out about any pending timber leases.

However, if you don’t mind some deforestation, selling the timber on a piece of property may be the best way for you to finance the piece you want. Keep in mind timber grows slow at those elevations and it may take decades for things to start looking normal again, but it does make a convenient way to get some fast cash to help to pay off the land. Even better is if you were planning to open up ten or twenty acres for a homestead site, or to plant crops, this can be a win-win for you.

This process is started by contacting the local lumber mill buyer. You indicate to him what you want to sell and where. They will take a quick survey and give you a price for the timber. After that you can try and log it yourself, or hire a company to come in and do it. If you hire someone typically you will split the profits with them over paying a flat fee. While you make less in profit, your expenses are a lot less, because the logging company assumes all the equipment costs.

Mineral Rights

A lot of the property in the west has had their mineral rights severed from the land. This has often happened a long time in the past when a slick talker came through and convinced the land owner to sell these rights for a quick buck. These are usually indicated on the deed by a special conveyance. This matters a lot from a prepper perspective because this gives a third party the right to enter your property at any time they wish and to build and construct items on the property. Furthermore if you wanted to establish something like a natural gas well on your property to give you more independence you might be stealing. The gas and other valuable items below the surface belong to the person who has the mineral rights. You will want to do a specific search on this when looking at a piece of property. Any conveyances such as mineral rights will be recorded with the deed where ever that is located.


The types of covenants we are going to concern ourselves with are covenant appurtenant ( “Covenant running with the land)”. These allow a prepper a real chance to grab just the right land at the right price.

Typical covenants on western land establish that a piece or property cannot be divided anymore than it has been or that no more than a certain amount of development can be done on the land. This was often done by land owners selling property that they were still going to be adjacent too. They placed covenants to make sure that some undesirable outcome would not happen to the land after they sold it. Often this is to make sure they still have access to a pond or lake, a subdivision does not spring up on the land, or some noxious industry is not started next door.

A second type of common covenant on the land in the west is a conservation covenant. (Often called a conservation easement.) These were often granted as part of a land deal in order to offset taxes on a piece of land. They often specify that a piece of land cannot be developed past a certain point as all development rights have been granted away for a tax break. While this land cannot be developed totally often a single home or similar structural setup is allowed and grazing and other agricultural uses of the land are allowed. The terms of the conservation easement are once again recorded with the title to the land at the land office and a copy can be obtained.

The advantage to a prepper on most covenants is that the vast majority of covenants restrict development of a piece of land, the last thing a prepper wants to do. So while this land is the same value to a prepper as it was pre-covenant to everyone else it is far less desirable. This reduced pool of potential purchasers means that land with conservation and other covenants is often far cheaper than the surrounding land, allowing a prepper to get a lot more bang for their land buying dollar.


Now that you have found your land how are you going to pay for it? Most of us do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting around. This means that we are going to need to finance this purchase. It is outside the scope of this article to cover credit score and how to qualify for a loan. I do, however, want to point out a couple of issues that will affect your purchase.

First off, if this land is being bought for a residence, you will have to decide if you are also going to use the land for agricultural or ranching use. It might be beneficial to claim you are even if ultimately you are not. The reason for this is that land that provides no income can be a strong drain when qualifying for a loan. If you can show potential income this, sometimes, can be factored in when determining how large a loan you can take out.

The size of the loan is another factor. If you go over $417,000 you are now in what is called a jumbo loan. Jumbo loans have different rules from conventional loans. They are considered riskier than regular loans and, as such, have higher interest rates. They also have other restrictions such as requiring two appraisals before purchase, raising the cost further.

On the reverse, the minimum on most loans is $30,000. With having to put down an average 20% of any loan amount this means that the minimum you can expect to pay, and finance, for a piece of property is $38,000. Pre-qualification for a loan, offered free by most lenders, will give you a position of strength when looking for property. So make every effort to secure one before you start.

One good note is that taxes and insurance are significantly reduced when finding out what your average monthly payment will be. When buying property, taxes and insurance often increase a monthly payment by over $200 a month. When looking at western land taxes tend to be either very low or non-existent, you also will not be required to buy insurance if the land does not contain any structures.  This means that your payment amounts will be for the amount of the loan and no more. This can make it much easier to hold a piece of property until you are ready to build or relocate.

Another form of financing often offered in the west is owner financing. This is a way for the owner to take a gamble and select a buyer and offer them preferable rates. This is done by deed restriction and essentially the seller becomes the bank. You will see these types of offers typically requiring a certain amount down and then a monthly payment. These can be a good deal for both sides if done correctly. The buyer gets more for his piece of property because he keeps any interest if charged. The buyer gets to buy a piece of property without the hassle of dealing with the current loan process.  The seller is further protected because if the buyer defaults typically the land will revert to the seller and they can resell it. My father has property in the central part of Virginia that has been sold no less than six times and he still owns it.

As of the writing of this article the loan restrictions and process in the United States are pretty severe, which is probably a good thing. You will be expected to put down 20% of the price of the house at closing in addition to any other fees, commissions, or taxes. This means that for a $200,000 loan you have to come up with roughly $40,000 at closing. The good news is that because the buyer is getting hit with this large up-front cost, and sellers are really motivated, you will not need much more than that. Typically the only other thing the buyer is expected to pay is loan origination fees, which can sometimes be rolled into the loan.  The seller can pay the closing costs to cover the rest of the transaction.

A final note on financing, we all know the economy is in a terrible shape. Fiat currency is running rampant and money is printing is out of control. Inflation is being used as a tool to get us out of our current financial crunches. This, from the point of view of land purchases, can be exploited. A rising tide lifts all boats as they say. Paying $200,000 for a piece of land seems like a lot right now, but that same piece of land sold for $10,000 some 30 years ago, that is "cheap" by today’s prices. If we hit a hyperinflationary period it is very possible that you will be earning the cost of your loan per day, making it easy to pay off. So take the largest amount of loan you can afford right now safely. It may seem like a burden but you are already making your bet by being a prepper, might as well double down that you will get the land cheap once the SHTF. Like gold and silver, land is a great investment, as long as you can defend it. When SHTF a rental property ten states away is lost, but the land you are sitting on becomes yours more than it ever was before.

How to make it all work for you

You have identified your area. You have selected several attractive properties and have contacted an agent about them. You have a pre-qualified letter from a lender. Now it is time to head out to your selected area and take a look at the property. Let me stress this, go look at the land.  In the 20 Century, there were a series of huge land scams, selling Florida swamp land in magazines, sight unseen. They would go during the dry season and take a picture of this flat, lush expanse of land, what they never mentioned is that for the rest of the year that section of land was under a foot of water. A lot of people lost a lot of money because they did not inspect the property first before putting their money down.

So make a vacation of it. Travel to your intended destination and take a look at several properties to make a decision. The good news is as slow as things are selling you will have the time. Inspect the roads leading to the property; are they passable year round by a normal car? If not how hard are they going to be to improve? Does the property border a public road for access and does the phone and power grid reach that far? What is the status of putting a septic system in? How many acres are vertical and unusable? Take water and soil samples and have them tested so there are no surprises there. Walk the land and watch for dumps or other hazardous materials lying around, especially make sure none of the area has been used as a meth lab because the cast off is very toxic and will poison the soil and water table.  

Inspect out buildings to see how structurally sound they are. Major residences should be inspected by you and a building inspector.  What shape are the fences in? Does any running or open water source freeze solid during the winter? Is there a flat bench section on the property to allow for building? How is the drainage if it rains? Check for diseases affecting the trees and the land. There is a nasty pine beetle infestation for example that can kill all the trees on your property, check for signs of this issue. The local farm bureau or university extension can tell you what might be in your area and what the warning signs are so it is a good idea to contact them.

Once you are done with your inspection try to visit the neighbors if possible. Ask your agent for introductions if possible. Be very friendly and make clear your intentions with the land, this will go a long way in getting people to talk to you. Look and see what they have done to their property to judge what you might want to do to yours. Also look for signs of trouble such as locks on doors and equipment indicating a theft problem in the area. Also watch to see if they might be environmentalists or some other disruptive type. As part of the problem of Californication many of them moved into great views and bought 5 acres. For some unknown reason they believe this five acres gives them the right to control every piece of land they can see from their property. You don’t want to spend your time mired in law suits if you can help it.

If at all possible make sure you stay over on a Sunday and attend church. Most congregations are open door and would give you an excellent chance to mingle with potential neighbors. You can find out a lot from observing and talking to people and you will find out if this is a congregation you want to be a part of. In many communities the Sunday get together is the main social gathering of the week. So take advantage of this to get to know the locals you might soon be part of.

I know this seems like a lot to do but it boils down to due diligence and if you have to go to court they are going to ask if you at least took these steps. It’s one thing if a seller hides something from you intentionally; it’s another if you never bothered to check. A lot of these steps are simple to do. A title search has to be done as part of the purchase, but before that point you are more than welcome to contact the court house and do one yourself. This will turn up a vast majority of your problems and only takes a couple hours. Usually there are very helpful people around who do this for a living who are more than willing to give you some advice on what you need to do. You could even ask if you could buy an hour of their time or take them to lunch for some help in this search, which most likely will only take them a few minutes but might take you hours.

Walking the land is something you should want to do anyway. If you don’t want to be on the land why are you buying it in the first place? If at all possible see if you could spend the night on or near the property. See if it suits you and your family. In the course of this stay you will find most of any issues with the area and the property.
Neighbors can be great resources before and after the purchase so make a strong effort to be friendly. They can reveal a lot about the area and what you might need to know about the history of a piece of property. They can also tell you the best place to get supplies and who to trust when it comes to construction.

This is going to be your last major purchase in your life. This is where you are doubling down in the game of survival and where you are going to make your stand. Rushing this decision can have fatal consequences later. The vast majority of land purchases have no issues, but you want to be prepared for the couple that might have an issue. So take your time, do your due diligence, and I hope you live happily ever after in your new 40 acre kingdom.

As a former soap company owner and operator, I enjoyed the article on soap making (How to Make Lye Soap, posted on November 30, 201.) However, for safety's sake, I would like to caution your readers regarding some of the statements made in the article:

1. The author’s instructions say to “Heat the water to 110° F. Add the lye to the water.” This is a dangerous suggestion. The chemical reaction caused when lye combines with water causes even room temperature water to heat up almost to the boiling point. Starting with overly-warm water could (and probably would, depending on room temperature) cause the lye solution to literally boil—a potentially catastrophic occurrence. I always use room temperature (or colder) distilled water then, after sprinkling and stirring in the lye, allow the water to cool down to between 100 and 110 before combining it with the warmed oils.

2. The author also says that the lye water can be combined with the warmed oils in a blender. Although, technically, this is true (and I’m sure there are many experienced soap makers who use a blender), the batch of soap would need to be very small to stay within the blender’s capacity while operating. Most of us have had a blender accident at one time or another by either overfilling the blender or realizing (too late) that the lid wasn’t security in place. It’s one thing to have applesauce or a milkshake sprayed around the room, but toxic and dangerous lye water spraying around your kitchen (and on you) would be a scary scene, indeed. Personally, I would never use a blender for making soap. Instead, I use a stainless steel pot and either a wooden spoon or a stick blender (make sure the blades are stainless steel) to combine the lye water and oils.

3. Your readers need to be aware that each oil requires a different amount of lye to be turned into soap (a process called saponification). Some oils require more lye than others. Too little lye for the type of oils used means that the mixture won’t turn into soap; too much lye and you’ve got a hot (overly alkaline) bar of soap that can potentially hurt the skin of the ultimate user. Here’s an example of what I mean: One pound of olive oil requires approximately 2 ounces of lye to properly saponify; however, one pound of coconut oil requires nearly 3 ounces (suggested amounts can vary depending on the amount of water used in the recipe). The problem is magnified if you are making a larger batch (and really, making soap is messy enough that you’ll want to make larger batches). When it comes to lye, one size does not fit all. Fortunately, free lye calculators are available online from a number of web sites, including Majestic Mountain Sage, Brambleberry, and SoapCalc.

Soap making can be a rewarding and creative skill to master, but I encourage anyone who is interested in making soap to learn the basics by reading a good soap making book, such as The Soapmakers Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch or Soap Maker’s Workshop: The Art and Craft of Natural Homemade Soap by Robert S. McDaniel and Katherine J. McDaniel. By the way, Robert McDaniel is a scientist who explains not only what to do when making soap, but why.

Zimbabwe Bashes US Dollar, Aligns With Yuan. (Thanks to K.P. for the link.)

Also courtesy of K.P.: Eric Sprott - Silver Producers: A Call to Action

Jim V. pointed us to a great interview with Kyle "20 Million Nickels" Bass, at AmeriCatalyst. He calls default on Greek sovereign debt inevitable and inescapable. Then comes Japan, and in the long run, the United States. He has the numbers to back this up. He also has some interesting comments on the importance of taking physical delivery of precious metals. On balancing the Federal budget, he made this prescient comment: "The bottom line is that we either take a lot of pain now, or apocalyptic pain, later."

Items from The Economatrix:

US Rescue Act Is A Sign Of The Mess We're In

Peter Schiff Explains What Today's Global Fed-Funded Bailout Means For The Future

Prepare For End Of The Euro, Banks Told

Factories Stalling Worldwide

One of my consulting clients recently asked me: "Do you carry pepper spray, for bears?" My reply: No, I carry lead spray.

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This Glock ad makes it clear that widespread concealed carry by law-abiding citizens would be a very good thing:.

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Faster and Furiouser: D.E.A. Launders Mexican Profits of Drug Cartels.

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M.E.W. sent this: New Flu Strain, H3N2, Makes Health Experts Nervous.

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From reader J. McC.: Check Your Car for a GPS Tracker

"When you look at Japan, they’ll sell more adult diapers than kids diapers by 2013.″ - Kyle Bass

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

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) and E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Even though the idea of prepping "on a budget" or "in urban or suburban areas" may be common themes, it seems (to me, at least) that more often than not, the lovely people that contribute their knowledge, advice, and expertise to the topic of prepping seem to, somehow, have more capability than most when it comes to logistically and financially supporting these ventures. They may have lived on a farm for most of their life, they possibly inherited land from a relative, they may be able to work from home and have time to spare, they may be older and in retirement, or they may simply have been doing it for years and already have their stock in place and their plans set in stone. While I am undoubtedly grateful for their input and knowledge that they give to novices (like myself - no rich relatives leaving land behind and I have never lived on a farm), I have had trouble finding attainable short term goals inside of the wonderful long-term goals they are normally discussing.

I am 29 years old and, with my wife and two daughters, 8 and 3, live in a suburb of a mid-sized city. I don't consider myself a person who would be completely lost in a survival situation. I have always been somewhat of a minimalist, finding 'pleasure' in getting by with less. I am handy and I enjoy camping and the outdoors. I am always up for a challenge and I seem to work well under stress. I understand basic security and tactical ways of thinking.

But those characteristics are about as far as my qualifications go on giving preparation advice. Unless you count living with my three ladies every day, I haven't really tested my survival capabilities. I haven’t lived in the desert without shoes and I have never lived with an African tribe of any kind.

My family and I are regular people who live modestly but comfortably- basically paycheck to paycheck- trying to build our future out of the little that we have to work with. For the past few years, we have focused on our finances by reducing our debt and trying to make the best choices with our money. Unfortunately, despite our hopes and dreams (and my gut feelings), our budget for prepping seems to remain stagnant on the list of immediate necessity.

My wife is what I would call "cautiously supportive" of my TEOTWAWKI preparations. She playfully suggests, at times that we're cleaning out the garage, that we keep certain items "for the apocalypse" and she helps me save all of our nickels... but she doesn't necessarily share my views on the urgency of the potentially serious situations we could soon face. We have similar goals and we have good plans but realistically there is no way we could presently afford to make any heavy investment for what is essentially a second household of supplies and goods. On top of that, we wouldn't have anywhere to put it! Additionally, with our busy schedules we rarely have time to spend a quiet evening together, let alone tend to livestock or build our heirloom vegetable garden- though all of which we aspire to do sometime in the near future!

So I asked myself: How can I prepare as much as possible on a daily basis no matter how much my financial and logistical situations limit me?
The more knowledge you gain on a subject, the more you realize that there is much more that you didn't know – another point to the old adage that "ignorance was bliss."
Ignorance may indeed be bliss for some, but personally, I don't care to see that same "bliss" knocking on my door when the SHTF. Just the same, I don't want to be that person knocking on someone else's door because I waited too long to make the right moves. I have a family that I have to take care of and it's hard enough with the level of crazy in this world as is... if we aren't prepared for something worse then there is no point.

In order to avoid this, over the last year and a half I have jumped in head first, soaking up as much knowledge as possible- knowing I will never learn everything but hoping that I will have the time to learn enough. I make material purchases when I can; some MREs, storage containers, ammunition, first aid kits, batteries, and other odds and ends that I can potentially use in an uncomfortable future but I know that these things are just a drop in the bucket compared to things I really need but can’t yet acquire. I know that one is none and two is one, but when one creates problems immediately, it puts a serious speed bump in my plans. While my internal clock wouldn’t mind a second mortgage in order to invest in a fully stocked underground shelter, my life (or my wife) simply won’t let it happen right now. So I push for knowledge as much as possible, researching at work on my lunch break and reading prepper material and blog sites such as this fine example you’re visiting right now.

I feel that if anything is going to be well executed, it has to have adequate planning and practice before it works efficiently, so I am constantly filtering through the plans and getting good ideas in order to be ready for action the moment I am able to do more. Although it is likely that every other contributor to these topics has more experience than I do, I still feel compelled to share the few things I have learned while doing my research, in case there is another poor soul trapped in suburbia looking for a place to put his only case of MREs.

Many people, including Mr. James Wesley, Rawles, have preached that knowledge of anything is only half as important as actual hands on experience. Muscle memory is key to survival in any situation... because in stressful circumstances there is no time to make sure you're doing it right... only time to do it right. Therefore, I try to visit the local gun range as much as possible in order to try to build my weapons experience with my slowly growing collection of firearms. Although I love my piles of gun magazines and gun books, I know that actual training is the only thing that will matter when it comes to using any knowledge I may acquire. My wife has even joined me at the range on a few occasions and she just recently signed up with me so we could take our first official firearms training class together (which can also be a fun date night.) Dry firing, drawing from a holster, and reloading techniques are done in practice in my living room (safety first, of course.)

I have quit smoking cigarettes. I am in the process of getting myself in better shape. Knowing that energy and strength could become a scarce commodity in a bleak future helped me kick start the drive to end a 15 year habit like nothing else had done in the past. (On a side note: If you do smoke, I heavily suggest that you do whatever it takes to stop. I used the pill and it worked for me. It's worth it.)

I look forward to finding some firewood to split myself this winter instead of simply buying it pre-cut. I have done it in the past and nothing seems to work more muscles out of hibernation than chopping wood and it is always fun to have a Rocky 4 montage playing in your head while you do it. Taking walks around the neighborhood with the family is also more quality time together that always yields better results than sitting in front of the television.

I have a neighbor a few blocks away that has managed to keep about two acres of prime subdivision real estate away from developers over the years and has built a wonderful mini-farm, probably the only one like it within a 10 mile radius of our neighborhood. I didn't know him at all but one day I decided to knock on his door and simply tell him that I am interested in learning some tricks to gardening and if he would be willing to show me a few things, I would be willing to do some labor for him if he needed it. It has only been two occasions that he has taken this complete stranger up on a random offer, but I have already gained knowledge that will surely help me in the future and would have been impossible to acquire by simply reading books.  

My aunt is also an avid gardener. With every visit I am inquisitive about her techniques and she is always happy to share her secrets, as well as her latest harvest. Other family members and friends have various skills in many areas; one cousin is a fellow prepper and another is a Krav Maga instructor with whom I plan on attending some classes in the near future. I have friends in the military that share training techniques and philosophies and I have my father, a jack of all trades, continuously feeding me knowledge like he always has, although in the last few years I have been more inclined to listen. 

My book collection is growing exponentially as well: Boston's Gun Bible (Boston T. Party), SAS Survival Handbook (John “Lofty” Wiseman), Patriots (James Wesley, Rawles, Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places (Joel and Andrew Skousen), The Encyclopedia of Country Living (Carla Emery), and many others are all on my book shelf. It seems one book leads to five more… making it impossible to have enough books on various useful subjects.

Of course, we all know that the internet is the most abundant source of knowledge- though, as with anything on the web; there is a small learning curve to be able to sift the good products and services from the junk. By the way, I have just started my three-ring binder collection of articles as was recently suggested by another survivalblog reader… a simple but great idea.   
While television, for the most part, is something I don’t normally rely on, I will admit that there are a few programs which have taught me quite a bit. Without going into detail of the actual shows, a few which have actually made my life better by the knowledge they have given me are:
The Colony- a show that aired on the Discovery Channel for two seasons and is currently available on Netflix. I highly recommend this just to see how things are built and used in an apocalyptic scenario... water filters, solar panels, windmills, am radio transmitters, and manual washing machines. You can also see some other variables that can come up that have a notable effect on conditions and morale, such as intruders and thieves, people going missing, and personality conflicts. Very cool stuff.

Dual Survival
– No-nonsense guys (Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin) who really do know what they are talking about. While some of it understandably may still be staged for the camera, I can stand these guys much more than some of the other so called “survival” shows. Discovery Channel and Netflix.

Personal Defense
- George Wheby takes you on specific scenarios with firearms training and offers great advice from Thunder Ranch trainers and others. Regular guest notables are Clint Smith and Massad Ayoob. Sportsman Channel.

So while all of this so far, in my humble opinion, is decent advice from a self-admitted newbie, it is certainly not all inclusive and it is definitely nothing new. I’m sure that you could find it all relatively easy on a few web searches for preparing.

So the last thing I will share with you is what I personally believe ties all of it together.

I have thought of it as a way to train your brain for the possible effects of a TEOTWAWKI scenario. After all, the mind is something that needs training just as much as your core or your trigger finger… maybe even more. Many people focus on range time, securing their home, collecting materials, or other physical additions but rarely focus on the mindset and mental stability that will be needed to see all of these things through. If they are the primary person in their family that is making these preparations, as it is in my case, it is even more important to try to train your mind and lead by example on some lifestyle changes that may simple come from thinking differently. Some of it may be a bit corny sounding and some of it is common sense, but nothing has changed my family’s daily habits more than this way of thinking.

It started with the thought of the stereotypical life of a dedicated farmer. He gets up very early, seven days a week and works continuously until the day’s work is done. That is his farm and hopefully he will reap the benefits of his hard work by an abundant harvest.

I thought of my little suburban life with my daily routines. My wife and I had our conflicting schedules, the house was never clean, home maintenance was falling behind, everyone was always worn out and tired even though it felt like nothing ever got accomplished. How would we ever survive a catastrophic change to our lives if we can’t even get it together normally?

I applied the farmer’s way of thinking to my daily life. This is my farm. These chores, my job, the daily grind… these are my crops. I work hard for an end result, a paycheck, a clean and orderly house, and a repaired fence, whatever it may be. I will do simple things like doing some of the dishes by hand instead of throwing them in the dishwasher. We have washed some of our clothes by hand, just to know the details from actually doing it. Now I wake up every day no later than 6:30 a.m. regardless if I have to go to work or not. It’s amazing what only an extra hour or two will do for your day. Suddenly I have time to do extra things that I never had time to do before. Time is not as rushed anymore, so I am less stressed.

My family has also taken hold of these practices (as much as their respective ages allow them to) and we enjoy each other’s company much more in a clean house and without mundane tasks haunting us in the back of our minds. My three year old girl can actually appreciate the feeling of a clean bed room after cleaning it all by herself (which may not sound like much if you have never attempted to make a three year old clean.)

Kids are still kids and nobody expects perfection, but these days hard work is now rewarded instead of punishment being handed out for work that was not completed, which leads to a more productive way of life. Daily chores are shared and responsibility has a way of making everyone appreciate the more important things in life, which is more than a father can hope for.
What does this self-help mumbo jumbo have to do with preparing for a bleak future? Everything!

Imagining a time when everyone is tired, hungry, thirsty, and constantly on the lookout is a scary thing regardless of who you are with. It would be a complete nightmare if it were with four people who can’t get along or keep the dishes clean on a normal day. A disciplined family goes a long way with planning for emergencies. My eight year old knows exactly what to do in the case of an earthquake, fire, severe weather, or a break in/burglary while we are at home. She knows exactly where our guns are located, how serious they are, and she knows that if she ever has a question about them she can talk to me at any time.

Children especially need extra preparations for their thought processes. I feel that this is an overlooked part of many discussions. While kids may be resilient and adaptable to change… it is still not fair to them or to their parents to simply hope that they will make the right choices and not shy away from having to work for something when they have never learned the importance of it. If bad things keep happening and kids start to lose their patience, it is important for them to be grounded enough to know what really matters instead of them pitching fits because the Disney Channel is no longer available. In order to protect them, you will have to trust that they will understand the importance of listening when they need to and following directions when they have to. It could possibly mean the difference between life and death. Just consider it another form of training and helping them develop their muscle memory, whether they realize it or not.
My wife and I can look forward to our future with our new daily habits because whether this apocalyptic scenario actually happens or not, we plan on using our “farmer’s mentality” with our new home we are working towards, complete with our garden, livestock, and all of the added chores that come along with them. We are still busy every day but we seem to feel better on a daily basis which makes the time we do have to spend together more important.

Nowadays, small power outages are not the dreaded inconveniences that they used to be, they are now chances that we all take advantage of in order to test our supplies and our mentality… even if it is something as simple as passing the time for thirty minutes without a whimper that the power is off.
These common sense things that normal people do every day may be ridiculous points to even have to mention to some reading this, but this is also meant for the people who are trying to figure out how they can swing their family in their direction without being labeled as the dreaded “paranoid” or “conspiracy nut.” By simply adapting a more responsible work ethic in life, you can not only become more productive and achieve your goals faster; you can do it without anyone around you giving it a second thought.
Do I want a secure, energy efficient house that is off of the grid located within the beautiful areas of the American Redoubt, with self-sufficient gardens and orchards, and with the closest neighbor at lease a mile away?

Do I want a roomy underground shelter that accommodates twenty of my closest friends and family, complete with enough food, water, and supplies to outlast an ice age?

Do I want a weapons cache that would’ve made Charlton Heston jealous?

Yes, those things are all of my ultimate goals. But for now, I will keep learning, training, and adapting with my single case of MRE’s shoved in our small pantry, hoping that I still have time to grow before the Schumer comes full force. Good luck and may God bless you all.

Hello JWR,
I can't thank you enough for your most fantastic Survival Blog. The information you have provided is priceless.
I purchased 500 grams of Calcium Hypochlorite from for $118. I bought this to sanitize water for drinking. Can you please tell me how much Calcium Hypochlorite to add to a gallon of water? Thank you very much.
Best wishes, - Linda H.

JWR Replies: You only need about 1/4 teaspoon of Calcium Hypochlorite powder for each 55 gallons. For infrequent use (in emergencies), with 500 grams you now have a enough for decades.

To use it in small batches, you should first create a concentrated solution by dissolving 1/8th teaspoon--shaking a half quart of water in a one-quart jar with a tight fitting lid. Then mix that concentrated bleach solution into a 20 to 30 gallon drum of water.

For some details on the subject of water purification (including several different methods including plain liquid bleach like Clorox and hypochlorite powder), see the LDS Prep web site

Be advised the vapors from Calcium Hypochlorite are corrosive, so it it best to store the powder in a glass jar with a tapered glass stopper, and FAR AWAY from metal tools or storage foods.

Less than one year left to wait! The Red Dawn remake is finally scheduled for release on November 2, 2012. That's three years after filming was completed. (That is either 7,200 Blog Posts or Two Novel Releases, in Jim Years.) That's probably enough time for the young actors to each get married, have a baby or two, and make five or six more feature films. I can predict that the film's premiere will seem like a class reunion to the actors.

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A TSA agent puts on the "Sean Penn, Full Retard" act: Teen stopped by TSA for gun-themed purse: Vanessa Gibbs says she missed her flight after purse labeled 'security risk'. (Thanks to Denny B. for the link.)

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Glenn Beck interviews novelist Brad Thor about PROMIS and its terrifying follow-on A.I. software, that he compares to "Skynet", and the Main Core database. (Thanks to B.L. for the link.)

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On a related note: CIA following Twitter, Facebook.

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Spotted at The Drudge Report, a Friday Night 1,300 Page Fast and Furious Document Dump: Justice Dept. details how it got statements wrong. It s time for Attorney General Holder to resign!

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

[Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

Seeing [it is] a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day." - 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10 (KJV)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 38 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) 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 C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), and E.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

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) and E.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 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 38 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In JWR's book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" , item number 11 on the Bartering and Charity List is "50 pound sacks of lime (for outhouses"). My first thought on reading this was, “Why would I barter away my precious lime?” More than just an odor eliminator, lime is a very helpful material used for countless applications in its various forms across various industries ranging from use in the production of glass to use as a calcium supplement in Tropicana brand orange juice.

My initial research was designed to discover which type of lime would be best to buy in bulk, based on its price and versatility in regard to survival needs. Ultimately my research has provided more questions than answers, more starting points for more research projects rather than full-fledged answers. However, I do believe that the common uses I have discovered at this point provide a comprehensive springboard which can serve as starting points for future research for all long-term preparation.

The most important thing to distinguish when acquiring lime is the type of lime and storage capacities based on your targeted use of the product. Besides the lime fruit, which will not be discussed in this article, “lime” generally refers to three types of limestone-derived materials: Limestone, Quicklime, and Hydrated Lime. It is important to explore the different uses of each type of lime and its availability in order to plan accordingly.

Furthermore, it is important to note that the chemicals come in different grades as recognized by the FDA: Pharmaceutical (Pharma), Food, Feed, and Industrial/Technical, with pharmaceutical and food grade being safe for human consumption.

Below are each of the common types of lime, their storage recommendations, and uses. What is not included: uses of lime (and there are many) that are outside of the normal scope of survival, such as using limestone to make glass or using hydrated lime in the petroleum refining process. If you are curious, there are abundant resources about the many uses of lime on The National Lime Association’s web site, as well as endless references throughout the Web.

I. Limestone. This is one of the cheapest forms of lime since it is generally made from crushed limestone. Calcium carbonate or calcite (CaCO3) is the primary component of limestone, though CaCO3 derived from limestone may contain pollutants and should not be used for human consumption unless specifically packaged and sold as food or pharma grade calcium carbonate, such as antacid tablets. Crushed limestone is also known as aglime or agricultural lime/limestone and garden lime and is available at most gardening centers and feed stores.
A. Dolomitic lime. Calcium magnesium carbonate: Dolomitic lime is usually also crushed limestone, but with more magnesium, so I group it here with limestone. Limestone generally has varying levels of magnesium carbonate in the form of dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2)—thus, the name Dolomitic lime or  magnesium limestone. Dolomite  has many of its own uses and could warrant its own article, though one must be careful using dolomitic lime as it is not pure dolomite and is often not food or pharma grade. Furthermore, the presence of lime may create separate complications when using dolomite for chemical reactions or consumption. Food grade dolomite can (and should) be purchased separately these purposes.
B. Storage: Aglime should be kept dry mainly because it is hard to use it when it is a sludge, and it can cake up when it dries, making it hard to use. Compositionally, water is not harmful to it, except for the fact that limestone is highly absorbent and can absorb hard metals and other substances into it. If you plan on using this lime for gardening or outhouses for an extended period, consider keeping it in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.
C. Precautions: Limestone is generally considered chemically inert, but it is a chemical base. Aglime can cause skin irritation, redness and burning of eyes, and prolonged exposure can cause irritation of the respiratory tract. Can worsen asthma.
D. Uses: Many uses of aglime can also be mimicked by quicklime or hydrated lime, so its uses are listed under Interchangeable Uses below. As mentioned before, I am not including industrial uses for lime that may be too far out of the normal purview of survival.

II. Calcium oxide (CaO). This is a more volatile form of lime that reacts endothermically with water. It is formed by baking calcium carbonate in a kiln at temperatures between 900-1000°C (1652-1832°F). It is also known as quicklime, hot lime, or burnt lime.
            A. Storage: Quicklime needs to be stored away from all moisture in containers that themselves are moisture proof. Over time, a container may absorb some moisture, and this can cause the quicklime to either melt the container or even explode, depending on how much water has reached it. Calcium oxide is not a flammable material, but its reaction with water can cause high temperatures. It should not be stored near combustible materials.
            B. Precautions: Besides precautionary measures for storage, one should remember that quicklime is especially dangerous to animals because of its reaction with water, and it can cause chemical burns to the eyes, throat, lungs when it reacts with the body’s moisture. It has actually been used as a chemical weapon for this reason (see below).
III. Calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). This is also known as hydrated lime, slaked lime, cal, and pickling lime. Cal and pickling lime are both food grade. Hydrated lime has an impressive range of use across multiple industries, including the food industry, oil and gas, metallurgy, construction, and many others. It is formed by adding water to quicklime. Food grade is fairly expensive compared to industrial grade—a 1 lb bag of pickling lime is currently $4.69 on Amazon, whereas Tractor Supply Co. sells a 50 lb bag of [non food grade] hydrated lime for $7.99.

IV. Uses (In no particular order):

  1. Blacksmithing. Quicklime is commonly used as a flux for removing impurities from steel. Hydrated lime is used to whitewash steel products to provide corrosion protection as well as lubrication.
  2. Smelting. Quicklime and hydrated lime are both used in the recovery of nonferrous ores from various other materials.
  3. Construction. Aglime is often used as an aggregate, and quicklime is a binding agent in mortars, cements, concretes, plasters, and stuccos. The type of lime required varies with the product, but each type of lime has some use in construction. Using lime goes back to ancient times of combining lime, sand, and water to make primitive masonry.
  4. Construction. Hydrated and quicklime may be used as a firming agent for wet soil to expedite construction. Quicklime in pebble form is preferred over hydrated lime, though both do work.
  5. Gardening. Use aglime as a soil sweetener to raise PH levels of soil in gardens. Some gardeners prefer dolomitic lime to regular ag lime because it also adds magnesium to the soil. Hydrated lime is more effective at raising pH levels, though it may contain less magnesium, and is generally more expensive. My dad limed a single field years ago, and it is still the greenest field and best producer on his land.
  6. Livestock. To control flies in barn areas, spread aglime on the barn floor. Hydrated lime works, too. This will also control unwanted odors. Be careful if you are using manure to fertilize your garden as the lime can make it more alkaline, though many gardens actually need it. The latent benefit is that one can both fertilize and sweeten the soil with manure that has lime mixed in already.
  7. Outhouse. To control odors in outhouses, sprinkle aglime over waste. Any of the other types work, too, though one should probably avoid combining quicklime with water needlessly. Any other offensive odors can be treated similarly.
  8. Fishing. “Liming” a pond is common in the southeastern U.S. where soil tends to be more acidic. This greatly increases the availability of nutrients and production of phytoplankton (the base of the food chain in a pond), increases the pH levels of the water and helps to stabilize fluctuations in pH levels. Hydrated lime achieves the same results, but it can kill the fish because it raises the pH levels quickly, so its use is reserved for sterilization between crops at hatcheries.
  9. Water treatment. In water purification and treatment, hydrated lime is used to adjust pH levels, as a softener, as a coagulate and flocculate, as a disinfectant, and in purification. Dolomitic lime is effective in removing silica from water in water treatment processes. The Coca Cola company is among Mississippi Lime’s clients, where it is used in the manufacturing of Coke (processing of water), although it may have other uses there, too.
  10. Instruction. Limestone was once the core component in making chalk for use on a blackboard. I am still looking for an exact recipe here, but previously chalk was made from ground limestone, whereas today it is mainly made from gypsum. In traditional chalk-making, the limestone was mixed with pigments and baked, but I have not experimented with this yet. Adding clays and oils creates pastels, which are air-dried. Chalk provides a long-term solution for brainstorming, schooling, and other instruction without having to worry about ink or graphite supplies.
  11. Heating. Quicklime is useful as a heating element in self-heating cans or foods when mixed with water. You may have seen the internet video of the hillbilly hot tub, which uses quicklime and water to heat. Calcium oxide can be used on a much larger scale if needed as emergency heating, and the byproduct is hydrated lime, which has its own uses. Smokeless/fireless heat can be very important if one is on needs to remain undetected, although there is some amount of “smoke” from the chemical reaction, which quickly dissipates. Avoid using quicklime in enclosed areas.
  12. Lighting. Quicklime may be used as a non-electric source of bright lighting. The limelight (or calcium light) was used to light stages for quite some time before electrical lighting took over. Simply put, limelight was calcium oxide heated with a hydrogen torch, which emits a bright glow. The lowest temperature required for the glow is around 1000°C or 1832°F, which can be easily achieved by a propane torch, stove, or heater.  Although not as efficient as other forms of lighting necessarily, it is at least another option to file away, especially if you already plan on using propane to cook or heat and want to set up a limelight. Calcium oxide melts at around 2572°C or 4661°F, so you have a lot of leeway between making it glow and actually melting it.
  13. Weapons. Because calcium oxide reacts endothermically with water, it can be particularly dangerous to the skin, eyes, lungs, and digestive tract. It can cause chemical burns in the throat, lungs, nose, stomach, etc. The MSDS for quicklime does not list it as a fire hazard, but it does note that its reaction with water can be hot enough to ignite combustible materials, which is one of the theories of why it may have been a key ingredient for Greek Fire. Author David Hume’s 1688 work The History of England claims quicklime was used by the English to win a critical battle against the French by positioning themselves upwind and throwing quicklime in the French’s faces. Ouch.
  14. Tanning. Hydrated lime is used for removing the hair from hides in the tanning process. It is also a key ingredient in human hair removal lotions, such as Nair. It is also used as a hair relaxer.
  15. Cooking. Cal (hydrated lime) is a critical ingredient in in making masa (corn dough) and hominy. Masa is the basis for corn tortillas and tamale dough. The process of making masa (called nixtamalizing) actually does make the corn more digestible and, therefore, more nutritious (not to mention the added calcium). As an added bonus, because of hydrated lime’s preservative properties, corn tortillas tend to keep much longer than flour tortillas.
  16. Dietary supplement. Small amounts of food grade hydrated lime are added to Tropicana orange juice to fortify it with calcium, and it is also used in baby formula. The Poison Control Center tells me that you would have to eat huge amounts of this before it would do you lethal harm. Remember, however, that it is a base, which is why it works well in orange juice to counteract the acidity of the citrus, but by itself it may cause irritation in the throat or stomach.
  17. Whitewash. Hydrated or aglime are combined with water and salt to make whitewash or lime-wash. Besides aesthetically pleasing, some claim whitewashing a roof with lime-wash for collection of rainwater helps to pre-treat it, which makes sense since lime is antimicrobial and helps in water purification. This is done in countries like Bermuda, which have no natural fresh water reservoirs and rely on rainwater for consumption.
  18. Food preservation. Hydrated lime is also called pickling lime because it can be used in pickling. Furthermore, hydrated lime has great antimicrobial/antifungal and preservative properties, which is an added reason to use it. My mother, who lives in a swampy area, is unable to use a root cellar, so she sprinkles aglime on her potatoes through the winter and has no problem with them going bad. If you utilize this method, wash the potatoes thoroughly. Hydrated lime is the active ingredient in a compound called Polikar, which is used for preserving vegetables. See more below on lime’s antimicrobial properties.
  19. Gardening. Hydrated lime is effective against many different types of insects, often killing them through contact, and it is an active ingredient in some insecticides on the market, which is why it is so effective at treating excess flies in a barnyard. Hydrated lime is an active ingredient in the Bordeaux mixture used by vineyards to fight fungus.
  20. Antimicrobial/antifungal. Lime’s antimicrobial properties can (in theory) help fight certain types of blight, although I have not found reliable documentation for this. It is boiled with sulfur to make a mange dip. A more powerful pharmaceutical grade calcium hydroxide (pH 13 instead of 12ish) is used in dentistry as a paste to treat microbes when dealing with root canals. These antimicrobial properties are one of the primary reasons why lime is effective at controlling odors.

After reviewing my own list, it is difficult to determine exactly which type of lime one should concentrate on, and I believe that stocking up on any one type should be governed by your intended use. I do believe that food grade hydrated lime is possibly the most useful of all of the types of lime since it can be consumed and still has the critical properties needed for all of its other uses, not to mention the fact that it can fulfill many of the same functions as the other types of lime. Additionally, heating hydrated lime to around 512°C (954°F) evaporates the water from it and forms calcium oxide (quicklime), so one can easily create his/her own calcium oxide if needed.

Of course, following that philosophy, one could theoretically stock up solely on aglime, bake it to create quicklime, and then combine the quicklime with water to create hydrated lime, although that whole process requires an investment in a lime kiln and other materials, and the hydrated lime would not be edible.

The most practical recommendation would be to stock up on a proportionate amount of each type relative to your intended use. Quicklime is a little harder to find these days, as it either comes in very small amounts (such as 400g) or very large amounts (several tons). You may be lucky enough to have a building materials vendor that sales it in your area, but you will probably have to make a few phone calls. The National Lime Association lists companies in each state that produce lime, and they will either sell it to you directly or point you to one of their distributors. Hydrated lime, dolomitic lime, and regular aglime can all be found easily and are fairly cheap (if not food grade)—all of them can be found for around $10/50lbs at most gardening or feed stores.

General Warnings:
For complete details on lime, its health risks, and precautionary measures, please visit the manufacturer’s site for MSDS information. I used Mississippi Lime’s MSDS for my information, as well as interviews with scientists at the FDA and in the labs at various limestone companies.

All forms of lime can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. One should take precautionary measures with all lime.

Consuming different grades of lime can have hazardous effects. There are many different potential contaminants in limestone, which realistically can vary from quarry to quarry even in the same region. These can vary greatly, but possible contaminants include lead, copper, fluoride, arsenic, cadmium, and petroleum distillates among others. Quarries near mines or areas that use hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") are also at higher risk for contaminated limestone. Remember that limestone (from which most quicklime and hydrated lime also derive) is sedimentary rock and therefore vulnerable to outside contaminants. For example, the EPA permits industrial sewage sludge to spread over farms, which could potentially leech through the soil down into the limestone, introducing cadmium as a contaminant.

That said, Mississippi Lime, which, from my own research as well as information from the National Lime Association and the company itself, is possibly the only company in the United States that produces food grade calcium hydroxide, explained to me that most lime is naturally fairly compliant with FDA regulations except one major element. In the case of the limestone they quarry, the limestone naturally conforms to all FDA requirements for traces of lead, copper, iron, and other pollutants except for fluoride, which may be present in over 100 PPM (the standard is 50 PPM). Basically, besides cleaning it better, the only difference between their agricultural grade calcium hydroxide and their food grade pickling lime is that they have removed some of the fluoride. With other quarries, the amount of pollutants is difficult to determine since they do not perform tests that measure all human toxins, although, depending on the company, they may remove heavy metals even in the agricultural grade aglime or hydrated lime. Agricultural grade does remove lead and arsenic to accepted levels.

The National Lime Association’s web site is a great starting point for any research involving lime. They were also a valuable resource for pointing me to the proper people to whom I could pose my questions.

The people at Mississippi Lime were extremely patient and helpful to me in answering specific questions about the processing of food grade lime and many of its various, diverse uses. I also spoke with various other company representatives of other lime companies, but I mainly reference my conversations with Mississippi Lime employees.

The kind scientists at the FDA were also surprisingly helpful about hazards, potential contaminants, and diseases associated with lime and answered all of my questions with expertise and competency.

The Poison Control Center provides 24/7 free information about the toxicity and dangers of the various types of lime. You can call them for all non-
emergency questions, too, so feel free to do so with any questions you may have about lime or any other product. Their answers tend to be less substantiated and scientific than the FDA, but they are easier to contact.

Brazilian Dental Journal and my brother, who is a dentist s helped me with specific uses of lime in dentistry.

There is a new bag company called GORUCK. This company was started by a former Army Special Forces member with the goal of "introducing military-grade gear, tough enough for Special Forces to adventure seekers worldwide.  Built in the USA, GORUCK products come with a lifetime guarantee and adhere to the highest standards of functionality, durability, and style." I own two of these bags and use the smaller one for a day to day bag and a training tool for weighted rucks. The larger bag I have used for hiking. It is not a large bag but I have been able to fit all essential gear in it and have it as my Bug out Bag. Here is the link to a full explanation of the bag written by the CEO. These things are tough. I expect my bags to last 10 years under harsh conditions. That is why I am submitting it as an option for a bug out bag. - John T.

JWR Adds: I'm pleased to see that they are made in the U.S.A. I predict that some of the SurvivalBlog advertisers will add them to their catalogs.

Dear Mr. Rawles: 
In reference to D.B.C. in Minnesota's letter regarding rough service lamps and their availability.  I recently read PUBLIC LAW 110–140—DEC. 19, 2007 which impacts incandescent light bulbs has language which directs the "Secretary" to track the sales of "exempted" bulbs and if their sales grow above historical sales/growth levels, then energy conservation standards will be imposed for exempted lamps, including rough service. Here is a partial excerpt from the bill:

‘‘(i) IN GENERAL.—Effective beginning with the first year that the reported annual sales rate for rough service lamps demonstrates actual unit sales of rough service lamps that achieve levels that are at least 100 percent higher than modeled unit sales for that same year, the Secretary shall—
‘‘(I) not later than 90 days after the end of the previous calendar year, issue a finding that the index has been exceeded; and
‘‘(II) not later than the date that is 1 year after the end of the previous calendar year, complete an accelerated rulemaking to establish an energy conservation standard for rough service lamps.

So this means that over time many of the exempted lamps could eventually be phased out also if people start substituting them for banned lamps.   As D.B.C. points out there are substitutes available such as halogen lamps which have the same fit, form and function of an incandescent (with substantially longer lives) ... the lifetime cost of each bulb type (initial cost + energy usage) can be found on most manufacturers web site for comparison. God bless you all, - D.P.

Be sure to listen to this! Jim Pulplava interviews Ann Barnhardt about institutional wickedness by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and MF Global: The Entire Futures/Options Market Has Been Destroyed by the MF Global Collapse. Barnhardt predicts systemic collapse and hence the need to shift into tangibles including long guns, ammunition, fuel, and precious metals. (Thanks to David W. for the link.)

Sometimes "Just In Time" inventory control has a nasty bite: Residents in Alaska city could get $9-a-gallon gas. (BTW, this adds credence to my advice to not choose Alaska as a retreat locale.)

Central Banks Augment Currency Swap Capabilities. (Even Switzerland has jumped in on this, since their currency is deemed "too strong" and that is hurting their exports.)

Recollections on living through Yugoslavia's mass inflation: Interview with Milos Dedovic

Items from The Economatrix:

31 Banks The Fed Is Watching Like A Hawk

Abrupt Economic Collapse--The Time Draws Near

The Future Of Jobs

Holding The EU Together By Money Printing And Force

Stocks Leap On Central Banks' Coordinated Actions. (Whoopeee! Billions and billions in new liquidity...)

John G. mentioned: Digging into China’s nuclear tunnels. Without an inspection regime, we are essentially in the dark about the size of China's nuclear arsenal. Back in my home town, this information deficit is a Z Division nightmare.

   o o o

Ron in Vermont mentioned a ham radio network that has been set up by the American Preparedness Radio Net in cooperation with the Catastrophe Network. Ron notes: "Sunday evening there is a digital net on 40 meters on 7.073 MHz @ 1930 EST, and a voice net on 80 meters @ 3.818 MHz. Topics vary from gardening, communications, alternative power, et cetera. The primary goal is to test equipment and prove out communications." OBTW, here is a fascinating recent APRN post: How To ‘Listen’ To The DigiNet WITHOUT a Radio

   o o o

M.B. recommended watching a recent interview with Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers about the NDAA Bill. (In several segments, spanning 45 minutes.)

   o o o

Several readers have mentioned the FloJack hand well pump. This is an affordable, self-contained 50-foot depth hand well pump kit, with optional kits to go deeper. It ships UPS in a 50 pound box. It is a narrow profile pump design, engineered to assemble and drop into a well casing right beside your existing electric well pump. It’s manufactured from food grade PVC, stainless and aluminum. It delivers 10 gallons a minute, will lift water 150 feet, and can pump uphill, or pump pressurized water into your home through a garden hose connected to an outdoor faucet. You will still have water at the sink, tub or for toilet flushing. The pump kit is around $349 (depending on the features included).

"And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint [them] for himself, for his chariots, and [to be] his horsemen; and [some] shall run before his chariots.

And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and [will set them] to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

And he will take your daughters [to be] confectionaries, and [to be] cooks, and [to be] bakers.

And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, [even] the best [of them], and give [them] to his servants.

And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put [them] to his work.

He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day." - 1 Samuel 8:10-18 (KJV)

Friday, December 2, 2011

There are many things about our "on-the-grid lives" that really are not all that fun.  We get depressed about stuff and certainly have anxiety over lots of things that will simply disappear WTSHTF.  My personal philosophy, along with many of our readers and patients, is that without a grid, life will be a little more simple.  With preparation, things don't have to be that gloomy.  It will sure be a bummer for lots of other people, but for us and ours, it means a return to the basics.  The reality is:  none of us knows how we will cope with such big changes surrounding a major collapse.  As stated before and I will state it again, don't come to me for counseling advice and I won't give it here.  There are lots of good articles about how to help cope and what resources are available.  My focus will be to prepare you to think about how and what will happen to our citizens WTSHTF.

Any health care facility will be an absolute nightmare, post-collapse.  Read the nursing home chapter in the novel One Second After if you need a reminder of how things will look.  It will be horrible.  Nursing home patients with Alzheimer's Disease, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and a host of others will quickly suffer when there is no power and no support system.  The filth and chaos depicted in the book mentioned above is probably extremely accurate--but in an actual psychiatric facility it will be worse and degrade faster.  Picture any horrible scene from an old 19th century sanitarium and that will get you close; but it will be louder and more violent.  Throw in the raiding drug-seekers that think or know that there are drugs available in these places with poor security at best, and you have yourself an "avoid at all costs" area.  The one caveat to think about:  if you have a loved one in one of these facilities make plans to remove them IMMEDIATELY post-collapse.  My own Granny doesn't always seem to have all her chips on the table sometimes, and it is up to me to get her and bring her home.  If you don't get them out sooner rather than later, you may be putting your own life at risk to attempt to do so.

With that pleasant intro picture, let's move on to those that walk among us, in order of severity, more or less.  Schizophrenics in society have had great advances in medication over the last 20 years, and many people take powerful anti-psychotic drugs to control their thoughts and behaviors.  These folks are usually harmless except to themselves, huddled under bridges when they are without medication; but some can be very dangerous when their voices direct them to act out.  Schizophrenics are unlikely to survive long post-collapse.  Most medication-dependent schizophrenic patients would have a return of their symptoms within a week of being off their meds.  Those with milder schizo-type personality disorders will last much longer, but may progress without medications to more frank schizophrenic symptoms.  Some of these folks are pretty well managed, normal-appearing individuals in our current existence.  They will quickly become very different once the pharmacies are all empty and closed down.  These folks generally do much better with a very routine, non-stressful environment around them.  There is not much positive news to forecast for these severely affected individuals.

Bipolar patients:  These folks used to be called manic-depressive back in the olden days (pre-2000), but that term was somehow not politically correct enough so they are now all suffering from Bipolar Disorder (BPD).  There are millions of these folks out there, but this term has morphed into a much broader and harder-to-define group of patients.  They take medications like:  Abilify, Saphris, Zyprexa, Symbyax, Seroquel, Risperdal, Geodon, Lamictal, Topamax (Topiramate), Depakote (Valproic Acid), Lithium, and Carbamazepine.  There are new meds added and some people also take other combinations, so this is not an inclusive list of medications.  It does give you an idea of how many people are out there with BPD as you may have seen some of the medications listed advertised on television.  These folks are largely intelligent, capable, and when manic can be destructive to themselves and certainly to others.  We believe that those with BPD should make CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) a part of their prepping plan, we have seen it work for some of our patients.  Now, there will be people commenting like crazy (no pun intended!) about how they have BPD or their brother or mother or Auntie does and that this article is ridiculous.  Are we not all entitled to our own opinions?  These groups of patients need to be generalized for the sake of information, and there are obviously exceptions to the rule.  My argument about you or brother or mother or Auntie is:  fine, they are normal and don't fall into this group of dangerous folks, so you take care of them WTSHTF.  Just like my Granny in the above example, it's a lot easier to think about how normal they are when someone else is taking care of them, but the responsibility falls to family first.

The next group of folks are the anxiety sufferers.  These people have been on anti-anxiety medicines for a long time and without them will withdraw.  Whether it is their SSRI (Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Effexor, etc.) or benzo (Xanax, Ativan, Valium, etc.) they will not only have anxiety that will bubble up, but they will also be more anxious with the knowledge that they will not have pills.  Some of these folks are truly dependent and will get a little squirrely looking for more to help their withdrawal.  Most will simply withdraw and deal with it.  A special category of these folks need to be mentioned:  The abusers.  They are taking these medications for the "high" of it and will truly be among the most dangerous immediately after they run out of medications.  These are the addicts out there, and if you have some of these pills in your house, make sure nobody knows it.  Or just get rid of them.  Having pain pills and anxiety pills seems like a good idea to most preppers out there; but, having these medications will also make you a target if anyone even sniffs the chance that you have them.  In my opinion, it is just not worth it.  We have none on our shelves, we just feel better being able to have deniability.  Each group or family will have to make their own decision on this one--but be advised.  If you are on these medications, try to wean off now.  Suddenly discontinuing these medications is not a good idea, as the symptoms of the withdrawal can be severe, even for SSRIs.  At least try to get to the point that you don't have to take one every day, it will make it much easier in the future when you have none.

Lastly, but not least, the depression.  Depression can be debilitating.  While never actually having been on meds myself, we all know how bad depression can get either with first-hand knowledge or having watched someone we love go through it.  The medications for depression are a long list indeed and many are now generics:  Paxil (Paroxetine), Prozac (Fluoxetine), Celexa (Citolapram), Lexapro (Escitalopram), Luvox (Fluvoxamine), Zoloft (Sertraline), Pristiq, Cymbalta, Effexor (Venlafaxine), Wellbutrin (Bupropion), Remeron (Mirtazapine), Trazodone, Amitriptyline, Clomipramine, Desipramine, Doxepin, Imipramine, Nortriptyline, Vivactil, and the MAOIs that are now only rarely used.  This list is pretty inclusive, although some doctors use some "off label" dosing of antipsychotic meds to treat depression.  The real question about those clinically depressed is a depressing one:  just how many of these people will commit suicide when they are out of meds and facing the stress of TEOTWAWKI?  That question applies not only to the clinically depressed, but to us all.  Surely there will be suicides in a post-grid world as many people have the attitude:  "If it is that bad I don't want to live".  While most of us preppers cannot understand that line of thinking when there is still time, many people truly say that now...but how many will feel that way when they are hungry?  Surely, all of us wish that these scenarios never happen and that the happy gridded society continues for all time.  If not, be prepared for this reality.

While working on this together, we thought we needed to have a disclaimer on this article and state very plainly:  DO NOT STOP YOUR MEDICATIONS ON YOUR OWN WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR DOCTOR.  Talk to your doctor, therapist, church, support group, etc. about how you can better prepare yourself for bad times if you have any of the above conditions.  While we stated it in a couple areas in this article, we will soon be posting a much more dire and detailed article about drug seekers and the problems they will pose for us all.  We will list withdrawal symptoms specifically so that you can spot them and be better prepared.  You really don't have any idea how bad this problem is, we surely didn't until opening up the clinic.  As always, stay strong and stay sane, - Dr. Bob and Docswife

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:

A brand new Hummer or Jeep Wrangler, decked out with every available option may sound like the best, most capable vehicle in an emergency situation. The harsh reality is that they could be one of the worst. Don't get me wrong, they are both very nice, with proven track records, but in an emergency, can leave you and your loved ones stranded.

The problem lies with the tremendous amount of electronics needed for the vehicle to operate. The average newer vehicle (especially within the last ten years) has several computers on board that control not only the engine, but also the transmission, the four wheel drive system, brakes, power windows and locks, and even the lights just to name a few. The fact is, computers have been used in vehicles since the early 1980s. The manufacturers have incorporated them in to more and more of the systems for better emissions, fuel economy, drivability, and creature comforts. The average vehicle has more than five computers, operating on their own network (CANS) sharing information back and fourth, making any needed adjustments for a seamless driving experience. A computer controlled engine will not start and run until the computer commands it to do so. The starter, electric fuel pump, electronic fuel injectors, and electronic ignition system are all dependant on the power train control module (PCM) to function. Unlike aircraft, there are no redundant systems in place in the event of a PCM malfunction.  A computer controlled automatic transmission cannot shift until the computer commands it to do so. Without direction, the transmission [indicator] will engage park, neutral, forward and reverse, but will not shift. Before the computer can command a shift to occur it needs to look at various sensors located throughout the vehicle such as, engine speed, vehicle speed, engine load, engine temperature, gas pedal position, selector lever position, input shaft and output shaft speeds, and probably a few more.

With the ever increasing possibility of a terrorist EMP attack or natural blast from our sun, these systems will probably not survive. The computers are not shielded for such an event. Imagine loading your survival gear and family into your bug out vehicle, turning the key, and nothing happens. The starter, fuel injectors, fuel pump, ignition coils, all receive their commands directly from the PCM. Without a working PCM your vehicle is a 3,200 pound paperweight.

There are several options for a practical EMP proof bug out vehicle. Obviously, many older gasoline powered vehicles were EMP proof. They had carburetors for fuel delivery, mechanical (points type) ignition, mechanical engine driven fuel pumps, no electronics what so ever. Automatic transmissions were also mechanically controlled and needed no electrical controls either. Older jeeps and pick-ups are great choices.  They are pretty easy to find, inexpensiveto buy, and repair.  There is also my personal favorite, the old school diesel. The old school diesel has an all mechanical fuel injection system and no computer either. Modern computerized  fuel injected diesels are in the same situation as their gasoline powered cousins. The starter,  fuel pump, glow plugs and injectors are all PCM operated and will not run without a working PCM.

My personal bug out vehicle is a 1983 ford F350 Pick-up 4x4 automatic with a 6.9 diesel. The truck looks like he**, but it’s mechanically perfect. This truck has two 19 gallon fuel tanks, allowing an over 500 mile range, and plenty of room for my family and all of our gear. I had to take care of some minor repairs to make it road ready. New batteries, brakes, filters, belts, hoses, starter, tires and a front end alignment, all told I have about $2,000 invested in a vehicle that can go anywhere no matter what.  I added some custom features as well such as a cap for the bed, auxiliary off road lighting, police siren with PA system, a trailer hitch, and a 12,000 pound winch. Vehicles such as this can be purchased inexpensively, repaired inexpensively, registered  and insured inexpensively too. There are a bunch of vehicles such as this available from most manufacturers. Ford, General Motors, and Dodge all made diesel pick-ups with mechanical fuel injection and no computers all the way into the early 90s. Ford used the 6.9 until the mid 80s before switching to the 7.3. The 7.3 was used up to the early 90s, before switching to the PCM controlled Power Stroke diesel. General Motors was using the 6.5 during the same time period without any computer, and Dodge was using the 5.9 Cummins, all of which were strong, reliable engines easily capable of 300,000 plus miles. A word of caution though, while there was no computer needed for these engines to operate, some were equipped with computers to make certain automatic transmissions operate. Most automatic overdrive transmissions in these trucks were PCM controlled. Find one with a old style 3 speed automatic or manual transmission, and you’ve eliminated that problem as well.

In my opinion, a diesel has more advantages than drawbacks versus a gasoline engine. Diesels are built stronger with larger bearings, and heavier internal components, A diesel can run on many different fuel types such as vegetable oil, animal fat, and bio-diesel which can be home made a hell of a lot easier and safer than home made gasoline. Getting past the smell of the exhaust and the rattle and hum of the engine are small prices to pay for an emergency vehicle that will work in an actual emergency. - Tony G.

You recently posted a link to an article titled: "Time to Stock up on Light Bulbs". I appreciate very much the helpful instruction I receive on SurvivalBlog. You put a lot of effort into credible and accurate information. It is with that in mind that I share the following with you. I have been selling light bulbs into the Commercial / Industrial market for 17 years. While it is true "most" 100 watt A19 incandescents are outlawed as of January 1st 2012, NOT ALL are. One quick search under "EISA 2007" category "lighting" will yield the real story. The only bulb outlawed is the inexpensive household 100A19 120 volt you find today in the Big Box and Hardware stores. These bulbs are usually sold in qty 4 plus packs for $1-2.00. These bulbs are not well made and do not last long long (600-to-1,500 hours). Rough Service and Vibration Service bulbs are excluded from the EISA 2007 legislation. These bulbs are currently available at the Big Box and Hardware stores for a small increase in cost, usually not more than an additional $.50 ea. But you have to ASK where they are located on the shelf. If you look closely at the life rating on the Rough Service and Vibration Service bulbs you will notice they are rated at 5,000-to-10,000 hours. They achieve this mainly two ways. The industry uses a 130 volt filament versus 120 volt, and they have from 5-7 filament supports. In terms of light output, you do sacrifice about 10% to get this gain in longevity. I hope you see the value proposition here. A 30 cent bulb that lasts 1,000 hours, maybe or a $1.00 bulb that lasts 5,000 hours. The point is that some 100 watt incandescents will be available after January, 2012. It is my opinion a repeat of what happened with 1992 EPACT legislation will occur. When EPACT 1992 took effect in 1995 several bulbs were outlawed and the manufacturers just changed the bulbs slightly to meet the new guidelines. I was able to supply my customers with modified versions (Rough Service) of the outlawed bulbs well into the 21st century.

In addition to this, Philips Lighting will begin to market more efficient Halogen lamps in the same shape and size as the 100A19 that you buy today. The main difference is they will only take 70 watts more or less, to do what your 100 watt does today and they are designed to last 3,000 hours. Cost will be $3.00-4.00 ea. You can find these under the Trade name "Halogen Energy Advantage" and "EcoVantage". No, these Halogens do not cause fires in light fixtures. Some did many years ago but those were a totally different design. They are not available for the fixtures we use 100A19s in. In addition we buy from a manufacturer that makes their Rough Service 100A19 to last 10,000 hours in a 120 volt application. I have sold these for 17 years at $2.00 ea. I can sell these now and for years to come. If I know anything at all about the lighting business, I would bet more demand for a premium product means more producers, which means competition, hence the consumer wins unless we experience TEOTWAWKI. - Blessings from D.B.C. in Minnesota

John R. recommended this: Perpetual QE Without the Billboard (Jim Willie)

K.T. sent a link to a video of Chris Martenson's presentation at the Gold & Silver Meeting in Madrid. This is a great lecture and hence a hour well-spent! A key question: Are you living in a state that is a energy exporter or an energy importer? (Think: Geothermal, coal, natural gas, and oil.) Plan ahead, and relocate your family strategically.

G.P. suggested: IMF rescue of Italy will spark global uprising

Michael A. alerted me to this: US gives money to Eurozone. (And much of it will come out of thin air.) Some analysis: Where Are We?

L.C. sent this: The Run On Europe Begins: “Once Runs Like This Get Started, They Can Accelerate Fast”

Items from The Economatrix:

Euro In Danger, Europe Races For Debt Solution

Fitch Keeps US AAA Credit Rating But Dims Outlook

S&P Downgrades Top US Banks' Credit Ratings

Moody's Continues Fanning The Eurozone Debt Crisis Flames

Financial Red Alert:  Europe Stands On Verge of "Apocalyptic" Debt Crisis With Only Days Remaining

Stephen F. flagged an article about a spiral pump at the The No Tech Magazine web site. They have a wealth of information and links. 

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Rand Paul warns preppers that the government considers you terrorists. (A hat tip to Joseph R. for the link.)

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Furious at Latest U.S. Attack, Pakistan Shuts Down Resupply Routes to Afghanistan "Permanently"

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Horse meat may be back on the menu. (The number of horses already being shipped to Canada for slaughter was already huge. Ditto for the dog food trade here in the U.S., via rendering. Now, horses might end up on dinner tables here in the States. Here is a troubling, unanswered question: Who will prevent contamination of the viande de cheval by euthanasia drugs, since most horses are euthanized?)

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At the same time the "Russian" SCADA water plant attack in Illinois has had its attribution questioned, we read: Hacker says he broke into Texas water plant, others. And here is a related article: Hacker 'makes a point' after DHS downplays Russian SCADA cyberattack. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog's Mike Williamson for the links.)

"To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt….I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We've completed the judging for Round 37 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest:

First Prize goes to Paul B., for Staple Foods Storage By The Numbers, posted on November 10th. He will receive: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 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 goes to J.M. for Rawhide and Brain Tanning, posted on November 23rd. He will receive: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize goes to Masquita for How to Make Lye Soap, posted on November 30th. She will receive: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, 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.

Honorable Mention Prizes ($30 gift certificates) go to the authors of these articles:

The Ultimate Altoids Tin Survival Kit, by J.C.R.

Gauze and Water: A Combat Medic's Guide to Preparedness Medicine, by Walker

Sleeping With the Friendlies, by Heidi C.

Experience Building a Missouri Masonry Stove, by Tiasabaki

First Aid: From Sprained Ankles to Gunshot Wounds, by Big Country

Field-Test Improvements to a Go Bag, by Todd S.

Homestead Food Production by Mary A.

How to Defend a Retreat Against Wheeled Vehicle Threats, by B.W. in Pennsylvania

Land of Plenty--Establishing or Reclaiming an Orchard, by D.V.

Some Seed Saving Advice, by Lydia S.

Note to all prize winners: Please e-mail me, so that I have your current contact information.

I also have some great news: Starting with the next round (Round 38) the top prize in the First Prize package will include a gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand. Also, JRH Enterprises has upgraded their medic kit prize to a Tactical Trauma Bag #3 -- a $200 value! (Also part of the First Prize package.) I greatly appreciate their generosity.

Round 38 begins today. As usual, we ran out of room for articles that were received in the last week of Round 37, so we we've begun posting those extra articles today.

Please start writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Last week I received disturbing news from a reader.  His physician was ready and willing to help him prepare for a protracted sailboat cruise.  He planned to be gone several months, and requested medicine to take along, just in case he or his family became ill – sounds reasonable to me. 

However, before the doctor wrote the prescriptions, the practice manager stepped in and vetoed the idea.  Turns out, the doctors were salaried, hence subject to the constraints of their employers.
In thinking back to my earlier article on SurvivalBlog (How to Get Your Doctor to Help You Stockpile Medicine), I did not address the issue of what sort of doctor is likely to help survivalists with their preparations.  However, this point is worth discussing, especially if you have been turned down.
The following are five things to consider in finding a physician to help you prepare for an uncertain future.

  1. Age.  Young doctors are not thinking about the end of things. Their careers and family life are just beginning.  With medical education and residency extending to thirty years of age or more, even at forty doctors are still paying off loans and getting started with child-raising.  Psychologically, doctors (as well as patients) in this age group are little focused on a crumbling future.  However, doctors age 50 or more are more likely to see the American economy with some historical perspective, and are therefore much more likely to be genuinely concerned – and hence more likely to assist in prepping.

  2. Faith.  If a person’s only acquaintance with Armageddon is via the movies, they probably have little understanding of Biblical prophecy.  Not that Christians are the only ones to see the writing on the wall, but a person who has studied the book of Revelation is more likely to believe the world may come to an end in our generation – the first generation with the capability of destroying civilization.  It’s not that difficult to know where your doctor stands.  Look for telltale wall hangings, or quotes, or magazines, or simply ask.

  3. Independence.  More and more doctors are becoming salaried employees.  With this comes responsibility to the group, the corporation, the practice manager, etc.  The majority of doctors also have contracts with insurance companies, who audit their charts periodically.  (You may not know that your personal records are subject to these audits, but they well may be, whenever someone else is paying the bill.)  Independent fee-for-service doctors currently “enjoy” the most freedom to practice as they like (often at the price of decreased income).  Also, independent physicians are more likely to think independently.

  4. Size.  Group practices are becoming the norm for many reasons, the largest being economic concerns.  Solo practitioners and two-physician partnerships are becoming non-viable, and doctors are selling out to larger corporations at a record rate.  However, there are still a few “dinosaurs” around, mostly doctors who have been in practice a number of years, and who are “riding it out.”  These docs may not be taking new patients, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re willing to pay cash. Solo practitioners are much more likely to be of the independent mindset, per above.

  5. Politics.  What does your doctor think about our country?  Does he agree with you when you profess fear for the economy?  If not, why would he help you prep? Lots of doctors (at least primary care doctors) feel the economic pinch.  Those who don’t may not believe a crisis is imminent and hence be less sensitive to your concerns.

If your doctor is young, wealthy, and part of a group practice, odds are against a prepper mentality.  Look for someone with a few decades under his or her belt, maybe someone who drives a 10-year-old car, and goes to church.

Lastly, even if you have medical insurance, you are permitted to contract privately with your doctor for uncovered services (if your doctor is willing).  You would need to ask your doctor ahead of time about arranging a private consultation and paying for this apart from your insurance. (Editor's Note: Dr. Koelker is SurvivalBlog's primary Medical Editor, the author of the popular book 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care. She is also the Editor of

I have managed to learn about two really important things in my lifetime.  I’m not talking about plumbing, math, how to tie my shoes, how to make waffles, and the countless skills I have acquired.  I’m talking about really important things.  The first is understanding money.

Think about the game Monopoly?  Each player is given some paper money (ones, fives, tens, etc.) with instructions that this money can be used to buy property and pay fines, rent, and get out of jail.  With our game hats on we enter the world where these pieces of paper are money.  We roll the dice and take our turns at buying and selling and making a living.  We experience ‘up’ turns and ‘down’ turns.  At some point when the game is over – the pieces of paper return to their intrinsic value.  They still look the same – but they were only money while the game was being played – while everyone agreed to their value.

What about dollar bills -- are dollars real money??  What is the intrinsic value of a dollar??  Or is the dollar only money as long as the current game is being played?  What if some players ran out of money – decided to take a break – go to the printer and print up more dollars –then they divide this extra money among themselves (not everyone – not you – not me – just them)  and then return to the game  ready to play some more.   How would you feel about the game?  How would you feel about dollars being money? 
Are you aware that the private banking concern – The Federal Reserve – created over $3 trillion dollars out of thin air since the beginning of the financial crisis?  Why??  Some of the world players ran out of money.  Out of the 6+ billion people on the face of the earth – how much did you get? How about you, your family, any and all friends you know, your neighbors – what’s the sum total that group received?

The dollar is the world reserve currency, therefore, people all over the world recognize it and consider it money.  But is the dollar inherently money?  Or is it money only because we have been told by those in authority that it is money and we (the 99) go along with it?  We trade dollars every day for food and fuel and all sorts of things that we want more than the dollars themselves – so it seems like money.  What would happen if people’s conscientiousness was raised to understanding our monetary system is being manipulated and debased – and they decided to quit the game and trade in something with intrinsic value?   How would you position yourself and family?  Would you hold dollars or would you want to hold something with intrinsic value?

A dollar is simply a piece of paper to which we attribute a value – it is used as a convenience like a check from our checking account.  And similar to a check it may, or may not, represent money.  Most of us have experienced a bounced check – a piece of paper that was supposed to be worth money but ended up not worth anything because we didn’t have sufficient funds in the account.  The American dollar has the same limitation – it is backed by nothing but a promise.  Up until 1971, it was backed by gold, that year President Nixon removed gold backing.  This left the dollar as a fiat currency – supported solely by a government guaranty.   Soon all the countries of the world followed America’s example and turned to fiat.  We now live in a world of promises.

Your wealth is the total sum of your valuable assets that you possess and resources and skills in your control.  If your wealth is primarily concentrated in dollars and/or debt, at this point in history you have placed yourself in a precarious position.  So if you have a savings account of $100,000, you have the right to withdraw 100,000 pieces of paper – dollars.  As long as countries around the world continue to have faith in the dollar having value, you can spend those dollars for ‘stuff’; but I personally try to get out of dollars as well as dollar denominated assets. Why?  -- because dollars are the middle class and poor man’s choice for savings.  Banks don’t value your dollars – that’s why they presently offer only ½ % interest.  If they could use and therefore, wanted your dollars, they would give you a decent rate.  Savvy people want tangible assets that they can possess. 

If you have a house worth $200,000 with a $100,000 note attached, you potentially have $100,000 principal and $100,000 debt.  In order to realize any money you would have to sell your house – pay off your debt and pocket the rest.  But first you need to find a buyer who either has cash or qualifies for a $200,000 loan -- something that is becoming harder and harder to find.  It is a buyer’s market with over 18 million vacant houses and growing in the USA.  Under normal circumstances I would consider the principal as part of your wealth, but in today’s financial mess we are in, I would not count my chickens before they hatch.

It is my belief that a house can be considered part of your wealth only if you own it – same for your cars, furniture, etc.  Debt trumps assets.  And if you own your house, have a garden, fruit and nuts trees, berry bushes, a well or spring, firewood, guns and ammunition, chickens, … -- these all would be part of your wealth.  If you operate a business from your home – consider it part of your wealth factor.  And if your customers are local and your necessary raw materials can be found locally – so much the better.
So – careful when you count your money – you might be counting the wrong things.

The second thing is: how to stay in love.
I’m not claiming to be an expert nor am I thinking I have learned it all.  I just think after 36 years with the same partner and we are still in love means I might have some words of wisdom.  I’m also not saying all those years were perfect – it has been a learning experience.
The first thing I call –“Your turn, my turn”.  A couple decades back we bought a massage table.  My wife was studying some advanced nursing techniques having to do with therapeutic touch.  She practiced on me and in turn, I practiced on her.  Touching each other for the soul purpose of healing and making the other feel good re-energized our relationship.   Her turn – my turn – her turn – my turn.  In the early months it went back and forth daily.

Then she finished her classes and it slowed down.  Sometimes we would go for a week or two without practicing.  Sometimes we would forget whose turn it was.  Sometimes we would disagree on whose turn it was and neither of us would step up to the plate – feeling the other was getting a better deal.  But eventually we would start again – Your turn, my turn.  I liked getting my head massaged and she liked getting her feet massaged best.

As years passed, we lost the need to have equal turns.  There was one period when my wife worked and I was home.  She would come home very tired from a long shift and a two-hour round trip.  I would massage her feet every night while we watched television.  Sometimes she attempted to return the favor but often fell asleep.  For the most part, that was okay with me because I loved to show her my love and affection.  Sometime later, I had a heart attack and needed a couple weeks to recover from stent surgery.  She wasn’t working at the time and took care of me daily which included many head rubs.  More recently I had another heart attack which required open heart surgery.  This time I was down for almost two months.  She took incredible care of me and rubbed my head daily. 

The point is – staying in love requires unselfish action and expression.  At the top of my list of things to do each day is to express my love to my wife – to show her respect and appreciation.  I love to do little things for her – bring her coffee, let her dog out for her in the middle of the night – stay on top of the garbage and trash – wash the dishes – buy her flowers – make a fire in the morning before she wakes.  And I am very blessed to have a wife who puts me at the top of her list.

Touching and being touched in a non-sexual manner is an important part of a healthy relationship – foot rubs, head rubs, kissing, hugging, and walking hand in hand -- the interactions that seem to come naturally in the early part of a relationship.  If and when they wane, it’s time for “your turn, my turn” to keep your love fresh and alive and take it to the next level.  And by the way, “my turn, your turn” doesn’t work for a very good reason.

So, there you have it – my thoughts on love and money – two things I don’t want to lose as we move through these uncertain times.

Background: I converted my wife to prepping, working on the “kids”. Thirty Five years in EMS and 22 as an Emergency Medicine physician: prior work with Appleseed and Western Rifle Shooter’s Association travel course on Grid Down Medicine at its inception. Some austere medical and rescue training and operations, no military (I failed the physical).  I fully endorse your previous recommendations for the various medica